Friday, July 30, 2010

Friday Five - Back to School Edition

I know I still have quite a while to go (Aug. 23), but I thought I would do a Friday Five list of my favorite things about "back to school" time. There's just something about the start of the new school year that gets me in the heart (and the wallet) and makes me love all the brand new starts, the new possibilities, etc.

In no particular order, they are:

Coming home from work to find the house is EXACTLY the way I left it. No Legos spread all over the place, no pile of dirty dishes that mysteriously got dirtied during the day, no finding my bed turned into a fort - in other words, no extra chores for me to have to tackle in addition to getting supper started and a load of laundry or two.

Hearing my son's excitement as he tells me what cool/interesting/gross thing he learned in robotics/science olympiad/computer lab. I think this is the year they dissect frogs in science and the year he'll be learning how to write iPhone apps in computer lab (the wonders of a magnet school program!).

Having peace and quiet in which to eat and read when I go home at lunch time.

The wonderful possibility that THIS will be the year when he fully engages in reading real books, not just comics.

The fun of shopping for new school supplies and clothes (and the added fun that some of the expense of this has been taken out by the fact that I knew 2 years ago what his required uniform would be this year, and bought all the shirts when they were on sale for $3/each).

So, what about you? What do you most look forward to at "Back to School" time? Is it the prospect of peace and quiet? Is it getting back into a routine? What is it? Please share with me in the comments or drop me a note letting me know you've done this on your own blog. Enjoy the rest of your summers!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Friday Five - Jamming Edition

Not too long ago, Jessi posted a Friday Five list of music that makes her immediately think of summer. This was a fine list. I was going to do my own summer music list, but instead I decided to do a list of the five songs that always ALWAYS make me crank up my radio and jam, whether I'm at home or in the car and no matter who I'm with. In no particular order, they are:

1. John Cougar Mellencamp - Jack and Diane

2. Soft Cell - Tainted Love

3. AC/DC - Shook Me All Night Long

4. Def Leppard - Pour Some Sugar on Me

5. Bowling for Soup - 1985

So, there you have it. Yes, I know I'm stuck in the past when it comes to music, but it seems like it was just so much better back then. So tell me, what are five songs that you just have to turn up the radio when you hear them?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Game Plan

I met with a counselor at Wayland Baptist University on Tuesday to see whether WBU or Texas Woman's University would be the right fit for me. I already knew (mostly) the particulars of how the Master's of Arts - Teaching program works at TWU, but I wasn't sure all the requirements, deadlines, etc. at WBU. I quickly realized several things about WBU that - although I was aware of - I hadn't thought through all the ramifications. For the following reasons, WBU just won't work for me.

  • Because they are on a quarter system, they have four short (11 week) class periods a year. They also start earlier than other programs. The first class period is Aug. 16 - Oct. 30. I would be required to do 30 hours of classroom observation during the first class period. But, I'm out of vacation days and they don't reset until Oct. 4. This would make it difficult to fulfill the classroom observation requirement without blowing through all my vacation days in the first month I'm eligible. This doesn't work for me.
  • They do not have a spring break and don't observe most federal holidays. This means on most days when I typically have a breather and just enjoy spending time with my kiddo, I'd instead be in class or on the computer in an online classroom. Jamie needs my attention as much as possible, so this doesn't work for me, either.
  • They administer their financial aid in such a way that I wouldn't get any refunds until halfway through the semester. This would make it very difficult for me to be able to afford books and supplies I typically use financial aid funds to cover. Again, not working for me.
  • They are a private university, which means that they are more expensive than TWU (which is a state university). They offered me less financial aid than TWU and are more expensive than TWU, meaning less money back in my pocket. Hmmm, still not working.
  • Due to when their courses are offered and the required courses for the program, it would take six semesters before I was able to start student teaching. Not. Working.

So, I've decided to attend TWU's Master's of Arts – Teaching program and pursue certification in English/Language Arts/Reading (ELAR) 4-8 and 4-8 Generalist (you have to have both to teach elementary level classes. Sixth grade is still considered elementary education in Texas, even though the students are in a middle school). This means I can teach ELAR to anyone in grades 4 – 8, and also sets me up nicely to go back later and get my Master Reading Teacher/Reading Specialist certification, which is a critical shortage area.

