Tuesday, September 22, 2009

September 22

Ah, fall is coming. That means Back to School Night and Parent teacher conferences. Back to School Night was last week, and I had a record turnout...53 parents (at least four times more than I have ever had before)...So the "great leader" (Superintendent) stops by the classroom. Despite the fact that I have put the SMART board to use everyday, I did not have it turned on for Back to School Night. Of course she notices, reminds me of how fantastic the SMART board is (darn, I forgot to bow down and remind her of her greatness for approving the purchase of a piece of technology that I have been waiting for for two years), and then mentions that other teachers have theirs turned on (I tried to do something more personal, like communicate with parents). Well, you never have seen a person get the board and his computer turned on so quickly to show off the Powerpoint presentation the class had used earlier in the day. All was right with the world again.

The latest challenge is to find at least one new trick a week that the SMART board can do. This week was embedding a link to a video on the internet into the presentation on notes. Great, success... it was actually quite easy and the class took a break from taking notes to watch a quick introductory video on Mesopotamia. Coming soon to a sixth grade classroom far from you...an interactive game where students can put the board to use.

Happy Technology Use!!!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Hello people...A quick update from the land of SMART boards...The new SMART board has definitely been a source of excitement in the classroom (and a source of jealousy from other staff members; I am one of the "chosen few" or a "golden child" or whatever other classification that they give me as they walk back to their rooms with their simple chalkboards or completely boring dry erase boards). Everyday that I walk through my door, I am blinded by the heavenly glow of its greatness (are those angels I hear singing in the background?).

We did a short unit on latitude and and longitude. Can you just see a classroom of sixth graders jumping up and down with excitement when I introduced this unit? With the new board, I can project maps onto the board for practice, students can give the location of cities, and we can save to the computer what they have written on the board to be used the next day (I swear I am not receiving any money from SMART technologies). We could check precise measurements on Google Earth, which quickly replaced me as the coolest thing in the classroom, although most students wanted to use it to see their houses. A few students got a chance to write on it, and when I called for volunteers, every hand went up, which usually only happens when I ask, "Who Wants Ice Cream?"

Now the frustrating part: The district loans every teacher a laptop. The laptops are loaded with so much security software that it makes surfing the internet on a 1992 modem seem fast. In addition, you cannot download software from the internet, which is of course where you can find the tools needed to run the SMART board. We go to plan B, which is to install from disc, but no, the disc has mysteriously disappeared. Besides that, there is a "secret password", known only to our district's tech person (who will be referred to in all posts as "Yoda", because he is all knowing and much smarter than all of our teachers)

that is required to install from a disk. I sent an email to the great Yoda before the school year started asking him to install the software the next time he was on campus. He told me he was extremely busy and asked me to fill out the necessary "IT Request". Well, that was more than two weeks ago, so I have had to use my personal laptop, the precious Macbook, which will soon be knocked onto the floor by a clumsy middle school student. I predicted that the install would take a month, so I guess he is still ahead of schedule.

Anyways, looking forward to sharing what I have learned. Hopefully you are still awake as you reach the end of this post.

P.S. Fingers are still clean, no dry erase pens. Shirts have no chalk dust!!!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Hello people

This is my initial voyage into the world of blogging. This blog was created to detail my semester of technological education, so I will be sharing my many adventures in learning. As are students become more and more immersed in the use of technology, it is extremely important that teachers attempt to keep pace, or at least attempt to make a valiant effort to keep pace.

Over the summer, my classroom was equipped with an interactive white board, which for now the students think is the the greatest thing ever (and they get even more joy watching their teacher fumble around with it), so much of my writing will deal with the time spent learning how to use this wonderful machine (and to think, just last year, I was writing on a...... what's that called again? Oh yeah, a chalkboard). I feel like I have barely stored 1% of the knowledge needed to effectively run the board, my hands and shirts are cleaner than they ever have been before (no chalk dust on the hands, no pen marks all over my hands!!!)

Anyways, I hope you enjoy my ramblings, or at least use them as a cure for that nagging insomnia. Thanks to the tens of people who will actually be reading (or glancing quickly) at this blog.