Elementary Education: On Workload

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Grad school is a lot of work. That seems like a pretty obvious statement, but it is one that I have said to myself multiple times throughout this semester. I say it to remind myself that this is a challenge I wanted to take head on. When I applied to Columbia it was because I wanted to be a teacher and that “want” is even stronger after two semesters of courses. Currently we have multiple large projects due every week, so it is essential to be functioning at the top of my game. All of the projects are enriching my craft, and the more time I spend on them the more confident I feel about one day venturing into teaching practice. Right now I spend roughly 40 hours in class or completing homework, which seems like a lot of work when you factor in a part time job. But my grad work? Is totally worth it.

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One of our assignments for our science methods course is to construct an interactive bulletin board for a hypothetical elementary level class. We chose space science and decided to focus on planetary orbit. After some deliberation, we figured out that we could allow students to simulate the spinning of the planets by adhering the planets on ascending rings. We also included pop up stars that each share factoids about one of the planets. It was fun to work on something that catered to my crafty side. I think we all really dug this project. We also have a lesson plan due for our science course in the near future, but I have yet to pick a topic. I want something active, meaningful, and highly transferable to other subjects. Rumination is what I’m doing lately.

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I spent the weekend writing a full-on Hunger Games lesson plan with my classmate Cherise for our social studies course. Once the lesson plan is completed I will likely share some of the components on the blog. This semester we will be going out in the field and testing the lesson on an 8th grade class, so I’m also hoping to have reflections on whether our plan was successful and some images to share of our experience. We were able to integrate the arts, and the lesson is highly active. I’ve been geeking out about it all week and honestly can’t wait to share it.

We’ve also been pretty heavily immersed in writing a research paper for our psych class. I’m focusing on social networking services and whether classrooms need to be teaching students how to be responsible users. There is a lot of focus on cyber bullying in schools but hardly any focus on profile building and the information sharing. Social networking has become such a ubiquitous part of our existence that I do feel like it should be part of the school’s responsibility to explain the concept of “made identities” and all of the negative outcomes that can come from social media sharing. I also intend to share some of this paper with the blog as I complete it. Another project for psych is a pop culture analysis. I’m taking on Rookie Magazine, which will include building a shrine (in true high school fashion). See? Lots of work and thought happening right now. I’m brimming with ideas.

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One of the great things about elementary education is that we often test out lesson plan theories on each other in class. This week Gaby and Russell helped us to determine what foods we’d want to eat in space. It was quickly determined that Oreos, while delicious, should not be leaving Earth anytime soon. And we learned this while consuming junk food, which I think is traditional in most grad school settings. I’m mid-way through my week (and almost the semester) with a lot on my plate, but I’m looking forward to sharing my progress and taking all of these challenging assignments head one.

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