Friday, October 31, 2014

The Genre of Multigenre

As the semester starts to wind down (it’s more than halfway through!), my professors are starting to introduce final projects, and projects that I need to complete during my second field experience, which is starting on Monday.

One assignment that I’m particularly looking forward to is an assignment for my EDT 427 class. For this class, I have to write a multigenre paper.

Now, when I first heard about this project at the beginning of the semester, I recall being extraordinarily confused. I’d never heard of a multigenre paper before, but as the semester has gone on, I’ve learned more about it, and I’m really looking forward to writing mine.

The basic premise behind a multigenre paper is to write about a specific idea by utilizing different genres. For example, I could write a piece of dialogue about said topic, and then I could write a poem about the same topic.

What makes a multigenre paper different is how the different genres approach the same topic. When writing in different genres, there’s automatically a shift that occurs, whether it’s in perspective or tone, or any number of things. When these pieces are compiled, it creates a really neat lens to look at a certain topic with.

A picture of some of the different genre
suggestions for my multigenre paper.
Earlier in the semester, I attended a conference at which there was a session on the multigenre paper. During this session, the speaker put up a picture from Cinderella and handed out a different genre to each person. We each had to write about the scene in our specific genre.

The genre I received was lab notes, which is a genre I never would have thought to write in. But putting on this lab notes lens and looking at the picture from a scientific point of view, caused me to analyze Cinderella from a completely new perspective.

After everyone wrote in their specific writing style, some of the audience members shared their writing, and it was, in effect, an example of a multigenre piece written by several different people. This is what really made me interested in writing my multigenre paper.

During my field experiences, I have to pinpoint something I’ve observed and write a multigenre paper on it. When my professor was introducing the topic earlier this week, I couldn’t help but start to think of all the different writing styles I intend to try out for my paper.

Friday, October 24, 2014

A Hidden Gem: The McGuffey Museum

I’ve walked by the McGuffey Museum countless times since coming to Miami. However, yesterday was the first time in my three years here that I entered the building.

A few friends and I were walking on Spring Street yesterday when we decided to make an impromptu visit to the museum. None of us had been there before, but we had always been curious.

To give a little background, William Holmes McGuffey is most known for his creation of McGuffey Readers. These Readers were often used like textbooks in classrooms, and were especially popular in the in the 19th century, and also in the early part of the 20th century.

In 1826, McGuffey was hired as a professor at Miami, and he stayed for 10 years. It was during his time here that he wrote the McGuffey Readers.

Photo I took of the Historical Marker outside of the
McGuffey Museum.
The McGuffey Museum is home to artifacts relating to the life of McGuffey, as well as the history of Miami. On our tour yesterday, my friends and I learned so much more than we thought we would about our school.

The museum has several different maps and pictures of what Oxford and campus once looked like, and it was interesting to see if we could guess where certain buildings are now located. It’s incredible how much campus and Oxford have changed over time.

While we were there, we also learned about the evolution of the McGuffey statue that is located in the courtyard area by McGuffey. Before settling on the design of the statue we see today, there were several different plans that had been drawn. In the museum, there’s a picture frame showcasing each of the designs, which was interesting to look at.

Before becoming home to what is now the College of Education, Health & Society, McGuffey Hall housed the McGuffey Elementary Laboratory School, which was both an elementary school and a high school.

The tour guide we had was an incredible resource, and my friends and I were very impressed with his knowledge on Miami and McGuffey. Despite spending an hour in the museum yesterday, I still feel as though there are artifacts I did not get to look at and learn about as thoroughly as I would have liked.

In particular, there is currently an exhibit titled “The Remarkable Stanton’s,” and I wish I would have spent more time looking at this particular exhibit. Robert Stanton was the president of Miami from 1866-1871, and he was the brother-in-law of Elizabeth Cady Stanton.

Going back to the museum is definitely something I plan on doing so I can learn even more about the campus that I walk every day, because after yesterday, I’m realizing that there is still so much I do not know.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Teaching Avatars: My Experience with TeachLive

As part of my methods block, I was able to utilize a system called TeachLive. TeachLive is a type of software that Miami uses to help teacher candidates practice their classroom management skills in a risk-free environment.

The students are avatars that appear on a screen before the teacher candidate and they will respond to teacher questions, as well as ask questions of their own.
To prepare for my TeachLive experience, I had to come up with a 10-15 minute introductory lesson that would draw on the student’s prior knowledge. Additionally, I had to come up with a way to effectively open the lesson.

For my quick little lesson, I decided to do an introduction to the play A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry. This play lends itself to a quick introduction lesson as it contains an epigraph (a quote, poem, or saying that appears at the beginning of a work to suggest its theme).

Photo I took of one of my peers, Alex Mains, an AYA Math
Education major, during his TeachLive lesson.
In the case of A Raisin in the Sun, the epigraph is a Langston Hughes poem titled “Harlem.” This poem centers around the idea of “a dream deferred” so I was able to use this as a starting point for drawing on prior knowledge.

