Today was my last pre-field experience Friday in the schools for PSII. Even though it was a slow (and frustrating) start, I have enjoyed my weekly visit to PAMS so much! I really can’t wait to settle in more starting April 12th 😀

I have been assigned to Punxsutawney Area Middle School with Ms. Smith in a 7th grade English classroom. And this is seriously perfect because that placement, right there, is my dream teaching position! I know, I know…I can’t be picky. But if I could be, that is what I would pick!

My first day there was a bit boring, because it was “Read Across America Day.” This means that all day, every period, the students read. Unfortunately, since our placements were so last minute, my teacher wasn’t able to tell me this ahead of time, so I arrived bookless. However, what English teacher does have stacks (and stacks) of books in their room? I was able to pick up a few different books and definitely added some to my “to-read” list. Even though I didn’t get to see much action, I was glad to be able to get to know Ms. Smith. She is an awesome teacher, with years and years of experience. Her rapport with the students is beyond incredible- I love it!

My next two visits were definitely more exciting. Although still not action-packed, I was more active throughout the day. I sat in on some other classes too with Mr. Constantino (social studies) and Mrs. Stants (science). I am also planning units to teach in these classes. In Ms. Smith’s class, I did a lot of vocab work…Fridays are vocab days 🙂 This involves a vocab sentence test and the introduction of the next week’s words. (Side note: at my third visit, I was allowed to wear jeans! I was happy about this, along with the rest of the staff!)

So that brings us to today, my last Friday visit. As usual, this was not a typical day because 1) Ms. Smith had her library day, and 2) there was an assembly. Her classes were a bit of a repeat of my first visit, but this time the location was the library. But once again, I was able to talk more with a lot of the teachers, and I showed Mrs. Stants my science unit. The students were also really excited about the assembly; it was a BMX show – very cool!

Overall, my four Fridays have been fun. However, I think my favorite thing about them was being able to sit in on team and faculty meetings. I have been able to connect SO MUCH from these meetings to what I have been learning in class! The team meetings are focused on the teachers talking about students they sense are having academic, social, or behavioral problems. This is effective because then all other teachers can chime in with any observations from their own classes. Because this is currently the end of their 9-week grading period, parent-teacher conferences was a big topic of discussion. During faculty meetings, both the teachers and administration are involved. The topics covered here include things like bullying, standardized testing, and the Common Core Standards. I think I have mastered the teacher lingo 😉

Even though this semester has stressed me to wits-end (and is still doing so..), these Fridays have proven to me that it is worth it. Those kids are truly great, and I can’t wait to start working with them on a daily basis!

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Socratic Seminar

Today in class, we participated in a socratic seminar activity of Ramsay’s chapters 6 and 7. We have been doing a lot of similar activities in our other classes, such as the “fishbowl” discussion. Basically, they all have the common formation of an inner- and outer-circle. First, the members inner-circle have a discussion, but they are the only ones aloud to talk. When their discussion is over, the outer-circle is aloud to share any thoughts they acquired while watching the inner-circle’s discussion time. The outer circle might ask for clarifications, add personal experience, agree or disagree with statements, or raise new questions. I like these kinds of activities because they are a unique way to mix up the original, dull “discussion.” I think it is also interesting how only one group of students have the ability to talk at a time. Today, and in the past, there has been many moments when I was dying to open my mouth and contribute- but had to wait my turn!

We had effective discussions today in class; a lot of good points were made. The circle that was assigned chapter 6 made a lot of points regarding the combination of technology and cooperative learning. I think when it is possible for these two to work together, that is great! However, a statement was made that no teacher should have technology on their mind when they are first planning a lesson. Teachers must have a solid foundation and basis for their lesson before they can incorporate forms of technology for enhancement. I totally agree with this! Many times, technology is just a bonus, a fancy addition to an important topic. Sometimes it really enhances a lesson, sometimes it adds something mediocre. Other times, it can be completely terrible and cause mass confusion and chaos! That is why teachers need to first focus on the content, objectives, and lesson. Another thing they discussed was the use of PowerPoints; all of the group members agreed that they enjoy PowerPoints, but I must say that I disagree with that! While they have their purposes, PowerPoints can EASILY take a turn for the worse. Sometimes they are boring, sometimes they include too much information, sometimes teachers go through them too quickly, and sometimes they are just badly created. I thought it was interesting how much they supported the program.

