Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Coming up for air

Nearly a month later and I'm coming up for air. Have been getting to know my class better and realising again - after so long away from the classroom - how precious those class minutes are. Have lost lessons to a sports carnival, art excursion, numeracy test, maths comp - to name a few. All worthy causes, but...

I have been having fun with our class management system, CastNet. A couple of expert users at school shared what they were doing with their class pages and gave me a basic intro to making a page. After a few false starts I got going with year seven. Terrific for practical things like putting up copies of handouts so there are no excuses for lost work. I also scanned in a short article to practice notetaking and some links to start research. The best thing, though, is a class gallery where I scanned pictures they did relating to our novel. It was a great way to showcase the work and to compare the different approaches taken. Some really nice work there. The best few have just gone up on our new class blog: Seven Magic.

The blog is going along slowly with my aim at present to get everyone to post a comment. These are quite mixed in quality but very much an educational thing as the boys learn the "how" bit. I'm planning some guidelines for posting as we look at what works best. They are also supposed to send me an email and these are coming slowly. The gaps between lessons work against this, but we'll keep on.

Now, I've had to do all this without the benefit of an interactive whiteboard which has been awkward for me. I do have access to a laptop, a digital projector in each room I use, a library with 15 computers and a choice of two computer rooms with different set ups. But I really miss the intimacy of the IWB. Can't think of a better word for it. You can get upfront and personal with the screen, modelling just what you want the kids to do in a very concrete and closeup way. And I can't tell you how much I wanted to have a digital pen to write over, around and highlight text when teaching notetaking. So much stronger than a cursor. I even considered getting one of those annoying cursors the kids love to attract more attention. What I did instead was use a Word doc and typed up on screen.

I need to get SmartNotebook on my computer at work, as I could use some of the write-on features, although with less fluency than on the board. [Note to self!]

The photo, since you asked, shows the correct way to do a walkathon - Manly style! (Pity my checkpoint was outside a block of flats well behind the houses in this picture.)