Archive for December, 2005

20th December
written by Tom Banaszewski

The grand plan upon returning to teaching was to apply what I learned about digital storytelling from my research of the last two years. December 19th and I’m just now finding the time to post something related to being back in the classroom. Unfortunately, I’ve had to shelve most of my edu-tech ideas and concentrate on learning how to be an effective middle school Humanities teacher. I still have plans to introduce digital storytelling at my school and I WILL PRODUCE A COLLECTION OF DIGITAL STORIES  WITH MY STUDENTS and INTEGRATE MEDIA LITERACY INTO MY LESSONS – this year. The real purpose of this post is to put those plans in writing and guilt myself into following through on them.

In many ways, it’s been like being a first year teacher. Each day has been a mini-marathon with an endless series of peaks and lows. It’s too bad I haven’t made more time for blogging about the last few months. It would have been particularly helpful for anyone considering a change of teaching positions. I’ve always said I wanted to experience teaching all of the levels. I’ve got elementary down and am a third of the way through my first tour of middle school. Teaching adolescents is a unique experience. I had always heard of middle school as the "containment years." I think that’s a narrow view of the potential of teenagers. I don’t think much of my teaching so far this year has been a showcase of redirecting all of that adolescent energy, but there’s still two more acts to this play.

One of the few edu-tech successes of the year has been blogging. The goal was to have students post each week about the books they were reading and also comment on each other’s posts. They love the commenting part, but only a handful have made meaningful posts. I have to do something like highlight those that make quality posts or make some public recognition to reinforce the type of blogging we want to see. The commenting has attracted the readers and non-readers alike, but mostly it’s become an extension of IMing. The cool thing is that they don’t know I’m the admin, so I can make comments and they think it’s the school’s tech coordinator. There’s a bunch of different things I’d like to do with the blog like hold moderated discussions, theme responses to topics such as books made into movies (eg. Wrinkle in Time, The Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe), and experiment with ways to motivate the non-readers (eg. an online graph that charts a class’ progress on number of books read per month).

There just isn’t the time to do this alone. Most of my time is spent figuring out, prepping and revising my lesson plans. I think it’s like what a former teacher told me about being late for class: if you really want to be on time, you will. If I really want to do these things I’ll figure out a way.