In the beginning there was grad school. That ended in 2010. Now what do I blog about?

NEW BLOG - ACADEMIC AMPLITUDE

February 23, 2008

Procrastination, at its finest

7:30am
I wake up with this ridiculous leg pain I have had for the past few weeks. I am annoyed with this unidentifiable discomfort and also annoyed to be wide awake at 7:30 on a Saturday.

I get up, wash up, and head down to the kitchen. After some stretches and deep knees bends to relieve the leg pain, I turn on the TV, start coffee and take out the knitting project I began last night.

I watch the news and an hour of home improvement shows, knowing full well that hours of homework await me and it would be in my best interest to begin before husband awakens.

9:00am
Husband comes down. We have breakfast and chat. We gauge how long we think it'll take to plow the driveway and shovel the walkways. We check the weather for signs of additional snowfall.

10:00am
We decide there is no need to head outside until lunchtime. I pull out my computer.

After checking email, deleting spam, reading the news headlines and washing the dishes, there is nothing left to do but start homework. Right? No, how about I look for ways to cut back on our monthly cable TV bill. Yeah...that'll kill 45 minutes...

I have a severe case of procrastination, brought by an unexpected bout of lethargy which was a side affect of having the flu for a week. 10 days ago I stayed home from work due to head cold. By the end of that day, I had a fever. The next day, sore throat and sinusitis. I was able to do a little work, thanks to a webcam and video conference technology along with VPN access to my workplace PC.

What I didn't get done was home work. I logged in for ten or fifteen minutes a day, to stay on top of discussion board postings and that was it.

So here it is the weekend, and although my head is still stuffy, I am feeling better and wanting to go out & about but I have 2 weeks worth of homework to do. Ugh. And no motivation to do it.

10:55am
Ok, So I grab my notebook and pen and login to my courses. I check one course - list my assignments due and scan the discussion boards. I check another course - my internet freezes up. I Check Mozilla and its working fine. But I have to run a virus scan and make sure there isn't anything wrong.....stupid Microsoft....

11:45am
13 tracking cookies detected by Ad-Aware and a cache of issues detected by SpyBot. I cleaned up my PC and knitted a row on my scarf.

This scarf is a new project and I am very pleased with how it looks and feels - tres shabby chic. Last night, because book club was canceled due to weather, I sat and knotted together all the purple and pink scrap yarn I have collected over the past year. Most of it is soft acrylic, but added in several yards of multi-colored cotton yarn and one long piece of blood red wool blend.
I began knitting on a 30mm long circular needle, size 9. I cast on 320 stitches and began knitting. I haven't been tracking my knit and purl rows, so it has an uneven vertical ribbing along with the varied vertical stripes. The effect is beautiful. I also threaded 10 purple buttons of various sizes/shapes and added those in on one row. I'll do it again, maybe 3 or 4 times, to add some interest. I have quite a bit of green scraps, too, so I may do a green version after this one is complete.

11:50am
Now....I am going ...to look at ...my homework....

12:34pm
I wonder if the reason I am procrastinating so much with homework this week is because assignments for both courses require me to create lesson plans for K-12 students. I do not work in a K-12 environment.

Both courses are focusing on teaching for all student abilities. My technology course homework is to build a UDL (http://www.cast.org/research/udl/index.html) lesson plan.

My theories course assignment is build an MI (http://www.infed.org/thinkers/gardner.htm) lesson plan.

I would argue that it is impossible to teach in these manners more than 60% of the time. Maybe 80% for some courses. I argue:
How do you teach a blind student the color wheel in art class?
How do you create an MI specific lesson in math for a naturalist intelligence?
How much time should a teacher invest in lesson planning to create these all inclusive learning opportunities?

Inclusion in classrooms is fine. Its great. But its not always appropriate or effective. Yes, technology provides almost endless possibilities to teach to disabled students. Without a doubt, screen readers, a keyboard and a mouse break down barriers to learning. But teaching with technology and teaching without to he rest of class seems like a lot to ask of a teacher. Isn't this why they used to have 'special schools'? To make the most of specialists and specialized resources?

Sensitivity to individual personalities and interests is fabulous - but to tailor lessons to each MI for each lesson is unnecessary. It is more reasonable to plan a week's worth of lesson plans to include something for everyone. I have been trying to build this lesson plan and find it ridiculous to have to add in a special project in which 'naturalist's' can track the weight of recycled paper so that I don't exclude their natural intelligence in my math lesson. Couldn't' I just say that the math relay race I designed for the athletics will be played outdoors?

1:06pm
After drafting my UDL lesson plan, to teach addition & subtraction to blind and deaf students, I need a break and am going out to shovel snow.


4:03pm
I just submitted my overdue UDL assignment. Thank God for rubrics. I was able to edit the draft and then re-write to meet the rubric for this assignment. I hope I met the intermediate level. It was very challenging for me to do this. I felt irritable while doing this assignment and would rather have not had to do it. This is very close to what I expected the course work would be considering the program is geared toward K-12 learners. I much prefer the theories of learning, discussing school systems and types of learners and possibilities for change. Writing lesson plans is not fun for me.

