Sunday, December 2, 2012

Catching up

It's been awhile since I've blogged and a few things are running through my head. So there are going to be several blog posts in a row; I want to unload some of my thoughts before they fade.

First: An update on the Gr 9 Blogs
OK, so I have been able to troubleshoot the issue of getting every Gr 9 student to create a blog (using blogger), to link their blog to their myDragonNet profile, to set their security settings so that they would not accept comments (for now) and to make their blogs visible to the world to see, but only if they had the URL.

The challenge has recently been to be able to verify that these settings are correct. I had a big meeting with all the HR teachers and gave THEM the task of checking this with their kids, but unfortunately (and not unexpectedly), the HR teacher's skills are all over the map, so they are not really reliable editors. My newest idea is to have the members of my SDLT go to each homeroom and check settings, etc, then bundle the blogs and send the link to me.

For those who do not know what a 'bundle' is, it's a great feature of Google.reader that they finally got fixed a few months ago. After you subscribe to a bunch of blogs and drag them into a shared folder, you can right-click on that folder, select 'create a bundle' and it gives you a link you can send around. The recipient gets the link, clicks on it, and it installs the complete folder into their Google.reader account. It's a tremendous way to share the blogs. Unfortunately, google.reader does not allow you to make subfolders, so you cannot bundle all these HR bundles into one, but at least you don't have to subscribe to 180 Freshmen blogs at once. In the future, I'll see about putting all these bundles on a webpage and uploading that, so people don't even have to get them in an email.

This thing about the teachers' skills being all over the map is huge. Learning to use technology is a huge process; I do it full time, and I feel like I've just scratched the surface. For my colleagues who teach content area full time, the additional (and uninvited) burden of having to infuse tech tools is really a challenge. A tech colleague put it very well: it's the difference between a 'trip' and a 'journey'. People on a trip just want to get to the end destination, and success is measured by merely completing the task. People on a journey are more interested in what happens along the way; success is measured by the different things encountered and the experiences. Using tech in teaching can be either: to those for whom it is a trip...they just want to get the task done the quickest way possible and get back to their other responsibilities. To those for whom it is a journey...each tech-related task is a learning ground for new experiences and tools, and they don't mind the time spent exploring settings, troubleshooting, etc. They actively link new tools with old, modify tasks to accommodate new skills, and are always learning. I think a major component of the job of a Tech Facilitator is to help teachers become more interested in the journey, and less on completing the trip.

Next post: musings on Math curriculum.

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