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Nov. 21st, 2010

Vorkosigan, Results Beyond Hope

Weekend. :)

 Overall, I've had a great weekend so far!  Saturday, my school's Lego League team had their robotics competition. I've been assisting some with the preparation for the competition, so volunteered to help chaperone.  Unfortunately, I overslept by about two hours (at least it wasn't a school day!), but I still made it, and we had a good deal of fun.  Granted, our team came in last for the actual robotics demonstration, but they didn't do too poorly on their demonstration or their teambuilding exercise.  To top it all off, we actually won a trophy! It was the Judge's Choice trophy, so we're not quite sure what that means, but winning something was definitely pretty exciting for the kids. We'll find out Monday if we are one of the teams going on to the next stage in the competition. 20 out of 25 teams move on, so we actually have a chance, despite our poor performance on the demonstration.

Then, Saturday night, I agreed last minute to host a couple of Irish CouchSurfers.  They finally found my place around 2am (my phone's not working, so that didn't help), so we only got to talk briefly before heading to bed.  However, we had brunch this morning, which was awesome.  CouchSurfers, we decided, are (usually) some of the most open, friendly people out there.  So we had some great discussions before they had to head off again.  (The Irish accents were an added bonus, in my opinion! ;)  )   Not many CSers decide to visit Tulsa, so I'm glad I got this opportunity to host!

This afternoon, a friend who I haven't talked to in forever caught me on Skype.  While we were talking, we discovered that the newest version of Skype comes with a free trial of video conferencing!  So we downloaded everything we needed, rounded up a couple more of our friends, and had a video conference call. I still can't get over how cool technology can be.  We had three people in Madrid, one person in California, and myself in Oklahoma, all looking at and talking to each other at once.  And, since the friends I was talking to are some of the most amazing people in the world, we just had an all around good time.

Of course, all this means that I haven't even started grading and lesson planning yet. Oops. At least we only have two days of school next week! And then I get to go back to California for Thanksgiving!!!

Aug. 23rd, 2010

Vorkosigan, Results Beyond Hope

It's here!

So...I haven't been posting much. I've just been so busy! The rest of Institute went well, overall, and I'd love to talk about it some more later.

For now, though, it's 1:30am, so I just have one thing to say: My first day as a 5th grade teacher begins in 6 hours .

I really should get to bed. Sleep is probably more important than planning at this point! But I'm so nervous/excited...

Jul. 6th, 2010

Vorkosigan, Results Beyond Hope

First day of teaching, all over again.

Well, I started teaching math today. Let’s just say, my improving skills at reading comprehension didn’t transfer over well. I failed pretty miserably today at teaching my kids to identify subtraction questions in word problems. It was a difficult objective (particularly for students who have trouble reading), my students were behind where I thought they’d be skill-wise, I was disorganized, and I really had no clue how to teach a math lesson. I was all over the place, which meant my kids were all over the place, both academically and behaviorally (though at least “bad” behavior for them isn’t really that bad). To make matters worse, I was incredibly nervous during the lesson because I was being observed by both my CMA and by another CM who wanted to learn something from the way I taught. I think the only thing the other CM learned was how not to teach math.

Still, despite the fact that I was pretty upset after the lesson, I’m a lot more optimistic than I was after my first real day of teaching. My first reading comprehension was a disaster (though not quite this bad, I think!), but I learned from it, and was doing much better by the second week. I’m hopeful that my math lessons will similarly improve, so that I don’t fail so much in front of my students this fall!

Jul. 5th, 2010

Vorkosigan, Results Beyond Hope

Week 3 at Institute

Not much to report for this past week. The highs and lows have mostly evened out for the moment, and I’m getting into the groove of lesson planning, teaching, and attending sessions. My kids are great (most of the time…), and I’m getting much better at teaching them, though I still sometimes have trouble being consistent with behavior management and with breaking things down to a second grade level. But as I always say to my CMA, “I’m learning!” I have tons still to learn, but at least I can tell I’m making progress.

I suppose the highlights of this week have actually been my breaks from all the TFA stuff. We were surprised on Tuesday with TFA day, or a day with a Totally Free Afternoon. It was great. I spent the afternoon chilling out in the pool, which was free for the day (since I was cheap and didn’t buy a gym membership this summer).

