Monday, June 28, 2010

School's Out for Summer!

School's out for-ever!

Yes, at long last the day has come--the end of the New York City school year! I, for one, often thought it would never arrive. But it has, and wow, am I ever grateful.

It is strange also though, because today is my last day being a teacher.

Yes, I am not going back to my school next year. (Is this really a surprise? I think not.) But additionally, I am not going to any other school next year. I am done with teaching. For real this time.

So today was the last time that I walked out of my very own classroom. It's bittersweet, because there are some kids I will miss, and there are some teacher experiences I will miss, and there are some amazing colleagues I will definitely miss (well, not like I ever had time to talk to them). But I will not miss the behavior nonsense and the lacking administrator support. (Do you know that the principal never once set foot in my room? Except once she had to borrow our broom. But never to see our class, to evaluate, to lend a presence, nothing. Does that tell you a little about our school? How about the fact that the clocks all stopped like two weeks ago and they haven't been fixed? You know the broken windows theory, right?)

Anyway, so this is the end. I lugged the last of my stuff--three very full bags' worth--home this afternoon and now I have to keep reminding myself that it's only Monday, instead of the longest weekend ever, AND THAT I DON'T HAVE TO GET UP EARLY AND GO TO SCHOOL TOMORROW!!!

All of this ending business will take time to sink in, but right now I'm most grateful for the chance to SLEEP. Man, this year has been exhausting!

Also, as it is currently five thousand degrees in my apartment (though only two thousand in front of the window fan), I am off to find some air-conditioning in which to hang out for a bit. I will be posting more soon. (Since there's all this extra time now, since I'm not a teacher anymore! Whee!)

Thursday, June 03, 2010

mobile learning

Or, Holy crap, a post about teaching!

I am excited about one of my lessons today, and I wanted to share it and record it for posterity.

So we're studying one of the ancient civilizations right now; we just started a week or two ago on this unit. I showed one overview powerpoint, and then I MADE another one (it took like three hours! I was very proud of myself, even though it was just cutting and pasting, although I did also go find and insert pictures for each slide) about daily life there.

I wanted to cover gods/religion this week, but I didn't know what to do. My colleague originally offered to find something, but the day approached with nothing (it's been a busy/fast week, so not a surprise). So yesterday I tried to think something up.

I knew I didn't want to do any more powerpoints. I also knew I didn't want to make a giant packet (finding, copying, the kids quickly losing...) of all the gods. That wouldn't help them learn much.

In looking around the internets, I found a site with pictures of each god and short description of his/her appearance and domain. So I came up with a really cool plan!

First, I printed out a page for a bunch of the gods. Then I copied the image of each god into a separate document all together, like a photo album. Last I made a notes page for the kids to create a chart listing each god, appearance, and domain.

The cool part is that I took the gods pages and put them up all over the room--on the back of the door, hanging off a chair, in a book display shelf, on a locker, on the side of a cabinet, etc. I gave the kids their chart sheets and photo albums, and they did kind of an easter egg hunt--moving around the room at their own pace, matching pictures and then jotting down details.

And friends, it worked perfectly! Everyone was on task, the room was quiet, and at the end when I asked some basic questions, lots of hands went up--they learned!

I loved it, and I even heard a kid say, "This is fun!"

There are a lot of days in a school year, and there are five-ish different lessons I have to teach in each of those days. In the last six years, there have been only a handful of lessons that I'm really proud of (as in, most things are fine, or okay, but some are Special, and Awesome) for creativity, incorporating the vaulted Multiple Intelligences and resulting in real learning. Today's goes on that list!