Archive for February, 2007

General Education Forum

I attended the general education requirement forum this evening and despite the small turnout it was still an hour of interesting conversation.

One of the hot topics was the role of the Freshman Seminar and even I felt compelled to get up and put my two cents in, which surprised me because I’m usually not comfortable with public speaking. I have a lot of faith the first year seminar can be a great experience for freshman because it will introduce them to learning at a higher level through class discussion and having a closer relationship with the professor and class mates. They also discussed replacing English 101 with the Freshman Seminar. Students had varying opinions, which were usually directly related to their experience in 101 or the FSEM. If they had a good experience “We should keep 101” and if it was a bad experience, “Lets get rid of it!”

There was a round of applause when they announced that they would be getting rid of the technology proficiency for the incoming class of freshman.

It surprised me (well sort of) that there were students who were clinging to some of the gen-eds and the faculty and older members of the board were pushing to rethink liberal education. In my English class I read an excerpt from a book about the millennial generation (my generation) and how many people  my age are concerned with jumping through hoops and not rocking the boat. That essay mainly discussed students in ivy-league schools, but I think it applies to a lot of people who attended the forum. Aren’t people my age supposed to be rebelling against the system and in support of the radical stuff? Of course that is just a generalization.

What I noticed most is that the students seemed concerned with other peoples education. What I mean by this is, “How will you make sure people are getting that well rounded education?” “What will stop people from taking a bunch of 100 level courses? ” and so on and so forth. These students acted as if these classes would be going somewhere, that by getting rid of some of these gen-eds that the classes would magically disappear or somehow the opportunity to take classes would no longer be viable. The board kept pressing the fact that many classes integrated the requirements already in place and that it wouldn’t actually change the way the professors taught the class.

What question/comment that really stuck out to me was when a student said something to the effect, “When applying for graduate school they will be able to see that I took classes in foreign language, science, english and I will have that wide range of classes under my belt. Students in the future who won’t have this.” Again the idea that these classes are going to disappear. In addition, that student doesn’t seem to have faith that students can take control of their own education. Students are so concerned with the “checklist” of things that need to be done that they can be missing their education. The new gen-eds can be loose enough that students can take control, but give enough support to give people that aren’t quite sure what to do a wide variety options to find a path.

I’ve come away from the whole experience feeling the faculty and board are more excited and free thinking about the students education then the students are about it. What is wrong with this picture?


Interactive Viewing

For a week or two I’ve had a saved draft about the ways shows are engaging viewers outside the episodes of the show. I just never got around to finishing it, but I stumbled across this article, so I started a new post because I was too lazy to go back to the old one.

I have been a fan of the Sopranos for awhile so naturally I am excited that it is starting up again. I’ll also admit the fact that it takes place in my home state is an appeal, so when I saw this interactive feature I could not resist.

“The Time-Warner unit will launch interactive satellite maps from Google on its web site starting on February 27 to highlight the locations of key plot points involving James Gandolfini’s character Tony Soprano and his cronies on the series. HBO will also buy search advertising keywords from Google in order to drive people to the maps.”

So I googled ‘Sopranos’ and the second thing that popped up was the interactive map. So for people that don’t have a life (like myself) or people looking to remember what had happened since Sopranos was last on it was a great tool. I have been discovering more and more ways that broadcasting companies are reaching out using the internet, and doing it creatively.

Also despite the fact that I don’t get HBO here I am sure I’ll find a way to download new episodes, thank God for the internet!

And maybe I’ll get around to posting that other saved draft.

Abolishing Homework

I read an interesting article over at the San Francisco Chronicle about a high school teacher who does not assign his students homework. It also discussed an elementary school that got rid of its homework policy.

I agree that for most elementary school age kids long periods of homework are not helpful and it is better spent doing other activities. The sticky spot is when students get to middle school and high school, the data gets a little fuzzy. I’m sure all students would want less homework, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is good to get rid of homework. Personally, I didn’t do my homework often and my test scores were fine, but I ended up getting not so good overall grades because homework counted as part of the grade. I am just one student though so what works for me may not work for someone else. I will admit though that homework can be beneficial, even in college. For my Econ class I have to do little quizzes on and this forces me to think about the material and it has helped me better understand the material.

The article made a point, which I think is one of the most important, that teachers need to consider what they are assigning as homework. Is it busy work? Or it is thought-provoking and beneficial to the student? Of course it is probably easier to get a student to do a fill in the blank worksheet over a sheet that asks for written response, but this brings up another question. What could teachers do to motivate students to do homework and care about their education? This leads to bigger questions about the role of the teacher and students and perhaps even the whole grading system.

So many question…

A New Toy!

I was half asleep when I entered my 9:30 Econ class, but as soon as I saw Jerry was talking with my professor I knew something exciting was going to happen.

Our lucky class got to play with a new toy, the iClicker, and it was a fun experiment. Everyone in the class got to use an object that resembled a remote with a A,B,C,D,E and an On/Off button on it.


Simple enough to understand, right? So we did a multiple choice review for our midterm and when a question popped up on the screen we could click what we thought was the right answer and afterwards we could see a poll based on what everybody had picked. This is a great way to engage the class and to clear up questions and faulty logic right there in real time. I had fun with this new toy and I hope that I will see it again in the course of my learning.

