Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Conference

So despite my last minute complaining to myself the night before wondering "Why do I get myself into these things...I shouldn't have signed up" and all of my friends asking again and again "Wait WHY are you doing this, for class? For a grade?" I am so happy that I did decide to present this weekend. As always, I tend to get a little nervous before I get up in front of people and give a presentation, but I even surprised myself this weekend with how much more comfortable I felt getting up there and talking to those who came to watch and hear what we had to say. I think presenting at a conference is an awesome experience and one I hope to do again! It not only personally helps me to feel more comfortable in front of a group of people, but it also gives you an amazing chance to meet new people who already have a job in your field. Hearing some of the things they had to say at lunch just in conversation and the feedback they give after a presentation was wonderful! The only difficult part of the whole day was the fact that I had to work that evening and could not stay to see any other presentations.

I also wanted to say that everyone else from our class did such a great job with their own presentations and I couldn't be more proud to have been among them on Saturday!! =)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The teachers that give us all a bad name.

I came across this article and video on facebook tonight, and it just made me really disappointed and disgusted that there are even people in the world like this, let alone the people that you entrust with the safety and well being of young children. It's sad that people like this are out there and even more sad that after this incident, they are allowed to still be teaching young children. As a teacher and role model to children, it makes me sick that someone would take advantage of that and not try to live up to these high expectations, not only to any child in the classroom but especially in a classroom full of children who have disabilities. Becoming a teacher, to me, gives me the chance to make a difference in someone else's life, for the better not worse. It's about helping children reach their full potential, not causing them pain or humiliation, especially when they are not in the place to get help from anyone. Overall this whole thing made me so sad for this little boy. Luckily he has a father who loves him and pays attention to what is going on, but it just makes me wonder what happens to the kids who don't?

The website to the article:

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Walk a day in my shoes...

"If a doctor, lawyer, or dentist had forty people in his office at one time, all of whom didn't want to be there and were causing trouble, and the doctor, lawyer, or dentist, without assistance, had to treat them all with professional excellence for nine months, then he might have some conception of the classroom teacher's job."
-Donald Quinn

Dr. Hicks gave us this quote in class the other day and it just made me start thinking about how much people and society in general do not appreciate teachers and the work that they do. There are some out there who even believe that teachers should be paid LESS for what they do. I've never understood this train of thought because in all reality, where would these doctors, lawyers, and dentists be without the teachers they had when they were younger. While I cannot wait until the day that I actually become a teacher and finally get a class of my own (and I wouldn't trade this career path for any other), I still can't help but be somewhat discouraged by the lack of appreciation that is shown by all those who are not in the educational field. Why is it that the very people we entrust with our children and the youth of this country are so often looked down upon? What is it about these other professions that elevate them to this higher status? To all of these people that feel they are somehow above the role or profession of a teacher, I dare you to "walk a day in my shoes..."

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Website for New Books

As I had just asked last week, I've been looking for something new to read. Just today one of my friends on facebook posted about a book she just read and was recommending it to others. When I asked what it was about she told me just to read it, but also told me about a website she is subscribed to called where you can rate books you've already read and the website recommends new books for you to read. It is also a little involved in social media because you can "friend" people to see their own ratings of various books. I don't know if any of you have already heard about it but I just though I would let you know. It's easy enough to sign up and navigate through and has all kinds of subjects including fantasy, suspense, classics, young adult lit, and many others. I just signed up this morning but I am excited about seeing what they recommend!

Here's the website! Enjoy.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

I miss reading for fun!

These past couple of weeks have been so completely swamped with starting a new job and getting through my classes. If I'm not in class, I'm at work and if by some slim chance I'm not at either of these I'm TRYING to catch up on some sleep in my poor attempt at not being a zombie throughout my classes everyday. I miss when I could have time to cuddle up with a good book and just get lost for awhile. Lately nothing I have heard of has even caught my eye, and as most of us consume ourselves with books during our free time I was wondering if anyone had any suggestions? Any book any of you have read lately that you just couldn't put down and would love to refer to someone else. Anything would be welcome, I just need something new!
Thanks =)

Home Sweet (not so) Home

As some of you already know, I am not originally from anywhere near this area. I grew up most of my life in Santa Clara, California, pretty much the furthest you can get from here while still staying in the continental U.S.

