Tuesday, August 31, 2010

All In A Day's Work

Let's see, what all did I do today? First we brainstormed yearbook themes. Fun but creativity takes effort first thing in the morning. I should have had that second cup of coffee.

Then in Web Design we shopped for three different telecommunications Internet Service Providers. Interesting to note that Juno and NetZero have identical websites but different pricing.

Prep period was spent networking a new netbook for remedial help and rearranging the second lab. The PC's remained connected, I just needed to move furniture. I also helped a teacher who's unchanged password was blocking their Internet access - just a little trouble shooting over the phone.

Researched the American Sociological Association and guided students through developing tri-fold brochures for the organization. Even though I'm not grading their graphics arts skills it was refreshing to see quality brochures with real content and more than quick clip art.

Then after a hasty lunch of turkey sandwich and yogurt, the geography class tackled relief and topographical maps. I wanted them to color sections of a single map which we could piece together on the wall. Unfortunately, I should have given them a master copy to mimic rather than flounder on colors.

The girls in Computer Applications then enjoyed researching actual web design jobs in Los Angeles but got the biggest kick from locating beach side apartments they could afford with their job's salary. They may only be freshmen but it's ok to start opening their eyes to the true cost of living.

Programming class then flew through the entire second chapter about Windows XP, mostly because we had covered the year before in Computer Applications. I'm excited to start Small Basic sooner but have yet to install the software and work out my lesson plans.

And so with classes finally over I headed outside to run with the cross country team that I coach. We have a meet on Thursday so it's important to keep everyone updated and ready to do their best. Then as five o'clock rolls around I could begin catching up on all the IT requests.

With the elementary lab reconfigured, I needed to add three more PC's. One was an old high school lab PC so it just needed updates run, but the other two were donated. That means finding network drivers, validating windows, and networking them. none of my day was particularly difficult or disconcerting, but now twelve hours after arriving at school, I'm ready to go home.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Circle Up

New computer lab layout using round tables.
Got the first bits of feedback from the students about the new classroom arrangement today. So far it seems to be pretty positive. No longer are they facing the walls but circled around sets of four computers.

They liked the way they could see everybody but some missed the close quarters that came with the wall arrangement.

I might get a bit dizzy though circling around so much! 3/4th of the room is hooked up. Hopefully I can get the rest of the lab online during prep period tomorrow - that and finish building student logins to the network.

First Day Distractions

Sometimes it's tough for me to stay focused. I often get distracted or obsess over a trivial detail, even to the point of missing something really important.

Today is the first day of school and our washing machine won't drain. No big deal. We all have clean clothes for today. But it's driving me nuts. What do you do to regain focus or control when your thoughts are yanked away from the classroom? Deep breaths? Think happy place? I just need to get back into the groove of school.

Update: After draining all the water and pulling enough electrical parts to realize I wouldn't be getting a replacement locally, I called Whirlpool. After waiting about 30 minutes on hold I finally talked to a customer service agent who very pleasantly updated our information (we had moved since purchasing the washer in 2001) and arranged for a technician to come out. 

The only problem was that all their openings were during the day and it just wouldn't do to take time off the first week of school. So we'll be hoofing it to the laundry mat until the weekend, or maybe longer if the parts aren't readily available.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Perspective Bulletin Board

Using only black yarn and lots of staples, I crafted a Tron like perspective. The progression of colors with the Ellison letters added to the effect. The board is located in the main entrance of the high school and is seen by all the students entering the building as well as visitors to games in the gym.

My Life In a Grid

Here's a Master Scope and Sequence for all my classes this year. Looks like I'll be plenty busy.

