Thursday, April 26, 2012

Our purpose

"Education's purpose is to replace an empty mind with an open one."
--Malcolm Forbes

So I've made it...the last blog I will publish for TO's class. I honestly feel like I just sat down the other day to write my first blog. Anyways, I felt I wanted to take this blog and dedicate it to one of the reasons people like ourselves become teachers and a quality in which I think we should all possess. This quality is an open-mind. As teachers we cannot be close minded to the world--other views, different ways of life or unique individuals. We must have an open mind so that we can instill this quality in our students, or at least attempt to. The quote I found from Malcolm Forbes illustrates this idea magnificently. Teachers are not only supposed educate on "stuff," they should be to open an individual's eyes to new ways of seeing things or even help a student get closer to understanding themselves. With an open mind virtually anything is possible. We don't close out people or things from the world because they are different or unlike ourselves, rather we embrace them and in turn we learn.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The home stretch

It's strange, with a few weeks left of class I keep thinking that I have a lot to do but when I look at my planner it seems like I just have a few loose ends to tie up here and there and of course, a couple of finals. The days are going by so fast I feel as if I can't keep up and the small assignments that stand between me and the end of the semester are taking forever to complete. I wonder why that is...the large assignments I have rarely get put on the back burner and I'm not one to procrastinate on them, yet the small tasks which would take maybe a short hour to complete go unattended. It was so refreshing to get the last presentation over with in our non-print class, giving me one less thing to worry about. My goal by the end of this week is to have a majority of the simple projects out of my hair so I can focus my attention on my finals.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Greek Week

"How do you spell distinguished?"
"Uh, distinguished isn't even a word..."

Tumblr_ludj3wtkxl1qk2f10o1_500_largeI heard this very conversation the other morning while I was eating breakfast at Boozle next to a group of sorority girls. Now I am not one to pass judgment on others, however after over-hearing this exchange of words I couldn't help but roll my eyes. Were these girls kidding?! By muttering those words they were only bringing the label of "dumb (non-distinguished) sorority" girl to life. I guess the irony came with the fact that this week is of course...greek week. A week where greek life is constantly battling against one another in various competitions and drinking mass amounts of alcohol throughout both the day and the night. (I can't deny the fact that I feel a tinge of these kids not have school work?) How could these girls seriously not know what the word distinguished meant or even worse, that the word even existed? It made me think about stereotypes and labels. How can we manage to not judge others or put them in a certain light if they are making themselves out to be just what we are assuming of them?

Friday, April 13, 2012


Due to the fact that scheduling for me has always been a grueling process where I have been left running around like a chicken with its head cut off I felt the need to write about how smooth of a process it was for me this morning. Waiting anxiously for eight to roll around so I could schedule I entered the CRNs for my desired classes and what do you know I actually got ALL of them. As a lower class man we seem to always get the lower end of the stick but my fortunate experience this morning has left me all smiles and so excited for next semester. With a great schedule with no eight a.m.'s to roll out of bed for and the sun shining, today is nearly perfect. =) Hope everyone has a fantastic weekend.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The ubiquity of technology

As the end of the year approaches I have begun to reflect on just how prevalent technology really is and how much of an effect it will have in my future classroom. I am currently enrolled in a production and utilization class which teaches us how to use various technologies and how they will be helpful in the classroom. However, the class is very outdated. While some things we have covered will serve as useful, many of the programs have been along the lines of Microsoft Excel and even the paint drawing tool (extremely basic). It has just been interesting for me to see how drastically and rapid technologies change over time. Currently we are making a video with movie maker...the assignment is similar to our 20 shot video as well as our podcast. It's kind of neat to have two classes so similiar yet contrasting to experience which ways of teaching a lesson will be most useful.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Challenges in the classroom

