Thursday, March 25, 2010

Mix It Up

The Justice and Peace class text starts the chapter on diversity and community with a story about a school having a Mix It Up Day. We used to do that at our school, but the committee that planned it became discouraged when students didn't really participate. That led to a good discussion and a "map" on my board showing which group sits where in the cafeteria.

So I came up with an idea for extra credit, and some students seemed interested, though I don't know if they'll follow through. All they have to do is introduce themselves to some freshmen and find out about them. Then they need proof to show me. Here's the cool thing: the frosh, unlike the rest of the students, have webcams. They can shoot a little video or a still shot to hand in with some text. Someone wanted to know if they could Skype! Sure, if I'm free. I'll see them, but they won't see me. Because I have a "sophomore" laptop.

The lovely podcasts

A second semester go-around with this assignment. A little smoother, with some ideas for making it even better next time. Just now I was reviewing earlier posts on this and saw a comment from TeacherLady about using Moodle wikis with groups. I'll ponder that. I do like Moodle wiki groups, at least so far for in-class activities.

At one point I was feeling ready to throw in the towel and go back to the written form of the assignment. But I do like the recordings; I think they bring the content to life.

Speaking of Moodle, I'm using the "feedback" feature to do a quick survey about the assignment with my students.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Another day, another thing learned.

I learned to reorganize a table in Word. I moved my columns around to an order more pleasing to me. After a lot of time. And consulting "help," which did not much help.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

You learn something every day.

We've got this policy of only using students' last initial to protect privacy, but that has gone by the wayside when I've had students uploading files with Google accounts with their school e-mails. But today I noticed that a student's upload came through with just her first name, last initial. It was as simple as putting her name in the Google profile, which apparently most of the other students had not done. Yay!

Saturday, March 13, 2010


Trying to use Google Sites as a place for students to upload podcasts. I have done this before. I remember difficulties with students getting on because of Google accounts and permissions and all that. But this time I can't even get the e-mails inviting them to the site all delivered.

There are good tech experiences and bad ones. This is shaping up to be a bad one. Time for Wikispaces? I'm testing that with the JP projects.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Diigo indeed

Just got finished going over the second round of bookmarks. Much smoother this time. Everything seems to be showing up. I taught students how to find the "persistent URL" in Gale, and most got it.

It's just cool to have this view, in such an organized way, of how everyone is doing on her research so far. A few have gone way beyond requirements, finding and highlighting extra articles on her topic.

So far, so good. 

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The video

In JP, showed Dead Man Walking. For various reasons, had exactly three class periods to do it. 129 minute movie. Intense movie. I couldn't put it off until next week because the schedule is no better, with juniors taking a state exam and missing some classes. How am I going to show this movie and be able to process it with the girls?

With technology. I wasn't sure if it would be a good idea to do "backchannel" during the video, but I think it worked. Students who were unsure about things ("Doesn't she live in a convent?" "What happened to the other guy?"  "Why are they talking about slavery? When is this movie set?") could get answers on the spot. I didn't have to say much -- the students answered each other's questions.

They also began the discussion about the death penalty.

Then for the first two nights, I gave them discussion questions on Moodle. Some of the questions were inspired by questions or comments during the video.

So when, today, the last day, we finally had some time for face to face discussion, it did not feel like we were starting from scratch. We can get back to it next week, but much of the groundwork has already been laid. All in all, I call this a successful experiment, one I would repeat even when I am not so pressed for classroom time.