Live Your Dream, It’s Not As Hard As It May Seem…

So, after reading my classmate’s blog http://teachsimplicity.wordpress.com/2010/04/13/findwhatyoulov/#comment-31 Laura wrote about doing what you love in life. After reading this post, it quickly made me realize how fast life flies by. It seems as if the semester just started a few weeks ago and here we are quickly coming to an end. One important item that I want to remember when I become a teacher is that your students are going to look up to you. If you are doing what you truly love (teaching) your students are going to notice. If you are not, their still going to notice. Teachers are with their students more than those students are with their own parents and families. In a way, the teachers are ‘raising’ about 25 students every year. So, if a teacher is doing their job and being passionate, a student will quickly take note. They notice in every small decision you make and how you treat other people whether it is inside or outside of school. Teachers have to remember that each and every student has a dream and it is that teachers job to help their students pursue that dream. If not, then why become a teacher? I have had so many people against me throughout my life and disagreeing on my choices and I am tired of it. I am going after my dream of pursuing my Master’s degree and I will not leave Penn State until I have that diploma in my hand. I thought teachers and professors were supposed to encourage students to do their best and go after their dreams, not crush them? I am quickly learning what I do not want to become as a teacher. I will fight for myself and stand up for my student’s. Now a days it seems that people care about what everyone else thinks. For example, letters of recommendation, of course it is nice to see what teachers/professors think and have to say and that they believe in the student. But, is it not more important that the student’s believe in themselves? Where would our country be if no one had a dream or a goal? Why does everything depend on what other people think and believe and it seems as if it doesn’t matter what I want and what my goals are. I was always brought up to believe that I can accomplish anything I put my mind to and I have. I have a dream to pursue a Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction at Penn State University, yet it seems that my dreams do not matter. It only matters what other people have to say about them. However, my amazing boyfriend William Weiler keeps reminding me that hard work never goes unnoticed, and I hope and pray that he is right because right now I feel that no one is noticing.

After reading through her (Laura’s) blog, she gave three different descriptions about why you should do what you love in life and live every day to its fullest no matter what. When I came to the last story on her post, about death it made me think back to a few years ago when I was an undergrad student. My grandmother and grandfather were in a head on collision car crash. Miraculously my pap only came out with a broken nose, my grandma on the other hand was in intensive care for a long long time. After that, she was constantly in and out of the hospital and continued to fight for her life. I would drive home from Penn State University to Pittsburgh every weekend to see them and my family. I remember the exact day, I was in the car with my dad when he received a devastating phone call. My dad is the most least emotional person I know, but that day I knew from the look on his face it wasn’t good news. He dropped everything we were doing at that moment and drove straight to the hospital. Neither of us said a word the entire way. When we got the hospital, the nurses told us that she didn’t have very long left and that we should say good-bye. Let me tell you, nothing hits you harder than knowing that this will be the last day that you will get to see and speak to someone who you love. In a way, it was also good news because who can say that they knew when you were talking to someone who it would be the last time? Also, she was def. headed to a better place where she was no longer in pain and constantly battling for her life. That day, I held my father’s hand and my grandmothers hand as we told her how much we loved her and tried to remember the happy times we had together. Although she could not speak back to us, you could tell from her face that she could hear and understand every single word. Then, I faced the most emotional event that I’ve ever experienced thus far in my life. I held my grandmothers hand and literally watched her die in my arms and there was not a single thing I could do about it. I think that was the hardest part for me, I was there and there was nothing I could do. I felt powerless and defeated. The room was complete silence and a strange feeling filled the air as if God was in the room with us. I looked up to my dad, and saw him crying for the first time in my life. I tried to be strong, but that didn’t last long and I cried for hours as I am crying right now as I write. I never thought that I would actually see someone die in my arms and I have to say that it is the absolute worst feeling in the world to know that there’s not a single thing you can do about it but to look to the positive side of things, knowing that she is in a better place and healthy and happy. 🙂  ❤

What does this have to do with education?  Keep reading!

After reading Laura’s blog, I realized that I am doing what I love! I can truly say that becoming a teacher is the most amazing experience and the best feeling in the world knowing that I will be teaching students English. I have already graduated from Penn State in 2007 with a degree in Broadcast Journalism and a minor in English. While I was an undergrad, I didn’t really care as much if I missed class because it was not a degree and job that I really cared about. Now, I have only missed one class (due to the massive snow storm) out of the entire semester and within five different classes. That’s pretty awesome! However, I realized that I don’t want to miss class now because I truly enjoy going. I actually like to do my homework, research and extra-curricular activities because I love knowing that I will become a high school English teacher soon! It truly makes a huge difference in life if you are doing what you love.

When I become a teacher, I want my student’s to connect to their writing and their reading. Student’s and people in general learn a lot more information when they can connect to the assignment. For example, in my classroom I would like to have the students come up with every theme that was in the book we read and make a list on the board. Then, have them write a paper about a personal experience they have had in their lives that uses a theme on the board. For example, in Desiree’s Baby the themes are race, love and betrayal. The students would choose one of those three themes and write their paper about love or betrayal using their own experience. I have tried this experience with this particular short story in class and it worked out extremely well. After they have written their papers, if a few student’s would like to share their paper with the class they could.

Another  instance, if a student had the choice to choose 1 out of 3 books for their assignment, I think that they would be a lot more excited and interested in the work because they actually had a say in what they were doing. People can learn a lot more in life if they just stopped talking for a while and listened to what other people have to say, including students. I think we as educators would be surprised to hear what we as students had to say, the great ideas that they have and what they actually know and care about. Listening is an important tool in life that many people forget about because their to busy talking and being self-absorbed. One activity that I know I would like to have in my classes are open circle discussions. This would consist of the class, including me, sitting our desks in a circle and just talking about the reading. There would be no specific ‘assignments’ or number of times that students would have to speak, I just want to hear them. I want to know what they liked about the reading, what they were confused about, how it could relate to something going on in their personal life and what they did not like about it. I think that a lot of times professors and teachers get caught up in quantity and loose track of quality. A student can say what they need to in a three page paper, then why make them write an eight page paper and take points off for length?

