June 26, 2006

Certification tests

Posted in Uncategorized at 1:21 pm by mrsmauck

Well I’ve now taken my first teacher certification tests. The Oklahoma General Education Test was quite easy, even the math. It’s almost like it’s just testing to be sure you have a college education: a big reading section, a big (simple) math section, a smaller science section, and a sliver of history, government, and fine arts. The essay question was actually about a journalism situation, coincidentally: should the press report on the private lives of public officials? Of course, the answer is yes, if their private lives are newsworthy, and no if it constitutes invasion of privacy or their actions are not newsworthy. I’d studied the four forms of invasion of privacy, so I figured, why not use it? and structured my response around those four points.

In the afternoon, I took the Journalism Oklahoma Subject Area Test. It was actually a really interesting test: almost all hypothetical situations in the journalism classroom, in which the answers could all be right, but only one was the best. However, of all the journalism history and law I studied, probably only one or two questions were on there representing things I’d actually studied. I mostly drew on my experience working at a newspaper, my journalism classes at OU, and even the book All the President’s Men. My essay was a response to a student’s article for the school newspaper. Good grief, that article had some serious problems. But of course, I would tell the student the positive aspects of the article first, and then lay into the errors and omissions.

I’m one of those weird people who actually enjoys taking tests: I get an excited adrenaline rush the night before and when the test is placed before me. I enjoy brainteasers and learning challenges I suppose.

We’ll see in a month how well my adrenaline served me!


June 20, 2006

Final thoughts on Farenheit 451

Posted in Uncategorized at 7:47 pm by mrsmauck

This book would be a great introduction to my banned books and censorship unit, I think. However, one thing Ray Bradbury feels very strongly about is that the reason for the erosion of knowledge and cultural awareness and connectivity and community involvement in Guy Montag’s society was not governmental control or censorship, but too many efforts at political correctness in literature and the slow decline in education and reading. The people chose not to read, and the government simply institutionalized this decision with the book burners. So I’m not really sure if discussing censorship and book banning would be the best discussion in conjunction with Bradbury’s message of the importance of education, literature, and freedom of speech. Hmmm….something to ponder.

Some things I loved about this book, and would love to discuss and teach:
1) Bradbury’s dreamlike metaphors: moths and dead leaves for burning books, etc.
2) People can live like Mildred and her friends did, still today: they can go around with iPods in their ears all the time; watch mindless reality TV and music videos (a story in 2 1/2 minutes); live for cheap thrills; delight in things that entertain and help you escape and shun things that are distressing or make you think too much.
3) The Book People. Love the whole idea of an underground network of renegade readers.
4) The ending: The meccas of mindlessness are obliterated, the Book People understand that humankind is like a pheonix, ever burning itself up and then being reborn, Guy ruminating on Ecclesiastes: There is a time and season for everything: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build. What a great building block for students to learn symbolism!
5) The imagery: All the firemen have slick black hair and dark five o’clock shadows, the Mechanical Hound’s protruding and retracting poisonous needle, the stomach pumper men’s straight line mouths with a drooping cigarette: perfectly conveying their laissez faire attitude about another accidental suicide attempt.

June 16, 2006


Posted in Uncategorized at 2:51 pm by mrsmauck

So, the Reflective Teacher and Dana Huff have both written posts on what they were like as students. I think it’s time for a bit of reflection of my own. My third-grade teacher nicknamed me Motormouth. If I knew the answer, I was going to shout it out. I was definitely a Hermione Granger in the classroom, the girl who always raised her hand, always had a question or an idea, always provoked eye-rolling and resentful sighs from other students. I’m still this way in my graduate classes to an extent; I’m learning, however, to wait for other students to answer before I blurt out my first thought. This also makes me a bit nervous about being a teacher: allowing silence to let students think about their answers, before I phrase the answer in my spot-on teacher tongue. You’ve got to let those half-thought-out, groping answers come out, and sometimes just hang there, waiting for responses. Anyway…I digress to my future, yet again.

First Grade: The second-grade teacher came and got me out of my first-grade classroom. To my bewilderment, she made me face a boy who was so nice to me, and spell the word carrot. She retorted, “See?! A first-grader can spell it; why can’t you?” I was horrified!

Second Grade: I got in trouble for talking in class and had to stay in from recess with the dirtiest, dumbest boy in my grade. I despised this situation so much that I pushed him down on the ground and stepped on his face in the classroom (Where was the teacher?). I hated myself later for this moment of bullying, and am still ashamed of it. At the end-of-year assembly, I got a plaque for reading the most books in the elementary school that year: 215.

Third Grade: I got glasses. I hated them. Four-eyes, Nerd, etc. became my new nicknames. My teacher read Summer of the Monkeys aloud to us and I loved it. I started devouring chapter books. To counter this goody-two-shoes behavior, I called a boy a “butthole” (the first time I’d ever uttered the word, and I SCREAMED it on the playground) for cutting in front of me in line for the helicopter. This was a boy who had tried to be my boyfriend and I’d brutally rebuffed. I got sent to the principal’s office, for my language, my first and only trip. My mom was a teacher at the school, and the principal just kind of looked at me, slightly amused, not really sure how to rebuke me, since I was already on the verge of tears.

