Monday, November 30, 2009

Thing 5: Teen News

While encouraging my students to read, reflect, and blog, I continually search for teen news articles which might grab their attention. Topix fits the bill quite well. Students scan an updated list of short informative attention getters, enabling them to quickly choose a topic, read, then reflect on their blogs.

Thing 4: Introducing Blogging in the Classroom

Jeff Utecht on The Thinking Stick shares some very useful ideas for introducing students to blogging without restricting what they can or cannot put on their own blog site. Providing access to a fifth grade classroom teacher's blog,Room 227, with additional access to student blogs, examples are available to share with students who often need models to get started. Jeff uniquely addresses the overwhelming use of widgets that students find cute for a time, and asks them to consider their own favorite websites and what exactly they find on these websites that attracts their attention and brings them back. As Jeff advocates allowing students to discover what does and does not work on their own, students retain ownership and pride in their own blogs.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Seeing the World from Each Student's Perspective

Dan Brown states all teachers need to see Where the Wild Things Are to remind us of our student’s view of the world. Can we possibly see the world from each student’s viewpoint? As a resource language arts teacher I teach only small groups and often fail to realize how things come across to all of my students. How can a regular classroom teacher possibly accomplish this feat? Recently my students began reading Cut by Patricia McCormick which I had already read and truly believed had a positive message for my students. What did I not see? I, unlike my students, knew how the book would end. One of my students did not wait until the end. He saw Callie’s action “cutting” as a means of getting attention and attempted it himself. Was he simply seeking attention? Yes. However, I am the one who failed to see Callie’s story from this student’s point of view. I should have anticipated this possible view just by knowing my students. Some intervention was obviously needed early in the story for this student. We did not stop reading. All parties involved believed it was important that he realize, just as Callie soon realizes, that he is important and we do care. Yes, I will go see Where the Wild Things Are, and I will keep my students’ viewpoint in mind when I choose my next topic.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Arkansas' Report Card

Have you looked at the state by state report card on innovation and technology? It seems Arkansas ranks high in data. I can believe that. I guess we just need to do a better job WITH that data. We seem to be doing a fairly good job working with colleges on dual classes, however, not so well preparing students for the workplace. IT is time Arkansas school leaders understand not every student goes to college. While speaking with a parent today, I indicated a need to prepare his son for transitioning into a vocational school. This parent's reply, "The only vocational schools left in Arkansas are in the prisons." What happens to the students that need vocational training? How can high schools prepare students for something that doesn't exist? As educators we cannot forget this group of students that also need a place in the workforce and the 21st century.