Random Babblings 1: Gabcast, Grading and the Gladiators

Alright y’all…I wanted to introduce you to a new type of post that I suspect that you’ll see more of here in the Radical called Random Babblings.  Random Babblings are born from an all-too common problem in my life:  I can’t stop thinking about teaching and learning, but I also can’t find time to sit down and write more often!

I’ll bet that’s a challenge for some of you too, isn’t it?  You’ll have a drink with a friend and get engaged in an incredibly meaningful conversation about education—then forget half of it before you can write it down.  An idea will strike you as you’re standing in the halls "on duty," then you’re swamped with sixty twelve-year olds for six and a half hours. 

In fact, most of us have probably forgotten more of our good ideas than we’ve recorded, haven’t we?

Well, I’ve found what I think will be a bit of a solution for me in a service called Gabcast.  Gabcast literally allows users to call a phone number from their cell phones and record a message about anything at any time.  Then, that message can be embedded directly into a blog.  If you can figure out the settings (which I haven’t yet mastered), Gabcast will even post your message into your blog immediately!

What does that mean for me?

Well, I’ve put the Gabcast phone number in my speed dial so that when I’ve got a bit of an idea rumbling through my head but lack the time to sit and write, I can record my thinking as a rough draft to return to later.  Now I know that whenever an idea strikes me, it won’t be lost—-unless I can’t find a cell!

Not bad, huh?

I debated long and hard about whether I wanted to post my Gabcast files here in the Radical because I suspect that some of them are going to lack spit and polish.  I mean, I’m certain you’ll hear more "umms and ahhhs" in ten minutes of Radical Speak than Wolf Blitzer is likely to drop in a year.  Remember, I chose writing as a forum for communication because that’s what I’m good at. 

But in the end, I decided that making my thinking transparent in any form was the real purpose for the Radical—-and Gabcast can make that possible.  I suspect that each time I post a Babbling, I’ll return to that topic later and craft a more detailed written response.  My "babbling" is essentially a first draft….and that might end up being kind of cool. 

I’m looking forward to seeing whether or not my ideas evolve over time….and whether or not that evolution can be tracked from my Gabcast files to my written posts.  More importantly, I’m willing to let my readers watch that evolution—-even if it appears messy and unpolished. 

Why? 

Because I think that’s one of the most powerful elements of the blogging experience.  Blogging, to me, is about reflective thinking.  It’s about wrestling with powerful ideas—and mentally wrestling with an issue is as sweaty and dirty as the real thing!  That kind of intellectual smackdown is what Ewan McIntosh argues makes blogging an incredible forum for personal growth and professional development. 

If I can model that reflective process for my students, then my Random Babblings posts will be worthwhile times ten—even if you don’t like them! 

All that I ask from you is that you understand that any ideas recorded in a Random Babbling are in their infancy.  They are fleeting thoughts that I’ve chosen to capture before the escape in the flash of demands that is the day of a classroom teacher.  Consider them a digital example of the quick conversations you share in the halls between classes with your colleagues—-equally powerful and incomplete. 

Also, if you listen to a Random Babbling, consider leaving me a comment to push my thinking!  Force me to consider positions outside of my own because in a Babbling, my positions haven’t developed yet.  They’re far from finalized—-which is the perfect time for others to point out the flaws in my logic. 

Sounds cool, huh?  Let’s see what this becomes. 

Here’s my first Random Babbling….recorded in my car as I drove across Raleigh last night.  It’s on the inherent connections between American Gladiators and traditional grading practices  Simply click the play icon in the small blue player found below to "hear" what’s on my mind:

Gabcast! Tempered Radical Postings #1

Looking forward to your feedback….Both on my beliefs about grading and the idea of Random Babblings.

2 thoughts on “Random Babblings 1: Gabcast, Grading and the Gladiators

  1. Reflections of a Techie

    Homework, Feedback and Improving Grades

    I’ve been working on turning over responsibility for grades to my students. This is a complex and very puzzling dance we’ve been doing. I started the year by announcing I was no longer grading homework. I told students that I

  2. Marsha Ratzel

    I am a hardliner. If I’ve taken the time to create an assignment, then I want you to do it. Therefore, I make sure that everyone does it…whether that means I sit with you during lunch, before school, after school or whatever….you do it. I think that’s because I see those assignments as practice for the “big game”…or maybe the encountered with the Gladiator. (to be honest I’ve completely changed the kind of homework I give…now it’s tiered so you pick the level at which you think you can work…it’s interactive with parents or at online websites or it’s extending a lab to do something we can’t in class) I hope that I’m not about what teachers might have called busywork.
    I’ve had Tim’s before too. In fact I had a potential Tim right now. They’re easy to identify. Somehow they’ve learned that not doing the work gets them something. It’s my job to figure out what that something is and to remove it.
    My Tim want-to-be started off by not doing anything I assigned. When I sat and talked with her, she bluntly told me she didn’t need to do HW in order to be successful. She’d never needed HW in the previous grades so she didn’t anticipate she need to do it now. You know that makes sense to me. Why would anyone?
    So I struck a deal with her. (I think that’s where my colleagues think I’ve gone soft and let her off the hook.) She takes the tier with the least number of practice problems and only does more if she needs them to be ready for the test.
    Then if she doesn’t perform up to snuff, she goes back and does the problems she probably should have done in the first place and takes the retake test. She sets her own goal grade. I think this 6th grader just needed control in order to comply. I don’t think I budged much and we both are assured that she can master the skills and content at a reasonable level. She even smiles in class and jokes around a bit.
    Grading practices are a place where I think we must wield our best educational AND BEHAVIORAL toolkit techniques (ie tricks up our sleeve from all those Tim-like experiences). Responsibility is a behavior and you have to into it to figure out what to do to affect change.
    I agree with you Bill about grading and the intent behind grading.
    I like your Gabcast and I loved hearing you tell the story. I’m amazed you could do all that and still drive!!!! You are a treasure trove of talents!

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