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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Arriving towards the home stretch

We are getting really close to graduation!  I can really say I couldn't be more excited.  I need a break!  Currently we are in the spring semester.  We walk the stage at the beginning of May, but officially graduate at the end of May once our huge research proposal is submitted.  I know this is going to be horrible to say, but the Research class is killing me.  It mentally wears me out and I'm having a hard time making heads or tails of it, but I think its because I'm more of a doer than a sit and read about it.  Things tend to make more sense when I have practical application.  I know that time is coming soon so hopefully then I'll be able to connect all the dots.

The most interesting thing that I'm learning right now has to do with accurate assessments.  This is really interesting because while many educators feel they know how to do accurate assessment, going through this class makes you realize there are lots of things to learn about implementing the proper assessments.  I've realized that the majority of assessments I've been exposed to have been knowledge based assessments which is why students struggle when having to apply what they've learned.  Their exercises aren't in practical use, application, or deep thinking, they are in base knowledge that many students use memorization to learn just so they can pass the test, and then they do what I call the "data dump".  The key is for the teacher to plan the type of learning that needs to occur, figure out how that learning will be tested, and then make the lesson plans to target that learning.  Along the way it is essential to understand that the students need more information than we've ever thought about giving them.  Check lists, guidelines, rubrics, and learning outlines are desperately needed so the students know where they are going.  I've observed and been in very few classes that offer these types of tools for their students, so it would be very interesting to see how providing this improves student learning and engagement.  Maybe that will be for my NEXT research topic. 

My current research topic is coming into focus, and now I'm exploring new ways to gather sources for my proposal.  Since I am not in a classroom on a full time basis, I do not have the ability to put the research proposal into action, but I am fervently praying that will not be the case come the fall.  I am actively searching for a teaching position in my area.  The problem I've encountered so far, is that the openings in the schools I want to teach in aren't in the grade areas I'm certified to teach in.  Until I graduate, I can't take further certification exams to certify in other areas either.  So, I'll either get a hiring principle willing to let me certify later in the year, or get a position that I'm currently certified to teach in and broaden my horizons from there.

Now it is time for me to hit the books and do more research.  Until next time!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Spring Mid-Terms already!

It is time for Spring 2012 mid-terms, and as I've been teaching and attending classes I suddenly realized there hasn't been an update in my blog postings in ages. 

Educationally:

Mid-term papers are due this week in both my research course and my curriculum and assessment course.  Graduation is coming up very soon!  I have one more class in May term before I officially have my MEd.   I can't believe how fast the year as flown!  My research mid-term paper is focusing on my class main research assignment which is studies the effects of educational play in the curriculum on apathy and active participation.  I've never been a "hard-nosed" teacher, and I think that what is really lacking in many classrooms is the element of play.  Students are getting less time to imagine, create, and explore through play and because we know play effects cognitive, social, and emotional development, I think we are seeing those effects in our classrooms.  My notion is an educational play type curriculum.  The development of this type of curriculum that other teachers could access and incorporate in their current curriculum would really be phenomenal. 

Professionally:

My time as a long term substitute for 5th grade Science students is up, and I'm taking a short break and substituting as needed until I take up my last long term position for the year.  I will begin teaching 7th grade Social Studies in mid April through the end of the school year for a teacher who is taking his sick days as part of his retirement.  He essentially will begin his retirement vacation early, and I will get more classroom experience.
Test wise, I have passed both my PPR and my EC-6 certification exams and am awaiting graduation so that my teaching certification will be released.  Then I will be concentrating on even more tests to take so that I can increase my chances of being hired and increase the areas in which I can teach.  When I began this journey I was really focused on teaching Math, and now I've found that there are many subjects I would like to explore and teach.  What an amazing  journey this has been.

Next:
In the future, I am going to post some interesting finding concerning assessments and their importance. I found that one thing I was doing while teaching was making a lot of assessments with only the knowledge that I'd "test" on what we've gone over in class.  What I've learned is more about preparation, and that is what I will be covering soon.  Until next time, God Bless You.