I would also use reading journals in my class, which are journals that each student would have with text on one side and questions on the other. The journals make the students read and also answer questions at specific spots in the text. One question could be, what do you think about X character at this point? Another question could be what do you think will happen next? The journals get the student’s to think about the text and characters and not just read the text to get their reading done.

Another idea that I learned came from a presentation I heard in my LLED 480 class on April 5th. This group of students had my class visit English Companion Ning and join in on a discussion about Sparknotes in the classroom. You can visit the website here, http://englishcompanion.ning.com/forum/topics/sparknotes-my-loathed-enemy?id=2567740:Topic:6847&page=1 On this website, Lori J left an amazing comment/idea on how to use Sparknotes in the classroom instead of being blinded by or ignoring the situation. Her idea was to hand out a copy of Sparknote’s anslysis on a character and have the student’s write what Sparknote’s left out about the character. I thought this idea was wonderful! Lori said, ” I also have reading quizzes where I ask the students to write a few sentences about the significance of some object or event that isn’t mentioned in that chapter of the Spark Notes but is significant to the story. It doesn’t take the students long to learn that they are better off reading the actual material.” I thought that this was a great way to show your students that you know about Sparknotes and you do not want them to use that as a sole source for learning the material. You can contact Lori here, http://englishcompanion.ning.com/profile/LoriJordan

So, what am I trying to say in this blog post? I can’t wait to become a successful English teacher and to have my student’s learn in fun/creative ways that they will actually learn the material and not just memorize it. I also want to say that doing what you love makes a huge difference in your everyday attitude towards life in general and it shows in every little decision that you make. If you are happy with yourself, job and life you will be a lot more enthused about everything and your everyday attitude will show it! I can’t say enough how much of a difference it makes in life. So, don’t worry, be happy! 🙂 Everything happens for a reason.

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Published in: on April 13, 2010 at 9:07 pm  Comments (2)  

Blog Assessment

As our semester here at Penn State is rapidly winding down, so are our PLN’s. Although this blog began as an assignment for one of my education classes, it has become a way for me to express myself, my thoughts, comments and connect with numerous people not in my classes. It has also become an outlet for me to state how I feel and share what I have learned just from this semester. As I look back, I have learned so much just this semester from talking to people, researching and from all of my classes and professors. Within this blog, I will be ‘grading’ myself and blog bases on the consistency of my blog posts, quality of what I wrote, if I commented on other people’s blogs and my stat page. I also will be discussing how I connected to people outside the classroom and what I have learned from those connections.

Connecting = A

I have made a huge effort to connect with fellow classmates and non Penn State student’s. I have used a variety of websites to do so. First, let’s start with the English Companion Ning website. On here, I have become friends with 18 people and 7 of those people are not student’s at Penn State. I also became a member of  15 different groups. One of the conversations I started was under “Making Shakespeare Fun!! http://englishcompanion.ning.com/group/teachingshakespeare/forum/topics/making-shakespeare-fun?xg_source=activity I had asked how you can teach Shakespeare to high school student’s and make it fun at the same time? This conversation received a lot of wonderful and creative responses. 32 to be exact!! I also began a discussion labeled, “Is technology hurting or helping student’s these days?” Which has received 10 responses thus far. http://englishcompanion.ning.com/forum/topics/is-technology-hurting-or On Linkedin.com (which I rarely use) I have 19 connections. I also began an account on Twitter in the beginning of the semester, which I have used a handful of times. On Twitter, I am following 21 people and 9 people are following me. Also, on our blogs I have connected with a lot of classmates and a few people that are not student’s at Penn State.

Blog Consistency = A

In the beginning of the semester, I was a little skeptical about the whole blogging assignment. I had no guidelines, no rubric and no requirements to fulfill on this assignment besides being told that we had to create a blog that would be graded at the end of the semester. Being that I had no specific guidelines, I feel that I put a lot of effort and a ton of time into my blog appearance, blog posts, research and quality. Below are my stats…

I have posted 21 times not including this post. I think that is a lot and I have very happy with that number. That is 1-2 posts every week, including over spring break. I also have 32 comments, which is pretty high. I feel that I have gone above the average here because I never just let my blog go for 2-3 weeks. I also had my own motivation to post regularly when I had no number requirements to reach.

Quality of Blogs = A

I feel that the quality of blogs was satisfactory. I spent a lot of time on them, and on most I have posted numerous website and video links. I gave my opinion, facts from websites and other people’s opinions. I thought that my best blog was “Observing at CV over Spring Break” and “Shakespeare and Fun” However, according to my blog stats, here’s what my reader’s thought….

My readers seemed to think differently. As you can see, my top clicks were my home page, Shakespeare and Fun, My First Blogging Experience and Inspiration. I was really surprised to see that my readers liked my first blogging experience that much. I thought my best post was when I reflected on my observing at CV. However, that post only got 5 views. I have my blog connected to my page on English Companion Ning, so I feel that this has something to do with which posts received that most views. Being that I wrote a discussion on the Ning about how to make Shakespeare fun, I can see why this was a top hit.

Below is a list of comments I received and comments that I wrote to other people.

So, in conclusion of this assessment I think that I can honestly say that I deserve an A on my PLN and other websites projects. I believe that I have spent a lot of time on this assignment and have learned so much from my PLN. Being that I had no numbers to reach on posts or comments, I think that I did a good job just doing this assignment with my own motivation. Also, I fell in love with the English Companion Ning website and have met a lot of people, received numerous great ideas for teaching Shakespeare and have seen a lot of wonderful ideas in teaching what works and what does not work for other teachers. My posts were not just directed to my fellow classmates, but including ideas, research, movie reviews and opinions for an array of people. i worked hard, spent a lot of my time and learned an extraordinary amount of information. Being that there was no rubric, I feel that I did a good job.

I would like to improve my blog by reading other people’s posts and commenting more often. I feel that I can learn a lot from other people and what they have to say.

