grad school

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New pages at

Posted by on 19 Jan 2012 | Tagged as: education, Education Professional, grad school, school, technology in education, Uncategorized

I have added two pages, both are in the sidebar to the right.

Under "About" is a Page that reads My Online Resume. No surprise, but it has the basic text of the resume I walked in to a local district last week. I am going to add in some of the additional activities and training sessions I have attended in the last 7 months as well as some of my hobbies and skills — those would go on a second page, if I were to hand it in.

In the "Papers" section is my Master’s Paper. Titled, Access to Opportunity it is a cursory exploration of some of the issues surrounding technology literacy in schools. While the writing process was artificial and disorganized, I think there is information in this paper that could help other teachers who are also struggling with either how to articulate the need to take instructional time to support student use of technology, or how to understand the variances in capacity between students.

I will probably be spending time this coming summer organizing and re-arranging pages, to make it easier to navigate what is rapidly becoming a catch-all site. I might break out some of the functions again, and start maintaining separate sites for my professional teacher activities, storytelling and arts, and my random but hopefully fascinating observations on life in general…

Nearly done…

Posted by on 28 Oct 2010 | Tagged as: children, education, Gardens and Life, grad school, school, teaching, Uncategorized

with the student teaching for this quarter. So much still to do, but I am looking forward to being able to take a few weeks’ breather beginning the end of November.

The students are working on completing their final projects — a formal assessment consisting of a paper and a presentation. I am taking time to answer questions, keep them on track, and help them problem-solve.

I am also trying to keep up with my own paperwork (not quite making it, but definitely better than I was doing at the beginning of my solo teaching… and working on the final report I must do for the quarter.

Anxious about not being able to get it “all perfect” and knowing that “perfect” is such an illusive (and illusory) goal.

Wish I were still the parent-volunteer in my neighborhood school.


Meantime, the garden produced a good bit of squash this year, continues to have luscious swiss chard and broccoli and a couple lettuces. The figs are done for the year. As usual, dozens left immature on the tree. The quince were not as prolific as most years, the apple had a few small green apples that disappeared before we got to them, the pears had nothing we could see. Flowers are all but done for the year of course, so I am thinking about ways to enhance and move things around next year for easier upkeep (weeding).

The children are lively and well. The elder is enjoying his school, the younger is not complaining. The elder has a job doing yard work that he found through his school’s job placement office, so he is pleased about that. The younger is in the school play. Both are in a concert November 7, and will for the first time be in the Conservatory and Brass Choir together! We are very pleased and excited for both of them.

And Tom… Tom is pretty much managing the fort until I am done with the work for this quarter. I couldn’t be doing this without him!

Three weeks in…

Posted by on 17 Sep 2010 | Tagged as: children, education, Family Matters, Gardens and Life, good things, grad school, parenting, plans, school, Uncategorized, weather

and I am still here.

Student teaching is rougher than I imagined, but as I do more actual teaching (as opposed to observing and being the “extra eyes” in the room) I am improving. Somewhat.

It is clear I have a long way to go, in both developing lessons and delivering them.

On the other hand, I am seeing progress, both in myself and in the students.

Seven more weeks to go in this go-round, then a quarter of being just a student again, and one more student teaching in the spring.

For now, we’ll assume it will go as planned.

Meantime in the family, we have two students in the same school again, although the elder son is more than half-time at the community college rather than high school. It is nice, though, to have one bus schedule (and school schedule) to remember for a bit.

Both in the band, both considering debate this year, both enjoying being with their friends after a long summer.

Meantime in the garden, we have squash! and apparently pumpkins. And swiss chard and lettuce, cucumbers, potatoes, various herbs and flowers, and in the wings, if they can outgrow the hungry baby slugs that finally appeared in the last month, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbages.

I was fortunate, the day after I wrote the previous post to have a lovely warm afternoon. I remade the scarf that didn’t turn out and improved the design as well as the color. Constant refinement, in arts as in life, provides both variety and opportunity. I didn’t take any pictures, though. Not enough time.

I am sure I am forgetting something.

The beautiful goldfinch that sat in the medlar last weekend while I worked on lesson plans?

The mists that hang heavy in the morning and many evenings already?

The long commutes most mornings that get me up three hours before the school I am teaching at begins? Or the long commutes most evenings that see me home sometime after everyone else is long ready for evening recreation?

It’s raining again, more than 6 inches since it began earlier this week. Soon the boggy area down by the road will fill with water and the frogs will stop singing. The maples will turn a brilliant yellow and the (non-native but now ubiquitous) sweetgum an eye-popping scarlet.

If we are lucky, there will be a few days of glorious sun while the colors are on the trees.

