Tuesday, October 28, 2008

will it work?

Today is my first day "out". I am taking a personal day. While I sit at home and recover from some intense recent events in my life, in the front of my mind I am wondering if my systems at school are worth their salt.

Will my students actually work for a sub?

Will my plans be clear on the Google calendar?

Will my room be clean tomorrow?

As a seasoned teacher, and one who has had two major illnesses while teaching (think multiple days off to recover from super-virus and mono) taking time "off" from teaching usually translates to "oh crap, what a mess they made while I was gone, now it is time to clean up and get back on track."

Hopefully all systems are a go and this is avoided today. It helps to have a seasoned substitute. And the computers. And the calendars.

I am eager to see the student response to change today and how they roll with it.

Saturday, October 25, 2008


It's Saturday and I am in grad class. This is my reality. I work at school and I go to school. This leaves me precious little time for my own personal outlets such as painting, writing, photographing, gardening. However, the focus this year is on my own education and the education of my students. I am gladly trading the creative time for the educational time and I am working really hard to maximize creative time while working!

So for example, today I am learning the programming language LOGO, developed by Seymour Papert, and it is both logical and creative! I have wanted to learn how to program ever since I found out is was my only way to get into MIT (ok, if I don't get into MIT for a Ph.d., I'll be fine..I just like to know what the top of the heap expects). So today, I am in class, CREATING, PROGRAMMING, and learning.

I'm tired....grades are due next week....group projects are coming in and there is some major troubleshooting to "fix" some issues....students are learning to communicate effectively.....I am learning to balance my time....

No whining here, just reality. I am happy professionally. I am going places with the work. My students AMAZE me daily, from the little sprouts of growth to the major gardens of growth. I am happy to use the metaphor of the garden in education. I know how to garden.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

El juego de la taza

The video project I assigned had to be between 1.30 seconds and 6 minutes long.

The intended audience is the elementary school via wiki. Those lucky kids, each classroom has a SmartBoard and a smart teacher.

This was the first video handed in and it is excellent!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

live from Afghanistan

When a student asked me if we could use technology to talk to her dad in the Middle East, I said YES. It wasn't in Spanish but I think it meets the Maine Learning Results! Connections, community, culture, communication!

spontaneous song!

It was a special birthday for one of the senior girls. Interestingly enough, she takes French, but was using the computer. The Spanish kids decided to sing and I managed to grab my camera just in time!

Some good news

Video projects at school are due this week and the work thus far has been incredible. I can't wait to share.

My Spanish 4's spontaneously burst into song yesterday. It was someone's birthday. It was fabulous and I caught it all on video, forthcoming.

Other good things? I feel so blessed lately, with good school things. I ordered the movies for the year and cannot wait to show them. The good people at Devaney, Doak and Garrett in Farmington gave me a lot of free posters. (Free!!!!). And Madame K. and I agreed our project-based learning for quarter 2 will focus on FOOD. Yes, FOOD. Bring on the holidays, people, because World Languages plans to celebrate.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

plugged in

plugged in, originally uploaded by Amity Beane.

From 2006.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

reflections on chapter 1

How far have computers come in helping students achieve and grow as learners?

Initially computers were used in education as drilling machines with a built-in reward system. The question appeared, the student submitted the correct response, and the reward was usually some graphic depiction on the screen (balloons, fireworks, etc). This reward was for recalling the information and nothing more.

After this stage, computers were utilized as tutorials. These acknowledged incorrect answers with remedial instruction. Information was presented by the computer and the student tried the test again. The major fault of this type of student-computer interaction was the lack of reflection or empowerment by the student to learn from error through investigation.

The third stage of the student-computer relationship involved intelligent tutorials. This very scientific model had three components: the student model, the expert model, and the tutorial model. The student made a product which was compared to the expert product stored in the system. The discrepancies between the two were noted and the tutorial model ran based on that data. In my opinion, the intelligent tutorial was essentially as sterile as the basic tutorial.

I use the mindtool model. This model is constructivist. The technology tools which students use to interpret and make meaning of Spanish are mindtools!

There are two types of processes using the mindtool model. The first is experiental. This is a very active process and students must experience something in order to have data.

The second process is the reflective process. This is necessary to examine the data and present it.

The technology tools are then used to create new content and become the building blocks of real knowledge.

my first inspiration product

Technology to address diversity

I made this in class with other talented MSAD21 teachers. (Here's a shout out to all of you brave souls!)

Click on the image to see full size.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

What are mind tools? What do they do?

Facilitate student-centered, inquiry-based learning. That's what I do. And I use computers to do it. I use the tools available on the computers as cognitive tools to promote critical thinking.

Some of the tools we use in my class are Skype, Glogster, VideoThang, Wikispaces, Flickr, Facebook, Google products, and more.

We use computers to CREATE content. We use computers to plan, produce, present, and provide "pheedback". I got this idea from Marco Torres--he calls it "the 4 p's". He's amazing--check out his FlickSchool.

"Students learn from thinging in meaningful ways." I agree completely. That is why I got rid of the textbook because it does not promote critical thinking but rather recall. I teach from the you of Bloom's--CREATE is my power verb in teaching Spanish. All kids CREATE in Spanish.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

music and the video projects--an update

So. It's no secret. Jumpcut has become a speed bump this past week. Several groups have shot their film yet the program to edit it is not working!

No fear. Plan B is always available.

Tomorrow: music for the freshmen. I want to make emotion-faces out of paper plates, too. For those who do not want to speak. I want to share the Afro-Cuban All Stars and some YouTube videos taken in Latin American sports stadiums. Drums!!

My Spanish 4's will install VideoSplit and VideoThang. Hopefully these programs will work better so we can all move forward with production.

My Spanish 2's and 3's will make promotional posters for their videos. In Spanish, the word for advertising is propaganda. Should be fun! Glogster ought to do the trick.

I hope to team teach again tomorrow...whilst WorldCultures watches Baraka.

Last resort for quarter one video projects are one-takes (high stakes, 90-second clips of continuous dialog) hosted to Flickr.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

music and homework

Two topics in my head this weekend. Make that three.

Music: I must do more of it in class. To that end, I borrowed two large bongo drums from a fellow teacher. That ought to help the music situation, that plus the Afro-Cuban All Stars.

Homework: I do not assign homework. I assign projects. If the students choose to do them at home or at school, fine by me.

Last thought of the weekend: a memory garden. I bought bulbs at Walmart and will plant them with the students soon.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

do all the good you can


Do all the good you can,

by all the means you can,
in all the ways you can,
at all the times you can,
to all the people you can,
as long as you ever can.
-John Wesley-


Sometimes I have weeks where there is not a whole lot of "teaching" but instead a lot of listening, responding, and helping students figure out how to deal with Life. I'm not a social worker or a psychologist, and I know my place at school--I never try to do the work of someone else--but let's face it. When a student comes to me and says, "I can't do my work today because I am dealing with Life"--I take the time to ask the questions and listen to what they are dealing with. If I need to refer the student to someone else more qualified to deal with their Life, I do.

This was one of those weeks. A week of real break-throughs on many levels for many people. And I noticed something.

The people who received help, gave help.

Once their needs were met, they met the needs of others. I wish I could give examples but I respect the private lives of all I work with.

Doing good is a wonderful cycle.


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