Monday, April 25, 2005

The Amazing Vanishing Melissa

Where have I been you ask?

Well, I had been working on my thesis. After I finished my thesis the last thing I wanted to do was spend more time in front of my computer. More poor eyeballs needed a rest. Furthermore, the first thing I wanted to do was go take a swim in the Woody Woo Fountain and catch up with some of my friends.

But I'm back! I hope I haven't lost too many of my faithful readers.

College. It just happens.

More later when the sun goes down.

Monday, April 18, 2005


Taa-Daa! Posted by Hello

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Issues

Ugh....having major, major, major second thoughts about this whole teaching thing....

Maybe I should take all these stupid problems with my certification as a sign.....

Or maybe it's just stress talking.....

A little help?

Maybe I just need some theraputic drugs....

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

An Educational Thesis Dream


I'm just a....thesis? Posted by Hello

Last night I had a dream about my thesis in the form of School House Rock. Not only was it strange that my thesis was talking to me in exactly the same voice the Bill uses AND my entire dream was in cartoon form. I thought dreaming in cartoon form was most unusual. Although, I did look rather stunning as a cartoon...

With the exception of my dream nothing extraordinary has happened in the past few days. Right now, I'm in the midst of putting the finishing touches on my thesis so it can be sent to the binders and turned in to my department. This means that I spend my days couped up in my nerdhole (i.e. my room) mentally cursing at Excel and desperately trying to avoid the temptation to procrastinate.

Sigh...I can't wait until this summer...

Friday, April 08, 2005

Some NCLB Ranting.

Why can't the public see past the warm, fuzzy title of No Child Left Behind and see the reality? Naturally the goal of all children achieving at the same level is a good one, but it is not realistic.

The most obvious failing of this program is to our wonderful special needs students. Many of these students may never be able to complete high school level work, yet they are still expected to pass the same standardized class as their non-classified classmates. Not only is this frustrating to the student and a waste of their time, but it also belittles any progress they have made.

Furthermore, assessing students soley by standardized testing is ludicris. A one time "bubble test" is a terrible indication of how "educated" a student is. Maybe a very-well educated student is simply a bad test taker or maybe a student isn't feeling well the day of the test. I fear that with NCLB teachers will be forced to teach soley to the test and any real learning will vanish.

Now, with the new flexibility the program is not only underminding the education of the nation's youth, but also undermining itself. Not only does this program promote favoritism of states with higher achievement, but once the states reach this achievement they are given privleges they should already have! The new flexibility claims that states who raise test scores will be able to change how the test students with "milder disabilities." If we really want to "level the playing field" and help all children shouldn't these students already have special arrangements? What about the states that are struggling are they getting additional help because they continue to fail to raise test scores? I don't think so.

The government cannot expect schools/teachers/etc. to change overnight without additional resources (read: TIME AND MONEY).

An aside:
I haven't been able to find much information on this, but I often wonder how other countries address the issue of public education. Are is the achievemnt gap among different races or ethnicities a problem in other countries as well? While we tend to fail our student in the areas of science and mathmatics, students in Japan excel in these areas? What are they doing different...more importantly...what can we change?

//edit//
This is an excellent letter about NCLB.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Intelligence

Today in educational psychology we were discussing intelligence. We learned about how, as a society, we have completely perverted the purpose of the Stanford-Benet (spelling?) Intelligence Test. We also began a discussion on how much information we want about our students in terms of previous performance, problems, special needs, etc.

My idealistic classmates did not want any information whatsoever on their students for fear that they would pre-judge and treat some students differently from others. They claimed that after two weeks you would know enough information about each student and did not even need a report on each student.

Personally, I thought this view was not realistic. While I wouldn't want to know each student's IQ I definitely want at least some information. If I was not given any information on my students, I would lose an important indicator. For instance, if a student had previously recieved high marks in math and then preceded to fail a math class, I might approach this situation in a different way than I would if the student had always struggled with math. Not that I would see a student as smarter or dumber, a hardworker or a slacker, but that each student might need a different kind of help. Maybe the first student was having family issues and needed more time on assignments or maybe he is confused by a foundation concept. The student has proven that he can succeed at math so there may be a new problem. For the second student, maybe he has always struggled with math and also needs more time and some one on one help. Anyway, my point is that I would treat the students differently if I knew background information about them. However, I don't see treating students differently in this way to be a bad thing --- it's the differentiated classroom!!! I wouldn't hold them to different expectations or act dissapointed in the "good" math student when he failed, I would just approach my methodology differently.