Bored and Annoyed

One of the classes I am taking this semester is annoying me because I cannot figure out why I don’t like it.

This subject has always been one of my favorites and it aggravates me that I sit in class, bored silly, because my attention span grows really short. If anything my doodling skills have become better, but that doesn’t really help me when the time comes to take the midterm (which is this Friday).

The class is almost always the same format, a PowerPoint presentation with the main points and the professor fills in with details. Every class this semester has been like this except the two times we had a class discussion (which is a bunch of questions thought up by the professor) and that is about as exciting as the class has been. It is not like this is the same old information that I’ve heard in other classes on this subject, it definitely goes more in depth and discusses more topics. Despite this I cannot bring myself to listen to this professor talk for 50 minutes about anything. Maybe she is just giving us too much information and drowning us in detail? This is also a lower level course (it fulfills a requirement) so there is just the confusion of what I can expect from a professor who has a class of 60 people who are most likely taking the class to fulfill a requirement.

So maybe I know some reason as to why I don’t enjoy the class, but what can I do to change this? I’m not quite sure, but I’ve thought of at least one idea that could at least help me with organization. The professor puts up the PowerPoints before the day of the class and at first I had been printing it out and filling in the spaces, but that proved too messy. My laptop is still broken and dragging out my external keyboard is just a pain, but I think it might be the only way to I can pay attention because I can just copy and paste the PPT’s to a word document and then just fill it in that way. Maybe that way I’ll at least  have the notes to pass the class…

Reading the Past

As I mentioned in my last post I found my original online journal and I took the time to read through all the posts.

Long story short, I decided I needed to change my blog name (again) and so here I am.

I came up with this name in my Stats class and maybe it will stick, who knows…

ETA: It has already been pointed out to me by my friend that if you switched the title of the blog around it could have a completely different meaning, sigh…haha. My friend also didn’t know what loaded dice were anyway. I’m making this way too difficult…

It Blows My Mind

Ok I am on some sort of adrenaline rush right now, simply stated I found the first online journal I created (right before my sophmore year of high school in 2003).  Here is how it happened:

– I was reading comments on a post at Gardner Writes and out of curiosity I followed a username to this blog, where I read an article that was linked in one of the blog posts. It got me thinking about my LiveJournal that I used to keep and I decided to go back and look at my very first post. My first post said the reason I was now using LJ was because my friends had all gone over to LJ. So what online journal was I using before? Luckily I had mentioned it in my post and so I did some searching and I miraculously found my first ever online journal over at Blurty. I had completely forgotten about that journal and so of course I started to read and it really just blew my mind. It is dated August 16, 2003, over 3 years ago, and even though it seems like a short span of time I’ve realized how much I have grown since that point in my life. I haven’t had the time to read all my posts yet, but if I stumble across anything interesting I will be sure to blog about it, hey maybe I’ll even link to some posts (how embarrassing). I’ve never kept a journal when I was little, but realizing that I have unknowingly kept one since 2003 is a neat discovery.

The internet is an amazing place.

iPod for Learning

I have been having trouble thinking of things to blog about outside my daily activities, so today I went on a blog search and stumbled across College v2. One of the entries caught my eye because coincidentally I had been thinking about using my iPod the same exact way. Her post Use Your iPod as a Tool shares ways to use your iPod as study tool and learning tool.

“You can use your iPod to downloaded books, textbook study guides and languages. Not only that, can buy additional software for the iPod that will let you record your professors lectures…”

I can’t tell you how many times I wish I could remember exactly what a professor had said about something. I’ll be the first to admit that I am attached to my music and because of it I am always carrying around my iPod. So having the opportunity to listen to a class I missed or listening again to a professors lecture would be beneficial to my learning.

Some professors might be afraid that if they have their lectures available online then students won’t come to class. I say, if your class is boring enough that I could just listen to you lecture to get all I need, maybe your class needs to be more interesting. I’m not implying that I need to be entertained in order to come to class, but even having a simple discussion or just asking the class questions does wonders to help facilitate understanding of the material.

The post ends on this note:

“One thing is for certain, technology will allow for us to learn in many new ways that will enhance the learning experience and make it easier to tailor education to best fit our needs. “


The Joy of Randomness

For my own sanity I recently decided that I needed to add a little more randomness to my life and with that a little more spontaneity. My “experiment” has been going well and for some reason in all this randomness I have somehow become more organized and disciplined. I’m not sure if these are two separate events or one is causing the other, but whatever it is I’m just hoping it lasts. I’m willing to bet the randomness is causing the increase in my ability to focus on school. Happiness = motivation and drive and for once I am putting it to good use. So a little recapping of the random things:

1) Last week, on a whim, I went to hear Jemhu Greene speak and it was well worth my time. I met someone who just transferred into Mary Washington and who happens to live in my Residence Hall. We discussed politics and because she is probably more into the political scene then I am she went up to talk to Jemhu Greene after the lecture. I decided to follow her and we had a great conversation.