I was in the circle that was assigned chapter 7. In our discussion, we talked about Ramsay’s “Oration Sensation” activity and evaluated its effectiveness. There were definitely mixed feelings regarding this project. Issues that were brought up were Skype, adolescent ability, comfort in front of peers, and flexibility. In my eyes, teachers should always be flexible with every lesson- always have a back up plan! When it comes to Skype, I think that is something that could be left out of the classroom. Like PowerPoint, it has its purposes; for example, a class could view a “guest speaker” through Skype. However, I really don’t feel like it is so effective to rely heavily on it in the classroom. I have stronger feelings about the other two major topics we discussed. First, Ramsay said that persuasive writing is difficult for adolescents to do. I can understand where she is coming from with her reasons, but I think with good modeling and teaching, they are very capable of producing a great persuasive piece. Also, utilizing writing workshops would help students realize any biases or evidence-lacking statements that they have in their papers. I believe middle school students could certainly do this type of paper. However, I do have a problem with the presentation of it. I strongly believe in public speaking activities, because that is an important skill. Performing a personal piece of work to strangers is something completely different. I do not have a problem with public speaking, but I don’t know how I would feel about sharing (or theatrically performing) something so intimate to a group of strangers. And I DEFINITELY know that as a middle school student, I would want no part in that. This is where Ramsay is making a mistake- she does not have alternate plans, options, or roles. I think it would make a group of middle school students happy if they wrote something and then performed it as a group, including a performer, recorder, manager, etc.

In terms of the writing itself, persuasive writing is one of my favorites! I will admit that even as an (almost) 21 year old, I think we all still have difficulty considering both sides of an argument sometimes 🙂

Old McMiddlers had a farm…

Last week our cohort took a field trip to Dr. Twiest’s farm…and it was awesome! The weather was perfect, there was plenty of good food, and we actually learned a lot of cool things. One of the main goals of a good environmental science program is to teach your students not to be afraid of the outdoors- and before this trip, I definitely had some reservations. I am not AFRAID of the outdoors, but I also am not its BIGGEST FAN. Regardless, I knew it wouldn’t be too bad since I was going with 20 of my best friends and we were cooking breakfast over an open fire. I even enjoyed the actual science/muddy/woodsy stuff. So, congrats Twiest family- your house can be go-to my environmental science program any day! Here are some pics…

Trust me, I am a strong advocate of technology. But this experience really proved that putting down that iPad or turning off the SmartBoard could be more beneficial than you think! 😉

Memoir Reflection

This memoir assignment was a lot of fun to write. With the rough past year that I just had to endure, there were plenty of sad or depressing things I could have written about. But I didn’t want to do that. During this stressful semester, it was really refreshing to be able to do an assignment that was more light-hearted and personal. This is probably why it was so easy to write as well. I felt like once I finally decided on my topic, the story poured out of me like it was just yesterday.

During the drafting process, some of the activities we did in our writer’s notebooks helped guide me to exactly what I wanted to write; I knew that I would enjoy reminiscing on a family memory best because that I found that is where all of those activities led me. I thought that writing about something that all of us 90’s kids could relate to would also make it fun for my peers to read.

I think the final draft of my memoir is of great quality. I am very satisfied with the idea I chose, and worked really hard on incorporating strong elements of voice, word choice, and sentence fluency. I think the organization took care of itself because I cannot change the sequence of events that happened. However, one creative thing I did with organization was tying my opening paragraph to my closing one. I think my strongest element in this piece is my voice; I put my individuality and personality into the story. When someone reads my memoir, I feel like they would definitely be able to hear my actual voice behind it, as if I am reading it to them in their minds. This concept kind of flows into the category of word choice, as well. The words I used to tell my story really support my personality and the humor I was trying to convey.

I enjoyed writing a piece that was more relaxed and personal. As a writer, it is important to vary the styles you work with, and it has definitely been a while since I was able to do that. This also applies to my role as a future teacher of writing because I know my students will have the same kind of feelings, especially as middle school students. Although this more relaxed type of writing does not necessarily have to be a memoir, I think it would be a great thing to do in the classroom. Memoirs are based on a middle school student’s favorite subject: themself!

I liked the workshop of sharing our memoirs. I thought the addition of creating digital versions made it really fun and unique. Both my writer’s group and those that I worked with today gave me much of the same feedback: they enjoyed the humor, details, and intro/conclusion connection. This made me feel good because I was nervous about not adding any more dialogue, but I think my story is effective without it!

