Friday, May 08, 2009

"Peak", oil on panel, by Cooper Dragonette

Teaching Journal

Day 140, Friday, May 8, 2009

     Our Skype video conference today with an English class from a suburb of Chicago didn’t work as well as I had hoped, partly because of my less-than-satisfactory preparation. For some reason, I didn’t lay a proper foundation for the conference – didn’t go over the poem carefully enough with the scholars, didn’t assign topics to specific kids, and – most importantly – didn’t prep them for how the conference would work and what I would be expecting from them. (It was this class’s first Skype conference.) As a result of my incomplete planning, my scholars were confused by what was happening, which led to a lot of sighs, puzzled looks, and silence. Getting them to contribute to the conversation was almost an impossible task. Of course, not surprisingly, this led to some embarrassment on my part. Like most teachers, I wanted to ‘show off’ how smart my students are, and all I succeeded in doing was showing off how poorly a lesson can be planned. My chagrin was probably visible as the Skype class slowly came almost to a standstill. This new technology is a wonderful tool, and it can bring significant benefits to my classes – but the necessary groundwork needs to be laid. On my end, that didn’t happen today. 

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