I mentioned last night that I had to make some changes because of our friend who is helping us. While I probably would not have set things up that way for this class myself I’m going to be positive tonight and look at the good things this plan of attack can do for me as a teacher and for my students. I’m going to use the lesson I’m working on right now as an example: The Design Process. Previously, I might have gone through the PowerPoint in 2 or 3 days, then given the kids a project to go with it. That means we would have note taking all day for 3 (or more) days and then computer time for 4 or 5 days to work on the project. Under the “new” plan I have to do guided practice for 15-25 minutes and independent practice for 15 – 25 minutes. So rather than the lecture/slideshow/discussion for 3 days straight, I’m taking the material and covering only one or two steps of the design process per day and then letting the kids practice the step we just learned. What I really like about this is that rather than expecting the kids to remember all the steps by looking at them once, I have the chance to keep reinforcing what they’re supposed to know AND they practice the steps each day. I may need to re-arrange time and expectations some – two steps in a day is a bit more than we have time to handle. I think though, that if I could do things the way I used to, I would still do things this way.
The only problem with this pattern for what we’re doing now, is that when the kids are on the computers, they take a long while to boot up. The district has a new setup which is a great idea – but my computers are old and it will be a while before they can be replaced. (However, if you’d like to donate something like $20 – 30,000 to help upgrade my computer lab, please feel free to leave a comment.) There may be another solution now that was touched on in one of my Monday meetings. I will be looking into that. If we can work that, it should make the computers run faster and revitalize them for a few more years.
I know that I’ve sounded discouraged lately and I want you to realize that while I share my feelings here it’s always at the end of the day when I might be tired. Each day I start out I am excited to be working with some great kids. Most of the kids are great. Even the ones that give me problems have real potential and ability. The negative emotions I sometimes have come because I see kids with potential who have given up hope. If you are reading this, you are probably close to a school where there are kids who have given up hope; kids who’ve been told that they’re stupid so much that they begin to believe it; kids who struggle just to get by each day. Let me make a suggestion: check with that school and volunteer to become a mentor. You might help lift a kid or two out of their own negativity. You might make a difference in that kid’s life. As a teacher I can tell you how exciting it is to see those changes. I have a few kids whose breakthrough is a day or two away. I’d love for you to join with me and help these kids succeed!