And then the landscape will rest, and bid us do the same.

Meantime, there is research to do, lessons to plan and deliver, and a family to tend.

Year-End Wrap-Up

Posted by on 05 Jun 2010 | Tagged as: Babble, children, education, Family Matters, fun, garden, Gardens and Life, grad school, health, Making a Difference, parenting, school, teaching, Uncategorized

Well. It was a LONG school year for me. And now it is over. I am apparently continuing in the program, and have a student teaching assignment lined up for next year! I will meet with my mentor teacher next week.

The end result of the actual teaching in the school I was doing my practicum was positive. Not only did we all survive (always my first concern), but more than 95% of the students managed to turn in work that demonstrated an engagement with and understanding of the idea of adding description to writing to enhance meaning! A few students even chose to continue to refine their work after I returned it to them. Most students seemed to find either poetry OR prose engaging, but a few enjoyed the whole shebang. I was able to demonstrate improvement in writing for many students, although in the future I need to refine the actual points I document.

The best parts of this school year were definitely the work I did IN the actual classrooms; the hardest and least satisfying were the “lessons” I had to write up and “teach” to my peers — who don’t interact with materials at the same level of interest or ability as real children. Also, most of those lessons provided anywhere from minimal “good job” feedback to none at all from my instructors. What is the point of assigning work that isn’t monitored, and letting students continue blindly in a path that may or may not be profitable? At least now I know from a student’s point of view how that feels (not good).

I have a couple weeks now to relax and recoup before I begin the summer session — five weeks, but devoted to the reading endorsement that so interests me. So it won’t seem onerous. And it’s with the same teacher I had last summer, someone who is engaging and gives good feedback.

The “free time” I will have will be devoted to the garden and house, and to working with a stidkid on refining some skills that his school has (again) dropped the ball on. *stern mama look* No excuse to let a student’s performance not meet their ability!

And in August, just before I dive into the student teaching, there is a Babblers meet up here in Olympia! We are very excited about this. Will get some folks from the local area as well as some from as far afield as Canada and the East Coast of the U.S.!

For today, however… I am resting and getting over a late flu bug that hit this week (yes, I missed my final day of class for the program), and getting my bearings on the tasks ahead for the summer. If the sun comes out, I might even spend time in the garden!

Poetry Redux

Posted by on 18 May 2010 | Tagged as: education, Gardens and Life, good things, grad school, poetry, teaching, Uncategorized

Tomorrow, I teach 130(ish) 8th graders a lesson on poetry, and will focus on tanka, a Japanese form similar to, but longer than, haiku. I will also review rhymed verse, and free verse. Students will be asked to write two poems, of which one will be tanka, and the other may be anything they choose. They will have only one class period to work, and I am not sure how engaged they will be.

Last month, I managed to write a single poem each day. Not all were great, but one a day. That seemed reasonable. I am going to use that experience to help me talk to the students about why to write poetry, and when — and encourage them that not all attempts will be great, but that over time it gets easier.

Last week, I taught a short lesson on descriptive writing (I called it a micro lesson, less than 5 minutes) and asked them to write a 3-paragraph description about a place they have lived. Most were successful, a few were deliberate in not turning anything in, a very few were “silly” for lack of a better word, turning in something that was clearly not what was asked for! I hope that their willingness to at least make an attempt will carry through for me tomorrow.

We’ll see how it goes!

Random poems in advance…

Posted by on 31 Mar 2010 | Tagged as: climate, education, environment, fun, Gardens and Life, good things, grad school, hope, musings, NaPoWriMo, poetry, Uncategorized

This is an edited version, I wrote this originally Tuesday night, for posting Wednesday, and wasn’t awake enough to edit for “time sense” — thanks for being patient!

Next month (tomorrow) begins national poetry month. On the drive home from school Tuesday it hailed, snowed, rained, sleeted and was generally stormy. Somehow, poetry felt like the only way to respond. Here are a few pieces of doggerel I composed yesterday evening.

white flakes mingle
with falling cherry petals

according to these test results
I am a statistical

teaching is my passion
learning is my lot

why do you need these numbers
to see the child in front of you?

Yes, the focus of today’s instruction was standardized testing. The potential benefits, the all-too-common harms, and the ways the design and implementation — along with the uses — of the tests either support or challenge social inequities. Good discussions, but exhausting.

Enjoy national poetry month.

Here are two links for your enjoyment:

Photo Essay – Early Spring

Posted by on 05 Mar 2010 | Tagged as: climate, education, garden, Gardens and Life, good things, grad school, Uncategorized

Starting with two pics from a couple weeks ago and then from today, the yard is bursting into bloom. About three weeks early. The red alder catkins are so impressive, 4 -5 inches long!

