Posted in Education, Math, MTBoS

New Reflections on SchoolNet

When SchoolNet was originally introduced in my district a couple of years I found it to be clunky, not user friendly, and the fact that we were FORCED to use it did not bode well with me.  However, I have learned that sometimes technology needs some time to get the bugs out and that you should never just toss out anything for good.  I’m glad that I gave this product another shot.  I have found some good things in there and have found a place for this product in my teacher life – albeit not the one designated by my district.

How My District WANTS Me To Use This Product

My district would like for me to do my lesson planning through this product.  There are some nice features with calendars and integration of standards.  However, the lack of ease of use and plans that don’t really assist me in my classroom are true drawbacks.  Also, given the fact that my district changes initiatives almost yearly makes me less likely to plunge in and embrace the lesson planning features (along with the huge time commitment of that).

How I Use This Product

I have taken our common assessments and retooled them to upload into SchoolNet.  I still give my students the common district paper tests for each unit because through the grading process of these assessments I have a better handle on what my students know and can do as opposed to the online feedback I get from SchoolNet.  I like using SchoolNet for my quizzes for the following reasons:

1.)  Students get IMMEDIATE feedback on their quiz which will allow them time to work on the skills IMMEDIATELY before they take their test for the unit.  Typically when I grade quizzes (I have about 100 students for Geometry alone this year) it takes a couple of days to return to students which is time that they could have been coming to get extra help.  Additionally, even in that turn around time I do not give great feedback due to the quantity.

2.) The grades immediately post to my gradebook.  Although entering grades doesn’t take THAT long it is a nice feature.  Additionally, I don’t have to hand anything back.

3.) It’s paperless.  We produce SO MUCH garbage that it is nice to eliminate 100-200 pages of paper for each unit.

4.) The drag and drop features now present make it MUCH easier to create these quizzes.

What I Do NOT Like

I have a feeling that some students have learned how to cheat in this format.  It is sad to me because I want students to view assessments as opportunities to identify areas in need of growth and make changes before the summative assessment.  When they cheat, they deny themselves of this opportunity.  I am working on relationships with students as well as ways to find new safeguards against this in my classroom.

Take Aways

The biggest “take aways” from this experience of using this tool are:

1.) It is still JUST A TOOL.  You should not replace everything in your class with it.  Some teachers have put EVERYTHING on SchoolNet and I think that any tool that is used too much will dull and not be as useful.

2.) It is always a good practice to give things a second chance.

Posted in Education, Math, MTBoS

Grateful and Happy

My current book Live Happy has great insight on how to live a happier life.  One of the ways is through gratitude.  I found this especially profound as my word of the year is grateful.  I think that I need gentle reminders of this especially when it comes to school.  We have an incredibly late spring break this year (it doesn’t start until next week) and some of my students have been mentally checking out (and a few who have physically checked out as well).  I think devoting some time to gratitude lists for at least the next week will help me (and them) get through to Spring Break.

Five Minutes of Gratitude List

1.)  We had a fire alarm go off last week and today.  I am grateful for these alarms so that people are not injured in real emergency events.  I am grateful that my students follow our directions even in the face of the high likelihood that the alarm is a false alarm.  I am grateful for the building that has stood the test of the last 50 years and is a safe place for my students and I to learn.

2.)  I am grateful for the use of textbooks and other resources.  When my students forget their textbook, we have means of getting the information from the textbook to their eyes through taking pictures with camera phones and online textbooks.  There are people in this world who would be happy with the paper version alone.  We should be grateful for these resources and not get so hung up when students forget (or even purposely leave) their textbook in their lockers.

3.)  I am grateful for the water I can drink.  Not only is it freely available but here at school we even have a purifier.  Other parts of the world would just like the luxury of pumped water.

4.)  I am grateful that despite the circumstances that surround my students that they typically come to school every day.  I know that some come from broken homes that are filled with situations that are not conducive to learning.  Yet they still show up and I have a job.

5.)  I am grateful to color.  I love a new box of crayons or markers or colored pencils.  I love the rainbow of hues that surround me.  Color is beautiful.