Tuesday, October 06, 2020

The Tech Jaguar Catches Me

 My last class was the biggest disaster I've experienced in decades. It seemed like anything that could go wrong, did. I wrote a multi-day lesson based on a great video on Apple TV plus. They have a series I've just discovered called Little America, and the second episode is called The Jaguar

The story is about a young woman, undocumented but absolutely fluent in English, who's clearly spent most of her life in the United States. She is fairly lost in the beginning of the show, but finds meaning and future by embracing squash, of all things. She falls into this almost entirely by coincidence. I thought it might be inspiring to my students, and I saw multiple aspects worth writing about. I figured I'd spend a few days working on this and make it into a project I could grade.

The first thing that went wrong was when I went to grab my lesson plan from the printer. I'd printed it out earlier, I thought, but it wasn't there. In fact, not only was it not there, but my printer was not even on. Pushing the power button didn't help at all. I finally figured out that the little Dyson hot/ cool thingie I have in my home classroom had blown the power.

My wife decided to help, and went to play with the circuit breakers. Unfortunately, she played with the wrong one, and my internet simply dropped dead. I lost my entire class for a few minutes until she switched it back on. My printer still wasn't working, though, so I grabbed my second laptop and pulled up the document. My printer was still out for some reason, but at least I'd be able to continue my lesson.

So there I was, ready to begin my first video segment. I had a few issues screen sharing that precluded my getting to Apple TV plus, but I finally figured it out. When I got there, though, it kept directing me to the next entry in Little America. I'd stupidly watched a few more episodes, and it didn't seem to want me to review ones I'd already seen. For minutes I played with it, bringing it up in a different browser and trying everything. Finally I found a small leftward pointing arrow, which led me to the previous episodes.

Everything was solved. I clicked on the arrow a few times, and found the episode that had eluded me, the fast-moving jaguar. I clicked play and thought, here we go. I heard music, but saw a black screen. This was no good. My students were not going to love a video with no video. I knew this from experience.

I read a review of Little America somewhere, and I was really curious to watch it. I have an Amazon Fire Stick that I use to watch video channels, and I'd watched one or two things on Apple TV plus before. The first time I tried to watch Little America though, I saw the same thing my students did--total blackness. I tried a whole bunch of things to fix it, but ended up watching it on my laptop. Then I restarted the Amazon Fire Stick, and everything was fine.

If I were to restart my laptop, though, I'd lose all my students for the second time in one class. It didn't seem like a good idea. I'd given them a chapter in a grammar book to review our various uses of present tenses, and spent what was left of the class doing things in class I'd likely not have done. 

I used to laugh at younger teachers who freaked out because the technology failed. In a classroom, I always had a way to get through without technology. If I couldn't show vocabulary using a PowerPoint or Keynote document, I'd draw pictures on the board and do the best I could. Also, if the technology dropped dead, I could almost always find a student who knew better than I did how to fix it.

Alas, I'm at the utter mercy of the tech jaguar these days. Now I have to decide whether or not to try the A lesson with my PM class or not. I probably will.

Wish me luck. I'm gonna need it. On the brighter side, I've restored power to my printer. I'm hoping my luck has changed. Also, if you get a chance, go watch The Jaguar on Apple TV plus.

Update: I checked the video and it worked, but when I tried it in my class it didn't. One of my students told me that this is what happens when you're streaming. Evidently, since I pay, I can watch it, but since my students don't, they can't.  I now have a three page lesson plan and writing assignments I made up for no reason whatsoever.  I suppose I can use it if I ever get back into a real classroom.

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