Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Ruminating on Summer

With the end of the semester approaching quickly I have allowed myself to begin thinking just a little bit about summer. I will be taking some summer courses that I am pretty stoked about but what I am most excited about is the opportunity to do some summer reading. So here for my last post of the semester I will post a couple books that I am looking forward to reading this summer:

Searching For God Knows What by Donald Miller
A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller
Omoo by Herman Melville
Love Does by Bob Goff
What's So Amazing About Grace? by Philip Yancey
Sound And The Fury by William Faulkner
Mosquitoes by William Faulkner
Soldier's Pay by William Faulkner
Tess of d'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
Christianity and Literature by Jeffery and Maillet
Education for Human Flourishing by Spears and Loomis
Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview by Moreland and Craig
A Mango-Shaped Space by Wendy Mass
Autobiography Of My Dead Brother by Walter Dean Myers

.....I guess we will see how far I get in this list...

Ruminating on Classes

For my penultimate post of the semester I thought that I would talk about my thoughts on this semester. I enjoyed this semester greatly in spite of the 21 credits. I had a lot of papers due and a lot of books to read but it was worth it I think. I have a lot due this week and then the WPCTE presentation this weekend but after that it is all downhill. So here are some of my highlights from classes this semester:

Arabic 201: This went really well this semester. I know a considerable amount of complex grammatical constructs and I really have enjoyed expanding my vocabulary and understanding of the language. It is exciting to be able to read large quantities of Arabic script without needing a dictionary.

Shakespeare: This class was great. I really enjoyed being able to focus on Shakespeare for a whole class period on monday nights. It was really great to read some plays of his that I had never read before such as "Coriolanus" which is now one of my favorites.

Young Adult Literature: I really enjoyed this class although it seemed a bit unfocused at times. The main thing that I really enjoyed about this class was the practicality of it as well as the discussion. I feel that there were many good discussions and that students walked away with good ideas for use in the classroom.

Writing for Non-Print Media: This class was also good for similar reasons to YAL. I feel that I have several very practical things that I can use in the classroom whenever I begin teaching. It was also helpful just to become acquainted with and begin using some different digital tools. My favorite being googledocs (which i was familiar with but didn't use a whole lot) and googleReader because it is just a pheonmenal tool for keeping up with a lot of websites.

Intro to Professional Writing: I took this class because I was thinking about picking up a writing minor and I just never dropped it. In spite of the fact that it could be viewed as a waste of time and money, I am glad that I took it. It has given me a lot of practice in the area of revision especially. It was nice to have a class that focused on writing because the english ed track focuses so heavily on literature.

American Literature II: The best thing that came out of this class was having to read Faulkner's As I Lay Dying. I absolutely love this book and Faulkner. In my opinion it could be the best book I have ever read. While I did enjoy this class I inevitably found it to be frustrating at times. Because of the subject matter it often gives rise to topics that cause debate in the classroom. This can cause the classroom dynamic to be complicated. Solid literature selections though.

Traditional Grammar: I love this class and topic. I have been in my professor's office a few times to discuss the topics that the books in this class bring up. Linguistics and grammar are fascinating fields of study and I have often thought about pursuing a graduate degree in some related field. You can get an A in this class just by going through the motions, but you only really learn if you put a lot of effort and thought into the material.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Ruminating on Blogging

As the semester winds down I have begun to think about the experience of blogging and how beneficial it really is. I think it is a helpful tool for personal use. I am glad that I have some posts to go back and look at and refresh myself on some ideas that I had earlier in the year. I also enjoy the amount of peer collaboration that is possible. I recently read a study, however, that showed that since 2006 blogging has decreased in popularity drastically. This doesn't make the tool any less helpful but it does seem to show that it is not as "hip" as it once was (probably due to the amount of social networking options). This could pose problems in the classroom because perhaps blogging will be viewed with as much spite as th 5-paragraph essay, making it hard to get students involved with it.

