Sunday, January 31, 2010

Missing the Synergy

Tonight, for the first time in a much too long, I have taken advantage of time, time to be a techie-geek and, in doing so, I have discovered several Web 2.o tools that, if I knew about them, I had forgotten.

In discovering them, I wanted to share, wanted to share with my Classroom Redesign Team, a team that had that energy last summer when we spent five days together, a team that should meet again and share, for sometimes, that face-to-face meeting creates the most synergy.

Listed here are a couple of my finds via my Google Reader (thanks to the time Mother Nature via a couple of snow days):
  1. Dabbleboard: functions like a whiteboard
  2. Wall Wisher: not sure! Working on this one...looks cool!
  3. Audio Owl: site housing audio books

The first two tools are thanks to HRMason at Teacher in Transition, who gives credit to Twitter for finding Dabbleboard. I, too, love Twitter and should spend more time there lurking for the latest.

What tools might you share with me? That's right, synergy can only be created when we work together!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

A Lesson Learned, Part 2

This continues a series of posts about lessons I learned as a teacher of a 1:1 classroom during the first semester...

Surprisingly, not all students like computers. Surprise! Several of my students really struggled with the use of the mini laptops this fall. I suppose I assumed that because we were using technology...hands on technology...that each student would be excited. Not so.

Some of this lack of excitement simply was the result of laziness...lazy ears, to be precise. For if they ever quit listening, they were behind. Thus, the positive here? Yes, they had to be even more attentive and, thus, were being held more accountable.

I have a few students who do not have Internet access at home, which resulted in more stress for them, for they often felt like they were behind the rest of the class. To compensate, I allowed, of course, extra time for them and opened my room before school and during lunch and wrote many notes for students to work in my room during their study halls. I REALLY appreciate the work ethic of these students! Just wish I could channel some of that energy into students who need a little more want-to!

Initially, I had a few students request that we return to "books." I soon learned that the desire to return to the "old" way was usually due to the lack of computer experience. As the semester progressed, I did not hear this request anymore. I like to think that maybe this was the result of their enhanced technological skills. I hope so.

For on January 5, the journey continues!

Also posted at Treasure Chest of Thoughts.

Friday, January 1, 2010

A Lesson Learned, Part 1

This past semester, I immensely enjoyed having 1:1 computers in my classroom. To put this in perspective, this addition has, with a doubt, been the most beneficial change in my classroom setting…ever. (Thanks, Lisa Huff and Debbie Miller, for you did to make this happen!)

While I learned many to-do’s and not-to-do’s ever again, I would like to discuss this particular enlightenment first: Yahoo and Google do not communicate like I would prefer.

Here was my initial dilemma:

  1. Having created my class blogs using my personal Gmail account, I began having my students submit their assignments to this same email.
  2. Then that email account became overwhelming…as my students emails intermingled with my personal emails.
  3. Thinking I was solving my problem, I then created another Gmail account for submitting homework.
  4. No such luck, for problems continued to arise. Because I could not have two Gmail accounts open on my computer at one time (I was having to log out of my personal Gmail through which I had created my class blogs and open the homework email to confirm receiving assignments), I created another email for submitting homework using Yahoo, thinking that would solve all my problems, for then I could have my blogs and the homework email running simultaneously.

My troubles continued, though, as many of my students created documents using Google docs (which I strongly encouraged). My first lesson I learned here is that I had to have my Gmail account open to be able to access shared Google documents. If I did not have one of the Gmail accounts open, then, of course, Yahoo could not communicate with Google.

The straw that proverbially broke this teacher’s back was my once again struggling to find an email that a student had submitted. Very stressful to find an email that you were fairly certain that a student had never sent…only to find he/she had! I decided no more of this! Over Christmas, I made a decision: switch back to my Google email for submitting homework and create new blogs (via that same email account) for each of my classes (linked below…remember, at this posting, they are still in baby stage).

Now, I will be able to access both the blogs and the homework email account to verify as the students submit assignments…very nice to project through the LCD the list of emails I have received as confirmation that I have received work in a timely fashion.

Another feature that I appreciate about Gmail is that once I enter an email into Gmail, the omniscient Google remembers it! Very nice!

Problem solved? I hope so!

Can you think of a better solution to this concern? Please share your thoughts and ideas! All are welcome!

Also posted at Treasure Chest of Thoughts.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Lights

Time for an update on life in Cafe Gillmore!

Greatest Hit
This may sound strange...but the lamp lighting in my room has been one of the biggest hits of my classroom redesign. As part of the decor, I purchased several lamps and use them often, nearly daily, at the request of the students.

Great Frustration
My greatest frustration at this point is students digitally wandering. I long for SynchronEyes. On this site, a 30-day trial may be downloaded...going to check on this!

According to peer Carla James, one of the greatest features of such a program is being able to freeze the screens, not to act as Big Brother, but to ensure their attention...and their respect. Listening to a teacher is a sign of respect. Yes, you got it...I am tired of the disrespect.

Sure I can multi-task, and so can my students. I can walk, talk, and chew bubble gum...but the smacking that goes along with that is very annoying!

While an important skill, listening respectively to an adult is also an important life-long skill each needs also. That might help them retain the job of their choice as much as anything!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

While Reading...

While reading through my Google Reader, I discovered a link (on Karl Fisch's blog The Fischbowl) to this blog...Learning and Laptops. Blogger Anne Smith has been named "named one of the National School Board Association's "20 to Watch" for 2009."

Smith is an English teacher in a 1:1 classroom...ah, interesting!

I like her energy. I appreciate her PLN. I respect her opinions.

Please check her out!

Sunday, September 20, 2009


In class last Friday, I heard the first real negative comments about our using the mini's. It actually hurt...really. I spend hours getting ready for class; then I often am not as ready as I want to be.

So, yes, I took those comments very personally.

Then, I took a moment to breath. In. Out. (Did not count to a hundred...just started in on my spiel.) First, these comments came from two students (not all). Two students who are behind. Really. Imagine that!

I ended the above session with a reminder (repeated several times) that our text book is our class blog and our Info Page.

Just to check if they can remember the names of our textbooks, I have created a quiz in Google Docs to check this retention of information, with hints embedded and the answers written on the White Board. Surely, they will pass! case you did not notice, yes, I am more than a little disappointed! Maybe I am even a little disappointed in myself. Have I not worked hard enough? I have even slowed the pace down from previous years...even more. Then I attended an End-of-Level Committee meeting...that philosphy just will not work anymore, but that is another blog post on another blog!

Okay, enough of those kind of thoughts. Have to remember all the other kids who were not in agreement with the above two.

Honestly? After our little chat, which included a visualization of what life in English would be like without the mini's, those two maybe, must maybe, might have been persuaded to see the error of their ways: stay caught up, for life in English class does not, will not stop for their lackadaisical ways.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Built-in Progress

Today, the guys brought the counter top for the work area for the built-in journalism desks. So pretty! I had actually lost sleep trying to remember the exact color of the counter top. Must say...I did okay, especially considering I selected it based on a 1x2 inch sample!

Tonight the glue drying. Tomorrow, the journalism computers go to work! (Right after my friend Casey and I run the Internet cable through ceiling.)

Yesterday, I purchased upholstery and dropped it for the gentleman to make me two 2x4 foot cushions for my benches. Pretty material...not what I had originally planned, but I really like it!

Progress...oh, 'tis music to my ears!