Tuesday, November 25, 2008

reports from a sorta-sub

Mrs. Teasher,

Are you tan?

Even though a substitute was in your room, we agreed that I would be in your classes as they worked on their research / multi-media projects. Here's my report:

Your C block worked quite assiduously (I rarely get to use that word). They created Google Docs so they could work on their scripts and storyboards outside of class without having to deal with emailing a file.

They gathered their research, but they had some questions along the way. One that kept popping up was, 'do we need to use the ten images in our video?' followed by, 'and if not, then why do we need them?'. I told them to help add some concrete understanding / visual anchors to their study. I think they rolled their eyes. A limb fell off. It was all quite creepy.

I implored / urged that in the development of their storyboards they have a lot of shots; that a minute's worth of video should probably look to have, minimum 25-30 shots. 'Our eyeballs be bored,' I told them.

Groups are like, totally like, hung up on the we-can't-use-people-in-the-video thing and it really, like really seemed to confuse and anger them. I noticed an effigy. There were some students who told their peers, 'get over it and move on', but they were deemed losers and shunned.

They know that they have to bring scripts / storyboards / props December 1 for the beginning of filming. I have a sense that some groups are thinking, 'oh, we don't need to bring that b/c our teacher will have it.' They are adamant about the fact that you have gavels and robes. Is that how you roll? If so, fine, it's just judicially skeevy.

And now...

D block...

Two groups finished, like finished. Everything done, time to spare, used time appropriately, focused, and what not. Connor and Madeline's groups represent the two completed. To note: Frank did awesome work. On Tuesday, he spent the better part of an hour insuring that audio and video tracks aligned. I didn't get to watch it yet, and it could be smelly and fetid, but he clearly took a lot of ownership over the project and deserves some kudos, if not granola.

"The Group" lived up to their predominantly vowel-inscribed educational tag...something with an I and an E, perhaps a P. They made mountains out of mole hills. They made Rubik's Cubes out of Munchkins. They made the Eagles look good. They blamed every aspect of technology for their lack of completion, but I'd blame their happy-go-lucky button-pressing fingers; fingers that pressed and pressed button after button without a moment's thought as to the consequences. I think they bombed Guam.

Unfinished groups claimed that they didn't finish because they were penalized for only having three group members. Groups of four that didn't finish, well, they bombed Guam. I'm not sure what their excuses were. They waved flags.

In the final three minutes on Tuesday (class, not the calendar day), unfinished groups first presumed amongst themselves, then decided to presume in front of me, that I would stay after school so they could finish. And while my heart is nowhere near three sizes too small, it is encapsulated in a tiny 5'7" frame. I shall not stay, not today, no way, you'll all have to find another way. Rhymes aside, the Instructional Aide and I felt that students had been giving plenty of time.

Yes, computers froze periodically, but nowhere near the debilitating frequency that I'm sure you'll hear about upon your return. In truth, the Instructional Aide, the substitute, and I told students almost every minute to 'Save! Save! Save!'.

The two groups that did finish followed that three-pronged platform of advice.

One group still needed to take photos on the last day because they didn't realize that their video needed to cover all aspects of the assignment sheet. This group, I think of three, made the three-person handicap excuse.

None of the groups were able to delineate tasks out to each other, so I took the initiative on this and let them know that while some people edit images, other people could be on another computer recording their script. This was an earth-shattering moment in their lives. Someone fainted.

While completion is key, students did work; not as focused as their C block counterparts, but I'd give the whole group a 7 out of 10 for effort. And an 8.5 out of 10 for exceptionally dark-colored clothing choices. There were slackers and such. Clearly, they're a part of our societal fabric. Hell, even movies have been made about them. Knocked Up! Dazed and Confused! Classics, one and all.

Pale and land-locked,


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

lovely, literally

Another drive-by, detail by literal detail:

What's your topic?
Um...it's right there. You're looking at it.

No. I'm not looking at it. I'm reading something. Something curvy and undulating.
So I should change the text?

Is it text? Or is it word art? Why did you choose to use word art?
So I'll change it.

But what's your topic? If it's his childhood, then why a grown up picture of him?
There are no pictures of him as a child.

Why does the picture have to be him?
But if it's not him, it's, well, it's not him.

Does it have to be him? An image of a child could work, right? You could use a rhetorical device to indicate that the picture is him, or isn't him. Depends on your comfort with humor.

Let's use Flickr's Creative Commons portal to search for a picture.

Mr. Rodoff, what do you think? I even gray-scaled it to make it look, um...older.

I think that's clearly not Shakespeare! He looks so sad. Why did you choose that picture?
Well, I'm going to talk about the relationship he had with his father next, and I didn't come across anything that conveyed happiness about that relationship, so I thought this image conveyed some emptiness.

So now that you've revamped your title slide, do you think this one fits?
Well, it has information.

Do the students 'need' that information? Are you testing on this information?
No, but how will they get this information without that slide?

But they'll want to read it. They won't want to listen to me.

But they should. And that's your responsibility. That's your task. They didn't choose to attend your presentation. Requirements for graduation dictated what class and when they'd attend, but whenever you are asked to present, it's up to you to gather their attention. Your slides will provide some visual reinforcement, some figurative extension, of what you are presenting.
So another image?

Sure. And since you went for the whole gray-scale thing that first time, I'd recommend following that style.
Flickr's Creative Commons?

What do you think?

I hope you know what you are going to say when you present.
I think I do.

I believe you.

Monday, November 10, 2008

confused: reticent - looking to present

Scared. Not about presenting. The selection process is frightening. There's a proposal on the table and I'm hopeful that the good, munificent PETE&C selectors choose me.

Doubtful. Not about presenting. But questioning the genesis of the title, 'Transforming Student Presentations'. Too stale? Too kitschy? Does it need a colon? Presentation titles love colons:
  • Geometer Sketchpad: meaningful integration tool for today's math classroom
  • Social Networking Tools for Classroom Use: transforming the learning environment into a truly collaborative learning space
  • Colons: providing superfluous sub-titles for titles
  • Hyphens - a fair substitute

Thursday, November 6, 2008

conversations at tombstones

Remember that time at the mall? We walked over to the customer service counter. You were holding an OP shirt, my birthday gift / token of middle school brand awareness. There were two people in front of us. You said:

"I think I should be first in line."

The cashier's blank stare. The jaw-dropping silence of the two African-American women waiting in line in front of us.

Grandmother, it's my please to introduce President-elect, Barack Obama.

Remember the Eagles game? They were playing the Giants. You would always sit in the same spot. You'd shout at the screen, something about monkeys. But we were watching football.

Grandfather, it's my honor to introduce you to President-elect, Barack Obama.

Monday, November 3, 2008

tough to be thankful


My life is primarily text dependent because of you. My mind, awash in ideas, is more confused than ever. Everything I do:
  • drive
  • shop
  • teach
  • spelunk
is now subject to your analytical whims. I should seek gainful employment at Adbusters. You've stripped away enjoyment from activities previously experienced and reflected upon with smiles and glee.

Recently, my family went pumpkin picking. I'm still thinking about those pumpkins - the arrangement, the chosen ones, the rejected. I feel for pumpkins dismissed, pumpkins groped, and pumpkins left for dead.

I'm still thinking about pumpkins.

Thank you, blog.