Life is hoppin’ — edtech and otherwise — at our school, and thought readers might (or might not!) find a quick update interesting/useful.

I’ve begun my experiment of teaching one U.S. History class entirely in the computer lab and another one in my regular classroom using what is, at least in my mind, my usual non-tech engaging curriculum (which includes two visits to the computer lab each month). You might want to explore the United States History Class Blog we have that includes daily assignments and links to student blogs where they post their completed work. It’s just beginning, and next week we start using some of the new web tools I’m most excited about and which were tied for first place in The Best Web 2.0 Applications For Education — 2008Book Goo and Flowgram. As expected, there are both challenges and opportunities with a class of students who are learning English, United States History, and technology all at the same time.  I’m certainly open to any ideas people might have about how to teach this class more effectively.

Both of the classes are taking the same assessments during the year to compare student achievement.

My double-period ninth-grade mainstream English class and another similar class are having students use our Academic Reading and Writing blog two times each week when they are in their regular Computer Applications class. This arrangement reflects some of my general skepticism about the effectiveness of edtech with mainstream students other than for a change of pace (see my In Practice posts). This way my students, in effect, get an extra class period each week working with our ninth-grade English material.

Our International Sister Classes Project, which connects teenage ESL/EFL classes in fifteen countries, is gearing-up. We share audio slideshows, generally using Voice Thread (thought not exclusively) on our Student Showcase blog. This year we’re considering experimenting with Student Forums/Chatboards — both using the text-based Edublogs Forums feature and with an audio chatboard at the Vaestro Audio Forum.

This Sister Classes effort has inspired a teacher in the International Baccalaureate program at our school to start their own IB sister class program.    It’s always nice to see when English Language Learners are having an effect on pedagogy in other areas.  In fact, in case you missed it, you might find the article our principal and I co-wrote over the summer interesting —  The Positive Impact Of English Language Learners At An Urban School.

I’m particularly happy about this IB development, since next year I’ll be teaching one IB class.

Our after-school ESL Computer Lab is going strong, as is our Family Literacy Project where we provide computers and Internet access to immigrant families.

Class management with my mainstream ninth-grade English class has typically been my biggest challenge each school year, and this one is no exception. I’m using all the class management tools at my disposal, and I’m sure things will smooth out soon.

I’ll continue to keep readers posted, especially with my “two class” experiment.