Thursday, August 24, 2017

Our New Promethean Boards

The Promethean boards were installed in our rooms last week. Today we were given a few hours training on them.

I haven't yet touched the board in my room. I wasn't sure if it was ready and I had no idea what it could do our how to do the things it could do. Besides, I've seen them at other schools in the past, and we've had a portable one for years. While they looked interesting, and there were technologically advanced things I watched teachers do on them, they seemed kind of cumbersome. They were interesting, but not really impressive.

But after our training today - Wow! They've made some major technological advances in the past few years, and these babies rock! They are giant touch screens. They are monster-sized tablets. They are computer monitors. They are computers in their own right with thousands of available educational lessons and apps. You can also download things from your classroom computer or your phone onto your Promethean board. Students can work on it from their district-supplied laptops.

Teachers can use them to create and give lessons and tests, show static and moving displays, play educational videos, and probably do lots more stuff that I'm not even aware of yet because I just learned about them today, and we only spent 2 1/2 hours at the workshop.

My new Promethean board is bright, and shiny, and new, and computerized, and I can't wait to get back into my classroom to begin exploring all the  things this baby can do. And all those things I've been saying over the years eschewing classroom technology because it hasn't ever and it won't ever enhance student achievement - forget it all. I've changed my mind. These are the greatest educational tool since avocado toast.

Hmm, that was not just a mixed metaphor, it was a mixed-up metaphor. What I meant was, due to the incredible "cool" factor of the Promethean board, I want to be wrong. I want this computerized behemoth to actually lead to greater student achievement. That would make my life and the lives of my students so much easier and more pleasant.

I know that students will be much more engaged because we all become much more engaged looking at a computer screen than we do looking at paper.

However . . .

I also know that this will be another educational boondoggle. Nobody would ever try and convince us that putting a young athlete in front of a computer to play Madden NFL will improve his football skills. That only comes form lots of hard work in the gym and on the field. That's how academic achievement works too. Pick up that pencil. Apply it to the paper. Get those hand and arm muscles moving and sending messages to the brain.

When that pencil wears out, get another one. Make sure there are stacks of paper. Work hard.

Remaining hypnotized in front of a computer screen is still not the way and never will be the way students learn. Will the educational establishment ever learn that lesson?

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Why Freshman Comp Students Struggle to Get an ''A'

They fight against learning throughout their entire school career. There's no help from parents. So it ends up like this. What a surprise.
Your first skirmish will pit you against invisible, nameless, and formidable adversaries: all those “language arts” teachers from the past who, at least according to many students, seldom held them accountable for anything. To hear them tell it, their every idea was deemed above average, รก la Lake Wobegon. Thesaurus-diving was also encouraged, so that a word like “plethora” will in their view serve their purpose much better than the perfectly clear and acceptable “many.”
And if you expect reasonably well-structured sentences with close-to-appropriate punctuation, don’t be surprised to encounter something like this: “They said all their usual announcements then they talked about a contest for writing and they read the winners that won it was only three from my school two boys and one girl.”  
Should you succeed in routing the enemy this first time, your work will have only just begun.  Although some of your students may be impressed by your promise to expect only their best work, they will view themselves as casualties if their first essay—often a revamped version of one written in high school—earns a low grade.

Why Teachers Suck

This is only part of it.
  1. … because of expectations from a broken society.
Teachers no longer simply teach their subjects.  Our schools are now responsible for raising children.  Not many kids learn basic “life skills” and attitudes at home, so we expect teachers to do what moms and dads won’t (or can’t).  Oh, and they’re also supposed to make sure the kids get fed.
Too many schools now have food / toiletry / clothing pantries for kids whose homes can’t provide basic necessities.  These are run by volunteers … and teachers, of course.
We ask teachers to teach, feed, clothe, and parent our children, but refuse them the resources, support, and time to do the job.  Instead, we shame them for not saving our fractured society.
“Not only are schools and teachers expected to fix all of society’s ills, we are also expected to turn out a fantastic product,” Susan says.  “It would be nice if it could be remembered that we are working with human capital, not with a product whose outcome we can control completely.”
And therein lies the biggest key to understanding why teacher’s suck …
Our teachers end up parenting a lot of kids, and that role comes with a costly emotional and psychological investment.  Teachers are often caring for students who are functioning orphans—and they do it for countless kids.  While they’re teaching their preps, answering emails and phone calls from angry parents, trying to ignore what some yahoo has said about them on social media, and filling out an insane amount of hoop-jumping documentation to help some politician get re-elected, they’re also trying to get the girl who’s been raped into counseling, making sure the kid out of rehab stays clean and on track, and trying to tenderly engage that discipline problem who’s now living on the streets because his parents are both in jail.
There is so much more.