Published in: on April 6, 2010 at 9:47 pm  Leave a Comment  

Creating Lesson Plans

Tonight, I sit here staring at my computer screen with no motivation to do any schoolwork at all. My mom surprised me today and came to visit me!! This was really exciting because I don’t get to see her much. 🙂 Needless to say, all schoolwork was put on the back burner until now. As I sit here trying to complete a few assignments, a thought crossed my mind. When I become a teacher next year, how long should it take me to complete my lesson plans for each unit? Also, how exactly do I create my own lesson plans without ‘stealing’ them all? Although we have discussed this briefly in one of my LLED classes, I was curious. Jason (our teacher) told us that for our assignment this semester, it should take about eight hours to complete a unit of fifteen lesson plans.

So, I visited youtube.com to see if I could find any help. The following three-minute clip gives tips about how new teachers should create their lesson plans for the year and how to map out their curriculum. I thought that this short clip was pretty helpful and very clear-cut.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KRwkLNN6ZgY

I also visited Google to see if I could find any useful texts on creating lesson plans. The following link describes a 10 step process that you should cover while creating your lessons. http://www.lessonplanspage.com/WriteLessonPlan.htm This website is very direct and tells you what needs to be covered in each lesson. I thought that it was very helpful for new teachers and my LLED class.

Also, one of the websites that we have learned about in our LLED classes is called, www.readwritethink.org and it has amazing tips and lesson plans on it. While on this website, you can find a million lesson plans for English topics for almost any grade level. Also, the standards for each grade level are listed! http://www.readwritethink.org/classroom-resources/lesson-plans/

I feel a little more comfortable attempting to build my lesson plans now that I have seen a few tutorial videos and have read a few articles on exactly what lesson plans should entail. Also, the read, write, think website is fabulous! It has some amazing ideas for lessons and how to build lessons! I suggest that you check it out!!

Published in: on March 30, 2010 at 8:48 pm  Comments (1)  

Technology – Is it hurting or helping?

Yesterday I created my own discussion on English Companion Ning, which every teacher should join!! I can’t say enough positive aspects about this website. To be a part of English Companion Ning, you do not need to be a student and it takes literally two minutes to sign up. ECN is a place where future teachers, current teachers and past teachers can post questions, thoughts and comments on a discussion board. Literally, within an hour you will have at least one response. The people on this website are fantastic and extremely helpful. Whether you are looking for guidance, answers or just to know that someone else out there in ‘cyber world’ is feeling the same thing as you; ECN is highly recommended.

However, going back to the discussion question that I posted yesterday… I asked is technology hurting or helping student’s these days? Yes, I believe that people at any age can learn a great deal by surfing the web. I also think that it is a great learning tool for research. However, my concern comes in when student’s that are in middle school or high school rely on technology as a means of communicating with each other. What I mean is, when the generation of students that are in middle school right now graduate, will they have any communication skills? It worries me that children today are always either listening to an Ipod, texting, iming each other, talking on Facebook or other social networking sites and never actually talking face to face with each other. Will they be able to handle themselves in a job interview?

The responses that I received with in 24 hours were amazing. I will not just copy and paste what people have responded, but I will share what I thought was intriguing and thought-provoking. A seventh grade teacher by the name of Janet Singer Schwartz stated that she believes technology is hurting today’s children. She states, “I have seen students who cannot hold a thought from one day to the next. They learn in sound bites, and then forget them the next day. They have a very difficult time understanding the idea of elaboration. In 37 years of teaching, I have never seen anything like this. Could I blame the elementary schools? I could, but that would be fruitless. I am wondering if the IM, texting, constant interaction with screens, has hurt their ability to hold a thought and to explain a thought.” You may reach Janet here, http://englishcompanion.ning.com/forum/topic/listForContributor?user=35hbd6k9anzhk Although I do not have 37 years of teaching under my belt like Janet does, I do agree with her. I feel that when people constantly rely on technology instead of their brains we have a serious problem for the rising generations. How will these children that are growing up in a world where they never could not surf the web, text or use countless other means of technology going to perform in college and on job interviews? Will they have the necessary communication skills?

Another wonderful response that I have received was by Paul and I am going to share just about everything he said because I felt that it was so true, “Knowledge is seen as unnecessary (why do I need to know this when I can just look it up?). Attention spans fragment; nothing is interesting unless it flickers and blinks. Oral and visual are seen as superior to written (text messages aren’t writing — they’re oral speech presented in a form of degraded writing). Young people can never get away from each other and inhabit another world; technology traps them in teenland 24/7, and teenland doesn’t help them turn into adults. The ability to endlessly self-express (social networking, blogs, taking pictures of EVERYTHING you do) breeds narcissism, and creates a feedback loop where nothing is interesting except the immediate (ME and what I’M doing right now). The ability to imagine, to create images, is given away to the wizards behind the screen; this breeds passivity and inhibits brain development. Technology has created a surveillance society that we’re all happily volunteering to participate in (is it just me, or isn’t it creepy as hell every time someone says “follow me on twitter”?).” Paul can be reached at the following website, http://englishcompanion.ning.com/profile/PaulShamchuk I think that everything Paul has said is exactly right. Today’s children would rather just “Google” or “Wikipedia” anything instead of opening a book and actually reading, which is so sad. What do you think?

It is not that I don’t like technology, because I probably could not live with out it. However, I feel that ‘my’ generation is different because we grew up in a world before cell phones and surfing the web was popular. When I was little I listened to my parents records on one of those machines that plays like 45’s? I think that is what there called. (This makes me feel old) But, this is also my point, I was not on Facebook until college where now elementary schools students can join. (Which is a whole different blog) My point is that today’s children do not know what it is like to not have the internet or texting. They rarely write an actual letter to someone, which is way more personal than an email or Facebook message. I guess I am just worried that when I have children they will have serious communication and social issues because they don’t need to do it ‘in person.’ How do you feel?

Besides looking at English Companion Ning to see what other people thought on this touchy subject, I looked onto youtube.com. The following website is against technology and feels that people are ‘over-connected.’ It shares personal stories, national news stories and quotes (just don’t mind the random rap music and Michael Jackson music in the background!)   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0CTRfZPkW10 Although this website begins a little slow, give it a chance because it gives a lot of memorable reasons and ideas that people are in personal and over connected.

