Saturday, August 22, 2009

Out With the Old

Have you ever changed schools? Last year I changed schools. I’d been teaching 10 years at University High when I decided it was time for a change. Five years as an English teacher , 5 years running a Reading Writing Center, 10 years as a total pack rat.
How many books would you accumulate in 10 years? How many files? How many notebooks? How many pens and pencils? And I’m not even counting the stuff I hadn’t thrown away since my last move. My Mom and my friend, Lee Corey, helped me pack up.
“Do you really need this? These files look pre-Internet!” Lee commented as we started on the first of 4 full filing cabinets.
“Well, I might teach British Lit. one day," I said eyeing the thick Canterbury Tales folder in Lee's hand, "I don’t know. I might need that!” I argued back knowing full well she was trying to get me to throw stuff away.
“Lee Ann Spillane, you do not need that!” Mom chimed in.

“What if I do?”

“I’m telling you—whatever you think you need you can print off of the Internet. Honestly,” replied Lee.

“Okay, okay, I give up. I’ll throw it out. I’ll purge. I’ll turn over a new leaf. If I haven’t used it in 2 years, I’ll think about tossing it.”

“Two years?”


“How about 1 year and you toss it—don’t just think about it.”

“Fine. Don’t let me look. Let’s just pitch it.”

And we did. I borrowed a flat bed hand truck from the janitors. It took 3 loads to the dumpster to get rid of things I’d collected but not used in a long time. I took pictures as we hauled one of the loads—thinking it would remind me not to collect so much stuff. But you know what?

At first all I could think when I looked at that picture was “Dang… I threw that away!” After cleaning up my classroom for this past week, getting ready for students on Monday, I realize that I've probably got at least another filing cabinet full of files I can purge! When was the last time you went through your files?

Friday, August 14, 2009

Ta Da: Prezi !

Teachers come back to school, officially, on Monday. The "houses" or small learning communities at my school are hosting 2 day institutes for their teachers on Monday and Tuesday. I am facilitating 2 workshop sessions for teachers. One on the AVID binder and one on Google tools. I wanted to try something different for these workshops, so I turned to Prezi.

Prezi is an online presentation tool. Users upload content, arrange it in a presentation space and go. Free-form, intuitively zooming, clean lines... very cool. I had a lot of fun playing with it to create the AVID binder workshop. Now, we'll see how it works when I use it to present! Click below or here to see the AVID binder prezi I put together.