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I’m just going to dub myself a poor man’s version of Cult of Pedagogy.

via GIPHY

The question came my way today from the High School ELA site concerning what electives go well with English/Language Arts. Some of the ‘same ol’ felt tired, such as Creative Writing or Speech/Debate.

Well, let’s see.

This year I’m developing the Computer Technology Essentials curriculum for 7th and 8th-grade classes, which is also under the auspices of Career and Technology Education. Whatever it is, it’s under the Business codes in the grade book. It’s something I can do, and do well, but not my first love. /shrug Love is overrated.

Trying to reconstruct my work process is oddly difficult. “Back in the day”, I created a Traffic/Project Manager position for myself at a small marketing company. I had folders and two-hole punches and a beautiful signature/sign-off system as I planned and passed around projects, meeting deadlines. These years, I sit and create plans and mind maps, and then fill in with details.

We’re adjusting as we go, of course, with the help of four integral colleagues: two teach the course and two help me problem solve for students and staff alike. I wish everyone could have the professional collaborators I know. It makes a world of difference.

Here is one calendar sketch I created:

And it is now a hot mess.

There were approximately 9-11 units of study: Basics, Documents, Curating Content, Presentation Power, Creating Content, Critical Thinking Skills, Movies/Multimedia Production, and Global Connections.

My principal’s intent allows me to support all the content area teachers; since my knowledge is first and foremost in ELA/SS, helping those content area teachers use the technology to create powerful lessons with the tools is my first order.

Failure:

I asked the teachers in the building to give me some idea of their scope/sequence at the beginning of the year.

Success:

It was too much at the beginning of the year without further support from administration (they have enough on their plates), so I found my allies and we’ve been meeting weekly and coming up with what I dubbed “TechTip Tuesdays” a few years ago, and providing just-in-time information to the staff.

Failure:

Not being an ELA teacher this year I’m out of the loop for many of the current curriculum. (No one has time to meet, so there is a work-around.)

Success:

Talking with folks one to one helps me support them. For example, one teacher wanted a way to use Actively Learn better, and I made this quick tutorial:

Some teachers offer driven students the chance to post to the Reading Road Trips blog.

All of our CTE students are posting to the Digital Dogs blog.

Next steps:

  • Adjust the curriculum: where did students get genuinely confused? What lessons did they have the most questions about, and which ones engaged them the most?
  • Create a central location for staff to find those ‘just in time’ resources.
  • Have students create more of the instructional how-to media; when we go into the second semester there will be a higher level of tech acuity so perhaps we can make this adjustment.

Some resources:

Computer literacy is heavily explanatory text based thinking: currently, we’re working with our students to closely read instructions.

This ties in with mind or story mapping tools:

I made this for a colleague:

Postscript: What do I really do? Nag district into getting cool software. Canvas trainings. Scream at the poor user interface and UX design of most apps and software. Complain to my husband about my log-in and sign up fatigue. Make new passwords. Help students remember their passwords. Try to find multiple language apps. Get bored. Get excited. Look at the new shiny. Wonder where the time has gone. Worry that I’ll lose my ELA chops while I’m doing this other thing. Feel insecure. Feel confident. Feel overly confident and then slightly insecure again. Help someone. Laugh at Gerry Brooks videos. Save a ton of links and ideas. Answer 3,241 questions a day about something. Rage at my bad cables that make my Smartnotebook pink. Drink a Fresca once in a while. That’s about it.

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Series: Elements of Structure Part 4: Documentary Resources

NO INTERNET WEEK: FULL DOCUMENTARY from Mother on Vimeo.

Documentaries are non-fiction with bias. At least that’s how I define it…because documentaries are so much more than just presenting facts. Sheila Curran Bernard says it better:

“Documentaries bring viewers into new worlds and experiences through the presentation of factual information about real people, places, and events, generally — but not always — portrayed through the use of actual images and artifacts. But factuality alone does not define documentary films; it’s what the filmmaker does with those factual elements, weaving them into an overall narrative that strives to be as compelling as it is truthful and is often greater than the sum of its parts.”

–Sheila Curran Bernard, Author of Documentary Storytelling

If you’re interested in sharing documentaries with students, here are some good resources:

Films for Action

Top Documentary Films

Documentary Heaven

PBS 11 Documentary Sites

Added: Frontline

Documentaries must not stay in the domain of history or social studies but extend far into all content areas. Moreover, students creating their own documentaries may be the most powerful voice and tool of all. If you’re heavily embedded in fiction and literature studies, consider documentaries that discuss the lives of the authors, or take on a meta-fictional approach. 

And what a grand opportunity for students to explore and analyze sources:

Original Post
Original Post

I would love to know what documentaries you’ve shown, and if you’ve tried having students create their own. How did it go, and what went well?

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Tagged.

Nailed it.
Nailed it.

Yesterday I spent 15 minutes searching for a website/resource I want to use this year. I couldn’t find it in my bookmarks, or remember its name, just that I discovered them at NCCE, and could have sword that I wrote about them in a post-convention post. Nope. Nowhere. But I did find it in my bookmarks, (forgot which browser I had it on), and gathered the needles and built a new haystack for colleagues.

(I really need to do a better job of tagging these posts.)

In my head:

From The Story Grid by Shawn Coyne
From The Story Grid by Shawn Coyne

You need this book.

And links:

Actively Learn

NewsELA

Artifact (DiscoverArtifact)

CommonLit

Podcasts for teaching (link to fictional podcasts — but there are many to choose from for informational/argumentative topics)

And solid books in print:

IMG_3974

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Hunting Great Books: Desperately Seeking Substance

I’ve been on a treasure hunt, a quest, a  mission, an operation, and a charge to seek out books that will help us all answer our burning questions in life. To boldly use my insomnia (inability to sleep peacefully) to explore the websites’ nooks, crannies, bogs, blogs, under logs, and kissing a few frogs to seek beautiful, bold books for myself, and my students, to read.

To say that there are a plethora of young adult book blogsis an understatement. And, one trend I’ve noticed is many of them promote what I would consider a tendancy toward chick-books: Gothic, romantic, swooning, with plenty of lip gloss and angst. Not that there’s a darn thing wrong with any of those things. However, I’m still on a quest for more choices, better organizations of genre, and targeted searches. I may just have to take control of my own destiny and make this blog work a little harder.

 There are so many ways to choose a good book to read. The question isn’t whether or not you should be reading, of course you should. You must. You read to expand your brain so the world doesn’t take advantage of you, but you can control your world. You read to develop better life skills, a personality, you read to get a life, for goodness sake! Let me know how you find good books to read.