2009-10 Courses Underway: “Out of the frying pan and into the Lab”

After two days the Grade 8, 9a and 9b classes have created a blog, changed their Profile password, started their Blogroll, and been introduced to a general pattern for a new post:

It looks like it’ll take a period or two just to get the blogroll done, then “widgets”, then … the “clown pants”. It’ll likely be a while before a post is ready. It feels like the class is a “do everything I tell you” class so far. And that’s expected as every click on the school site is new. Problem solving and creativity will come soon enough. I’ve asked all English students to have a reading book handy, I expected the unexpected with the lab, but we have been able to get a tonne done. No reading time yet. Each class is filled with eager students willing to step up and master a skill and share it with a class mate. Terrific stuff!

The Grade 10s have already handed in their first post, each with 3-5 comments tallied on a Google Docs spreadsheet and scored out of 8 on the critical thinking skills rubric. Many have started their reading logs, half the class went to the library to get a new book today, many of the the others already had a book and it looks like everyone should be ready to track their reading on their reading log. Some have noticed that we haven’t picked a course focus. That issue will be chatted about in the STJ forums before a decision is made. The focus in the beginning becomes the final exam in the end, so we’ll want to think through our choices carefully.

Math Applied 20 students will choose partners and come up with a strategy to complete the “Glyphs” project from the Project book. They’ll need to pay attention to the 10 day timeline on the Topic outline page and keep up with the assigned work from the Source book as well. I think they think I’m going to assign every question in the text from here on in. So far I’ve looked at 4 questions. I don’t know their strengths and weaknesses yet to decide which questions or sections to drop. I’ll need to continue meeting one on one with each throughout the class to check notes and discuss their thinking strategies to know who knows what and how they know it. Trying to keep the class focused, quiet, and productive, while I spend time meeting with students one on one is tough and makes most – err me – rather . . . moody. It’ll get better as we fall into the routines. If this leads to success on the Unit test for Chapter 1, we’ll all be happier. I’ve created a Math 20 site just for outlines, timelines, hints and tips. Students can login and leave comments or questions there, too. I like it best when students can share how they arrived at a solution, rather than just telling the solution. After all, the answers are in the back of the book. The journey matters. The more wordy the explanations, the better, I figure. Oh, since we are in a chapter called Graphs, make those graphs sparkle. We’ll be hanging projects on the walls soon enough.

Grade 3s came to the computer lab for period 8 today, after the grade 8s had stacked the chairs they didn’t stack yesterday. So I unstacked and re-stacked all the chairs. Oh, well. We went to cbc.ca/kids for 10 minutes. It was soooo hot in the lab.

The best tip for any student in the computer lab after the first 2 days is to “restart” or shutdown after every use. With so many students using the computer to login to sites, folders, servers, email – a restart is the best way to be certain the “cookies” are fresh. I’ve gone around the lab a few times to securely logout students, but they have to make sure they restart when the leave.

Students will soon have new, working, _______.______@ecacs16.ab.ca gmail accounts. We’ve guessed our email addresses to get up and running right away. When I know the official email, we’ll be into google docs -spreadsheets, presentations- chat, video linking, site building sharing, etc, etc, etc. Very exciting stuff this year awaits.

English Language Arts 8 Course Outline
English Language Arts 9 Course Outline
English Language Arts 10 Course Outline
Applied Mathematics 11 Course Outine