This weekend has also been great. Friday night, 6 other Tulsa CMs and I made our way to Flagstaff, where we hung out in a tiny bar and then crammed into 1 tiny room at the Motel 6 for a night. You do what you gotta do when you have no income! The next morning, we headed off to the Grand Canyon, which was absolutely breathtaking. (I’ve been once before, but it was January, and I couldn’t see much.) We walked around and climbed down onto ledges, before heading back to Phoenix for the evening. Then today, I celebrated the Fourth with about half of my Tulsa Corps by watching the Dodgers beat the Diamondbacks at a baseball game. And we have tomorrow off as well! Though I’ve put off all work so far this weekend, so I’ll have to spend the day catching up on work.

Jun. 24th, 2010

Vorkosigan, Results Beyond Hope

I'm Alive!

(Cross-posted from my TFA blog)

Yep, there was some doubt as to whether I’d be able to say that by this point in time. But my first week of teaching at Institute, while rough, was something I survived!

With all the lesson planning and such, I’ve been getting no more than 5 hours of sleep a night, which is the main reason why the week has been hard. For the first couple of days, the teaching itself wasn’t bad. That was mostly because I was only in charge of explaining our rules, rewards, consequences, and some procedures the first day, and get to know you activities the second. But it also helps that my 2nd graders are pretty awesome (most of the time), and there are only 12 of them. Still, I was pretty exhausted, since beyond my time teaching and lesson planning (using TFA’s very lengthy and particular template), I still had lots of sessions and workshops.

Yesterday was about my breaking point. Tuesday I had trouble waking up and staying awake during sessions, and yesterday was about the same. Beyond that, though, my first academic lesson plan didn’t go as well as I’d hoped. My read aloud was fun, but I just didn’t do a good job explaining setting and its importance to the plot, because my kids didn’t get it at all. I also ran out of time (which was a problem today as well). I was fairly upset by the end of the period, and almost started crying when talking about my lesson to other CMs and my CMA. It wasn’t even that big of a deal, in retrospect (after all, it was my first real lesson!), but when we’re running on so little sleep, everyone’s emotions are heightened. I walk by the halls, and every day I see at least one person crying. And talking to people, I don’t think there’s even one girl who hasn’t cried over something this week, and often that something was really actually pretty minor.

Today was better though! My kids seemed to get what I was teaching them (though I may have helped them too much on their independent work), and I was operating on slightly more sleep (it’s sad when two nights in a row of 5 hours of sleep makes me feel this much better, since I’d been getting less before that.) My CMA observed the last part of my lesson today, and my FA said as the kids were leaving for lunch that both she and my CMA gave me two thumbs up for the lesson today! Most excitingly, I have nothing to do before tomorrow! I get to go to bed before midnight! I still have to wake up early, because we still have sessions tomorrow, but at least we get up early.

Anyway, that has been my roller coaster week. Hopefully things will just get better from here on out, as I get more experienced (and have somewhat less to do!).

Oh! One more BIG thing! I have a placement!!! Well, mostly. I found out that I am almost certainly teaching 5th grade next year, though I don’t know the school. Hooray! Not only am I staying in elementary, but I get to teach upper elementary, which is what I wanted. My 2nd graders are awesome, and there are definitely some great things about teaching younger kids, but I’m excited for the things I can do with older kids that I can’t do with younger kids.

Jun. 20th, 2010

Vorkosigan, Results Beyond Hope

One Week Down, Four to Go

(Cross-posted from my TFA blog)

The first week of Institute is over! It’s been an exhausting ride, particularly since I went home for 24 hours for my sister’s graduation in the middle of it. (Driving 6 hours on 3 hours sleep is probably not a good idea, and locking my keys in the car afterward was an even worse one, since it cost me $130!)I worked harder last week than I’ve ever worked in my life. We get up at 5am to make the bus before 6:40am. We’ve then been at school until 5pm, and most days had other sessions even after that back on campus. And then we had lesson plans and other planning or work to do after that. Sleep happens only in short amounts!

Despite all that, however, I’ve actually been enjoying Institute quite a bit. I work almost non-stop, and my brain hurts because I’ve learned so much at a breathtaking pace in order to be ready to teach this week for the first time. But what I’m learning is so interesting and applicable to what I’ll be doing, not to mention the fact that it all has a purpose. It’s not been easy, and it’s not going to get easier, but it’s definitely worth it.

