Monday, June 29, 2009

A Quote for the Ages

I recently stumbled upon an interesting blog called Langwitches about integrating learning through technology. But regardless of whether or not you care about integrative technology, one post listed this quote should capture your attention:

"It is bad enough that one cannot learn anymore for the rest of one’s life. Our ancestors were able to hold on to the education they received in their youth; instead we must relearn every five years, if we want to keep up with the times."

--Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

This quote completely validates my personal learning and teaching philosophy which can be summed up as: "You don't have to know all the answers, you just have to know where to find the answers" and "Learning should be an ongoing, lifelong adventure."
Funny thing is, von Goethe lived in the early much more does this quote apply to our fast-pasted, technological-based world today?

Saturday, June 27, 2009

I passed!

Today I was able to access my "unofficial" teacher certification test scores online...and I passed! I'm breathing a big sigh of relief because I would have been totally embarrassed had I not passed!

I'm a little uncertain of what I have to do next and I can't find out until I call the state's department of education on Monday. If I understand it correctly, it will happen like this:

  1. I must be reviewed by a panel for licensure (Teacher Competency Review Panel or TCRP). I understand that it's not in-depth, but an approximately 15-minute interview.
  2. TCRP forwards recommendation to state department of education, I pay any required fees and I am given an initial teaching license. I think that means I might be able to teach this fall, but I'm not certain.
  3. I must complete a certain amount of professional education. In my case, I must complete six hours. The amount of hours varies from person-to-person based on their working/professional experience within the field they will be teaching. (In other words, I couldn't be a florist and just walk in and get a teaching certificate.) I can complete this after licensure. I think I will be completed with this portion of the requirements by December having taken one class in my master's studies this summer that should meet half of the requirements and the other class to be taken in the fall.
  4. I must take the OPTE (Oklahoma Professional Teaching Exam) which assesses a person's knowledge about skills needed by educators in order to teach successfully. I can not take this test until after I receive my initial license, but I must complete it in order to receive a five-year teaching certificate. I plan to complete this test this fall.
  5. Like all first-year teachers in the state of Oklahoma, I must be assigned a "mentor" during my first year who will regulate my progress and (I assume) be available for guidance.
  6. When I complete my graduate studies, I will also have to take the certification test for Library Media Specialists. Additionally, I plan to take the English certification test since I was an English Ed major as a "traditional" student.

I'm pretty excited and much relieved. I will be calling the TCRP as soon as possible so I can get my interview set up (hopefully this summer) and send my resume to our local school administrators. I feel like I'm finally making progress!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Summer Vacation

"Vacation is having nothing to do and all day to do it." --Robert Orben

According to this quote, I haven't officially started summer vacation. Even though my days are still busy and full, at least it's not filled with course work! I'm trying to catch up from being gone but so far, softball games, appointments and birthday parties have prevented me from doing so (yesterday I hosted a tea party for my daughter's 7th birthday--it was fun, but time consuming). I'm thinking I might be able to find an hour to hang out at our backyard pool today. Maybe I'll mow the lawn this afternoon and get so hot that the cold water will be irresistible to me. Here's to hoping!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Home Sweet Home

I'm home again and summer school is over! I'm SO glad that I did it--definitely worth the time commitment to get nine hours (nine tuition-free hours at that!) completed. For now, I'm going to focus on SUMMER and enjoy a little time with my family.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Time to Wrap it up

For almost three weeks we've had a great time at summer school learning, laughing and enjoying one another's company, but I think we've finally reached our threshold. It's clearly time to wrap it up here. Everyone is beginning to get cranky and sensitive. There is a lot of whining, complaining, and finger-pointing going on. People are starting to sweat the small stuff.

Personally, I find it amazing that we've lasted this long. Usually, when you get a bunch of women together for weeks on end, the drama begins before the end of week one--lol!

