Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Did you read it? Where?

Within the last week or so, I am sure I read a post or an article somewhere that talked about academic writing (in English) being a foreign language. Did anyone else see it? It's one of those things I should have furled or something, but didn't. And now I need it for a paper I am writing! I would appreciate any help you might be able to give me.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Writing Project weekend

I have just returned from a 2-day retreat with our local Writing Project site, the Southeastern Louisiana Writing Project. It was great to get away, spend time with my writing friends and make plans for the coming year.

I urge any US teacher who might read this post to check out their local Writing Project site. If you don't know where the nearest site is, check out the National Writing Project website for a list of sites by state. You don't have to be an English teacher, and it doesn't matter if you teach Kindergarten of graduate students; the Writing Project has something for you!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Beginners welcome

Vicky has an interesting post about the power of a newbie. She refers to a comment she had received from a beginner who had felt insecure about blogging her beginner experiences. Vicky quotes from one of her previous posts:
When you are a newbie, you have something that tech-experts do not have: the perspective of a new user.

Another important point in this discussion, I think, is that we are all beginners at something. So people who have been blogging for awhile may be scuffling to learn about wikis and people who have been podcasting "forever" are looking at some next thing. Once you get involved in this technology and what it can do for you and your classes, you have begun a never-ending process of exploration and learning.

So, like Vicky, I encourage anyone who is even remotely interested to join the discussion. We are all learning from each other, no matter how new or how experienced. That's the beauty of it: not that there are a large number of experts to lead us through the process but that we are all in it together, helping each other out when we can.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Student Responsibility

As you are probably aware, I am doing my ESL courses as blended courses this semester. It is going better than it might but it hasn't been real easy getting the students to this point.

One thing that I have really noticed is that this is forcing students to be more responsible. It has allowed me to see how I held their hands for way too long, I think. Now, they complete the assignments or they don't. It isn't like they can come to class and fake it; the forum post is there or it isn't. Also, they have to manage their time themselves. I am not doling the work out in bite-sized chunks -- although it is in bite-sized chunks on Moodle. But there are lots of different chunks out there at the same time. It is helping them learn to prioritize and juggle a number of tasks at once.

I hadn't really thought about this aspect of blended courses, but I am real happy about it.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Provocative Teaching

A friend of mine likes to say that teachers must be seductive. She means it in only the best way, of course: that we must draw our students into the subject matter, into learning itself. So when I read Kathy Sierra today, I understood where she was coming from when she said we should Be Provocative.

Kathy, as always, has some great ideas. If we want to be provocative, she thinks we should:
* Be Visual
* Be Different--Break Patterns and Expectations
* Change Things Regularly
* Inspire Curiosity
* Pose a Challenge
* Be Fun
There is nothing really shocking or new on the list. It actually just sounds like good teaching practice, to me. But how often do I really do these things? Something to think about...

Thursday, September 07, 2006

A neat little tool

Thanks to Darren, I discovered Folder Marker. It's a nifty little program that lets you change to color of your folder or your folder icons. Now, that may not seem like much, but I have a tendency to have a million folders in My Documents, and this really makes it easier for me to see at a glance what I have where.

If you are a pack rat like me, you might want to check it out!

Monday, September 04, 2006

Up and running wirelessly in Ubuntu

After installing Ubuntu a few weeks ago, I have had nothing but problems computer-wise. They had nothing to do with Ubuntu - just bad luck on my part. I ended up having to reformat my hard drive and reinstall Windows (where the problem occurred) a week ago. I decided to reinstall Ubuntu today, and I made up my mind I would get the wireless running. Well, to make a long story short, I am working in Ubuntu and am connected wirelessly. Hurrah! I was beginning to doubt it would ever happen, but it did. So now I can explore Ubuntu more and, hopefully, get to the point where I can get rid of Windows entirely. But for now, I am happy just to be where I am!

Off and running again

Well, the semester is off and running again, and I hope my blogging is, too.

I am teaching two courses half online and half face-to-face this semester. They account for a total of 16 hours of instruction each week. It has been interesting to see the students adapt to this new structure. They think they are working twice as hard because of all the things to do on Moodle, but they don't see that they have 4 hours of "class time" to do it in! Guess that means they are normal students, doesn't it? There is going to be a period of adjustment, but I think this is going to end up being a better way to do the courses. We'll see, though.

In addition to teaching three courses and sitting in on a math class my advanced students are taking, I am also taking a course this semester. It is on language and literacy. We just read a book by Mike Rose called Lives on the Boundary. Rose believes strongly in the importance of the individual, of the human being in the educational process. It's an excellent book and an easy read.

Well, I think anyone who reads this for their patience. I hope to be around a lot more regularly again!