Thursday, August 20, 2009

Do Our Students Really Know the Purpose of Assessments in School?

Here are two students, Nick and Sarah, trying to explain why they took a formative reading and math assessment today. Unfortunately neither one can really answer the question.

Here is Dale giving a pretty good explanation of why we assess.

If we spend so much time assessing students, shouldn't they understand the purpose of the assessment? When I think about the years I spend assessing students without giving them a good reason for the assessment (either by explaining what I hoped to learn or by using that information to help make decisions in class) I feel bad. What is a teacher's responsibility in regards to the students and their assessments?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Why Did I Move Out of My Comfort Zone?

After spending the last 15 years teaching science and reading/communication arts I changed positions that does not require teaching anything I am comfortable with. Yes, now I am a keyboarding teacher! As strange as it seems to me, I am having to teach a class I have not been prepared for. I didn't take any methods classes in keyboarding, in fact the only class I took was a basic keyboarding class in 1985 when I was in high school. Yes, I do keyboard every day and I have been known to write lots of content in a short period of time, but I have never taught it. Talk about being out of my comfort zone!

While I am finding it a real challenge, I also see this as an opportunity. Because this class seems to be pretty straight forward and I have the luxury of using a program purchased by my district to use I have more time to interact with my students. I can spend a few minutes talking with each one about not only what they are doing in class, but also what is going on in general. The opportunity to create relationships and gain trust will hopefully help me help them as the year progresses. After all, it really isn't about teaching content, it is about teaching students. Because of this, I see my new position as a huge opportunities to make a real difference in the junior high this year.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Where Are My Priorites?

I have spent the last week working incredibly hard, but I haven't been doing much worthwhile. You see, last week we were back to school. In the past I would have felt pretty good at this point. I would be ready to start working with my students doing fun and interesting things. The preparation for this week would be complete.

Unfortunately, because of changes that have taken the place over summer I have not yet reached that point. Our school has changed server software from Novell to Windows Server, but we haven't finished changing over all our computers. Our teachers can't print from their computers because the network printers have to be rerouted. I have changed positions from fifth grade to jr. high/tech facilitator. This does not include the basic beginning of year problems that need to be solved like bad cables, forgotten passwords, moving computers around. Take all these problems and add to them my computer lab doesn't want to run correctly and our internet access is less reliable than satellite tv in hurricane.

I am not looking for sympathy, I have already done that on Twitter. What I want to do is explain that I have thought about the past week and I realized that I have failed to take care of the really important things. I haven't spent any quality time with the new teachers in my building to help them reflect on the first few days. I haven't walked around and made any connections with the students in the school. Obviously my priorities are messed up!

This week I plan to spend more time working with the staff and the students than I do with the technology. I will make sure my priorities are put in order.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Always Evolving, Always Changing

One of the best reasons to become more technologically literate is because technology is always changing.That of course requires us to continue to learn, adapt, and evolve. An active mind is a sharp mind. With that in mind, welcome to the next generation of content collection for Noel Elementary,

The picture above shows a screen shot of the beginning of our eight grade group. The purpose of the group is two-fold. First, it is a place for students to display content they create using tech (and non-tech) tools. Second, it is a learning community where students can communicate with each other (and selected adults) so they can further their education. With this site, there are no barriers for learning other than computer/internet access, unless you consider moderation a barrier ;>.

I suggest you consider how you want your students to display their work and communicate with each other. Spend some time looking at the tools available (and check with your district to see what they block) and get started. It is never too late to begin learning anything, especially tech tools!