A morph down memory lane…

Getting started on my memoir was hard. A lot of things that I went through last year gave me plenty of sad and depressing topics I could have written about, but I didn’t want to do that. Of course, reflecting on times of struggle can be therapeutic. But for this project, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to showcase my humor through the voice component of the memoir. The story we really focused on in class gave me the idea to think about funny stories related to my brother, which guided my thought process to fun holiday celebrations, and then eventually I reached the perfect topic: the never-forgetful story of how the Power Rangers caused Christmas chaos. I loved this idea as soon as it popped into my head because not only is it a funny story, but it can resonate with all of my peers (my audience) as they were just as familiar with the 90’s superhero sensations, the Power Rangers.

I am lucky I don’t embarrass easily 🙂

It was a lot of fun writing this story! When I read it to my parents, they laughed and had a great time remembering the incident – and my extended phase of being obsessed with the Pink Ranger.

You can check out my final digital memoir here, and my final memoir story here.

Ho, ho, Power Rangers!

When Did This Happen?!

This semester has been jam-packed with classes, homework, field experiences, and unit planning (lots, and lots of unit planning). I cannot believe there are only 3 weeks left of my semester!!

 

 

Yes, adorable baby…I am serious.

 

Where did the time go? This not only means that I only 3 weeks to finish the loooooong list of units, projects, papers, and assignments I have, but it also means that I am almost a….a……A SENIOR. When in the world did this happen??

 

Wait, did I say I only have 3 weeks to finish all of my work? ….Gotta go!!

Memoir Draft

Hilary Seserko

MIDL 425 – 001

Memoir Assignment

Due:

 

How the Pink Ranger Stole Christmas

            It was the most wonderful time of the year. Big, fluffy snowflakes were gently floating to the ground as the partly cloudy sky allowed the sun to peak through every so often. The smell of pine, peppermint, and freshly baked pizelles filled the air. Driving through the neighborhood, decorated houses resembled a nighttime sky of lights. Of course, I am talking about the time of the year when the new Power Rangers VHS was released. This was the biggest day, the most exciting thing that could happen in my carefree kindergarten life. Obviously I was just as excited for Santa to come a week later, but I couldn’t get too ahead of myself. First thing first: memorize every single thing the Pink Ranger says and does in the new movie.

I was a lucky little child that I did not have to wait until Christmas to get my new movie. I guess that is a prime example of grandparents spoiling their grandchildren. Notice how I said children, as in plural. Just a few months earlier, on September 9th to be exact, someone new joined my family. I was not bitter about a new baby brother; I was actually really excited. I couldn’t wait to help take care of Hayden in every way possible, most of the time doing it wrong and waiting for my mom to frantically pull him away to do it right. I knew he was still too young to fully soak in the true greatness of the Power Rangers dynasty, but I was thrilled to show him Christmas for the first time.

About one week before the main event of this story, we took Hayden to Grandma’s house so that my mom, my dad and I could go pick out the ideal tree for the designated corner of the family room. At that age, the Christmas tree nursery was a magical forest that spanned for miles, full of the fattest and tallest evergreens, fraser firs, and blue spruces. In reality, it is just a quaint place on Route 8, but they always seem to have the perfect match for the Seserko family. After an extensive search through the aisles, we found a great tree that I was positive Hayden would love; he was only a few months old, but already had quite an eye for detail. With the tree tied tight to the roof of our Blazer, my family and I picked up my brother and headed back home to decorate. My mom was really eager to use a set of new bulbs and ornaments that she recently bought. They were so shiny, and really looked wonderful on our brightly lit Christmas tree. With Christmas music playing in the background, Santa hats sitting on our heads, and a plate of pizelle cookies in close vicinity for snacking, I still love decorating the tree with my family.

If you are wondering how any of this relates to the Power Rangers, the plot thickens here. As soon as my Grandma bought me the new movie, the VHS immediately became worn and tattered from the in-and-outs of the tape player. It did not take me long (and by that, I mean roughly one day) until I had the movie memorized. Better yet, the family room was arranged in the perfect set-up for Power Ranger action. As the Pink Ranger, I was able to soar off of the couch, climb under the coffee table, and now, use the Christmas tree as a hiding spot. My imagination was awesome, and I was the most devoted fan. If the Power Rangers ever needed a Purple Ranger, I was for sure going to be their first-round pick. Although, I would have much preferred to replace the Pink Ranger any day; I was just as good, if not better.

I could mighty-morph for hours on end, and although this was typical, my parents were always impressed at my dedication. I even lost interest in Hayden for a few days (sorry, brother).

