Overall Summary of 1998-99

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Overall Summary of 1998-99

UMD Master of Education Degree Program

Submitted by Jill Katrin

I feel a great sense of pride as I begin to evaluate my accomplishments as a facilitator, writer, and researcher with the the culmination of the 1998-99 school year approaching. I feel good about the goals, writing endeavors, and cooperative group activities I have accomplished thus far. Balancing family responsibilities, a full-time teaching position, and the M.Ed. program has been quite an endeavor. This program has been the most challenging, academic event of my life.

I reflected back to last summer when I was busy working on the components of my portfolio. Shelby, Tim, Dr. Frederickson, and I met to discuss a M.Ed. program and possible universities and the programs they had to offer prior to this assignment. Shelbys persistence to bring a program here was the driving force needed to make this a reality for our unique cohort group. I was pleased and eager to have a program come this community after commuting to Bemidji State University to receive my B.S. in Elementary Education and licensure in Early Childhood.

The portfolio assignment gave me an opportunity to think about accomplishments, personal and educational goals, interests, needs, and desired outcomes in pursuit of the M.Ed. program. The components included in the portfolio assignment helped me make personal discoveries about my professional journey. I felt committed to the UMD M.Ed. program by the time I had finished the portfolio assignments.

Our cohort has become a big part of my life. I have made some wonderful friendships. I have greater respect and understanding of other people as a result of the comradery of our group. I have learned a lot about working together in a team effort with the members of my research group. We all have similiar interests, goals, and desired outcomes for our research topic of the importance of a second language in elementary schools, but organizing our busy schedules to meet in an organized manner has been difficult at times. I have learned that each member in our group adds a special quality to its uniqueness.

Cohort members took turns facilitating weekly sessions. Facilitators went out of their way to provide us an evening of learning. Cohort members, and UMD faculty advisors provided speakers and presentations. The role of faciltator helped our cohort members look more closely at our local community experts to seek their expertise for group sessions. My favorite part of our weekly gatherings was the socializing at dinner break.

I found the following presentations the most helpful. Our very first presentors, Dawn Martinson and Sally Kayne, provided us with a presentation on learning styles. Learning about the different styles provided a self understanding and understanding of other styles. The value of diversity was emphasized. Ways to improve communication patterns and how to build personal strategies were also highlighted. I enjoyed learning more about my learning style with the Personal Style Inventory we completed. I am an ESFJ, which means extraversion, sensing, feeling, and judgement. I could see definite correlations with this learning style and my personal preferences. This activity brought increased awareness of the importance of teaching to a variey of learning styles. Some learners need to see the whole picture first versus learning with a step by step procedure.

Many cohort members needed to be updated with computer technology. I was one of them. Tina Meyers and Tim Everson, cohort members, provided our group with a wealth of information on the basics of computers. Their presentations were organized and helpful. I appreciated their knowledge and computer expertise. They have been available to provide us with computer assistance whenever we need it. The handouts on computer terminology, file management, and Windows operational basics are helpful references as well.

Presentor Dr. Jeff Hardwig discussed ADD (Attention Disorder,) ADHD (Attention Disorder with Hyperactivity,) and FAS (Fetal Alcohol Syndrome). I learned about the diagnostic criteria for ADD and ADHD, and about classroom interventions. I learned students with FAS are difficult to identify. Many children with FAS or FES (Fetal Alcohol Effects) go undiagnosed as a result. As an educator, I need to understand that learners with FAS or FES may exhibit various behaviors that may be difficult to categorize. Helping learners with FAS or FES is often difficult because they do not understand the consequences for misbehavior.

Pauline Nuhring was also a very enjoyable presentor. Her presentation was focused around the importance of laughter in our lives. Her presentation was a constant reminder to incorporate laughter into my classroom. Laughing makes learning more fun and memorable. Laughing provides us with a good coping mechanism as a stress relief. I always feel better after a good laugh. I never realized the healthy effects due to humor. I learned that laughing relaxes our muscular skeletal system, increases T-cells in our body, bolsters our immune system, and produces endorphins.