"If you study hard enough you'll get it, hard work always pays off..." We've all heard this phrase...but it isn't always true. Unfortunately, there are students who are going to be "left behind" no matter how much hard work they put into a class. After studying rigorously for hours upon hours for my math test I received the consecutive D on my test. Now, as fellow English majors I feel you can all relate that for most of us math is the enemy. Personally, usually with enough studying, tutoring and hard work I can pull off a C in a math class (I even pulled off a B last semester...did pigs fly that day too?!?). With that said, even though I always say math is like a foreign language to me I can usually get through it, but the last couple of exams have got me thinking. How do those students who just really don't get more than one subject feel? If a student comes to class, studies, does homework and gets a tutor and STILL isn't getting it what do we do? I laid in bed last night thinking how to answer these questions and how as a future teacher I hope to never put my students in a position where they are so nervous about a test that they worry themselves sick. Additionally, I hope my students are able to get all the help they need without being ashamed or embarrassed to ask questions in front of the other students. Luckily, my professor is very understanding and more than willing to do anything to help me get my C. After talking to her my mind was put at ease and I hope to be as helpful as her one day.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Rewind to the days of make believe...

In the excerpt from Exploring Castles: Authentic Teaching and Learning through Drama, the overall idea presented so far is awesome. Reading through I imagined myself as a young girl playing make believe and letting my imagination run wild. When I was younger I spent what seems to me like my entire childhood outside. From the moment I woke up till the time the night time swallowed the day I was an explorer of all nature had to offer. I was a doctor creating medicines by crushing up leaves and flowers on rocks, an artist, a gymnast swinging from my swing set with chalky hands of green, blue and pink side walk chalk, an archaeologist digging in the dirt for bones and fossils. The possibilities were endless and as you can see, the memories and lessons still vivid in my memory. So why, when and how do our imaginations seem to diminish and get replaced by reality? When do we stop using our imaginations and push make believe to the back of the shelf with the toys we have outgrown and left to collect dust and cobwebs? After delving into this reading I cannot help but think that we shouldn't. Although there is a time and place for make is evidently beneficial for not only students but teachers as well. An assignment like this would be beyond fun even in a high school classroom. It reminds me of a trip to the science or history center where the visitors are able to interact and see through different eyes or walk in different shoes. If by me, a 20 year old, merely reading Exploring Castles made me feel like going outside or finding other ways of using my imagination I can only imagine how exciting something like this would be for students of all grade levels.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

"I Just Need to Draw"

I think class on Friday was really refreshing and would be in a high school classroom, too. I enjoyed how it got us out of our seats and able to interact with one another. While viewing the differences was interesting I felt that the many similarities between our pictures were also intriguing. I'd really like to see how people would draw a more elaborate scene. It would remind me of when a book is transformed into a movie and after reading both versions you stop and think "the characters in the movie were nothing like what I imagined in my head." People might have a completely different image of what characters looked like and I think it'd be fun to play around with why certain characters were thought to look a certain way. Additionally, I feel sketching out certain parts of a story would be really beneficial to some students. Sometimes it's easy to forget that not everyone has the ability to imagine a the story in their head so taking a marker or colored pencil and actually drawing it out could help them grasp the story that much better and really connect with the text.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Time flies when you're having fun

As I'm sitting here writing this post I can't believe it's already March 31 and next year I will be a junior in college. While it's exciting to know I will soon be delving deeper into my future, I can't deny the tinge of anxiety that exists whenever I think about finishing yet another four years of education. In my early years of high school I remember always saying that I couldn't wait to be a senior. I'm assuming I had some particular reason for this at the time, but now I can hardly remember it. Yet when my last year of high school approached way too fast I told myself to not wish it away because before I knew it I would be leaving and starting a new chapter of my life. As expected, the year went by unbelievably quick and now only the most treasured fragments remain. This year is almost over and once again I am shocked at how fast it went. While I try to always live my life day by day and to the fullest, the months are passing me by at a blinding rate and it's hard to keep up. I only have two more years of my college experience which like my last year of high school, will merely seem like months. So today is the first day of the rest of my life. I vow to work hard and play harder, learn from both my classes and situations in which I am placed and not rush to get out of school once again. 

Friday, March 23, 2012

20 shot video

In a few hours at our scheduled class time, my group members and I are meeting to work on the 20 shot video assignment. Thus far, I have enjoyed this assignment and feel it is a really great way to get students to collaborate with one another. One of the biggest values I think this has in a classroom, particularly a high school environment, is that it show cases the students' imaginations and how there is no right or wrong interpretation. I'm excited to see how the filming process plays out as well as viewing the finished products of the video created by my group as well as everyone else's.

