No school at all this week, and likely losing a day or two next week because of the next snowstorm coming, so I was left in a lurch. IB Exams begin on May 4th, and we have 4 pretty huge novels to get through by then. And, by "get through," I mean we have to read, discuss, understand, and write about them, as well as practice two very challenging assessments that will be tested on that date.
We read The White Tiger in a week and a half. That was the quick, "easy" read of the quarter. Now, onto Native Son, then onto East of Eden, and finally, Oryx and Crake. I passed out a semester schedule, detailing every week. We average 150 pages of reading a week, plus plenty of work.
Losing a week hurt. I was already down to 50-something days with these seniors before the big test dates, so I began a little bit of freaking.
Then, I started a wikispaces for my class. A colleague had done one, and it seemed approachable, despite my general fears of new technology. Setting it up was not that bad. Then, I stalked the students for a couple of days via email and Facebook getting them to sign up for it. I invited parents to join if they wanted to do any discussions, as well.
So far, the site is only around 24 hours old, but 23 of my 42 students have signed up for it. There have been 52 comments made on the discussion board (ahem, 21 are mine, but that includes me asking discussion-type questions - I'll back off as they get more into it). The kids are saying really insightful things about the first section of Native Son, and I'm monitoring their reading, and I just couldn't be happier. In my snowed-in state (I got out today for the first time, shoveling the street, but have been unable to leave since Friday), I'm checking the site all the time for new comments. Honestly it's one of the more exciting things I've added to my instruction in a long time.
Now, the key is getting the rest of those kids on-board that I'm missing so far. However, I think this is a much improved use of the discussion board format over nicenet (if you remember, my nicenet board was compromised by an internet prank and the kids were subjected to racist jokes and porn because of it). For this site, I have to give permission to join - much better.
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