Wednesday, May 09, 2007

I can't stop now, they're learning!

Big day here on campus.

I was happily displace 2nd period so that my room could be used for ESOL testing. This meant I taught that class in Mr. Timmons' room. After some initial lag time in getting adjusted to another room, we were up and running.

To add the pressure, Phoenix welcomed the President of the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee was on campus observing classrooms. Then, we welcomed Bob Hansen the director of technology for Sarasota County Government and Sarasota County Schools. Big day.

The thing was, it wasn't a big day because of the visitors. I'm coming to get used to them.

The big day was the "clicking" that was going on in my classroom. Bellwork today was a quiz reviewing the verbs we learned about in class yesterday. It was self-grading and on ANGEL so my students got immediate feedback on their practice. From there, I showed the movie below to introduce irregular verbs, not the most engaging topic, but there was silence as the video played. I've also posted the video to Myspace, Revver, and Google Video. Let's not forget ANGEL. They can download it and do whatever they want. I'm really working toward the award for nerdiest teacher.

Now, usually I'll end the year with poetry and a poetry slam. This year, for whatever reason, I decided grammar would bring the most soul and life to the classroom. Here's the thing, it has. My students are asking questions, trying harder and pouring themselves into learning more than I've ever experienced with 9 days of instruction remaining. Crazy.

One other development. I've argued for a long time that we (educators) could be using Myspace to our advantage. Only recently have I started following through on my claim. I set up a Myspace page accessible to my students a while back and left it dormant. I was tired of students asking if I had a page.

The last couple days, I've started posting bulletins on the page. Nothing jazzy, just homework reminders and links to class notes and presentations. Last night, after finishing today's video, I added the video to my page. I know it's silly and most students won't view it, but I'm trying it out.

Here in Sarasota, a popular weekend hangout for my students is outside the multiplex on Main St. I can only imagine the fear they strike in our elderly population with the sheer force of their magnitudes. I've wondered for a few years now what would happen if I infiltrated their mob, if I began ad hoc tutoring on Friday and Saturday nights. Myspace is similar to that. I wonder if they'll appreciate the transparency.

On last thing. My friend Sgt. Jenny Morgan is stationed in Iraq and I had my students record their questions about the war and life in Iraq as podcasts for her. A few days ago, she replied to the first of their questions. It's an interesting read and a much different perspective than my students get at home or on the news. Check it out.

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