Monday, September 12, 2011

Manic Depressive

I've often said I'm a manic-depressive by trade. Teaching has extraordinary highs and staggering lows, often in the same day, sometimes in the same hour.  I'm finding this year to be no exception. So, today's extraordinary highs:

  • read my freshmen blogs: funny, smart, oozing with voice. It was apparent that many students expanded their blog entries on their own time, even adding extra posts. Blogging is truly their genre. I know we'll be great partners working out the logistics and kinks in the process.
  • last two hours of the day saw my juniors brainstorming and writing and helping each other come up with good ideas for college entrance essays. The collaborative seating and flexible seating in my room are incredibly conducive to both collaborating with others and finding your own space. Every teacher and every student deserves this kind of space. No redirection needed. All were on task. I was able to conference at least briefly with every student in my last two hours of the day. I can't remember that happening. I think the space and the ipads are two contributing factors.
And now for the staggering lows, which in hindsight were not staggering (I tend to fixate and amplify things that go as well as I'd like); still, here are two issues I want to resolve:
  • my sophomores were squirly today. I had them go "old school" today, to write a shape poem - easier to do with pencil and paper than an iPad. It was obvious that they weren't as engaged as with iPads in hand. There was less energy in the room and more talking than with the iPads. I need to think more about this - is it that iPads are so engaging that students keep writing, keep rephrasing, keep futzing with language and form while pencil and paper are so two-thousand-and-late that they finish it, put their pencils down, and call it a day? Does technology make that much of a motivational difference? I shall fill their hands with iPads tomorrow and see.
  • AP English was heady today - great points made, SMART Board dissection of page one of Poisonwood Bible. The only problem was that I wasn't satisfied with the amount of participation I was able to get, due to the size of the class. Ten more students than I'd normally have in AP has changed the class dynamic. They have LOTS to say, but I feel I'm rushing them in order to hear from others. This was the first whole-class type period I've had with them. I normally try to maintain a balance among various types of discussions: whole class, small group, and presentations. I have to figure out a way to cut this class in two or three chunks daily, so groups of 8 or 10 or 15 react within themselves instead of everyone vying for a voice. 
But now, this manic depressive needs sleep, and so, a bit more correcting and then, a well-earned pillow.
Pleasant dreams---

Help needed!

"We're all learners; we're all teachers, right?"
Well, I need to be schooled in how to attach a link to a website into Blogger via the iPad...anyone?