How Do I Get to “Having Written?”
Trying to find time when I have a clear head and enough focus to write is getting to seem like a pipe dream. Let me see if I can get the habit rolling again.
OK, cheap joke aside, I just spent half an hour looking at the screen and reading a couple of articles to try to get my brain in gear and hope that a post would sneak up on me. I’m thinking right now about the way my day today intersected with technology. It opened up some possibilities, but it also created some obstacles. I’m not sure I have the balance quite right.
In World History we’re trying to practice historical thinking by creating autobiographical videos. I think this has the potential to be a really powerful project, and give the students a chance to really create something genuine. If things play out well, I’d even like to have an assembly for all the ninth graders where students who want to can show off their work. It’s a project I never could have done when I was in high school. But to make it work, the students have to get some practice using iMovie on the Mac, and while it’s a decent program, there’s definitely a learning curve. I’m still working my way through it in a lot of places. So I spend a lot of the day putting out little tech support fires and making sure the laptops have enough battery life. As a result I don’t have as much time to spend working with the students on the actual content. Now, I tried to plan for that by spending 2-3 days with the students writing their scripts before we got to production, but I think a lot of the students are doing a lot of revising-as-they-work, so it’s something I need to keep an eye on. I also need to make sure I plan for some more moviemaking projects later in the year so that the students can use and build on the skills they learn with this one.
Meanwhile, during my prep, I was helping some seniors print out an essay that was due in their English class. But that wound up taking up time as I helped one student convert a Works format document into Word. (Would someone please explain why Word for Mac doesn’t come with a converter for that?) I wound up having to find, download, and install NeoOffice to get the file open. It was still probably faster than using a typewriter, but man, arguing with file formats in 2012 feels like I’m reliving the days of Betamax. (There’s a reference that’ll earn me five more minutes of explaining things . . .)
This isn’t a whine . . . I think that time spent helping students navigate some of these tech hurdles has its own value in forging a connection with the students. But it is something I try to keep in mind when I start getting a little TOO adventurous in dreaming up new projects.
OK, I feel better about having written now. Time to go back to New Yorker discussions of polling data and reviews of the new Kindle.