Thursday, January 27, 2011

In or On Too Much?

At the cyber school that I work in, I go in one day a week to help the kids that come into our computer lab. Somehow that one day seems to expand itself to be the premise for my week, a week of work that, in most cases,  should seemingly end on Friday. Now that I'm back to only going in, onsite, one day a week, it seems as though my day is overloaded with requests from Project Managers, other Experts, students, and just about every other individual with whom I have an interaction.

With every interaction comes a new responsibility, a new request, some new proposal, and I come home from work and realize that I have just somehow agreed to be a part of, or involve myself in, several new tasks, proposals, items, projects, etc. 

I remember days of classroom teaching when going "in" soaked up a large portion of my life. All the hours of teaching, planning, contacting parents, grading, emails, along with a plethora of other tasks created a never-ending stream of responsibilities. Regardless of that stream, I would only turn my computer on at home after long days if I had something essential to complete, or for some planning/grading during the weekends. Generally, I tried to complete a lot of my work before I ever left school, so when I got home, I could just relax. I went in, and I came out.  I truly thought the world of online teaching would help to eliminate even more pressure from my life--providing ample amounts of time for relaxation. 

I have to say, overall, I much prefer my current job over my previous years of classroom teaching. Most of my work can be done from home; I'm on now, and I don't have to go in. I don't have parent/teacher conferences, open-houses, sporting events, dances, or any other "teacher duties" that need attending. 

Despite my flexibility, I find that I am always working every moment that I'm not attending to motherly duties. The only time where I separate myself from my computer is during those times. How can I possibly be "on" all the time? Why am I always working? Is it the nature of cyber school? Has it just become habit? Of course, as teachers, we know our jobs are never done (well, at least not until summer), but cyber school runs 365 days a year; we have no summers, we don't take breaks!

See that's the thing about being online, you can be online, all the time, at all times, regardless of any respect for time. Online just goes on and on and so on. 

When I go "in" to work that one day a week, it brings me "on" even more. So I wonder, is going "in" or "on" too much? Is one worse than the other? 

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

That's it, I quit!

Okay, I think I've been really hesitant about posting to my blog because early on I found the 30 Day Teacher Blog Challenge, and I thought that I  found it at just the right time, but I have discovered that it has only made me feel very restricted in my blogging endeavors. I think blogging can really be something that is unique, raw, and real, and this challenge has presented so many structured activities, that the complacency (of which I've previously complained) has inevitably returned. I want my blog to be an extension of my mind, not the extension of something that has already been thought up.

Throughout the past couple of weeks, I've found myself reluctant to post any real thoughts because I felt bogged down by the challenge; I felt as though it were something that I had determined I would complete, so therefore I had to do it. I honestly can't remember that last time I quit something. I will generally forge through, and despite any obstacles, I will get it done.

Well, here it is, I give up the blog challenge. I'm not giving it up because it's too hard, in fact it's too mindless and easy. It's just all about answering basic questions and posting general things--things that could easily be adapted to a larger audience. I am not a large audience, and my blog is not constructed from a large group of writers or teachers; it's written only by me. If I have something that I want to discuss on my blog, then I want to be able to freely discuss it, and not have to search for the next blog challenge. I make this sacrifice of quitting in an effort to rejuvenate the spirit of my lost blog.

In a way, the challenge was probably appropriate for me, since I often have  tendency to say things I probably shouldn't or write off topic. The challenge would have helped me to restrict my natural indecent tendencies. Now, I see this as a new challenge for myself. I can't let restrictions dictate the my own restrictions, but rather I must learn to indulge in multiple avenues with my own restrictions; I must form and reform myself constantly. I can't leave it up to anyone or anything else to do that for me. I think ridding myself of this "blog challenge" will help me to defeat the real challenge: construct an interesting blog. If my blogging efforts are unsuccessful after this, then it's my fault and my fault only. I guess I have to start taking responsibilities for my own writing endeavors, and I mustn't always depend on the restrictions and guidelines of others

