Yesterday was Yearbook Day at school. Surely every school in America must have a day like this, where everyone gets copies of the yearbook, and the rituals begin. Students pass them hand-to-hand for writing messages, scribbling on the faces of enemies or rivals, and as a way of beginning the process of saying good-bye to each other. Some are going on to new schools, while others are planning on being back for summer programs or in September.
Yet in a bad economy, at an expensive boarding school, these rituals are tinged with enormous sadness and uncertainty. A lot of students are fearful that they may not be back in the fall. We have a new principal beginning his job in the fall, which means our current principal is among those who are saying farewell. There is a sense that we are at the end of an era, and that things will change. No one is quite sure around here what that means.
I took the opportunity to go and talk with our tech guy. We chatted for an hour, and laid plans to install WordPressMU on our systems, and have me be the administrator for it. We’re looking to roll out student blogs in the fall, or teacher blogs at the least. I think it’s going to be cool for all the humanities teachers, because they’ll be able to place an assignment on the blog, and then have their students begin responding to it. Our newspaper club teacher is thinking about porting the whole program to an online blog, so that the stories are getting posted faster, and responded to more immediately. We’ve had three students start to generate fan mail from the newspaper, which is only published three times a year. Once we’re posting a weekly paper, I suspect that the number of students who become interested in writing will grow rapidly.
Another student decided yesterday that he was going to win the history prize his senior year. He brought me a paper he had written, to edit and look over. I really liked it, but then we got sidetracked by a discussion of how to run the editorial system built into Microsoft Word. If you don’t know how to use this system as a teacher, you should. It saves paper while giving you the ability to put lots of comments into a student essay, and it allows you to keep a record of the changes made.