Did I grow?

During my pre-internship, I found that I did not do as much growing as I had hoped in terms of my lessons. I was given the opportunity to teach something I am particularly passionate about; horror. My cooperating teacher often had very little to say about my lessons, because they all went well. I had an amazing group of students who let me experiment with them and genuinely tried when I gave them work to do. Because my students were so receptive to my teaching, I challenged them to work with a difficult literary theory and move away from comprehension type activities.

My first lesson was a bit of everything. I had a ‘Drop Everything and Write’ acrostic poem making activity. I noted that students were unfamiliar with creative writing and that had me continue with that activity all the way through my pre-internship. After writing, I had a student come up to the board to help me design a vampire concept map. I used this activity, because I worked well with my grade eight class. However, grade tens are more shy and less inclined to stand in front of the room. I made a point of never doing that again. Through my concept mapping, I noted that the class liked to have group talks rather than individual work. I planned activities that incorporated both into their learning. The end of the class was a reader’s theatre style reading of Dracula. My cooperating teacher had told me that the students would enjoy this style of reading. She was helpful in making my initial lessons plans a success, because she gave me an insight into what worked in her class and what did not. Because of this, I did not have target sheets made up, but just the odd verbal feedback provided. My main critique over the three weeks was about sequencing. However, I cannot document this change just yet. I need to take my horror unit and rework it, and teach it once more.

My growth lesson would be my transition into harder content. Deconstruction is a difficult literary theory that requires a careful mind and a close reading of a text. Thanks to my cooperating teacher’s encouragement, I felt that I was ready to tackle this with my students. After a lesson that warmed us up to the idea, we deconstructed movie clips from popular vampire shows. The students watched each clip twice and then tried to decipher what that minute long clip meant in an intended way and an unintended way. The students focused hard during this lesson and the results were great. Overall, my pre-internship was successful and I am excited to try my horror unit once more.

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Letter of Introduction for Internship

Dear cooperating teaching,

My name is Carol Fisher, and I am thankful for the opportunity to learn alongside you during my internship semester. I grew up in Swift Current, Saskatchewan and was in the public schooling system in that city. Currently, I am entering my final year of my B.Ed. degree with a major in English and a minor in drama.

Over the past few years, I have been involved with a variety of experiences related to teaching and working with diverse age groups. This past year I was a resident assistant at the University of Regina College West residence. My work for the residence provided me with the opportunity to plan activities for Canadian and international students.

I am interested in working with EAL students inside and outside of the classroom. My long term goal is to become an EAL instructor. I am also interested in helping out with extracurricular drama. One of my areas of specialization is technical theatre. During my high school experience, I was actively involved in the technical crew, especially with properties management and set design. Another extracurricular interest I would love to be involved with is football. I have a strong desire to learn about coaching and team collaboration.

I appreciate you taking the time to have me as an intern this fall. I am looking forward to working with you and growing as a teacher at your school. I will bring an open-minded, positive, and flexible personality to my internship. My largest contributions will be a passion to work with the students at your school and an eagerness to volunteer with extracurricular activities. My hope is to learn more about differentiated instruction.

I will contact you before the end of the school year and work with you to arrange a visit to the school. Once again, thank you for taking me on as an intern this fall. I know that this experience will be very enriching.

Sincerely,

 

Carol Fisher

The Dorm Room Cannibal

While my students were busy crafting their horror stories, I wrote one of my own to read on presentation day.

The Dorm Room Cannibal

‘Missing: Russian man disappears from campus.’

Laura rarely ever talked, but her mind was an explosive minefield of thought. She focused her attention on not burdening her few friends with her curiosities for fear that they might leave her. While she had no desire to ‘fit in,’ she wanted to maintain at least one or two relationships to help get her through university. The young intellectual wasn’t too different from her peers; she enjoyed the odd gossip session and chatting about boys. However, her true passion in life was to study the absurdities that were present in the world. She spent countless nights on the internet researching strange topics that popped up in her browser. It was a miracle how her grades didn’t plummet with all her late night internet excursions. Her peculiarities were well shut up and manacled in her mind. People would fear her thoughts. She had to keep them a secret, but every day they seem to become progressively larger.

