How I Spent My Three Day Summer Vacation

I’m not much of a blogger, but I am a bit of a talker and a writer, so I this made sense as a medium for my thoughts and my reflection. As a talker, my thoughts are the equivalent of brain splatter: ideas going every which way about anything and everything, and anyone within hearing distance gets hit. As a writer, on the other hand, my voice is very reserved and proper; often my intended audience is a small group of people or just one person, most likely someone my superior/ grading my papers or essays. In blogging I have to balance the opennness of my speech with the focus of my writing because while I am writing, the blog is also a place to have a conversation with myself and others (Luehmann, 289). The happy intermediate will hopefully serve as an effective blogging medium.

In one of my old internships, one of the discussion protocols we had was to always “speak from the “I” perspective.” This meant that any statement you made was only from your point of view and that you would not assume anyone else’s background, point of view, or feelings on the subject. This is the primary reasoning for my (sometimes) excessive use of I’s and my’s and me’s in my post. It may come off as narcissistic, but I think it makes sense: the opinions and thought on this blog are my own (unless credited) and I can only speak from my own background. I think this is one of my greatest strengths as a blogger. I can speak from my own identity and invite others to do the same. The strength of my own perspective still has some growing to do. There are parts of my identity that I asm very sure of, and parts of it (mainly that of Eric the grown-up) that I am still working out. Bu through blogging I can work out some of these issues by using it as a tool to gain “awareness and personal consideration (295)” of my own voice.

This blogging thing is still really new to me. My experience in writing has almost exclusively been in short stories, plays, essays and lab reports. One of my areas of growth is definitely incorporating other media into my blog. I’ve embedded hyperlinks into my blog posts, and for the class blog I use photos to capture what words truly can’t. A prime example is the variety of Warner Biscuits. That is when a picture definitely spoke a thousand words. But considering how much you can incorporate into a blog, I could stand to blab a little less and incorporate a bit more. With that said, here is a list of books that I may consider for my literary discussion (more on that later).  http://www.salon.com/2014/06/11/10_great_science_reads_that_you_can_take_to_the_beach/.

Another one of my areas of growth is using my blog as place to grapple with issues. I reflect a lot and make checks of my internal state a lot, but I don’t openly work out some of my issues as often as I should. This is a space where people make comments and while I allow them to make comments, I don’t give the questions or the vexations (gonna start using that word more often now!) as a platform for these discussions. As much as you all would like to hear how I’m doing, wouldn’t it be better if I incorporated more vexations? Also, what kinds of vexations (personal, pedagogical, content-based, a combination of all of the above) would interest you most?

And with that Summer A is over. Time to rest (sort of) and relax (sort of) and get ready for summer B! Coming into this course I had no idea what to expect. It had only been two days since graduation and it was a short time to get a lot done and to have a big shift in mindset. I went from a student whose attitude towards schoolwork was in-line with, “oh, to hell with this. I just gotta get this done and turned in.” But now I’m a graduate student. While the word “student” is still in there, this now means that every bit of work I do has some practical purpose and that practical purpose is coming up very soon. At times everything seemed overwhelming and I felt that I didn’t quite have what it took to be in this line of work. However, there have been moments of reassurance because in every class, I have felt I’ve built on my knowledge from the previous class every time. I’m slowly shedding my lens of seeing the world as a science student and building my lens of “science facilitator.” That means that I am looking at everything as broad as the world around me to something specific as  steps in a student’s methods section that could prove to be a learning decision. It’s not easy yet, but it will get easier with time and it will make my role as a facilitator all the better. And finally, a shout out to the 2014 cohort.  They are an amazing and supportive group and really helped me stay strong. Guys and gals, you are better than any group I could’ve asked for! Bring it on, Summer B, we’re ready for ya!

And lastly, a message from Uncle Charles:

homework-class-test-spread-the-word

Bye for now!

Life Lessoned Learned Little by Little

Well, it’s mid-June (ish) and I’ve typed up my last VCEEE for 487. It’s only after I have typed them up and read the comments that I look back at them not so much as assignments, but as compartmentalizations of my takeaways from the readings. I suppose that’s one step in the teacher direction of the student/teacher identity.

Ceb and I have started to hash out the nuances of our project. I now present the things I’ve learned thus far… In list form!

-Hardware stores and pet stores are gold mines when it comes to materials for experiments.

-Coming up with your own procedure is a huge learning experience. I did not expect to use stoichometry for a project based on bacteria, but it happened and shows that skills are transferrable between the major disciplines.

-Putting something into pictures before putting it into writing is a big help. It is much easier because one can gradually add a greater level of detail by using the pictures as a jumping off point. That leap would have been difficult if we started by writing it out.

So far, I think I’m doing and feeling fine. One thing that keeps happening is that I am terrible with keeping in touch with people who are not in Rochester. Technology has made it easier than ever to do so and I still forget/put it off. Sometimes it’s work, sometimes it’s fatigue, sometimes it’s just that I don’t know what to say. Whatever it is, I still have to put in that time for those people who matter. Sigh, I guess that’s a part about being a pseudo-real person: your friends are not going to be geographically convenient, so you make time for them. Man these little lessons seem poignant when I write them down.

Well, on that note… The webcomic link of the week has to do with how I feel above. It’s also not an uplifter, but I guess that’s where I am right now. But that’s okay. You need bitter in order to taste sweet, right?

http://zenpencils.com/comic/142-timothy-ferriss-someday/

See ya next week or sooner!

