Monday, September 5, 2011

Labor Day


I had planned on shooting a video today, but the weather was so beautiful and my voice is so sore that I thought I'd push it off a few more days. However, here are some thoughts about life lately.

First, here are my hours as of tonight, September 5th. Remember that 'grading' is only grading done outside of school hours or the school day. I've lately stayed until 5 or 6 P.M. grading and planning. For my own convenience, I decided to count as such. Teaching includes lesson design, classroom time, grading during the day, staff meetings, etc.

Teaching: One hundred and ninety hours, five minutes
Grading: Two hours, ten minutes
Grad School: Thirty four hours, forty minutes

Total: Two hundred, twenty six hours and fifty five minutes.

Most of the grad school hours so far have been reading, GRE prep/exam, and application. I've had two weeks of class and am really enjoying it so far. I'm presenting on Sand County Almanac this Wednesday. I'll be focusing on the strength of his eco-narration, possible dangers of anthropomorphism, and how much agency is drawn from the text. I've also designed a Minecraft extra credit assignment for student volunteers. The idea was to apply land ethic to a virtual landscape by using only sustainable materials. The idea goes against everything the game is known for. Imagine playing Monopoly as a socialist and you'll get the gist.  I'll be uploading the assignment, some videos/images, and results later this week. I'll also be writing about how beneficial being in the classroom once more is to me in my professional and personal development.

This week has been challenging and fulfilling at once, which is often the case in education. My American Literature students have begun reading Fahrenheit 451 and our discussions of the text are going well. At the behest of a colleague we've begun using Socratic Seminars to discuss works. I'd say that two thirds of the class is fully participating in the discussions, which is amazing. New ideas and interpretations are flying around the room and the results can be very moving. My favorite discussion focused on why Guy would choose to share his books with his wife Clarisse. The consensus was that you share knowledge with the ones you love, and people love those who share knowledge with them.

My sophomores have finished introducing themselves and we've begun to introduce white privilege and white flight in order to set context for Raisin in the Sun. Watch an amazing slam piece that we used before we unpacked our knapsacks here...

Media studies focused on the news media last week. We examined clips from Bowling for Columbine, read from Culture of Fear, compared various stories of the Libyan Civil War, and deconstructed an episode of the Colbert Report to learn how satire can be used to combat media bias and spin. We focus on how the media perpetuates fear as a means to drive consumerism and shape belief about social issues like race, drug use, crime, and war.

Only a four day week, but I'm feeling it will be a long one. Welcome back to school for all those September starters! I'm trying to respond to e-mails and comments, know that I'll get to them in time.

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