The Champ is Here!

April 12, 2011

Ever since I was a little girl, probably in about the second grade I loved taking spelling tests. Why? Because it was something I was always good at. The words came easy to me. The way I felt was all you have to do is just sound it out. It was one of the few things that actually came easy to me in school. I struggled in math, struggled in  science, social studies I was good at but it was a bore, and speling tests were my forte. I remember I used to think of it as a game, as if to say it were like the memory game my mom used to play with my sister and I when were were little and we had to guess which card was where. I thought the same way except with the letters, which letters went where in the word.

In my school district we never had a school wide spelling bee, but I remember in the fourth grade we used to have spelling bee’s in the classroom, and whoever the best speller was in your group, then the class, would get to compete in the annual fourth grade spelling bee. Our teacher would split our class up into three groups. At the time I didn’t realize it or pay much attention to it, but looking back on it I realized these three groups would consist of people who had spelling abilities at all levels. There would be some not so good spellers in the group, some ok spellers in the group, and a couple of exceptional spellers (such as myself at the time) in the group. It was better to do it that way because obviously in the fourth grade I didn’t pay attention to what “kinds” of words people got, whether they were hard medium or easy, all I knew is I encouraged my team mates so that we could get extra marbles in our jar at the end of the activity.It was smart of my teacher to have mixed ability groups rather than seperate the groups into hard, medium, and easy so that attention was not drawn to what kind of words people were getting.

Every Thursday  we would play this game, until one Thursday my teacher switched it from group spelling bee to class spelling bee. I remember thinking awww man I like group spelling bees because it boosted my ego. In the fourth grade I was very insecure in school, especially when it came to math. I would be afraid to go up to the board in the fear of getting the answer wrong, and I would embarrassingly flip my test over as I saw either a check minus on homework or a bad grade in the upper left hand corner. Oh but spelling was different. I was very confident, calm, cool, and collected as it was my turn to step up in the front of the room to spell my word. My teacher would call my name, my group members would pat my back as I went up to spell my word and I would be ready to take that word down with no hesitation. Everyone in my group would cheer for me and I would cheer for them as well. I remember people arguing and bickering over wanting me in their group when it came to group spelling on Thursdays. When people found out they were in my group they would be very excited and happy, almost like rest assured because we know Jackie has this, she always gets her words right. In other words we want her on our team so we can get more marbles so we can pick a prize at the end of the game. Group spelling was a way for me to build confidence in myself, and give confidence to those in my class as well. I knew how horrible and humiliating it felt to go up to the board and write a math problem in which you have no idea of doing, but you have to go up there and do it anyway. Some people felt that way when it came to group spelling. In my math situation there wasn’t much you could do. People in the class couldn’t stand up and cheer and clap saying “Yeah Jackie! You write that problem out on the board” but for group spelling you could. So when it was time for my team mates to go up I would cheer loud and hard for them and encourage the people who weren’t the best spellers letting them know that they could do it. So I was a little bummed to hear that there would be no more group spelling.

What my teacher then decided to do was make it a class spelling bee where we would be competing against each other. I didn’t like that too much, but once she said whoever wins the class spelling bee will be competing against the other two fourth grade classes with their best class speller I was excited. I was hoping I would be the best class speller, and I was. So I went on to compete in the fourth grade spelling bee. My class and teacher helped me prepare by giving me words in between class, at recess, at lunch, and on the school bus. Basically any time extra time other than class time my teacher and class would feed me words. Everybody rooted for me and cheered. It felt really good. Then one Friday when we would normally take our spelling test, we did the fourth grade spelling bee in the gym. I remember when I walked into the gym I felt like yelling “The Champ is here” but of course I didn’t I was nervous as I went up to spell each word, and somewhere towards the end I was eliminated. I was a little dissapointed but at the same time pretty happy and proud of myself and how far I got.

