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Please check out Mike and Sean’s Podcast introducing our EduCon session – Subversive PD:  Creating a culture of collaboration to bring educators into the 21st Century.

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Every full-time teacher in our HS is assigned a duty in addition to teaching their assigned classes. Duties generally include hall monitor, cafeteria monitor, study hall proctor and technology liaison.  For the past 2 1/2 years I have served as the technology liaison for the Foreign Language department. In addition to assisting members of the Foreign Language department with technology issues big and small, I have focused much of my attention on the digital language lab (installed in our building 2 1/2 years ago). Recently I have been asked to document the work that I have done as FL Technology Liaison since the beginning of school this year. There are 10 teachers in the Foreign Language department; I am responsible for monitoring 10 classroom computers (with SMART Boards and priners), 2 office computers, and the Language Lab. Five of our teachers have district laptops that I also provide some support for. The digital Language Lab contains 30 student stations, one teacher station, a networked printer, a document projector, and a scanner. In addition to the tasks detailed here, I teach a full course load of 5 Latin classes.
Since September my duty has included:
  • Set up Language Lab in August (made sure all machines were connected, working, headsets connected, necessary software working)
  • Clean Language Lab each day (turn on all machines, reset background image on desktops, clean and wash desks, dust keyboards and monitors, straighten chairs, empty recycling, fill printer with paper, clean headphones/microphones, reconnect loose wires/plugs, reconnect headphones)
  • Update Adobe Flashplayer (all classrooms and language lab)
  • Update Java (all classrooms and language lab)
  • Install iTunes on teacher computers
  • Assist FL dept. members with GQ Web plug-in – troubleshoot install for teachers using rooms on FL floor
  • Clean SMART Board projector filters
  • Set up and help maintain schedule for FL Lab teachers
  • Provide formal and informal training with Soloist/Virtuoso (Language Lab)
  • Troubleshoot audio issues in Lang Lab; recover lost recordings when necessary (on-demand, not limited to duty period)
  • Troubleshoot recording failure in Lang Lab
  • Troubleshoot connection issues
  • Test CD burners (for AP classes) – [Last spring: proctored AP exams for French, Spanish, Music Theory]
  • Run workshops for FL dept. on GradeQuick, Edline
  • Provide trainings for RMHS on Google Maps and VoiceThread
  • Assist FL dept. with managing tech focused activities (VoiceThread, Google Docs, Google Maps, blogs, Ning)
  • Work with IT to identify security/permission problem in Lang Lab with new student log-ins
  • Work with IT to set up network folders for FL teachers
  • Assist entire department with GradeQuick setup and grade submission
  • Check audio issue for teacher (mute button selected)
  • Check audio issue for teacher (speaker unplugged)
  • Install NetFlix for teacher to show French film in class
  • Identify damaged equipment in language lab and pass information on to department chair
  • Communicate with Language Lab installer and act as liaison between RMHS and company regarding concerns and problems in the Language Lab
  • Attempt to troubleshoot intermittent problems in the language lab; identify error messages; bring problems to most appropriate person (most effective when screen captures are used)
  • Install printer cartridges
  • Troubleshoot network connection problem for teacher; spoke with IT to determine best way to resolve issue (forced synch) and resolved the problem
  • Helped new teachers connect to LangLabSrvr, confirmed that all new teachers had appropriate tech connections/tools
  • Install scanner in FL office, install scanner software on 3 laptops and 1 office computer
  • Clean up cache to resolve memory issues, delete infrequent users to speed up teacher computers (this is a frequent and time consuming task)
  • Attempted to troubleshoot GradeQuick errors for FL teacher, to resolve problem required higher admin permissions than I have
  • Attempt to resolve intermittent wireless connection issues for teacher laptops in FL wing; passed this on to IT
  • Share information regarding workshops for Language Lab and other tech workshops with FL teachersCoordinate FL department participation in Lang Lab webinar
  • Attempted to troubleshoot phone connection problem; passed this on to IT who contacted phone vendor who repaired phone
  • Trouble shoot issues with teacher computers in FL dept. office; sent problem on to IT who replaced a defective hard drive
  • Identify an issue with mp3/wmv recording errors in language lab preventing student recordings from being collected. This problem is on-going, but intermittent.
  • Inventory all technology equipment that is available for student use in the FL dept. and provided to IT
  • Inventory all computer types on FL floor and provided to IT
  • Inventory software used by FL dept. teachers regularly and provided to IT
  • Set up international DVD on TV cart for use in showing non-US videos
  • Provide support to substitute teachers (assist with SMART Board, DVD/VCR, etc.)
  • Work with colleagues in FL department to develop lessons and projects using Language Lab and Web 2.0 tools (VoiceThread, Google Docs, Glogster, Google Maps, etc.)
  • Troubleshoot problems related to specific lessons using Language Lab and Web  2.0 tools

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An off day

Today my Latin 1 class didn’t go very well. It wasn’t a bad class, nothing dramatic happened. But nothing really clicked either.

This year our school has switched to a rotating schedule with 7 classes that drops one class each day. So today my Latin 1 class met for the first time since last Thursday, a 3 day break.  Since the beginning of the second marking period, this class has met for 5 straight days only one week; between holidays, a parent conference day, and the rotation of the schedule this class has very little consistency. We also enjoyed our annual Saturnalia celebration two weeks ago, which is one of my favorite days of the year, but certainly turns our focus away from Latin grammar for more than a few days.

So now I find myself trying to review case endings and reviewing prepositional phrases that take either the ablative or accusative case in the last few days before vacation. I have a fun activity planned for tomorrow, kind of a cross between Simon Says and Dodge Ball using a Nerf football to keep everyone on their toes. But today was all about reviewing nouns, prepositions, case endings and vocabulary.

