Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Middle School Internship: Day 2

(16 hours down, 24 to go, minus one cell phone)

In the seven years I've been teaching (not counting all the years I was an educational assistant, and worked in after school programs) I've only had two things stolen. One was a really nice stapler that I still miss. The other is my cell phone, stolen today from my coat pocket, where it hung in a tiny little closet, in a back store room of the media center.  It wasn't locked, because Ms. S also keeps her coat there and has never had any problems in the 20 years since she's worked there. The most annoying thing is just having to spend the time dealing with it. I have to file a police report since the thief also sent some inappropriate texts to my husband (lets just say he knew it wasn't me sending them), and it definitely puts a damper on the whole internship experience.

Ugh. Well, it takes an experience like this every so often to jog the memory that we are working with young people. People who will make bad choices.  Its life. The key is to handle it in a way that allows them to learn from their mistakes.

Anyway, I did learn other lessons today. It was another book fair day, so I spent some time helping out with that. Ms. S is quite concerned about the low level of books being sold. She needs to sell $1800 worth of books/trinkets in order to get a higher level of the money back. In the past, she's made that in the first few days, but for some reason it is just not moving this year. She said it might just have more to do with the economy than anything else, a lot of kids are saying that they just don't have any money to spend. Also, she was concerned with the selection sent by Scholastic. Many of the books are just too difficult for the majority of the students (something like 60% of their school is reading below grade level) so that might have been a tactical error on her part.

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Today Ms. J and I worked with her class on the TweenTribune project. It went pretty well, although it took a long time for some of the computers to log on, and then students seemed to have a hard time creating a TweenTribune username and password. The site required a bit too much information (for privacy's sake mostly) for a log in and it took at least 15 minutes before the whole class was logged in. Once students were in they were able to find the article indicated by the graphic organizer pretty quickly, but figuring out the topic, main idea, and supporting sentences seemed a bit difficult for some of the students.  Only a few got through all four articles, nobody moved on to reading any other articles (there was space for them to do two other articles). I have no doubt, however, that without the graphic organizer, the lesson would have been quite chaotic.

A few students were also more interested in making comments on the article, and on other students' comments, than completing the assignment, and we had to start directing them away from making comments at all (which was the only reason to create a username) in order to get the main objective completed.

After class, we talked about what could work better in the next class. Since it seemed that creating a TweenTribune username and password was more complicated than it was worth, that was cut. Students will be given the option of creating a username and password at home if they are interested in making comments on the articles. By not creating a username and password, the option to leave comments will also be gone, which will eliminate the two main problems we had with the lesson.

It really is too bad, because they were excited to be able to make comments on the articles, and so was I. Hopefully the other classes really will go home and create usernames in order to make comments. However I know that will probably be a pretty small group, unless maybe it is an extra credit opportunity.

I'm beginning to see how having a media specialist as a prep provider is a good thing.  The concept of global citizenship and interacting in an online community, if only to make comments on an article, are ones that a media specialist could easily expand upon but there is just not the time to do that within the context of a regular class.

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Throughout the day, individual students come into the media center for one-on-one help. I worked with a couple of these students today who specifically need help with boosting their reading ability. I showed them Encyclopedia Britannica Online free to all MN residents, which is nice because it reads articles out loud and has links to other web sources. I also showed them Tumblebooks , which, although it contains books aimed at lower grade level readers, held their interest. One girl made sure I wrote down how to get there, because she wants to do it at home. This girl was amazing. She came to America from Egypt only a year ago and knew no english at that time. She's like a sponge, just soaking up everything she hears.

I worked with the other student for another hour or so, as his regular class had a sub, and he doesn't do so well with subs. We had a nice time, though. We worked on specific reading skills and trying to memorize new words (that's how reading works for him, he memorizes what words are what, rather than sounding them out).

It was a pretty low-key day (the cell-phone incident wasn't discovered until I was leaving for the day), but it sure went by fast.

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