Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Digital Citizenship, Computer Classroom Management Plan, and Eating My Own Words#

You know, as a teacher, I have always been amazed when parents made their children do way more than required for a project. In fact, I remember vividly that last year on parent conference day, I had three parents tell me that his/her/their child was having a difficult time with his/her project. The project was to find five pictures (which we did in class) and five interesting facts about a certain Native American tribe. Each student was to put all of that on a poster, and then write the same facts word for word on index cards for the presentation (so students wouldn't stand in front of the poster to read from the poster during their presentations). I had given the students an extensive list of resources to use to find their facts.

I asked each parent who voiced that their child was struggling if they were having trouble with the links I provided. All of them said that that wasn't the problem, and that they very much appreciated the links. I was dumbfounded. I could not for the life of me figure out why the students would be having such a hard time with this assignment.

On presentation day, I knew very quickly. Even though I had gone over every detail of what was and was not required for the project, ten out of twenty-four students had written full-on, typed pages of reports. REPORTS! After the first student got up there with that kind of report, I looked out over my classroom. I saw students shrinking in their seats. The students who had done what they were supposed to do were second-guessing themselves. I asked all of the students to get out their instruction/rubric sheet. I asked everyone to read aloud the part about exactly what was supposed to be on the notecards. 

Oh the faces of my students! The ones who had written reports looked at me like they had fought a bloody battle that could have been totally avoided, and the ones who had followed directions had relief all over their face and body language. My exact words? "It pays to read the directions, huh?"  

Allow me to eat my own words. Today, I have been working on my technology portfolio for my master's degree. I made the page for objective 8 today. I posted my Digital Citizenship Project that I had made in ED 505, and then I proceded to make the Computer Classroom Management Plan it requested in the directions. I finished all of the Computer Classroom Management Plan, and then I re-read the instructions to make sure I had included everything I was supposed to include. ...And...I found a very important word - OR. Or is a powerful word. The directions say to include a Digital Citizenship Project with a blog post about digital citizenship or a Computer Classroom Management Plan.

Well, I unintentionallly did both. Now that I have, I decided to include a blog post about digital citizenship. This is that blog post, and the following is what I have to say about digital citizenship:

Digitial citizenship is complicated because there are so many rules, regulations, percentages, etc. There is a wonderful TrackStar ( Safe and Responsible Surfing Kids Trackstar) made by an awesome teacher (me, who is also very humble) which explains digital citizenship and netiquette in an interesting scavenger hunt, game, and interactive type fashion on a 4th grade level. It is difficult to do everything exactly right when it comes to digital citizenship, but if students are familiarized with the basics through this particular TrackStar, they can at least have enough information to always strive to do the right thing.

That's all I ever ask of my students - for them to strive to do what is right even when it is hard and even if no one else does it with them. People who do the right thing and who strive to do the right thing are few and far between, I'm afraid, and for that reason, those people always stand out. Who could want more? ...except maybe that they all read directions more carefully than their teacher...

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


So, I went to yet another interview today. It was a bright spot of hope in the midst of all of this unemployment. I interviewed for kindergarten. I think that kindergarten may be my favorite age of students, but I have been with "big kids" so long that I was super nervous about an interview for a kindergarten position. Kindergarteners are such babies compared to those independent 4th graders!

During the interview, most of my answers based on experience were based on 4th grade. I do not think I'm very good at being the interviewee. I am completely confident, and I know I'm a great teacher. Nerves just get in my way. I become more soft spoken than I actually am, and I leave out the "obvious" teacher answers. I forget that the "obvious" stuff is the very stuff that administrators need to know that I know! Good grief. I wish the interview was an administrator who watched me teach a lesson on the fly for an hour or so.

Anyway, at one point, I thought that my interviewer actually was impressed with me. I never at any point thought that I would actually get the job. I still don't. The reason? The same thing happens in every single interview. I have a wonderful interview. I feel that I am making a real impression on someone. Then, it happens. "Well, I will tell you that we lost four people here at the end of last year." Translation? Our first priority when hiring is to hire all of those from our school who lost their jobs last year.

I can appreciate that attitude. I really can. I am that person from my school system. The part I cannot appreciate is the part in which I get a huge swell of hope because someone calls me to interview knowing full well that there is no chance of me being the one to be hired because there are four souls who are already the priority waiting in line. I also cannot appreciate that school systems post jobs because it is in their by-laws to do so, but already have a teacher in place as a "sub" until the sub can officially be hired because the position needed to be filled immediately. Most, if not all, of the posted job positions right now are not even actual positions. Those positions were filled within the first days of school, but because they cannot be approved until school board meeting day, we unemployed get a false sense of hope. I have a sneaking suspicion that the world of education is losing money this way, and I know that it is hurting a whole heck of a lot of feelings.