I am not sure what happens over the summer but I always forget that the new students in August are not as proficient as the previous year’s May group. This leads to impatience and frustration on both sides.
I was able to get all of my classes on Google Docs last week. After allowing two classes to sign up themselves, I personally set up the third class, a process that took about two hours. Why? It seems it took almost that long to undo all of the mistakes of the first two classes. Middle school students do not realize that typing anything incorrect leads to problems. The most prevalent one was inputting the wrong email address, thereby never receiving an email to verify the account. The second problem, teachers who allow students to make up their own password. After the summer break, no one remembered them. As students (and teachers) become more comfortable with using this technology perhaps some of these problems will resolve themselves. In the mean time, I need to take three deep cleansing breaths and move on. The results are worth it. I have received two assignments this evening. They are graded and entered into my grade book. The convenience of it all equals the time spent.
I tried a new tool today. It is a virtual whiteboard sponsored by a French company, Edoboard. Over all I was pleased but it took some work to get to that point. Edoboard requires Flash Player and it seems that all of but one of my eMacs did not have the version required. So lunch was spent installing the plugin. I had to invite my students to participate. In each class, one invitation had an error and I had to re-invite. Students filled out log in information, verified and entered the classroom. The assignment was to compare Ponyboy and Soda, characters from “The Outsiders.” In my first block I allowed all of the students to input information at the same time. This involved some problem solving to share space and information. I wasn’t sure if that approach was successful so in the second block, I took volunteers of two and three students. The students experienced no space problems but some students opted to not volunteer. While the first block was chaotic, there were some very good observations. The second block was more controlled but the product was mediocre. I am going to have to reflect on how to best use Edoboard in the future.
I love how technology can make tasks easier, more productive, and motivating but to get to that end requires some set up time, patience, and time to allow the students to get used to learning in this way.