Once I get my initial ELAR/Generalist certification, I can then take the exam for any other certification I want to add. Under NCLB, I am required to have enough credit hours of study in a core subject area to be considered "highly qualified" in order to teach that subject. "Highly qualified" typically means you have had 24 credit hours of study in that subject. Core subject areas are ELAR, Social Studies, Math, Science, etc. This is where all those years of indecision on a major have come in handy. I am "highly qualified" in both ELAR and Social Studies.

There are other certifications in which you do not have to be considered highly qualified, but in which you must have had at least 12 hours of study in order to be able to reasonably pass the certification exam. I will easily be able to add EC-12 certifications in Theatre Arts and Technology Applications (a critical shortage area). If I take the PPR exam for 8-12 grades, I can also later take tests qualifying me to teach Sociology and Criminal Justice at the high school level. In other words, I will be qualified to teach several different subject areas, making me more marketable.

Also, another good thing about the TWU program is that there is a possibility I can be in the classroom teaching by August 2011-2012. The program requires either 6 hours of student teaching (supervised teaching with a different teacher of record for the class) in one semester or a 12 hour internship (the graduate student is actually the teacher of record but has a mentor teacher assigned to them and has a team from their graduate program overseeing their progress) over the course of one academic school year. Interns are paid by the school district at a somewhat lower level than a certified teacher, and then the intern pays their master's program of record a fee to cover costs associated with their oversight.

All the school systems down here participate in internship programs and student teaching. It is more likely one can get a position as a student teacher, but internships are often used in areas where a teacher is needed for a class but there is a shortage of teachers available to teach the subject area. If I take 3 classes this semester, 3 classes in spring and 2 classes in the summer, I will have all my hours to be able to start an internship next fall, if one is available.

I will be talking with my TWU advisor and the school districts down here to try to line an internship up now so that I can begin teaching next year***. If there isn't a shortage and they aren't needing an intern to cover ELAR 4-8 (you have to student teach or have an internship in your initial certification area), then I will instead take 3 classes this fall, three classes in the spring, take the summer off, take two classes in Fall '11 and do my student teaching in Spring '12. Either way, I'll be in the classroom teaching in whatever capacity in a very short period of time. I'm so excited!

***UPDATE: I called my advisor this afternoon while my boss was out eating lunch. She said that internships are hard to get right now, but that student teaching posts are easy to find. She said it has to do with budget constraints. So, I will still try to get an internship, but am putting my back-up plan in place to student teach. If that is the route I wind up going, I will take the summer off from my degree plan and take some web design and computer programming classes to help me when I take the Technology Applications test. Also, that means I can finally design the company web page like my boss has been wanting me to do (but which I have been too unsure of myself to do).

Friday, July 09, 2010

Friday Five: Books Edition

I've been doing a lot of reading here lately (as in ~2,000+ pages a week). I think it's because I know I won't have much time to read this fall when grad school starts. Or it could be that I read so fast that I practically devour the books in one gulp. Or it could be that I love to read so much that I never want to put the durn things down. Anyway, here's a list of five book series I'm currently reading and loving the hell out of (I went ahead and stated "series" because just about everything anymore is a series and I kind of like it that way. I was really disappointed that Robin McKinley has stated so emphatically that there NEVER will be a sequel to "Sunshine" because if ever a book ended in such a way as to make me want a sequel, that book is it!)

1. The Red Pyramid (Book 1 of The Kane Chronicles) by Rick Riordan. This is the same man who brought us the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. I. loved. this. book. Now I may have to go filch all Jamie's PJatO books and read them, since I never got around to reading them before. The Kane Chronicles also addresses mythology, except this series is based on Egyptian mythology, gods, deities, etc. If you like Egyptology (and I do) you'll love this series. The first book has a lot of good twists and turns. I'm eagerly awaiting the next books!

