Tag Archives: technology

NINE DAYS

A week of regular classes and then finals. We can do this. We can do this. We can do this.

Hopefully the technology works in my classroom tomorrow since we’re supposed to have a newspaper deadline. If it doesn’t, we’ll figure something out.

That’s been the theme of this year. It’s not our tech’s fault. He works so hard trying to keep our room running. Something was off this year, though. Hopefully it’s fixed for next year.

That’s one of the best things about this job. We get do-overs.

Whew.

 

I’m Voting Yes

I just left the community town hall meeting the board and superintendent did to give facts about the bond and to allow community comments. The meeting cemented my choice to vote yes in May.

ImageThis year for the first time I’m worried about my students’ competitive chances after they leave Rider. My students are not receiving a 21st century education. Their peers across the state have access to technology that should be common but isn’t in WFISD. It can’t be without spending a ton of money to improve our infrastructure. That ton of money doesn’t exist. The district has spent money trying to update our old buildings to work with the increasing technological needs of students and teachers, but we haven’t been able to keep up with the demand. Computers alone won’t fix this problem. Our techs work tirelessly trying to update an already antiquated system. We’ve reached the point where we can keep pouring money into the old buildings and still have the old buildings that can’t keep up or we can invest in new. In Texas investing in new means passing a bond.

I keep hearing people say we could pass a “different” bond at a later date, but the bond I’ve heard floated is one that the majority of voters have said they would in no way support. It’s too expensive. Saying no now only delays the process. It takes three years to open a school and this proposal has already been in the works for two. We can’t afford to wait.

The May 10 bond isn’t perfect, but it’s the right direction for students and teachers in WFISD. If we don’t do something, we’re going to lose students to surrounding area schools (we already do; that trend will grow), and we’re going to lose amazing younger teachers to districts that can offer higher pay and 21st century facilities.

I love the tradition in Wichita Falls schools. We can bring those traditions with us to the new campus if the bond passes. This bond is right for Wichita Falls. Change is never easy, but it is essential for growth. If we don’t pass the bond, students and teachers lose. The city loses.  I’m voting yes to bond and build.

 

 

 

Freedom Worth Fighting For

So I’m sitting in my classroom after school working on my lesson for tomorrow when all the sudden BAM! I’m nearly in tears, which would be totally uncool since we’re on deadline and I have a classroom of kids working right now.

All week in J-1 we’ve focused on the first amendment and we’ve looked at video clips and photos and discussed Hazelwood, Tinker, Bong Hits for Jesus. We’ve looked at Tiananmen Square and talked about student protests and communism and how horrible the massacre was and then we looked at the US and the Civil Rights protests and the kids are totally into it and so am I. These have been AWESOME days.

This class responds well to lecture with technology (NOT a POWERPOINT!), but clips to emphasize points or photos to start discussion. Tomorrow I’m going to tell them about the study released in 2005 that said:

“When told of the exact text of the First Amendment, more than one in three high school students said it goes “too far” in the rights it guarantees. Only half of the students said newspapers should be allowed to publish freely without government approval of stories.”

And we’re going to talk about how many students believed at that time that the first amendment caused 9-11, which brings me to the BAM.

I planned on showing the Sept. 12, 2001 newspaper front pages while I lectured. I wanted the point to hit home. And then I wanted to let the screen go black and talk about the first amendment and the rights it protects once again. But when I loaded those pages onto Evernote, I suddenly found myself right back there in those days after the terrorists attacks.

I live in Wichita Falls, Texas. I didn’t know anyone personally hurt by the terrorists that day. But I watched the news non-stop from the time the planes hit the Towers. I’m a media teacher, and we had the news on already that day. I slept with the news on, waiting, hoping, praying for some kind of miracle, and then praying for peace for those directly impacted and praying for internal peace to move past the anger and hatred toward those who committed the atrocities. All the while the news played in the background until we finally couldn’t watch any more. I didn’t realize what I’d done until a few months later when I found myself waking up sure my daughter was dead. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t go back to sleep. I’d get up and go check on her to make sure she was okay even though I knew my fear was ridiculous. After a few weeks of that I broke down and told my doctor what was going on. I was so embarrassed! She told me she believed I’d given myself a form of PTSD from watching the news too much after the attacks. I took the medicine she prescribed for about six months then weened myself off. I haven’t had a problem since, really.

