September 2010


I’ve been sweating bullets about our upcoming assignment.  I frantically skimmed the necessary chapters, and yesterday managed to work on the paper at three different Starbucks throughout the day in Banff and Calgary.  Today, my husband has assumed almost all childcare roles as I typed away at a frenetic pace.

At 8:01pm I submitted my assignment.

A WEEK EARLY!!!!!!

I didn’t realize it until I had submitted the assignment.  I actually had seven more glorious days to work on that paper.

[insert a string of expletives here.]

Which would have helped, as I was having trouble in a few areas.  I selected to plan for the upcoming e-learning centre at our school.  Course content was easy, as it is mandated by Alberta Education.  Course delivery?  That’s another kettle of fish.  I had trouble coming to grips with the prioritizing of ideas section, as the idea for the program was already set.  I opted to discuss how to prioritize ideas about course delivery, but I think it came out sounding a bit feeble.

And 1500 words, including references?  I had just started to talk about the Bates and Poole Sections model at 1437 words.  So I had to cut out some earlier work, and cram Bates and Poole into 150 words. And write the world’s shortest summary.

But, after I picked myself up off the floor, I realized that I had actually given myself a bit of a Master’s vacation for this upcoming week.  And yes, my paper is far from perfect, but it’s done.  I checked my “statement of grades” and realized our marks for 501 ad 503 are there, and that cheered me up considerably.

So good luck to the rest of you.  Yes, I am done early, but it was entirely by screw-up.  It’s becoming a bit of a pattern, actually…

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…is going to be the name of my upcoming autobiography.  There’s going to be an entire chapter entitled, “My Master’s…How Did I Think I Was Going to Get That Finished?”  Sometime tonight, in between planning my classes for tomorrrow, getting lunch ready, marking, and putting my son to bed, I realized that I don’t really have a lot of time to work on my Master’s.  Sure, it’s only supposed to take 10 hours a week, but now that I am back at work, that seems to be about 9.5 hours too much.  And that 0.5 hour isn’t really going to produce award-winning material.

As a result, I am stressing out about the upcoming individual assignment.  It’s in part due to the time constraints my life keeps throwing at me, but it’s also due to the recent comments on our group projects.  I know that the criticism will help send me in the right direction, but there seems to be…well, so much of it.  I’m starting to wonder if I even have a grasp of the material at all.  So my mind isn’t exactly imbued with confidence at this point…

But my husband has offered to handle childcare duties all day Sunday, so it’s time to head to the local university, load up on Starbucks, and get to work!

Okay, this blog posting is more about my other life (high school teacher) than my Master’s life (reading, reading, and MORE reading!), but the recent furor over cell phones in the classroom has me thinking.  I fought the fight against cell phones for years, but I think we are at the point now where our students have practically grown up with them.  You can try to enforce a cell phone ban in the classroom, but someone is always texting under the desk.  And if they are not texting, I’m pretty sure they are thinking about their next text, which means they are not thinking about globalization, nationalism, or whatever I’m trying to teach.

So I’ve devised a new plan.  Students, get that cell phone out and put it on your desk!  Use it as a clock, a calculator, and soon, a research device (once our wireless network finally gets going).  Last week, I had them set a reminder for Sunday night that we had Social Studies homework.  And the week before, I used polleverywhere.com to poll them on a question about their upcoming projects.  I could also use joopz.com to text the students reminders about upcoming tests, or bringing their textbooks to class.

But I am going to need parental permission, and based on the uproar over cell phones in the classroom, I’m a little nervous about the response I might get.  An unofficial poll on cbc.ca (based on voting buttons) showed 89% of people did not want to have cell phones in the classroom.  To be fair, the article didn’t list any of the perceived benefits of cell phone use in the classroom.  Nor have most other articles I’ve read.

So I guess I’ll draft the letter to send home, and hope for the best.  Any suggestions are welcome!

…but that would be weird, I’m pretty sure.  I just finished compiling our discussion summary for Team One, and I have to say it was made a lot easier by the Caffarella text.  What a nice change of pace it was to read a text where the sentences weren’t so convoluted you had to read them four times in order to gain some sense.  It’s straightfoward and prescriptive.  I decided to read the first chapter also to make sure the second chapter made sense, and it was a common-sense discussion of the types of adult programs, and the types of outcomes achieved by these programs.

If only I had read Caffarella first.  I didn’t.  Instead, I started off with Bates and Poole, and found myself mired in a dicussion of Plato and Socrates.  Now don’t get me wrong – I have a history degree, so I eat this stuff up.  But in a book about program planning?  I could have done without the bizarre anecdotes.  Then I moved to Sork, which began with a discussion of Gauteng, South Africa.  Yikes.  Once you dug a little deeper into Sork, he made a lot of sense.  But not initially…

So, lesson learned.  Maybe if the book has the word “practical” in the title (as Caffarella does), you should read it first.  After I had read the chapter, I used it as  a base for comparing the other two texts, and learned a lot more.  I am quite keen to find out more about program planning, actually.  The whole idea of designing an online course freaks me out.  I’ve tried it once before – assigning homework for grade 9 students that was housed in a D2L shell, and it was basically an unmitigated disaster.  I have to admit that I use a much more critical eye when I look at online courses now.  Imagine me after this course – I’ll be a nightmare!!