Ideas to Share News

Single Device Classrooms

I am currently working in a school where I have access to one interactive white board in each room. I have had to learn to do more group lessons and provide my students with individualization within group activities. I often use BrainPOP, Jr. and Starfall with these classes, so individualization is getting easier.

In particular, Starfall is divided by grade levels, so I can change the section for each child when it is their turn at the board. I can also get into specific areas within a given grade level as the next student moves toward the board. For instance, a student who is learning to tap the board and make something happen (cause and effect) might be given the preschool and kindergarten math songs, while a student who is learning to add and subtract can be given first grade math games. This helps me to keep my students engaged and make sure that everyone participates as to the fullest extent possible.

BrainPOP, Jr. has a wide range of educational videos and lets me choose topics that may interest the majority of the students. When appropriate, I have the students complete the easy or hard quizzes at the end of the lesson. I supplement BrainPOP, Jr. videos with videos from other sites (such as Flocabulary) when I can find the topic or related topics multiple places. Some students pay more attention to Moby the robot, while other students are more likely to listen to Flocabulary’s beats.

As a substitute teacher, my job is to keep students engaged and behaviors down as much as possible. Yes, I want kids to learn something, but I also need to make sure that the room stays safe for the entire 45 or 50 minutes that I am with each class. Keeping everyone safe and engaged is even more of a struggle when I am with the same class for an entire day instead of just one period then on to the next class. I am finding that my 32 years as a full-time teacher has given me skills that help me in my current position as a substitute teacher.

I am also learning to be more flexible. I often to not know what my position for the day will be until after I arrive at school. I planned the entire month of April only to have my position change. I am spending many lunch periods and occasional evenings and weekends developing lessons for my students. Some things about teaching have not changed. I still occasionally miss my technology lab and the large selection leveled of iPads that I used to use with students who could not get to the lab, but I am getting better at working in classrooms with a single interactive board shared by the entire class.


Documents Are Being Slowly Updated

I am updating my documents to fix as many spelling and grammar problems as I can locate. The originals were sometimes developed under quick schedules and do not represent my best writing. For instance, I found several papers where i.e. was used instead of e.g. I will be uploading my repaired documents in batches of several documents at once. This will take time because I am currently filling a vacancy and hardly feel retired.

I have recently noticed that some grammar and punctuation items, such as the use of commas, often have vague or conflicting rules depending on the grammar checker used. For instance, when I was a child, I was told to use a comma after “and” when I separate to complete clauses even when the clauses are directions without an explicitly stated subject noun. “Click on the number one, and go to the first page.” Some grammar checkers have given sentences like this an error and told me to remove the comma. Since this type of error is most often found in the professors’ directions to me, I am generally leaving the sentences the way the professors wrote them.

Another problem that I am having is missing documents. Some of my pdfs are lacking their original documents which is making editing quite difficult. I have decided not to fix those documents until I have time to go through my external hard drives and locate the originals. I have no idea why some originals are not on my computer, but for some reason they did not transfer when I bought a new computer.

I am not fixing most of the American Psychological Association (APA) style mistakes. My papers were written in a highly modified APA style to meet the university’s requirements. Professors often wanted me to change aspects of my papers instead of closely following APA guidelines. This took me more than a little time to adjust! My two master’s degrees are from United States university departments that required strict adherence to APA style. I had to learn to be flexible even when my brain disagreed.

I sincerely apologize to everyone who is using screen readers and other assistive technologies! I have not yet checked my papers for accessibility considerations. I could not figure out how to fix my headings so that they read appropriately in screen readers. For instance, some of my papers have a title page and three levels of headings. I could not find level three in my word processor’s headings sections. I also completely disliked how applying headings levels one and two changed my text font and size. The images in my papers are often are so detailed that I honestly have not yet tried to come up with meaningful alternate text. I have not yet found the time to add closed captions to my videos. I firmly believe that everyone deserves equal access and will work on this more sometime in the future. I am very sorry that my site and related materials are not fully accessible for all of my readers!

I am also slowly updating the pages and posts. I did switch to a more accessible layout that WordPress claims is better for mobile devises and assistive technology, but additional work (including fixing some aforementioned mistakes) needs to be done. This is a project in progress. I am not even going to estimate when everything will be completed, but I am working on this website and its related contents as time allows.