Standing in front of a screen of five avatar students was definitely a unique experience that was unlike any of my other classroom experiences. Each of the students has their own personality, and within a minute of standing in front of them, it’s quite apparent how to handle each student from a teacher perspective.

I found that I was more nervous for this experience than I was for teaching during field, and I think that is because this was such a new experience.

While I was teaching my lesson, two of my peers and one of my professors were watching me on a screen in a separate room. When I finished my lesson, I was able to talk to them and receive their feedback, in addition to receiving instant feedback from the avatars.

Now that I’ve gone through this experience once, I know that I can improve if I were to do this again since I have a better idea of what to expect.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Team Work Makes the Dream Work

This semester, I’m in what is called cohort. What this means is that I am in a block of four classes that I take with other education majors.

The cohort that I am a part of is the AYA (Adolescent Young Adult) English cohort, and in some of our more general cohort classes, the AYA Math cohort joins us.

Photo of students in my cohort that was taken by Maureen
Duncan in one of our classes.
As a cohort, we spend a minimum of approximately 12 or 13 hours a week together, and that’s in classes alone. This excludes all the time we spend together outside of class working on homework, projects, attending meetings for student groups, or just socializing.

Because of how much time we spend together, it’s no wonder that I’ve gotten to know so many incredible individuals. Despite all of this, what has surprised me the most about my cohort experience is how close we’ve grown.

Even though we've only been in cohort for a relatively short time, I already feel as though we’ve formed a sort of family. We’ve all gone through our field experiences together, we’ve offered each other support, academically and emotionally, and as a result, we’ve grown really close.

I didn’t imagine that cohort would be quite like this, but I’m really happy with the experience so far. It’s nice to have a network of people who are experiencing the same things, especially in terms of teaching high school students for the first time.

Another thing that surprised me is how many people I had not yet encountered in my cohort. I’ve had classes in the past with a small portion of people frommy cohort, but until this semester, I had not met a lot of the students who I’ve now grown close with.

Having this network has provided a growing experience for all of us, and I can’t stress how fortunate I feel to have this unique safety net to fall into. I’m amazed at the dedication of the individuals in my cohort, and I have no doubt that as we all move forward with our careers, we will all find success. 

Friday, October 3, 2014

Writing is a Process

Writing has always been a sort of release for me. When all else fails, I put pen to paper, or my fingers to the keyboard, and I write. Often, nothing ever really comes of this. Typically, I’ll end up writing something, but then I’ll put it away, only to read it when I come across it at a later time.

This week, I got five free books - hopefully I'll be able to
find time to read them soon.
As I’ve been learning more about the reading and writing process this semester, I’m realizing more than ever that the two go in tandem. I can claim to be a writer, but unless I’m a true reader too, my writing won’t improve. I have to examine the craft of other writers to see how they form language and meaning so that I can improve upon my writing skills.

This is an idea that I know I held a long time ago, but since coming to college, I feel that my more creative writing has fallen to the wayside in favor of more academic writing, such as literary analysis and research papers, which typically don’t offer a whole lot of room for syntactical experimentation.

I’ve learned a great deal about these ideas in my classes this semester, but I also learned a lot by teaching students during field.

During one of the lessons I taught, I asked students to write sonnets. For purposes of the lesson, my coordinating teacher and I only wanted them to focus on the rhyme scheme, so in terms of the structure of sonnets, the meter didn’t matter.

As I walked around the room to help students, I couldn’t help but realize that I wanted to write a sonnet, too. When students were struggling to come up with something to write about, I gave them ideas, which got me thinking about what I would right about if I were in their shoes.

I gave students the option of writing three different types of sonnets: Shakespearian/English, Italian/Petrarchan, and Spenserian. While creating my lesson, I realized that one of the types was more difficult than the other two, so when I got home from field that day, I decided to try writing a Spenserian sonnet, based on rhyme scheme only, since I opted not to follow the meter of a sonnet as well.

            The crisp autumn air stung my lungs as I walked,
            days were shrinking, darkness was creeping in.
            A bittersweet feeling – longing and despair, mocked.
            Seasons leave without a touch of chagrin,
            instead, seem to vanish with a greedy grin.  
            Crunching leaves - brown, orange, red, yellow.
            Colors dropping from the sky, waiting for winter to begin,
            the cold and damp waiting to borrow
            what was once warm and sunny, waiting to grow -
            winter brings swirling winds of snow, cold and dusty.
            With all this talk of nature, I feel like Thoreau,
            thinking of Walden, the winds still spinning, it feels gusty.
            Not long ago, the summer air changed,
            just like every year, it’s all prearranged.

This is my first draft of the sonnet, as I have not changed any of the words since I first wrote it a week ago. At some point, I intend to go back and revise it, as writing is a process of give and take, and change. In the meantime, I’ll leave it be so I can come back later and take a look with fresh eyes…