Saturday, May 27, 2006

 

Summer Resolutions

Updated 8-1-06 to make me feel bad about what I haven't done!

I like to make lists. I love a bright clean page of paper in a pretty notebook that is waiting to be filled with a list. I like to cross things off lists. When I wasn't such a busy person, I would sometimes make a list of things I had accomplished during the day and then cross them off just for the feeling it gave me of completing something. Now I have unfinished lists everywhere. When a list gets longer than a page, I start over on a new page, leaving off the items I have completed. My lists are always too long. I have a list of things to do at home and another of things to do at school. I have a list of errands I need to run, and a list of websites to visit. I have a list of topics I want to blog about, and several lists of thank-you notes I never wrote. I have a mental list of projects to do around the house, and I have an actual list of things my kids want to do this summer.

I also like to make resolutions. I make them at New Year's, I make them at the beginning of each school year, and I make resolutions each summer. Here are my Summer Resolutions for 2006...

  1. Read the Bible every day. Getting better...not like I should.
  2. Go to the gym at least 4 times a week. Only one time this summer.
  3. Drink more water. Nope
  4. Drink less Cokes. Maybe...I've found some diet drinks I like.
  5. Eat less junk food. Nope
  6. Eat more fruits and vegetables. Nope
  7. Read for fun. Yea! I have accomplished the least important of this section!
  8. Spend special time with my children. Yes
  9. Potty train my 2 year old. He is not interested.
  10. Begin scrapbooking again. I can't stand the mess it will make.
  11. Print out all the pictures I have taken with the digital camera. The printer is so filled with dust that I'm going to have to clean it first.
  12. Clean out the attic. Yes! This one is done!!!!
  13. Keep my house looking presentable. I think it's getting better.
  14. Plan menus and grocery lists to make life easier during the school year. www.savingdinner.com
  15. Have a yard sale. Let's wait until it is cooler.
  16. Paint my bedroom. I need to pick fabric to recover a chair first.
  17. Reorganize my classroom. What did I mean by this?
  18. Plan a technology activity for each main objective I teach. In progress...
  19. Plan a writing activity for each main objective I teach. In progress...
  20. Plan a hands-on activity for each objective I teach. In progress...
  21. Incorporate the IB Areas of Interaction into my lesson plans. In progress...
  22. Go through all my resource books and put descriptions of great activities on my wiki. In progress...
  23. Host a summer review program on my classroom blog. No one was interested... I can't believe it !
  24. Learn how to use my Interwrite School Pad. Done!
My life has a little more balance than I thought it did. I divided my resolutions into four areas: personal, family, house, school. I know I won't accomplish everything on my list, but I also realize that I won't accomplish the things that I don't put on my list. (I know there is a better way to say what I am thinking, but it is late and I am dreading picking up the vermicelli that my 2 year old spilled all over the kitchen floor.)

8-1-06: I have completed 5 out of 24 goals, and I am making progress toward another 8. There were 5 that I either postponed or decided to eliminate. That leave 6 things that I should have done that I didn't do. Not too bad considering all that has gone on this summer!

So...do you make summer resolutions? If so, would you mind sharing them with me?

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

 

Keeping up with the Bloggers

Creating your own blog and beginning to post is only one part of the exciting world of blogging. The next step (or a different first step), that you are already taking, is joining the conversation by reading other people's blogs. At first it may seem easy to check one or two blogs regularly to see if they have been updated. However, if you begin reading several blogs, or if a blog you like is updated infrequently, or if a blog you like is updated too frequently, or if you already have too many sites bookmarked to find what you are looking for, it is time to take another step. Welcome to the world of RSS feeds or news aggregators. My favorite is Bloglines, and you are welcome to look at my feeds. As I find a new blog I like, I add it to my account using the "Sub with Bloglines" button. You can access this button by scrolling to the bottom of the left frame and clicking on Easy Subscribe Bookmarklet. There are instructions for adding this button to your browser's toolbar.

Another step is to join the conversation by commenting on posts. I will have to admit that I am not very diligent about doing this. Most of the time I am reading blogs while singing to my two year old to try to get him to sleep. I prefer to type with two hands rather than one, and I hardly ever get around to commenting after I put him to bed (I'm too busy overseeing my 13 year old's homework and trying to make up for ignoring my eight year old while dealing with her high-maintenance brothers!). Of course, I also have to allow time to talk to my husband on the telephone in the evenings because he is currently on active duty with the Army Reserve. Have I mentioned that my life is crazy! The conversation is what can make a blog different from an ordinary web page. Find some student blogs and leave an encouraging word. Find an expert and ask them for advice. Find a kindred spirit and make a new friend.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

 

Technology Coaching

I am about to pursue a new opportunity that is a little scary to me. Our system is going to hire two technology coaches for next school year. The positions have not been posted yet, but I am seriously considering applying. This is my dream job. Several years ago I spent some time thinking about my career goals, and technology coach is what I decided I wanted to do. Since then I have been exploring options for becoming qualified to do this. I do not have my master's degree, and I am afraid that will keep me from getting the job. I have continued to let other things get in the way of going to graduate school, but at the same time I have been getting a lot of practical experience. I think I would be very good as a technology coach, and I could have my master's degree completed within a couple of years if I set my mind to it.

