978-793-1553 fitz@johnfitz.com

I just finished writing all of your end of term comments. It is a fairly prodigious task–about 12,000 words in all, and none of it cut and paste, so anything that helps me at times like this is a big bonus.

Most of you were awesome. Your work was posted in timely ways on an easy to access blog and your assignments were also posted in iTunes with grades and comments–which also makes things easier for me, and for you and your parents. I see your work and grades, and then I write a comment based on what I see and read, and it is very easy for me to see who gives a damn and who does not give a damn. Also big in my book of life.

I do beleive firmly that your assignments and grades should be easy to find, easy to access and easy to submit. I also belive firmly that I should use the iPad as wisely as possible, which is why your reading materials are in iBooks, your writing assignments are in Pages, and the course material and gradebook is accessed in iTunes U, which works with all iPad apps and allows for quick and easy posting, accessing, grading and revising with an equally quick and easy way for us to comment back and forth about individual grades!

Last year, I did try to go all Finalsite for a while. I would love to have “one place” shopping! It would make my life a lot easier. I am sure that sometime in the near future the school will require me to use only Finalsite, but for now it is not really optimized for use with an iPad. Itunes U (used by hundreds of schools and universities) is designed to be simple. It does not try to have “all” the functionality of a full-fledged learning management system. It is simply designed to allow a teacher to create a course and manage the classroom experience for the students and keep everything on an iPad. For the most part, I love it. But…

I do wish iTunes would show your updated total grade to you. It does show it to me, and we need to find a way for you to see your grades whenever you want–at least once a week, so there are no surprises at the end of any semester.

So here are a few changes I am going to make for this semester:

  1. I will put in a weekly “Grade Update” in your assignments. In it you will post a short metacognition about your work for the week, and I will post your updated grade in the comment box. It will only be a two point assignment, but just by writing that short metacognition, you will know your grade AND get two points just for giving a damn. If there is any problem (such as your being sick), we can fix the grade then and there.
  2. All of the assignments will be posted and submitted to iTunes. Often, it will be required to be on your blog, too. You must post a short metacognition (two-three sentences) whenever you post an assignment–and even when you don’t post an assignment, so that there will always be communication between for any assignment whether you did it or not.
  3. I will also post the assignments on the calendar on Finalsite, and I will do my best to keep that current, but the first and last place you should go for a specific assignment is on iTunes.
  4. Last minute changes and homework cancellations will posted in iTunes on the assignment overview discussion thread–not on The Crafted Word, which will now be soley a reading and writing resource website, not a place to post assignments. If I want you to read and post a comment on my site, I will make it an assignment in iTunes U.

My goal is to simplify things, so you do get that one stop experience, and you and I have that one place where we can communicate outside of the classroom about your work and grades in a quick and private way.

Your blog and digital portfolios are still massively important to me, and I fully believe in the power of a shared writing community. There are way too many good posts with zero or one comment. I need to create that time for you to post comments, and I will! 

I hope this sounds good. As teachers we need to rethink and evolve better ways of doing things. I think this will be a better way–and simple, too! Go to iTunes, Upload the assignment. Turn it in.

I do value your thoughts and feedback. If you have any ideas or thoughts, please let me know. And let me know when I screw up!