It is amazing how slow progress can go at times. Even with step-by-step showing on the Smart Board though smart it is not we make such slow progress. We have six week rotations to learn a program or too or three and have time to make things like self created magazines. Damn I need to change this course and we are half way through all ready.
I did have a handle on the class. This situation of having 6th - 8th grade in one class; a couple students are lucky to find the difference in keyboard letters, others are finished in ten minutes with what we are doing. My principal says just give differentiated instruction to include all students. In other words write three lessons. Not to worry we got through the first part - they were creating a video interview story of another class mate. All we have on the computers is Microsoft Movie Maker - easy for the 8th graders but difficult, hard to believe, to the 6th graders. We did move onto starting using inDesign and Illustrator but not very far.
What throws me off the most is when I have a class fourth period, which is 2.10 to 3:45 (today was an assembly day so it began at 2:30) with no other classes and I am not working with other teachers integrating technology. I start to dwell on what I will teach. It was already planned out; we were going to do some re-telling of news stories and post them to the student’s Google Sites, and add some more features such as a blog and calendar to sites. I ended up re-writing my lesson for the day several times and by the time 2:30 rolled in I was a bit confused. The students were unable to do their homework from last time because they could not get Sites at home without a VPN, which only two out of nine have. I had told them to email the homework to themselves and upload it when they got to class.
It is middle school – they are all over the shop. I expect too much; going from one day teaching students that are seniors and a couple in grades 10 and 11, to teaching 6th – 8th graders is quite a stretch. The sixth graders do not have a clue this first couple of weeks of school, coming up from elementary, and the 7th and 8th graders had me for publications’ last year and I need to teach them something of a higher level and not just repeat last year. Learning to differentiate 6th graders from 8th graders is a challenge of its own. It would be so much easier to have everyone in one grade. The older students get bored easy and the younger ones do not have a clue. The seventh graders are just in la la land and their challenge is to keep them speaking English. The Koreans chat to each other and so do the Chinese and our rule is that only English is spoken in the classroom. The biggest offenders are the 7th grade girls.
They are all good kids – they know me from last year, no one is trying it on – I just need to keep them gainfully involved for 90 minutes to the level that will make them go beyond what they can do – just a bit. Perhaps I will start having the 8th graders produce something like in InDesign and the 6th graders I will need to teach the basics to and the 7th graders – push them out the window – no they can write copy for advertisement. That is what I will do; separate them by tasks and age. Next class I will give the 8th graders an article on advertisement and tell them to write an ad for something; the 7th grade girls can create a fashion spread in Photoshop – how sexist; and the sixth graders can create a newsletter in InDesign about themselves. They will do last year’s work that the now 7th and 8th graders did. Every few lessons I will bring them all back together and they can collaborate with what they have done into one thing like an ad or newsletter.