When I first made this decision to move 2911 miles (yes, I know the miles...I did have to drive it...) away from home I was terrified that I was possibly making the worst decision of my life so far. I was overly content at home with my family and amazing friends I had known since elementary school surrounding me. Initially when I told people I was moving, they made bets on how soon I would be back home for good. Now, as I look back a little over two years later, I wouldn't take back a single decision I have made. There have been so many things I have learned and experienced, so many people I would never have met and know that I will remain close with them for a long time, all of which I will take with me into my own classroom. I absolutely promise you two things:
1. You will completely and utterly find out who you truly are when you leave home and those who have known you your entire life and
2. You will learn to appreciate the place you left to the fullest and I can guarantee that there is probably nothing in this world like the feeling you get when the plane is finally landing at home after you have been gone for such a long time.

I think it is so important for us, as future teachers, to go out and experience the world, or at least something completely different than what you are used to. How else are we to be able to accept those who are different from us, to understand that not everyone in the world thinks the way we do or was brought up the way we were? There are so many things in life that I still want to experience, and I think that ultimately these experiences will make me ten times the teacher I would be if I didn't have them. So if you are considering moving away but you're nervous or scared, I say do it. If you've made up your mind to stay in the same town or city you've grown up in and know like the back of your hand, I say reconsider it. Because even though it may get a little lonely and you may at times feel a little homesick (especially around the holidays), believe me it's so worth it. Besides, what's the worst that could decide you don't like it and you go home...

Sunday, April 1, 2012


As my birthday swiftly approaches and I irrationally freak out about getting old and not wanting to grow up, I realize that I am just as excited to move on to being in the front of the classroom instead of sitting in it. Every time we talk about different activities that you can do with students or hear a funny story from someone who has already been there I just can't wait to have my own class full of students and my own stories to tell. Even though it took me a little longer than I planned, I am so thankful that I chose to be an English Education major. I truly don't think there is anything out there that I would enjoy more than teaching a classroom full of students about a subject that I have always loved. So as I dread getting older and realizing that I'm not a kid anymore, I also can't help but wish that graduation would hurry up so I can finally get out there and start teaching.

"I just have to draw"

I honestly really enjoyed reading this article because I am a firm believer that students learn in so many different ways. I think it is important to find these things out about your students and incorporate as many different ways to learn within your classroom. I especially like the graffiti board idea and could see myself using this in my own classroom later on. I think adding a simple thing like drawing to literature is extremely helpful for students to make deeper connections to the text. Just the activity that we did in class on Friday made me look at a story that I have read multiple times before and really think about what was being said and described in that passage. I think a lot of the time as I (and I'm sure many others) read something I don't always take it all in. There are times when I catch myself skimming over the filler parts of a story in order to get to the "good" parts but simply having to understand this section and draw it on paper made me focus on what was going on in the story. Overall I just thought Friday's class was fun and helpful as I think about all of the different things I want to do as a teacher.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Website for Teachers

I haven't fully explored this blog yet but came across it in Pinterest (see there is some value to this site!) and there seemed to be a lot of resources available to English teachers. There are different book sections like, A Brave New World and 1984. There is also a poetry section and many different resources for Shakespeare plus many other things that I haven't fully had the time to explore yet. If you feel like checking it out here's the site:

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Social Media Withdrawal

This year for lent I gave up Facebook. It had just gotten to the point where I would be on it for absolutely no reason and waste so much of my time. I also think I needed a little break away from knowing everything going on in someone's life before they really even tell you. I thought it would make me actually call someone up if I wanted to talk to them instead of creeping on their Facebook page. Now I knew I was constantly connected to this Facebook world, whether it be on my computer or on my phone, I was always able to go on wherever I was. I'll be honest though, I don't think I realized HOW much I was constantly on it and now that's it's gone this absence seems humungous. I think it's a little sad, but also reality, that most of our generation is so technologically dependent. In a way we are a little spoiled. When my parents moved away from the country where they were born, they weren't able to see their family for years, until they could save up enough money to make it back home. I moved across the country from my family and I can text or call them every day, see what they are doing on their Facebook, skype them if I'm feeling a little homesick. I think sometimes we take all of these things for granted. I also think (to at least someway tie this post to education) that this is part of the main reason for this class, because if our generation is so heavily dependent on technology, I can only imagine what my students will be using and the things they will be able to do. I think it's important to be aware that this is a way for us to connect to our students and actually get them interested in doing things in class. Anyway these are all the things that this absence from Facebook has made me think about, and I'll be honest miss a little bit. One more month to go!

P.S. I found this image on Google and it was a Wordle from students writing about abstaining from the internet for 24 hours, which I thought was kind of cool because it was one of our presentations in class. Here was a link to the story if you feel like reading it

Sunday, March 4, 2012

"I just hate to read"

I have heard this excuse from so many people when the subject of reading comes into a discussion, including my own sister (who I am constantly on the lookout for books that will capture her interest), and it is something that I still cannot wrap my head around.

