Sunday, April 29, 2012

Final Stretch

The sweet scent of summer has yet to reach many of our noses, as the weather as of late has been quite less than stellar.  However, I know my mind has definitely picked up on the hints of its presence around the corner, and as of now it is an uphill battle to complete anything.  Within the last few weeks it seems as though work piles up quickly and violently and we are left yearning for the extra time that we spent twiddling our thumbs earlier on this year (for those who had such time).  Having an intense workload in the last few weeks only sweetens the deal for summer in my eyes, and as such despite my mind wanting to throw in the towel early I am able to corral it and turn it into a processing machine for this short period of time before such a long break.

As finals are nearly upon us, I thought it would be interesting to post this which talks about various ways in which to stay healthy for finals and this which gives some food ideas.  While there is no such thing as a magic cure for anything that may befall you during these last two weeks, taking time to care for yourself is a surefire way in which to at least feel prepared for them, if not aiding in actually being prepared for them.


For those who went, I'm sure you share the same sentiments as I do and think that it was quite interesting and a fun experience for us to undergo.  Having presented, I have to say that I feel more comfortable in my own shoes in front of people who are much more critical than students may potentially be, and as such I value the opportunity that I had.  Aside from a tangent on Brony culture provided by a particular individual, I would say that all of the students who presented from our class did an excellent job and put their foot in the door in this small community of teachers that were gathered.

The spread of age range was slightly surprising to me, as there were people on both ends of the spectrum present.  There were people who were undoubtedly close to their retiring years and there were students like myself who have only completed observation of a classroom and have barely had experience writing lesson plans outside of daycamps or specialty kid programs.  This helped to show that there is never an age in which you should stop attempting to reach your students or to become better at your field.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Pouring my Heart out Through a Project

So I was sitting and listening to some songs that had a deeper meaning to me and my life and happened to remember one of the projects I had in Sociology in high school.  I honestly cannot place where it fit into the curriculum, but I think it had to do with musical revolutions, effects on the mass media and public, as well as "soul-searching" tunes that spurred movements like Woodstock and whatnot.

Anyhow, back to the point.  The project was to assemble a plethora of song lyrics into a conglomeration that would reflect your life, that meant a lot to you, that literally represented pieces of your life, etc as you get the picture.  For each section of song lyrics or at least relatively frequently/sporadically you would have a separate document that would say what the name of the song and band was for it, then why you chose it, what it represented, etc in whatever fashion you so desired.

At the time, the teacher was one of the few who knew how much I had going on in my life that was weighing me down, and so I felt enough of a connection to be able to pour out quite literally my entirety of emotion into this project. I believe I had assembled roughly five pages of purely song lyrics, and then a corresponding ten pages of written explanation.  It was perhaps one of the most liberating exercises I had ever done. Ever. That's saying something for being a simple project that the teacher probably expected a few pages, maybe not even that much.

I know it had a huge impact on his life as well, knowing how much I connected and looked up to him as a mentor and role model, and he asked me specifically after class one day if he would mind if he kept the copy of the project and did the whole name-white-out thing for privacy but to use it as a an example for students like myself in the future.  It was a great honor, despite it being so small.

I don't really know how much practical application it has in terms of learning the curriculum of whatever state standards the government wants to shove down the throats of teachers.  However, if I can find a way to make it applicable then I would probably try to make a variation of the project.  I think it was an option between that or a short essay test or an independent project, which makes more sense.  However, if I can reach out and help a student the way that he did for me, then I think it makes years of studying education and heavy workloads worth it.  Just changing one student's life and keeping him alive would effectively allow me to have repaid everything.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Education Being Fun

In an article from the Huffington Post, they talk about how to make mathematics and learning math principles fun through games and other methods.  I don't really know how I feel about it, but I know that there is a difference between having fun and learning.  Yes, I believe there is a blend that can be achieved, and that having the ability to do so is an admirable trait for a teacher to aspire to have.  However, I don't think that when children are purely having fun they will retain as much as they are being expected to.

Many of the games we played in middle school or whenever were rather boring to me, or at least felt very removed.  Some of the review games that many teachers chose were rather immature for the age they were teaching or just were not that great.  I know the "Around the World" game is fun to some, but to many others it was just another class to mess around in.  I don't want to sound like a scrooge or anything, as I was one of the ones that enjoyed playing games like that, but at the same time only half the class would even care and the other half would just try to be funny or kid around.

I know that games that were supposed to be educational ended up just being entertainment or a way to spend time NOT having to be directly involved in a classroom lesson.  Yes, I think we can make some learning fun. No, I don't believe all learning is fun. I just want to try to find a way to mix it up enough to be entertaining, serious, and effective all at once.

Not Really Related to Education

But I definitely think that this is well worth a note for those of you who haven't read about it already.  Apparently, they have begun to develop a cure for HIV.  This is quite incredible, and think it is definitely worth a read-through.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Shotgun of Articles

If you have the time to read some, or at least one of these, I highly suggest you take the time to. Who knows, perhaps it will inspire you to write your second (or first) blog post for this week.

First off, we have a scary growing trend of parents taking out loans in order to send their children to either private schools. For Kindergarten.

Bullying is still a HUGE issue, despite how many different approaches we've tried to take in order to prevent it, and as such needs more attention then we give it credit for, which is a lot.

Disturbing news in the sexual harassment front, with up to 10% of students having the potential to have been sexually abused by their instructors, which to me is just sickening.

The rant I had gone on earlier this semester about the teacher fired for her Facebook comments about drowning kids now has her job back, as her firing was overturned. I'm relatively speechless.

Finally, this article is just unbelievable. I don't really know how a teacher could create these kinds of math problems for small children to have to complete. I'm a college student and I don't feel comfortable with #15 and 20. It's almost like he wanted to be fired at this point. It's also from a homeschooling site.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Accommodating Diverse Learners

Recently I have started to try to learn sign language basics in order to be able to better reach students who may have disabilities in order to both help them and to aid my own flexibility for job placement. My cousin works as an after school care instructor for middle school students through the Salvation Army headquarters in Pittsburgh, and has run-ins with many different types of children during the course of the week.  This essentially motivated me to attempt to begin a journey to learn about different disabilities and how I can help accommodate them in order to make the best of whatever situation arises.

I had Spanish in high school and taught myself a very, very limited amount of German and Swedish, yet these were easy compared to the amount of concentration that sign language is currently tasking me with. I figured if I get a job in the south-west, Spanish would be of immediate use as well as being able to communicate with students with hearing issues.  However, this is a lofty dream, and perhaps may not come to complete fruition depending on how frustrating it becomes in the long run.