Friday, April 4, 2008

Making Accomodations

I'm going to start off negative, but should wind up with a thoughtful, positive post by the time I'm through.
Because of PSSA's, I got paid to take pictures of my classroom, make a few phone calls, and practice my violin. Because of PSSA's, my 8th Grade Orchestra lost a rehearsal and day of lessons that they'll never get back; a rehearsal that is only one month from the Spring Concert. My home-schooled students were sent home when they showed up for their lessons. When my 6th and 7th Grade Orchestras each had their rehearsals, they were so hyper from being in a quiet testing environment all day, then finally released to "normal classes".

So here's my favorite photo from this morning. A photo prompted by a few of my 7th Graders. This was taken from a storage area that can only be reached via an iron ladder bolted to my wall. You see, my orchestra room used to be a prop-storage room for the plays/musicals. My students have always been curious about this little storage area, but because of the ladder, and other safety concerns, I obviously don't let them up here. So, I promised to take pictures of the closet, and the room, from this vantage point.

My students are starting to learn about technology above and beyond what I/we can teach in
school because of filtering, mainly because I give them opportunities outside of school. "The link on the whiteboard is to an amazing YouTube video of Pablo Casals, a very famous cellist." for example. Publishing worthwhile links on my Facebook wall, or taking it a step further and publishing it via Twitter (which still goes into Facebook for me), and then finally blogging about it, all give students an additional way to learn without the confines of a school building.
While I haven't created specific lesson plans that utilize technology, I'm making my orchestra students use the technology they already have (cellphones, iPods, cameras, computers, etc) to extend their learning beyond my rehearsals and lessons. It's not mandatory, so no worries about students without access/cellphones/etc, and if a student tells me they're not allowed on YouTube (which has happened), I get the parents permission to show them a downloaded version of the video. No iPod? It's an extra step, but I can burn a CD with the listening assignment, podcast, or recorded versions of the concert music.

Until we change the way we test/teach/treat our students, I'm being flexible and doing what I can with what I know.

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