June 10, 2009

Light at the end of the tunnel...

I have to try and squeeze in a few last minute rocket launches tomorrow, which are going great by the way. The best time so far is 9 seconds, which doesn't seem like much but for such a simple rocket it really soars into the air. I am actually amazed no one has gotten hurt, I was concerned the students wouldn't take the risks seriously but they seem to be respecting the power of a plastic bottle hurtling back towards the earth at high speed. Maybe next year we can start this project earlier and work on designing parachutes... I just hope the weather holds out in the mornings or else my last class is going to be very upset they did not get to launch. I was called into a meeting last Friday so we had to cancel our launch date.

They had the Kindergarten graduation today, they looked adorable all dressed. It was also a pleasant surprise that they went home after the ceremony so I had one less class to teach today.

I am officially done with classes and I only have two half days to finish my first year as a teacher. Now I just need to figure out what needs to be done to close out my classroom for the summer. I will be coming back for a month to help with summer school, but only three hours a day. I am not sure what it expected of me for summer school but I have no problem going with the flow. Plus it will give me extra time to get my room ready for August which will be here before I know it. For now, however, I am going to take these last two days in stride and take a week off to relax.

June 2, 2009

The Day the Internet Stood Still

Apparently the internet and some electrical outlets were down today when I arrived at school. Every teacher between the entrance and my room made sure to tell me and ask if I knew how to fix it. Unfortunately, I had no idea, this was way out of my league. It made for a fun time because without the internet working correctly and our network being down, teachers couldn't print or check their e-mail etc. I was able to get my classroom working correctly minus the internet, luckily. I was worried that some of my activities would not work with the network down, seeing as I use 4 temporary servers to run Reading and Math Blaster, but they ran flawlessly. It was a mixed blessing when they did finally fix the internet during my last class and all of the computers started to freak out because their IP address was changing while connected to my computer for an activity. It made for a fun discussion with my third graders about the multiple Ethernet cables running throughout the room.

We started receiving our closeout procedure forms today, I am excited and sad to see my first year come and go. I will be happy to say that I am no longer a first year teacher. I just found out that the last two days of school I will not have any classes which will be great, though I anticipate having to do odd jobs to help the admins close the school.

May 28, 2009


I had a moment today with my students that I have to share. My first class of the day was 4th grade. They were scheduled to come to me half an hour early because we were supposed to finally launch our bottle rockets...the weather did not cooperate. So instead we met at our usual time in my classroom. They were already seated in the classroom when I arrived and were talking. I thanked their teacher for waiting with them and as I walked into the room my students stopped talking and began counting down 3, 2, 1 and then dead silence. I was amazed and shocked...170 days of school and this is the first class to take my classroom signal and do it themselves. If the class is getting too loud or I need their attention I will say,"Give me three" and then we count down together. I will be very sad to see them move to the middle school next year. It was an awesome moment for me, I know it doesn't seem like much, but to have them get themselves together without a single prompt from me was great. Better yet, as I started our lesson a student started to talk and his neighbors promptly told him, "Yo get quiet, my teacher is trying to talk."

I decided to reward them by trying an unofficial lesson that I have been pondering for some time now. We had our first group chat session using the instant message extension of NetSupport School. We went over some ground rules and away we went. It was great, it was a casual experience of multitasking which is something I usual try to avoid because it tends to confuse my students to the point of frustration. However, they handled it really well. I enjoy having a secure chat environment that allows me to go over safety tips and monitor everything that is being typed whether the student sends the message or not. I set up a text filter that scans what the students are typing and identifies "innaprporiate words" Basically it is a cuss list that notifies me when a student types something they shouldn't. Lucky for me none of my students said anything inappropriate. In fact they were using it to send links to the activities they were doing without talking. I showed them how to copy and paste a link in the chat window so they could share the "cool" activities with their friends. Some of my students already knew how to do this but the more I work with each class the more I realize how wide the gaps are in ability between each student when it comes to using a computer.

May 27, 2009

Good News for some but not all...

I came home last night to a piece of mail that decided whether or not I had a job at my school next year. The good news is I have been asked to return next year as the technology teacher. The bad news is not everyone was so lucky. I was worried there would be some weird tension but so far today I did not experience any. Although, I did talk to a few people who said how weird it is to have to come to school for the next two weeks despite having to look for a new job. I feel like a huge weight has been lifted off of my shoulder, I really didn't want to leave my school.

Today was a weird day, I was in a great mood till my fourth grade class. I had my first office referral form to fill out as well as my first parent conference. I had a blowout with one of my students that ruined the first half of the morning. I tried to look as calm and pleasant as ever. The funny thing is that what he did wasn't a big deal until I tried to talk to him about it and he started flipping out. Turns out I "ruined" his birthday because his mom came to pick him up early and his teacher sent them to see me. I was planning on calling after school when I would have plenty of time to talk, so it was a pleasant surprise to see the mother in person. In the end it all worked out. I am curious to see what happens when we meet again next week. I doubt this will have any lasting effect on his behavior. I have grown used to keeping a watchful eye on this particular student, but he has some major issues with authority and can not stand following directions. I think he might be allergic :-)

I need to get two more projects completed by the end of this week and then my schedule should be much smoother sailing.

