Where’s the Moodle?

I still believe in the ability of using a course management system on-line, and I am still a supporter of Moodle usage in schools as the number one choice for teachers in a K-12 environment as it provides a wonderful organized course page for teachers, administrators, parents, and students to communicate assignments, handouts, resources, grades, emails, and other learning modules.  I am even willing to host your school’s Moodle transactions to prove that to you (matt@mattmoore.net).  However, as a new teacher at a new school, I also understand that there is a clear need to merge personal teaching methods and practices into the established system of a new school so that all constituents can communicate clearly with the new teacher.  Education is more important than the system.Technology is a tool that can never override the need of a school to communicate with all constituents in a clearly defined process with a comfortably trained community.   Consequently, I am currently not using Moodle this year in order to communicate clearly in an previously established system.  Therefore, I am happy to tell you that I have been dabbling with other tools such as RenWeb, WikiSpaces, and a Drupal based system to deliver my homework assignments, communicate with parents, run a gradebook system, and generate reports.  I am learning new tools, and I have some valuable evaluations that I will share with you at a later time.  While I am still evaluating these systems there are definitely pros and cons of each system that can benefit a school that needs to promote itself for admission purposes and student progress purposes.

So if you have been reading my most recent blogs, you may realize that I am teaching Spanish full time this year with five preps, creating dynamic language based lessons on a SMARTBOARD, switching to a MAC at school, using systems such as RenWeb, WikiSpaces, and a Drupal system, and finding new ways to use technology to create language learning lessons.  I am embracing change, and I adapting well if I may brag a little.  But most of all I am observing students speak, write, read, and listen in Spanish well.  Learning is happening in my class and Technology is being integrated into the curriculum.

Third week with SMART board

As I prepare to begin my third week with my SMART board, I have learned some valuable usages.  I am finding that I can plan better for my students because I have saved exactly what I discussed in class, and I am finding that keeping a weekly board is more beneficial than starting a new board document every day.  I also am able to incorporate unique digital emphasis strategies that make longer term connections with my students.  I can also convert board work to documents and use only the vocabulary written on the board in my tests and quizzes so I can monitor better what vocabulary items the students already know and I can reinforce and provide problems that are confidence building.In keeping true to my commitment not to use traditional pens or traditional ink, I have done so, and my students and I are happy with the change.  As for constraints I only have a few technical discoveries at this point.  The first is a simple fix as I share my room with a math teacher who has different settings on his computer, I will need to reorient the software so that my computer works with the board efficiently post his usage.  I believe that SMART has a useful orientation tool that makes this easy. In addition, I have found that I sometimes find issues with Spanish accent marks when the SMART board notebook and Microsoft Word are running at the same time.  Usually if I close one then I am fine with the typing commands.  I do not like that problem as it is a part of daily usage for foreign language teachers, and I will probably send an email to request a fix of this bug to SMART and Microsoft.

Finally, I have to let everyone know that I am doing really well at my new school, and I am very happy to be here and impressed with my students.  Sometimes life has an ironic way of making everything work out.  I still work in Chatsworth, and I still have the same commute.  As for some bonuses,  I am looking out my window every day at a construction of a new campus that will continue to provide great technology usage and a newer environment that is pleasing to our parent community and student body.  And at our faculty trustee dinner of our 35th year, I learned that Chatsworth Hills Academy just earned  “Best Private School” by the Daily News Readers Choice Awards for the fourth year in a row.

This small town kid from West Virginia is doing OK.