Saturday, August 30, 2008

the first days of school

The first week of school ended yesterday and I feel very positive about my classroom environment and my students. The learning space is structured with a large square in the middle of the room surrounded by chairs, and computers along the outer wall. There are cabinets in the corner full of art supplies, a counter space with plants and a bowl of fruit, and two bookshelves full of print resources. I have a lot of shelves to display my realia from the Spanish speaking world.

Everyone seemed genuinely happy to be in the room and I had no discipline issues whatsoever! I took everyone's picture for a visual seating chart to be created.

My room has no clock and my campus has no bell system. I wrote the class times on the board and instructed my students (in Spanish!) to set their cell phone alarms for the right time to leave. This made them so happy. Cell phones are verboten in my school but in my room, they are used as a tool.

I had several students express how happy they were with the new room. Last year's room was small and confining with few resources. This year it is resource-rich.

A few highlights:

I was showing the Spanish 4 class the Amiguitos wiki when my elementary school teaching partner called on Skype. It happened while I was projecting the wiki and so she appeared LIVE and began to chat with us. The 4's were thrilled with the "flattening" between high school and elementary school.

One of my Spanish 2 sections was also viewing the wiki, both the welcome video and the video that my elementary teacher partner made with her first grade class and sent to us. Mrs. Y then called us on Skype. She arranged her students in front of the camera and I did as well. My class asked them how many kids were in the class. "14!" "!5!" "No 14!" My Spanish 2's giggled at the first grade antics. Then they proceed to teach the first graders the numbers from 1-15 in Spanish. Both sides of the conversation were a bit giddy and giggly and "Wow!" The exchange lasted about 6 minutes (long enough for first graders and Spanish 2's on a Friday afternoon). It felt completely successful in terms of teachers managing distance interactions in an education, collaborative way. It was definitely my moment of the week.

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