Review of 1999 School Year : LUSENET : M.Ed./International Falls : One Thread

Review of 1999 School Year

-- Anonymous, June 20, 1999


Overview from 1999 School Year As the end of another busy school year approaches, I appreciate just how fulfilling this year has really been for me. Since the beginning of the school year, in addition to teaching, I found myself making adjustments in my busy life to include a lot of reading, writing, and homework. As I look back on this year now, I find that while sometimes very stressful and hectic, it has been very educational, invigorating, and enjoyable.

Among the many things I value from this year, what most stands out in my mind is the computer technology classes weve had. Until this year I had very little knowledge about computers. I knew only enough basic computer skills to assist me in writing papers on the word processor and doing grades for my classroom. Thanks to Tim and Tina, I feel Ive really come a long way in my use of the computer. Ive learned how to search for information and post papers to the internet, and many other helpful things that assist me when writing papers. I am sure these skills will come in handy when writing my research paper. Even though Ive declined to take any further technology classes at this time, Im sure I will decide to do so at a later time.

Another thing Ive found beneficial this year is the writing Ive been required to do for my UMD classes. Even though it often wasnt easy to write quality papers during my busy schedule, I did always manage to get them written. Ive always considered my writing to be adequate, but Ive really noticed a considerable improvement this year. Getting feedback on my writing has really been helpful, because it lets me know what Im doing correctly, as well as what Im not.

Most of the reading Ive done this year Ive enjoyed. Although I havent been impressed with the Utne Readers articles, Ive usually been able to find at least one article to reflect on and write about. On the other hand, Ive really enjoyed some of the articles Ive found in the educational journals Ive read. It has been a learning experience to read about how much education is changing and progressing, and about the problems and successes associated with it.

Most of the speakers that have come to our class have been very interesting to listen to. I enjoyed our speakers much more than watching taped video sessions, which got rather monotonous at times. The speakers I enjoyed the most, were the two psychologists, Sally Cayan and Dawn Martinson. Both times they came, their presentations were very interesting, especially the presentation on learning styles. The members of our class were given a survey and then the opportunity to participate in some fun activities. I feel gaining knowledge through activities is always a more enjoyable way of learning new information. The activities were used with the purpose of informing us about different personalities and learning styles and the surveys we filled out predicted what kind of personality each one of us has. I found it amazing to note how accurate the predictions from the surveys they gave us were.

I also enjoyed Jeff Hardwigs presentation on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) and Fetal Alcohol Effects (FAE). I learned facts and information I never knew before, and about how these children are often misdiagnosed. When children suffering from FAE are tested or evaluated, its very common for learning disorders, of one kind or another, to be identified as their problem. Knowing about the symptoms of FAE and FAS, and what to look for in children, will be very useful to me, as a teacher, in the future.

One of the most enjoyable sessions I experienced this year was, without a doubt, the building trade presentation which was given by Ladd Kocinski. My fellow cohort members and I, got the opportunity to experience all the different aspects that are involved in building a house, including driving the cat in the yard. Now that was an experience I wont forget. Getting a change from our regular classroom, added to this experience being one of the most enjoyable ones I will always remember.

In addition to being involved in our UMD classes, I also joined SEED (Seeking Education, Equity, and Diversity), which was taught by two colleagues of mine. Being part of SEED has really been an eye-opening experience on some occasions. As a class we experienced, through activities and readings, some of the prejudices that certain groups of people continually have to deal with. The lessons and activities we participated in also gave us some insight on what to expect and how to deal with certain situations. SEED has made me realize that there are things that people, within a society, can do to change the injustice in the ways many things presently are. People have to want to change things, have to get involved, and finally, need to be supportive of others who are trying to get out from under the hostilities and prejudices in their lives.

Some of the other smaller, but equally as important, details I liked about our cohort experience was how great it was to have the opportunity to socialize with each other. Our facilitators always prepared excellent meals for us and we usually had at least half an hour to eat, relax, and visit with each other. I know this time was very appreciated, because most of us are so busy during the week, its lucky if we get the chance to sit and talk with members of our own families.

Ive also appreciated how helpful our UMD facilitators, like Mary Jean and Mary Ann, have been. Theyve both been very supportive, and helpful, with our research projects. Now that I know what I am going to do my research project on, and who I am working with, I am very excited to really get going and start researching it. My research project is involves Responsive Classroom and how effective it really is. Im also excited that this summer well have the opportunity to attend a workshop which will be hosted by the Responsive Classroom. My research group and I arent quite organized yet, as to who is going to do what part of our research, but we plan to figure it out before summer. Itll be nice to have the summer to do most of our research, and judging from the amount of time my group spent together working on our formal proposal, Im sure were going to be seeing a lot of each other.

Overall, this was a great year, especially the friendships that have developed with our cohort. I feel weve all developed a kind of camaraderie with each other. The high school teachers and the elementary teachers got a chance to get to know each other and to discuss the way things work at each grade level. Im sure long after were done with all of our research projects, and moving on with our lives, well always carry a lot of special memories with us.

For my great book I chose to read In The Time of Butterflies, by Julia Alvarez. This is a fictional story based on some true events of four sisters who lived in the Dominican Republican during the sixties. This was a very tumultuous, and upheavaling, time for people living in the Dominican Republican. Throughout the country, people were living in constant fear of the dictator, Trujillo, never knowing what to expect, or what he was going to do next. This air of uncertainty caused many Dominicans to join in the fight for freedom.

Alvarezs story focuses on the Mirabel sisters and the courage they possessed. All but one of the sisters gave up their peaceful, sheltered lives to become part of their countrys extensive fight for freedom. The actual story takes place over a number of years, and Julia Alvarez tells it from the perspective of each sister, in a very unique way. Each sister relates what life was like living under Trujillo, who was as heartless and tyrannical as a dictator can be.

While reading this story, I felt as though I were actually experiencing what the Mirabel sisters did. Julia Alvarez does a wonderful job of making this story come alive and, in keeping the reader guessing what is going to happen next. Even though readers know from the beginning of the book that three of the sisters get murdered, Alvarez creates suspense as to how the story unfolds to that fateful day.

Unfortunately, the members of our cohort didnt really get the opportunity to experience the jigsaw the way it was planned. Before we knew it, the end of the school year was near and we had only read the first book. During one of our classes in late March, the jigsaw groups did get a chance to briefly discuss the books they read. There were a couple of important details which were brought out from my groups discussion regarding In the Time of Butterflies. We were in agreement that within the Dominican Republican, during the sixties, there was an obvious air of political oppression caused by the government. We also agreed that the struggle for freedom was the primary focus of the Mirabel sisters. Fighting for freedom was important to these women so they could try to make a better life for their children, their families, and themselves. Finally, it was quite apparent that, within the Dominican Republic, family and religion were very important and that there was a lot of pressure from the church, and families, for girls to marry and start new families.

I found the book, In the Time of Butterflies to be very enjoyable reading. So much so, that it inspired me to read another one of Julia Alvarezs books, which I didnt enjoy as much. In essence, for anyone whos looking for a good book to read, I would definitely recommend In the Time of Butterflies.

-- Anonymous, June 20, 1999

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