Friday, February 28, 2014

So, you Think Being an Education Major is Easy

I’ve noticed something recently.

When people ask me what my major is, they automatically respond with some quip about how I, as an education major, have it so easy.

Now, I’m not saying anything negative about other majors. All I’m saying is that education majors deserve respect for the following reasons…
Photo I took of The Commons in McGuffey
this week. 

We education majors are hard workers. We’re driven and we don’t just slide through our classes. We’re challenged every day to think beyond the obvious and to look underneath the bigger issues.

We’re smart. We study hard and we work to gain a deeper understanding of the material that we, one day, may be teaching.

We’re passionate about the current state of education and the direction in which it is headed.

We want to educate the youth of society, which is one of the most rewarding professions I can imagine. We want to make differences in the lives of children.

We want to change the world. We want to be role models and we want our students to learn.

So why is it that being an education major is thought of as easy and simple? The standards we’re held to are no different than any other major.

As education majors, we go out into the field and learn hands-on. Our course load forces us to be good at time management, and with group projects, we need to be good at balancing everything.

I’m by no means saying that being an education major is more difficult than all other majors. I’m just pointing out why being an education major is not as easy as it may appear to others.

We deserve to be respected too.

Teachers deserve respect. And respecting teachers starts with recognizing their value in society. Without teachers, much of what we all have accomplished would not have been possible. 

Friday, February 21, 2014

Robert Frost Agrees

Robert Frost was quoted saying that Miami is “The most beautiful campus that ever there was.” It’s hard to argue with that, and not simply because it was said by Robert Frost. His statement couldn’t be closer to the truth.

Photo I took in the woods on Western
Campus last spring.
Miami has a charm to it, from the aesthetically pleasing brick buildings to the tall trees that tower over campus. But there’s more to it than just these notable features.

In the past year and a half that I’ve been on campus, I’ve had some time to explore. However, I still haven’t discovered all that there is to see and experience on campus.

One of my favorite discoveries was made last year with some of my friends on Western Campus. There is a beautiful wooded trail that follows a creek all along the back of Western. It’s truly stunning.

We discovered it in the spring of last year, so it was really neat to see all the wild flowers blooming along the path. It was picturesque, to say the least. 

Photo I took of the Formal Gardens in October.
Another discovery that my friends and I made were the Formal Gardens which are found on the northern end of campus. We discovered this hidden treasure while participating in the Redhawk Hunt, which is a 24-hour photo scavenger hunt.

The Formal Gardens are especially stunning in the spring and fall (and I’d imagine the summer too!). When the weather is nice, students are always sitting in the Formal Gardens working on homework. Once it starts to warm up, I plan on taking my homework over there.

There is one last discovery that I’ve found while at school, and despite it not being on campus, it is worth mentioning. Last year for my evolution class, my professor offered us the opportunity to go fossil hunting in Hueston Woods State Park.

Photo I took of Hueston
Woods last spring.
I was really happy that I decided to go because the views were absolutely stunning, and I found some pretty neat fossils. I look forward to the next time that I can go back.

In addition to the aforementioned woods found on Western, there are several other wooded areas on campus that I have yet to explore. 

While there are so many other hidden treasures on Miami’s campus that I have not mentioned, all of them are definitely still worth exploring. After all, it’s no secret that Miami is a beautiful campus.

Friday, February 14, 2014

The Horse's Name is Friday

On Wednesday this week, my professor in one of my education classes started class by putting the following on the board…

“A man rode into town on Friday. He stayed for three nights and then left on Friday. How come?” *

Perhaps you’ve heard this before and you already know the answer, but for me, as far as I could remember, I had not.  

Image I took of my notes from class
the other day.
This is an example of a lateral thinking exercise and my professor was using it to prove a point. After a classmate decoded the answer to this particular exercise, my professor put up another, this time, it was more challenging.

After going through three or so, my professor explained to us the point of the exercise. The idea behind it was to show us how we, as future teachers, can start class by using some sort of lead in activity to help focus students.

Last semester, in my EDT 246 class, I had to work with a group and write a lesson plan. In our lesson plan, we used quotes as a lead in each day. The quotes we chose pertained to the topic of the day and on certain days, we decided to ask students to write down their thoughts about the quote.

My professor also mentioned that we could save lateral thinking exercises for days when there’s five minutes left in class, which isn’t enough time to move on to something else, but we also don’t want the room to turn into total chaos.

As a teacher, these are all nice tools to have handy. Upon thinking about activities that could be used as a lead in to a lesson, I remembered that in seventh grade, my language arts teacher would start class by having us write journal entries. She’d write a question on the board and every so often, she’d collect our notebooks and look at what we’d written.

The more I think about my future classroom, the more I like the idea of using lead in activities to focus the class and bring attention to the task at hand.

*The answer to the lateral thinking exercise mentioned in the beginning, is that the man rode into town on a horse named Friday.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Online Etiquette in Education

Earlier this week, I was working on an assignment for my EDP 279 class. The topic of this assignment was Online Etiquette and as a class, we had to create a list of rules for online communication within education.

When I was thinking about what I wanted to contribute to the list my class was creating, I was also reading through my classmates’ responses and I feel that they brought up some excellent points.

Screenshot I took of a blog I made my freshman year of
high school for my science class.
I finally settled on contributing to the rules about social media in the classroom. In my EDT 246 class last semester, I had a group project centered on the use of social media in the classroom, so I was already somewhat familiar with how social media could be implemented. However, I still found myself uneasy about whether or not it should be used, so I thought I’d explore the topic a little more in depth. I started to ponder:

As a teacher, would I ever use social media in my future classroom? To answer this question, I found myself coming up with more questions.

Before I knew it, I had a list of 10 or 15 questions typed on my computer. As I went through the list, I noticed that my questions were becoming more and more complex.

I looked at my list and realized that this is even more of a multifaceted issue than I had originally thought. Social media can definitely have some benefits, but to actually reap those benefits, social media has to be implemented correctly, which is a feat in its own right.

Before I added my post to the thread my classmates had started, I narrowed down my list to 3 or so central questions. These questions were centered around whether or not students would be using their personal accounts, whether we, as teachers, would use our personal accounts, how the sites would be used, and if we should mix social media sites, that are often perceived as a distraction, with schoolwork.

After I typed these questions, I also posed another question to my classmates: would social media add or detract to the classroom environment?

When I was typing my response, I found myself thinking about my experiences in high school and college. I’ve never had a teacher or professor use Twitter or Facebook, but I’ve heard about some who have used Twitter.

Typically, those professors and teachers who use Twitter will have students respond to a question using a certain hashtag and their responses will be graded. My personal issue with this is that on Twitter, there are only 140 characters. Depending on the question, that limit wouldn’t be sufficient and I feel like this would be difficult to not only monitor, but also to grade. It would be hard to create a rubric for a 140 character response.

I’ve also heard of teachers and professors who use Twitter to remind students about homework and due dates. As for this side of the social media debate, there still comes the issue of whether or not personal accounts would be used.

So for now, despite the benefits that social media sites could have, I think the best routes to implement any type of social media in the classroom are to have a class website where homework is posted, or to even have students create a blog. These blogs can then serve as discussion boards for students.

This is a debate that seems never ending and I’ll be interested to see if, and to what degree, social media is used in schools once I start my field placements next year.