One day in the early afternoon, my mom was upstairs trying to put Hayden down for a nap. Before my new movie transformed me into an imaginary superhero, I usually liked to join her in these attempts, even though I tended to just make the job harder. But now that I was enthralled in my new world, I decided to skip this event for the day, because I had morphing to do. As my VHS was rewinding, I watered the tree like my mom asked me to do, and then plugged in the lights. That tree was beautiful! Click. The tape was ready, and so was I. The Power Rangers theme song was just music to my ears.

Jumping, kicking, karate-chopping, I was in the zone. Multiple times, my mom yelled down at me to settle and keep quiet; she was trying to put my brother to sleep, after all. I would comply for a couple seconds, but this colorful crew always got the best of me, and it wasn’t long until I was right back to acting out each scene of the movie. My favorite part was coming up: when the Pink Ranger leaps from a hill top, right into the perfect position for attacking the enemy. This is my moment to shine, I thought, as I climbed to the back of the couch. Timing it perfectly, I soared off the couch just as she soared off the hill. The only difference? When she landed, she struck the enemy with one crisp kick. When I landed, the beautiful Christmas tree that my family loved fell on top of me. Oops.

I quickly jumped up, brushing the pines off of my clothes, and saw dirty water and shiny ornaments spewed everywhere. The tree looked so pathetic lying on the ground, discombobulated.

“WHAT IN THE WORLD WAS THAT?!” I heard my mom scream from upstairs.

My heart was pounding, and I imagine my face closely resembling one that deer make as a car skids towards them. My mind was racing as my mom rushed into the family room with a crying Hayden in her arms. The end credits of the movie were playing on the T.V. screen.

“Hilary, what happened?! Oh my gosh, the tree!!” my mom frantically shrieked, as she hurried over to the crime scene.

At first I told her I had nothing to do with it. But, I think even Hayden knew better than to believe that. I started to cry and kept apologizing. Even though I didn’t mean to cause trouble, my mom was still upset. In fact, she was so distraught that my dad had to come home from work early to help clean up the mess and fix the tree. Needless to say, he was not too happy with me either.

It turns out that not only did I morph so hard that I knocked the tree over, but I also broke the tree stand. While I was secretly proud of my powerful action moves, I was embarrassed at happened, and I was sad that the perfect tree we decorated with my mom’s new ornaments was ruined. A lot of them broke, while others got dented or scratched. We were able to salvage the tree, but my dad did have to go buy a new tree stand. To add to my embarrassment, he bought one of the most extreme, hard-core, and expensive stands he could find. He did not want to take any other chances, since clearly nobody could stop me from putting my heart and soul into pretending to be a part of that superhero crew.

“The Power Rangers caused this mess, maybe they should come and clean it up!” my dad would say.

“Could they really?!” I would gasp. But no, it turns out he just liked being sarcastic.

This gem of a story seems to resurface every year around that time when big, fluffy snowflakes gently float to the ground, the smell of pine, peppermint, and freshly baked pizelles fill the air, and the neighborhood lights up like a nighttime sky. This time around, I am actually talking about Christmas. Shockingly enough, I did grow out of my Power Ranger phase. That doesn’t matter, though, because the story of how the Pink Ranger stole Christmas of ’96 never fails to come up during the big Christmas family dinner.

Books!!

Today I may or may not have accidentally bought 11 books at the Goodwill. And on top of the books that a former English teacher just sent me, that may or may not mean that I have 16 books patiently waiting for me to pick up and read, read, READ! Unfortunately, this semester is jam-packed with work and craziness that I don’t have much free time, let alone reading time. However, I’m going to try to get through at least a few of them this break! I read at the gym today, while on a stationery bike. It feels good to jump into a whole new world 🙂

Books I bought from the Goodwill (only $13?! Please and thank you!):

Okay, those last two really prove that I am a future English teacher…

And when I get back to school, I will post the titles of the ones I have waiting for me at my apartment!

Home Is Where The Memoir Is

This post is going to be short, sweet, and to the point. It is, after all, spring break. Although when you are an education major at IUP, spring break is not a free-pass for a week of no work. I have plenty of things to do, including 3 unit plans! One of my other assignments is the memoir; the first draft is due  on the Monday after break.

My memoir is about a family story that tends to resurface every year at Christmas time. Of course, it is a hilarious memory and a story that never gets old. As I sit here to start my draft, I cannot help but reflect on my wonderful family.

I am extremely close with my family. They are so supportive and caring; I love them so much! When I think about the story for my memoir, so many other funny and happy memories come to my mind. I love thinking about these times, and it makes me miss the good old days. I have only been home for 2 days so far on this break, but that has been plenty of time for me to enjoy my family. I am so happy that I still have an entire week to spend with them. I better get my work done so that I can relax on my break! 🙂