It was early morning when Laura pushed herself away from the keyboard. The corners of her eyes were crusted with gritty bits of dirt. She attempted to rub the sleep dust away, but it only made the maroon circles under her eyes stick out on her poltergeist-like skin. Her late night romp the night before had forced her to stay up all night to finish a major assignment. She gently massaged her temples and waited for her paper to finish running off the printer. Class was in half an hour and this paper needed to be pressed and stapled. Glancing over at the alarm clock on her radiator, she noted that her greasy locks would have to stay upright for the day. A toque easily solved that predicament.

Wandering the halls, the young woman noted the different people that were going about their days as they passed her. She made a game of guessing what each person was thinking about and always silently hoping that they did not do the same in return. Laura pictured their delicious thoughts; she reached up to brush a bit of thick saliva from her mouth. Her distractions wouldn’t keep her from handing in the paper she slaved over all night.

As she rounded the corner to the classroom building, a savoury scent wafted beneath her nose. She stopped her forward progress to class and allowed the new sensation to envelop her body. Her heart rhythm quickened as she grabbed for the wall to catch herself from falling. Forcing her fallen eyelids open she was met with the face of an angel. A young man with a toothy grin had come over to her.

“Are you alright?” he questioned. Laura’s mind was blurred and words wouldn’t escape her taut lips. “Can you stand?” he said. He extended a hand to her. She nodded her head and reached for his paw. Her legs wobbled when she leaned into him. That enchanting aroma had been emanating from him. She balled up her fist and forced her face away from his delicate neck. “Would you like me to help you home?” Laura drove her teeth in her lip, but still managed to sneak out a little grin.

With the help of the gentleman, Laura made her way back home. In his thick accent he muttered away, but she was so far lost in that cavern of her mind, that her body was just going through the motions. She was plotting. They arrived in front of her door, 526.

“Want to come in?” Laura let out in the meekest voice. She propped the door open with her toe and beckoned the man with her eyes and fox-like grin. Unable to step back into her body, her mind took over. Her fingers slid over a knife on the counter as the foreigner took in her dorm room. “Check my view,” she said. Fighting her mind, Laura tried to throw the knife back onto the counter. Her grip tightened.

While the man was busy glancing out the fifth floor kitchen window, Laura drove the knife deep into his back and cupped a soiled hand over his mouth. His screams were muffled and soon turned to gurgles of blood. He folded over and smashed her head against the window pane. Laura leaned in and ran her tongue along the side of his face. An unfamiliar salt taste grazed her taste buds. All of her inner turmoil ceased. Happily, she hoisted the dead weight up onto her kitchen table. Searching through her kitchen drawers, she found a carving knife, a gift from her Aunt Bev. The skin of her kill was not easily sliced.

Laura feasted for days on her find. The raw meat was fatty, but enough to quench her disturbing thoughts. Each morning she severed off a new limb and tasted the decaying flesh. Her curious mind was sedated with this new experience and found a calm new corner of her brain to chain itself to. It was enough to return her back to her normal net surfing routines.

The police searched for the young Russian man who mysteriously disappeared off campus one afternoon, but eventually gave up when they found no trace of him. The quiet are never suspected.

The Hunger Games

I found this week very lonely without my partner. I was getting very used to having a person to chat to in the morning on the drive to school and also talk through plans for our ELA A10 classes. Such is life though, I won’t be partnered in my internship so I might as well get used to it. My cooperating teacher has been a great support for someone to talk to and express my fears with. I’ve also made friends with another pre-intern this week. We meet every afternoon in my classroom and talk through everything on our minds. It has been nice to have that extra person to get close with and talk about successes and failures. I remember her giving out her first 100% and not be sure about how to feel.

