Huck Finn

Over my winter break I have decided to read The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. I have always wanted to read this book, but have never gotten around to reading it. I figured now would be the perfect opportunity. I was excited to read this book because I have heard so many good things. There are many different dialects in the book and it makes it more difficult to read, but I enjoy the challenge. The character Jim’s dialect is very different from what I am used too. It makes the book more interesting to me because I really have to read the words. Sometimes when I read I tend to skip parts when it gets exciting, but with the different dialects I can’t do that.

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Observations and Bob Sullo

The book “The Motivated Student” by Bob Sullo discusses what it takes to have a student be motivated and teach to the best of your ability. Chapter 13 is called “Teach Less, Teach deeply”. Sullo gives instructions about how to downsize curriculum in order to create deeper learning. Today, students are learning too little about too much. They have superficial knowledge, but not any substantial knowledge. Teachers need to focus on what is essential to know over what is nice to know. Sullo says, “Make a commitment to focus your instruction on those things that are “essential” and “important.” Students need to be able to know that what they are learning is actually important and they need to be able to reflect on their knowledge. If they can’t reflect and apply what they have learned, their education will be “woefully inadequate”. Sullo also talks in Chapter 14 about creating your professional identity. Teachers need to have their own professional identity in order to know what they want and who they want to be. They will personally gain from this and the teacher’s students will also gain. If a teacher is solid in their professional identity, they will know exactly what they want going into teaching. It will help them teach deeper knowledge to the students.  

 

The teacher that I am observing has a strong professional identity. He has been teaching for 30 years, give or take, and knows very well what he is doing. He is confident in everything he does when teaching the students. He knows what teacher he wants to be and is. By doing this, the students are benefiting. They have a teacher that knows exactly what he is doing so they are getting more knowledge from him. He teaches deeply into one topic instead of trying to cram a lot of topics in. They are focusing on Greek Mythology right now and have been doing it for quite some weeks. They have read three different stories and each time the students are given time to talk in class and reflect on what they are learning. 

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The Motivated Student & High school Classrooms

The Motivated Student by Bob Sullo is a book that is all about ways in which teachers can motivate their students to do better work. It is about ways in which teachers can encourage the students to want to do their work and do a good job for themselves, not just for a good grade. Chapter 6 is called “Be Enthusiastic and Enjoy What You Do”. This chapter discusses the importance of remembering that even if what we are teaching isn’t new to us, it is new to the students. If you as a teacher are not enthusiastic about what you are teaching, how can you expect the students to be? The more enthusiasm that you show for what you are teaching, the more the students will become engaged. Choosing your language is important when trying to be enthusiastic. Sullo says to use vocabulary that will not make what you are doing sound tedious and boring. 

This reminds me a lot of the host teacher that I am with in Cortland High school. He is so enthusiastic about what he teaches, it is amazing to see as a student. When he teaches he uses gestures and he doesn’t just lecture. He performs as he teaches, making the students want to watch his every move. The more enthused he is, the more the students begin to participate! I can tell that his energy is contagious to the students. He starts bouncing around the classroom and students start diving deep into the discussion. He was teaching a lesson on Madea and the students were so engaged. He was encouraging to everything that the students were saying. He would tell them “yeah great job” or “that was really good, I didn’t even think of that!” His class is a prime example of a teacher loving what they are doing and showing the students that learning isn’t just boring!

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Eric Gansworth

Eric Gansworth

Eric Gansworth came to SUNY Cortland to speak and read his book “If I Ever Get Out of Here”. He read a chapter from the book and after he finished reading he answered questions that people had. It was really interesting to hear straight from the author about the book. I knew that it was some what based on his life so I couldn’t wait to here what he had to say about it.

The best part was that he was so honest. He told about his struggles and didn’t just dwell on his accomplishments. He was willing to share with us how he failed multiple times before reaching his goals. It was inspiring to hear that he has failed because it shows that if you keep working at your goals you can accomplish them!