Spelling up to date: Not as good as it was in fourth grade. Since texting, instant messaging, facebook, using short hand trying to quickly jot down notes in high school, and many other things my spelling abilities have decreased. It’s sad that sometimes I actually have to look in the dictionary, or even worst go to or google to find out how to spell some things. Lately I have been trying to practice writing things out where I can use short hand or abbreviate things. Today it seems like everything is abbreviated. I asked my little cousin a question over Christmas break and he used “idk” to answer me. That did not really sit right with me because I thought about all the other abbreviations people use and how if people continue to use these things they will not know how to spell. write, or talk correctly when they are older. I am not that old, these things have been around since I was in about the third grade and I can only imagine what the generation to come will be like. I believe as teachers and educators it is important to stress the importance of spelling, reading, and writing, but also make it fun and relevant for the children. Don’t make it a tedious task. That is why the entire fourth grade loved the idea of spelling because it was more like a game and less like a chore. I learned more than just how to spell a bunch of words that year and I never realized it until looking back on it now.



Easier Done Than Said

April 8, 2011

I decided to wait on this particular day at this particular time to write my refection for a reason. It was around 9:30 at night on April 7 2010 when I found out about David. And I’m thinking about what I was doing this time last year and it is completely different as anyone would imagine. I am calmly writing a reflection about my blog right now versus the chaotic crying and running around and stomping and phone calls and visits and everything else that was going on around this time last year. It almost seems surreal to me how it was only a year ago. It felt much longer . But if I sit here and think about it long enough it can seem like it was just yesterday. Hmm amazing. I’ve come through so much in the proccess of all of this.

Writing this memoir was like closure in a way. It let me know that I am really ok. Or should I say reading this memoir was like closure. See this is what I thought would happen: I would start to read my memoir, a really vivid picture would be in my head, I would start to get choked up, excuse myself from the group and go in the hall way and cry and have them have to finish reading it for themselves. That is what was said to happen when I was talking to my friend Cherise before class started. This is what really happened: I read my memoir, the whole thing, not getting choked up, being confident, being able to do all of my voice inflections and changes, my voice wasn’t shaking, wavering, or anything. I was fine. And that’s what was done. So in this case it was easier done than said, rather than easier said than done. I am quite proud of myself for reading it out loud. I would have never imagined reading anything that personal out loud to people that I do not consider “close” to me such as friends and family members, to be completely honest I would have never imagined reading something this personal to friends and family out loud either. Through writing this memoir I’ve come to find what used to be a very touchy subject for me is no longer a touchy subject for me anymore.

When first brainstorming for the memoir and starting to write it, I didn’t plan to put as much detail in it as I did. I didn’t want everyone to know the details, the super personal background story, the names, or things that were said. But as I put the pen to the paper and wrote, and scribbled, and scrabbled, and added, and took things out, I noticed that if I was going to tell my story I wanted to tell it right. I have a very vivid, clear, picture perfect memory. I can remember things going all the way back to my first day of kindergarten up to what I ate last night for dinner, how it tasted, what it smelled like, looked like, felt like. I was afraid to take it there and really sit down and think about it and write about it because I knew it would take me back to a place where I didn’t want to particularly be. I was probably at the lowest I have ever been that time last semester. But when I reflected and thought, it wasn’t half as bad as I thought it would be.

Today I had friends come up to me, people text me, family call me all asking if I was fine. And I told them that I was, I was just fine. I talked to his little sister just like I do everyday. It would be nice to share the memoir with his mom and other family members, but I am not sure how they’d feel about every single last detail I put in there. What may feel like closure to me may bring back some painful memories for others. When my friend Cherise read it, she got teary eyed during reading it because it brought back memories of her having to see one of her most cheerful, happy go lucky, joyful, optimistic friends at her lowest point she had ever been in her life. For others of my friends that read it they were very happy for me, saying they admire me and my strength and courage that I had at the time and how much I had grown and how far I came from it. However this memoir helped me in more ways than I could ever imagine. It helped me grow as a writer, and help me grow to be someone who is brave enough to give her testimony to whoever is willing to listen. I enjoyed writing it a lot.

I really enjoyed listening to others read their memoirs as well. I loved the pictures it painted in my mind. Word choice is so important. One word can trigger a memory or give someone an association. Listening to my classmates read their memoir was a way for me to get to know them in a way I never had before. There were things I shared in my memoir with Stef and Linzi that some of my own friends don’t know. It felt good to release some things to people who won’t get worried, or frazzled, or panicked when the subject comes up. I sort of wish we could have done the whole flip camera thing because it would have been awesome to see how much emotion I put behind it. I know watching the people in my groups facial expressions and hearing their voice at some point really helped me understand what emotion or thought they were trying to display through  the words and phrases they were using. It was pretty awesome. One of my favorite things we ever had to do in any of my education courses. It was awesome!


