Bittersweet Cacophony

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After typing out a wonderful post on a strangely Lightspeed-filtered page, I hit “save draft” to make sure I wouldn’t lose what I had written.

It’s all gone.

I blame the filter. We have been having issues with it since last week. We were promised that our social networking sites would be unblocked, but they are still trying to “work out the kinks”. This means that I’m working on two computers – my school one with ExamView and other school programs and my personal laptop so that I can twitter and check my Ning.

This has really been the sore point of my day. On top of the filter, I have had IE crash on me three times while trying to use www.classtools.net making SAT vocabulary word games from Flocabulary songs. I also couldn’t upload images from my school computer, while I have not had any of these problems from my home computer. Frustrating doesn’t describe it.

On a good note, I spent the day going over the new ELA TEKS. I went in expecting the worst, but I sat next to a very friendly, outgoing, and motivated teacher. I was so worried that I’d get sat next to a crankster, but no one else sat at our table (even though the speaker repeatedly requested other grade level teachers to move to our table!), so we were able to get our task-at-hand done without any issue and had time to share ideas.

Some ideas:
1. English I and English II are now comprised of non-English speaking authors. This means (or at least it should mean) a total rewrite of traditional curriculum for these two grade levels. No more Shakespeare. No more To Kill a Mockingbird. No more Of Mice and Men. That’s going to kick some people in the teeth. I know I’ll be scrambling if I’m going to end up teaching English I this year.

Another thing that I noticed was that we had to come up with an activity that used a cluster of TEKS, rather than using one assignment per TEK. We were given a graph and were told to find a reading TEK, a writing TEK, an Oral/Written Convention TEK, a Research TEK, and a Listening and Speaking TEK. No big deal. It was actually kind of easy. However, when we shared our ideas with other tables, I noticed a huge difference between what I presented and what the other teachers presented: I didn’t follow the order of the graph. What I mean by that is that since the graph started with Reading, all of the other teachers started out their activities/projects with a reading activity. Not because of any educational reasons, but just because they were plugging values in a worksheet.

A worksheet. The bane of my student career is still haunting me. I wonder if this is something that I should share with the district teachers when I’m showing them the sample lesson plan. There is no magic formula that can be replicated for every single lesson, at least not that I’ve found. So, how can we expect engaging lessons that provoke higher order thinking skills when we have teachers who are still generating lessons from a template. It’s just seems so hypocritical. The lesson plans (and even professional development) that I am subjected to is so counter-intuitive for me. I can only imagine what the students go through in the classroom.

Tomorrow is my last day of vacation, because I’m back presenting ELAR curriculum projects to the district teachers. I had toyed with the idea of going back up to campus, but I’ve spent so much time there already – and I need to get the house ready for when I go back to work full time! Namely, my laundry.

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