More writing (and reading) in the classroom

After reading a fellow classmate's blog it got me thinking about how little writing actually occurs within the classroom these days. As we learned, writing is not only a part of the English classroom but can also exist within classes such as history, math or science. Writing is an essential skill one should have whether he or she is planning on becoming a professional writer or a business owner. How is an individual supposed to write an impressive resume if they lack proper writing skills? Additionally, I feel the way we write effects the way we read and vice versa. Even just this year I have noticed a huge difference in my writing due to the large amounts of reading I have had to do. The more I read, the easier writing becomes. Although a lot of students don't enjoy writing, in my opinion it can't continuously be put on the back burner. Students need to have good writing skills instilled in them as early as possible so that they can build upon what they know and improve their writing little by little. The best way to do that is by, well...writing. Like many things, practice makes perfect (or atleast close to it)!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Stop sugar coating

“Life, I've learned, is never fair. If they teach anything in schools, that should be it.”-Nicholas Sparks

Okay, so I'm obsessed with quotes like...spending hours browsing through page after page of quotes, obsessed. While looking on one of my favorite websites, GoodReads, I came across this quote from Nicholas Sparks. I'm not a huge fan of his books, however, I've seemed to pick out a few great quotes from some of his work. This one stuck out to me. In today's society I can't believe how much fluff and cushioning some kids receive in their lives. My parents as well as my teachers hardly sugarcoated anything and I'm so thankful for that. They let me know that life wasn't going to be easy, but for that reason I have been able to handle everything that I have been faced with in my short lifetime. Yet so many kids these days are so sheltered and ignorant to some parts of reality. In high school, I had to work and I mean work hard to get an A in one of my classes. So much so that my freshman year of college was a whole lot easier than my years in high school. I am so thankful to have been so well prepared for my future. One of my concerns with teaching is that I'll be placed in a school, while it may be great, where I am surrounded by snobby students who come from rich families or who never been faced with real struggle. While I'd like to believe every family has their own problems, I have encountered some individuals who truly feel they are perfect and the whole world revolves around them. In my opinion, a lot of this mentality stems from the home lives of those students though I feel teachers can often give into it, as well. The classroom is a place where not only lessons in a particular subject are gained, but where individuals are molded and values in which they will take for the rest of their lives are instilled. As a teacher, I'm not going to make everything easy for my students. I am going to make them work so they can see just how far they can go and how much they can achieve so when they are faced with a hard time, not necessarily educationally based, they can persevere and get through it.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Some thoughts

     Each Monday, Wednesday and Friday as I sit in our Writing for Non-Print Media class I can't help but think how thankful I am that I got the opportunity to take the class as a sophomore. While listening to all of the existing concerns about field and student teaching definitely prove to be stressful, I'm so happy I get to really see into what I will be doing in no time at all. All of the factors that go into becoming a teacher such as fulfilling all of the requirements and applying to teacher candidacy can often be confusing due to the fact that I always hear different things from people almost every day. It's nice and convenient to be surrounded by other students who have actually gone through it already. In a way, it solidifies any information I may have gained and makes me aware of what is to come in my future and how and when I should prepare for it. For example, I now know that I'll need to fill out a form a year in advance to student teaching...phew!

Friday, March 2, 2012

On your mark, get set...grow!

