Organization

I am really jealous of Jim Burke’s new organization scheme. I think he has come up with a system that is easy to use and will enable him to find and retain (and reuse) lesson and unit plans.

I keep most of my documents on my computer and several of my unit plans at the UbD Educators wiki. I am fundamentally disorganized, but I can usually find what I need when I need it, and if I can’t, I can print it again. I could really use a system like Jim’s. Why? This is what my desk looks like:

Desk 1

Here’s a shot of the other side:

Desk 2

And the kicker is that several folks have commented lately on how neat it looks. As in you can see parts of the actual desk.

The trouble is that organization takes a great deal of time to get going. Once you start, it saves you a lot of time. Unfortunately, with five preps, it’s hard to find time to get it started. I need an assistant!

Related posts:

The English Companion Ning’s First Anniversary

On December 5, 2009, the English Companion Ning will turn one year old. Jim Burke, excited about the possibilities of Web. 2.0 technologies after last year’s NCTE Conference and its focus on technology and tools of the future, created the EC Ning, which would later be described as “the world’s largest English department.” If you’re not already a member, I encourage you to visit the Ning and join. It’s easy: just click on the link that says “Sign Up” in the right-hand sidebar, and follow the instructions on the screen. Be sure to look for me there. With grad school, I haven’t been as active as I’d like, but the Ning is a vibrant community, and I have truly enjoyed the conversations and ideas shared.

Related posts:

Hanging Out a Shingle

Defender Approaching DefeatI have begun research into consulting, and I have decided to hang out my shingle as a consultant in integrating technology (especially Web 2.0 tools) into instruction and perhaps backwards design planning. I registered a domain for my Web site, which I began building using iWeb. I may play around with Dreamweaver or do some handcoding–not sure yet. At any rate, I wish this domain had been available when I purchased huffenglish.com, which I chose because the one I wanted was unavailable at the time. I will provide more details once I’ve done more research, planning, and development, but I am fairly excited about going in this direction, as some of my colleagues have been trying to convince me I should for some time. It was very helpful to pick Jim Burke and Angela Stockman‘s brains about getting started, and both were helpful (especially Angela, who hung out her shingle about a year ago and is doing very well).

I am certainly open to suggestions if there is something you have identified that you think I have done well and would be able to teach others to do.

Creative Commons License photo credit: Vicki & Chuck Rogers

Related posts:

Blogs, and Wikis, and Nings, and Things

This is liable to be a rambly post, and frankly, I’m not sure I like reading those myself, but sometimes they have to be written.

Those of you who are members of the UbD Educators wiki — are you interested in having a Ning, too?  It wouldn’t mean shutting down the wiki, but Nings seem to enable more different kinds of interaction, so I thought I’d float the question.  Jim Burke’s new Ning has become incredibly active and interesting, but he’s also Jim Burke.  Still, the success of Jim’s Ning made me wonder about UbD Educators.

Which leads me to something I have been mulling over for a while.  I think I’m stretched too thin.  I join too many online “clubs.”  And I probably just used unnecessary quotation marks.  I am currently a member of nine Nings (0nly about two or three of which I even look at, much less contribute to) and nine (or ten?) wikis, again most of which I don’t contribute to, or at least not regularly.  I have six (I think) blogs, and the one I update most is the one I do for my students.  This one comes in second, followed by my book blog.  My other blogs are fairly shamefully dormant.  When I look at the numbers, I freak out a little and feel bad.  I also wonder what to do about it, or whether what I’m currently doing is OK.

Long term career goal I’ve been thinking about for a couple of years: teacher education.  I think I want to work with English Education majors.  I’m not sure what I need to do to reach that goal, but the good news is that I am in touch with my own English Education professors, and I can ask them.  Meanwhile, if you do work with preservice English teachers, please share your advice or experiences.

I asked this question on Twitter, but got no response.  If I am a member of ISTE, is it still worthwhile to join AECT?  My ITMA program at VA Tech keeps talking about AECT, but all the tech folks in the Edublogosphere (should that be capitalized?) always mention ISTE.  Just wondering.

Finally, if you are headed to the Georgia Council of Teachers of English (GCTE) conference in February, I invite you to the session I’m presenting on Using Blogs and Wikis for Professional Development on Friday.  It’s the same session I presented at November’s GISA conference, so if you already came to that, you wouldn’t miss anything new if you skipped it.  Suggestions for the presentation are welcome.  If you were going to the session, what would you hope to learn or want to know?

