So the first week of my new adventure in teaching has come and gone, and there have been some interesting moments. Some of the points that I am reflecting on are the following:
- Simple things like reminding the students to bring their ear buds so they could listen to the videos (and eventually podcasts) that I’d like them to follow in order to answer the questions I give them, were both easier and more difficult than I thought. A lot of students had them, but surprisingly to me not all of them had them, so the first time I tried to have them follow a video we ended up having to watch it all together.
- Google Apps has been a wonderful discovery especially the power of the form. I am able to ask the students a few simple questions to start the class and then we can look at the ‘data’ and discuss. I was also able to collect the student’s e-mail in extremely short order. Lastly by asking a few simple questions at the beginning of the first class I was able to get an overview of the class in a fashion that I have never been able to do. I was able to find out and view in a generalized fashion a lot of information about my class. I used to hand out sheets and have the students fill in most of this information, but I never really had the time to look for more than specific outliers, never to really get a sense of the class. I was also able to assess their habits as far as social studies (reading newspapers, watching the news) and get an idea that if most of my class wants to go onto post-secondary study (another question) than a large number of them need to change these habits to help them become more successful. Really the forms function has been wonderful, putting it all in spreadsheets and graphing it has been great, but I am still frustrated with Google’s word processing program as I find it very limiting compared to Microsoft Word.
- Another interesting experience has been working on getting the students to submit their work to me. I would like the students to use something else besides e-mail but only a very small number had Google accounts, and the ability to share things otherwise seems a little bit limited. I tried to introduce them to Dropbox, as a way that they could transfer their files simply between home and school, but then found a lot of them just e-mailed their files home anyway.
- A couple of students have their own laptops which is great because I am short a couple of computers if all the students show up, and even then it’s nice to have a buffer as sometime school tech works, and sometimes it doesn’t. Like today when I was trying to load a DVD into my teacher machine and it kept on shutting itself down. Annoying to say the least, and a giant time wasting experience to say the most.
- Lastly the biggest problem I’ve had with having computers in the classroom is that my brain seems to need retraining. I want to do something new with the students but at the same time my brain seems to be defaulting to those things with which I’ve taught the majority of my classes in the past. Hardly inquiring sort of stuff. I want to do more, but it is just so easy to revert to what I’ve used in the past. My mind is open but my brain seems closed.
The last of the problems is obviously the biggest. I sometimes feel like I don’t know where to start. It’s making for really long days!