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July 2006

June 2006

PreAP Online Course

I'm very excited because I have a new assignment from my school district -- create an online course for Computer Science.

I picked PreAP, primarily because I know what is on the district final.

One of the real exciting things about it for me, is that I'm getting to use my Master's Degree. In fact, the person who I'm ultimately doing this assignment for, was my professor of record.

It's a lot of work. I am basically setting up the entire course so it can be taken online and I need to have the majority of the course designed before the school year starts. I have not idea what I am getting paid for it, but I have a feeling that it, like the webmastering course designed last year, will be made available to the other teachers.

Once the school year starts, they will be recruiting students. They are hoping for 12, and are hoping to issue the student labtops. I will be the teacher of record if we get students to sign up. It will be available for Dallas ISD students.

It's on Blackboard, and best yet, I managed to get the first unit designed tonight. I'm sure I'll tweak it but at least I got started!

This gives me lots of good opportunities and puts me on the ground floor for other potential online courses.

Going well

Today I finally felt at home in my classroom. I could find things without walking across the room and getting in the other desk. I could see all my students.

One of them was playing games with their workstation and making noise when we were working on problems together. I think I figured out who -- my biggest clue was that the speaker icon was showing in his desk tray and I have the computers set up so that it isn't there. I pointed that out to him, and didn't have any problems after that.

I have to be out Thursday, at a Computer Science workshop and I think I have all my copies made. Tomorrow I'm going to write instructions and organize everything.

It is feeling good!

Getting better

Most of my workstations are where I want them. I have some tweaking to do. I also need to move some equipment.

Also, I am supposed to lose some of my Algebra I students about the end of next week, my principal has hired another math teacher. I move that we give him the majority of Spanish speakers as he is more comfortable teaching in Spanish -- however, I don't believe in teaching high school kids in Spanish. As long as the tests are in English we need to speak English!

I'm also having problems with the Novell server. I use Examview for assessment etc. I run it on my Novell server. We did an assessment in first period and everything was fine. My second period comes in, after I do a reboot on all the workstations and we get a "Tree or Server" not found. I've got to find a better or an alternative way, as this makes me crazy.

I'm not exactly sure what is happening, but it seems to me that there must be a table on the server similar to a DNS table that keeps track of where the Novell servers are at and mine got lost. I can never get a good answer on that, so if anyone reads this and is a Novell expert, I'd love an explaination.

Summer School

Well, sort of says it all.

I've now got 38 students in Algebra I Spring Semester which meets 1st period. I have 28 computers. So far we're spending the majority of the class period working problems, off the overhead. I had them all log in today.

I've starting putting the lab back where it should be where this many kids can work. So far, I have 4 workstations on one wall, 4 work stations on the back wall, and 10 workstations on another wall. So my plan for tomorrow is to use the workstations as an overhead, putting 3 kids on each set of 2 workstations, working problems. I figure we'll rotate about every 40 minutes or so, with two kids in front of computers, and the third in the back.

I had to kick one kid out today. He put his head down and did nothing. I had an A/C observing, so I had her take him down to the office with a note. He didn't return.

I am actually hoping to lose 10 students, so that things will work right, but I'm not holding my breath.

Sad to feel that way, and sad that we seem to take all comers. My niece is in summer school and they limited the number of students who could sign up, she was on a waiting list and got in because someone didn't show. We should do things that way.

Or hire another math teacher to teach Algebra.

But our biggest issue is no A/C.

This is exactly why I got out of programming and into teaching

Coding Horror: The Noble Art of Maintenance Programming

Timely Post

I will admit that I didn't try hard enough, but the only programming jobs I could get was as a maintenance programmer, and the hardest part of that was the hours. I literally was on call almost before pagers and cell phones, (back in 1983) almost every night and almost every weekend. The only way I could get off call was to go out of town and be unreachable. We used to take turns. Hmmm, I could have lied, but I lived to close to the worksite, and knew I would get caught. In fact, I think I did once.

As a teacher, sometimes I think all I do these days is maintenance -- fixing the kiddos programming mistakes!

Can't Sleep again

I actually had fun with summer school today and am looking forward to tomorrow, but I've gone to bed twice now, laid down for two minutes and realized I didn't feel comfortable about tomorrow.

I think I have everything done now -- my Fall semester -- which is 2nd period is set up on all the websites we'll be using -- AgileMind, Texas WebTutor, Examview and my website, though I need to get their grades together.