Sixth Grade: My mom was my teacher, my favorite one of my entire elementary and secondary career. She liked grouping kids, and tried a bunch of different desk arrangements. I’ll never forget the time she paired up me and Kevin, the class clown. I was constantly having to suppress my giggles at his goofy jokes. Once, during a quiz, after I’d finished, I was absentmindedly sticking my pen in the crack between mine and Kevin’s desks. Kevin, not willing to miss a prime opportunity for laughs, said aloud in the tomb-silent room, “Kim, get your pen out of my crack.” The classroom exploded. I’ve never blushed so much in my life. This was also the year I decided sports were not for me. I got a bloody lip from a softball, and had succeeded in withholding my tears, until I got back to the classroom, where Mom’s fussing over my injury made me start sobbing uncontrollably.

Seventh Grade: New school. Still had glasses, still labeled a nerd. Found myself bristling at some of the teachers’ poor use of their authority. I’d always been a teacher’s pet, but one teacher absolutely hated me for no reason. I made fun of her mercilessly behind her back. Mimicked the way she would rub her ratha-large derriere, which she insisted on covering with second-skin leggings. Became a watergirl for the high school basketball team, and found my niche. My best friend was my co-watergirl, and we sat and talked about absolutely nothing during the games and busrides, giggling incessantly and barely hearing the whistle calling us to the huddle at timeouts.

Eighth Grade: My best friend and I were reassigned to camera crew because of our inconsistency with getting the water bottles to the players on time. Dated a junior boy. (I still can’t believe my mom let me get anywhere near this boy, even though we never had one-on-one dates.) A classmate began his longstanding crush on me, and even wrote me a love letter that he didn’t have the guts to give me. His so-called best friend (a girl), showed it to me, and offered to copy it and post it on the bulletin board in the classroom. I let her. (I wish I could erase that whole day out of my life. Again though, where was the teacher?)

High School: Got a paddling (Can you believe that my school still allows paddling?), albeit a gentle one, from a paddle-happy coach/teacher for throwing a paper wad in class. Learned the birds and the bees in health class–I already knew the technical stuff, but a student teacher had us play a little game where we all wrote down the number of times we’d had sex on slips of paper and turn them in. I think there were only three or four zeroes out of a class of 25 or so, with one girl having a whopping 13, which I think were actually people, not times. Became an officer in our FCA chapter, and discovered I’m totally okay with speaking in front of groups of people.

Basically, I was a brainy goody-two-shoes who sometimes bucked the system because my own sense of justice was outraged or because I wanted acceeptance from my peers.

Farenheit 451’s Seashells in today’s world

Posted in Uncategorized at 2:39 pm by mrsmauck

I’m about halfway through Farenheit 451. Guy’s wife Mildred constantly has “Seashells” in her ears when she’s not watching the walls–they remind me of something in today’s society. Anyone? (Just testing out my teacher voice.) I’ve gone back and forth on whether or not I want to get an iPod, and this book has convinced me I don’t need one. To me, an iPod builds on the idea that we need to be entertained constantly. Like Professor Faber said, we need lesiure time–not entertainment time–but time to reflect on the world and what we think about it. Don’t these cute little music machines also function–like Seashells–to whisk us away from our thoughts on a current of white noise? The question I think we have to ask of ourselves with any form of entertainment is, How much does it add to our lives, and how much does it take away from reality? I love the show LOST for its escapism, but also because it engages you in philosophical thought. I also love The Office just because it’s funny. We have to make sure we balance our entertainment with thought-provoking, critical, even subversive plots, so that we don’t escape reality altogether.

June 15, 2006

Final thoughts on Jubilee

Posted in Uncategorized at 4:31 pm by mrsmauck

I finished it yesterday, weeping for the last 10 pages or so. Okay, so the post-War years section was a bit draggy in the beginning. Part I, the Antebellum, was great: Vyry’s growing-up years in slavery, her attempted escape, the bush meetings led by one of my favorite characters, Brother Zeke, Vyry’s firey relationship with black freedman Randall Ware; all this was excellent reading, and positively inspirational for lesson plans. The anticlimactic emancipation marked a kind of holding pattern in the book: Vyry didn’t believe freedom would ever happen, and didn’t work toward or even hope for it, despite her husband’s best efforts to convince her freedom could happen.

Even though the plot was great for the first third of the book, Vyry’s character didn’t become real to me until she began to truly suffer: when she was beaten for trying to escape, and later, when she lost her first child with her new husband, Innis Brown. As soon as her indelible, Christlike spirit began to manifest itself, the book came to life, about two-thirds of the way through. When I closed the book for the last time, Vyry had become one of my favorite literary characters of all time! Certainly she is eons more respectable and admirable than her white, Civil War-epic counterpart, Scarlett O’Hara. (Why do people like her so much? Spoiled brat!)

