Woo Hoo! The first week is in the books. You gotta love those three day weeks.

First week shtuff:

I’m a bit worried. I herded them into the computer lab for the STAR reading test today.

(Aside: It’s from the same people who make Accelerated Reader. We still have the old version, not the web-based Renaissance Learning version. We’ll have to go to that next year as we migrate to Windows 7, but for now it’s refreshingly old-school. You don’t even get to use your mouse. )

And the bottom line is that I have more kids reading at a 4-5th grade level or less than ever before. But I also have almost as many kids reading at a “12+” level. So while my mean is about 7-8, the reality is that “teaching to the middle” just ain’t gonna work. I don’t have a whole buncha kids actually at grade level; they’re all way advanced (the few who didn’t get siphoned off to “accelerated”) or well below.


Also, the boy aced it. I haven’t had a PHS (Post High School) instructional reading level in years. Hard to say at this point if that’s necessarily a great thing. Will he be bored? I’d like to think not, but… On the other hand, you gotta admit that’s pretty groovy. He slipped and called me dad in video class yesterday. Don’t think anyone caught it.

Speaking of video class. Our computer monitors finally showed up yesterday. And our tables. We spent the first day brainstorming ideas and logging in to the network with discarded and scrounged monitors, so that all our software would install. We spent yesterday opening boxes, swapping out borrowed tables, and connecting monitors. And generating lots of trash. There was also a lot of rolling around in the rolly chairs.

Today we’re looking pretty groovy, with fifteen workstations (the kids work in pairs) with 27 ” led monitors. Yes, you read that right, 27 glorious inches. (That sounds a little weird.) My workstation has two. Everybody keeps walking in and drooling. We also got the sound systems. The dagburn subwoofers weigh 15 pounds!

But we still don’t have any cameras. They’re on back order.


So we’re working on our visual storytelling skills. I discovered this very groovy site called Pixton. It allows the kids to create very detailed comic strips with talk¬†balloons¬†and backgrounds and the whole nine yards with a very cool interface. They can even import digital pics. Go check it out for 30 days for free. I have money, so I’m buying a site license for the school. It’s perfect for social studies projects, end of unit projects, and a whole lot of other shtuff. Go check it out.

The first video project I had in mind was 30 second PSA’s about the school handbook and rules. So what they’re doing now is creating a 7+ panel strip that does that. Then when the cameras arrive, the comic strips will be like storyboards for the videos. That’s the “plan” anyway. So far they’ve spent more time creating their avatar (Pixture) for the site than actually working on the assignment. They all want to be the donkey with horns. Hmmm.