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November 17, 2013 · 3:36 pm

Scorched

Scorched

Last week I went to the Syracuse Stage for the first time to see the play Scorched. I have only ever been to a real play once before and I wasn’t that impressed. I was a little timid to go see the play! I was excited to be spending time outside of class with my fellow classmates. The five of us had a blast before the play! We went to the mall to eat, did a little shopping, managed to get lost, but eventually we found our way to the play. My other classmates that saw the play told me that it was really good so I was more excited to go see it. I ended up LOVING the play. I thought it was very well acted and the story line was amazing. There was only about 10 actors that were in the play so they each had to play more than one part. I thought that was amazing because they all played the roles so well and were convincing in each role they played. After watching this play I want to go see more plays! Hopefully they will be equally as good, if not better!

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November 10, 2013 · 8:55 pm

Sherman Alexie Readings

Sherman Alexie Readings

Tonight as SUNY Cortland, two people read readings by Sherman Alexie from his book “Blasphemy”. They read them aloud and I didn’t have the text to follow along with. I must say, at first I was skeptical about this because I thought it was going to be hard for me to keep my attention focused. I also thought it was going to be harder for me to feel anything or make connections with the text if I couldn’t at least follow along as they read. To my surprise, I was wrong!

The man read “War Dances” and read an excerpt from a section called “Blanket”. It was about an Indian boy who’s father had his feet amputated due to being a diabetic and alcoholic. He was in the hospital with his father and his dad kept saying that he was cold so the boy tried to find a blanket for him. The nurse was mean to him and only gave him a thin blanket that he described as “the world’s largest coffee filter”. He gave it to his dad, but his dad kept saying that he was cold. The boy knew that he had no chance of getting a better blanket unless he found an Indian. He walked around the hospital until he found an Indian who gave him a blanket and he then gave it to his dad. Despite this, the dad ended up dying. As the speaker was reading this aloud, I easily put myself in the Indian boy’s shoes. What if it was me who was in the hospital with my father and I was trying my best to help him, but he was still suffering? What if it was me who couldn’t get any help from the nurses who were supposed to be there to help the patients? I became furious! I can tell you one thing, if it was me I would have been causing a scene!! There would be no way I could just sit there while my father was depending on me for help. One way or another, I would have gotten that blanket! I was amazed at how even though the text wasn’t sitting in front of me, I still made a connection with it. I still got a personal feeling and was able to make the words come alive inside me. I loved the story, and I loved what the reading showed me about myself!

 

The woman chose to read “Scenes From a Life”. Although still written by Sherman Alexie, it was told from a complete different view-point. Immediately I was intrigued by this reading for that reason. Every reading I had ever done of Alexie was told from the narration of a young, Indian boy. This story was narrated by a white, middle class female. She had sex with an Indian boy and was haunted by it. Not haunted because it was bad or because she felt guilty though. Throughout the story, she tells about her sex life, the men she has slept with, and her marriages. The one thing she makes specific to say is that she will not sleep with any Indians because of the boy she had slept with many years before. The reader got to see Indians from a white first person’s point-of-view. The whole time I was are wondering, why doesn’t she sleep with any more Indians? Why is this Indian so haunting to her? Alexie used this as a form of suspense and almost as a cliff hanger that is hanging through out the whole story. It isn’t until the ending that it is revealed that she was pregnant. She had a baby by that Indian and gave the baby up for adoption. When I heard this it was a “light bulb” moment. I finally realized that she was so haunted because every time she saw an Indian, she was reminded of her child. It amazed me the interest that I had in this story. Usually my attention span is something of a gnat. I really did not think that I was going to be able to focus or follow along without my attention drifting elsewhere, but this story proved me way wrong!!

 

At the end of the readings, I was so happy that I chose to go. Not only did I get to hear two great stories and learn more about Sherman Alexie’s identity as a writer, but I learned more about my identity as a reader. I learned that I don’t have to have the text sitting in front of me to be a good, attentive reader!