Thanks, blog-buddies, for encouraging me to continue! I don’t know if I’ll teach it because of its length (500 some-odd pages, longer than Grapes of Wrath). What do you think, teachers? How long is too long at the high school level? If it took quite a bit of perseverance for me to get through it, could I expect high school students to finish it?

June 14, 2006

Please be my friend!

Posted in Uncategorized at 4:57 pm by mrsmauck

I have to fight this urge when I’m around the little darlings. I love high school kids, like I said before: love their energy, their perspectives, their creativity, etc. BUT I can’t let myself believe that because I enjoy being around them so much and hearing about their lives and understanding who they are, they are my friends. This is what I found myself doing at camp. Granted, the role of camp counselor is different than that of teacher, so I was able to just talk and have fun with the kids more than I would in a teacher role. However, I know that I could fall victim to that fatally stupid Michael Scott role: you think that because these people have to listen to you, they want to listen to you. It’s a little heady. You could do silly stuff like have a conference about drugs, just to show off your street prowess (see photo!). Or you could be seen as an unpredictable, insecure dictator. So desperate for their respect, yet unable to demand it. So you ask for it meekly, with your goofy jokes and attempts at being cool. I DON’T WANT TO BE LIKE MICHAEL SCOTT! It seems like a difficult balancing act, though, for sure.

June 13, 2006

You are my Sunshine!

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:44 pm by mrsmauck

Here’s the video clip of our camp’s closing serenade! Fun times!

June 12, 2006

Certification Tests Study Time

Posted in Uncategorized at 8:25 pm by mrsmauck

I’m taking the Oklahoma General Education Test and the Oklahoma Subject Area Test in a couple weeks, so it’s time to re-learn all the journalism my degree says I know. Once I pass the journalism test (*fingers crossed*), I’ll take the English certification test this fall. I’ve got a study date tomorrow, so that gives me a deadline…I better know something, so that my study buddy will have something to quiz me on…back to the books…

June 9, 2006

Camp is OVER!

Posted in Uncategorized at 5:17 pm by mrsmauck

My first supervisory experience with teens since I decided I wanted to spend seven hours a day, five days a week with the little darlings was two things that can only be expressed in allcaps: EXHILIRATING and EXHAUSTING! Summer College Camp 2006 seemed like a constantly successful disaster. The kids wandered around campus, made friends, sang songs, played volleyball and basketball, and [I hope] learned a little about college and themselves in the process. Here’s the perfect anecdote to describe this week:

During the closing awards assembly, after each kid had won a door prize, and some had won grand prizes for best ACT scores and best scholarship applications, our emcee lady asked if any camper would like to make a few parting shots. Of course, the most popular camper, who is simultaneously adorable and obnoxious, had to get on stage and go on a bit about how much fun he’d had, his volleyball team the Big Macs, and the hot counselors. In typical fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants fashion, our director told the boy to go ahead and sing his closing song. This showboat boy had led various groups of boys in song throughout the week: singing Happy Birthday to women whose birthday may or may not have occurred in the last six months, singing karaoke song after karaoke song the first night at our mixer, and singing You Are My Sunshine about every day solo or with a barbershop quartet he assembled. So he and two other young men who’d never met before this week, but who all have an equal love of the spotlight and of singing, hopped on stage for an encore of You Are My Sunshine. I turned on the recorder of the digital camera I’d been toting all week. After the little-known second verse of this golden oldie, the head showboat started clapping along with the beat, and the auditorium joined in. I whizzed the camera around behind me at our campers’ smiling faces, only to realize the voices had moved in a little closer to me. I whirled around to see the boys on their knees in front of me for one last serenade.

This week wasn’t about me though. It was about pouring myself into the campers to help them believe in themselves and their futures. This last bit of appreciation and attention was the last thing I needed to understand that I love these kids, from the showboats to the shy ones, from the smartypants to the slow ones. I’ll try to get this video clip on my blog in the next couple days, as I reflect on the golden moments in the dawning of my understanding that I am meant to give myself to these kids, that I feel the best about myself and about the world when I’m doing just that.

June 2, 2006

Summer College Camp

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:36 pm by mrsmauck

Well, here at my office we’re all in a tizzy about a summer college camp we’re hosting next week. I work for a federal grant-funded program that helps prepare middle and high school kids for college, and we’re bringing 50 juniors and seniors on campus next week!! It’s the first time our young program has done anything like this, so those of us who have actually been working on it (i.e., everyone but our boss) are a tad bit nervous. Those who are a bit out of touch (i.e., our boss) think everything will be all jolly good, despite the fact that we were running and planning nonstop today, the last working day before camp….!!!

Anyway, it should be the crazy, scary, out-of-control-in-a-good-way kind of fun (you know, the kind of fun you teachers have during field trips?), so I’m really looking forward to running my legs off, screaming my voice out, and laughing my head off. Wish me luck, and blogging will be unpredictable next week! A full report on my experience with the little darlings will be posted in a week or so.