I have assignments in theories to look at, now. One I already began, I just need to tweak it. The other I haven't even read yet....


4:57pm
Ouch. Completing that gave me a headache. I need to take a break. Honestly, I need a nap.

8:33pm
I didn't take a nap, but I did get sucked into watching TV and knitting, having a light dinner and doing dishes. Now I am doing my reading assignment, on which I have to write at least a single page reflection on the information.

10:17pm
Completed the overdue theories assignment and submitted it. Did my reading and one of the two written assignments due Monday. I have an outline for the 2nd assignment, which I will finish tomorrow.

I am exhausted. Still recovering from the flu? Tired from shoveling? From putting so much energy into procrastination? Who knows.

But I am now focused on the work. Having completed the over due work and made some headway into the newer stuff makes me feel better, less anxious and more ready to get back into the routine.

February 03, 2008

Your warm & fuzzies make me cry

Not yet finished completing week 3 homework and I am exhausted.

Work has been very busy the last week and a half -- the grant, the proposal, a presentation, web development meetings.

Home life has been unusually busy, with the kitchen & bathroom remodel complete, I am moving boxes of kitchen stuff back downstairs, washing plaster dust off of it, and trying to put it all away in a logical place.

School is going well. I am enjoying learning and processing new information. Both classes are online so I can work on assignments piecemeal through the week, however I am not yet satisfied with a routine and find myself with more required reading to do on Sunday afternoon than I would like. Perhaps once we've settled into normalcy at home, (and my husband learns to leave me alone when I am 'at school')and work projects level out again I'll be able to successfully identify a schedule to complete my school work and still have an afternoon off away from a computer.


Today, I woke early and showered and brought the kitty downstairs with me for coffee. I finished a novel, Pillars of the Earth, by Ken Follett (this may explain the tone of my first post in this blog). The book has been sitting on my desk with only 20 pages unread, for the past 2 weeks. I then plugged in my laptop and scanned my email, my blogs, my GoogleGroups and the local newspaper headlines. Still too distracted to login to my online courses, I sprayed the waste basket with Mr Clean and scrubbed all the coffee stains off the sides of it. Kitty is fed and curled up, sleeping, on the living room couch. There are no dishes which need to be washed or put away. With a fresh cup of coffee, I sit to login to my online courses.

My first stop is course email. Some feedback from an instructor regarding recently completed assignments. All good. Next, I check the discussion boards to review posts added since my last login late Thursday night. I read through commentary on classmates required posts; I have already posted my 2 required comments and feel no need to comment further. At the end of the new post list, I come to several responses to my required post related to the Bloom's Taxonomy of Cognitive Learning module assigned last week.

I have always been a creative writer. I find it easy to complete a written assignment and am able to add some flair to an otherwise monotone narrative, if it isn't inappropriate to do so. For this particular assignment, I created a reflective piece in which I detailed the process of completing the assignment -
At work this morning it occurred to me (recall) that I needed to do something for school. I was aware (comprehension) that I needed to print a few pages of module content and bring them home to work on because the task required focus and time. I then printed out the pages and put them in my bag to bring home (application).

During dinner, while slurping my soup, I read the instructions and each of the 21 questions very carefully. It was plain to see that solving the puzzle would require reason and the answer could be found with logical deduction (analysis). I finished my soup.
The feedback from my classmates has been postivie; but is tough to accept without doubt. My assessment of posts has been that they are 'nice' posts and not 'honest' posts. Because most of us don't know each other and many are new to discussion boards, people are posting niceties instead of constructive criticisms. Several have made progress through the MEd progam and know each other from on-campus classes, but for the most part, we are faceless personalities in the discussion board. I am trying to pay attention to who is who but their narratives run on into each other and there is not yet any apparent difference between them, for me.

Several of the women in the group have been posting things such as, "Oh my gosh, my cousin lives in your town!" and "Oh wow, I have a baby, too! Aren't they precious?" instead of "My cousin lives in your town; she was arrested last week for DUI; did you see it in the paper?" or "Yeah, I have a baby, too. It's so hard - I had no idea poopy diapers came in so many shades of brown & green!" Yes, I realize that the latter comments are not appropriate for the classroom discussion, however, neither is the first set if its pointless babbling.

That kind of trivial nonsense bores me to tears. Perhaps they find comfort, and feel safe, in volleying warm fuzzies back and forth. Perhaps because the discussions are evaluated by the instructors, they are guarded and trying to remain professional to the point that they refrain from showing their true selves.

Maybe I'm too harsh. Maybe by the end of the course I'll have made an honest connection with one or two people. Maybe next semester I'll post something warm & fuzzy such as, "Oh wow! Hi! We had ED737 together last term. Wasn't that a wonderful course?"