2010-2011 Scope and Sequence
Student Publications
Web Design
Computer Applications
Computer Programming
Yearbook Basics
Introducing Networks and the Internet
Research Skills
Geography: Finding Our Place in the World
Microsoft Office Basics
Computers and Programming Language
The Sociological Point of View
Introducing Windows XP
Yearbook Copy
The Earth's Surface
Using a Word Processor
Small Basic - Introduction, Understanding Our first Program
Introducing the World Wide Web and Internet Explorer
Cultural Diversity
Formatting Documents
Small Basic - Variables, Conditions and Branching
Yearbook Design
Advanced Formatting Features
Small Basic - Loops, Beginning Graphics
Yearbook Photography
Cultural Conformity and Adaptation
Using a Spreadsheet
Small Basic - Fun with Shapes, Turtle Graphics
History of Journalism
Introducing HTML
The Northeastern United States
Functions and Data Organization
Small Basic - Subroutines
Social Structure
The Southern United States
Creating Charts
Small Basic - Arrays
Law and Ethics of Mass Communication
The Middle Eastern United States
Advanced Spreadsheet Techniques
Small Basic - Events and Interactions
Introducing Dreamweaver
Socializing the Individual
The Western United States
Using a Relational Database
Introducing Visual Basic.Net
Organizing Your Multimedia Effort
Relational Database Techniques
Variables and Constants
The Adolescent in Society
Middle America
Web Site Development
South America
Analyzing Data in a Database
Controlling Program Flow with Decision Structures
The Adult in Society
American Units Review
British Isles and Scandanavia
Creating Presentations
Controlling Program Flow with Looping Structures
Personal Site Development
Deviance and Social Control
Continental Europe
Advanced PowerPoint Features
Writing for Publication
Mediterranean Europe
Desktop Publishing
Social Stratification
Eastern Europe
Editing the News
Images in Dreamweaver and Fireworks
Microsoft Office Basics
Mathematical and Business Functions
Racial and Ethnic Relations
Caucasus and Central Asia
Handling Quotations
European Units Review
Using a Word Processor
Typography, Style Sheets, and Color
Gender, Age, and Health
South Asia
Formatting Documents
Arrays and Structures
In-Depth Reporting
Southeast Asia
Advanced Formatting Features
The Family
East Asia
Using a Spreadsheet
Introducing Flash
The Persian Gulf
Functions and Data Organization
Color and Graphics
The Economy and Politics
The Eastern Mediterranean
Creating Charts
Writing Features
Asian Units Review
Advanced Spreadsheet Techniques
Web Site Categories and Types
Education and Religion
North Africa
Using a Relational Database
Introduction to Lego Mindstorm Robotics
Editorials and Columns
West and Central Africa
Relational Database Techniques
Science and the Mass Media
East and South Africa
Various Robotics Projects
Television, Radio and the New Media
Complete Personal Web Site
Africa Unit Review
Analyzing Data in a Database
Population and Urbanization
Australia and New Zealand
Ultimate Robotics Challenge
Pacific Islands
Creating Presentations
Collective Behavior and Social Movements
The Last Frontiers
Advanced PowerPoint Features
Oceana Units Review
Desktop Publishing
Social Change and Modernization
World Review

38 Updates

It's done. The elementary computer lab is fully functional and ready for little gamers, programmers and a lot of keyboarding. It's exciting to think about how much better the setup will be, too bad I'm not teaching elementary computers this year. We two middle school teachers that are picking up the responsibility.

This summer the elementary rooms were repainted which necessitated EVERYTHING be unplugged and moved into the hallway, including the Smartboard. I also decided to take half the computers out and move them to the high school lab. That leaves only twelve computers.

My theory is that there was usually so much excitement about learning or discovering new things, that the kids were always jumping up to share with their friends. Now they will work in pairs with two chairs to each PC and two PC's creating a pod. It should be easier to circulate around the room. Before we had four rows that terminated at the wall and kids would trip over the wires of the row behind. Now all the wires are in the middle of the pod.

Besides moving and reconnecting all the cables, when I went to update the software Microsoft informed me that there were 38 updates. Guess that's what happens when the computers aren't used all summer long. I was glad to see our wireless router keep up with twelve PC's clamoring for connectivity. Still, it took a couple hours to get them all up to date.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Great Expectations

Sometimes I wonder if I expect too much of myself and my students. I really think they can do a lot - and do it well - but do we have enough time?

This year we have a new high school principal and he has asked all of us to develop a document listing our classroom expectations. It's sort of an amalgamation of a syllabus, scope and sequence, classroom rules and grading system. Parents and students are to sign that they've read it and hopefully that will alleviate any conflicts or discipline issues.

Here's a copy of what I developed for Publications. I feel like it's a bit long but journalism is not your typical lecture class. The sad part is that I have six more classes to develop this kind of document before Monday morning.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Blue Sorting and Color Filtering

Who says organization can't be fun? I just created an auto playlist of all my music with "blue" in the title. That gave me 31 titles and over 2 hours of music that range from Regina Spektor's Blue Lips to The Doors Roadhouse Blues and back to Vince Guaraldi's Blue Charlie Brown. I wonder what results I might get with other colors?

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Conflict of Interest

When I opened today's Sunday paper, Verizon Wireless had taken out a full page advertisement with their back to school campaign that reads "Show and tell this. Conquer the classroom with these smart deals." Honestly I'm a bit flummoxed. Do people really believe that grades would improve simply by purchasing a blackberry? Do schools really allow kids to use their own netbooks and Android phones IN CLASS?

At our school, phones have been banned and have been confiscated. Netbooks are slowly showing up but are not allowed to access the network so they are really useless. I really think advertisers are just trying to create a perceived need to sell more product. One thing is for sure, if students show up with new tools, guess who will have to teach them how to use those tools. I doubt Verizon will.