For the countless time the value of reading books was brought up by a friend of mine; also for the countless time I was unable to steer away from the conversation without throwing in my two cents, followed shortly by arguing my point as long as I could and almost begging him to "read this one book, I promise you'll like it." The discussion usually follows the same patterns:

"I just don't like to read"
"But, I don't understand. How could you not like to read? Haven't you ever read a book you just loved, something that you were so interested in?"
"Well, yeah, I liked ________ (fill in random book)."
"Then how could you hate to read? You just have to find books that you like. If you loved reading another book then there has to be something else you would love as well."
"Well if it's a good enough book, they'll make it into a movie."

Now this is an extremely abridged version of the conversation because it has been known to last at least an hour going around in circles, and I'm sure part of it is the fact that as an English major, and future English teacher, it pains me to hear people say they hate to read. It's something I have never in my life experienced and just don't understand. For as long as I can remember I have been reading books, becoming so enthralled in a story that I literally cannot put it down because my need to find out what happens is that strong. There has been many a night where I have only been able to get a couple hours of sleep because by the time I finally looked at the clock, or by the time I just couldn't fight the drooping of my eyes anymore it could be five or six in the morning.
This argument is one that I think we are going to have to fight throughout our whole career. Students who just don't care, or who claim that they "hate reading." Or the many that say that they will "just wait for the movie." I'm sure most (if not all of you) have heard this argument and will agree that it just isn't the same. Don't get me wrong I love to snuggle up on the couch and pop in a movie but to me, there isn't that same connection as reading a book. Getting to know the ins and outs of characters, becoming so attached to them that you feel as if you really know these people and what they're going through. A movie has never been able to capture that same feeling for me and I think it's a feeling that many people greatly miss out on. But as the saying goes, "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink." This doesn't mean I can't stop trying though...

Friday, March 2, 2012

Trickster or Teacher?

Currently in my Educational Measurments and Assessments class we are discussing how to create an assessment, using multiple choice, True/False, or short answer. While we were discussing when to use True/False questions, we also started talking about how accurate these types of questions really are when assessing students. Truthfully I have never been a fan of the True/False portion of a test. Yes, you get a fifty/fifty chance if you don't know the answer, but I always find myself second guessing each question I read and second guessing every answer I put down. I always feel as though the teacher is tricking me in some way, one little word in the whole question can make the statement switch from true to false. Honestly, I feel that at times teachers do indeed throw in the smallest incorrect portion forcing students to feel "tricked" instead of actually assessing how much the student has learned. We also talked about how it is so simple to lead students to pick an answer knowing absolutely nothing about the subject. By including words like "absolutely" or "never" students are more likely to pick false because it is an absolute, and all they need is one example of where this statement is proven wrong, therefore wasting time trying to prove the statement wrong rather than taking the actual test. By including words like "should" or "might" these students are more likely to pick true, and even if they get it wrong, can try to argue the answer.

Don't get me wrong, I think if done carefully a True/False portion of the test may be able to assess your students, but really how do you know if they really knew the answer or they just guessed? We talked about different ways of getting around this problem and my favorite to use when creating a True/False portion of a test is having a portion of the statement underlined and then asking the student to correct the underlined portion if they feel the statement is incorrect.

For instance, given the simple statement:
2 + 2 = _5_                   True    False__________

The student would circle False and then simply put "4" in the blank space.

I'm still not a huge fan of the True/False questions and honestly don't see myself using this very much in my own classroom. Anyone disagree?

Monday, February 27, 2012


As I was reading through our textbook Adolescents and Digital Literacies, by Sara Kajder, I loved reading about the website "Diigo."This site allows you to bookmark sites to an account online. This means that whether you are on your laptop at home, or a computer in the library, you can have the websites all in the same place. You are also able to highlight things on the site and add sticky notes to remember important information. After reading about this website I checked it out a little myself online and found out that it's free! There are plans that you can pay for, but the free plan seems to have more than enough. You are able to have unlimited bookmarked sites and up to 1000 highlights per year. I think this tool seems extremely helpful in researching for a project or paper, and not only see myself using this for my classes, but also introducing this site to my students if they are interested in using it.

Comic Life

One of the lessons I really enjoyed learning about was the Comic Life lesson. I remember from personal experience, trying to make my own graphic representation of something (and I am by no means artistic whatsoever). These projects were always somewhat difficult for me because it made me feel as though my work was never good enough and I'm not used to turning in work that I'm not very proud of. I think Comic Life would be a much easier tool for me to use and for it to look professional. I also think that it looks like it would be fun to create, even for students like myself who don't usually enjoy this type of assignment.
In my own lesson about podcasts, one of my original ideas was to combine these two lessons and have the students make their own comics and then create a podcast. I think it would be fun to make these comics come alive in a way and add sound effects or music or whatever else they can think of.

