Refresh, Reflect, and Reinvent

I’m on spring break this week and have spent quite a bit of time perusing web sites, looking at lesson ideas, and trying to be thoughtful about how I am going to proceed for the next two months. I have just been notified that I will have access to a cart of Chromebooks to be shared with another teacher. She would like to alternate days with them, giving each of us 1-1 time on alternating days. I have been thinking about this and have a concern with that. Because we are in our last eight weeks of the year, and my students have not had any access to technology to speak of this year, I am concerned that we will not have any time to do anything of value if we alternate. The other option is for each of us to have access to 18 computers every day. This would allow me 1-2 access in class, and with smart phones and a couple of ipads that students bring, I could be nearly 1-1. I have to be sure that students have gmail accounts, and that they have knowledge of how to use the computers and any programs we might want to use. It seems like alternating days might make this difficult.

On the other hand, I knew it would be a different ball game to plan lessons with technology in mind, but I am beginning to realize how different it is. I am feeling a bit overwhelmed looking for lessons, thinking about how to alter them for my classes, and how to focus the lesson so that all students feel they are able to access the material. I guess I won’t really know until I try, so I’m starting on Monday with a simple lesson that includes both pencil and paper, and a portion on-line to evaluate students ability to jump in and become comfortable with the technology part. I guess until I do that it will be difficult to know where to go next. I’ll try to have a couple of ideas ready for each day until I know.

I really wish we would have had access to these earlier in the year. Our district has four high schools, two are 1-1 computing schools and two are not. We are piloting the SB test this year with our sophomores, and the district has been frantically attempting to implement technology at the two sites which have not had the tech strength. It has been a furious implementation that has taxed the tech personnel as well as the teachers and administrators. I am grateful that our administration has given us the opportunity to try some things with the time we have left, it’s just been quite a year of change and I guess I’m a bit tired. We have had to switch our curriculum from traditional to integrated to prepare our students for full implementation of the integrated pathway next year, which has been challenging. We are still searching for books and resources also.

I guess I’m feeling a bit inadequate at the moment, and wondering if I can continue to have the strength to implement new ideas, try to incorporate the technology and finish teaching the students the topics they need to know to move on to Integrated III or Pre-Calculus next year. Somebody please tell me I can get through this somewhat gracefully. I am still not well versed in geogebra myself, how can I teach students to use it?

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3 thoughts on “Refresh, Reflect, and Reinvent

  1. “I am still not well versed in geogebra myself, how can I teach students to use it?”

    You can’t until you learn it. I’ve tutored enough kids to know it doesn’t work out well enough. They hate it when a teacher isn’t aware of how to use technology or software but still make students use it.

    Fortunately, most students are surprisingly (well, actually it doesn’t surprise me) patient; they recognize you’re not being a complete moron and are instead just being forced to implement something you’re not yet ready for, and so if their frustrations are directed toward you, it’s not intentional. You’re just the only one they can take it out on; they really complain about “the school” forcing them to do something. “The school this” and “the school that.”

    Granted, you’ll have a few who are imbecilic enough to think it’s all your fault (everything’s your fault to them, anyway). But most are understanding enough, especially if you make it clear to them.

    That said, we cannot expect our students to want to learn anything at all if we won’t learn something ourselves. I know too many teachers who hate trying new things and learning new things because “they’re too old” and “don’t have enough energy,” which is always bullshit to students. So, do what you probably tell your students from time to time–“trudge through it and just try to do it anyway.” At least you’re willing, and students will recognize that. And just like math, if you keep at it, you’ll get it! …You just may have to dedicate personal time to learning it, just as students may have to dedicate personal time to trying to really figure out the problem they don’t fully understand.

    But as far as energy goes, at least you’re now on break. I poke fun of all the older people around me since, after the headmaster who is in his mid-30s, the next youngest is in the upper 50s, so they’re all ancient. But I always remind them, “age is only a number; it’s what you feel in your head and heart that determines how old you are.” I have a grandmother who just turned 75, looks to be in her mid-50s, is moving and grooving in spite of being a little obese, and has the mentality of an adult (not in a retarded way, but in a cheerful and optimistic and carefree way). Meanwhile I’ve seen 50 year-olds look much older than her (and act it).

    You’ll be fine if you just trudge through! And like your parents or your friends’ parents always say, “Do it and, and do it with a smile on your face!” or “You’ll do it and you’ll like it!” or else you get the belt.

  2. Mr-Butler says:

    Use Geogebratube.org A LOT. I’ve gotten pretty good with geogebra but if someone else has already put in the time, use their materials. Good applets on geogebratube.org also tend to have simpler controls, restricting interaction to sliders and objects on the screen instead of all the buttons across the top and input bar on the bottom. Check out Jennifer Silverman at: http://www.geogebratube.org/user/profile/id/12328
    Great stuff there. Also just search by topic.

    Just like finding a good video/activity/picture online it’ll take some sifting.

    If you ever have technical questions on geogebra there’s a lot of help in the geogebra wiki @ http://geogebrawiki.wikispaces.com/

    Feel free to email/collaborate: @mathbutler on twitter or jedidiahbutler@gmail.com

    I’ve been using chromebooks with Geogebra & Desmos this year but I can say that you can do a lot without them too. When trying to structure an activity without hi tech try to think outside of pencil and paper.

    • Teresa Ryan says:

      Thank you for your reply and thoughts. Paper and pencil have always been my mode of learning, so it’s what I think of first. With my novice experience at technology, I’m guessing that maybe you are alluding to using some “hands on” type activities?

      I definitely should be trying more of that, it’s another thing that’s a little out of my comfort zone, and will take some energy to begin to explore how to put together.

      Thank you for your willingness to work with me. I’m thinking that this year I may not be able to do too much more, I’m a little overwhelmed, but I will definitely be working over the summer to become proficient at the technology part!

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