I don’t watch the 9-11 specials. I feel guilty about that in a way, but I can’t. I went to see Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close because I didn’t realize it was a 9-11 movie. I almost walked out when the answering machine message played the first time. I’m glad I didn’t. It’s definitely one of those movies everyone should see at least once. I was shaky for a day after the movie, but I never went back to that dark place from 2001.

Today though, when I scrolled through those Sept. 12 pages, one after another after another, I had to turn off the iPad, move away from my presentation and sit here and write and pray and tell myself to focus on the good instead. On the light. On the resiliency of people. On the power of the first amendment and why people have been willing to die for it over the centuries and why people have been willing to die to TRY to get something close and why it’s essential I teach it in my classes every day. Because in 2005 1 in 3 students thought the first amendment gave too many freedoms and I think sometimes that number’s gone up and that’s scary, so scary, so absolutely terrifying because if we let that thought process continue without fighting it, the terrorists won that day.

I’m not sure what I’ll do tomorrow for the visual during the lecture. Maybe now that I’ve written this all out, I’ll be okay showing the front pages. Maybe I’ll use a still image. Maybe I’ll plug in my iPad and let the class watch while I talk with my back to the wall. Whatever I decide, I know what every student will have in their hands. It’s that piece of paper I handed out the first day of class. And on that paper are the words that matter most:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
— The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

Hey Moms, Don’t Trust The Squeaky Clean Facebook Wall AKA Cashing in My Cool Card

Interesting conversations about social media at school this week. Several of the students said they no longer get on their Facebook pages. WEIRD, right?!?! I can’t imagine life without Grumpy Cat!

They said it’s because their moms are all on Facebook now. Ohhhhhhhhh.

Instead they spend their time on twitter and tumblr, places their mothers don’t understand. There was another place, too. Can’t believe I didn’t write it down. The conversation Wednesday in third period ended with one of the girls telling another not to “blast her business.” The class had to explain to me what that meant. They got a kick out of that.
So here’s my public service announcement for moms: if you’re not worried about your kids’ digital lives (learned that term this week too thanks to fellow teacher Scotty Coppage) because of their squeaky clean Facebook walls, don’t believe it for a minute. Their digital lives are WAY bigger than ours. But don’t freak out too much. They said their number one reason for leaving Facebook was all the drama. The next reason: all of us. They said twitter drama is even worse, but it’s different. I think some of them are using tumblr like their moms use Facebook.

These kids are digital natives. They embrace technology and toss it like two-year-old magazines on a regular basis. Most of us moms are digital newbies, even though we’ve been using social media almost as long as our kids if not longer. Some of us are just as addicted to social media as our kids if not more so. Social media can be awesome and wonderful. It can also be destructive, and not just for our kids. We owe it to them to be aware.

Yeah, I just cashed in my cool teacher card by “blasting their business.” I’m okay with that. 🙂

 

The Digital Revolution

New year, new semester, fresh starts, blank slates.
I love new semesters and I can’t wait to see what this one has in store.
Advising publications has changed significantly over the last 15 years. The digital revolution has made everything easier, but the sheer amount of information makes it more difficult, too.
Kids are far more comfortable IM’ing, chatting, texting than they are talking. Interview electronically and you get great quotes. But you lose the body language, the setting, the intensity.
You also lose a bit of the reality. Because people will write things in an e-mail or in a chat they’d never say in real life.
I wonder where we’re headed with communication. Five years ago I would’ve never imagined students telling me they’d rather text than talk on the phone. This year most of my kids told me that was the case.
And it’s contagious, I guess. The other day I was trying to text on my old non-backlit phone while DH and I were running errands, and I couldn’t see the text. Instead of calling the friends I was trying to reach, I closed the phone and decided I’d try later.
I never tried. No telling what I missed out on. All because I didn’t want to talk.
When I first started teaching, we’d read the book 1984 and my kids would say that would never happen. These days we worry about WHEN it will happen.
I love the movie Wall-E. But it’s disturbing that the whole time I watched it, I wondered if that’s where we’re headed.
I hope not.
I love words. Explicate is my favorite word because of the way it feels to say it. That just doesn’t work in text speak.
I love the digital revolution, but I hope it doesn’t destroy us.

One of the kids in the newsroom on her iPhone. You can't see it because she wasn't supposed to be doing it, but I know. I never saw her talk on the phone. Not once in the whole time I had her in class, but I saw her text and play games all the time.