October 2010

So here I sit, watching my class work on an imperialism webquest.  Yes, I am being bad and not watching their every move.   They’re a good class – a great class, actually.  And considering its the last class before a day off, they are being rather productive.  I’m pretty sure they are not going to finish by the bell, so I outlined various plans for getting the entire assignment done and handed in on Monday.  They could work in class, then email the work home and continue working from there. I’ve put the assignment both on the assignments drive here at school, and on my personal website, allowing the students to pick up where they left off from the comfort of their home.

You’d think I was speaking Swahili.

One girl said to me, “I don’t understand how I a can send an email.”  Another said, “But  how do I combine what I’ve typed at school with what I’ve typed at home?”   Still another said, “that’s too hard to do.”

Too hard?  Excuse me?

Almost every week I am floored to discover that the skills I THINK these kids have simply don’t exist.  Every CBE student has an email and a storage locker.  But at least 70% of my students either don’t know they exist, or don’t know how to use them.  Sigh…

Maybe there needs to be an extensive course every student takes that will help them develop these digital skills.  We could teach them digital etiquette, discuss their digital footprint, and show them how to finish off work that was first started at school.  After all, aren’t these skills they will need later in life?

Now granted, the student who insisted what I was asking was simply “too hard” might have been monumentally lazy.  But there really is a shortfall in skills.  The kids who DO know what to do are leaving the rest of them behind.

Sometimes you almost miss the old textbook question and answer days…

Okay that’s not true.  Yes, they seemed easier, but there was far less critical thinking, far less imagination and independent thought.  I really think technology has made me a better teacher, but someone needs to help these kids become better students, and use that technology to its fullest potential.  Does that job fall to me, the classroom teacher?

And luckily, it’s not a disease…

I have been plugging through this latest LRNT course with less than wild abandon.  In fact, I think I have the facial expression of a dear in the headlights.  I’m lost.  Totally, utterly and completely.  I mean, I get that this course is about program planning.  I get that lots of people have written fairly boring books on program planning.  But I’m not sure what it has to do with me.

But today, it’s starting to make a bit more sense.  I’m pretty sure (?) our next assignment is to CLOSELY review the SECTIONS model suggested by Bates and Poole, with an eye for how it affects our particular situation.  For me, it’s a question of whether or not a model designed mainly for post-secondary is going to work with a bunch of teenagers.

And I suppose getting up close and personal with this model will really help with the next assignment.  Which is about program planning, not course planning.  So am I to create a program, and not just one course?  Damn.  I’m a course-design kind of girl.  I can design the Social Studies course for the e-learning centre.  But plan the whole e-learning centre?  That gives me the quivery-shiveries (to quote Wilson the train on my son’s favourite show, Chuggington)…

But I did realize two things today as I sat at my kitchen table, looking out at the rapidly falling leaves and breathing in the aroma of roasted potatoes coming from the kitchen (although my husband cooks them in lard.  That’s artery clogging, to be sure).

Here are my two epiphanies:

1.  The SECTIONS model is pretty straightforward, and applying it to my situation shouldn’t be too tough.

2.  I am NEVER going to subject any students to this kind of learning.  Sure, you can have completely online courses, but they need to be more carefully structured.  This is by no means a critique of our instructors, but if I’m having trouble figuring out what’s going on, how’s a 16 year old going to handle it?

Sigh.  Off to eat some turkey.  Gobble, gobble…