The Next Page Entry 11: Tech-kids to the rescue

The Next Page Entry 11: Tech-kids to the rescue

ape with question marks
The three question marks give me too much credit.

So… here is my ‘rookie’ showing again…

All these photos were taken. Now what do I do with them?
Beth Carson, and her charming new sidekick, Sanjay, to the rescue.
Paraphrase time: [I’m leaving out eye-rolls, deep sighs, beads of sweat forming on my scalp, full-on blushes]

***

Beth: Ms. Page, when can we see the other kids’ photos?
Me: Hmm…let me think about that. [A lame ‘dodge’ on my part.]
Beth: Aren’t they on a computer?
Me: Tell me more. [Always good to model curiosity, right?]
Beth [turning to Sanjay, then back to me]: Can we help?
Me: Tell me even more.
Sanjay: Can we look in the cameras’ boxes?
Me: Of course you can.
Beth: We think there are cables we can use to transfer the photos to a computer.
Me: I will love you forever.
Beth: Yikes.

The Next Page Entry 10: Budding photographers

The Next Page Entry 10: Budding photographers

boy aiming camera toward sky
The rare occasion when the artist had some ‘alone’ time.

I was so taken with my 30 Circles activity, I had forgotten to write about Day 1 with the cameras…

I launched into the photo scavenger hunt and I ended up with photos of kids’ nostrils [my fault: I included ‘take a picture of a dark place’ in my scavenger hunt. So, I’m a rookie, sue me.]
Other scavenger hunt items:
— a four-sided figure
— something that shows an acute angle
— something that contains at least four colors
— something that is moving
— something affected by the wind
— something smaller than your thumbnail
— something taller than you
— something you might include in a story you would consider writing


Lots of fun and the kids were all over the playground–little bands of four  chasing after and barking suggestions at the one with the camera. A few near-collisions between the groups. No casualties, including the cameras.
Not easy to rein them in. They seemed deaf to the rather forceful blowing of the whistle.
I enjoyed using the camera myself to complete the scavenger hunt and  to document the kids at work.
I think Mrs. Nix had wandered to the nearest wing of classrooms, but I was too busy with my budding photographers to redirect.

All in all, tech is paying off. But I won’t hold my breath. This is me, after all.

 

The Next Page Entry 9: 30 Circles

The Next Page Entry 9: 30 Circles

thirty circles word cloudSo out of the blue I decided to launch into a new creativity challenge for the kids.
It was near the end of the day and they really were dragging.
I reached into my bag of tricks [i.e. my ever-growing library of ideas] and out came, 30 Circles. Normally, I would have given out a sheet of 30 Circles to each kid, but I didn’t want to take the time to print out that many copies.
So, there I went again—one copy for five kids, each taking turns.
And off we went…
They had ten minutes to create a new object out of each of the circles. I showed them how I turned one of the circles into a happy face. Not very original, but that was the point. I didn’t want them thinking plain and boring and obvious.
The challenge? Within ten minutes, complete all 30 circles.
I assured them they weren’t expected to reach that goal, so their more realistic challenge was to complete at least 20. What’s the reward? they asked. I honestly didn’t have one. There was a brief awkward moment…as if they weren’t used to doing something just to, well, ‘do something’.
Then we all shrugged, and I set the timer. [New tech skill! I used and projected on the whiteboard an online timer. Watch out, world! I could be dangerous with all this knowledge and such a reckless (relatively :-] It’s me, after all.) attitude.
I started the timer and played the William Tell Overture on a CD. [I know, I know, old technology.]
I noticed kids waiting their turn either looking around the classroom for ideas [Fine with me! It cranked up their observational skills!] or sketching out ideas on a piece of scratch paper so they would be ready to quickly contribute and move it along to the next teammate.
Four groups reached 20 and for the two that didn’t, I made a big deal over their originality. [One group merged five circles to make Olympic rings and the other created kaleidoscopic images as well as an image of a house as viewed through a camera’s viewfinder.]

Great way to end the first week of school.

The Next Page Entry 8: A Bump in the Road

The Next Page Entry 8: A Bump in the Road

So, the first obstacle to my tech ventures.

I got grilled by Mrs. Nix about using classroom money for the cameras. Okay, maybe not ‘grilled’, but at least ‘questioned with doubt in her tone’.

I told her that including their own photos would raise kids’ engagement with writing.

I told her that using cameras would heighten their observational skills. 

I told her that using cameras and photos link to at least four Common Core standards. Not my favorite fallback, mind you, but sometimes you have to use the ‘language-du-jour’.

And that’s why I should have stopped there.

