Monday, December 10, 2012

Handing Over The Keys...

Wow, time sure flies.  It has been nearly two months since my last post.  I intended on this blog being a weekly installment.  Instead, that hasn't happened.  A big reason is that I never wanted to be the sole creator of content for the blog.  I wanted input from my students.  Now, it is evident that I really need to get my students on here and describing their experiences in my classes.  Whether it is on this blog, or in a different form, I anticipate my next post will be from a student.  Hopefully soon!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Late First Term Musings

It has been a while since I've posted anything.  Sometimes the most well intentions get thrown to the wayside in the midst of the madness that is the school year.

My hope was that I'd eventually have student content and students posting on this blog.  Once I get more settled in and more consistent, I still plan on making that happen.  As for right now, here is an update on what is going on in each class:

  • 8th Grade Technology Literacy Careers:  In one of my favorite projects of the semester, my class collaborates with another class.  That class deals with engineering, so they end up creating a product and sell it.  My class is responsible for marketing the product.  It is truly a fun experience getting the students to each see some of the different functions of marketing work.  The project simply goes a week and a half, and we'll be moving on to our big career research paper to round out the term.

  • 7th Grade Computer Applications:  We just finished up a menu project in which students use a creative theme menu as the vehicle in Word to demonstrate the skills they have gained so far.  Next up is a mini unit in Excel and a project that gets students used to working with Google Docs.

  • 6th Grade Keyboarding:  Students are working hard now on the top row numbers.  They are also striving to make gains in their GWAM (typing speed).  As an aside in our block class, we are currently working in PowerPoint.  Following that, we will be spending some time in Excel, as well as taking a quick tour of the other applications available to students, as well as some of the applications in the cloud.  After that, we will be working on understanding search engines and improving our searching abilities.

  • Enrichment:  The 6th Grade Enrichment classes are both wrapping up their first presentations.  The big struggle for these students was getting them to limit the amount of text they had on each slide.  I forced them to only use six or less words per bullet point, and no more than six bullet points.  I'm looking forward to seeing how they do when they present in front of the class!  My Monday/Wednesday 7th Grade Enrichment class is investigating holidays and traditions around the world to help gain a global perspective.  My Tuesday/Thursday 7th Grade Enrichment class is beginning to film videos on following the rules.
Okay, I think I got it all out.  Working my hardest to finish the semester out strong.  Until next time...

Thursday, September 20, 2012

PBL and Enrichment

At Denmark Middle School, we have "Enrichment" classes that run opposite of Band and Chorus.  The reasoning behind these courses is to give teachers and opportunity to use Project Based Learning in an environment that isn't focused on covering x-amount of standards in y-amount of time.  The format presents plenty of challenges as well as benefits.  As someone who is learning and trying to incorporate more PBL in my classes, Enrichment provides the perfect training ground to hone my skills.

Today, after a particularly difficult day in class, I was trying to think through some ways to deal with some student behavior issues.  Then it hit me - why not make the problem a project?  Because the rules have been challenging to follow, my thought was this - allow the students to group up in teams, or go solo, to create a presentation about the classroom rules.  They can use video, sound, or just create a simple slideshow to show what to do and what not to do.  This solves two issues - one, it gets the students up and moving and doing something instead of trying to focus on me, and subsequently, engaging themselves in other ways; and two, whether they know it or not, they will have to think through the rules and be able to give good examples of what following the rules looks like and what not following the rules looks like.

The beauty of Enrichment is that I have time to tackle a project like that.  In most classes, there is, as I mentioned before, so much curriculum to cover that even spending a few days on something unplanned places some serious time constraints on what we can cover.  Because of Enrichment, these students will have the opportunity to take the rules they are simply told and own them.  And maybe, just maybe, the learning will be so deep and the end-results so powerful that the presentations and videos can have impact beyond my classroom.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

And....We're Off!

Good evening,

The 2012-2013 school year is underway.  The students are back and the learning has begun.  While much of my curriculum has remained unchanged, I am excited about new lessons I worked on for my 6th grade Keyboarding class.  Aside from plentiful reinforcement and training in keyboarding speed and accuracy, I have incorporated what I refer to as a "respecting the computer" unit.  This unit will run the entire term, concurrently with the regular keyboarding instruction.  I thought it was very important to include this information as students in 6th grade are being intrusted with their own laptops.  Some of the topics we will be covering include:

  • Hardware - students will learn some of the more important hardware components of a computer.  Students will also get to see the inside of a computer and apply their learning by identifying the parts we discussed.
  • File management/Getting around - Students will learn the importance of using folders to organize their files.  They will also learn some ways to be efficient when accessing said files.
  • Software - students will be able to identify and explain the purpose of the different software they will commonly find on computers.
  • Internet Browsing 101 - Students will learn about different internet browsers, and be able to understand the advantages and disadvantages of each. They will also learn how to use their browser efficiently, through bookmarks, setting their home page, and using function keys.
This is by no means a comprehensive list.  In addition to what I have planned, I have also set up a discussion on our online group page for students to post questions or suggestions for things to cover. 

Is there something you think that 6th graders should be learning about computers?  Feel free to drop it in the comments.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Preparing for the new school year!

After a summer of reflection and refreshment, it is once again time begin a new school year.  I am excited for the many new ideas I have to implement this year, as well as the traditional projects that are always interesting to see where students take them.

This will be a short post, just to get my feet wet.  I plan on updating weekly to share experiences, ideas, and hopefully some laughs.