Wednesday, August 19, 2009

First Day Back At Work

I may just have entered the 21st Century.

Yesterday I upgraded my cell phone. I've only had a cell for 2 years now, and for renewing my contract (at Wal*Mart) I got a no-extra-cost camera phone with Bluetooth headset included. I spent a couple hours last night reading about and playing with my new toy, including sticking a memory card in it and filling up the memory card with mp3's.

Today was our first day back at work, and students show up next Monday. Our district has gone to a new student data management program, and all of us were trained on the teacher component today. Wow! It's like stepping out of the 1960s, complete with ScanTron sheets, into the modern age. Attendance, rather than bubbling in circles on a paper that gets collected from my door by a student every period, now is done online. Classroom grades, which used to be done manually or in standalone computer programs, are integrated into the program--my class rosters are already in there! Report card grades will automatically be drawn from this program, instead of my having to bubble them in and submit them every few weeks.

Additionally, I could create my seating charts in there from the class rosters that already exist! And on the seating chart is an icon I can click that will bring up not only both parents and all their contact information, but also an identifier telling me which parent(s) the student lives with. In the past, if I've needed any such information, I had to walk over to the counseling office and copy the information off the student's emergency card.

Clearly, this system will greatly reduce my administrative burden--which is exactly what computers are best at.

I'll also have a student teacher for the first two periods of the day, all semester long. She will work with both another teacher and me for two periods each; this will be very convenient for all of us, since we all three have the same prep period during which to conduct evaluation discussions, planning, etc. I view this opportunity as yet another way for me to teach.

So while I tried hard to change schools after 6 years, at least I have some positive things to consider as I start this new year.


David said...

Is it really easier to do the attendance online rather than on the sheet of paper? It's hard to imaging anything faster than filling in a bubble...

Darren said...

Before, I had to keep a copy in a roll book *and* fill in the bubble. Now I just click next to the student's name on the screen--once--and it's done. And it doesn't require a student to come pick up the forms each period. Imagine, you're a student and your "class" requirement is "go into each room in the school, pick up a piece of paper, and return it to the attendance office", and you get units and everything for that.

When the power goes out or the internet connection goes down--well, I'll worry about those exceptions when I get to them.

KauaiMark said...

"When the power goes out or the internet connection goes down--well, I'll worry about those exceptions when I get to them."

also..."when I have a substitute in for the day"

Mr. W said...

we went with online attendance 2 years ago. It's been mixed. On the first day of school the whole network was down so we couldn't use it...murphy's law right?

It's nice to use, but we still have to sign a hard copy once a week to verify the information. I don't know if that's a US, CA, or district thing.

It's also nice because you can keep a hard copy and then go at the end of the day to put it online.

Welcome to the 21st century.

Forest said...

Through my six years of teaching I've also had to record attendance twice each period, once on my "official" record and then once on the bubble sheet. We are also switching to online attendance this year and I think it will be an improvement too.

Curmudgeon said...

I usually print out a blank class roster and check them off on that - I find it's actually easier because I don't have to scroll up and down. Then again, we only have to send attendance at the beginning of first period so I fill out the computer attendance from the paper sheets at the end of the day.

It gives me that backup and I write myself little notes:
SP: soccer game, G-guidance. The paper one also gives me a wonderful four-week overview that the computer display doesn't.

The best part of the computer thing is the student information - all kinds of stuff came along with the class roster. Click a student, VIEW menu >> Student Information. If your guidance people are on the ball, there's info like phone numbers, parent names, addresses. In GradeQuick and some others, you can show it in a column on the spreadsheet. You can add a blank field for the textbook number. Print out a class roster with Name, textbook number, parents name phone and address, then hide those fields for the year.

Your "cheat sheet" will come in very handy and you had to do nothing!

Even more slick is to make that cheatsheet and then sit there writing in the textbook numbers as you distribute and asking the kids if the contact information is correct. If you catch an error, guidance is happy. Otherwise, the students now know that you have an easy list you can refer to.

MrsRis said...

How fortuitous that you and your teaching partner and student teacher/intern have the same planning periods. That doesn't happen everywhere, despite how basic it seems. Good luck passing the torch on.....

Ellen K said...

Welcome to the new electronic classroom! We've been doing online attendance for ten years now. The only problem is that we have to take it in our online gradebook as well as a hard copy and in our official district attendance. It really makes bellringers essential, but I can't use my laptop to project prompts, which is annoying. Our new push is for each teacher to have a website via Schoolweb (moodle) that offers daily information, plus at least two interactive projects per class per grading period. This is so that we can get "exceeds expectations" on our evaluations. I figure since we've gone through all the programs and now have websites, next year's hurdle will be to invent a new computer system. I am very very tired of the burden of too much technology. It doesn't help that our principal evidently requires more of our campus than any other school in the district. Sure, it gives us marketable skills, but at some point, I would really like to get back to teaching.