Ruminating on Wristwatches

I have nothing important to say, hence the title. I still wear a wristwatch when I have class so I don't have to check the time on my phone in class. For some reason I always feel the need to check the time and I would much rather do it without risking getting in trouble for having a cell phone out. One of my professors recently went on a tangent about cell phones and if they should be allowed in classes or if it's that big of a deal that they are out at times during the class. For me I probably would not allow them to be used in the class at all even if the student were using it to access class material. I think it is distracting.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Ruminating on "Deep Thoughts"

I need to post something so I will steal from Jack Handey since he is a pretty funny guy. Here are some of his "Deep Thoughts":

"Whenever I see an old lady slip and fall on a wet sidewalk, my first instinct is to laugh. But then I think what if I was an ant, and she fell on me. Then it wouldn't seem quite so funny."

"I bet a fun thing would be to go way back in time to where there was going to be an eclipse and tell the cave men, "If I have come to destroy you, may the sun be blotted out from the sky." Just then the eclipse would start, and they'd probably try to kill you or something, but then you could explain about the rotation of the moon and all, and everyone would get a good laugh."

"One thing kids like is to be tricked. For instance, I was going to take my little nephew to Disneyland, but instead I drove him to an old burned-out warehouse. "Oh no," I said, "Disneyland burned down." He cried and cried, but I thank that deep down, he thought it was a pretty good joke. I started to drive over to the real Disneyland, but it was getting pretty late."

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Ruminating on Bob Goff

I have seen this guy speak live a couple times at the annual CCO Jubilee conference in Pittsburgh. He is pretty phenomenal and an encouraging speaker...It's worth the 10 minutes.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Ruminating on Literature as Exploration

I am starting to regret having so much coursework this semester. Although I am getting good grades, the amount of work I have has prevented any semblance of a routine from evolving this semester. There are stacks of books everywhere, dishes piled high in the sink, an overflowing basket of dirty clothes, and about a hundred half-finished papers in word documents open on my computer.

My cat is content to just sit at the window and wait for the bird to reappear that often taunts him by flying into the window repeatedly. While he is there I am just sitting her listening to jazz and reading Louise Rosenblatt's Literature as Exploration. It's nice to read this book because Rosenblatt states a lot of things that I have thought about the teaching of literature for a long time. I am reading this book in order to gain a small base of knowledge on transactional theory so I am able to piece together an adequate presentation at WPCTE in a few weeks.

The first chapter is somewhat of an overview but has some really good points that I think are important to discuss here. If you are at all familiar with Rosenblatt's theories then you realize that her statement, "The human element cannot be banished" essentially sums up her ideas (6). She spends a lot of time discussing how the idea that in the classroom students should be encouraged to seek the one correct interpretation is a harmful idea placing the focus, of the literature classroom and the literature itself, on the teacher as the one who has all the answers.

Another interesting point that she makes in the first chapter is that teaching literature inevitably leads to a need for at least a cursory knowledge of other subjects. Thankfully she does point out that it is almost impossible for us, with all our other coursework (and the responsibilities of teaching when we are teachers) to become extremely familiar with too many other areas of academia (22).

Lastly, Rosenblatt makes a good point about teachers wanting to be unbiased in their discussions. There is this idea that if we take away the importance of diversity of response and a student's transaction with the text in the classroom, then we will be able to impose a "correct" interpretation preventing conflict or the imposition of one student's worldview on another. Rosenblatt says:

"The teacher will do neither literature nor students a service if he tries to evade ethical issues. He will be exerting some kind of influence, positive or negative, through his success or failure in helping the student develop habits of thoughtful ethical judgement... He [the teacher] should not foist his own bias on students, but objectivity should not create the impression that value judgements are unimportant." (17)

As I understand this, the job of the teacher is not so much to eliminate bias, but allow everyones bias to have an equal say. Earlier in the chapter Rosenblatt discussed that there should be certain boundaries for student response even though they should be free to have their own interpretation. Student responses should obviously relate to the text, for instance. I presume that Rosenblatt will expound further on the criteria for assessing student responses.