OK, I have picked your brain enough today, Internet.

Related posts:

English Companion Ning

I am so excited!  Some time ago, I mentioned that two English teachers I’d love to see blogging are Jim Burke and Carol Jago.  Jim Burke has created a Ning for English teachers, where, presumably, we can all look forward to regular posts in the form of blogs or forum posts from Jim!  And Carol is a member, too, so perhaps we can expect the same from her as well.  Some of you have already received an invitation from me to join the Ning, but if not, consider yourself invited and come on over.  Looks pretty active already.

Related posts:

The Teacher’s Daybook 2008-2009

My copy of Jim Burke’s handy teacher’s planner, The Teacher’s Daybook, arrived this week.  I mentioned previously that the planner had been published before July in the past, but this year was released on July 10, and I wondered why.  It turns out the planner runs from August to July for this year, and my guess would be that the change is permanent.  I would imagine the change was made because most schools start in August and it makes more sense for that to be the beginning of the year, but it leaves previous Daybook users with a month-long gap for this year.  It’s not a terribly big deal, except that I have a meeting on Tuesday, and I like to have things like that written down in my planner in the proper place.  And yes, I am a little OCD.

The weekly calendars have been revamped, and time will have to tell about whether I like it or not.  The old calenders had more space, which was good for me because I usually have four or five preps, and the large space made dividing my preps easier.  The smaller spaces will possibly still work for me.  If you are a teacher with one prep (and if you are, I hate you — not really — I’ve had one prep before and still hated my job), you should love the change.

Anyway, Jim Burke is ten kinds of awesome, and if you are an English teacher (or really, just a teacher), do yourself a favor and check out his Web site.  He is the graphic organizer king.

Related posts:

The Teacher’s Daybook, 2008-2009

The Teacher's Daybook, 2008-2009I just pre-ordered my copy of Jim Burke’s handy planner, The Teacher’s Daybook, updated for 2008-2009. The planner will not actually be released until July 10. Usually, it is released much earlier, and I wonder if some of the changes made didn’t cause a delay in publication. The planners usually run from July to June of the year specified, so I can’t help but think there was a problem this time.

I actually mocked up syllabi for this fall yesterday. Why do I want to go back to school so bad when I just started my summer? The Folger Teaching Shakespeare Mini-Institute! I am really excited to teach three Shakespeare plays this year — Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Macbeth, all of which, interestingly enough, are included in volume one of the Folger Library’s Shakespeare Set Free series. As a participant of the institute, I will be receiving a copy of this volume. I already have one, so I plan to donate the older copy to a colleague and keep the new one. I am not sure what the difference between the one I already have and the new one is (aside from the cover). Does anyone else know?

If you can only get one volume of the series, this volume is the one I recommend because it contains two of the most frequently taught plays — Romeo and Juliet and Macbeth — both of which are frequently anthologized in 9th grade texts and British literature texts respectively. It is my hope that if Folger produces another volume in the series, they will consider creating a unit for Julius Caesar, as when I have had to teach that play (twice), I have had difficulty in coming up with creative ideas, although it looks like there are some good ideas on the Folger’s Web site. There is a great idea for the scene when Cinna the Poet is attacked by the plebeian mob that we did at the Mini-Institute, but I don’t see an identical one on the Web site (here is a similar one).

Well, I need to tell myself to enjoy this break from teaching. I am twenty pages from the end of Wuthering Heights, which I am actually reading in its entirety for the first time (sorry Mrs. Keener — it wasn’t personal — I just couldn’t keep up with the reading schedule!) and Penny Kittle’s Write Beside Them was set aside while I finished up with end-of-year business (and I mean “busy-ness,” too), and I feel I have not been a good participant at the wiki. And I need to read the summer reading books assigned to my students (or at least the ones I haven’t read yet) so that I can make assessments for the books.

Techy Addendum: I have been getting a 500 Server Error when I post to this blog that says there is a misconfiguration on the server.  No problems posting at all, so it must be related to something that happens after I post.  No problems when I edit posts.  I am not sure what is causing it, and trying to figure it out over the last couple of hours hasn’t been fruitful.  Please let me know if you are having problems commenting.  Comments are held in moderation, so your comment might not appear right away, and that is not a bug.  However, if you get a strange error message (such as a 500 Server Error message), please let me know.

Related posts: