Monday, September 12, 2011

I don't often promote a particular product on my blog, so be assured when I do, it is one I found particularly spectacular :) Recently, I received an email from the creator of Easy Notecards asking me to promo his product. Being busy with the begining of the school year, I read the email and just ignored it. Then, in a moment of desperation for something to distract me from the huge pile of paperwork on my desk, I revisited the email and clicked on the link for Easy Notecards. From the get-go, the site looked well made and easy to use, so I explored further. I even created some notecards. Cool beans! Later that day, I was subbing for another teacher who had an emergency and left with no lesson plans. There were some vocab words students needed to review with a short game but it only lasted about 20 minutes. Suddenly, I remembered the Easy Notecards site. We created accounts - super simple for 90% of the 7th graders - and then got down to making notecards. First, they groaned and moaned. But by the end of the hour, students wanted copies of the words/definitions to finish on their own at home. They had decided the site was cool, fun and engaging. SUCCESS :)

The site has uses beyond the obvious vocab practice. What a great tool for simply placing notes in question/answer form. Students can quiz themselves, study, practice. I'm sold so here I recommend the site to you, and thanks to Chris Deiter for creating and sharing such a great learning tool for students.

Now... for today's actual post.....

First week of school, done! Back to start week 2. It was a whirlwind 4 days with trying to sort schedules for students and teachers, trying to find where we were all supposed to be, and what we should be doing. It is always tough to get those 6th graders and 9th graders settled most of all. A new building means new teachers, new hallways, new lockers.... and an overwhelming sense of panic among many.

Today, the school year really starts, in my mind. The getting down to the nitty gritty of the routine, the settling in of the patterns of classes and assignments.

Being in special ed again means a scattered schedule for me. I start the day in high school for 2 hours. First hour is in English 2 with an interesting group of sophomores. Over half the class could easily be classified as at-risk for one reason or another. Trying to get them through challenging writing and reading assignments will be a struggle, I am certain.

Second hour has me scheduled two places - Geometry & World History. For many of the geometry students, this is their second math class on their schedule. Since they didn't pass Algebra 1, they are shoved into 2 hours of math, both of which will be a struggle for them. (Many of them are in both English 1 and English 2 as well.....)

Third hour, back to middle school for a 6th/8th grade Guided Study. This class will eventually be an easy one but the first week, when students have few assignments, keeping them busy is interesting.

Then... 4th hour, my 8th grade Algebra class. These boys will be my biggest challenge this year. Trying to take them from where they are, from not having been prepared for this level of math, through the curriculum seems a daunting task, but we're headed forward. I think if I can keep them believing they can, we might have a chance.

Lunch and my prep hour are next...followed by 8th grade language arts. This class is huge with a large percentage of students who need assistance for whatever reason. The end of the day timing makes this a particularly difficult task, keeping them on track. As a whole, they do not like to write, they are burnt out by last hour and they simply are ready to quit. Trying to juggle how to keep them all on task is overwhelming somedays.

But the school year is off and running... and we're looking to find our groove. I'm excited about the possibilities, overwhelmed by the realities of it all, and already needing a vacation :)

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