Like I've said before, I'm really glad I had this experience, but I will definitely be really glad to get back to my home, my family and my life, no matter how crazy it all may be. :)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Great Resources

Summer school has left me with a variety of valuable tools and resources, including:

  • a new circle of friends and acquaintances for networking, brainstorming and who can help me survive the rest of grad school
  • a list of electronic resources and online tools of which I had no previous knowledge
  • books that I can use to create lesson plans
  • ideas or "lessons learned" from other teachers who have "been there, done that" so that I don't have to
  • more university contacts that I can turn to during grad school (for help) and beyond (for references)

Sunday, June 14, 2009

On Time (and How It Flies)

It's funny how getting older changes how you view even the little things in life. Take exercise, for example: what once seemed like a huge waste of time (because there was plenty of metabolism to go around), now seems like a necessity. When I was a true freshman, time seemed to pass so slowly. It seemed like each week was dragging, postponing the arrival of the weekend. A semester seemed never ending. It was incomprehensible to think about four years of college-that was an ETERNITY to me!

When I was planning to be away for summer school, three weeks seemed like a pretty good chunk of my time. I was sure that the week would pass slowly and the weekend too quickly. Now, I'm back in my dorm room preparing for my final week here and I'm surprised at how quickly time has passed.

When I first stumbled upon the program, it did seem like a giant leap of faith and commitment on my family's part to dedicate three weeks of summer to school, especially since it meant living on campus. Yet, I decided to look at it from a long-term perspective, deciding that the benefits far outweighed the negatives. It really has. Just think: I have added six hours to my transcript in the past two weeks. SIX HOURS!!! By the end of this week, I will have added another three! That's without even mentioning all the great people I've met here, the fact that the whole program is FREE and that I've had time to focus on some personal goals. so thankful that I took advantage of this opportunity.

Here's to one last week of class....then, "Summer, ho!!!"

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


It's been a couple of weeks, but I thought I would post about my experience withe OGET and OSAT as promised.

As I've mentioned before, on that Saturday I got up bright and early (5:30 a.m.) after only four and a half hours of sleep to take two of the three required teacher certification tests in my state. I was a little nervous (okay, a lot nervous) even though I usually test well. Mostly, I just didn't know what to expect.

I was more than a little frustrated when I showed up at 7:15 (as my admission ticket said to) when I had to sit and wait for almost an hour before I could start the test. Lesson learned: next time I will not show up until 20 minutes before the test begins.

I started the morning with the OGET which is the Oklahoma General Education Test. This test covers all major subject areas and cover the basic competencies that high school graduates are expected to know. I was not at all worried about the Reading and Comprehension portion of the test. I wasn't even concerned about Science (because those questions usually rely on reading comprehension and answer elimination). I was, however, nervous about the Math portion of the test, particularly Algebra and Geometry because I haven't used them in such a long time! I was also kind of concerned about my History competencies. I spent extra time studying both of these subject areas. I was greatly relieved when I heard (through an online chat board) that the Math symbols and equations were given in the test. Whew! One less thing to cram into my brain! Still, I had to figure out how to use the equations, so I kept practicing. Also, on a recommendation from a friend, I brushed up on all the major wars in history--who was involved, where they took place, how it began/ended, etc. This test surprised me in several ways:
  1. There were few Science questions
  2. There weren't very many History questions (at least, not as many as I expected)
  3. I don't think there were any questions about wars at all and it was mostly American History
  4. The Math was tolerable
  5. The essay question at the end was not difficult, especially since they pretty much gave you both sides of the argument and you only had to pick one
  6. Still, the essay took more time for me than I expected (maybe because I had to hand write rather than type?)

I completed the test in about three hours, then left for lunch and a short break before test #2: OSAT.

The OSAT is the Oklahoma Subject Area Test, which means it is the test covering the subject area that you are planning to teach. I took the Journalism test this time, though I later hope to take the Language Arts/English test. I really felt like I would be better prepared for this test having just come out of Journalism school in the fall. Still, I did some extra studying just to be prepared, but I was still surprised by the test:

  1. Several questions had answers that were just slightly different. If I wasn't totally confident, I just had to pick one. I did this more often than I thought I would have to.
  2. Having been a portrait photographer for almost five years, I didn't anticipate having any problems with photography questions. I was told that there would be many photography questions, but they weren't at all like I expected. There were no technical questions over f-stops or ISOs or shutter speeds. Instead, there were questions about whether or not you have to identify subjects in a specific photo or questions about how a particular photo was framed.
  3. Many questions regarding technical journalism issues (like laying out pages, developing photographs) seemed quite dated. There was one question about how to develop an image in the darkroom. Nobody does this anymore in the real world--almost everything is digital and it certainly would be for a public school. We didn't even have a darkroom at my college! So, I had to rely on the information left in my brain from the time I spent in a tiny closet developing pictures for my high school yearbook many years ago. Hope my brain didn't fail me!
  4. This was the biggest shocker of all: I actually felt more confident in my Math answers than many of my journalism answers! I didn't expect that at all!

I'm anxious to get my scores, but that won't happen until at least June 25. Until then, I've got to start preparing for the Language Arts subject area test and the final test requirement: the professional standards test.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Mama Tired. Very Tired.

Today is the most tired I have been in a while. I'm really dragging.

It may have something to do with the fact that I didn't go to bed until almost 1 a.m. and then the sunshine pouring through my window woke me up before 6 a.m. the next morning. So, instead of rolling over and going back to sleep like a normal person, I got up and went to the gym hoping to beat the "regulars" to the elliptical machines. Instead, the girl at the desk asked if I was there for the morning class. I was feeling rather adventurous, so I simply answered, "Sure." Then, for the next hour I was taking part in "Track Attack" (you pretty much get the drift of the type of exercise I was doing). I came back feeling rather refreshed, productive and ready to tackle my day.

Of course, had I remembered what the day was to entail, I might not have felt so optimistic.

Last week, I truly enjoyed our class. The topics aligned with my interests and abilities well and our assignments ended up being so much fun. We literally laughed until we cried making a funny promotional video! This week, however, is one of those classes that is a required drudgery. It's a topic that just doesn't really inspire anyone. It's "Cataloging and Classification" which means that we are learning about all the different ways that books are cataloged/organized for libraries. Very technical. Very dull. It's a necessary evil--you can't have a library unless books are arranged in an orderly fashion and can be easily located--but it's still a very stale topic.

That's not to say that I can't find the silver lining: my teacher is wonderful and has great ideas for lesson plans, my group is amazing--we work so well together and enjoy one another's company, and we have been able to use some of the tools that we learned about last week to make our group project a little less difficult and more entertaining, etc.

But the bottom line is that this class--or today anyway--has exhausted me. Even if I had gotten more sleep last night, I still think the end result would be the same. I ended up collapsing on my bed for a few minutes after dinner, then my friends took me to Sonic for a little caffeine wake-up call. I'm feeling much better and looking forward to a quiet night of either movie watching or book reading. Here's to hoping that Mama's batteries get recharged for another long day tomorrow...the day we find out what our next two assignments will be!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Students, Technology and the Future

We watched this video in my Educational Media Production class this week. Does it frighten you or inspire you?

(For me, it was a little of both.)

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun...Even Old Girls!

Yes, we've been working hard at summer school, but we've also been having a good time. I've enjoyed getting to know my classmates (who are all female, by the way). We've shared stories, laughs and even our stashes of dorm room snacks.

I guess this is kind of a "do-over" for me. I never found my "niche" on the college campuses I attended as an undergrad. I never found a group of friends to fit into and, honestly, at the time I wasn't worried about it (I was more worried about working and visiting boyfriend--the one who eventually became my husband).

So, here I am, 32 years old sharing late night talks, taking silly photos, working out at the gym with friends and driving to Sonic to get a free root beer float just like any regular college gal. It's actually been refreshing for me to get away for a bit, clear my head, and feel footloose-and-fancy-free without so many responsibilities to bear. I don't think about what's for dinner (because dinner is cooked for me!) or where I need to be at 8 p.m. (because I don't have to be anywhere!) or if I have anything to wear tomorrow (all my clothes are clean because it only takes one load of laundry to get it all done!). Granted, I wouldn't want to live this way forever, but I hope this experience allows me to come home rested and refreshed for a change.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

College Student Communication in the 21st Century

Now that I find myself back at one of my old colleges, I can't help comparing how things have changed since I was a nineteen year old freshman. The campus is a little different--there are new buildings and landscaping and such--and it also seems a lot smaller now that I'm "all grown up." The food seems to have improved (we finally got to eat in the cafeteria....much better!) and there are many computer labs to choose from these days.

