Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Last Two Days

Things have been crazy, actually for three days, but I've already chronicled Monday.

Tuesday morning was less eventful, the power remained on so I was able to get more sleep.

Arrived at work at 7:15. At about 7:45 I got asked by our Librarian to try to get the morning announcement system working, but I wasn't able to get it working. I had the librarian call the A/V guys at our IT department at the district to come and get it up and running again. I could probably get it working, but I didn't have time to get it done before my Crossing Guard job began at 8:00.

After my crossing guard duty, I booted up the computers. Apparently yesterday's updates took out the timer feature I had set up for the computers to turn themselves on.

I spent the morning putting out computer fires, trying to get with the librarian so we could plan our general music class and getting with the teacher whose Friday Computer Lab time was going to have to be moved. It got moved to that morning, and the teacher requested I use the lesson I did last year on doing some layout editing on Microsoft Word. The students don't get a lot of time in the lab, so their knowledge of a lot of the software is limited and scattered from a period of some years. And that's for the kids who have been with us since kindergarten, we have quite a few who came from other schools with varying degrees of experience on the computers at their former schools, however some come with no experience at all. By the way, this class happens to be a 6th grade class. Anyway, thankfully I was able to find it quickly on one of my external hard drives and once the kids came to the lab and logged in I was able to push out the project for them to do.

After that class was finished, I had a small window of time to meet with the librarian to plan the music class. I then had to run back to the lab (thankfully it's right next door) as I had a 5th grade class trying to operate without me. Most of the kids already knew how to log in, however some of the logins didn't work. I had to work on that and push out the web site the kids were working on (the one I made yesterday) for their project.

Once I got everyone logged off I checked my email and found a kinder teacher sent an email requesting a video on fall, pumpkins, something like that to talk about the life cycle. I don't know when she needed it, but it sounded like she was going to need it before the end of the day. I logged onto Ideal and found a few segments of video on fall and why we have seasons. I downloaded them onto my laptop, then using bluetooth transferred them to my teacher computer, before pushing the videos out to the laptop for this kinder teacher. These are videos that are already cleared for classroom use and are found to be within the curriculum standards the State Dept. of Ed requires. Ideal is a site through the ADE (Ariz. Dept. of Ed.), and is supposed to be for teachers, however since I have a substitute certificate filed with the ADE, I qualified for access to this. After pushing the videos to her computer, I walked down to her classroom to explain to her what I found and brought the cables she would need to project the videos onto the classroom television.

I finally was able to stop for lunch at 12:30 and relax for a few minutes in the staff lounge.

At 1:00 I began prepping for the last round of classes, consisting of 2 - 1st grade classes, a 3rd grade class and a 2nd grade class.

The first grade class teachers requested during my lunch break for their students to type a sentence on Microsoft Word. They furnished the sentences. After seeing the first teacher explain this, I was able to better assist the second - 1st grade teacher with her class. The third grade class also decided to type on Word and brought in their spelling words for this. The second grade class opted for the Dance Mat Typing site, which required a change.

Once those classes were done, I quickly finished my crossing guard duty after school to log off and shut down the computers. School gets out at 3:30, I'm usually done with my crossing guard duty at 3:45, and I had a meeting in Tempe for the School District's bond election (see the Yes For Tempe Schools logo on the upper right corner of my blog page) at 4;00. I was done early with the crossing guard duty, so I was able to get things shut down and locked up for the night and leave with barely enough time to make it to the meeting.

One thing, though, I checked my emails one last time before leaving to find the agenda for the meeting from 5:00 - 7:00 for the District's Regional Design Team group #4. This meant I would need to call my visiting teaching companion to cancel my plans to visit teach after the bond meeting.

Both meetings went well, and I stopped by Costco afterwards and picked up some writing tablets for the kids to use in the general music class.

I finally made it home at 8:00. I was so tired I was ready to drop, but still had some work to do. After taking a break and watching a little bit of television, I finally turned off everything in the rest of the house and started on the work to prepare for the general music class. I brought home a dvd of Ghosts of the Abyss, and uploaded onto my computer one of the chapters of the movie. I then loaded the movie into Garageband where I took out the audio and replaced it with different music.

Today saw a little less activity, but still a bit of craziness by the end of the day.

