Back In The Saddle…

This is my first actually blog post so I better make it count.  As much as I dislike leaving a digital footprint, I believe that my failures may help others avoid the same mistakes.

I’m happy to report that my first day back in the classroom in over four years went very well.  While I spent days banging my head against a desk trying to fine tune a syllabus that didn’t truly speak to the type of classroom environment I hoped to create, I finally surrendered and ask our administration for an extension which they graciously approved.  So, with no syllabus, what did the first day of class hold for a small group of Freshmen?

As my brilliant wife suggested, just talk to the boys.  It was the final class (3rd period) during their first day at a school that most of them have looked forward to attending for years.  Mental exhaustion and fear probably weighed heavy on most their shoulders so I asked them about their experiences throughout the day.  The smiles coming from their energized stories were contagious.  I know for a fact that my first day in high school was never like that.

I tried to ride that wave to the assignment I had prepared for the remainder of class.  Prior to class, I had accomplished a few tasks:

1)  Posted a multiple page PDF of plexers in a folder on the Edline class page.

2)   Created a QR (Quick Reference) Code that, when properly scanned, would lead them to the plexer worksheet – http://qrcode.kaywa.com/

3) Posted the code on the class page.  Please see below:

To begin the assignment, I told all the students to go to the class page on Edline and explain to me what they saw.  (Immediately, I was able to identify the students that had not activated their Edline account and gave them the task of accessing their school email, locating their account information, and activating their account.)  A little over half the class had ever seen a QR code, and only one enterprising young man knew what is was called.  I made their task to find out where the code would lead them.  Several students wanted to use their phone since some of them had a QR scanner installed but, while a good solution, I took that option off the table.  Students accessed the Internet and then started downloading QR scanners from the App Store.  (I just verified that they are on the student WiFi and have a working Apple ID.)  Soon those who found a solution were quietly helping guide their neighbors to the same app.  When the first few students found the document, I asked that they start writing their answers directly on the PDF.  It didn’t take long for the student to determine that Notability the best app suited for the task.  (Core App check complete.)  Most the boys had a few minutes to start working on the worksheet before close of the class.

While the main purpose of the assignment was for students to discover a solution when faced with a problem, the task also doubled as a spot check whether students were meeting the tech requirements.  There were about five students with issues requiring a little extra help but, once given direction, were more than capable working on their own.  Overall, I was able to assess class dynamics, help get some students up to speed with iPad requirements, and have a little fun.

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