I sat with a 7th grade teacher yesterday who has suddenly had the realization that her class web page can serve a purpose for more than who she is, what she teaches, and how to contact her. She has been utilizing the calendar feature posting assignments and quizzes since its inception back in late September. She loves the ability to point her students to the calendar for homework assignments, test dates, and generally to address the usual “what’d I miss?” from returning absent students.
Hey maybe my website can add a new dimension to my class!
Recently she has begun saving her Interwrite lessons, and inquired about posting them on her website to address the needs of absent students or students needing remediation, or even as a help with homework. So I sat down with her, and let her show me her lessons. We had a good laugh over her progression of skills, both in designing IW pad lessons and how much better she is today at basic writing/legibility on the pad to when she first used it. I have used an Interwrite pad a few times, but not enough to claim expertise. I don’t even know the exact terminology, but I want to say my colleague saved all the “pages” of her workspace after lessons. But they were not something she could post. (We experimented, uploading one, and opening it. It would open on her computer where Intewrite software was loaded, but not on her desktop, where it was not loaded.)
Learn by Doing; Trial, Error, Tweak & Redo, Success
Now I knew that would be the case, but I wanted her to see the issue–to have a first hand understanding. Time waster? Maybe. But she was developing schema for using her Interwrite and transitioning her website to more than a static page, and so I thought it important. What we did develop from this short thirty-minute one on one was the fertilization of the planted idea, and she assured me she would be back after lunch during her next planning period. (I dismissed that as I know a million things cause teachers to not follow up during the planning period.) Surprisingly she returned before lunch was done, and stayed with me until her planning period was finished too. Before she came though, I knew I had to figure out how to save and make available those lessons. So i pulled up Youtube, and searched recording interwrite. I had plenty of hits to make me understand, and when she arrived I showed her. Imagine her excitement to finally understand how to publish them on her site. But it was going to require a lot of do-overs in lessons whiler recording, and adding voice. At first she was thinking of just doing demonstrations and step by step directions, and leave out voice. She is a country girl with a southern voice. She nixed the idea of recording lessons live during class, as she said you never know what may happen during the classes as they are recorded.
Let the kids do it
So now we have this newfound knowledge and then her self confidence takes a hit–she doesn’t want to be recorded speaking, either rehearsed and controlled or in a live classroom lesson. So she considers just the visual demonstration. I convince her it may not be helpful to auditory learners. As we are mulling how to address this, I notice some vocabulary in her useful links. As I look at it, she mentions that she gets students to type in the words and definitions for her. It is her “virtual” word wall (all teachers are required to have a word wall in compliance with our school literacy initiative.) Suddenly at the same time we realize the solution to the dilemma. She will assign topics to be demonstrated, and her students will be asked to record the demonstration using a microphone and the Interwrite pad.
The plan is born
So I’m excited, and she’s excited. There is a plan in place. If and when she posts a lesson or demonstration (she teaches math) I’ll be sure to share. I’m looking forward to seeing them. And we are all excited. How many seventh graders do you know excited about math?
PS– this helps me meet my annual GBE so comments would be nice!