Sunday, August 19, 2007

16 Days Until Students and Counting

I hate internal struggle. I can be my own worst enemy. I have – once again – spent the last two days filled with self-doubt. I have engaged in conversation regarding blogs. I really listened to those participating and then sat back wondering if I have ANY clue as to what I am doing.

Starting two new curriculums is pretty nerve-wracking. I have taught English in summer school before and have been doing a lot of reading. The other 8th grade teacher uses Writer’s Workshop and I am learning as fast as I can. I am meeting with her tomorrow to go over a number of things I am still learning. I am also teaching Social Studies – US History. I have NEVER taught that before and had to take the Praxis in June to be certified. So, in my spare time, have been reading the textbook (which is SO boring!), as well as fun stuff like “Gone With The Wind.”

I passionately believe that I need to teach my students in the world they live in and the world they are heading to. For me, that means I need to integrate technology. I have truly listened to the conversation on blogs, but I really believe my students need to post some of their writing on class blogs. The writing process will take a while with each piece, so I don’t see us posting daily or even weekly, but I do want them to be thinking of a wider audience. I also want my students to read other students blogs. I am finding some that I am going to have them read and comment on. I want them to learn how to appropriately respond to others and how to engage in a conversation with the writer. They will also have the opportunity to respond to each other and all the students in our CORE. This will give me the opportunity to talk to my students about how they represent themselves on the Internet. I really can tie this all together and work to make them understand how they need to be responsible with what they put out there.

I have started setting up a wiki and will use that for English and Social Studies. I am adding resources that students can use and will continue to add as we find more sites to use. I want my Social Studies students to also work in groups and put together their own wiki pages for some research they will be doing. I am looking for interactive web sites to add to their learning experience. I have been told there is no way I can cover all my curriculum without using the textbook, but I just know if I put that boring book in my students’ hands, they will resort to HATING US History. I HAVE to make this interesting. I know this is 8th grade, but these kids will be adults in a few years – voting and some will be leading this city, county, state, or even country. Hating history does not bode well for that. I think we can do better.

Am I idealistic? Probably. Will I re-evaluate as we go? Absolutely. I see a lot of research and work in my future, but at least that part doesn’t bother me. I teach in what is considered one of the toughest middle schools in Rapid City. (Okay, it isn’t inner city Chicago, but we do have our own problems!) I love my kids. I never leave for the day without believing I have made a difference. Because of that, I take this very seriously and never mind what I have to put into it. I have nine days until we are officially at in-service and 16 days until we have students. I am nervous about the whole curriculum thing, but really excited to have my students back.

While the conversation about blogs caused me to re-think what I am doing, I don’t mind that. I am going to re-think everything I am doing anyway – that’s the kind of person I am. I still believe in myself and in what I am doing with my students. We’ll see where I am in a month or two!

4 comments:

Carolyn Foote said...

Sherry--

All any student could ask is that their teacher is mindful about what they are doing.

And you definitely are!

I think blogs can be a very powerful tool for student reflection. Have you looked at the blog site, 21classes? I've heard from others that it's a good one to use when you have multiple class blogs, because it creates a combined page for them. I haven't used it myself yet.

And I like the idea of the wiki too. Our principal, by the way, told our new teachers, that she expects that they will NOT teach just using the textbook, but that they are expected to bring in many outside resources.

Keep the faith!

Tracy Rosen said...

Don't I wish my Canadian History teacher felt the same way as you do about US History?

(Probably why I started to teach Canadian History a few years ago... ;) )

Keep your vision in mind and keep strong. I love how you think,
Tracy

SherryC said...

Carolyn - I think I am going to be instructed to use the blog that the district is setting up. That's fine with me, as long as they get it going and I will be able to start! I will check out 21classes though. Thanks!

Tracy - Since you are teaching Canadian History, I am open to any suggestions. This is the first time for me and I could use the help!

Mrs. B said...

Your students will come away from your course much richer because you are putting so much thought into how to help them learn!

Too often, teaching the text (or the test) is all that happens. You are going to break that cycle for your kids and help them start to make connections on their own between what they learn in the classroom and what they experience outside the classroom.

Lucky kids! Keep up the great work!