New Year; First Day

In a stack of papers called Instruction.

  • Aug
  • 29
  • 2006

For my district, today was the first day of classes. It’s interesting to see what the summer brings to students’ lives, both physically and mentally. One student left last year with short hair that barely covered his ears. He returned this year brushing his dark brown and yellow blonde streaked hair out of his eyes in that accidentally-on-purpose way, clearly a more confident soul.

I Teach English 3 And English 4

My classes all went well; no red lights flashing, yet. We began with setting the stage for the daily writing they’ll encounter, going through the process they will repeat just about every day. I’m trying to set up all the our routines early so it’s easier later. Sounds like a simple thing, but it’s much more complex to institute, figuring out how what is done now will lead to what is done later. They’ll start blogging in 2 weeks, with their Blogger account due to me by 9/8. The first major piece of writing for my juniors and seniors sits, waiting for me to hand out.

The juniors are beginning with a passage from Harold Bloom’s How to Read and Why as a way to think about what we’ll be doing this year. My seniors are working with Vincent Ruggiero’s Beyond Feelings: A Guide to Critical Thinking, which likewise presents some concepts that will create a formula for how we answer questions in the future. Both are fairly elevated texts, but well worth discussing. This is the first year where I am doing exactly the same thing I did last year. I think much of what I did worked and resulted in classes that were willing to go with me on my various experiments. A few things will change, but it’s mostly the same plans. I have photocopies that should last me the entire first grading period. That’s a nice feeling, one I’d usually feel guilty and lazy about. But this is all a considered decision so I’m confident that I’m doing the best that I can.

I Work With Technology

As technology coordinator, I keep busy putting out small School Loop fires. Our parents are really excited about it and a few of them come from a feeder school that used the system so know what to expect. We still battle some issues with teachers using computers too old to access the Web properly (a PowerMac G3 all-in-one with OS 8.6 ain’t gonna cut it).

I’ve been told that supplies are coming, though our district made a decision to no longer support Macs; all our new computers will be PCs, a poor decision as far as I’m concerned. Even you PC fans must admit that the computers ordered should be appropriate tools for whatever job one has in mind. PCs aren’t the best all the time and neither are Macs. Oh well…

I’ve also notified the staff of United Streaming, a service that all schools in my county have access to. Almost immediately upon sending the email about it and how to register, 2 teachers reported that they found videos to use and were downloading them. A few others sent email about how they might be able to project the videos for viewing by the entire class. United Streaming looks like a nice addition much of the staff is ready to put to use (combine that with the videos a certain nonprofit will soon roll out and there’s video-a-plenty this year).

How about you? How was your first day?


1. Paul Phuoc says:

[9/1/2006 - 4:15 am]

Dear Todd, I’m probably the only student you’ve had from your normal non-Asian infested Eng 3 course to take on the challenges of an AP Eng Comp&Lit course. I’ve started regretting this decision approximately 5 minutes ago when I realized that you did not force/threaten/beat us to create blogs for the ’04-’05 school year. I only wished you never recommended me to take that AP course–I could’ve been that avid student-blogger you always wished you had, the type that pours his soul into keying the weekly critical thinking response.

It seems that you only started integrating such methods of teaching recently, unless you totally forgot about us that year….jerk. There is no better alternative to traditonal pen and paper at this day and age, keep it up.

Linux based PCs are the future my friend!!

2. Syd Dunton says:

[9/1/2006 - 2:35 pm]

Mr Seal,

Your reaching out to students and challenging their limits should be applauded. This direction in cyber-space can only develop growth and new, innovative approaches to problem-solving and thinking out-of-the-box something all of us should practice. As eloquently stated above, let us not forget the needed place for pencil and paper, (jerk!)

3. Ben says:

[9/12/2006 - 5:16 pm]

Hey Todd. My first week of school was spent making sure all of the kids in my new building have their usernames and have created new passwords. Yes, that was my entire first week, and yes, I’m dying to do ANYTHING else at the moment. Glad to hear that everything went so well for you, especially with United Streaming. I’ve been told by someone that we have United Streaming access at our school, but the Media Specialist hogs access to it, so I’ll have to sweet talk her into busting out the accounts. That’s an awesome resource you just can’t live wihtout once you’ve used it.

Hope the blogging goes well for you this year, although I’m sure it will. Good luck with the PCs as well, the rotten crash-boxes that they are :)

4. Todd says:

[9/13/2006 - 10:13 pm]

Phuoc: Your year was the year I tried all this out on my freshmen. If you’d only stuck around one more year…

Syd: Thank you so much and thanks for stopping by. Come on back any time and leave a comment or two. Good to read you on here.

Ben: I’ve spent a lot of time getting teachers set up with their School Loop accounts, answering questions about the gradebook, and such things. Dealing with older kids means they get to set up their own accounts. Nothing as mundane as you describe, Ben, but I did spend a big chunk of time Saturday and Sunday doing data entry for a side project I’m working on.

I haven’t used United Streaming personally and I haven’t even had a chance to work with any staff members on how to implement it (other than to tell one teacher, “a projector is the only way to show a United Streaming video to your entire class”). Still, there are a few who see the possibilities and are excited about it.

Thanks and good hopes for you, too. I need to get back over to your forums more often this year, Ben! Am I still a moderator? I feel so derelict in my duties…

5. Debzanne says:

[9/23/2006 - 1:10 am]

re: United Streaming. I spent some time on it today. I found a few things that tied in to frosh curriculum – mostly about the Holocaust (for Night) and Shakespeare (for R&J). The great side thing about it is it has a ton of K-2 movies based on kids’ classics, which my daughter will be totally excited and pleased about. =) School and personal use – excellent!

About playing movies from United Streaming… I haven’t done it yet, but perhaps they could be downloaded and burned with a DVD drive to play on a DVD player, as I mentioned before?