My Spring class just lacks having Examview set up but I can't do that until tomorrow.

I'm thinking seriously of giving each kiddo an index card to write down all the passwords and logins -- everyone is slightly different, and since I'm having them keep a folder anyway -- or maybe I can just have them right it down on their folder. I should have enough sharpiers for them to pull that off.

First period is 23 students right now, and second period is 13. I think we can get more students tomorrow, obviously since there were students still waiting to get registered today when I left -- and I just checked the district website, so I can figure on more students through Wednesday.

I also think I have enough to keep them occupied -- though Spring semester is tough -- we have a 2 hour and 40 minute class period and I've never had to keep students busy THAT long.

The biggest problem is trying to eliminate paper. Wednesday will be my first day of doing that. It will be interesting. It would be best if we had Adobe Acrobat (not reader on each computer, but I think I only have one copy). -- no I double checked and since my lab is a Webmastering lab, we should have 29. I'll have to get it installed. Of course, I can just have my students write the answers to their assignments on paper and not include the questions, which are on the computer.

Most can't type and are not very computer literate in English -- though some are more comfortable in Spanish, but no I am not allowing to them switch interfact languages, because the math test is in ENGLISH!

One thing I am also working hard on with them is vocabulary. They weren't sure what a meteriologist was today.

All in all, I'm excited. Yeah, I need to get some sleep!

I am actually cool with this

Students find ring tone adults can't hear - Wireless World -

I really haven't discussed this with other teachers but as long as the phone doesn't distrupt my train of thought, I don't really care.

In fact, I told my summer school students today, as I made sure that my ringer was off, that if they needed a calculator, feel free to use the one in their phone -- and then whipped my phone out about 20 minutes later when I needed a calculator.

I honestly don't even care if they text message as long as it doesn't bother my train of thought and they aren't cheating.

I think I like teaching Summer School -- And teacher pay issues

It is so funny -- my friends, my husband and my family have been worried since I have never taught summer school, that I wouldn't like it.

Okay, this is ONE day, but so far, I love the hours 7:45 - 1:45 -- okay, I'd like it better if it started at 8:00, because I always feel like I have to get to school about an hour before the kids (but I can never stay after).

And today was long because I have ACP writing after words (more on that on a seperate post.

But the class size is great. Right now below 25 and below 15 but I haven't taken a full count.

Classroom management is great so far, precisely because the class size is small.

But this is the fun part for me.

The people who are worried about me teaching summer school are some of the same people who thought that I got TOO much time off when I first got into teaching, and that teaching was over paid.

Well, to start with, when I went into teaching 14 years, ago, I was making $42,000 a year, and I quit and later went back to school and started at $21,000 a year (I remember these numbers well). Of course, a lot of people, including my husband thought that the long time off made up for the $21,000 I lost.

Hmmm, how. You really can't get a job in the summer as you are only available for 12 weeks. And sometime in that twelve weeks you have to get some training in. Most AP teachers (I am one), have to get a week of training in. And let me tell you that 4 1/2 days of training is intensive and you have no energy to do anything else, because you are cover a year's worth of material in 36 hours.

So now you are down to 11 weeks. Again, there aren't many part time gigs that are going to pay $21,000 (in 14 year old dollars, so think closer to $30,000 today). And of course, they occasionally juggle our start dates.

Now don't get me wrong, I make just under $50,000 a year now. That includes math and/or AP stipends, I get one or the other. It also includes the extra money that I get for having a master's degree, and the best news on that, is that the district paid about 2/3 of the tution. It also doesn't include summer school or my ACP money. Nor does it include tutoring money. Any of that is an extra $20.00 on hour.

I think I do get paid a fair amount for my 187 days a year. I also think that our starting pay, which is just about $38,000 for a new teacher, is also far. However, my district is paying substantially more than the state does. I think, but I'd have to look at the union tables again, that we do about $4000 a year more than the state minimum.

The fun thing is, the general public who doesn't know what teachers do, do think that we get paid too much. Of course, they are thinking that we get somewhere around 15 weeks where we could make more money, if we needed it. I'm sorry, but that money just isn't out there. Nor do I think it would be fair to my students if I were working a part time job during the school year -- and a lot of teachers do that to make ends meet. It's also hard to find the continguous days to make up a 50% difference -- and honestly, I do believe if I had stayed in the non-educational workforce, I would be making $100,000 since my husband's salary compared to now and then is comparable.