Let the real challenge begin!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

From Creative to Compliant

After talking about Creative Writing verses Technical Writing the other night, it really got me thinking about the concept of “compliance” that I remember Elbow referring to in his article Illiteracy at Oxford and Harvard: Reflections on the Inability to Write, which is about the notion of voice verses compliance in writing.
Personally, I have struggled to integrate my compliance to structure with a passion for writing. In fact, I feel as though my passion for writing has become abolished by educational rhetoric and academic compliance.  It’s been almost 6 years since I received my undergrad, and I’m finding the transition back into the classroom much more difficult than I had expected. I was actually very excited about returning as a student. I’ve been trying to create good students for so long now, so I felt like I’d know exactly what I needed to do in order to become one myself. Of course, this all falls right into the trap of compliance.
Not only am I complying with the standard writing structures in that regard, but also for the past 4 years, I have been writing digital textbooks. The texts demand so much of time, effort, and writing energy that the creative writer, which once such a significant part of my life, has seemingly vanished.
 Shortly after I began teaching, I also started writing the digital texts. The work was tedious and never-ending. Along with grading, lesson planning, and every other aspect of my life, I found that I had no time for writing unless it was something that would make me money. The deadlines that were set were ridiculous, and I would spend days upon days glued to my computer screen from sunrise until late into the night writing.
Writing became a duty and a task; it was work. It was no longer something I believed in. The structure of the textbooks completely conflicted with my beliefs about teaching and learning; I was writing instructions for things that I would never actually do as a teacher. I still work for the company, and I hate it. I only do it because I’m getting paid to do what I do best: write. I can do it from home, on my own time. Most people would love to have such an opportunity, but sometimes some things aren’t as great as they seem.
I thought I enjoyed being a compliant writer, but I’ve begun to realize that my lack of personal voice and passion for writing must be reflected in my teaching practices. How can I expect a student to feel passionate about their voice if I have become so compliant in my quest for knowledge and writing that I have lost my own?
 My cyber school teaching experience differs greatly from my classroom experience, and it seems to be more aligned with many of the theories surrounding writing that I’ve been learning about during grad school. I suppose this makes me feel a little bit better about what I’m doing now, but I’ve sometimes found myself more passionate about teaching the students in the computer lab about the distance formula than I do about writing. What am I missing? Why have I become so compliant? Why do I feel like I’ve lost my voice?
I only taught the 9th grade Writing class for one year, and I taught 11th grade Honors Literature during the rest of my classroom teaching experience, so there was a lot of writing involved. During the class, the students each had to write their own original novels, and other than analytical, reflective, and research papers, the curriculum focused primarily on writing strategies geared toward the ACT.
As I reflect back on those experiences, I feel like I did a disservice to those students; I never really taught them how to find their voice. I feel like I regressed my teaching to basic writing strategies, grammar, usage, and mechanics, but I never gave them a chance to really embrace their inner creative writer. Sure, the novel was great, and most of the students really enjoyed it, but I feel like I never showed them how to become passionate about their writing. I taught them compliance because that’s what I do best.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Insert Music from iTunes into a Keynote Presentation

As part of the Kick Start Activity 2 – Beginner – Effective and engaging blog posts challenge, I've gone through all the steps, and for step #4, it asks to: 

"Step 4: Write a post on your blog

Now it’s time to write a post on your blog.
It’s entirely up to you!
Here’s some ideas on what you could write about..."–-beginner-–-effective-and-engaging-blog-posts/

I've decided to write about the last option, "Review or share a favorite learning or technology tool that you use." This is something that may seem simple to some, but I've found that many students and teachers are not aware of how to add music to their slideshows in Keynote. 

To insert Music to a Keynote file...

When you have finished creating your Keynote, or you're ready to add the file, then click on the little "i" INSPECTOR icon in the upper right hand corner of the Keynote Toolbar. 