I’m finding that the biggest challenge (drawback?) to this schedule is the absolute lack of consistency. So often when I used to be able to find a groove with my class and logically end a unit with a quiz or activity, I’m now scrambling to fit the quiz in a day early because I won’t see them for a day or two or three. When students are out for a field trip, illness, or college visit – and then their class doesn’t meet the next day –  they easily can be away from Latin learning for nearly a week. No matter how many resources a teacher provides (on-line notes, posting homework on Edline, offering on-line “office hours”) the lack of routine makes language learning a real challenge. Gifted language learners seem to be getting along okay, since they can basically teach themselves. But the majority of my students have to work hard to master the vocabulary and grammar. Not hearing the language, not reading the words, not reviewing the grammar five days each week means that each day in class requires more time reviewing and less time moving forward.

So class didn’t go very well. And the study hall that met in our room the period before left the window open on a cold December day.  And 5 students came to class late. And 4 more students needed to use the bathroom.

Today was not a great day for learning Latin. I did the best I could. I hope that my students learned a little. Tomorrow will be a better day.  I’ve got my Nerf football ready to go!

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Some thoughts for my students during cold and flu season:

Please do your part to stay healthy and be in school.

If you aren’t in class, for any reason, you should know by now that every homework assignment is posted on Edline. Often the handouts are uploaded, links are provided. I know you might not be feeling great. But if you’re well enough to be back in school, please do me (and your classmates) the courtesy of finding out what you’ve missed. If your internet is down, most work is also posted in my classroom. Or you could always contact a classmate. I’m happy to help each of you get caught up, but with so many of you absent over the past few weeks, it is impossible for me to repeat all of the lessons from each day that you were out.

When you ask me to come in early or stay after school to go over missed work or make up quizzes, please be respectful of my time and show up when you say you will. If you can’t come when you intended, it is polite to send an e-mail or leave me a note.

Whenever you have a planned absence – a college visit, a sports competition, a music performance, a doctor’s appointment, a driving test – remember that you are responsible for staying on track with all of your classes. You must go to Edline, you must contact a classmate. The library is open before and after school if you need to get on-line at school. You should be ready to jump right back in the day you return.

If you are absent, don’t lie about the reason. I care about you and I want you to be successful. If you are really sick, I want to be understanding and supportive. When you invent an excuse for your absence when one doesn’t really exist, you are wasting both your time and mine. My goal is to help you learn Latin, not to catch you in a lie.

I understand how many commitments you have, how much you need to do each day. When you are healthy, it is your job to be in school. If you are absent 10 or 15 days in a semester, you have missed all of those opportunities to learn and to contribute to the learning of your classmates. Attendance is not the only key to success, but showing up is half the battle.

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Saturnalia 2009

It’s been so long since I’ve written, but I feel like I’ve neglected writing about my Latin classes. So much of my students’ work over the past year has involved integrating technology into our projects and learning. But one activity that comes around each December and has barely changed over the years is our Saturnalia celebration. Saturnalia was a celebration in honor of the founding of the Roman temple of Saturn that was marked by feasting, reversal of social roles, and the giving of gifts. The Romans would have celebrated the holiday beginning on December 17 (A.D. XVI Kal. Ianuarii). We reduce our celebration to one school day. This is the culminating activity for a unit on Mythology or Roman Culture (depending on course level). Every student comes to class in Roman or Greek dress, representing a god, goddess or historic figure.  Each student has researched his/her persona and brings symbols that best represent that figure. In addition to the costumes, students bring Roman-style food and drink to celebrate the day. Although they are not required to wear their costume outside of their Latin class, many students wear there togas all day long. This year our celebration will be this Friday. It is a big undertaking to organize so many students and all of the details. I look forward to sharing pictures and stories of our celebration this year after the party is done. Io Saturnalia!

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The Power of Twitter

Today I’m at the MassCUE Conference at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts. It was exciting to pull into the parking lot this morning and come up to the Fidelity Investments Clubhouse. As I listen to the keynote address I can look out the window and see the field where the Patriots play. Throughout the day I’ll be attending workshops and tweeting and sharing what I’m learning.

Later this afternoon Liz B. Davis and I are presenting “Establishing a Learning Network Using Twitter” in Theater A. We will be sharing tips for getting started with Twitter and for using Twitter to powerfully build a network of educators and colleagues globally. Establishing a Learning Network with Twitter is a wiki where we share links and resources for using Twitter to build a network.

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My five year old daughter loves to play with my computer. I try to keep her on the machine set up with kids’ games and links preset to sites that are Mom-approved. But often she’ll look over my shoulder and ask to feed the fish on my iGoogle home page.  The other day she told me she didn’t like the picture that I use on Twitter. Today, though, she did approve of another avatar that I’m using for this blog, VoiceThread, and other sites. I showed her a few others I had made – for a friend, for my husband – and fairly quickly she identified each person. When she asked if we could make one for her, I thought it would be fun, not to mention interesting to see how a 5 year old imagines herself.

Avatars are a good way for students to create an image of themselves without sharing personal photos.  The avatar maker that I like is called FaceYourManga. It allows you to change specific features and, even with somewhat limited options, seems to get the key elements that make a person identifiable to family and friends. The one critique I had for this avatar maker was that the bodies were really designed for adults and I was very clear that I would not create an image of my daughter that had the figure of an adult woman. It is somewhat hard to avoid, but I think we did o.k.

Bridget - aged 5 B_cropped

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