Monday, September 21, 2009

Lovin' my Wiki

Well, it took some doing, but I finally figured out how to make my 6th grade Computer Basics wiki work for me. It still isn't perfect, but everyday it is getting closer to how I dreamed it could be. My 6th graders love it and are excited about the project that will allow them to create a class wiki all their own. They know it is coming, but don't know any of the logistics yet. I, too, am excited about the possibilities it holds. My biggest frustration now is how to respond back to their reflection question answers. I'm not sure I like using the discussion tab for their responses because that doesn't allow me to make comments about their reflections. I want them to think deeper about how they are responding, but if I can't give them feedback, I don't see them improving. I'm wondering if I should use a different format. Perhaps setting up a reflections page similar to the Write Around Story page will make it more feasible for "conversations" with the teacher. My concern about doing it that way is that it will mean adding 20 more pages to the wiki. And maybe having that many pages isn't even an issue. Do any of my readers have thoughts on this? In the meantime, I'll keep plugging away at making my wiki work. Hopefully I'll become so addicted to using the wiki with my 6th grade class that I will want to create something similar for the other two classes I teach.

Like technology, it is my goal as a teacher that all of my classes evolve with the changing tides. If they don't, then my teaching becomes stagnant and my students are the ones left behind.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

"Excited" Can Sometimes Be Synonomous with "Frustrated"

I've created a wiki to use in my 6th grade Computer Basics class, and I'm really excited about the new and exciting possibilities that are opening up for my students. Not only am I excited, but they are, too! Technology is their world, after all, and they love doing anything that involves technology. Another thing that excites them about this wiki is that it is unlike anything they are using in their other classes. That alone is reason enough to celebrate.

Now for the frustration. Like anything new, obstacles always seem to work their way into the picture. Case in point...Here I am today, excited about teaching the kids how to edit the reflections page of the wiki, and I failed to see the big picture when it comes to saving edits. I tried to have each of the kids respond to a reflection question and save their edit. The problem was that the only edit that appeared on the wiki once everyone had saved was the LAST edit to be saved. Grrrrrrr! I failed to realize that we would encounter problems when 20 kids tried to save an edit to the same page at the same time. Needless to say, I lost a few excited souls in all the hoopla and chaos of the problem. That sure wasn't how I envisioned today's lesson to turn out.

So I pose this question to my readers...How can I make this work? Please, please, PLEASE send me some suggestions. I know there is a solution. I'm just not seeing it right now.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

To Show or Not to Show...That is the Question

Today is the big day for the controversial speech to students by our president. There has been a lot of talk on the news about whether or not to air this speech live. Why? What is the big deal? It is a speech to students about the importance of staying in school, not a call to participate in genocide! Where, exactly, is the controversy?

I personally think it is pathetic that parents lack such faith in our president and in our school's teachers that they would voice concern over this speech. Sure, we may not all have voted for him, we may not all agree with his decisions, we may not all agree with his policies, but he IS our leader, and we, as a democratic nation, MUST give him the respect he is due. What message does it give our students when we feel the need to censor what the President of the United States of America has to say? What message does it send to students about our schools' teachers and their ability to teach? Are our nation's teacher so incompetent that they cannot professionally and in an unbiased manner lead a discussion about the words of our president? Come on! Have a little faith in your children's teachers. If parents can't trust the president and they can't trust the teachers, then WHO can they trust? It just doesn't make sense to me.

I wonder how parents would react if their favorite sports hero wanted to make a similar speech to students. Hmmm, a point to ponder.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Where's the Money They Promised?

We are well into our second week of school and the bureaucratic red tape has already begun. I just got word from my principal that all budgets are frozen. What? It's the second week of school and we have no money???? And the US wonders why our students aren't keeping up with the rest of the world. We can spend billions of dollars to "reform" our healthcare system while the education of our nations' students gets put on a back burner. We can spend millions of dollars on star athletes and sporting events while those of us who try to educate the nations' children scrimp and scrape because there is no money for education. Our government can agree to spend millions of dollars on an inaugural celebration (with no benefit to anyone but those being honored) while schools are cutting staff members because they have to cut budgets to the bare bones. None of this makes any sense! There is something majorly wrong with this picture.

Politicians are so good at making hollow promises about increasing funding for education during election campaigns, but then don't follow through once they are elected. When are we going to hold them accountable for their broken promises? When are we going to say "enough is enough?" I'm doing what I can to make's high time that EVERYONE does. And that includes our governmental representatives! Everyone means EVERYONE. It's time for change...but not just in health care! It's time to put education FIRST!!!!!!