"Kids need confidence in order to engage, and they have to engage in order to grow."
     In Kajder's book, (I believe it was in chapter 3 but as I'm writing I don't have the text handy) I read this quote and quickly highlighted it. What a true statement. Confidence--having belief in oneself and his or her abilities. Confidence in life and in the classroom is crucial. Though it may take some time to build up, confidence can be the factor that makes or breaks an individual's ability to grow as a learner as well as a person in general. Just a little bit of confidence can go a long way.
      Take this scenario for example. Just the other day in one of my classes my group and I were struggling with various problems we had been assigned. As students were instructed to write their answers on the board we all let out long whines and groans of "All of our answers are wrong..." the teacher responded with, "Have more confidence in yourselves!" It just so happened that we really should have had some confidence considering the answers the student wrote on the board had in fact been incorrect and ours were actually right.
     The half raised hand, adverted eye contact or the straight forward "my answer is wrong" are all classic cases of a student having little confidence in the classroom which in turn hinders the learning environment. Getting the students engaged and raising their level of confidence is somewhat cyclical--the roads of engagement lead back to how confident or not confident a student is and vice versa. Clearly, in the areas in which we feel strongest we have no problem participating and those areas in which we feel weak, we tend to hide behind others. As teachers, that is a challenge we must face. How do we get those who feel unconfident therefore uncomfortable, able to not worry whether or not their answer is wrong or if what they have to say doesn’t match another student’s interpretation?
      Basically, Kajder got me thinking about just one other important factor I as a teacher will need to bring to my classroom in order for my students to grow both academically and individually.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Flip it, flip it good!

In one of my other education classes I am doing a presentation with a group on how technology has impacted the K-12 education system. Browsing through journals and a number of articles, what is referred to as the "flipped classroom" was discovered. The flipped classroom is virtually an instructional video of a teacher which includes annotations and other helpful aspects. While it began as a tool to use to help those students in rural school systems which often racked up many absences due to their long trip to school, the flipped classroom transformed into an innovative way to connect the teachers with students and students with other students. The main aspect of the flipped classroom now is that students can watch the lesson before they come to class so they are ready to discuss and ask questions and precious class time isn't wasted. It fosters a number of benefits such as increasing student motivation, there are more opportunities for collaborative learning and as stated previously, better relationships are formed in the classroom. Additionally, teachers have more time to work with individual students and discussions in class can more easily be led by the students. More information can be found at

Friday, February 24, 2012

Satisfy your hunger for knowledge with Delicious

     Reading through the texts, I kept coming across the site Delicious. Each time I read about it, it stuck out in my mind due to its unique name. When we were assigned to blog about a specific technology this week I decided it would be the perfect time to take a moment to explore the site. The moment I entered I knew I would like the site and use it in the future. Delicious is basically a sort of data base, however it isn’t just that. It organizes its hits into categories and by clicking on those particular categories, the viewer can “dive deeper.” Members can put their own information into one big “stack” as Delicious refers to it so things they add is easily accessed and shared. The stacks could be simply things you’re interested in or can definitely be used for educational purposes. For instance, a class could have one stack or multiple stacks so the students and teacher could share vast amounts of information.

Works of literature are like may take a while to see the whole picture

     The lesson I decided to blog about this week was the photo essay. I have always thoroughly enjoyed accompanying words with photographs because I feel it gives the piece of work more depth, makes it easier to understand and leaves room for a number of interpretations. While some students can write beautifully crafted papers and pick out main points and themes with ease, others need time and assistance, hence the comparison between works of literature and Polaroid’s. Whether it is a novel or a student's own essay, they are like Polaroid can take a while for a student to see the whole thing and make sense of it. Basically, not all students can grasp a concept or theme as quickly as others
so why not try a different approach such as a photo essay?
    When this lesson plan was presented to the class, I couldn't help thinking back to high school and how much effort I put into assignments that related to this one. Particularly in my English classes, my teachers over the years created assignments such as photo stories, poem portfolios and podcasts which included
 both music and images. I spent a great deal of time on each of these projects, perfecting them so I could take pride in my work. Now, as a teacher I realize different aspects of those lessons. I knew that they had a purpose and connected to what we had been learning about, but the point was I didn't feel like I was doing work or racking my brain to absorb information--I just learned. Not only will students (some of them considering not all students are creative but rather dread artsy projects) have fun with photo essays, but they will learn a creative and innovative way to pick out specific parts of literary works of their own or those of others and from that will be one step closer to understanding the work in its entirety. Putting myself in the shoes of my future students, I feel as if I would truly love a photo essay lesson and most definitely would enjoy teaching it--a win, win!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Don't let the title go to your head

