24 October 2012


Today I lived my own credo: a teacher needs to be a good learner. Thanks to my sophomores for being so patient as Healigan learned her lesson in the Tech Center. It was our regular blogging day yesterday, but there were problems as we discovered that no one could reach the link in the blog post that led to our current events topic of the week. It took almost the whole period for two adults to troubleshoot with the help of my kids: no one had paid attention to which browser they were using, and many were using Firefox. Our Mac desktops were rebelling. Ten minutes of FREE RICE at the end of the day is not the worst thing in the world, the kids delightedly assured me.   So we went back to Tech today, and still encountered problems even after everyone double checked that they were using Safari.  Folks still couldn't easily open new tabs to pass easily between the source text and their writing site, no one had their sites bookmarked in the toolbar, and so on. We eventually got the job done, but the real lesson was mine: since our school does not do formal computer training for every freshman student, then I should be doing it with them--especially in this class, where every student exhibits learning differences and some have physical issues to be managed on top of the learning issues. One student needs to use a laptop very day, but she usually brings a Dell from home, so that was no advantage with the lab's Macs (and she wanted to do what everyone else was doing).Here's what we will review next blogging day:

1. choosing the right browser for your device/computer.

2. changing preferences so they can open new tabs the Mac way. I get crazy when I see someone accessing a drop down Windows type menu, clicking open a new window, then going back to the google bar to type in the search window on a Mac. When they complain that Macs take too long, I gently review the minor differences between the two devices, and assure them that using both PCs and Macs (and whatever else comes down the line) is going to be a fact of their lives. Learn now while I am here with you!

3. knowing the difference between bookmarks vs favorites: making the decision which kind of book mark you want is critical to the convenience on a Mac. Do you want a site on the toolbar, in Top Sites, or somewhere else on the bookmarks menu? Take care of it once. Everyone laughed when I showed them how to get rid of Top Sites in the toolbar--they're not my top sites either, guys. Get rid of them!

4. BIGGEST thing I learned today? my kids did not know the difference between the google ADDRESS bar and google SEARCH bar at the top of their screens. Why should they? Teens are often lucky getting to sites they want by typing a search term in the address bar, because they go to sites that are named with the url--youtube, facebook, twitter, etc.  But when actually researching a topic, they become irritated with the results they don't get that way. Some kids figure it out, but many do not--they are still at the beginning of their googling careers, so the skills are just developing.
There are so many more  settings, etc. that I need to consider. What has stopped your classes in their tracks?
 And of course, now I have to think this through with the school iPads.

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