Saturday, July 19, 2008

The School Year Approacheth

So here I am 2 weekends away from the new school year. I feel totally unprepared. I wonder do all teachers feel this way. You would think that I would have it all together considering this will be my third year at Monarch. When I think about my first weeks worth of lessons, I keep feeling that I will forget to give an instruction or that I will forget to mention something important in the lesson. The great thing about teaching is that I am always learning...learning about the kids and learning about myself.

I promised myself that this year I would do everything that I could to create a work/life balance. Will someone please tell me how to do that.

On another note. I found an old photo as I was cleaning out my email. It is a 2005 photo of my workspace as I created my culminating papers for San Jose State University (a requirement for the MLIS degree). Not everyone works well at a desk. I am notorious for working on the floor. My son has also inherited this habit. I have always wanted my kids to take a picture of their work space. I think it would make for an informative conversation about creating comfortable work spaces at home as well as an opportunity to create an interesting display.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Read 180 Conference Sessions- Day 1, Sessions A & B

So far, I have attended 2 sessions (1 full session, .2 of a session, and .8 of another session) today. I walked into my first session, Scaffolded Writing in Whole- and Small-Group Instruction, presented by READ 180 Certified Instructional Coaches, Pam Crowley and Jane Balash. From this session, I learned from the teachers at my table. We shared successful classroom strategies. After talking to one of the teachers, I am going to look into the Step Up To Writing Program and the use accordion method of organizing writing to create paragraphs. Another teacher mentioned creating a word/definition poster with her class that breaks down the language contained in reading comprehension questions into kid-friendly definitions. She learned this from a PD given by Larry I. Bell who spoke about the 12 Powerful Words. I would also like to create a page with a combination of information from this one (parent suggestions at the bottom) and this one (English/Spanish words and definitions) on my own blog in order to give parents a way to reinforce the use of the words.

I signed up for Powerful Phonics for Older Struggling Readers-Accelerating Beginning Readers. I saw the logo for the System 44, Scholastic's newest technology program geared toward beginning readers. So instead of learning about Read180 and how to improve my instruction, which happened to be my entire purpose for attending this conference, the workshop's aim was to sell the System 44 product. I left 2 minutes into the presentation.

I walked into a session called Maximizing Learning for Special-Needs Students Within the Instructional Software and thought I would learn new ways to instruct my students on the proper use of the software or even ways to control the software to promote certain reading skills with my students. Instead, I heard a presentation, very similar to the introduction to the Read180 software presentation that I received when my school first purchased the Read180 package.

Scholastic was smart. Create a conference and tell the participants that they will learn new and exciting ways to use their existing resources. When you have their money and they physical presence, use them to promote the existing products through videotaping their testimonials (everyone want's to volunteer to be on camera right?). Use the workshop sessions to introduce the new software line and voilĂ : instant consumers of the new product.

When I attended ALA's conference, I could count on the fact that the purpose of the conference was to develop my skills as a professional librarian. At this conference, the only thing that I can count on is my ability to see through the marketing bubble that I am trapped in. They will release me on Saturday.

The one presentation that I am looking forward to is seeing Kate Kinsella. I have heard great things about her methods and how they work with EL students.

First day at the Read180 Conference

I'm so tired but I needed to get this out before I turn in. I feel deceived. When I walked into this conference I really believed that I would learn something that I could take back to my Read180 class. Instead, I feel that I have been used to create a marketing campaign for Scholastic and that this entire conference was created to inform Read180 teachers about a new product that they want us to purchase, the "L-Book".

My evening began with a reception of 800 educators. The Read180 team created a talk show that resembled the set of Oprah in order to present the Read180 speakers. Now I am a huge fan of creating entertaining ways to present to audiences, but when I looked around and saw all of the cameras, I realized that we were all props in a marketing campaign. We should have been notified in advance that they would be video taping the conference for their own purposes.
We were provided a wonderful dinner spread and free drinks. During this time, again, the cameras were everywhere. They also had Scholastic representatives rounding up educators to give a brief testimonial about their Read180 experiences. At my table, they approached my Polynesian colleague and asked her to speak on camera. She declined. Then they asked me. I declined. There were six other people at my table, but none of them were asked to speak (they were Caucasian). Then they walked around a bit, found a table with an African American man, and asked him to speak. He agreed and was walked over to the interview area. The Scholastic Rep returned, searched around the crowd and approached an African American female, who agreed to speak on camera. Why were they singling out the minorities? Was I the only person paying attention?

Tomorrow will be my first conference session. I really hope that I learn something that I can take back to my classroom. Right now, I feel like this conference was not created for the educators, but it was created to collect a bunch of Read180 users in one place in order to build a marketing campaign.