In conclusion, of course I believe that technology has helped our world in numerous ways. First of all, we can connect with old friends, meet new people and learn endless amounts of information. However, I feel that technology is hurting our world because it is literally taking over. Just imagine what would happen to our world if ever piece of technology did not work for 24 hours. I seriously feel that our world would fall apart! People couldn’t check their e-mails, Facebook, text, call each other or let alone in a restaurant or a television station. Everything now a days runs on and relies on technology in one form or another. Just think about it for five-minutes…. I’ll wait…

Here’s my list of everything that runs on technology,

Video games, computers, television stations, cell phones, major businesses, restaurants, electricity, any form of communication or information, movie theaters, transportation. I could go on and on. I feel that in one hand it is a shame that we literally could not live without technology yet on the other hand I am glad that our world has advanced.

Please feel free to share your thoughts!! 🙂

Published in: on March 28, 2010 at 6:47 pm  Comments (1)  

Exciting News

Well, today has been very wonderful so far! Actually, this past week has been amazing! Do you ever have one of those days/weeks where it seems that everything is falling into place and nothing can go wrong? (Now I probably jinxed myself) But, that is what I feel like! So, I am going to be a little egotistical and talk about myself for a few minutes…

First, I will be a student teacher beginning in January of next year! We ( my LLED class) applied back in January and we all just found out what city we will be placed in. I will be student teaching in PITTSBURGH!!! I am really excited about this because I am from Pittsburgh and have lived there my entire life until I left for college. I know that I will not be placed in my high school, which is actually a good idea. I think that it is better to begin somewhere where you do not know anyone. That way, instead of latching on to the people you already know you will be encouraged to make new friends and contacts.

Also, I began college this past August here at Penn State. I was accepted into the teaching certification program and was excited. However, I just found out this past Friday that I have been accepted in to the Master’s program at Penn State! Whoo hoo!!! I will still be student teaching in January of 2011 and graduating May 2011. I went to Penn State for my undergraduate degree and graduated in 2007 with a Broadcast Journalism degree and a minor in English. Now, I can’t wait to have a Master’s degree in Secondary Education! Although, I am not looking forward to all of the work that I have to do between now and next May, but it will be well worth it!

Also, on a side note I hurt my right foot about three weeks ago. I have been to the health center here at Penn State and I am currently wearing one of those big, bulky boots. (attractive, I know) They have done x-rays and believe that my foot is actually fractured, which is nice that I have been walking around now for three weeks on it. Anyway, I finally got the go to referral for the hospital where I will be getting a bone scan done on my foot. I am praying that I won’t need surgery or anything like that! Yes, this is exciting news because I am finally able to figure our exactly what is wrong with my foot and get it fixed!

I also just received an e-mail from the job that I applied for last week. They want to interview me!! Thank you to Rae Thesin, she informed me of the job and was a reference for me! 🙂 You can see her blog at, http://raebee.wordpress.com/

That is a lot of exciting news in one week! So, I felt the need to share my happiness.

Back to talking about school,

In Jason’s class, which is what our blog’s are for, we are writing a science fiction short story. This is in reference to the book that we just finished reading in his class, called FEED. We have worked on our stories for about two weeks now and they are due tomorrow. I just finished writing mine and I actually really like it. I have placed it here in my blog, if you would like to read it.

Escape

“Why do you always need to go to the library to study? You’ve been there every night this week.” Snapped Rick.

“Uh, because you won’t let me get anything done and I have three tests next week, I hate going there, this old man that’s a janitor is always around and it’s a little creepy,” yelled Annie as she scrunched her forehead and threw her arms up in the air.

“Hah, yeah, I’m sure you’re always really going to the library too, you’re probably running around with someone else,” Rick said firmly as his face turned a dark shade of red.

“I can’t believe you Rick.” Annie placed her soft fragile hand on his muscular chest.

“Don’t touch me Ann, save that for the man you’re going to see when you go to the ‘library’,” Rick said as he started to pick up his weights.

“Yeah Rick that’s what I’m doing, I’m running around with the creepy janitor that you can smell from 10 feet away that likes to stalk me at the library.”

Ann rolled her eyes in disgust. She pulled away from Rick and stomped up the ten steps to her room. She gathered her school books as the tears fell from her eyes and hit the hard wood floor. “Ok, I got my finance book, religion book and law book,” Ann mumbled to her self while trying to gather her thoughts.

After Annie finished gathering her books, she stomped back down the ten wooden steps marched passed Rick and went straight out the front door slamming it behind her. It was starting to get dark and foggy outside, but instead of riding the Blue Loop to the library tonight, she decided to walk in the drizzling rain from her apartment. She thought that it would help to clear hear head and forget about what Rick had said to her just moments before.

“I can’t believe he thinks that I am going to see someone else and not going to the library. I’m trying to get good grades and graduate on time… unlike him. That lazy piece of shit,” said Annie in a disgusted and annoyed way.

About twenty minutes later, Ann arrived at the Pattee-Paterno Library.

Once she got inside the doors she walked over to the elevator, and glanced down at her watch. It was 8:40 p.m. The library closed at midnight, giving Ann three hours and twenty minutes to study for her upcoming three tests. She thought to herself how tired she already was because she had been at the library every night this week until the janitor’s kicked her out.

Finally, the elevator came and the dirty steel doors opened. Ann got in alone and hit the 3 button. “Eww, it smells like feet or moldy cheese in here,” she thought to herself, waiting to dive out for air as soon as the doors opened. Finally they slowly slide apart and she jumped out. Annie decided to go to a different section of the library to study tonight hoping it would help to keep her attention a little longer. “There aren’t as many people in the library tonight as there usually is, that’s strange,” Ann thought to her self.

She walked passed the reference desk and went all the way to the very back section of the library where no one was sitting and took a seat in the little wooden cubicle. Looking around her, there was no one to distract her and absolute dead silence filled the air. She pulled out her law book and got settled in. Just as she started reading, her cell phone started vibrating across the desk.

