A look back at what was

Now seems as good a time as any to look back over the highlights of 2010...

January 2010 - I enrolled in a Master of Educational Technology degree program through Boise State University.

February - Spent school vacation with my wife, parents, and sister at my late grandmother's condo in Ft. Lauderdale, FL.

March - Attended the Massachusetts Poetry Out Loud semi-finals in Western Mass, where I got to see some of the state's top student poets recite the likes of Byron, Dickinson, Plath, Frost, and others. The quality of their recitations was both inspiring and humbling.

April - Our high school's newspaper, which I advise, was recognized for excellence in both regional and national scholastic journalism contests.

May - I completed my first two MET courses, Introduction to Educational Technology and Internet for Educators, earning A's in both.

June - Students at my high school selected me as one of three Teachers of the Year. It's the greatest honor and compliment I've received in my 10 years as an educator.

July - Hit up Vermont's Long Trail with my old buddy Dan from high school. We spent about a week in the woods and got great weather and fantastic vistas, none better than the one from Camel's Hump. When I returned from the hike I proceed to go on a Wire binge, watching all five seasons in less than a week.

August - I spent a week at the beach with my wife and read a number of books, including The Kite Runner (disturbingly enjoyable), A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier (heartbreakingly incredible), and Doing School (which caused me to reflect on the way I grade and assess student work).

September - I returned to the factory. For the first time in seven years, I am not teaching freshmen. This is due in part to my success at growing the journalism program sufficiently to warrant two sections of the class. My other preps involve one low-level senior class and two honors-level 12th grade English classes. While I miss the energy and enthusiasm of 9th grade students, I appreciate the opportunity to see how students I had three years ago have evolved and matured. I also get to meet new members of the class of 2011.

I begin the third course in my Master of Educational Technology program, Instructional Design.

October - I have a great time mingling with fellow English teachers at the New England Association of Teachers of English annual conference. Next year I'm definitely going to spend the night and attend the offerings on both days. It's so rare that teachers actually have an opportunity to talk with one another about instruction and ways to improve our practice. I know I was sad to leave at the end of Friday's session, as there were a number of new people I really enjoyed meeting. In addition to attending both days, I might even present!

November - Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. There's great food, you're with the ones you love, and there's no pretense to make purchases. It really is a time to be thankful and appreciative for what you have, and I am.

December - My Instructional Design class finally comes to an end. While the course exposed me to a number of relevant strategies designed for planning and assessing instruction, many of the course's requirements seemed grounded in academia, without any realistic application in the real world of public education. For example, the "culminating assessment" worth 40 percent of our grade involved creating a 35-page instructional document on a lesson designed to take 1 to 3 hours. In an average week I'll teach about 22 1-hour lessons. Assuming I created one instructional document for every 2 hours of instruction, that would mean I'd be generating 385 pages of instructional materials each week. As you can see, this has no grounding in reality.

It would have been more beneficial to ask us to implement strategies and theories into existing lessons as opposed to creating one which can only live within the Ivory Tower. I am hoping that my next class, Evaluation for Educational Technologists, is more practical.

I spent Christmas in New England, and dedicated a large portion of the holiday break to reading Justin Cronin's The Passage. It is by far one of the most gripping and enveloping stories I've read in years. I found myself reading late into the night until my eyes glazed over. When I wasn't reading, I was thinking about the characters, and eagerly anticipating the next time I'd be able to pick up the book. At 766 pages, it's certainly a commitment, but reading was 100 percent willful pleasure. I am deeply upset that I have to wait more than a year for the sequel.

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