iPads are here. Aren’t they?

Today was the first day that my school’s set of iPads was ready to be checked out by teachers. We have enough for about half of the students to use an iPad at one time. When you add in the desktops and laptops we also have, we have a device for every student.

And no one has signed up for them. Not even for next week. Or the week after.

No one was banging my door down to get to them.

This makes me sad.

What do I do? How do I get teacher’s to start using them? And not just for themselves but with their students, of course. I feel like they are scared to allow the students to touch them.

One of my favorite other blogs had this post a few weeks ago about iPads and I looked through it again to see if it was any help. It’s a good post, but it wasn’t what I was looking for. I know about the apps, I know using iPads isn’t the end goal but what the students create with them and learn with them is, and I think my teachers know that.

I wonder a little bit if that’s causing the lack of banging on my door; they know they can’t just be using them, that there needs to be substance to it, a purpose and they’re not sure what that purpose is yet. Or they’re not sure how the iPad could do it better than what they’re already doing.

I don’t know. I’m sure we will get there eventually. One step at a time.

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Testing. Testing. 1. 2. 3. We are testing our students.

Fair warning: I am complaining. AND YOU WILL SEE A LOT OF CAPITAL LETTERS. Right now, I just have to get my frustration out. Later, I will try to actually put this into words and form some kind of valid idea as to how we can fix the issues.

If you have been in public education as a student or educator at all in the last 10-15 years, you probably know about the influx of testing requirements of our students.

This year, probably because I had been out of the school system and back to being a student for a few years, I had forgotten about all the testing. But no longer.

Every year in mid-October, schools are required to administer the PSAT to 10th graders (and maybe 11th graders? I can’t remember) starting in the morning. I think I was once told it had to start when school starts, but I could be making that up.

Either way, we started at 7:15 am. AND DIDN’T END THE PSAT UNTIL 11:15.

THAT’S ALMOST 45 MINUTES INTO THIRD PERIOD.

And then we just went on with our day, and had a shortened 3rd period and regular 4th period. During the test, 9th graders sat in a room and did nothing while a group of teachers babysat them. I don’t even know what the seniors did, but I assume it was something along those lines. At my old school, the whole school stayed in their 1st periods until the test was over, and only teachers with 1st period planning administered the test. WHICH MEANS THAT SOME TEACHERS ONLY HAD 1 CLASS AND SOME CHANGE OF ANOTHER, THEN GOT A PLANNING PERIOD, WHILE OTHER TEACHERS LOST THEIR PLANNING PERIODS AND STILL HAD CLASSES TO TEACH THE REMAINDER OF THE DAY. This sort of happened at this school, too. Most teachers were asked to be somewhere or proctor or administer a test during the testing period, but some lost planning time to do this, while others had 4th period planning and therefore only taught about for an hour and some change.

Oh. EXCEPT FOR THE PART WHERE THE STUDENTS WENT TO LUNCH DURING THAT PERIOD SO REALLY IT WAS ONLY LIKE HALF AN HOUR.

Tomorrow, we are administering the PLAN. I’ve never actually done this one. Or heard of it for that matter. But we have EXACTLY THE SAME PLAN FOR THIS DAY AS WE DID FOR THE PSAT. WHICH MEANS THAT TWICE IN FIVE SCHOOL DAYS, STUDENTS ARE ALL MISSING THEIR FIRST AND SECOND PERIODS, GETTING A SHORTENED THIRD PERIOD, AND HAVING A REGULAR FOURTH PERIOD.

We did try to save time by having the students bubble in their names and addresses and such last week, WHEN WE TOOK THEM OUT OF THEIR CLASSES TO SPEND TIME DOING THAT INSTEAD. To make sure we don’t cut into as much class time tomorrow obviously.

IT ALL MAKES PERFECT SENSE. CAN’T YOU SEE?

Don’t worry. We are also doing midterm exams, which teachers were informed they were required to do exactly one week before we started them. And I just can’t wait until we get to the 10th grade Writing Test and all the EOCs.