2. Darkfever, Bloodfever and Faefever (Books 1-3 of The Fever series) by Karen Marie Moning. This is a very interesting series about the sidhe set in modern-day Dublin. There's a battle brewing between the Seelie and Unseelie sidhe (isn't there always?) and the humans are going to be the greatest casualties, unless the sidhe-seers (humans born with the ability to penetrate the sidhe glamour and percieve what monsters are really lurking beneath). This isn't your average Tinkerbell fairy tale. It has teeth. I originally downloaded the eBook from Barnes and Noble because it was free. Once I read the first book, I was hooked, though and have buzzed through the next two in the series. I'm glad I discovered this series after she had established it and written several books. I love when I get to discover a series I've never read before and can read several in a row before I have to wait for a new book to come out!

3. Mona Lisa Awakening (Book 1 of The Monere series) by Sunny (no last name). This is a series about shapeshifters that is heavy on the erotica! I'm giving you fair warning in advance. This is not a book to be left lying around near a curious, precocious child who is liable to pick it up and start reading. It can be gory, sexy and downright carnal on many different levels. But it is a good series and very original.

4. Bullet (Book 5M of the Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter series by Laurell K. Hamilton. It's not really the five-millionth book, but it's probably getting close by now). I've raved about these before. All I need to say is, Yowza!

5. Saturday, I'll be picking up the Lily Bard novels (by Charlaine Harris, author of the Sookie Stackhouse southern vampire mysteries) from the library. I should have all of them read by sometime next week. I'll let you know how I like them. Judging my some excerpts I've read, I shoudl like them just fine.

So tell me, what are you reading right now? Has anything just knocked your socks off? Please tell me, either in my comments or by posting a Friday Five: Books Edition to your own blog. Just please make sure to leave a comment here letting me know you've done so.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Wednesday Weirdness

Last night, I had a strange dream. Strange dreams are almost normal for me by now, but this was a really strange dream, even for me. I dreamed I was still a reporter and had to go cover the parole hearing of a Manson follower to see if she got parole this time. I arrived at the courthouse a little early and went to the ladies room. While I was in the loo checking my make-up and such, the woman in question and a man with wild, crazy hair and eyes burst in, held me at gunpoint and forced me to help them escape. That's when I realized the man was Manson himself.

Somehow (and no, I don't remember exactly how it happened), we got outside and to my car, but only after they shot and killed a security guard. They forced me to drive them way out into the country, where they jumped out of my car and got into a car they had waiting for them out near the water tower on Gunnell Road in Scott County (yes, I know the water tower isn't really that far out in the country anymore, but in my dream it was). They then shot me in the head and left me for dead - except the bullet didn't kill me, it just deflected off my skull and left me with a raging headache. I was able to make it back to my car and drive myself home.

When I got there, I immediately called Jessi because I knew she was interested in the Manson case. She came over and I told her the story of what happened, insisting she not tell anyone it was me who helped them escape because I didn't want to go to jail for something I was forced to do. (How on earth I rationalized that no one had run my plates or identified me, I don't remember.) Jessi agreed but insisted I had to go to the ER to have my head wound looked at. I told her she was crazy because they would report a bullet wound, no matter how slight, to the police and then they would figure out it was me who helped Manson and his lady escape. But Jessi insisted so we wound up at UK hospital where we ran into Jamie R., who was a nurse there. So Jessi starts telling Jamie R. the story, even though I swore her to secrecy. But Jessi replied, "Well, you'll just blog about it anyway, so I might as well tell her." About this time, my cell phone rings and it's Manson on the line telling me he has my son and he is going to raise him as a disciple. This is when I started freaking out big time and woke up.

See? Strange dream. Very vivid and much more realistic than my usual dreams. I think I may have to stop taking Zyrtec at night. I've had freakazoid dreams ever since I started taking it. Although I did watch a very freaky episode of Doctor Who about werewolves and Queen Victoria last night before bed, I doubt my dream came from watching that becuase 1) no werewolves, 2) no Queen Victoria and 3) no time travel. Only Manson. Lots and lots of freaky Manson. I can live without Manson in my head, thank you very much.