It was Rick. She opened the text, “Hey, sorry for yelling at you before, be careful walking home later tonight…Rick.” She was still very upset with him and decided to just not respond to the message.

For the second time, she gained her focus back and started reading her law book. About an hour and a half went by, making it 10:10 p.m. Ann was starting to get really tired and thought about going to the coffee shop downstairs, but it closed at ten. She put her hands on the sides of her head trying to hold herself up and concentrate on the exciting media law case she was reading. Then, the creepy janitor that Ann has seen every night this week walked slowly by the cubicle looking down at her.

Ann didn’t even acknowledge the fact that someone walked by her, until it was the third time. She raised her blonde eyebrows looking up at him as he walked by for the third time. As soon as their eyes met, he snapped his head down and began opening a black trash bag.

She decided to take a little walk to try to wake herself up, and get rid of the janitor, so she went to the restroom. When Ann was on her way back to her cubicle, Ann turned to her right looking down a long aisle of books. As she passed the second aisle, the janitor was standing in the middle of the aisle staring at her holding a black trash bag. Ann, being like any young woman, was starting to become a little paranoid now.

“Is it just a coincidence that every time I look up, this same janitor is looking at me”? She wondered as she got settled in her desk for the third time tonight.

The thin janitor had greasy dark hair that was slicked back and these beety little eyes that when he looked at you felt like he was seeing into your soul. He wore jeans and a KISS t-shirt and smelled like a mix of alcohol and cigarettes. “Attractive,” she thought to herself.

Ann couldn’t focus on her law book anymore between being tired and creeped out from the janitor. Every few seconds, her head would snap to the side and she would jump, waking up again. So instead, of holding her head up,  she decided to lay her head down on her desk while trying to still concentrate on what she was reading. Five minutes later, Ann was fast asleep.

Now, it was 11:45 p.m. and the library was getting ready to close for the night. Over the speaker the man at the front desk announced, “Students, please check out any books that you need and exit the library, we are now closing.” Ann slept through the announcement. Students started going to the reference desk checking out books, and exiting the library thru the main doors, which were now the only ones still opened.

The janitor began mopping the marble floor on the first level and working his way up. The main lights dimmed down and eventually turned off, leaving only the emergency lights, making it difficult to even see your hand in front of your face at this point. The janitor could turn on lights as he needed, to clean.

The dimming of the lights scared Ann and she woke up, rubbing her eyes not realizing that she was still in the library. She lifted her head and looked around the dark room. It was empty. There was no one in sight. She looked at her phone, 12:45 p.m. One missed call, Rick.

“Oh great, now Rick is really going to believe that I’m with someone else and not at the library. How did I sleep thru everything”?

Then it hit her, she was in the library ALL alone.

“Oh no, I hate the dark. I hope Rick is still awake. He is probably really mad at me now. He already thinks that I am cheating on him. Now I am still not home and it almost 1 a.m.,” said Anne terrifyingly.

She started closing her books and shoving them into her book bag. If she knew better, she’d be quiet. She picked up her bag and started walking quickly towards the elevator. Annie squinted her eyes and wrinkled her forehead trying to adjust to the lighting. She couldn’t run because she couldn’t see that far ahead of her.

Then, she started getting that feeling that someone was watching her. Were they? She felt like someone was following right behind her. Was there? She finally made it to the elevator and pushed the down arrow, nothing. She pushed it again, and again, and again. Ann became impatient and scared waiting for the elevator to come up to the third floor. Then, she realized that she had left her cell phone on the desk in the cubicle where she had been studying. Running back to get it, she was frantic and forgot where exactly she was studying. She couldn’t remember which cubicle it was because she usually never comes to this section of the library and it was really dark.

Her pink Jan Sport book bag was bouncing up and down on her back, and her keys were jingling. She decided to forget about her phone for the night.

“Rick’s not going to call again anyway, I don’t even wanna go home and deal with that.”

She looked up and could see the red exit sign ahead. Dodging through the bookshelves, trying to run, her bag managed to get stuck on one of the corners of the book shelf and Ann fell down like a ton of bricks. Landing all of her weight on her right wrist, she laid there for a few minutes trying to forget about the pain and get up. While she was lying there, she thought she heard someone or something walking; making her totally forget about the pain. Ann jumped up took her book bag off and sprinted towards the exit sign not even looking behind her.

She went down one flight of the marble stairs and while turning down on to the landing, she thought that she saw something out of the corner of her eye. She stopped dead in her tracks. Ann ducked down and crawled slowly towards the door. Slowly, she stood up looking through the little window into the second floor of the library. She saw the janitor. The old man, with long gray hair pulled back into a ponytail. He walked hunched over a little and was still carrying what looked like a dark colored garbage bag.

However, the bag was bigger than a garbage bag, almost the size of a body bag. He was walking with it over his left shoulder. Just as he was getting ready to walk right in front of the window, he looked to his right, right into Annie’s eyes.

“AHHH!!!” she screamed.

Her eyes almost fell out of her head. She had never been so scared. All of a sudden, her legs felt like logs and her knees locked into place. The janitor dropped the body bag, letting it crash to the floor, not taking his eyes off of her. They made eye contact for about thirty seconds, than Ann realized that she had a chance to escape. She moved away from the window, taking two steps towards the next flight of stairs. The janitor quickly unlocked the door and pushed it open. Ann again, stopped dead in her tracks.

“Where you runnin’ too little lady?” Said the janitor in a really creepy voice.

“Uhh, ummm, no, no where.”  Mumbled Annie.

“Aren’t you gonna stay and study some more?” Asked the janitor.

Annie’s heart was beating out of her chest and she just stood there staring the janitor in the eyes. He had dark mysterious eyes that just caught her attention.

“There’s no reason to run in the library now is there?” The janitor started slowly walking towards Annie.

“Umm, no I guess not,” stuttered Ann. She started taking a step backwards.

“Where you going? You’re going to stay here with me, right?”