March 13, 2011

There are many different directions I can take with this memoir. I can start by starting with details then getting more general, I can start off by being general but then having more details. I write too much, and my memory is ridiculously accurate. I a m going to have to find  a nice balance in between giving those details and not getting ling winded, because that tends to happen when I write. I realize that this memoir is going to give me some closure because although I haven’t thought about it in a while, I’m going to have to think back to every single last detail. I haven’t done that since when what I will write about first happened. To me everything is important but I’m going to have to tell the story from a point of view where the little teeny tiny details that seem so huge to me get weeded out through my process of writing it so that I can get down to what is really essentially important.

I feel as though the six traits of writing are amazing. They will definitely help me stay within the perimeter that I need to. It helps me think clear and stay organized. I don’t think the memoir process will be as hard as I thought with the six traits of good writing to follow. I really think voice is the most important. There are some things in my memoir that need to be written precisely. I can definitely paint a picture with the words that I use. I’m excited about writing my memoir.

Progress is a Process (Audit)

March 1, 2011

To be honest, at first I was a little closed minded about the blog. When I first found out about it I was excited because I thought it’d be like facebook, but then as I realized it was a lot more to put into it I didn’t have the same feelings about it after that. But as time went on I got used to it. I loved it. I got used to the media, inserting pictures and videos, making links, and other things. It is definitely a process. It’s like taking a complete clean sheet of paper, or a clean slate and having to create something great from it. There is so much space on this blog, yet so many ways to fill it with your own ideas and thoughts. That is what I like about the blog most is it is totally one hundred percent your own. You do what you want with it, nobody is stopping you. When writing on paper, sometimes there are some limitations, but with the blog you get to customize it, put your own spin on it, put your personality into it.

I love to write, make connections, inferences, reflections, and other things as well. I am a writer, I am used to writing and writing a lot. In some cases it is something I have to do, but a lot of times it is something I want to do and I enjoy. As I posted things on my blog I realized that it is a new form or a new way for me to write. I started off writing of course at a very young age with paper and pencil, but as time went on and I got older we were introduced to computers and typing, but still resorting back to printing it on paper, now with a blog things can be completely electronic. It is something new, but I like it. Transitioning from middle school to high School I did not completely like the idea that the teacher would say that things had to be typed, they didn’t want it hand written, but as time went on I got used to it and I decided to see what good I could get out of it.  Now I am at the point where sometimes when I am writing a poem, or a short story, or an excerpt, or something or other just for my own enjoyment I will type it right onto the word document, not starting with a rough draft on paper and pencil, and making corrections and shaping it, working with it, editing it, and such directly on the word document.

That is how I feel things will be with this blog. There is so much that can be done with it, so much space to be filled, so many ways to showcase a lot of your works as well as see other people’s. It is a way to give and receive feedback and to bounce off of others ideas and a way for them to take something from you and carry with them as well. Blogging is an excellent new way of writing. If I teach anywhere in the upper elementary grade levels, I am considering using blogging as a tool in the classroom. Times are changing rapidly. At first I didn’t necessarily receive the idea of moving from paper and pencil to a word document too well the first time I had to do it, but I eventually got used to and saw the benefits of it as time went on, and I feel the same about blogging. As time goes on things upgrade. And along with an upgrade you are going to have to pay something, and with blogging it is time. If you really want your blog and your posts to come out the way you want them to, it is going to take time.