And the ESL teacher keeps requisitioning Media Center space, without any prior notice, to test ESL students. BY TAKING THEM OUT OF THEIR CLASSES. AGAIN. How is taking an ESL student out of a class to test them going to help them? I’m serious. How?

Oh. Did I mention that only one student from my school opted to take the SAT last year? ONE.

We are obviously doing something right.

Never mind, I know what my valid idea to fix this is. LESS TESTING. The students get nothing out of it.

 

UPDATE from many weeks later: I know these are requirements that administrators, special area teachers (like ESL), and others are just meeting. I know it’s not their fault. I was just very frustrated on this day. I understand that students (and teachers) need some accountability. My problem lies in over-testing. Of course, we didn’t reach 80% of our students passing  the second test they took in one week; most of them slept through it because they were burnt out from the first 3 hour long multiple choice test they took. There just has to be a better way.

My first bulletin board/display…

…feels like an unmitigated disaster.

I created a bulletin board and display for Teen Read Week as well as a display for Banned Books Week.

Here are some pictures of the TRW bulletin board and the display.

IMG_3252 IMG_3258

 

And the BBW display.

 

IMG_3257

IMG_3256

 

I felt like there were a number of challenges to this whole thing.

  • I have one large bulletin board and one small bulletin board on opposite sides of the library. That upper right picture in the collage is the smaller bulletin board. There is no table or bookshelf without anything on the top near the smaller bulletin board, so I had to think of something to do with it.
  • Neither of my bulletin boards are in a very logical place to be put to use in conjuction with displays.
  • The bookshelves that don’t have anything on top of them (and are short enough to be used as displays) aren’t in very good places for having displays. You’ll notice the Censorship poster is on an office window.
  • There is no better place to move any of the things that are mobile, which is actually only one of the bookshelves.
  • The large bulletin board was actually way larger than I was expecting.
  • My collection is in serious need of a major update. We didn’t have any of the books nominated for this year’s Teens’ Top Ten or any of the Top Ten Challenged Books from last year.

And here is what I ended up doing about each of those things.

  • I put a quote on the small bulletin board that I felt related to the theme of the book display on the large bulletin board. Positives: love the quote; it’s from a book; it’s totally related. Negatives: we don’t have that book, although we do have a couple of random ones from the series.
  • I used them anyway because they needed to be covered ASAP. I was originally thinking I could put always put a related quote on the little bulletin board and put the book that the quote is from on the shelf next to it. I may still try that, but it’s really limiting since my collection could use some help. Still like that idea though.
  • I used them anyway. I had no other choice at the time. It will be different next time.
  • Yeah, I’m not moving them. Not even the mobile one. Oh wait. Stream of consciousness here, but I just had an idea I might try out before doing the next display. We’ll see.
  • I filled it with things I’m not too proud of. Dots and squares for one. I thought the QR codes were a good idea (they link to the voting page for Teens’ Top Ten and the local public library to find the books), but I will print them larger next time to take up more room. Negative to that: my kids don’t actually know what they are because they mostly don’t have the devices to use them.
  • I had to get creative. The TRW display is all previous Top Ten and other award recent award winners, are things like The Giver, whose “sequel” Son is nominated this year, or are other books by authors who are nominated this year. The BBW display is a bunch of books that have been challenged over the years.

I do think I had some small success in using tissue paper to line the board and in finding those colors for the bulletin board letters in the back room.

I’m going to change a bunch of things, hopefully before I switch over to the next displays. Most importantly, I’m moving a bunch of the sections in my collection. That may open up some better shelf space for displays. However, that space won’t be near the bulletin boards, so I will have to do some thinking about that. My stream of consciousness idea may solve that issue, too.

Sorry for the length of this post. I really needed to reflect and figure out how I was going to make this better. I don’t deal well with feeling like something I attempted turned out awfully.