Getting Around

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Science Mommy

I just wanted to pass along one of my new favorite blogs.  I came across it while doing a search for my science final (teaching the difference between observation and inference) and now I'm hooked.  As both a mom and a pre-service teacher, I see myself using a lot of her ideas (all with appropriate credit, of course).  Thanks, Science Mommy!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Pulse/Echo Pen by Livescribe

Livescribe 4 GB Echo Smartpen I've had one of these beauties (actually an older version) since the beginning of the semester.  I've used it in classrooms and to do student interviews.  I rarely listen to recordings except when I can't remember those details of the next assignment the instructor always seems to give right as everyone's packing up to leave.  But it's been really handy, and I love that it's easy to e-mail my notes to other students who may have missed class.

I also see a ton of educational potential for this sucker.  There have already been some YouTube videos made by the company for various uses, some of which I would never use (sending students home with talking pen?  really?).  I see lots of applications for students who may be struggling for various reasons.  If I end up getting a middle school gig I also see this as a way to post lessons for students who missed class (do you see a trend here?).

Anyway, if you take notes for any reason, I can honestly say I'm happy with my smartpen.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

A Joyful Kindergarten

I recently got to substitute teach in a local private Kindergarten. It's attached to a preschool with an emergent curriculum philosophy. I must say, I truly enjoyed it. The room was noisy and there was some difficulty moving between the few activities that were planned, but the children were, in a word, joyful. They were excited about everything they were doing. They wanted to show me, to help me, to ask me questions. And yes, they did work on phonics skills and calendar skills, and math skills, but they also worked on social skills, and fine motor skills, and gross motor skills, and imagination skills as well. It was only half a day, but I'd love to go back. I want to see how much they'll grow throughout the year.

Second Grade Fun

I love subbing in second grade! They are so fun and so helpful. The class I've been to a few times has some familiar faces in it, which is always nice. The only tough thing is that they're used to a day of goofing off when a sub arrives, but since the teacher in question knows I can teach, she sets me up with a full day of instruction. It's hard to keep everyone focused. This particular teacher is doing a school-improvement sort of program, so she's off for half days at a time on a fairly regular basis.

Any ideas for keeping everyone happy and working?

Monday, September 20, 2010

Blogging for Grades

My language arts class has a blogging requirement. If you need help falling asleep, you can check out that blog. Don't say I didn't warn you!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Subbing

As part of our program we generally have a day or two a week free. At some point it was recommended that we sub, so I went through the training. The first week it took me some time to figure out how the sub calling system worked. Essentially, if you don't take the sub they offer, you're out of luck. There usually aren't enough sub jobs in the system at any one time to get one by calling in yourself. Other subs have told me that they take whatever they're offered and then cancel it if they decide it won't work for them.

This week I had my first-ever sub job. It was in the moderately handicapped special education room at a local high school. The people who work there are angels. They are dealing with a broad range of cognitive and physical disabilities (kids with only physical disabilities are in regular classrooms). These "kids" are adult-sized and can be as old as 21, so they aren't little. The kids themselves are fine, but there's a lot that has to be done for them (many need bathroom help or diapers). While I was there we even took a small field trip that ended with four very tired and cranky teenagers, which made it hard for them to control their own behavior.

I can honestly say that special education probably isn't the place for me. I'm a little sad that I'm not up for that kind of challenge. Even so, I'll probably sub there again.

Friday, September 3, 2010

The first week is over

Wow.  The first week of classes is over.  The first two days were exhausting.  Sitting in class all day is just not my thing regardless of how interested I am.  My hips were sore after day 1 just from all the sitting.  The third day we had some interesting field trips and then the last two days I’ve spent on getting caught up at home and getting started on school work.

On the field trip we started at a local elementary school.  It was weird just walking into rooms to observe for a few minutes.  It’s a small school, so I really felt that we were intrusive even though we were very quiet and the teachers were welcoming.  I got to see a few of my preschool friends though, so that was nice.  They look so grown-up now!

Our second stop was a charity that gives school supplies to teachers for their students who can’t afford them as well as gives teachers materials for their classrooms and for special projects.  I think some of my cohort mates were a little surprised by how much of their own money teachers spend for their students and classrooms.  This charity will be a great resource if I end up in the public schools, where plenty of kids can’t bring in their own school supplies.

Our last stop was at our fabulous local library.  I love the place and spend a lot of time there, so I didn’t really learn anything new.

I’m just glad to have survived.  I don’t think the workload will be too terrible, but only time will tell.

As a bonus I got my e-mail that stated I’m all set to sub at the public schools today.  Hopefully I can do some of that to make up for not having a regular job.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

It’s Not All Flowers and Sausages

It's Not All Flowers and Sausages
Those of you who know me know that I read Mrs. Mimi’s blog.  She’s on quasi-maternity leave right now so I know she doesn’t have time to go cruising the internet looking for mentions of herself.  She’ll never see this.  I have to confess to being a huge fan of her blog and her opinions of the teaching profession.

First, you should know that this book is hilarious.  I’d already read some of it from her blog, but there’s something about reading it IN PRINT that makes it funnier.  And easier to carry with you than the computer when you’re refereeing fights between your own personal short people.  Maybe that’s just me.