I had a few minutes to sit and relax this morning after finishing the crossing guard job.

I posted a few emails, namely one letting the 7th and 8th grade teachers to have their students bring pencils with them for the class. Then the eruptions started. First was the librarian who told me we were supposed to wait to discuss this with the principal today, rather than actually starting today. I had already spoken with the music teacher the kids have been with up until now, and she was already under the impression (as was I) that we were starting today. Oops. I apologized, but I did indicate that I had already gotten the lesson taken care of, and the supplies bought (which I did). Then the librarian brought up an idea she had for a lesson and she thought we should start it off with what she had in mind. I didn't take it wrong at all, my attitude was, okay, let's do what you had in mind and we'll do what I planned for on Friday. Bonus! :o)

The class went through just fine, and we gave ourselves a little pat on the back. The kids did fine with what the librarian had in mind, and we finished with the first installment of having them journal about their feelings while listening to a song. The song was Unwritten by Natasha Bedingfield. I chose this song because it's upbeat and sends a very powerful message, if you can get the kids to listen to the words. After playing it twice and talking about what our feelings were for the song, and writing a few on the board, the kids started writing and I could tell from their comments that the messages in the song were sinking in. It was something they hadn't heard before.

I had about a half hour to prep for the two kinder classes I have next, and they went well.

After kinder, I had a 30 minute lunch break and a 30 minute prep for a 1st grade and 3rd grade class, back to back. While I was at lunch the math coach came and spoke with me about my substituting (as well as the librarian) for the math coach on their middle school math interventions when the math coach is away for meetings or illness. The interesting part about this conversation was when the math coach told me I should have no problem with my schedule in fitting all of this in. After all, I have all that spare time first thing in the morning, right? It's right there on the schedule! I explained to her that while there are blanks on the schedule, that doesn't mean I'm in the lab twiddling my thumbs. I have a lot of other things I do, and still need to get done. Such as:

Locating 4 iBook laptops on the mobile cart that hold the charge the longest to use for a kinder center. This begins on Monday. Oh, and by the way, I also need to schedule this on the calendar for the mobile cart.

Finish getting the inventory of computers, telephones, printers, projectors, speakers and any other technology device in the school. IT at the district just sent out an email talking about the upgrades in computers that will be occurring soon, which will render the inventory obsolete, and I'll have to do another inventory when the equipment comes in. We already have gotten some mounted technology installed earlier this month (while I was out sick), which is what I've been getting the serial numbers for. I already have gotten a lot of this information written down, I just need to type it onto the spreadsheet.

Put the new toner cartridges the school just purchased into the classroom printers that have run out of ink.

Send back the used printers to the district warehouse.

Update the teacher's laptop computers.

I need to clean the keyboards, mice and screens in the lab computers.

Check on why a printer isn't working for a 3rd grade teacher.

Meet with the Reading First Demonstration Site specialist on creating a brochure to send to schools interested in visiting.

That's just a partial list of stuff that needs to be done, I'm sure I'm forgetting things right now as I type this.

Towards the end of the 1st grade class I got a call from a 6th grade teacher. Apparently the teacher is taking a Smartboard class and needs the software on his computer upgraded in order for him to be able to work off of his laptop in the class. I tried to do this remotely from the lab, but it turned out there were problems with his computer and I had to snag it and take it to the lab. While getting started to work on the computer, the 1st grade class left and I had to reset the computers for the 3rd grade class. During this time, I tried to run the updates, but there was no space left on the laptop's hard drive, so I had to take the laptop back to the teacher, have them log back in so I could go through and delete out the stuff from his hard drive that was causing this. It turned out one of the teacher's own children had put a file full of family pictures on computer and it was taking up 16 GB of space. It took about 30 minutes to get the file transferred to one of my external hard drives, so I could get the update run. By this time, I was running (literally) through the school to grab an extra stop sign in the office and do my afternoon crossing guard duty.

Thankfully I was able to get it done quickly so I could go back to the teacher's classroom to get the updates done.

Was my day over yet? No. I already had an appointment with a 5th grade teacher after school to show how to plug their laptop into the newly mounted projector and speakers in their classroom.

By the time I left, it was 4:30. Technically, as a classified (hourly) employee, I'm supposed to leave at 4:00.

I think I'm finally tired now.

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