Contact with the enemy (Wednesday, 2010 July 14)

July 14, 2010

I’m fairly certain I don’t have enough material here for the two lessons I’m giving tomorrow, but I’m hopeful and frankly I just don’t want to do any more work. There just isn’t enough time in the day, and I’m fairly certain that would still be true if I hadn’t hit the bar with Allison and Peter to talk strategy.

I haven’t really had any classes since the last time I wrote, but the lessons still reverberate. There are a few other things we’ve discussed:

  • different tactics for getting the students to actually generate responses — although that might be a challenge, since I’ve also seen students refuse to even read things that are written on the board. But, for example, telling the student to put something in cell C2 and seeing whether they can successfully indicate the cell named.
  • Excel (or any spreadsheet in general) is actually a pretty useful tool to teach someone, because it’s useful even without a printer, and it’s actually a fairly general tool that lets people do a lot of "semi-programming". It can be useful to manipulate data and can save you time even if you can’t sortir ("go out" or "bring out") the results. Whereas a word-processor requires you to be able to print things or else it’s basically useless; a letter that never leaves your computer can’t be sent, almost by definition.
  • Allison used a competition in her class to encourage the students to participate. Divide and conquer. Only problem: too much noise. I guess we’re walking a fine line.

I am hoping to cover in my class the mistakes made in the lab sessions earlier this week. That’s kind of a potpourri in 3e but should dovetail nicely in 5e with the lesson I’m going to teach about the different "areas" of the keyboard and what the different keys do. I’ll be able to talk about Verrouille Majescule (Caps Lock) and why you shouldn’t use it, and why it’s better to mix capitals and lowercase, and how the cursor works. And hopefully next lab, the students will be able to do something more interesting than write a sentence.

Time sure flies. The week is already half over, but I still feel like I’m stuck in Monday evening. Only 26 more months amirite???

Speaking of lesson plans and how they never survive contact with the enemy, today we talked about the Organization’s contingency plans. Basically they devolve into two parts: make sure we can be contacted, and be aware of how to get to the collection points. There are three basic actions here: stand fast, consolidate, and evacuate. We just need to be ready to receive directions to do those things in case that happens. There’s an election in February, and that’s kind of touchy for the Organization; they’re keeping an eye on things "just in case".

There are a few other topics I would like to talk about, but none of them are really resolved. Me and Peter "ran" the first meeting of Informatics Club today — here, school gets out early on Wednesdays so there is time for "clubs", which are nominally academic — but it felt kind of vague and undirected. Some students worked on classwork they didn’t understand; some messed around with email and stuff (only 8 computers were connected to the ‘net, or else they all would have done that). But a lot looked bored. Me and Peter are gonna install Gimp and whatever other software we can think of on those machines; hopefully that’ll pique their interest a bit. Peter also had the idea of having a "suggested activity" on the board in case the students do get bored and want to feel accomplished, but not making it mandatory.

My first bottle of conditioner ran out today. I guess that means I need to start looking at local products. This both upsets and kind of excites me. Jenny got sick today, but according to me it’s probably not typhoid; she probably has the test results by now but I haven’t spoken to her yet to know what it is.

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