I mentioned ‘visual literacy’. Not good. Whenever Mrs. Nix is vaulted out of her own comfort zone, she stiffens up.

“Well, I’ll think about it.” 

Uh-huh. That usually means ‘no’. 

So, right then and there, I changed course.

Even if she miraculously changed her ‘no’ to a ‘yes’, I didn’t want her thinking she was doing me a favor.

My words: “You know…I understand your concerns. I think I’ll just use my own money.”

At that moment, the lunch bell rang. I’m not always a fan of the bells, but it gave me a seamless escape.

I checked my watch, did the ol’ eyeglasses adjustment, and thanked her for her time. Not huffy. Not exasperated. Just matter-of-fact. 

And I was gone. With a few conclusions…

–I’m on my way out. From this school, at least.

–And since I am, why not keep stretching myself? [and a few of the ‘rules’].


This book’s excerpts will soon be also appearing in my 7 C’s Teacher Expo.

The Next Page Entry 7: Camera time!

The Next Page Entry 7: Camera time!

digital camera being. aimed at shiny image

Okay, I’ve committed to tech and I’ve already decided on my first venture: cameras. 

I’m starting with eight of them and hey, I have a little class money to spend, so why not?

Why cameras?

—I can afford the film. ;->

—Cameras beg to be part of an art curriculum. Photos’ visual nature can lead to all kinds of discussions about light and color and other elements of art.

—They are an automatic ticket to squeezing art into the curriculum, something at which I’ve failed miserably.

—Photos can amp up any of the other subject areas, as well.

—I have the feeling cameras are going to give me a much-needed kick in the seat of the pants if/when I drift back to my non-tech comfort zone.

The Next Page Entry 6: Techno-wimp no more!

The Next Page Entry 6: Techno-wimp no more!

Question: What mixes worse than oil and water?

Answer: Joanna Page and technology.

It’s as if every device in my classroom over the years, every cable that connects those devices—they all conspire against me.

And whenever they’re in the mood to disconnect or—even if they stay connected—to simply not work, well, they don’t!

Just when I’m ready to share a PowerPoint that worked for me at home [note: I found it online. I gave up on making my own years ago.], the projector won’t work. And I end up doing a shadow puppet rendition of a frantic tech-challenged teacher.

It’s as if tech senses my fear and it toys with my few remaining shreds of sanity. 

“So, yes, Doctor, I do sound more than a little paranoid, don’t I?”

But sometimes, there’s nothing like a good ol’ delusion to get me through the day…

Well, this whole tech thing has to change…

So, why technology?

1. It’s about time. It’s long past time. 

2. What do I have to lose? It’s looking more and more like I’ll be seeking new frontiers next year. Sometimes I feel it in the pit of my stomach on those rare occasions when I’ve walked into the staff room. And sometimes, it’s the deafening silence coming from Mrs. Nix. It’s not as if we ever really flowed anyway, but now, there is this extra layer of rigidity. Shrug.

3. Kids will love it. 

4. I’ve been a technoweenie too long. [See #1]

5. The only person who’s more stultified by tech? Mrs. Nix. Therefore, I have to admit, I’m kind of looking forward to seeing the glazed-over look on her face when I launch into any explanation that includes the words ‘digital’, ‘bandwidth’, and ‘cloud’. Keeping in mind I have to get to a point where I’m comfortable with those same terms. Baby steps, Joanna, baby steps. 

 

The Next Page Entry 5: Reading assessment ‘fun’

The Next Page Entry 5: Reading assessment ‘fun’

assess on scrabble letters

Okay, so there are some non-negotiables at the beginning of a school year and one of those is school wide reading assessment. Oooh, my favorite.

They have the kids march down to just outside the reading room and squirm and writhe on a cold, hard [and not-so-clean] floor, armed with a book and an understandable antsiness. Is that a word? It should be.

Anyway, I was ready.

Step 1: I brought blankets.

Step 2: I had the kids bring their journals for sketching or writing.

Step 3: I brought playing cards, which were used for either quick addition or multiplication ‘face-off’ [I don’t use ‘War’ to name the game; call me a ‘pacifist’. Even ‘face-off’ carries its own level of aggression, but I show them a face-off in a hockey game, well, I could go on and on trying to calm the waters…]

Step 4: I brought a box of books and assigned to Beth and James the role of ‘circulation director’. Kids could exchange books as needed.

And all went fine. For ten minutes.

And then I found something better .
shelf of books in an elementary school libraryThe library—within ten feet of the reading room—was available! Not sure why that wasn’t offered to begin with, but I marched them in and figured I’d weather any possible blowback later. A library with tables and chairs and comfort and quiet. Seemed like a better lead-in to a reading assessment.