Learning building trades with Ladd Kocinski was a highlight of the year. I never thought driving a CAT could be that much fun! I was glad when my turn was over though. These two class sessions provided us with hands on activities as we measured, sawed, and hammered. We worked with a team approach to finish the storage shed. Humor was definitely a helpful strategy for learning building trades during these sessions.

This year has provided me with an opportunity to brush up on my writing skills. The more I wrote, the easier it became. Dr. Kate and Dr. Karin provided us with helpful tips for our writing drafts and writing process. Sticking to a topic with clear and concise writing is a difficult task to master. Getting feedback for our writing assignments has been helpful. I am learning the importance of editing in polishing my writing. Barb McDonald has taught us the skills needed to research for our research paper. I have appreciated her guidance, organization skills, expertise, and dedication to our class meetings. Continual guidance from these writing instructors will provide us with valuable skills needed for a lifetime of writing.

Learning more about computer technology has helped me become more proficient with writing on the computer. The computer classes I took from Dr. McCarthy helped broaden my ability to utilize the computer as a learning tool in the classroom. I can now operate both Mac and PC computers. I am no longer afraid of the computer; I am actually challenged to be daring as I let my creativity soar. I learned computer terminology, and familiarized myself with the latest available software programs. I am learning how to use the internet to search. I am interested in researching and reading computer-based literature to learn more about computer technology. I look at my future and my students future as a wonderful adventure as we use the computers together.

Computers help children with the learning process and expand critical thinking. Students learn how to research topics and how to collaborate what they learn with their peers. Students are exposed to our global society and multiculturalism through the use of the internet. Special needs students are able to communicate in remarkable ways with computer adaptations. All of these above reasons intensify why I want to learn more about computers. As was stated in a video I watched in one of my computer classes, Computers are windows to the world.

I am also taking a class called S.E.E.D., which stands for Seeking Educational Quality and Diversity. I read a variety of books focused on individual respect and cultural diversity. Two of the books I read were used as alternative journal reading assignments for the M.Ed. program. I have experienced a great deal of growth in understanding how to overcome the oppression that surrounds us. I have the opportunity to plant seeds in the minds of my students to help them understand the importance of respecting and appreciating each individual for who he/she is.

I read Reviving Ophelia, by clinical psychologist Mary Pipher, for the Great Books assignment. This book focuses on the aspects of girls adolescence. The entire book is filled with case examples of girls struggles to find themselves in a world filled with oppression. Pipher discusses how girls arent socially accepted for who they are. Societal presssures have caused certain expectations of girls. What can we do as educators? We can educate learners with appreciation for cultural diversity and individual differences. We can be good listeners to those with problems or concerns. We can support and guide them. We need to encourage our students to be strong and loyal to what is valued by them as an individual. Now is the time to fight for cultural change.

I have read and reflected about articles from the following professional journals: UTNE Reader, American Educator, The Journal, American Teacher, Minnesota Educator, Education Week, and Teacher. I found many articles from the UTNE Reader to be distasteful and controversial, but they helped broaden my thinking. I also read and wrote summaries on a variety of books this past year. A Child Called It, The Lost Boy, Dont Touch My Heart, Bread Givers, Two Old Women, and The Education of Harriet Hatfield are some of the books I read. The characters in these stories promoted inspiration and resilience.

I have chosen to research the topic of second language instruction in elementary schools with a group of four other people. When I began this M.Ed. program I did not know what topic I would be researching. A spark of interest grew in my mind while attending a workshop on how the brain learns by Dr. David Sousa. Dr. Sousa talked about the latest brain research and the Windows of Opportunity, the period when the brain demands certain types of input to create or consolidate neural networks, especially for acquiring language, emotional control, and learning to play music. The critical period for learning a second language is from birth to ten years of age.

Our group is currently researching the effects of second language acquisition, the age factor in second language acquisition, brain development, and types of foreign language programs. We will be conducting a survery with elementary schools second language programs to gather information for our research paper.

-- Anonymous, June 08, 1999

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