Things Eric finds on the internet

So I am a fan of the internet, and it leads me to some fun and sometime thought-provoking things. So in this edition there are two things:

This is a music video to a song called “Fragile.” It is a collaborative piece (we read about that!) and the short story that is interspersed really made me think.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IKs5OsT4dIY

I felt determined and unsettled at the same time watching this. I feel like there were times in middle and high school when I was the victim of the bullying and sometimes I was the bystander, maybe not with a phone in my hand recording the whole thing but still doing nothing. The lyrics are a bit fast, I’ll admit, but both the song and the story relate to how gifts and talents outside of mainstream acceptance sometimes never see the light of day, and that we must be active in being allies to these students so that their gifts may show.  One last point I will make about the song is that in the second and third verses, both the artists take offense to critics who slam them despite having never performed themselves or even bothered to really understand their material. What I take away from this is that there will be critics out there of how we go about teaching what we teach. We must be aware that some opinions truly matter, and some simply do not matter at all. Find your network of people to trust and be confident in what you do.

(phew that was a lot, but I’d love to hear your thoughts)

The second is another “Zen Pencils” comic.  This one is from a high school valedictorian and is an excerpt from her speech.

http://zenpencils.com/comic/123-erica-goldson-graduation-speech/

This one has a lot of weight for me because as educators, we want our students to succeed in our class and in their lives. But this quote just makes me feel… well… I don’t know how to feel about this one.

Anyway, sharing is caring and so here you go: a rap song and a webcomic. Beats reading about the Kardashians 12 times out of 10 if you ask me.

Warner Biscuits, Warner Paper

Things are starting to pick up more. We’ve started our projects, we’ve raised the bar on VCEEE’s and blog posts and even snack. I know it’s early, but on the support/accountability chart from our first seminar, I feel the slight shift in our increased accountability. Now that our feet are wet, the expectations can be dialed up a bit.

One of the coolest things this week was the data hub.

All hail the multitasker king

All Hail The Multitasker King

This thing not only cuts down on the number of tools you need in a science classroom, but the interface is such that it is not as intimidating as far as scientific instruments go. It embraces technology in the classroom by being able to link with tablets. Students are used to touch screens, so it makes data collection seem not as foreign. Lastly, if a class goes through many different units of science, the data hub can be included in labs across multiple units, giving a student one less trivial thing to worry about.

We also have started to touch on identity in a scientific classroom. This is one of my favorite topics of all time and the Meyer and Crawford reading was an amazing read because it not only touches on the reality of a diverse classroom with diverse cultural backgrounds, it did so explaining how scientific inquiry may push against certain cultural norms. Growing up in a Korean household with those values, I know an inquiry-based method would have certainly been at odds with what I was taught about position of authority. In Korean culture the way I was raised, positions of authority, whether they be teachers, parents, pastors, etc., were not to be questioned. Whatever the said was to be taken in as the truth. With that background, a classic, stand in front of the class and speak approach would be totally fine, but inquiry-based learning and constantly asking “why?” and “how?” would be difficult to grasp. There may be a more extensive blog post about this once I get a chance to collect my thought on my perspective on the topic.

Jo Ann pointed out something in seminar: “”Stop thinking of yourself as a student, begin to think of yourself as a teacher.” This will be one of my great challenges over the summer. I’ve been a student for 17 years. The time between my diploma ceremony and my first class at Warner was just over 50 hours. Being a student is quite frankly, all I’ve ever been and all I’ve ever seen myself as in terms of any occupation. That quote from the handout is still freaking me out! I’ve never thought to think about that until it appeared in writing! I could underline it a million times and still think, “one more underline couldn’t hurt!”

(okay… deep breath… now deep breath again… Phew, I feel a bit better.)

Okay, let’s make a plan of attack. From here on out, I cannot think about “what did I get on this assignment?” I need to think, “have I gotten everything out of the assignment? Have I learned something that I can apply in my classroom?” Granted I have always thought to apply my learning, but now there is no more grade-based incentive. My work now has an ever greater purpose and everything I do right now is a step in the right direction so that when the first first day of school rolls around, Mr. Han is as ready as he can be! This will be a recurring segment in my blog, as I feel it will be one of my greatest mental hurdles.

In response to the Christopher Emdin TEDx talk video we saw, he talked about how we overuse words until they lose meaning. In response, here is a comic with Louis C.K. outlining the same thing.

Disclaimer: The comic itself is a bit PG-13. Not the words themselves, but the imagery. But it still reinforces the concept of our need of thinking more about how we speak.

http://zenpencils.com/comic/95-louis-c-k-we-dont-think-about-how-we-talk/

Zen Pencils is amazing! He has given me permission to use his webcomics in my other classrooms and the quotes he uses really come to life in his work, I suggest you look through them, especially his one of Taylor Mali’s poem “What Teachers Make”, which is also conveniently below:

http://zenpencils.com/comic/124-taylor-mali-what-teachers-make/

And the youtube video itself:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RxsOVK4syxU.

His passion is unbelievable. I watch this as a pick-me-up on those days I feel off, and it lights the fire in my belly.

Bye for now!

P.S. I propose in light of Oreo’s being called “Warner Biscuits,” hummus (specifically red pepper hummus) should appropriately be called “Warner spread.” Thoughts?