Annie turned around to run down the steps. But the janitor was quick for an old man. He reached out to grab her arm. Ann quickly spun around and went thru the open door in to the second floor of the library. She tried to quickly pull it shut behind her, but she didn’t have enough time. The janitor started chasing behind Annie.

“You’re not going to get out of here alive,” he yelled to her.

Ann started running faster, thru the aisles of books. She tried to lose him by running in circles around the same aisle. Nothing was working. She was hoping to tire the old man out, but he must have been used to this. Annie ran back towards where the “garbage bag” was. She stopped to unzip it.

“Don’t you touch that bag little lady,” he yelled coming up the center aisle towards her.

Annie was determined to find out what was in there. Her hands were clammy and shaky as she unzipped the bag half way and saw what was inside. An arm flopped out of the bag. Annie felt as if her heart was in her throat. She was so shocked and scared she couldn’t say a word. She opened her mouth, but nothing come out, not even a squeal. When she was kneeling down staring at the bag, she realized that it wasn’t a human arm that flopped out of the bag.

“Holy…..this can’t be…Oh my Godd,” Annie whispered to herself.

Annie was so grossed out and scared she puked all over the floor.

“I think it’s an alien arm,” mumbled Annie.

She looked towards the janitor and said, “You’ll never catch me!”

The janitor was hot on Annie’s tail. She was running so fast that her feet couldn’t keep up with her body. She tripped over her feet and fell to the ground. The janitor grabbed her foot and started pulling her towards him. Kicking her legs up and down and screaming at him to let go of her, Annie couldn’t get away. The janitor had a tight grip on her right ankle. She finally got both legs out and jumped to her feet. The janitor also got up. The two of them were out of breath. But neither were about to give up.

“What did you do to that thing in the bag?” Demanded Annie.

“You don’t want to find out, now do you?” Said the janitor.

“I know it isn’t a human arm, what is it?” Questioned Annie.

“It’s none of your business, but you have to promise that you will never tell anyone what you saw.” Said the janitor.

“I said what was it?” Said Annie in an annoyed tone of voice.

“I have been after that alien for a whole year now, it….”

“WHAT!? So, I really did see an alien arm pop out.” Annie tried to gather her thoughts.

“Just let me finish, I have been trying to catch it for over a year now, it only comes out at night when the lights go off. No one else knows about this.” Said the janitor.

“I wish I didn’t either,” thought Annie.

“If you tell anyone, I will come after you and kill you. Do you hear me little girl?”

Annie didn’t know what to say or what to even think at this point. Is this really happening? Maybe this is a dream, thought Annie.

“So, you mean to tell me that you caught an alien in the Paterno Library all by yourself?” Questioned Annie.

“You saw it’s arm pop out, I caught that and if I catch you telling anyone about this, you will be the next one in that body bag!”

The janitor didn’t know what he had coming to him. Annie walked towards the janitor. Just as she was acting to put her arms around him, she punched him right in the gut.

“Ughhhh,” he yelled.

Then, she spun around in a circle and kicked him right in the side of the face. The janitor fell over holding one hand on his stomach and the other on his cheek bone. Annie turned to run away. She got her hand on the door and it was locked. She started jiggling it, shaking it.

“Open, open, open up damn it,” she screamed franticly.

She could hear the janitor starting to walk towards her. She turned around, and the janitor was right there. He backed her up against the door and put his hands above her head.

“Stop tryin’ to get away from me,” he whispered, staring her in the eye.

“Get away! Leave me alone! Please…” Said Annie.

“I’m not going to hurt you, just stop yelling and trying to run away,” said the janitor.

Annie thought to herself, “your going to be sorry you old man.”

“I’ve been watching you all week, coming in here studying all the time,” he said.

Ann squinted her eyes and thought quickly of what to do.

She kneed him right below his waist. He didn’t even see it coming. The janitor fell to his knees yelling in pain. Then, Annie waited for him to left up his head just a little. Then, quickly kicked her right leg up and gave him a round house kick to the side of the face. Ann then grabbed him by the waist frantically searching for his belt loops hunting for a set of keys. There they were, hanging off of his belt loop; she snatched them with her hand and stood back up.

Annie wiped the sweat off of her forehead. She stood there looking at him for a minute. Then she turned around and walked out the door, locking it behind her.

“Wake up, heyyy, wake up Annie!” screamed Rick.

“Get away!! Stop trying to hurt me! Just leave me alone…” said Annie half asleep.

“Are you okay?” Questioned Rick.

“What… uhh…what’s going on?” Annie said half asleep.

“I think you’re having a bad nightmare Annie, you’re all sweaty and you were yelling in your sleep and acting like you were fighting someone off.” Said Rick as he wiped Annie’s hair off of her forehead. “I’m gonna go downstairs and get you some water.”

Annie laid there, wiping the sweat off of her forehead and thanking God that this was only in her head. Or was it??

**Let me know what you think**

Published in: on March 23, 2010 at 4:29 pm  Leave a Comment  

Shakespeare and Fun

As most of you know, I am really interested in how to get high school students interested and motivated when it comes to reading Shakespeare. The first thought that pops into a high school student’s head is how boring and unimportant it is to their own lives. I would love to teach Shakespeare in my classroom when I graduate. However, this also terrifies me because I want my students to be excited and actually read! I know that is asking a lot in an English class! A few weeks ago I created a new discussion on the http://englishcompanion.ning.com/ asking how to make Shakespeare interesting to high school students. I received a wonderful/variety of responses, none of which were negative. Everyone was extremely helpful and positive. They had some pretty creative ways to teach and get students to read Shakespeare. (In an earlier post I shared some of the responses) but here is the website. http://englishcompanion.ning.com/group/teachingshakespeare/fum/topics/making-shakespeare-fun?xg_source=activity

Okay, now I am going to be really nerdy and geeky. My boyfriend and I watch Star Trek a lot and one of the websites that I found on teaching Shakespeare was about Star Trek. How convenient! It is pretty funny if you enjoy Star Trek. It is Kirk/Spock: The Marriage of True Minds (Shakespeare Sonnet 116).
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M5Yv7y0Aa00

This youtube.com video that I found is sort of helpful in providing a few different aspects on how to teach Shakespeare to high school students. One thing that I learned from this video is that you can tell your students how Shakespeare relates to their pop culture lives. For example, 10 Things I Hate About You is an adaptation of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew. Also, She’s the Man is an adaptation of Twelfth Night. What a surprise! This may get the students interested because they can actually relate that to their own lives.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ofm2RQUkwfI

The second video is pretty cool. It is about Shakespeare on the go! This is a small group that has been performing for over 30 years in northern Texas. They perform 45-minute skits of Twelfth Night at high schools in a modernized language. Then, there is a q&a after the performance. It is interesting to see how excited and involved this students become when the performance is fun and in a language that they can understand.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pUruCB_tYug

Does anyone have more creative ways to teach Shakespeare to a group of high school student’s?