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October 18, 2013 · 1:20 am

Alumni Panel for Education Majors

Three people came to SUNY Cortland tonight to talk to the education majors about getting jobs. Kraig Pritts who is the Superintendent at of Schools at Tully, MaryAnn Murphy who is the principal of Tully Jr./Sr. High school, and Steven Woodard who is the Director of Career and Technical Education at Cayuga Onondaga BOCES are the three speakers that came. We got to hear each speakers background story and how they ended up where they are today. It was interesting to see the different jobs that each speaker had. Steven Woodard went from wanting to be a Physical Education teacher to doing administrative work. Kraig Pritts went from being an Elementary Vocal teacher to becoming a Superintendent. MaryAnn Murphy went from wanting be a Business teacher to becoming a Principal! It makes me wonder if this will ever happen to me!!

I liked that it was easy to relate to the three speakers. I think it was easy to relate because they all work at a fairly small school district and that is what I grew up in. Kraig Pritts grew up in a tiny town in Pennsylvania and in fact used to work as the Superintendent for Deposit Central School, which was my rival school when I was in high school! It made it more real for me to be hearing these stories from somebody who isn’t much different from myself.  

All three speakers gave useful information for us up and coming teachers! They gave information about how to get a job, how to be professional, they gave inside tips about what the people who are hiring are looking for, how to become more prepared for teaching, and what to expect when we go to get a job!

Steven Woodard told us to plan out what we are doing now and what we will do in the future to make us a good candidate for getting a job as a teacher. He said that you have to start somewhere that you know you can build from and becoming a stronger teacher. I was overly joyed to hear this because this is what I was hoping to do! I always thought that it would be nice to go back to the high school I gradauted from once I graduate from SUNY Cortland get my feet planted in the teaching world. It is somewhere that I am comfortable and a place that fits me. Kraig Pritts told us that it is important to make sure we look for a district that fits us. Hearing this advice from people that could potentially be hiring me someday made me feel more confident about the path I am choosing in my profession. 

Kraig Pritts is quoted saying, “Don’t be someone you’re not in an interview, be yourself even if it costs you the interview”. This was shocking to me! I always thought that it was more important to go in and impress in order to do a good interview. His reasoning was because he said that as an administrator, he doesn’t want to hire somebody based on their interview and then have them act completely different once they get into the classroom. After he explained this, it all made so much more sense to me! I thought this was a very helpful tip.

A big portion of the panel was the three speakers talking about the Common Core Standards and how they are changing the world of education. Even in gym classes they have to write papers because of the Common Core Standards. Not only has education changed, but so have the students. The speakers told us that we cannot teach the way we were taught. This goes hand in hand with what I am learning in my education classes. The Common Core Standards have changed the classes so much that it would not be adequate enough to simply teach what we were taught. Standardized tests are also playing a bigger role in education. MaryAnn Murphy said that literacy is fundamental at all levels and in all classrooms. The best way to get students to do well on their tests is to have them read. Hearing this was music to my ears! Since the beginning of the semester, my professor has been pushing this point to the max. Almost everyday she has told us that reading is one of the essential ways to get students to excel at test taking. Hearing this being confirmed was almost magical!!

The three speakers also gave some helpful hints for us when we are looking for jobs and even somethings for us to begin doing now. They stressed the importance of the cover letter and how if there are any spelling errors at all they will immediately reject it. They will not accept hand-written cover letters and when they look at the cover letters they are mainly looking for reasons why the students will benefit by having the person as their teacher. Listing references, their phone numbers, and their current job status will help a lot. Even though this should all be in a placement folder, it helps if you list it as well. They made sure to stress the importance of social media and how it is important for us to pay attention to what we are putting on the internet. They told us that when your going to get a job they will check your Facebook and Google your name. If they find something they don’t like, they won’t even call you in for an interview. They also told us two important websites for us to be looking at. Engaged NY is a website that we should begin following now and OLAS Jobs will be helpful in the future when we are looking for jobs!

After attending this panel, I feel as though I got a sneak peek! I feel like I am one step ahead of the people that couldn’t make it or decided not to come. Besides what I have blogged about, they have given out much more information about teaching and getting a job. It was very beneficial for me as a prospective teacher! It was kind of the three speakers to go out of their way to come and try and guide us on the right path towards our future. I am grateful that I got to have this experience!

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