Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Spiders

This teaching story is too good not to share.

Today in my educational psychology class we were discussing ways in which we could motivate our student to learn and to help foster their own intrinsic motivation. Anyway, my professor told us about a friend of hers who taught (she is now retired) at a school in inner city Philadelphia. She taught kindergarten and first grade.

Now, this next part my ook some of you out, so don't say I didn't warn you.

The first assignment for the year was for each student to bring in a spider. Yes, a spider that they could catch in the park, their house or wherever. It should be noted that the teacher was smart enough to screen the spiders and "remove" the ones that bit or were otherwise unfriendly. After her students brought the spiders into class she released them into the room and let the spiders go about their business. She had her students study the spiders for 6 weeks - they drew the webs, looked up the types of spiders, read charlotte's web, learned about the enviroment and kept journals about them.

This sounds like a neat project. The only downside was the the janitor was not allowed to clean the room for the first 6 weeks of school!

ps - I've added new links.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Interesting Conversation

I had an interesting conversation today with Nicole (she's a neuro graduate student in my lab). We were talking about how schools don't prepare studnets for life as well as they could. We also talked about how the message in many high schools is that if you do not go to college you are a failure. Of course, high schools never look at which students later drop out of college...

All in all it gave me some interesting things to think about.

Most importantly, how I can make every day I teach a learning experience for my students. And not just a learning experience for the kids that are interested, but also for those who could care less about biology. I'll be the first to admit that it isn't very often that I get a chance to use Mendellian genetics in my everyday (non-teaching) life. What to do? I may have to resort to "tricking" my students into learning. Maybe if I jump up on my desk like a madwoman and start spewing facts, I can get them to learn something....

Student 1: Wow! Did you hear what Mrs. M. did today!?!
Student 2: No...
Student 1: She was jumping on her desk!!!
Student 2: Oh, I don't know she was talking about the steps of cell division, you know...interphase, metaphase...

In my dreams....

Busy Blogger

Please forgive me for the lack of posting lately.

I've been working constantly on my senior thesis (due 4/18). This takes up the majority of my time and it has gotten to the point where attending a lecture is a "break."

I'm not whining, I'm writing on an interesting topic, it is just taking a lot of time. It is just frustrating to spend soo much time in front of a computer.

I can't wait until April 18th.....

Friday, March 25, 2005

I'm a fellow...

...a QUEST Fellow!!!

This means that I get to spend my summer with m.s. science teachers chasing monarch butterflies, kayacking in the ocean, collecting/studying marine life and pond hopping. You wouldn't think it would get much better, but I get PAID to do all of this!

The only minor bummer is that I'll be commuting from home everyday, but I think I'll be able to handle a 45 minute drive. Especially with the aid of my trusty iPod.

I'm really excited about my summer now! I'm also really, REALLY, excited about starting my official student teaching in September! Everything that may (or may not) happen after that is causing my a great deal of anxiety. Yikes!

However, I've already decided that I'm not going to worry to much about "it" until I absolutely have to. No use getting in a tizz just yet. :-)

Thursday, March 24, 2005


My Awesome Pet Turtle!!!

Mr. Turtle is a red-earred slider who is about a year and a half old. I rescued him from a form (crazy) roommate. The first time I saw him, he was living in a shoebox and hadn't eaten in weeks! I couldn't let him die so I took him under my wing. I got him a nice warm light and an aquarium...I even took him to the vet to get vitamin A injections.

Today, Mr. Turtle couldn't be happier or healthier. For a turtle he has quite the personality! He gets very "excited" when people talk to him and loves people. He sticks his head out and is outgoing!

Yes, I know...it's a turtle, but you have to admit he is pretty cool!
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Wednesday, March 23, 2005

NCLB

From Yahoo news:

WASHINGTON - President Bush (news - web sites)'s education law is prodding schools to help more needy students, but states will not come close to reaching all the struggling children unless the government spends more and lightens demands, an independent analysis says.

Duh.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

An Open Letter

Dear Parents,

Please calm down. I am a student teacher. This does not make me incompetent. I am a Princeton University student in training to become a teacher. I have taken more than the required number of biology courses for certification and frankly, I know what I'm talking about. Furthermore, I am not even a true student teacher yet. I teach lessons a few times a month. These lessons are approved by my teacher prep. advisor as well as your child's regular teacher. I am not going to scar your children for life and their education is not suffering. If anything, they are more engaged then they usually are simply because I am different from their normal teacher.

Sincerely,

The Pseudo-Student Teacher

Monday, March 21, 2005

What's next?

Things to Accomplish:
  • Finish observation write-up on learning and motivation for Wednesday. Started.
  • Finish reading response for Wednesday. CHECK!
  • Finish paper on tracking for Wednesday.
  • Watch Frankenstein for Woody Woo.
  • Finish editting The Thesis.
  • Go to the bank.
  • Work on my teaching portfolio. HAHA. This isn't happening until AFTER April 18th.
  • Read 432 pages of scientific articles for seminar by next week.
  • Practice my violin.
  • Do my LAST observation. Whee!
  • Prepare for oral exams.
  • Prepare for Thesis defense.

