Just a quick peek in--it's the beginning of the year, and things are lovely, with the exception of a very local, very sad loss that will remain both local and sad--Bloomfield is a true community. We miss you, Michael.
A few fish moved in this morning, a lot of roly polies will soon follow. I've brought back my wooden flute, seeds, a rattle back, a huge horseshoe crab shell, and a variety of other tchotchkes that make a science class a science home.
But that's not why I write.
Social media gets expensive--I buy this, I sign up for that, and before I know it I've frittered away both hours and money on shiny things that I will never use. My wife thinks I'm a magpie.
Even a stopped clock, however, is right twice a day. Some twit dude named @fnoschese tweeted something about using plain vanilla whiteboards in class. No batteries. No lights. No code.
And only $2.
I'm cheap. I'm a neo-Luddite. And I like shiny things.
When I tutor one-on-one, I love using scrap paper. I scribble, the student scribbles, I scribble some more, the student scribbles some more. When we're done, I offer the pile of scribbles to the student. Usually the pile is tossed.
I cut up two 4 x 8' white shower boards ($25.87 including tax) into twelve 24 x 32" white boards.
Best money I've spent on a classroom, and I've spent a lot.
Mistakes are no longer permanent red marks. A quick swoosh with an eraser or back of a hand, and the board is clear.
Mistakes do not simmer for a day or two; I walk around and we work together to fix misconceptions on the spot.
I know immediately where the students stand, a bit humbling when you realize maybe your brilliantly scripted lectures posed as directed discussions are no more effective than the textbook you sneered at with your fellow twits on late summer eves.
And (drum roll please....) the kids dare to think. I mean think as in "Look at me I'm coming up with solutions and I want to share them!" think.
I am not saying anything Frank Noschese doesn't already say more succinctly on his blog Action-Reaction.
The only downside? Fresh cut shower whiteboard smells like a wet dog for a day or two. I only had one student complain, but my wife made me keep the boards in the trunk until I got them to school.
Two freakin' dollars. My Smartboard could have paid for a thousand of them. My Smartboard isn't bad. My Luddite boards, though, are better.
Did I mention cheap, too?
Photo by Adrian Pingstone, released to public domain.