Wednesday, June 28, 2006


As a teacher transmitting values to students, this symbol (not surprisnigly) means a lot to Steve, so I thought it would be good to post it here! Hey Dad, it's used outside Harvard too! (taken from PAS intranet

So, day 3 of summercore, Steve and Lynne's computer professional development workshop is ova'. Today we talked about using Excel, which was good, because it's a program that I rarely use and don't know much about. I sat behind John Platt, while he showed how he uses it for grade sheets, and sat behind Steve and Aroline as she made a ficticious bribery column in her spreadsheet and wrote a function giving each child an extra point to their cumulative average for every 10 bucks they gave her. . . Ha! Brother Francis and I learned the pros and cons of creating columns compared to using 3 tabs and then he explained to me the difference between an abbey and a monastery (post a comment if you know!)

This experience is proving to me that I need to learn MS office suite much much better. It's the primary software on everyone's machines, and though I use them reasonably well, it's clear that I'm not comfortable enough to get in front of a group of teachers and explain how to do so efficiently. I'm a trail and error kinda guy, but that doesn't cut it in this environment. Now, if we were on Macs, and I was teaching ilife suite, it would be a different story. However, I still wouldn't be in autopilot/improv mode. I'm new to teaching teachers. It's a different beast.

However, now that I've sat through a few days, I have a more clear sense of how I can help Steve and Lynne on the next summercore workshop. Now that I've seen them do it, it's time to think a little about teaching Excel or Word. I'm sure I could develop a great lesson, and with a little effort, I could be a much more active participant.

Sooooo, what else have I learned to date? Well, since this is a PC based workshop, I'm learning a bunch of stuff about windows functionality. Like, for example, on a PC many keyboard letters have different functions when you press the function key (a little different from the keyboard shortcuts that I use on my mac). On the dell and IBM laptops we're using, those functions are written in light blue on the same key. So, when I press function and f8, I can select how I want to display the screen through the projector. Like all good progressive teachers, Lynne and Steve are going from structure to choice, providing the necessary guidance, and then creating time for more "authentic learning" by using the newly acquired skills through projects and constructive excercizes.

It's great to watch them, I love how Steve knows that everything needs to be repeated at least 3 times, so he kinda acts like he doesn't understand sometimes so that a participant needs to explain what is happening. And when Lynne systematically introduces everything about excel, not assuming that any student has had any exposure. She's super clear, and repeats herself so that they get it. Clearly they bug each other some times, but wouldn't you get bothered teaching the same workshop with your spouce for over 20 years? In general, I think the pacing and transitions could be a little better, though Steve began giving "5 minute warning" reminders today. .. I do think folks get frusters when it's just "stop and close yer machines." I'm probably more sensitive to that kinda stuff cause I have taught little ones for the past 8 years!

Overall, I think the group is coming together. There is momentum building, between Steve and Lynne's unending energy and the fact that the students are recognizing their learning and the fact that Dan came in today and reminded everyone that there will be more projectors and that site licenses for new software is easy to get, I think changes may be happening here. That's the point, right?

More later,


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