Published in: on March 17, 2010 at 7:30 pm  Comments (4)  

Mr. Holland’s Opus

This movie came out in 1995 and I have been wanting to see it since then!! Again, on my boyfriends Netflix queue we finally got this movie and watched it over the weekend. Let me tell you, it is wonderful! This movie does not even compare to Dangerous Minds, Freedom Writers or Dead Poet’s Society. This “teacher” movie actually is motivational, inspirational, sad and funny. In one of my LLED classes we have viewed the three movies I mentioned, analyzed them and then created an I-Movie saying what we thought about the movies and if we thought the teachers in them were teachers of “writing.” To do this to Mr. Holland’s Opus it would be easy. Mr. Holland accepts the job of a high school music teacher so that he can pay his bills. He thinks that then, in his spare time he can achieve his dream of becoming a wonderful long lasting composer. However, of course he is not a teacher of writing, he is a music teacher. Well, I guess he sort of is a teacher of music writing and reading. He composes his own music in his little spare time and he teaches music at a local high school. While he is at the high school, he hates it at first and thinks that it will be impossible to teach these students. First of all, they did not know how to read music let alone play it. Second of all, he did not have the patience at first. However, he finally seems to get their attention when he plays music for them. I believe he played rock music for them, including John Lennon. Not only was Mr. Holland having problems at work, but he found out that his son cannot hear. This really makes him angry and upset because he could not wait to teach his son music. Now, he thinks it is impossible and does not really want anything to do with his son. In the end, his son can learn music and wants to. One way that he learned was by listening to the vibrations of the speakers. Also, Mr. Holland ended up creating a colorful light show on his stage so that when his students were performing at a concert his son and other deaf people could understand what they were playing. Mr. Holland also touches so many lives in his teaching career that when he retires/gets laid off numerous students come back to throw him a retirement party. At this party, the symphony that he has been composing at home is performed by former students for the first time. 🙂 

I think that this movie was delightful and really inspirational. It is not one of those cliché “teacher” movies that you can predict what is going to happen. It kept my attention the whole two and a half hours! I advice everyone in my LLED class to watch this movie if you have not already! (Even if you are not in my LLED class you should still watch this movie) Mr. Holland is a great man and an even better educator.

Published in: on March 16, 2010 at 7:16 pm  Leave a Comment  

Penn State Alum / English Teachers

So, funny story about when I was home this past week for spring break. I went to see my high school’s performance of Seussical on Friday night. This obviously was about Dr. Seuss and Horton Hears A Who? Which to my surprise was pretty awesome. While I was at the musical, I was talking to some old friends during intermission. They introduced me to a few people who also attend Penn State and a few who are Penn State alum. One of the girls was an English education major. She had most of the same professors that our LLED class currently has/will have. I was asking her a few questions about student teaching next Spring semester and she kindly told me that she was in Bethel Park for her student teaching. (about 15min. south of Pittsburgh) Anyway, her and her boyfriend both attended Penn State and invited me to a concert this Thursday about 45 minutes outside of State College. I was just so surprised that when you go anywhere in the world, how easy it is to find someone who you can connect with. This is especially true when you attend Penn State! It seems that whenever I go somewhere away from Happy Valley it does not take much to meet a Penn State alum and once you do, they are the friendliest people. 🙂  GO STATE!!

Published in: on March 14, 2010 at 6:30 pm  Comments (2)  

Observing at Chartiers Valley over spring break…

So on Monday and Tuesday during my spring break week (March 8th and 9th) I began my break observing English teachers at Chartiers Valley High School. (where I graduated) I was so excited to go back and see teachers that I had when I was in high school and to talk to the students. However, to my surprise high school was totally different than I remember it being. For example, I did not notice any ‘clicks’ unless it was just because I was a ‘teacher’ and not a ‘student.’ But, every student in any class seemed to get along with each other. There was no popular group, geek group, jock group or goth group. This really surprised me. Also, the students were extremely friendly! The senior boys had no problem coming up to me and telling me their ideas of how they were going to ask a girl to prom, which by the way these boys are so creative and thoughtful!! The girls were asking me a thousand questions about college and Penn State and they were overly excited to begin their college journey. 

So, what did I learn while I was there? 

First, I began my day with an English class of Seniors. Just a note, Monday mornings in 1st period, no one talks! This class was in the middle of reading The Tale of Genji. The teacher only assigned them to read specific chapters because of the sexual relations/politics that are in this tale. She began the class by asking them what the story was about so far. No one raised their hand to answer her because no one read over the weekend. The teacher seemed annoyed with them and gave them 20 minutes to read it in class, however this was a waste of time because they just sat around talking. After that 20 minutes, she told them what it was about! (Why would they continue to read when they know if they don’t read they will get time in class and then the teacher will end up telling them what it is about anyway??) She then assigned them 23 pages to read for the next day since they did not read at all over the weekend and the students were about to have a heart attack! They told me that they were never assigned over ten pages a night for English class. This really surprised me, how are they going to survive in college? The teacher asked me to tell the students that 23 pages was not a lot to read and that they should get used to this. However, they did not want to hear it, they still thought 23 pages was ridiculous. 