It may come up looking like this, depending on the settings. 

Look at the top part of the box here: 

And click on the "DOCUMENTS" tab,  the first one on the left hand side

It will come up like this: 

Now, click on the AUDIO tab in the middle

It will look like this

Next, click on the iTunes Library tab


Choose your file, or you can search too...

Then, you must click on your file and drag it into the INSPECTOR box



Change from  to and then it will play throughout the entire slideshow.   

        Also, you can do basically the same thing for transitions, automatic Transitions are under the "T" Tab. 

 I Hope this helps! Please email me with any questions!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

30 Day Teacher Challenge- Kick Start Your Blogging

Okay, so as part of, I have decided to join the 30 day Teacher Challenge to Kick Start Your Blogging... Found at:

Here were some discussion questions that were part of the first challenge. Some of the other parts of the challenge asked me to set up the blog and comment. I'm excited about this challenge! I hope I can keep up : )

What was hard and what was easy about setting up a new blog?

What do you need to remember to share with students or fellow educators who are setting up their own blog for the first time?

The easy part of setting up my blog was all the technological aspects, since the site I chose as a platform was pretty self-explanatory. The difficult part was coming up with my first topic to blog about! I chose to write about an article that I read for my grad class: Peter Elbow’s essay, The Doubting Game and the Believing Game—An Analysis of the Intellectual Enterprise, found in the appendix of his notorious book, “Writing Without Teachers”.

I guess for me it made it easier to think of the blog writing as a free-writing process, almost like that of a journal.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

To Believe or Not to Believe...

In response to Peter Elbow’s essay, The Doubting Game and the Believing Game—An Analysis of the Intellectual Enterprise, found in the appendix of his notorious book, “Writing Without Teachers,” I find myself pondering many things about man, life, writing, and technology in general.
First of all, the believing game must extend more fully to incorporative the intuitive nature of our beings. If man were to disbelieve in all regards, then life would inevitably be a mirage of hopeless dreams and frustration, with no need for pursuing any triumphs above failure. How then is it that man continually provokes a negative nature and underlying distain and distrust for the world around him?  What is it that inherently expunges his disbeliefs and keeps him going? Is it the exaggerated notion of petty faith or simply the need for survival in human existence? And if there is that need for faith (as some believe Maslow might argue), then at what level does that need ascertain the belief of believing? At what level of our existence is there truly a need for belief? For faith, hope, dreams? Can man exist fully without the faith that he is presently secure, without his belief in life, without hope for the future? I undoubtedly argue that he cannot fully exist and live a fulfilling life without such optimistic notions.
So why then, when belief is such an essential part of our human existence, does man continually digress to the doubting game, as Elbow calls it, when theoretically, his belief is what nourishes a part of his being? Is it true then to assume that the doubting game is just as much of an essential element to his being as the believing game? Is existence based on the concept of yin and yang? Of balance? Of both good and evil? Should life consist more fully of belief or doubt? Do you doubt this now, and if so, what portion of you believes?
I think life is about balance, but I do also believe that there is far more to the believing game than the doubting game. I would actually argue that it is often easier to doubt than to believe because to believe means that you understand and accept something that you may not have ever seen or heard.
When referring to writing, in order for a reader to believe in the writer, he or she must be able to understand the writer’s perspective—be that of his or her own or not. It takes far more for a person to look outside of his or her own perspective in order to accept and believe in someone else’s writing. It’s easy for me to stick with what I know, stick to my perspective and only accept those things that reinforce my thoughts and ideals. It takes far more thought for me to consider multiple points of view and other perspectives, beliefs, and thoughts.
One mindedness is one mindedness, no matter which side the believer is on. Belief is more than simply adhering to a belief system; it’s expanding one’s mind to include a variety of thoughts and perspectives—no matter how much they differ from one’s own. In my opinion, there is more value to believing, and I think it should take great precedence over doubt in any man’s life.