Queen of the Quadratic

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Classroom WebPages

I'd like to have a classroom webpage where I can post assignments, notes, rules, expectations, and anything else I happen to feel like posting that would be relevant to the classroom. The first step will be talking to my campus IT person about which servers will be permitted for student use and then learn how to use that server to my full advantage.

I know some teachers absolutely LOVE classroom webpages, and others loathe the fact that computers are now a part of the job description. I personally like using the computers and feel that it has made my job easier most of the time. I don't imagine I'll find many dissenting opinions here, but would like to know about others' experiences with the classroom webpage.

What kind of items are essential? How often should it be updated? Should students be involved with creating/maintaining it?

If I find no responses to this, I will still be searching other places for the answers. As I become proficient, I'll publish my progress.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Noteworthy Quote

"I've come to a frightening conclusion," he said. "I am the decisive element in the classroom. My personal approach creates the climate. My daily mood makes the weather. As a teacher, I possess a tremendous power to make a child's life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration. I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal. It is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or de-escalated, and a child humanized or dehumanized."

This came in my email today from a source who usually sends me useless fluff. I had heard it before, but like to ponder it near the dawning of the new year in preparation for my new little blocks of clay.

While I know I'm not the only influence the students have in their lives (as a high school teacher, I am one of no less than 7 just like me), the mere fact that I have this much influence in their lives takes my breath away. For some, the only kind words they'll hear that day are uttered by me. For some, the only encouragement they'll receive is in my classroom. For most (and this is the truly sad part), the only intellectual challenge they'll encountered is presented by me.

They come with few manners and a total lack of regard for others. What blindsides me is the rare occassions that I get to watch the same kids in other teacher's classrooms. The manners that they display in my room seem confined to those four walls.

It is true that I control the weather for that 50 minutes of their lives. I just need to remember to meditate on this fact each morning and between each period.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Time for Differentiated Instruction

Yesterday, I went to summer inservice about differentiated instruction. The district wants us to embrace "DI" as it's been called and use it in our classrooms. This methodology says that we should constantly be tailoring instruction to individual students. This sounds great, but I have a little problem...

Class sizes are about 30 on average and we have 6 classes a day. My arithemtic is a little shaky, but I believe that means I'll need to create and deliver 180 lessons (give or take) every day in the span of 6 hours. Granted I'd have the other 18 hours of the day to create these lessons, which means that I would have whopping six minutes per lesson. Now, during the class (50 minutes long) I would be able to spend 1 minute and 40 seconds teaching each student. I think it might take me that long to shuffle through the 30 specific lessons that I'd created for that class. Uh oh, I forgot to take role!

Truthfully, I already do a lot of tailoring instruction to students once I get to know them, but I can't say that I tailor it every day for each of them. When I get to know students, I can help them more effectively by asking the right questions. Overall, I believe I am doing a decent job of helping them learn to learn (which seems rather foreign to today's student).

Has this "DI" swept the country, or is it just something that's been embraced in my district? We seem to be on the cutting edge of every 'new' thought in education, be it good or bad. Most of the time, the powers that be select good ideas to embrace, but occassionally, they make a monumental mistake as well.