August 19, 2012

Minor Hiccups

In my last post I mentioned that the first couple of weeks of school have been relatively smooth with only some minor hiccups.

Here's a couple of them.

The SmartBoard fiasco:

We only have one in our school and it's in the library.  I tried using it my first year there but it's just not my thing.  Sometimes I'd set it up last year in a corner and let kids use it for fun activities or other teachers might use it occasionally.  There was one new teacher that asked a couple of times last year if she could check it out.  I told her I didn't see why not but that she'd have to talk to the tech guys about getting the software on her laptop.  I guess she never got around to it.

Same thing this year with a new teacher.  Now we do have Mimios which are these doohickeys that you attach to your regular white board to turn them into an interactive white board but we don't have one for everyone yet.  So this new teacher asked aout the SmartBoard and I told her the same thing.

My mistake.

Turns out there were two big problems with this.  First, she trundled it down the hallway and suddenly other teachers saw her and began asking why they couldn't borrow it too.  (Um, they'd never asked!)  Secondly, apparently just "loading up the software" isn't as easy as I imagined.  I don't know (or really care) why.  So the tech guy in charge of this bit of the process recommended I keep it in the library and set it up in the corner again and just let people sign up for it.  Should have stuck with that plan.

The other thing is my new book club.  In years past we've participated in the county reading challenge called the Reader's Rally for interested 4th and 5th graders.  It's this quiz bowl style competition.  I can't say that I love it since it's all about low-level questions and competition and to me the enjoyment of just reading the books and talking about them gets lost.  Also, from what I understood, everyone else in the state participates in a different quiz bowl style competition and only our district does their own version.  So while everyone else is reading the GA Book Award nominees, we have our own list of books.

Due to a poor showing the last couple of years and the desire of the person who had lead our teams to move on to other things, I decided to try something new this year.  I got the idea from a fabulous media specialist in our district who buys copies of the Reader's Rally books and has a group of kids read them, but they just don't participate in the competition!

But I had to take it a step further and decide we would read from the GA Book Award nominees list and vote on our pick in the spring.

Bad idea.

There are many problems with the plan I won't go into, but one of them is that it's more expensive.  When you're doing the competition thing, you can get away with just having a few copies of all the books because everyone has to read all of them but they have most of the school year to do it.  When you're doing more of a regular book club, everyone needs a copy of the book every month.  Now I thought I was mostly good on the first title but I had a few more interested participants than I expected.

So I got the bright idea to email all the other media specialists and ask to borrow a few more copies.  We do that thing all the time if, for example, a whole class wants to read a book.  What I didn't realize until this week was that the middle school Reader's Rally teams all read the books from the current year's GA Book Award nominees.  So I got about a hundred polite and well-written emails from friendly and helpful middle school librarians telling me what an asinine request I had made of them.

Luckily I'm still getting seven extra copies of the book from some of the other schools anyway.

Not wanting to go through that every month, I think I'll switch it up and pick from last years GA Book Award nominee list.  I'm thinking there should be plenty of copies lying around the district and that nobody will mind me borrowing those.

Let's hope.

Live and learn.

2 comments:

Ms. Yingling said...

Ah, Mimios. They are new in my building since I was the computer tech person, so I had to fix several last week. Without ever having worked with one. I'm not a huge fan if our Battle of the Books. The selections are often... Capricious.

C.B. James said...

I skipped right over the smart board/mimeo thing and have a new Elmo. It's a little project that will post whatever page or book I put under it, like the old opaque projectors used to do except I can write on this, point things out, etc and all will be projected.

The software was a breeze to load, but the whole thing can be plugged right into the projector, too.

I just want to point out that none of these technological advances have ever made me a better teacher, just a flashier one.

But being able to razzle-dazzle the kids and the parents is never a bad thing.

Have you tried asking the parents to get books for their kids or one of these new kick-starter donate.com sites. I can usually get a few books from the parents of interested students. I'm also a big fan of library book sales.