There are a few things that have helped me get through this week successfully. First, there are all the people at TFA who work with me and teach me. My advisor (CMA) is always there for me if I have questions, and my curriculum specialist (CS) and literacy specialist (LS) are great and teach me a ton. My Faculty Advisor (FA) already seems really nice, though I’ve only met her a few times (once when I ran into her at Subway!). My CMA group, who I share my CMA with, are immensely supportive (they helped keep me from freaking out when I locked my keys in the car!). My collab group, who I will be teaching with, is insanely awesome. I know some people have been having trouble with their groups, but mine gets along really well, works hard, and were all understanding when I abandoned them for a day to go home. Secondly, my Tulsa corps is amazing. We have fun together, support one another, and help each other out. I’m so excited to spend the next two years with these people! Finally, there’s the kids. I’ve already met a couple of the 2nd graders that I will be teaching math and reading to this summer, and I love them already. Some are REALLY behind in one subject or both, so I really want to help them all I can this summer!

Tomorrow’s my first day teaching! Because of where I fall in the rotation, I’m mostly just going to be doing Rules/Rewards/Consequences, Procedures, and Get to Know You activities for the first couple of days. I don’t start teaching academic content until Wednesday. I’ll let you know how all this goes!

Jun. 11th, 2010

Vorkosigan, Results Beyond Hope

Spring 2010 Round-Up

Time again for one of my round-ups! This is a pretty full one. I had more time to read last semester than I've had in a LONG time. And of course, I did lots of other cool things as well!

Books I've read:
  • The Rope Trick by Lloyd Alexander (reread)
  • Fire by Kristin Cashore
  • Dreamhunter by Elizabeth Knox
  • Young Miles by Lois McMaster Bujold (reread)
  • Dresden Files Books 1-12 by Jim Butcher
  • Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare
  • Little Lord Fauntleroy by Frances Hodgson Burnett
  • The History of Rasselas by Samuel Johnson
  • Lady Susan by Jane Austen
  • Coraline by Neil Gaiman
  • Queen of Attolia, King of Attolia, and Conspiracy of Kings by Megan Whalen Turner (re-read on the first two; also, got halfway through The Thief)
  • The Sally Lockhart Mysteries (Books 1-4) by Phillip Pullman

Places Visited:
  • Colorado, USA
  • Maastricht and Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • London, UK
  • Brussels, Brugge, and Ghent, Belgium
  • Monschau, Berlin, and Munich, Germany
  • Athens, Thessaloniki, and Poros, Greece
  • Prague, Czech Republic
  • Bern and Interlaken, Switzerland
  • Salzburg and Vienna, Austria
  • Venice, Milan, Siena, Lake Como, and Florence, Italy
  • Madrid and Sevilla, Spain
  • Paris and the Loire Valley (inc. Bloise and Tours), France
  • Dublin, Ireland
  • Edinburgh, London, and Stratford-upon-Avon, U.K.

Productions Seen:
  • Les Miserables (two different productions, in London and Edinburgh)
  • Don Giovanni at the Estates Theatre in Prague
  • A Midsummer Night's Dream (the ballet) at the State Opera House in Vienna
  • Oliver! in London
  • Legally Blonde the Musical in London
  • Macbeth at the Globe in London
  • King Lear (Royal Shakespeare Company Public Understudy Performance) in Stratford-on-Avon

Other random things I've done:
  • Volunteered at Junior Winter Camp at Forest Home
  • Taken and passed the PRAXIS II
  • Got my B.A. from Baylor University!
It was quite a semester!
Reading, Books, Book Cuteness

The Selexyz Dominicanen Bookstore in Maastricht

Months ago, chachic  asked me to post pictures of the Selexyz Domincanen Bookstore, which she read about in an article. I'm finally getting around to it! The article has much better pictures than I do, though, so make sure you check out that link as well!

Cut for large picturesCollapse )
Vorkosigan, Results Beyond Hope

The Last Study Abroad Post

What follows is a "quick" recap of the lase few weeks of my study abroad trip. I wrote it Saturday, but as I've been pretty internet-less, I'm only getting to posting it now! Here it is:

Lots of text and pics under the cut...Collapse )

Apr. 16th, 2010

Vorkosigan, Results Beyond Hope

Just checking in...

Here's the blog post I wrote on the train Wednesday afternoon (you'll have to wait until the next blog post to hear about today's adventures!):

I'm over halfway through my month of travel already! I can't believe how fast time is flying by. It's been pretty amazing traveling throughout Europe. Finals went well; nothing was too hard. The one setback was that I didn't finish my 12-page philosophy paper before I left. It wasn't due until two weeks after my last class, but I didn't want to have to do it while traveling, particularly since that meant I had to drag my laptop and books along. On the bright side, having my laptop has been kind of nice, and it's the reason I can write this blog post on my way to Tours, France!

A really long post with lots of pictures!Collapse )

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