Thursday, July 8, 2010

Journal #6

First off, let me say that I did not want to have to use PowerPoint for this hands-on activity – I am very familiar with it, and while I do believe it has it purposes, I wanted to use the Google lit activity or one of the voice threads.
The voice threads seemed very interesting, as I was imagining recording a lesson and allowing students to listen to it at home – either because they missed class, or just because they needed to hear information again. I find often students need reinforcement of lessons MULTIPLE times – actually, a statistic that a colleague of mine (I’m not totally sure how accurate this is) said that the average 8th grader needs to hear something at least twelve times in order for it to stick; therefore the ability for students to go back at all would be effective. However, I couldn’t actually use this because I could not get my out of date computer to record sound! Very frustrating.
This Google lit is a tool I had never heard of at all; I looked at the “make way for ducklings” example, and absolutely loved it. I was thinking of using it when I taught “Night” in my Holocaust Unit in order to track all the places in Europe that Ellie travels. As of right now, I have a map on paper that I use; this seems like it would be much more effective. However, once again, my out of date computer struggled with letting me try this. So – I guess this means I need to buy a new computer – the question is – a PC or MAC?

Journal 7

That is a link to my rubric. I acutally found myself enjoying making a rubric more than I was expecting; I always used to think that rubrics limited students' creativity, but acutally, I think with some projects they can really give guidance and help make an abstract idea more concrete. In terms of my own sanity, I can see how a rubric would be GREAT for grading. I can have an acutal point scale and look for only specific aspects to focus on while grading. This specific rubric is for a short story that is part of a larger project; both aspects have rubrics with them, and I am going to try and use these rubrics next year when I acutally give the project. I will be interested to see how this affects student work and grades.

In terms of larger reflections on this class, this has been a very challenging yet educational course for me. In many ways, this was much more difficult as you really had to go through all the steps on your own - there was no safety net of knowing you would be in with classmates at least every week to discuss issues you were having - although we had the discussion board, it is not the same as face to face. However, I feel that I have learned so much in class, due to all the hands on activities. All my education classes that I have taken at UMass Boston have just been so great in terms of acutally helping me with my teaching - this is no exception! I feel I have so many more tools to start next year, and I am so excited to incorporate them into my teaching next school year. I am really glad to hear this wiki will be available to us in the future; I will absolutely be coming back. Thank you to everyone who made this class such a success for me!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Journal #5

When I first sat down to create a website for my class, I thought about what Kajder stated in her own thought process about crafting online sites for her students; that she considers “what her students need, why they might access the site that you create, and what you can provide that would meet your own goals and offer a compelling resource” (120).Now, my class team already has a basic homework website where I update daily what the night’s homework will be. As Kajder mentions, it does help cut down some homework confusion and it does allow for students to be able to stay on top of things while they are absent; however, unlike Kajder’s seemingly perfect students, my students still line up at my desk when they are absent to ask for her. This could either be a difference in age – perhaps high scholars are that much more independent than my 8th graders – or it could be that they weren’t being provided with enough information. It occurred to me that through various tools I am finding, I could actually post my power points, other notes and handouts on the website – both allowing for students who are absent from class to be more caught up, as well as cutting back on the amount of copying I have to do as my students seem to inevitably lose handouts daily.

I really like Kajder’s ideas about how important planning a website is. She is correct; I would never let my students take on such a large task without first thinking about what they want the focus and layout to be – just like with writing an essay, it helps to see an outline of the finished product first. I particularly liked her ideas about using sticky notes to help arrange her ideas; I think that is a great visual and one that is obvious easier to move around then regular sizes of paper. To get back a thread in the discussion about the idea of websites, Kajder points out again that it is important to consider the content of a webpage, rather than all the “bells and whistles”. This is very true with class websites – students go to these for guidance and clarification, not to look at something snazzy. I am going to work on getting my home page to have a link for all four of my different sections, as well as other useful/interesting outside links relating to English class specifically – this way, I can still be part of the team website with homework, but students will have a place to go for English specific concerns – hopefully, this will further engage students and give them a forum on which to post their views. - my rough website