One of the main differences I now see between life for a college student today versus latter years is the availability to keep in touch with people. Just today, I have used my cell phone to call at least three people, texted the same people, IM'd (instant message) a friend (while I was in class, no less), checked my e-mail, and communicated with friends from all over the United States via Facebook.

When I was a traditional undergrad, very few people had e-mail. No one had a cell phone. To keep in touch with my friends and family, I primarily wrote letters. Can you imagine a college student today whipping out paper and pencil to write a letter to someone? If I had only had a few of those communication conveniences back then, I think I would have adjusted much more easily to college life.

So, all-in-all I'm glad that these things exist to keep people connected. I definitely feel less homesick knowing that my friends and family are just a click or a phone call away.

As for was kind of a long one. It started out with the unexpected announcement that the cafeteria is being renovated, so we have been rerouted to the Ball Room for mealtimes. That means we don't have full access to the range of cafeteria foods normally offered. Still, it has been an improvement. At least there is salad, veggies and fresh fruit! Also, the afternoon class time was very long. We worked in front of our computers from one to almost five o'clock without a break--without so much as standing up to stretch! On the positive side, we did seem to accomplish much more today and we are starting a fun video project. Plus, part of our assignment was to set up a Google site, so I was able to get a head start on my electronic portfolio. Yay! Now, I'm off to finish my warm green tea (something I had never tried but was encouraged to do so by a classmate--now I like it!) and read a book (The First Year by Harry Wong) before bedtime. I have to rise and shine early so I can get a warm breakfast before they put it all away and only leave cold bagels or cereal for the late risers.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Summer School: Day One

Today was the first official day of summer school, though we had to be here early Sunday evening to check into our dorm rooms. So, I've officially been here 24 hours.

I'm having a serious case of deja vu and suddenly remembering all the little things that have to be worked out between roommates. We have private rooms but share a bath. We also share a full-size refrigerator that is located in my room. I had forgotten how much etiquette is required when living in the dorms. You have to figure out things like whether or not you will leave the doors to your room open or closed. Closed feels rude, especially if you like your suitemate (I'm fortunate that I do!), but open all day means phone calls are not very private and you might be annoying your neighbor with your music. You have to figure out subtle ways of figuring out whether or not someone is in the bathroom and if flushing the toilet cause your suitemate to be awakened when they really wanted to be sleeping in. Are you required to do everything together or at least always invite one another along? Like I said, I'm very glad that I was paired with someone that I was at least familiar with before we arrived and we get along well, so none of these issues have been a problem. It's just strange to be back in the place where you have to figure all this stuff out!

I would be lying if I said I wasn't homesick. Class time is a great distractor, but when you are back in the quiet dorm rooms with a huge amount of free time (compared to being at home), it really makes you miss the activity of your on-the-go family. And their noise. And their hugs. It didn't help when my youngest called crying hysterically last night. It was seriously heart-wrenching to hear her saying, "I want you to hold me!" in between sobs. Turns out, she was just upset with her Daddy who made her clean up her messes, but it still didn't make me feel any better about it.

On the upside, I'm starting to know a few more names and have met some great ladies. I feel very confident in the course we are taking this week (it's basically a Media and Technology class) and we are doing some fun projects. I have so much free time (because we don't have homework; we do everything in class) that I am getting to read some books that I have been wanting to finish and I have time to exercise (I even started my day with a walk/run and hope to end it at the gym tonight).

But as for far, no good. :( We have been limited to the food in the student center so far because regular summer school doesn't officially begin until tomorrow, which means the cafeteria is closed. We have been limited to hamburgers, fries and chicken strips. Yum--a big, greasy mess. We opted to go out for dinner tonight. Hopefully, we'll at least have some veggies at the cafeteria tomorrow!