On the other hand, I am not sure that I am ready to leave the classroom. I have had a wonderful year this year, and I am looking forward to experiencing this again. I sometimes feel like I am on the brink of becoming the teacher I always intended to be. I have a pretty light summer ahead of me (at least compared to the last few years), and I was planning to spend quite a bit of time reorganizing my classroom and preparing learning centers, warmups, and sponge activities for next year. I am also in the process of receiving the equipment I purchased with my National Board money. The items I bought may have to stay at the school, and I would hate to not get the opportunity to make use of the great technology I purchased.

I do feel confident that God knows what is best and that he will guide the people making the decision about whom to hire. I just have to talk through my feelings from time to time and remind myself that He is in control. I had no idea that the school system would hire a technology coach (much less two) any time soon. This position was terminated a few years ago, and I thought the money was not there to open it back up. I thought I had a little more time to get my degree.

The system desperately needs someone to assist teachers with technology. We are so innundated with paperwork and meetings that there is little time to plan exciting new lessons. If someone could plan lessons and then model the lessons for teachers, exciting things would begin to happen. Someone needs to convince many teachers that integrating technology is worth the extra effort; that in the long run it will make their jobs easier and more enjoyable. Lots of teachers still need help with navigating our new email and gradebook programs. The technology people we have working for the system are not educators...their job is to fix the machines, not teach the teachers.

I am very passionate about this position. I woke up this morning thinking about what I would say in an interview, and I ending up writing a page and a half of notes. I need to update my resume, and I would like to create a curriculum vitae. I need dig through the attic to get my notebook that has all my workshop presentations written down from the year I worked as AMSTI Math Specialist. I think this job would include almost all the things I loved about being a math specialist, and it would not involve as much travel during the day and overnight. There would be fewer schools to work with, but many more teachers. I think there would be more of a chance to build relationships with the students because I would be at each school a little more often than with AMSTI.

The things I have learned through being a Fellow with the 21st Century Schools Project will be invaluable. The contacts I have made through 21st Century and through AMSTI are extensive. The training I have had might be the equivalent of what could be learned through a graduate program.

Do you have any suggestions for me as I approach this bend in the road? Teachers and principals, what would you like for a technology coach to do for you? Tech people, what advice do you have to offer and what graduate program prepares you for this type of job? Those who have left the classroom for good, how do you know when it is time to go?

Please leave a comment for me!

Saturday, May 13, 2006

 

It's Wiki Time!

Several weeks ago I created a wiki, but I wasn't really sure what to do with it. I thought it would be a neat way to foster collaboration among teachers, but it seemed difficult to build. Last week I started playing around with it and it finally made sense! I emailed an invitation to some teachers I know asking them to add their ideas. No one has taken me up on it yet, but I am hopeful that I can generate some interest this summer when I am training AMSTI.

If anyone would like to add their ideas to the wiki it is very easy to do. I have actually created three of them, but only one has anything on it! I made them for seventh grade math, pre-algebra, and math team. The seventh grade and pre-algebra wikis are organized by the Alabama Course of Study Objectives. You can click on the objective on the home page and see the resources for that topic. To add an idea, simply click on the edit button at the top of the page. Be sure to save when you are done. If you are a math teacher, please share an idea that has worked for you. I am planning to spend some time this summer putting all of my "tricks of the trade" on the wiki, so check back and see if you can find something useful to you!

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

 

It's time to start counting the days!

Everyone asks me how many days of school are left, and I honestly tell them I do not know! I could take a minute and figure it out, but I don't want to start counting. I have had such a good year that I don't want it to be over! Sure, I would like a break, but then I would be ready to continue on with these students again. From time to time in years past I might have one or two students that would bring great joy to my life with their absence from school. I would count the days until they were mine no more and eagerly anticipate a fresh start with a new group of students. I don't feel that way at all this year! I love this group so much that I am sad to see them leave. It may be because I knew many of them before the year began. You see, my son is a seventh grader this year, so I am teaching his friends. In fact, I am teaching him! (That is definitely a subject for another time...I may need to amend that "not counting the days" statement!) Some years I have dreaded the end of the school year because I need more time to teach my material. The timing is working out perfectly this year, so that is reducing my stress level. It has been a special year...not perfect...but very special!

It feels like Christmas in Room 365 (that's mine)...I received $5000 to spend on my classroom this year. This money is given by the state to teachers who have become National Board Certified. I have been spending my money on technology, and it is just about all spent. I already had a laptop computer, but I bought a projector, an Interwrite School Pad, a site license for The Geometer's Sketchpad, GSP supplemental materials, and a filing cabinet. I am still waiting to receive a multi-media cart, and the Interwrite Personal Response System (Don't know what this is? Here's a video about it). I am looking forward to using the School Pad and PRS in the AMSTI Summer Institute I am teaching this summer. This will be a great opportunity to learn how to use it!

One thing I have not done this year is get my students posting on my blog. My life outside of school has been a little crazy, and I just never managed to make the copies to send the information home with my students. I created guidelines and a policy, so it seems that making copies of it would not be an insurmountable obstacle. I guess it is a part of the same condition that manifests itself by the thank you notes sitting on my kitchen counter that I wrote two months ago but never addressed, stamped, or took to the mailbox. I also have Christmas cards and Easter eggs decorating my living room. I have been doing other things like creating a wiki for seventh grade math teachers. I can always take down out-of-season decorations this summer.

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