This post is a first for me. I have invited a Guest Blogger to share some thoughts about education. My guest is a student of mine. Carli just finished her freshman year of high school and was a member of my English 9 Lit&Comp Class. Carli is an outstanding student and, as you will see, is involved in many activities outside of academics. Her high school soccer team is competing on Saturday night for the right to play in the final four of the state championship. She is hard working, conscientious, cooperative, and has a great sense of humor. Just a few short days ago I asked Carli if she would be interested in this undertaking. I am thankful she agreed. Carli also was one of two students that collaboratively worked on creating the final essay prompt for the semester exam which was included in my last post. What follows is Carli’s reflection of her experiences in English 9 Lit&Comp in 2009-2010. I asked her to be honest and thoughtful. She comments on what worked for her, what challenged her, and her favorite Web 2.0 Tools. I added the visuals and links to this blog post. If you are moved, please comment to share in this experience with Carli. Thanks Carli for making this school year memorable through all your hard work, your great discussions, and your willingness to explore the depths of your creativity. Here it goes….
On Monday, June 7 when Mr. Steltz asked me to be a guest blogger, I told him I would have it done by the weekend. He must think I do nothing all day because he thought it should be done sooner. Sports consume most of my time, between practices and games I hardly have time for anything else. Because of the extra-curricular schedule, getting all of my Lit and Comp homework done was difficult many times, plus we had homework for other classes. Having to use Web 2.0 Tools is what took a lot of time. Yeah, there are some good ones on the list but most of them require too much time to do a simple task. The thing that was a bit frustrating was having to sign up for each one. While I didn’t find a ton I liked, there were a few that I really enjoyed using and weren’t any more difficult than a Power Point. Prezi and VuVox were my top two. They improved my presentations but didn’t require tons of time to put together a good product. Prezi, VuVox, and other Web 2.0 tools helped improve my presentations because it helped the class see and understand what I was talking about. It also kept my peers more interested which made them quieter. I will most likely use these two on future presentations.
Mr. Steltz may not understand how busy student athletes are especially at the end of the year; he does know how to make you learn without knowing it. At the beginning of the school year is when I really noticed it. We would start talking as a class and end up getting a little off topic but somehow Mr. Steltz would find a way to make it connect with what we were learning that day. I wished that it would have continued on more through the year. One of my least favorite things about Lit and Comp was having to do so many projects and presentations. The thing hardest for me to do were in-class essays. I’m not a very good speller and like to take my time when I write something. Having to do it within the class time limits didn’t allow me to work on it for a while, take a break, then go back to working on it, which is how I like to write. I didn’t mind having to write papers if we got a couple of days to work on them. Mr. Steltz’s “You’re limited by your own creativity” also wasn’t the easiest for me. I’m the kind of person who likes to know what exactly is expected, and he just gave us a general topic to build from. Even if I didn’t like everything we did in Lit and Comp it was a good year with many learning experiences.
I was one of the students that got to help create the final essay topic. I really enjoyed this because for one it gave me a heads up on what I was going to have to write about. Not only did it help me, I think it helped most of the students who took it because we tried to choose something that everyone could easily relate to and experienced in class throughout the year. We decided to go with the Web 2.0 Tools idea mainly because we had worked with them most of the year and spent a lot of time playing around with them. Also, it left us, the students, with the choice to support further use and exploration of the tools or not, which will help Mr. Steltz decide how much he should require Web 2.0 Tools to be used in years to come. Being allowed the opportunity to create the final essay prompt was good experience for me and if I got the chance to do it again, I would.