The Next Page Entry 38: iPads? Really?

The Next Page Entry 38: iPads? Really?

woman using iPad

iPad distribution day…

I gave out index cards [I now have controlling interest in the Dollar Tree simply based on my unlimited purchases of index cards.] 

I had them write their name on the card. 

Pretty straightforward.

And I called out seven names. 

And I asked them to stand up. 

And I didn’t say anything…kind of fun to have them puzzle over whether they were caught snacking during read aloud or cutting in the cafeteria line or slipping an overdue book under the library door. 

And then they started crossing their arms [Well, Beth Carson did. No surprise there. And no surprise that her name was chosen—I think she rigged my own deck of name cards—I don’t know how she would do it, or, not knowing my reason for calling names—why she would do it, but hey, that’s Beth! And that’s me…being paranoid.]

Anyway, I picked up the box of iPads and gave one to each of the students standing.

I gave them a handout with the following info: 

“You are the iPad team captains for the next week. You will receive a list of your team members in the next five minutes. In the meantime, come up with a list of ways you and your team might use the iPad for the purpose of learning or for creating something.”

After that five minutes, the new teams met for five more minutes of brainstorming other ways to use the iPad.

I can tell you this…we’re going to get a lot of footage of our field trip to Buy Mart.

The Next PageYet Another Chat with Mrs. Nix

The Next PageYet Another Chat with Mrs. Nix

man on tightrope over canyonMrs. Nix: So you’ve been busy.
Joanna Page: We’ve all been busy, right? Kind of comes with the job.
Mrs. Nix: Even after school.
Joanna Page: Yeah, I’ve met with a few kids about photography.
Mrs. Nix: In the parking lot.
Joanna Page: Oh, that.
Mrs. Nix: What got into you?
Joanna Page: I’d just seen one too many close calls and I just kind of snapped.
Mrs. Nix: Any way you could have handled it differently?
Joanna Page: You, and probably the parents, wouldn’t have appreciated my other ideas.
Mrs. Nix: Which were?
Joanna Page: Let’s just go with ‘more extreme’ and leave it at that.
Mrs. Nix: So, are you done with your little venture into law enforcement?
Joanna Page: Yes.
Mrs. Nix: So on to other things…how’s the instructional schedule going in your room?
Joanna Page: From my viewpoint, it’s going fine.
Mrs. Nix: What exactly is your viewpoint?
Joanna Page: I would think we are meeting instructional minute expectations.
Mrs. Nix: You would think?
Joanna Page: I don’t watch them too closely, but I feel there is plenty of learning and skill practice going on and throw in a little creative and divergent thinking.
Mrs. Nix: That all sounds nice, but is it fitting in with the Common Core?
Joanna Page: Well, I haven’t exactly checked it word-for-word, but I think there is a standard or two that applies.
Mrs. Nix: How about posting your daily learning targets?
Joanna Page: Not exactly every day.
Mrs. Nix: Hardly ever, from what I can see. Remember that term we talked about as a staff–‘laser-focused’?
Joanna Page: Okay, I guess I could use a little work on that…
Mrs. Nix: Do you even want to be at this school?
Joanna Page: Whoa! Where did that come from?
Mrs. Nix: Well…
Joanna Page: No need to answer that. But yes, I love my kids and so, yes, I want to be here.
Mrs. Nix: There seem to be more times than not that you seem to be paving your own way.
Joanna Page: Which means?
Mrs. Nix: You’re hardly following our routines.
Joanna Page: Routines…
Mrs. Nix: I have another meeting, but think about my concerns and check in with Mrs. O’ Brien to schedule a short meeting for tomorrow.
Joanna Page: It will have to be after school. We have a field trip to Safeway tomorrow.
Mrs. Nix: Safeway…
Joanna Page: Yep, a little ‘math and writing in the real world’ activity. You should come.
Mrs. Nix: Thanks, but I’ll stay where I belong.
Joanna Page: Okay…anything I can pick up for you at Safeway?

The Next Page Entry 36: Class Book #1

The Next Page Entry 36: Class Book #1

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

Okay, so here we go. I don’t have as much time to write right now because I have a meeting with Mrs. Nix. I can just imagine what’s on her agenda. She still hasn’t mentioned the after-school parking lot ‘event’, so I’m guessing that will be a top item.

