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Well, the first 12 days are in the “to reflect on” file.  It’s been a good start; I’ve got a great class and am excited about the new year.

Technology…   We’ve actually started using the computers in the classroom, and we’ve had a trip to the computer lab.  I don’t think it’s a surprise that our biggest problem has been–you guessed it–time.  You know, it’s not a quick process to find time for 18 students to use 2 computers.

I’ve  actually got 5 in the classroom, but 3 of them belong to the district.  I wanted the students to experiment with Tuxpaint.  I really like that program because it’s: easy to use, free, versatile and capable, and free.  Did I mention free?  Anyway, it was a successful first attempt at using technology in the classroom to produce a product (sort of…I disabled the save function) and I’m happy with how it went.  This week I’m going to find out if I can run the program from a CD on the school computers.  I’m probably not going to be able to install it.

What’s on tap for this week?  The students will be writing color poems, illustrating them (on paper), and scanning the images and text into some sort of pic file (TBD).  I want them to record an audio version of their poem; we’ll put it all together into a single video file.  I’m excited about the possibility…we’ll see how it goes.

Call me crazy, but it seems like there’s been a lot less “edublogging” going on over the last few days.  Mind you, I don’t read all that many blogs, but things do seem to have slowed down.  Maybe teachers are a bit busy…I don’t know.

Actually, I know that I’m busy!  I’ve got a new class and it looks like a good one (okay, I’d probably say that about most classes).  Now it’s time to put my tech scheming into action!

The class wiki ( http://room322.wikispaces.com/ ) and the class blog ( http://room322.learnerblogs.org/ ) are both fired up.  So far, I’ve been the only contributor…but they’re ready to go!  We’ll see what happens.  Right now we’re working on basic paragraphs in class, so I’m still sort of waiting to see what comes down the ol’ pipe as far as writing is concerned.  I’ve got a good feeling, though.

As of this writing, Endeavour is scheduled to lift off on Wednesday.

Here’s a link to the space shuttle page. This is a noteworthy mission (as if there’s such a thing as a non-noteworthy shuttle mission) in that the first educator astronaut is a member of the crew.

Christa McAuliffe, of course, was the educator aboard the Space Shuttle. Barbara Morgan is flying this week aboard the Endeavour. Here’s an excerpt from her bio on the NASA page:

Morgan was selected as the backup candidate for the NASA Teacher in Space Program on July 19, 1985. From September 1985 to January 1986, Morgan trained with Christa McAuliffe and the Challenger crew at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas. Following the Challenger accident, Morgan assumed the duties of Teacher in Space Designee. From March 1986 to July 1986, she worked with NASA, speaking to educational organizations throughout the country. In the fall of 1986, Morgan returned to Idaho to resume her teaching career. She taught second and third grades at McCall-Donnelly Elementary and continued to work with NASA’s Education Division, Office of Human Resources and Education. Her duties as Teacher in Space Designee included public speaking, educational consulting, curriculum design, and serving on the National Science Foundation’s Federal Task Force for Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering.

Selected by NASA as a mission specialist in January 1998, Morgan reported to the Johnson Space Center in August 1998. Following the completion of two years of training and evaluation, she was assigned technical duties in the Astronaut Office Space Station Operations Branch. She then served in the Astronaut Office CAPCOM Branch, working in Mission Control as prime communicator with on-orbit crews. More recently, she served in the Robotics Branch of the Astronaut Office. Morgan is assigned to the crew of STS-118, an assembly mission to the International Space Station. The mission will launch in 2007.

Godspeed, Mrs. Morgan.

STS-118

It would be a stretch to say that I’m using them with the students yet, because I’m not.  I am using them to provide resources, though.  Now that I’ve built it, will they come?

By the way, I know that it should be “Now that they’ve built it,” but let’s take this one step at a time, shall we?

The blog is here: http://room322.learnerblogs.org/

The wiki is here: https://room322.wikispaces.com/

One quick aside: I’ve obviously decided to go with wikispaces.  I don’t like all of the PBwiki stuff that comes on a PBwiki page.  Also, oddly enough, I guess I’m more of a “blank slate” kind of guy.  I think that the PBwiki is a little more difficult to use.  That’s just me, though.  I’m still pointing people to PBwiki–I know a lot of people love it.

As the school year was wrapping up last May, I had the opportunity to provide a “first year teacher’s” perspective to some “new teachers” at an Alabama A&M workshop. Some of my own words came back to me this past week. I had said something like “…and after you get your classroom set up, an amazing thing is going to happen: parents from all around your area are going to entrust you with their children. They’re going to fill you classroom with their kids….” And they have; I’ve had 19 of them in my classroom since Thursday. Incredible.I fell into what I understand is a classic teacher trap: I planned the beginning of this year for the students I had at the end of last year. You know what, apparently kids do a lot of growing and learning in the third grade!

I think that next year I’m going to actually start “teaching” on the second day. I know I need one day to get all of the “admin” stuff out of the way; I know I need several days to teach, review, and reinforce my procedures and rules; I know I need to ensure that classroom rolls and beginning-of-the-year transfers have a day or two to settle. Knowing all of that, I know I’m glad I started Reading and Math on Friday…we were getting a little antsy.

It’s a lot easier being a “second year teacher” than it was being a “first year teacher.”

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