Those are all the somewhat immediate things that need to be accomplished. Along with daily things like eating, showering and spending quality time talking to Charlie. If I really "put my nose to the grindstone" I should be able to take out a big chunk of it this week.

I hope....

Sunday, March 20, 2005

She's BACK!!!!

::jumps up and down::

I apologize to my faithful readers for not making a single post in the past week! As I mentioned in my previous postings I was in California visiting my s.o., Charlie. I had a wonderful time!!!

When we left the airport, instead of driving to his new apartment we pulled up at a hotel. I gave him a "what is going on?" look and he said, "this is part of your surprise." It turns out that he had taken me to Disneyland!!!! It was so much fun!! AND I was extremelly surprised. He did a great job keeping it a secret!

After Disneyland, we went to his apartment, where I got the chance to relax for most of the week. I sat by the pool during the day and ::gasp:: managed to get a bit of a tan. He works 11 hours a day, 4 days a week so I didn't cook every day. Besides, he is easy to please when it comes to food, and I'm not a terribly chef or anything like that.

It was sad to leave him at the airport, but he'll be coming to visit soon - probably for reunions at the end of May. I can hardly wait.

After a great week, I'm back at school again. It's not too bad. I just wish it were a but warmer...

Thursday, March 10, 2005

She's off!

That's right, I'm off for a much needed bit of R 'n' R in sunny Palm Springs, California. Imagine a whole week of summertime weather and quality time with my Charlie.

It's going to be a glorious, responsibility free week. I can hardly imagine what it will be like not to have to do ANYTHING. Heck, I don't even have to change out of my PJs all week if I don't want to. Not that I would do that :: looks around::

Anyway, I want to thank everyone who left comments on this post of mine. The comments were really insightful and made me realize that 13 is an awfully young age to decide what you want from life. Maybe I didn't think about this because I've always been taught that you don't need to do one thing for your whole life - you need to pick something you'll be happy with for a long time and then if you get bored/don't like it you can do something else.

I'm off to the airport in 3 hours, so I'm going to bed, but...

Never fear loyal readers, when Charlie's at work, I'll have ample time to update my blog in between lounging by the pool and running around town snapping photos.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Great Teaching Day!

I was invited to my host school a few days ago to give "a guest lecture." I ended up giving the students a brief background on stem cells, then had them work in groups on a different view point - religious groups, government and scientist.

I was really impressed because the students got really involved with the discussion. We ended up going somewhat off the topic of stem cells and into what is life? but that was fine with me. At one point a young man in my class said, " I would kill ten puppies to save one human...h*** I would strangle them myself!"

You can imagine the response this got from the class. While I gave him a look for swearing in class, I recommended that he read some of Peter Singer's books.

MOST impressive of all, was that my mentor emailed me to tell me that she caught this same young man with a Peter Singer book today!!!

Also, I got some really good comments on this post. I plan on responding to them as soon as I finish with midterms this week.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Good Advice

This is quite possibly the best bit of advice I've heard all year. The author of The Blackboard Jungle. Wrote this in a recent post:

Teach to their potential, not to their performance.

Take Two!

A second attempt at the opinion piece I wanted to post a few days ago about the bolstering of high school academics. Hopefully this will be as good as the first one I wrote.

I applaud the governors mentioned in the article for realizing that high school academic reform is desperately needed if we are to give students a quality education. However, my problem with this is that the goal is to “better prepare students for college.”

I do not argue that better preparing those students who want to attend college is a bad idea, but what about the students who do not want to go to college? For many students, high school is the last formal education they will receive. Why then should these students be expected to prepare for college?

Why should students who are not going to college have to take, for example, upper level calculus? Obviously, if they want to learn calc they should be able to take the class, but why force them? Why force students to prepare for college that have no interest in attending college? If this is the end of their education why not teach them valuable life skills, such as finance management or etiquette or even child care*.

It is hard enough to get students who want to attend college to understand why they are learning certain material, but at least the line “you’ll need this to get into college or in a college class,” makes sense to them.

In conclusion, I think that we need to be careful in assuming that all students have the same goals. In my dream world, each student would have a custom educational plan tailored to what he or she wanted to do with his or her life. Until then, I do not think that simply preparing students for college is enough; we must also prepare them for life.


* Note: I’m not stereotyping non-college goers, by implying that they are ruder or more likelu to become pregnant, these are just examples.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Blogger, why?

Blogger just ate my fantastic, insightful, wonderful post about this article on high school reform.

For now, skim the article.

I'll try and salvage what I can of my brilliant opinion piece and post it after class.

In other news, I read that it is Flat Stanley's anniversary.

I Y Flat Stanley.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Dedicated to all Teachers

I found this over on ReformK12.

I guess it's a good thing that I look upon all those things as a great, big, fun and exciting challenge, rather then an invitation to failure.

Hmmmm....