Monthly Archives: September 2009

The Sub Plan Dilemma

Whenever my media assistant had a sub I waited nervously to see how much technology skills they possessed.  It always took time out of my schedule to train them on the basics, some taking notes.  One person had to refer to her notes every time she checked a book in or out.  One of my own guest teachers was appalled by the mess of books the students had after the activity I described in my last post (The Right Technology).  She made them put back all the books they had taken off the shelves.  Needless to say, I then had no assessment data for that class, and who knows whether the books were put back in the right place?

My plans this week call for the use of an interactive whiteboard Dewey decimal lesson I found online at Promethean Planet.  After giving the pretest at the beginning of the year, I learned that students were confused about the basic Dewey categories.  Some were even confused about the difference between Dewey numbers and fiction call numbers.  The Flipchart I found looks like it has a lot of information and I think it will engage the students so that they’ll remember it.

How much technology do I use when I know I’m going to have a substitute?  On Friday this week, and next week I’ll be gone.  Do I still use the Flipchart lesson or do I assume the guest teacher has no experience with interactive whiteboards?  Do I have to leave my laptop at school, hooked up and ready to go or can I use a different computer?  Should I describe in minute detail how to use the interactive whiteboard?  How much assistance can the students provide?  I wonder how others handle these difficulties.  The technological abilities of the sub can make or break such lessons.

The Right Technology

There’s no point in abandoning old lessons for new technology if the old ones work.  Today my fifth grade class did one of their favorite activities.  The most advanced technology they used was a post-it note.

I use 3×5 cards with call numbers on them.  I have everybody (picture book) cards, fiction cards, and nonfiction cards.  Sometimes I mix them together.  Today I decided to just do fiction since the everybody picture books are being moved and don’t have new labels yet.  Each student gets a card and finds a book with a matching call number.  They bring the book and card up to a large conference table, write their name on a post-it note and stick it to the card.  After putting the card in the book, they get another card from me.  They have to do this without talking.  I’m the only person they can ask for help.

This is an important assessment for me.  I check the books and cards to make sure they match and collect all the post-it notes for each student.  If they don’t match I make a note of it.  For the students, it becomes something of a competition and they strive to find more books than anyone else.  I can quickly tell who is having trouble finding books on the shelves.  Basically it’s a test but they think it’s fun.

Today I told the students that we were going to be doing an activity that I knew they liked.  When I held up the cards they cheered!

A New Technology Adventure

Last week I got a Promethean interactive white board.  They installed it at 7:30 in the morning and I figured I’d be bold and use it for my 12:15 class.  My plan was to basically use it as a projector since I didn’t really have time to explore the other possibilities.  (I’m still mired in inventory land.)  It worked fine and the kids were excited to see it.

Harambee has 10 new boards distributed such that each grade level has one; there’s one in the media center; one in the music room.  Next year we will have 5 more with the goal for every teacher to have one eventually.  I’ve heard that it changes the way we teach and even after my limited exposure I can see how that would happen.

I thought I was doing so good after that first day that I thought I’d try something different the second day but I couldn’t get it to work.  The pens didn’t work at all.  On Friday we had a short training session and I learned that you have to attach the USB cord for the pens to work.  So much for my great technological knowledge!

As I already mentioned, I’m still doing inventory.  It’s amazing how many interruptions there are in each day.  I also had a 1/2 day meeting and will have another one tomorrow.  Pretty hard to do inventory in the library when you’re in another room.

The First Week

It wasn’t what I expected.  After a serious bicycle accident my husband ended up in the hospital with a concussion, badly broken clavicle, broken rib and collapsed lung.  I spent most of every day with him, teaching a class myself only on Friday.  Fortunately, I had a good sub and support from administration, friends and colleagues.  New students painted their browsing sticks.  The 4th and 5th grade classes were introduced to the Big 6 Research Process and they took a pretest to see what they remember about our library.  Through the free wifi provided by the hospital to guests (patients…inmates) I was able to keep in touch and do some work while my husband slept.

The beginning of the year is something of a conundrum in the library anyway and my absence didn’t help matters any.  I try hard to give students every opportunity to check out during the school year but in the beginning of the year I find it very difficult.  It takes time for classes to be finalized, especially in the kindergarten rooms.  I usually end up waiting about two weeks to update and import the data.  This is a problem on my part.  I can’t remember how to do it and need help every year.  I know how to import it; I don’t know how to get the data from SASI.  Inevitably it also seems that I need to do a certain amount of cleanup in the patron files before we’re actually ready to check out.

I’m still working on inventory.  I wonder if I should just leave the library open through the end of the school year and plan on doing all of the inventory during the first week of school when I don’t have classes to teach anyway.  I’m not sure that I would have enough time though.  My sub has been busy moving books to new shelves which will save me some time.

On the other hand, I can’t actually teach classes in the library because for the next 3 weeks the library will be used for MAP testing.  I think I’ll just be able to squeeze my 4th and 5th grade students in between tests.  The rest of the time will be a frantic game working on patron files, inventory, helping teachers find the resources they need, teaching prep classes and generally trying to get organized.  My first week will really start tomorrow.