Second, possibly without meaning to be, this book is a reality check for people wanting to teach.  I’ve already had a small taste as a preschool teacher, but I’ve met plenty of undergrads who go into teaching to get the summers off and don’t realize that they’re preparing for a way of life rather than a career.  I know they won’t last in their chosen field.  They need to wake up and smell Mrs. Mimi’s fruity cocktail with an umbrella, if you know what I mean.  I don’t pretend to know everything, but my eyes are a little wider open than some folks’ are.

Third, this is an easy, quick, read.  Do not drink soda while reading it or you’ll get some up your nose.  I was able to read it in under 24 hours, and I do have other things going on in my life other than reading funny books.

Here’s a text link: It's Not All Flowers and Sausages: My Adventures in Second Grade
Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Mysteries of Financial Aid

When I was an undergrad I never dealt with the financial aid office. Between my parents and my jobs it all got paid for. But now that I'm a grad student with a family, the money thing seems more important. As such, I dutifully filled out my FAFSA and applied for several scholarships. None of the scholarships came through, but I did qualify for a couple of loans.

Since I didn't know tons about the loans and the information on the websites wasn't very detailed, I went into the financial aid office for the first time. I had an appointment, but I still had to wait in line to tell someone that. Then I had to wait to start my appointment because the previous one was running behind. Tip: Don't schedule a financial aid appointment while the university is doing freshman orientation. The waiting was the only bad part. The financial aid person was very helpful and I'm glad I stopped in. He was much more helpful than the government customer service I had to call to ask one more little question about one of the loans.

Wherever you are in your schooling, if you need money for it go talk to your financial aid people. They are there to help and they weren't nearly as scary as I thought they might be.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Amazon Kindle (the little one)

Kindle Wireless Reading Device, Free 3G, 6" Display, White, 3G Works Globally - Latest GenerationI got a Kindle last fall as a gift from my in-laws.  For me this was a complete luxury item and not a necessity.  I confess to being a bit of a library snob and I don’t like to pay for my books.  (I should note that it helps that I live in a town with a fantastic library, thus making my library snobishness possible.)  I’ve been using it for the better part of the last year.  Well, I’ve been using it when I could rip it out of the hands of the other members of my family.
Just as you’ve probably read, the screen looks like printed ink.  It really does.  You can read it in the bright sun, but not the dark.  I do find that my reading speed is a bit slower on the Kindle than with a printed book, but I think that’s inevitable given the mechanics of using it.

What’s been really handy has been getting books WHENEVER WE WANT.  In general I tell my family that we can only purchase books that are 1) free, 2) on sale, or 3) not available at our fantastic library.  When my son ran out of Hardy Boys books at the library, Kindle to the rescue.  When we were driving along in a car trip and somebody ran out of books (gasp!), Kindle to the rescue.  The kids haven’t figured out that they can turn on the Whispersync and just order books without my approval, which is a good thing.

My big pet peeve with the Kindle is the lack of page numbers.  I don’t actually care about page numbers, but if you want to buy a book for a class you find that during class discussion the instructor will direct you to a certain page.  You can’t do that.  You could search for a phrase to find your place, which is fine, but you can’t tell anyone else where you are if they’ve got a paper book.  I’m also not sure how you would reference the location number if you needed the book as a source for a research paper, but I’m sure some research person has figured this out and I just don’t know it.  Some of my textbooks have been cheaper for the Kindle but I opted for paper because the classes were discussion-heavy, so I’m hoping they resolve this.

If you’re planning on using this for textbooks make sure you’re not getting a textbook with a lot of graphics.  The technology just isn’t there yet to reproduce those.  Black and white images do appear, but they’re always in an odd spot and often unusable.  Books that are mainly text are perfect though, and it’s nice to be able to search.  I use the personal notations feature quite a bit.  I’d also recommend, if you’re getting this for textbooks, to get the big Kindle (link for white, link for graphite).  You’ll appreciate the extra screen real estate.  I know I would.

Get yourself a case to protect your investment and enjoy all the books at your disposal.  I download something that’s temporarily free probably every week.  That’s right, FREE.  Amazon doesn’t realize this, but they haven’t made that much money off me since I got my Kindle.  I've also got the apps for my PC and my Android phone, effectively tripling the number of people who can read books Kindle style.  But they all seem to prefer the device itself, for some reason.

Anyway, I love my Kindle and so does my immediate family.  Speaking of, I have to go find out who’s got MY Kindle right now…

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Summer is the time for planning

I deferred entering the program last fall and now I'm starting to think about when it starts THIS fall.  I officially quit my job as a nursery school teacher, a job that I loved, and in this uncertain economic climate going back to school for a teaching license doesn't seem like the best idea.  But it's what I want to do!

The program is one year of coursework plus one semester of student teaching.  During the coursework semesters I will spend at least one day a week in the classroom learning from established teachers.  The orientation meeting isn't until August, so I don't have tons more details than that.  I do know my fall schedule already.  I have three completely full days and two empty ones where we're encouraged to sub in the local district.  Since our local district just fired a whole bunch of teachers I'm guessing it'll be hard to get sub assignments, but we'll see.

Over the last year I took a couple of electives and I volunteered quite a bit at my kids' school (you won't catch me being PTO president anytime soon, let me tell you!).  Over the summer I'll probably just be sharing links to interesting things.  I did find a few good books I want to keep track of, so I'll share those too.

So what would you like to hear about this year?