Saturday, March 28, 2015

Spring Break without the Spring

This week was spring break, but the weather wasn’t very spring-like for me and most of my friends who also went home for break. A lot of my friends woke up to snow on the ground, making for a very chilly spring break.

Photo I took in the Formal Gardens on
campus last spring.
Hopefully once we return to Oxford for the rest of the semester spring will finally appear and all the snow flurries will dissolve (at least until winter).

In terms of the rest of the semester, April is looking like it will be a very busy month because of papers and projects. I intended to use my spring break to get ahead on all of these projects, but…

“The best laid schemes of mice and men often go awry.” –Translated from Robert Burns poem, “To a Mouse.”

At least, however, most of my friends have just as much work as I do over the next month and a half, so I’ll have company for the many days I intend to spend at the library.

However, a break in this dreadful wintery weather would certainly make these assignments a lot easier…

Saturday, March 21, 2015

YA Literature

This semester, I am taking EDT 423, Literature and Other Media for Adolescents. When I was in middle school, and in the first two years of high school, I was constantly reading.

In fact, I read so much that I created an Excel spreadsheet to track the books I was reading. I created several different formulas to track how many pages I read, how many books I gave up on reading because I didn’t like them, and several other criteria.

The Sky is Everywhere by Janddy Nelson is the
book I read for our realistic fiction genre.
I would go to the library and take out as many books as I could – oftentimes, I’d take out 9-12 books and ride home on my bike precariously holding them so I didn’t fall (which, by some miracle, I managed to never fall or drop a book).

So taking this class, I came in expecting to have read several of the books that we’re reading, but I was surprised to find that I have not read most of the books that my classmates and I have chosen for this class.

Most of this could be attributed to the fact that the books we choose to read should have been published within the last five years, and about five years ago is when I stopped reading for fun because reading for school kept me too busy.

But in conjunction with this class, it’s really cool to be in field and see the students reading the same books that my classmates and I are reading for this class.

Each week, we are given a genre and must pick a young adult book within this genre. So far, I have read a teen romance, an information book, a steampunk book, a poetry book, realistic fiction, and for the week after spring break, I am reading a picture book that can be used in a high school classroom.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Middle School Sure Has Changed

This past Monday, I began my middle school field placement. I am placed in a 7th and 8th grade classroom in a more rural district, which is a contrast from my high school field placement last semester, as well as where I went to school.

My coordinating teacher teaches an array of language arts classes, ranging from the basic language arts class, to advanced, and then she also teaches a college and career readiness class which is for students who will be first generation college students.

Monday was my first day in field, so I spent the day learning about how my coordinating teacher runs her classroom, and I also had the chance to get to know some of the students.

Being the youngest in my family, I have been removed from the middle school grades/ages for quite some time. I was really surprised to see how much things have changed in the seven or eight years since I was in 7th and 8th grade.

When I was in 7th and 8th grade, cell phones had just started to become slightly more commonplace among my peers, but it was still normal for students like me to not have a cell phone. As students trickled into the classroom, I noticed that a lot of them pulled out their phones, which I was somewhat surprised by, especially since students are not allowed to use them in class.

For the college and career readiness class, each student has been provided with a laptop so they can complete their homework, which also surprised me. I think this is a really interesting program they have implemented, so when I go into the school again on Monday, I am hoping to learn even more about it.

Picture of me in 7th grade outside of the middle school
I attended..
Other than the technological differences that really stood out to me from when I was in middle school, I noticed that for the most part, middle schoolers are generally the same.

While I did not take part in the Accelerated Reader (AR) program during middle school, we were still expected to have a book to read for sustained silent reading (SSR). SSR bears some resemblance to the AR program, except AR has a set list of books for students to pick from and students are expected to take quizzes based on those books.

As I continue to complete my 30 hours of middle school field experience this semester, I look forward to having the opportunity to teach as well as learn more about the differences between 7th and 8th grade and high school from a teacher perspective. 

Friday, March 6, 2015

The Ohio Conference of Teachers of English Language Arts

Last Friday and Saturday, I had the opportunity to attend the Ohio Conference of Teachers of English Language Arts (OCTELA). The conference was in Columbus and several members of my cohort attended with me.

On Friday, I went to a few different breakout sessions that really stood out to me. The first breakout session I attended was titled “A Year of Argument.” In this session, we discussed noticings and claims we found in different advertisements, then went on to write an 11-minute essay about an argument we had recently.

This session was interactive and gave me ideas for my future classroom. In fact, yesterday in my ENG 304 class I had to give teaching presentation with two other girls in my cohort and we modeled our lesson after the ideas we learned in this session.

Photo of some of the members of my cohort and I at lunch
on Friday.
During lunch on Friday, Jordan Sonnenblick was the keynote speaker, and he talked about why he wrote Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie. I found his talk to be very inspirational. Sonnenblick wrote this book for a particular student because he wanted to give her a book to read that matched the events in her life, and when he couldn’t find a book to do that, he wrote one.

While I had heard of Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie before this conference, I had never heard the story behind it. What made this experience even cooler was that I was able to hear it from the author. It was truly inspirational.

After the keynote session, I also went to Sonnenblick’s breakout session on the 3 levels of creative writing. One thing that he said in this session that stood out to me, was “If you hate revision, then start with vision.” After my field experience last semester, I saw that most of my students really disliked the revision process.

I think that using this quote in my future classroom could help my students recognize that if they have a plan for where they are going with their writing, they may not need to revise as much. While this strategy may not work for everyone (I know that in my writing, I rarely have a clue where I intend to go until I start writing), I think that it could help some students.

On Saturday morning, the keynote speaker was Penny Kittle, who is famous in the world of English Language Arts education for her books and teaching methods. During her talk, she touched on The BookLove Foundation, which is a Foundation that supports teachers who want to foster a love of reading in their students.

Later in the day, I attended Kittle’s breakout session where she talked a lot about using mentor texts as a way to have students write. In this session, she gave us a lot of different texts to use and several different ideas that she uses in her classroom.

After this session, I went to hear my professor from last semester, Dr. Tom Romano, present with two students from my cohort on the Social Justice paper that I had to write for his EDT 427 class. Having the chance to hear and support my peers presenting at OCTELA was incredible, especially since both of my peers did a wonderful job presenting their topics.

What I liked most about OCTELA, was that most of the presenters are currently teaching, which made the information and lessons they presented very relevant, which means that I have a lot to add to my “teacher toolkit.”