That's that.

In my personal life, I'm still having issues with Paypal. I spent an hour and half on hold with them before I hung up because I had to go to class and I still don't have a resolution to my issue.

I would also like to thank whoever named the Blue Footed Boobie. My high schoolers dissolved into a fit of giggles and couldn't stop talking about "the boobies" for the rest of the class. Oh well, at least they were excited. :-)

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Come back down on a spear of silence...

What a week! I don't think I've ever had so many disappointments! While there were no major diasters this was still a rough week for me, made worse by thesis stress.

1. The jerks at Tufts university refuse to give me my data because they don't feel I've done enough work on the project? EXCUSE ME! I believe that not only did I spend 3 months feeding this rats a very complicated diet, but that I weighed them daily and either mailed them to you live($400 per rat) or did all the work of mailing you their brains! I should clarify that the complicated diet didn't involve a one time mix, oh no, that would be too easy. This was a "cafeteria diet" study which means that rats were eating "people food." Every other day I had to prepare a dishes containing either peanut butter, salami and crisco or chocolate, marshmallows and bananas. This was GROSS!!! I had to scrap out the "leftovers" that were covered in rat hair and salivia, clean the dishes (by hand) and then refill them. To this day I don't eat marshmallows or bananas. I can't believe this, where did these people learn about the way science in academia works? We share!!! Grrrrrr.....

2. The state of NJ doesn't believe that neuroscience is a biological science. I have therefore been forced to change ALL my plans for next year in order to accomadate teaching MIDDLE SCHOOL. I don't want to offend anyone, but I find middle schoolers in groups to be completely obnoxious... Why not just take more classes you say? Because I can't mentally handle that right now and there is no way for me to pay for another year at Princeton. Please tell me nice things about middle school and middle schoolers.....

3. Paypal decided that they were going to limit my account. At first I wasn't too concerned and figured I would make a new account under a different email and all would be fine. However, they will only allow your credit card to be in the system once. "Fine," I though, "I'll just delete the old account." Apparently, when they limit your account you can neither charge things to it nor delete it?!? Furthermore, the error message tells me there is no way for me to appeal the limitation. Did I mention that I didn't DO anything to cause this? I haven't used the account since January and I only charge modestly too it AND I'm paid in full. After spending over an hour on hold for their "service agents" I gave up and sent a rather nasty email. The nasty email made me feel somewhat better. If anyone has any idea how I can fix this, please comment.

4. My home town is underwater...again.

5. My violin lesson, which I look forward to with great joy, was cancelled today.

None of these are the end of the world, but on top of the stress caused by my thesis (and others whining...er...talking about their theses) the combination has made for a very unpleasant week.

Hopefully I'll be in better spirits next time I post.

Monday, April 04, 2005

A Joke

A little boy was doing his math homework.

He said to himself, "Two plus five, that son of a bitch is seven. Three plus six, that son of a bitch is nine...." His mother heard what he was saying and gasped, "What are you doing?"
The little boy answered, "I'm doing my math homework, Mom." "And this is how your teacher taught you to do it?" the mother asked. "Yes," he answered.

Infuriated, the mother asked the teacher the next day, "What are you teaching my son in math?"
The teacher replied, "Right now, we are learning addition." The mother asked, "And are you teaching them to say two plus two, that son of a bitch is four?" After the teacher stopped laughing, she answered, "What I taught them was, two plus two, THE SUM OF WHICH, is four.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Girls on the Run!

I stumbled upon this website in my internet travels.

I think this is a very neat program for young girls. It teaches them to be strong individuals through running. Of course this running isn't like training for high school cross-country - they will have to run around collecting items for scavenger hunt or skip around a track. It's fun while being non-competitive and good exercise at the same time.

I think it's important to enroll children in some activity after school so that they may develop skills and friendships outside of school. However, I've always been a little turned off by the uber-competitive soccer and little league baseball teams. Often I think the parents push their kids too much sometimes even telling them it is "ok" to not do homework so that they can practice.

To me the GOTR program has the benefits of communtiy soccer league without the pressure of competition.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Stumbling Block

I am not going to lie. I am upset.

The wonderful state of NJ is not going to accept my neuro classes as a life science. Why you ask? Simply because althoug they are clearly biology courses and are listed as such at most colleges they are listed as psychology courses at my school because that is how the discipline started out.

This is really frustrating. I am not going to be able to student teach this Fall.

Dejected. rejected.

Going to work on my thesis.