More important, yesterday, I gave the kids a journal prompt of:  “I want to live in a world where…”

The responses were classic, so good, in fact, that I launched us into our first ‘class book’. They’re now almost done with their individual pages–simple in design with just their single sentence and an accompaning illustration. 

They had a head start right then, but they were expected to work on it at home, as well. I gave them plenty of choices for illustration. Hand-drawn is always preferred, but they were welcome to create a collage of words and pictures from magazines and newspapers or take their own photos to be printed out.

Some of their responses:

  • I want a world where…
  • My sister doesn’t always get her way.
  • I’m paid to play video games.
  • School ends at lunch time.
  • My mom and dad are back together.
  • Kids could drive.
  • My dog gets to sit at the dinner table.
  • All books talk to me.
  • Older brothers aren’t so bossy.
The Next Page Entry 35: 100 Words

The Next Page Entry 35: 100 Words

word cloud with 100 words counting

I threw them a curve today.
Journal time: I asked for a 100-word piece. Exactly.
Yes, a little cruel, considering most of the time I’m pushing fluency–even wordiness–so they can see what they’re capable of.
But this time, a little constraint.
I gave them ten minutes of first draft writing.
I wanted a beginning, middle, and end.
I gave them a sample of my own.
I told them my strategy was to write first, then cut back later.
They could work with a partner, especially if they needed a second pair of eyes to simply count the words.

As happens so often, I end up throwing me a curve. Almost immediately came the questions about hyphenated words and whether ‘a lot’ is one or two words. And they needed more time. Of course, they would, Joanna! What are you thinking?

I gave them ten more minutes and told them ‘Give or take five words’ and that calmed things down. A major ‘duh’ moment for me…give the kids some leeway. Otherwise, word count supersedes writing quality.

So, my little 20-minute challenge? It turned out to be a full-blown [is that one or two words? ;->] on-and-off [enough with the hyphenations!] activity to day’s end. Why was I surprised?

Desired results?
Experience working with constraints.
‘Editing for brevity’ skills. [I told the kids my first draft was 119 words.]

My prompts:
“I was 50 words from finishing my novel and the phone rang…”
He/she had only seconds to send her plea for help…
As the clock ticked away, so did my hopes for the million dollar prize…

My sample for the kids: [Side note: A ‘tech-win’…Later in the day, they watched me compose and edit via the projector. It’s becoming a pivotal part of my ‘act’. What took me so long?]

As the clocked ticked away, so did my hopes for the $1,000,000. I strangled the phone as I thought through the question.
“Name one of the more popular of the fluffiest cat breeds.”
Siamese. No way. Sphinx. No, you dunderhead. That’s the exact opposite! Tabby. Not even a breed!
The ticking continued.
I looked at Buddy. Think ‘cat’, not ‘dog’! Then it hit me…Buddy came in once after a grooming. The lady had gone a little nuts with the blow dryer…”Persian! Mom said he looked like a Persian cat!”
“Is that your final answer?”
“PERSIAN!”
“YES!”

The Next Page Entry 34: iPads? Really?

The Next Page Entry 34: iPads? Really?

So, there I was in the workroom a week ago and I noticed an unlabeled box on an upper shelf. The true teacher in me knows to snap up loose, unattended boxes for, well, you never know—math manipulatives, projects to bring home for review [and 90% of the time return, unreviewed], science supplies, lost-and-found-and-not-yet-catalogued-for-corner-dust-collecting, you name it.]

When I swiveled the box in my direction, there was unexpected resistance. And a label appeared on the other side: Mrs. Snyder–iPads. I pulled down the box, opened it, and eyed a stack of eight iPads. Interesting. And tempting. But I returned the box. I mean, you never know if someone else had laid claim to them. I jotted a checkmark in the lower corner.

A week later, I looked again. Checkmark in place. The box hadn’t moved. The unwritten ‘teacher statute-of-limitations’ had lapsed. It was time to give these babies a home. As tech-deficient as I am, even I checked for the power supplies. Yep. And home they came for a recharge. 

Thank you, Bobbi Snyder. I hope you’re enjoying retirement. 

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.