2) For whatever reason last week I had the insatiable urge to go for a walk and so I did. Despite the fact there were freezing temperatures I braved the cold and walked downtown. Even though I have been here for a few months I realized I knew very little about the downtown area, so what better way then to walk around? For me walking is a good way to just clear my mind or sometimes have the opportunity to just think things out in solitude (or as alone one person can get walking downtown). The downtown area is just really beautiful, and I love the architecture of all the old buildings so that was just an added bonus.

3) I’ve been involved with an organization called Young Life and this past semester I have been a leader in training so this semester I will be placed at a high school, but not before I have to shadow some of the older leaders. So, on Saturday I took the initiative to ask my friend (who I happen to be shadowing) if she wanted to eat lunch after she got off of work at the museum downtown. I realized that this was the first time I had actually spent time alone with her so it was a good opportunity to see our friendship outside the context of the mutual friend we have. On a side note, I do recommend the Caroline Street Cafe, the white chicken chili is amazing.

4)Yesterday, the friend I am shadowing asked me if I wanted to go to a high school track meet because she coaches for Stafford and they would be competing. Normally, I think I would have passed up, but in the spirit of spontaneity I agreed. I have been to one or two track meets in the past, but never really paid attention so standing on the coaches side was a whole new experience all together. Technically, when I am shadowing I am supposed to be invisible, but sometimes its hard to pretend you don’t exist haha. I met one of the coaches and he was wondering if I wanted to help coach track in the spring. I had been practicing being silent so well I wasn’t quite sure what to say (especially since I might not be placed at that high school so coaching there would be a little weird and the small matter that I know next to nothing about track). For whatever reason the coach assumed I knew a thing or two and during one of the heats he asked me to go over and stand on one of the sprinters starting blocks. Although it sounds simple enough I was so sure I was going to screw it up (I definitely checked the people around me to pick up some tips), but being involved made the race more exciting. By the end of the meet I was filled with excitation and joy and I didn’t even know these kids, so I can only imagine how rewarding it is for my friend who actually coaches these kids.

5) I spent most of today working on class work, in fact I don’t think I ever worked on so much stuff in one sitting, which doesn’t say too much about my work habits, but in any case after a few hours I decided I needed a “sanity” break. To preface this it should be known that me and my neighbors like to create photo-shopped works and other random pictures to amuse each other (the best way to present them is to randomly tape them to the door, like a surprise), but for awhile nobody has done anything. So my creative muse has been bugging me to create some of the ideas that have been swimming around my head and tonight I finally sat down and did it. I created two “artworks” for two of my neighbors and I created a Valentine for one of my other friends. My two “artworks” were a hit and now my brain can finally shut up about the stupid spoof that it has been dying to make for a week or so.

Since this is a random post I think I can put in this random tangent. While thinking about the so-called creations I had made this evening I recalled at my 5th grade graduation being chosen “Most Creative”, at the time I was completely crushed because I had never seen it in myself and the tomboy in me wanted to win “Most Athletic”. I cannot even begin to describe my confusion as I walked up to get my award, up until that point I honestly don’t think I had ever been called creative. At time I was so sure it was a cop-out because, “Anyone can be considered creative, this sucks”. I can’t remember what I did with that reward, but I think I faintly remember throwing it out in a fit of anger. Weird, the random memories that surface during the course of a day.

Hopefully getting this randomness that has been stuck down on “paper” will shut my brain up tonight, probably not.

For once wasting my time has paid off

This evening while I was randomly surfing the internet I stumbled across The website is a big collection of quotes and covers all sorts of topics and as I was looking at different quotes I was struck by this one:

If you wait to do everything until you’re sure it’s right, you’ll probably never do much of anything. – Win Borden

I recently blogged about my fears and insecurities that come with deciding a major, more specifically, getting it right the first time. I knew that in some way this was unrealistic when I wrote it, but on further reflection I have discovered some things that have helped me deal with these fears. As I have been told by a good friend I have a tendency to be pessimistic about details concerning my future so knowing this I realized that in wanting to be right the first time I was assuming that any choice I would make had the (strong) possibility of being wrong. Perhaps I start in one direction and then I change, so I major in something else, am I wrong? When I phrase it like that I think it sounds completely ridiculous to believe I was wrong when at the time I made the original choice I had thought it through. Isn’t every learning experience a growing experience? So even if it is not what I ultimately desire don’t I still benefit from the experience?

The same thing happened to me when I was applying to colleges, I was just waiting for the “right fit” to happen. I know this does happen with a lot of people, that they just know that a particular college is right for them, but I never had a moment like that. This is why the quote rings so true for me, because I have always wanted to be a “wait till it’s right” kind of person when that is not me (and maybe most people) at all. There are a lot of decisions I am going to have to make that I am going to be uncertain about because sadly I was not blessed with the ability to see the future [/sarcasm]. This is something I have had to come to terms with and as much as I may believe that life is a journey (see blog banner) I often do not act on my belief, which, I suppose makes them beliefs I don’t believe in at all. Changing the way I think to match the way I act and vice-versa is something I have been consciously trying to take care of and in doing this I hope that it makes my life simpler. I think I could use a bit of simplicity at the moment.

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