Thursday, March 26, 2020

Technical Difficulties

Today was my worst day as a remote teacher. I had an interesting lesson, or at least I thought so. I picked the song, Morning Has Broken, by Cat Stevens. For my money, it's one of the most life-affirming things I've ever heard. Another is Sweet Old World, by Lucinda Williams, though I personally like Emmylou Harris's version better. However, that one is an oblique reference to suicide, and I don't want to bring that into my classroom, virtual or otherwise.

Yesterday I wrote a long Keynote presentation. I explained who Cat Stevens was, and how he evolved into Yusuf Islam. I gave them vocabulary that would help them get through it. Then I gave them the lyrics with words missing, so they could fill it in. Except I didn't. I hadn't taken the final step of sharing it with them when I uploaded it onto Google Classroom. I fumbled around but with all the windows on my laptop, just couldn't do it. There was nowhere to go, and I ended the class ten minutes early.

Afterward, I figured out what the problem was. The next problem, of course, is that my other section will have the words and the classes will likely be out of sync. I guess I could share today's class the full lyrics and that would fix the issue. Alas, that wasn't the only issue I had.

My Keynote presentations contain animation and are designed so that lines appear one at a time, However, when I showed it full screen, no one could see it. I had to show it on partial screen and show full slides. That sucked because I had a discussion planned revolving around one line at a time. I was very lucky that one of my students' paraprofessionals happened to be in the room and was quick to correct me, as somehow what I saw on my screen was not what they saw, even though I was sharing the screen.

This was disappointing because things went relatively smoothly my first two days. I guess I'm not a computer wizard after all. Fortunately, I'm friendly with a lot of young teachers who are much smarter than I am. I shall be calling on their services this PM for sure. Hopefully tomorrow will go better.

Also, I've been completely unsuccessful in getting my students to show their faces. I'm not sure exactly how far to go with that. I know I can't force them but I'm gonna keep trying. It seems disingenuous to offer extra credit because I've decided not to even grade anything the first week or two. On the bright side, I only had two absences this morning. That's an improvement.

I hope your difficulties are no worse than mine. Please let me know how you're doing in these challenging times.

Update: Even after I had an hour to fix it, I somehow failed to upload a short story I wrote for my other class. I had to read it to them.  This time I went back again and tested to make sure I did it correctly. One class now has Morning Has Broken twice. I left it that way just to be sure. I will get the hang of this, but it will take a little time.
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