If It Ain't Broke, Fix It!
Tuesday, March 30, 1999 1:30 - 2:30
New York, NY
1. Describe your main project on the web and tell how you
Any details about how you gathered support will be helpful...Grants?
PTA? Partnerships? What does your classroom look like?
Do you use an LCD, LTV, or other device? Are your students grouped? Does
every student have a computer? Do you use labs?
Cyber English began when I was a sophomore in college, in a bookbinding
course. In this course we wrote and published our own poetry. We used a
hand printing press, we chose our inks, paper, and fonts. We sewed the
books together and we took them to local bookstores. When I became an
English teacher the notion of the scholars publishing their own work was
realized only through a selection process of the school literary magazine,
newspaper, or yearbook. As computers were introduced in the 80's, I had
my first computer classroom in 1985,
every scholar publishing became more real. With the introduction of the WWW
in 1992, Technology had finally caught up to what I wanted. Pedagogy was
leading and technology was following. Every scholar sits at hir own
computer, I use an LCD when I need to. My current computers were installed
in 1992. I use Windows 3.1, Netscape 2.02, and LINUX. My scholars write in
UNIX. Each has an email and webpage
of hir own. The initial setup was done
by my own ISP, Dorsai. They created the LINUX
box for and help me maintain it. I use a standard telephone line and a 56K
Modem. The rest of the school uses the T1 line just recently installed by the
NYC BOE. MBHS
had its webpage up and the scholars were publishing in 1994.
I use email, listserves, forums, and the web to communicate with my scholars.
The classroom, not a lab, has computers and the scholars use them as they would
use a notebook and book.
2. How do you teach HTML? In other words, how do you
fit it into the day, especially with everything else you have to teach?
Where does it fit? Please share any classroom management techniques
have for rotating students or managing the technology as it is integrated
into your content area.
We write lots of grants to pay for teacher training. We now have a grant writing team, which is crucial to much of our success.
HTML is taught from the first day. When the scholars walk in, I hand them a
piece of paper with the basic coding for their homepage.
The second lesson in HTML is teaching them about the View Source
feature of the browser. Thirdly, we use a basic HTML
Style sheet to illustrate coding. Within a
week the basics of HTML are done and the rest is learned as we go or as needed.
Now as to the WYSIWYG editors, Frontpage, Pagemill, Homesite, and the others,
knowledge of basic HTML helps, makes these fancy editors more efficient. When
teachers or students have learned to use an editor, they always have to come
over to learn some of the basic coding to make the editor and their work
do what they want it to do. We don't get hung up in HTML, it is merely
another tool, a very useful and basic tool. I make the analogy to owning a car
in 1914. the driver needed to be a mechanic too. Until WYSIWYG editors are
better, being a mechanic will always be useful. In addition, I promote
cooperative learning, we don't have hard and fast assigned seats, and I'm not
hung up on deadlines, which releases pressure and encourages ownership learning.
3. Have you been successful in getting other faculty
members involved in your web activities? Please share your methods and
We have been very successful in promoting our faculty involvement, through grants,
team teaching, mentoring, and excitement. I use the Tom Sawyer strategy, you
know the one he used to get the fence whitewashed. I work with those who want to
learn and do and ignore those who are reluctant. Not all teachers have to
use the technology at this time, since we couldn't accomodate all of them
at this time. When we have the technology, those who are reluctant will
have retired or eventually will see the light on their own. It isn't about converting
the reluctant it is about assisting those who want to learn and use the
technology. We have a very active staff using the technology in their
disciplines as seen by our roster of Internet
4. What have been your biggest obstacles...and how did
you overcome them?
Ignorance, fear, and maintaining the status quo...Pedagogy, Practice, and Perseverance.
5. What is the best new software or technique you have
...and how can the rest of us get it into our classrooms?!
Software: Linux and Mosaic! Technique: Web Writing/Publishing! I've stopped buying software.
Most computers come with the basics and the net offers the rest of what I need.
With computers I can finally follow my pedagogy
of having each scholar do. Essentially if we just slow down and let each scholar do, then our
scholars will learn and our schools will be more effective. I seek quality
not quantity. We all learn at our own pace and we should allow for that.
6. What *one* piece of advice would you offer to those thinking about
starting a web site? Or...What do you *wish* someone had told you before you
started your site?
Pedagogy, patience, and paying attention. Oh, you want *one*:
Trust the scholars, understand they come not as empty vessels, which we are
taught to believe, but that they in fact come with skills. Respect
"Child Power" and
use it. Education is interactive, a two-way street, and ongoing.
So what is my advice? Believe none of what you hear and half of what you see.