Category Archives: teaching

You choose

In the spirit of making as wise of a choice as Americans made last night, (woohoo!), check out this site for teachers and donors called Donors Choose at

Full-time public school teachers can sign up and propose projects and their needs.

Donors can choose which project(s) to donate to.

And Librarians can register at BookWorm Registry to promote and accept donations specific to their library’s needs. (Librarians can also sign up for Donors Choose)

Conversations in a classroom

female student : Miss, you got kids?

me : No. No I don’t. Why?

fs : I was just wondering. It seems like you do.

me : Gotta get that boyfriend first, ya know?

fs : My uncle’s a good resource!

me : (LOL)

fs : I’m just saying…You have my house number, Miss.

I told you! She’s a G!

setting : I am showing some seniors how to use layers and style sheets to build their e-portfolios.

student : “Miss, you’re a G!”
student : “Yeah, you’re so good…why don’t you make web sites instead of working here?”
me : “Cuz I like working with you guys better. You’re more fun. You keep me learning too.”
student (smiles) : “aaaaw miss!”
student : “I told you! She’s a G!”


Today the publishing company Houghton-Mifflin sent a crew to my school to film a lesson and interview teachers about integrating blogging into the classroom – and, yup, you guessed it! I was one of the three teachers. I was psyched to be asked to help a history and english teacher, who co-teach a Facing History and Ourselves class, integrate blogging into their lesson about genocide in Rwanda. The students had gone on a field trip to the Choosing to Participate exhibit at the Boston Public Library, and were asked to reflect on their experience in a writing assignment that connects to their study of genocide. In an effort to share their reflections with each other, they posted onto a collaborative blog, and were asked to make connections with each other through the process of commenting on each other’s posts.

This was SUPER fun! Not just the part about being filmed (actually that was the least fun part)! I thoroughly enjoy planning with teachers and inventing ways to use technology to enhance the learning experience and understanding of the content. Many teachers are intrigued and/or capable of using web 2.0 technologies in the classroom, but may be apprehensive or simply have no time to do the IT legwork before the lesson. So yesterday, I set up the blog using, set up and tested the accounts, and pulled together the lesson’s walkthrough of the what, who, why and how’s of blogging. The three of us then broke the 1 hour lesson into the parts we were each comfortable with leading and the teachers integrated their history and english standards into the lesson.

It was kind of strange being filmed while teaching. It felt intrusive and surreal at first and I worried that this was more of a show than a class – would the kids actually learn anything?! In fact, I am embarrassed to admit that I was asked to “start again” when I opened up my part! Yikes! But I totally needed to because I was so not comfortable at first…I could feel the eyes of the 26 students and I saw the cameras on me…and then I remembered I was not there to be filmed, I was there to teach, and so I got into the groove of teaching and it all flowed from there. The kids had some great input to the lesson which put me at ease, as we talked about why people blog and the differences between internet lingo and formal narrative. The tool itself worked smoothly, and I think we all got so engrossed in the lesson that we didn’t mind ducking under the boom or having a camera lens shoved in our faces. Well, maybe a little bit!

The crew gave us rave reviews afterwards! One said she almost cried at some of the interactions and conversations going on! It all seems like a blur now to me, which reminds me of the value of capturing those teaching moments. I have to/like to reflect afterwards (usually in this blog), but I have wondered whether recording my own lessons would prove equally or more valuable. But do I really have time in the day to listen or watch every one of my lessons?! Notsomuch. But I think being able to watch yourself or listen to yourself at least once would be enlightening. Some teachers prefer NOT to and adamantly advise against it, though!

I guess I’ll find out how I feel about seeing myself in action when they send us copies in a month or so. We were each interviewed afterwards about the lesson and about the integration of technology in general. The crew said I was “a natural” and that “the camera loves you.” LOL ( : I say, don’t quit your day job, lis.

The lesson will be the case study for the “integrating blogs in the classroom” chapter in Houghton-Mifflin’s nationally distributed Teaching With Technology book (or some title like that). I think that comes out in the fall, along with a CD and online version of the video.

I am super grateful to be in a school and among colleagues who support the co-teaching, interdisciplinary, technology-integrated approach to teaching and learning!

On that note, it’s Friday. Enjoy your weekend!


Direction from the director

Although students are required to plan out their shots in a storyboard before even getting a camera, there is still a continuous planning process as decisions are made on the fly and choices are made about how to get the best shot for the scene. The project becomes self-directed and entirely in the hands (literally!) of the students.
Interesting angle!

The teams have been steadily filming over the last 2 weeks and coming up with some great stuff! I have been sitting 1 or 2 or more down on-the-fly to introduce them to Premiere so that they can see what is possible in terms of editing. It also allows them to think about any more shots they may need if they can see the timeline as it builds before them. There is no cut-off for filming days, but of course the editing process takes the loooongest and often sneaks up on the kids! Teaching them time management and scope is a challenge and often involves constant checking-in and group discussion.