The gallery images should link to larger versions.

Meanwhile, I have a portfolio to complete, including a take-home exam and some additional essays. *sigh*

Spring is here, but I am not ready!

Writer’s Block – Thinker’s Block?

Posted by on 15 Feb 2010 | Tagged as: education, Gardens and Life, grad school, Uncategorized, writing

I am struggling to revise the BIG PAPER from last quarter which, as I re-read it, shows just how little I know and just how little I am changing!

I am supposed to revise the paper to incorporate new information and ideas from this quarter… and I find that there are so many redundancies that it’s hardly worth the effort. The important pieces have been said. What little CAN be added isn’t really necessary for the conclusions I drew and I don’t know that simply adding “so-and-so agrees, too” is useful. I don’t know that removing the details from before and replacing with new authors is useful, either. I refuse to put in theories that don’t reflect my personal beliefs (and there are many in the books we are reading).

All this, while I am trying to get caught up on the other tasks that languished in the last week while I had a migraine.

Writing is rapidly ceasing to be fulfilling. And thinking is out of the question.

Grad school stinks.

Spring can’t arrive soon enough for me.

Taking Time

Posted by on 18 Jan 2010 | Tagged as: education, Family Matters, Gardens and Life, grad school, Uncategorized, weather

I have decided to slack off just a little this quarter.  Without clear feedback from faculty, there isn’t much reason to go all-out, nor can I sustain my health if I do.  So this quarter I am going to meet my obligations, but no more.  I will accomplish what I can, be where I am supposed to be, turn in the required papers…  and that will be enough.

So this weekend, I volunteered at the debate tournament and studied as much as I could in between.  Yesterday I studied.  Today I met with classmates and studied.  Tomorrow is an all-day at school, but most of the work that needs to be turned in this week is already accomplished.  So I can take a small break this evening, and this week I can read ahead in a more leisurely fashion.  I didn’t really have time to note this day of remembrance, though I was able to listen to a little bit of the radio while I drove.  It’s busy.

The children are doing well enough.  They are engaged in many activities, the younger is now taking his first official instrument lessons:  for the trombone.  The elder is now done with debate for the year, but might pick up knowledge bowl (it meets only once a week).

Tom is doing okay, we are trying to keep the house from exploding again after clearing some space in the dining room (again).  The office appears to be a lost cause…

Overall, things are working out.  The weather is warmer than normal for this time of year, which has made it easier to get up and get going in the morning.  If only that were true for our friends around the northern hemisphere.

And that is enough of an update.  Hope your new year is going well.

The Final Toll. . .

Posted by on 19 Dec 2009 | Tagged as: education, fun, Gardens and Life, grad school, Uncategorized

of autumn quarter was actually pretty good. Teachers: 45; me: 55. If it really were a competition, against anyone else I would have not made it. But it was more interesting and collegial than a typical grad school experience, and I am pleased with the result.

In fact, the BEST part of this Master’s in Teaching program is the set of students I am with. About 43 well-matched, interesting and fun, and absolutely brilliant people who are completely focused on the students they have worked with and will work with. We enjoy working together, problem solving and supporting each other when things are rough, and getting together for fun times as well.

So yes, I managed to survive, and even did quite well on the term paper and final set of essay questions. I believe my teacher was pleased with my progress.

I also had a good time with many of the assignments, though I continued to be worried about whether I was living up to expectations and leaned heavily on all three of the faculty team for reassurance and assistance with some tasks. Which, I suppose is why they are there, in part. I am fortunate that at this school (The Evergreen State College) the emphasis is less on weeding people out than it is on supporting the learning process. They would rather work with a student who is struggling than let that student fall through the cracks. This is, in my opinion, a fine model for me to use as a teacher: when a student is clearly making a strong effort and staying engaged — even if the work isn’t what you expect — you stay with them and they improve.

To be honest, I do have a lot of skills in specific areas, and feel confident when I work with students; I have patience with others more than with myself. In speaking with my teacher at the final conference again it was clear that I am much harder on myself than anyone else is: of course there are areas that need improvement — the point at which I stop learning and growing is the point at which I become plant food!

Overall, the quarter was physically draining (didn’t help that I had two major allergen exposures and a couple viruses) and mentally exhausting; it was also a good test of my resolve and my ability to adapt. I think I did pretty well.

On a side note, my teacher — who is an accomplished author — reflected to me that “writing isn’t ‘fun’.” I generally find it relaxing and helpful, though when I am highly stressed out I don’t write as much. So I wanted to poll my readers informally — do you find writing fun, tedious, difficult, rewarding, or some combination of the above? What type of writing do you enjoy most? What type of reading do you enjoy?

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