The next day, in this same class (Tuesday) the students were working on a photo story. This was when they chose one out of three poems from their English book and used pictures and text to create the poem. It is sort of like a PowerPoint. By the way, just so you know every classroom has a cart with about 27 HP laptops on it. Each student in the class is assigned a specific laptop that they are to always use. The class really loved this assignment! The teacher gave them the entire class period to work on their photo stories and they actually sat there and worked on it. They were not just sitting there talking about prom. They loved this assignment and they were extremely creative with it. 🙂 When they were finished with their photo stories, they uploaded them to their class Wikispace! Yes, I said it, they have a class Wiki!!! So, technology really is being used in the classrooms everyday. Although there was some technical difficulty when they were trying to upload their stories because (as we know) only one person could be uploading their photo story at a time.

Another helpful hint that I learned was to get familiar with blendedschools.com and gradebook.com this is what Chartiers Valley uses for their grading and also their assignments. The blendedschools is similar to our ANGEL website. Thus meaning that the teacher can/does say to her students “read an article for our next class which is posted on blended.” This is also a way for the students to see all of their grades for any assignment they have done that school year and for every class. This also takes away from the problem with absent students and students who participate in sports and such. They know what will be covered in class each day and they can look ahead at their homework.

P.S. – they did not use anything online with grades or assignments when I was in high school. So, this is a somewhat new technological advance at CV. 

One question that I asked the head of the English department while I was there, was about their book approval list. Their answer was sort of complicated, so I will try my best to explain it to you… There are specific book approval lists for each grade level. Then, each grade level list is broken down into three more different lists. For instance, 9th grade low English, 9th grade regular English and 9th grade advanced English. (There is also a different list for AP students) Each list has a few books on it and the teacher has to teach three specific books that the department has chosen. The rest is up to the teacher. Well, they are allowed to pick what other books off of their specific list. So the teachers do have choices but they are extremely limited. For example, I was in a freshmen regular English class and they were in the middle of reading Romeo and Juliet. Next week they are beginning Frankenstein. (Which the boys were really excited about!) Some other examples that were on the other lists were the classics, Catcher in the Rye and 1984. 

One of the English teachers that I observed gave her students an exam last week. She was disappointed because the students did poorly on the exam. (This was a senior class) She said that the seniors are basically over school and unmotivated, which is a problem every year when March rolls around. She said that the students basically shut down. They can’t wait to graduate and move on to colleges. The students thought that tests in an English class were a nuisance and they would much rather work on projects. The senior students in the English class I was in my second day do video conferences once in a while with other students in Pakistan. The teacher that I observed was telling me that the students in Pakistan try telling the CV students how lucky they are to attend public school every day for free. In Pakistan you can only go to a public school if your family has a lot of money to pay for it. The Pakistan students try telling the CV students how lucky they are but this does not help motivating them. 

Another question that I asked and actually saw in action was the PSSA testing question. I asked the teacher how they teach specific lessons in their English classes and also make sure they are covering material for the PSSA’s. Her answer was a shock to me. CV uses a web service called Study Island. (This also was not there when I was in high school) This is a web site (I think only for school use) where the students take a practice PSSA test during one of their English classes. Then, they receive their results instantly! Not only can they can see what they got right and wrong, but they see what level they fall into for the PSSA grading. (Below average, proficient and above average) Which, the school wants everyone to receive at least proficient. The teachers also receive all of the results of their students. Thus, allowing them to see exactly what they need to go over and teach during class. For example, if 80% of the class did poorly on reading comprehension that is what she will target the most. Also, if only a few students do poorly in certain areas the students can practice that area before the ‘real’ PSSA. 

All in all, I really enjoyed being back in the high school classroom. Although, I was surprised how much different high school seems than when I attended school I still saw a lot of similarities. One reason I was surprised was that I did not take a drink to school with me on purpose. I was thinking well, the students are not allowed to eat or drink in class so I shouldn’t either. Little did I know that this rule changed! Almost every student had a drink on their desk at all times and more than half were eating during class. This was a huge rule when I was in school, esp. when we were around computers. (I felt like an old head when I walked in and the students seemed so relaxed sipping their Starbucks coffee the first two periods of the day) 😦 Also, not one student raised their hand in any of the classes. They just shouted out the answers and/or questions they had. Basically, everything seemed a lot more laid back then I remember. 

These two days made me really excited to student teach!!

Published in: on March 12, 2010 at 11:35 pm  Comments (2)  

“To Sir, With Love…”

So, on Saturday I finally got the movie, “To Sir, With Love,” from my Netflix que. I had been waiting on this movie for about three weeks, so apparently it is really popular or someone lost the movie for awhile. Anyway, I was really pumped to finally be able to watch. I have had a few people tell me that it was a really great movie and inspirational. So, after work on Saturday my boyfriend and I sat down to watch this ‘masterpiece.’ Let me tell you, that I was extremely disappointed with it. Maybe I was missing the point of the movie. However, Sidney Poitier was not inspiring me to become a teacher at all. I am not sure how many of you have seen this movie, but don’t get your hopes up! First of all, he takes a job in London and has a group of ‘misbehaving’ student’s in his classroom. At first, he tries to keep his cool and not let the kids get to him. However, one day he just snaps and starts screaming at them. He comes to the conclusion that he is going to treat them like adults and not as students. So, he goes into the classroom and throws away the textbooks. The students are shocked and it gets their attention. He tells them that they are going to talk about life and that he will address them as ms. or mr. and they are to address him as sir. This ‘treating them like adults’ somehow miraculously gets their attention and they pretty much stop misbehaving. As the story goes on, one of the girl students falls in love with him and it seems that he also likes her. Then, the movie ends at the end of the year with them not minding that he is an African American male teacher and they respect and listen to him. The student that is in love with him dances with him at their ‘party’ at the end of the year. In conclusion, Mr. Poitier decides to keep that teaching job for the next school year. Maybe it is just me, but this was not hitting home for me. It sure as heck did not inspire me either. 

Has anyone else seen this movie and what did you think about it?

Published in: on March 2, 2010 at 7:25 pm  Comments (3)