May 20, 2009


I have been trying to figure out how to broadcast video throughout my school ever since one of the IT admins mentioned it to me as they surveyed our school. I have tried asking every person at my school if they have any idea how it works or where it is even located. No luck there though, apparently our school was outfitted with television broadcast equipment and it has NEVER been used. I can not believe how true this is for so many things. I guess the old saying is true, if you want something done, do it yourself.

Today I decided to try a hands on experiment. I found where the equipment was located looked it all over and tried a simple test of playing a vhs tape. And what do you know it worked, it just had to be turned on...doh. I tested it on several televisions throughout the building and they all received the video on channel 8. This means we can do all sorts of crazy and fun technology stuff. We can do tv announcements, have a digital events calendar constantly playing or even play a movie for the entire school. We could also display student work as a slide show. I am very excited, though I can tell already that I am the only one at my school so far that finds this remotely fascinating. I hate to see materials wasted and unused, especially one as cool as this.

My next step is going to be to figure out how to get the video onto the multiple interactive whiteboards throughout the building so we don't need a tv in every classroom. Plus it would look much better on a 70 inch whiteboard. I also want to start looking into video production software, I think my fourth graders could handle some basic introductions to this area of technology. They could definitely help form a small tv news crew for morning announcements and weather. I can see this being a huge motivating tool for our students who seem to respond well to hands on real life lessons.

In more classroom related news, my fourth graders had a reduced class due to an assembly which sets them behind on our launch date. The rest of my classes are going smoothly. The students are getting the hang of how printing works. It is great to see them understand that they can "copy" what is on their screen to paper. The best part is that they are young enough that it is okay that it comes out in black and white, it means everything they print is a coloring page!

May 19, 2009

Another day bites the dust

I had my interview today, I think I did well. It did not last as long as I thought it would but they seemed pleased with my answers. My principal is returning for next year which I am very happy about. She led the interview along with a parent on the PTCO and one of the school business partners. When I cam back to my room afterward there was a letter on my desk accepting me to the summer school program. The extra work/money this summer will be very helpful now that I just bought a new car.

17 days remaining till school lets out, and I am not sure if I will even have class that entire time. My principal hinted about not having resource classes the last week of school. I would rather have class. One of my kids told me that he bought a home version of one of the programs we have been working on. Many of the kids have been asking me what website we have been using because the first half of the year we used a variety of online sites that the students could practice with at home. They were very disappointed when I explained that we can only practice Reading and Math Blaster in my classroom. These programs have proven to be well worth the money, they are great at engaging my students and provide numerous ways to practice important skills for math and reading but also technology. For many of my students this was their first time printing. I let each student print one page for free and if they want to print more then they need to use a "Lion Loot" our positive behavior reward notes. It has also been helpful in showing the students how to log in to a program so that their results are saved for next time.

My kindergarten class is always so refreshing but I particularly enjoy today's class. I have four international students and they are awesome! Two Iraqi children and two Nepali. They are making tremendous progress and are some of my best computer users. The paraprofessional was surprised today because they said my name when they needed help, not just the first initial like most kids at my school, the whole last name, clearly and correctly. They were getting so excited because they knew they were doing well and wanted to show me. It was my highlight of the day. I get so excited when the students take pride in their work and want to share.

May 16, 2009

Time to Re-Apply

I have officially signed up to re-apply for my job. We received a letter this week explaining that interviews would start this week and that by May 27th we should know if we have a job for next year. I signed up to interview and now I am waiting to hear when it will actually take place. I'm not sure if I will have the same principal for next year but I guess time will tell. I am visiting home this weekend for a friend's wedding so chances are I will not be getting that much work done for next week. I need to update my portfolio and resume...this is a much easier task for me as opposed to my colleagues who have buried their portfolios in the attic. A small part of me is nervous about re-applying but I know that in the end everything will work out. I didn't attend the job fair this past Saturday, I am putting all of my efforts into coming back to my current school. I am not surprised by what I am hearing about the experience however. What Baltimore Diary described sounds very similar to my job fair this summer to find a job. I can only imagine it being more frustrating when the schools can't actually offer a job with certainty.

In other news, my 4th grade classes have finished building their rockets and now we are using KidPix to create some designs to attach and make them feel unique. I was pleasantly surprised how much the kids enjoyed using KidPix.

My younger classes really enjoy using IXL. It is inspiring more teachers to sign up for my open lab times, so much so that I have started offering my prep times for teachers to come in with their classes.