Juggling with the Past and Present

I am reflecting on the Summer Technology Institute that I had the pleasure of facilitating in June 2013. I worked with two amazing facilitators and got to meet some great teachers who all had something to share.

During these three weeks, I was infused with knowledge about all things techy. Techie? Diana, one of my co-facilitators, created a symbaloo as a record of some of the websites and applications that we used: http://www.symbaloo.com/mix/newptechinstitute2013

Today, I wanted to take a few minutes to revisit that symbaloo to see what I am doing and what I am not doing. I find it amazing how many new types of technology that I was plugged into only a few months ago. At the time, my brain was lit up with all of the possibilities of ways to use everything in my classroom. There was the Summer of Making and the MOOCs and Tweetdeck was humming with people sharing ideas.

But then school began. I was learning students’ names. I was bombarded by deadlines and due dates. Curriculum charts. Team leader stuff. SMART goals. PLCs. Speech practice. And my brain’s shiny bright light dimmed suddenly into that battery powered emergency light that clicks on when all the power fails. The batteries lit my way through the caverns of adversity, but I’m trying to get the switch turned back on, so I can remember all that I’ve forgotten.

I swear, the biggest challenge of teaching is to keep all the balls in the air, and then add a new ball or two each year. I juggle and juggle and hope that the balls that I add aren’t too heavy.

So far, this year, my biggest addition has been the use of Google docs in my Creative Writing Class. We have shared folders for student portfolios. Students share their writing and are able to read and comment on one another’s work. It’s not a perfect system (yet?) but it is a working system. The ball that I threw in the air is pretty much staying afloat on its own. I have had to drop some other balls along the way, but as long as I can still connect to this summer, and think about all the wonderful people that I met and the ideas we shared, there is a light somewhere behind one of those doors.

Mixed metaphors anyone?

Quarter 1 Reflection 2013

I have just finished teaching for nine weeks. Honestly, it feels like four. Time just rushes by so quickly that it’s good to take a day to just think about what happened.

As far as technology goes, I think this was a solid quarter for me. I feel that google docs and creative writing have been the greatest technology improvement in my classroom. Students are using the space wisely and it offers a great way for me to provide immediate feedback. It’s unobtrusive, but it requires great amounts of trust. Right now, it’s set up so that everyone can see everyone’s work; and everyone can edit everyone’s work. We haven’t had any major disruptions yet, but could certainly see that as a potential problem. I really don’t know how to use Google Docs in a writing lab setting without allowing everyone to edit everything. I don’t see a way to fine tune the permissions in shared folders.

I also started our online forum again. That should be fun. These students seem more capable of using it than ever before. They hopped right on and started making topics. I just need to remember to keep it secure.


Lessons of the Double Rainbow

So as I was walking to school this morning, I saw a double rainbow. Unfortunately, I only had my iPad as a camera, so the image isn’t as great as it could be, but it was still a splendid sight.

doublerainbowOf course, my mind (and my wife’s mind) went immediately to the “double rainbow guy” who has over 35 million (yes Million) views on youtube. So even the beauty of a rainbow is tainted by technology.

I myself posted a photo to Facebook with a little poem about the morning sky. I felt the need to capture the moment using technology and then to share with an anonymous group of people who may or may not care what I have to say. What is that compulsion? Is it healthy or not?

Apparently, I wasn’t the only one caught up in the capturing of this natural phenomenon. The band was playing on the football field, and they stopped playing. Many of them took out their phones, ignoring the director, to take pictures. It wasn’t enough to witness the event, but they had to add it to their collection of digital media, the digital hoarders that we are.