The post that I’ve shared on my blog are things that maybe I’d keep to myself if I had to print it out for a physical copy or hand in for a specific grade, or not talk about in front of the whole class due to emotions it would provoke or fear of trying to state what I want to say but being afraid that it won’t come out right, but I can share it on here. On the blog, everyone has a voice. Sometimes I speak in class, sometimes I don’t, sometimes I have the time to share my viewpoints and what I’ve learn, sometimes I don’t have nearly enough time to share what I want to, but on the blog I do. There are people in class who I know would never speak up in class, but the put a lot of thought into their blogs, and I know without the blog I would never know how they felt about something we did in class or had to read in class, or their ideas on different activities, or their insight or standpoint on certain pieces of writings and other topics. The blog is an excellent way for your voice to be heard without even saying a thing. I’ve grown from thinking it is tedious to loving it. All I had to realize is if I wanted it to be good, I was going to have to put some work into it which is fair enough. Hence progress (our blogs progressively growing from a blank white page to something great) is a process (uploading pictures, videos, links, and other media and sources).

Although I do forget to posy things on here often, when I do post I post a lot. Sometimes I only mean to write a paragraph or two and it ends up turning into five. The blog is something new that just expanded on to my list of skills I have already acquired throughout my years here at IUP. Never would I ever imagine that a blog would be part of a writing intensive course, but it indeed makes sense. Especially when the things you can write about are so broad, such as in this class. You do not need to be specific in a subject but you do need to tie it to the class, and we cover a lot of things in this class so that shouldn’t be so hard to do at all. And it wasn’t, or hasn’t been for the most part anyway.



Connecting the Dots

February 28, 2011

I am finding that as I read children’s books, many of them have so many things is common. I started reading the second chapter in Because of Winn Dixie and the first paragraph automatically reminded me of Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy. Opal says, “My daddy is a good preacher, and a nice man. But sometimes it is hard for me to think of him as my daddy, because he spends so much time preaching, or thinking about preaching, or about to preach. And so in my mind I think of him as “the preacher.” In Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy, one of the main characters names is Turner. Turner much like Opal, moved from one town to another and his father was a preacher as well. His father barely ever paid him any mind unless he did something wrong or that he didn’t necessarily think was right or would agree with.

Both children feel a sense of neglect, where as their father’s jobs are more important than they are. Opal’s seems much more childlike, really innocent, where as the fact that Turner’s father has little to no time for him (except for when he is doing something “wrong”) seems to really bother him, eat away at him. There could be questions that can be developed that apply to both Opal and Turner, but because the two books are for different grade levels, it would be neat to see the answers that the students would come up with for each age group. Pre-reading, during reading, and post reading questions that can be asked for both Because of Winn Dixie and Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy. It made me start thinking about how the same lesson plan can be used for two different grade levels, you just have to tweak it a little to fit the standards and the objectives for that particular group of students.

Other than connecting Winn Dixie with Lizzie Bright, there was something I picked up on in chapter two, and that was Opal is very insightful for her age. When she first asks her father about keeping Winn Dixie she says “I stared at the preacher really hard. Sometimes he reminded me of a turtle hiding inside a shell, in there thinking about things and not ever sticking his head out into the world.” I thought this was definitely such a thing for a girl her age to say and pick up on. I think we give children a lot less credit than what they are due. One thing that I learned while pre-student teaching at East Pike Elementary are children are very observant. Their little eyes and ears pick up on everything, and if they are around you long enough they can read you like a book. Opal knows her father and knows him well, I could tell just by her saying that. There are things that adults to hide, and think they are hiding well that children can pick up on immediately. I remember when I was in the fifth grade and I found out my grandmother had cancer. My mother did not want to tell my younger sister and I, but I knew what cancer was and I knew that my grandmother had it. By the time my mom finally worked up enough courage to tell us that grandmom had cancer, I had already known for several weeks. Opal picks up on the fact that her father is confined to his job, and not only is her confined to it but he has found a place where he is comfortable and does not want to move from, not taking any chances, trying anything new, or switching things up a little bit. Just from that sentence alone, it once again confirmed to me that children are much smarter than we give them credit for.

This is important to take into consideration as going into the teaching profession. Children can pick up on the fact that you are nervous, if you are doubtful and not confident, if you are unprepared, and so on and so forth. They can tell if you want to be there or not by your body language, your voice and word choice, and facial expressions and attitude. I feel as though there are little to few things you actually can get past children. Just a little food for thought, something to think about when it is time to go out into the field.