Monday, February 13, 2012

"Don't do anything that will make you look stupid"

In my ELL Strategies and Practices class, our professor talks a lot about his own experiences as a teacher and is always trying to give us advice on what to do in our own classroom. My favorite piece of advice is "Don't do anything that will make you look stupid in front of your students." It just makes me laugh every time he talks about it or tells a story where this theory of his came in handy. He believes that if there is something within the classroom that you may not be fully confident about doing, make the student do it instead. These are mainly silly things like passing out papers, or pulling down the projection screen. He claims that doing these things, and possibly messing them up, will make your students think you're an idiot. He told a story about how one of his kids was the main person to pull the projection screen down when needed (this professor claims that this activity makes you look like an idiot because it is rarely pulled down perfectly on one try and then you stand there trying to figure it out, so he pawns this job off on the student). This student pulled down the screen, and as he was walking away, the screen fell and hit him in his head. Now of course this professor made sure the kid was alright and sent him to the nurse's office just to be safe, but he said instead of feeling sorry for this kid, all he could think was that he was glad it wasn't him. He said it would have been remembered by the students forever, and he would have been known as the teacher who had a screen hit him in the head. This story was just a funny little anecdote, but I wonder whether this strategy of his is really useful or not. Sometimes I think he is right and that you have to look professional in front of your students and look like you know what you're doing. I also think though that when you can admit to not really knowing how to do something, it can make you more relatable to the students and they may feel a little more comfortable in the room with you, which in my opinion can lead to far more in depth discussions if the students aren't intimidated by you. Just some thoughts for the day...

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Ignorance and Superiority

An incident occurred this morning in my Educational Measurements and Assessments class. I honestly half ran to my computer when I got back to my apartment so I could blog about it.

The class started out innocently enough, discussing the different grading policies that are implemented within various school districts. One policy came up that stated a "D" would be considered a passing grade for any class except Math, in which you had to achieve at least a "C" in order to pass the class. Immediately this policy irritated me a little, because why is this one subject being held at a higher standard than the others? What if students have a harder time understanding the concepts of mathematics, this seems to be discouraging from the start. Then a hand went in the air from the back of the room (I thought it would be someone asking these very same questions I was wondering to myself) and I heard this girl say, "Well I understand why they would have this policy because it is a known fact that there is a higher level order of thinking involved in math, and those who are better in math have a higher I.Q. than say someone in literature." You could have heard a pin drop in the class we were all that silent. Now, just to give you a picture, I sit in the front of the class with about three or four other English Education majors and I think you could visibly see all of us stiffen and look at each other silently expressing the words "Excuse me? Did I really just hear that correctly?" This girl then proceeded to give examples of Newton and Galileo being geniuses that are far beyond anything literature could accomplish. I was grateful when the student next to me uttered a single name, "Shakespeare" making most of the class laugh and agree. 

I understand that we all tend to be partial to our own specialities, but I just could not understand the need to put another subject so below your own. I think it is a combination of all the subjects, and each student's likes or dislikes that creates learning as a whole. If someone can look at numbers but can't read or write a sentence correctly, how does this place them above a student who can crank out a well written paper but can't grasp the concepts used in mathematics? It scares me that this person is on their path to becoming an educator and cannot clearly see that every specialty has its own worth and importance.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Social Media

I came across this picture someone posted on facebook about an hour after we left class today and it just reminded me of some of the topics that were discussed in class. I think this picture is just a funny way to briefly sum up how people use the social media that is so popular with our culture.

In class we discussed how we can use these different sites in the classroom. I think it is important to be aware and knowledgable about the things that our students use on a daily basis. In Kara's presentation about facebook and really taking a look at what is on your profile, I was blown away by the fact that people spend almost eight hours A DAY on these websites. I have never given much thought to how much time I spend on these sites because they have become so ingrained into this generation's everyday culture. This statistic was especially significant considering that I eventually do want to become a teacher, and I think an important aspect of being a teacher is your ability to relate and connect to these students. I think incorporating websites like facebook or twitter in the classroom can give them a way to feel comfortable, not only with the teacher, but also in participating in an activity that they know so well and obviously enjoy.

A Brief Introduction

My name is Suzanne and I am starting this blog initially as a requirement for one of my classes, but I am honestly excited at the idea of keeping a blog. I have always considered starting one as a way to keep myself writing on a somewhat consistent basis outside of the classroom, but I could never pick a subject to actually keep a blog on. This blog will mainly be about various educational experiences or concerns on my own journey to becoming an English teacher. Enjoy!