We have all had our own experiences with those teachers who seem less than that very title and instead, seem to be imagining themselves in total charge, with a crown on their head--the students serving as the lower class. This idea popped into my head while I was eating lunch after a rough start to my morning. In one of my required classes not even relevant to my major, the teacher decided to randomly punish those students (myself included having had to walk from Vincent to Carruth Rizza) who put their coats on at 10:49 (the class was over at 10:50 mind you). We had been working on a handout and the teacher hadn't even been formally addressing us where packing up could had been seen as rude. Now, I fully understand that as it is a professor's choice to do as he or she pleases in the classroom, yet I don't feel that under the circumstance this was at all fair to take role at the end of the period, marking those ready to leave absent. This wouldn't be such an irritation if we hadn't had a quiz in the beginning of the class which obviously would only count if we had been present--the mark of absence on the sheet stating otherwise--or if it was a class where absences were allowed. We had all got up to attend class, we had done our work and had participated during class time so why then should we be marked absent for preparing to exit the room? This is more or less a rant, but I truly have always felt that some teachers let the power go to their heads and take out a bad day on the students. I definitely wouldn't want students packing up when I am speaking, but if I hadn't been teaching and the students were done with their work and had a far walk within the ten minute span, I wouldn't see it as an issue.

Thank you to all the great teachers

     I wasn't quite sure what to blog about this week, so as I was browsing through the internet for articles of what makes a great teacher I stumbled across this site. I'd imagine, or like to hope that we have all had at least one individual who sticks out in our mind as being a spectacular teacher or professor and even possibly one that instilled in us the drive to want to become an educator as well.  The link that I have shared with you highlights stories of various individuals and how certain teachers have impacted their lives. It was interesting to hear a number of the stories presented on the website and who knows, if one of you feel a teacher impacted you significantly enough, thank them too!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Reflecting on technology in the classroom

     After seeing just a few presentations of the lesson plans I am so excited with all of the possibilities technology will be bring to the classroom in the future. Flipping through the text to upcoming chapters, I discovered a number of ideas which I would have never thought of on my own. So many of the chapters have me already imagining a lesson centered around particular technologies. For instance, creating Facebooks for characters in a novel is genius in my opinion. Students would undoubtedly love an assignment centered around Facebook and would more than likely go the extra mile if it were assigned as a bonus assignment. In general, I am really enjoying the presentations and the lesson plans on which they expand upon.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

"Don't be a teacher..."

     I can’t quite express how baffled I become every time (which is quite often) I hear this phrase: “Don’t become a teacher.” This notion was put into my head once again as I was attentively listening to my professor ironically discuss a news story with the class of additional teachers getting laid off. Following the conversation, he stated: "Well, good luck with that"...clearly directed to the prospective teachers in the room whom in the eyes of those on the outside looking in at all of “us” cannot seem to wrap their heads around the importance we future teachers will have on all of “them.”
     Instances such as this have a tendency to occur on more occasions than one. I remember a particular time at work when a man who had been a substitute teacher at my high school asked what I was majoring in. I responded with secondary education in English. The look of disgust on his face would have made someone believe he had just smelled something foul. This time, the words with little encouragement were even stronger than before. With all sincerity he told me to seriously reevaluate my career choice and possibly think of switching to business. Business?!? No, thank you. (Unfortunately, now more than ever the educational system is leaning more towards a business outlook)
     Additionally, I can recall a middle-aged man hovering by the counter of the store where I also work. Making his way towards the door ready to exit, he stopped to pose a question. Obviously, given the nature of this post you can all assume that he had asked about my plans for the future. I hesitantly answered, almost certain of the response I would receive. Like clockwork, the individual pushed his opinion on me blabbering of how the next generation is hopeless and it is impossible to teach them anything.
     So this is why I decided to write this blog. Why does it seem that everyone has to take the little knowledge they know about the educational system and act as if it applies to the bigger picture? Yes, I understand that it is going to be a challenge getting a teaching job, even more so in Pennsylvania. But guess what… I have no problem moving! Furthermore, to all of the people who believe coming generations are “hopeless,” students CAN and WILL learn things. They certainly don't need people telling them they can't, making it that much more of a challenge when they are constantly discouraged. After all there would be no future without teachers. We teach the scientists, the accountants and yes, even the business men and women.