Opal represents a lot of children her age. Children often times find people or things they can identify themselves with and they attach themselves to this thing or this person. Opal makes various connections between Winn Dixie and herself. The very first one she makes is when she is giving Winn Dixie a bath, and as she is washing him she says they both don’t have any family, specifically a mother. She says that Winn Dixie looked at her as if he were relieved to finally have someone understand his situation, but in all reality I think it was the other way around. Opal also got excited when she and the preacher were talking and he was naming ten things about her mother that she had not known. She was especially excited whenever her father named something that they both had in common. She also picked up on the fact that when her father was done naming them and said that he her mother had left them, he was going right back into his “turtle shell” again.

Funny thing is right after  they finished she decided to write them down exactly the way her father had said them. Another connection. In my blog post for hook, line, sink I loved how Aimee Buckner would start off the writers work shop with some sort of oral story. All of the children would get riled up because it seemed like they all had a story to tell or something that could relate to the stories that she told. And she told them if she did not get around to their stories to hold thei thoughts and go write them down. That is exactly what opal decided to do, while the list was still fresh in her mind, she immediately went to go write it down. I am the same as Opal in that sense. Whenever something happens to me and it strike or provokes an emotion, I write down what is happening, where, when, how, and why. No matter how sad I am, how angry, frustrated, happy, bored, excited I am I write it down because I know it will be something that I will appreciate later on in the future, looking back at whatever I decided to write. There were so many connections that I made in reading these very short chapters of Because of Winn Dixie. One was between two books or two characters, another was character to real life children, the others were character to self, book to self, book to teaching style/techniques/strategies, and comparing feelings and emotions. I’m excited to see what other connections I will be able to make while enjoying the rest of Because of Winn-Dixie.

Where I’m From!

February 8, 2011

Where I’m From

I am from where Chuck Taylor’s Converse are the choice of footwear.

I’m from where it is expected to be bashfully shy but also expected to be crazy loud.

I’m from where winter is the least liked season, because I love the summertime .

I’m from where dancing is a forte, something I do with excellence, but singing is not,it’s  just a hobby.

I am from where biologically I only have two sisters, but also have a plethora of brothers and sisters.

I am from where I can be myself, comfortable in sweats one day, but maybe a blouse the next?

I am from where I represent the Philadelphia Phillies all day every day as well as the Boston Celtics.

I’m from where applesauce is the choice of breakfast, a snack, and a side.

I am from a place where when I eat, people say “Where did it all go, where’d you put it?”

I’m from a place where before  I thought I was just here to be here, but later finding I have a purpose in life.

I am from where hyprocisy used to be a lifestyle, but now it is a big no-no.

I’m from a place where I’m always in between, middle child, mediator of situations, neither liberal nor conservative, neither rich nor poor, neither dangerously intelligent nor dumb stupid.

I am from a place where I am constantly growing, changing, learning, bettering myself and where God is my reasons for doing the things I do, speaking the way I speak, acting the way I act, where He is my everything.

And the Teacher of the Year is…

February 7, 2011

While reading chapter one in our text I received a plethora of ideas from Avril Font’s fourth grade class. There is no surprise why she got the award that she did. She obviously cares about her students enough to incorporate their interests, ideas, thoughts, talents, and expressions into every part of the school day. As I was reading I kept thinking “I want to do that in my classroom”, “Maybe I’ll try a similar approach”, “I love these ideas, I’ll definitely be trying that with my students”. She packed a lot into one school day, but the thing about that was it was very organized and it wasn’t cramming. There were many opportunities for students to make their own choices, many opportunities for them to work with other students, as well as work independently. Language Arts was indeed included in every subject. I did not know how that would work because I figured the subject would just consist of reading and writing, but it is far more than that alone.In Avril Font’s class there were also many oppertunities for students to work with the teacher one on one, in small groups, and as a whole class.

The structure of the physical classroom is important to take into consideration when thinking about the class schedule, the curriculum, and the standards. It is possible to work around all of these when setting up the classroom as well as classroom environment you want to have. I would much rather have a student center classroom because I take on more of a constructivist approach when it comes to working with students. How to group the desks, what materials will be available and where they will be located, the order in which subjects are taught, as well as resources are all important considerations. And the funny thing about it is language arts can be incorporated into every last area.