It’s early almost no one has arrived. The janitor is walking the buildings turning on the lights, part of her morning ritual. I often see her leaving my building to make her rounds as I am walking in. I turn on the lights in my computer lab/classroom. Three different classes, three different lesson plans, three different PowerPoint slides each with a Quick Write assignment pertinent to the lesson plan, and an Agenda for the day. No student of mine will ever wonder, “What are we doing today?” Well, they do wonder, and often they ask and I always ask them if they read the Agenda on the screen. Middle school students think that they are all grown up, but they still want you to explain everything to them. Some of them, some are quite the opposite. They walk in the door, glance at the screen and get to work without ever saying a word.
The art and science of teaching is much like the art and science of communication, there are so many ways to get your point across and they must all be utilized to reach every student. I am a creature of habit. Repetition brings familiarity, every morning I create the “Daily PowerPoint” slides according to the lesson plans and questions I have already determined while creating the lesson plans. In the morning I search my “Brainy Quotes” app for an appropriate word of wisdom to start each class. The students arrive and as they are logging into their computers I read the quote and questions out loud, maybe expound on the quote a bit and answer any questions about the Quick Write prompt. Then I always encourage my class, “Five complete sentences is a minimum to get full credit for the Quick Write. What does a sentence begin with?” In unison the class says “A capital letter”, “and what does a sentence end with?” I respond, and to that the class says, “Punctuation.” I really do think they are tired of me saying the same thing every day, but I still don’t get five complete sentences from everyone.
Every week we work on the same projects, just on different words, chapters and career clusters. Every day class starts with a Quick Write question that every student emails to me. Every week the students access a folder on the shared drive that has the Chapter PowerPoint presentations and Key Terms for the week. Each student finds the Key Terms and definitions, creates a Word document then saves it to their Exploring Careers folder on the network drive, and sends the document to me as an email attachment. Thursdays we take an online quiz to make sure they all learned the Key Terms and not just how to copy and paste! There is something to be said for getting into a routine, but some students have a hard time finding their stride and need some guidance along the way.
One of the things I like best about working with students in a computer lab is that each can work at their own pace and I have time to help those that are struggling. The students that catch on quickly become my teacher’s helpers and they guide their fellow students with the finer points of copy/paste, saving a Word document correctly, or can’t seem to figure out how to get PowerPoint to cooperate. I marvel at the creative license students find within the Career Cluster rubic. Several have asked, “Can it be more than seven slides?” Of, course you can always do more!
Each week my students email a Quick Write every day, a Key Terms document as an attachment, a seven slide PowerPoint presentation as an attachment and on Fridays each student presents their PowerPoint to the class. Do we communicate in my class?
You betcha! Verbal, non verbal, in print, and with pictures