I found that this week was a bit of a let down from last week. My lessons were not planned as well and were sequenced a bit strange. In reality, I think my unit is great, but I need to take it apart and put it in a more logical order. The two highlights of my week involved lecturing on my two favorite topics: horror and cannibalism. I made a PowerPoint (check it out here), and actually sounded knowledgeable about what I was talking about. The students really enjoyed my movie clips from It, Silence of the Lambs, and Sherlock. They didn’t even want early release. However, I didn’t get to my exit slip that day, which was a disappointment. I tried it out in the morning, but the responses were not as good as they could have been. My chat on cannibalism had the kids squirming in their chairs. However, some ventured forward and even put up their hands to ask questions. I can happily say that I’m giving my first cannibalism pop quiz on Monday. Today, we will be playing “The Hunger Games” in period four, and I hope it goes well. Ms. Fisher even bought prizes.

I also had two lessons that really did not go well this week. The reason they didn’t go well, wasn’t because of the kids, it was my own fault. I tried to add some treaty content into my lesson before we started working with the Windigo story. My oral re-telling went fabulously, but I ended up reading my treaty stuff word for word from my page because I wasn’t confident that I knew it. This also happened with my lesson yesterday. I was doing a class deconstruction of the story “The Cannibal Woman’. The kids tried hard to answer the questions, but I just did not know my stuff well enough. I hadn’t planned on touching these stories until after we finished Dracula, but I really ran out of time. Had I been given one more week, this would have all worked out nicely.

One thing I learned from those two lessons is that I need to put it into my own words when it goes into my lesson plan. I could understand what I was reading, but it came out all wrong and very robotic when I tried to teach it. Number one change in those lessons would be to reword everything in simple, everyday talking language. I also really need to find a talking stick. I ended up using an oversized cat glove, and called it the talking paw. Again, the biggest change it going to have to be the order. I sincerely hope I can have an ELA A10 class in my internship to try this unit out again. I also want to finish one thing before starting the next. Dracula would be finished and thought through, then a bridge to the Windigo with the Conqueror Worm, and finally exploring that First Nations cannibal monster.

I really learned that even though I have some serious short comings in my content knowledge in the classroom, I can connect very well with the students. I have one boy that comes up to me every other day and mockingly says “Ms. Fisher, why do you always pick on me in class” and I also sarcastically respond back, “I’m a bully, and that is why I became a teacher.” He is such a sweet kid and a real pleasure to have in the classroom. Another student connection I made was with one of the girls in my EAL classroom. She felt comfortable enough to come up to me after class yesterday and tell me that some of the boys were actually picking on her in their L1. We had a very meaningful chat and I felt so privileged that she chose to talk to me about it over the teacher in the room.

The Serial Killer Intern?

The first week is complete and I have no idea how I made through. Everything is starting to blur together and my mind is constantly working towards the future. “What am I doing to do with this class tomorrow?” Although things have been stressful, I love every minute of it! I’ve somehow developed a nickname “The Serial Killer Intern.” I haven’t even started talking about cannibalism yet!

The first three days of this week were phenomenal. It was awesome to see my lesson plans come together and even start to mesh. I took on the challenge of doing Dracula the three act play with my ELA A10 class. I know that this would be a great topic, because I have a love for dark and gory literature. My largest accomplishment this week was having everyone’s names by day two. I was really making a point of calling on students for answers and familiarizing myself with their faces. My first day, I introduced Reader’s Theatre into the classroom. We ended up having enough volunteers to read out loud. Everyone was engaged because I gave them an anticipation guide to fill out. This sort of comprehension organizers have been a helpful tool.

Today was a bit like pulling teeth. I chose to teach a rather difficult and dry concept to my grade tens (Deconstruction). They did understand it very well, but trying to get answers without cold-calling was a task. We were talking up my Vampire film viewing sheet today. I should have just selected a few to take up together and got them to hand it in. The students found it a bit boring when they were unfamiliar with the entire movie.

My lessons were changing all the time. My cooperating teacher provided excellent feedback on them and really helped me get a strong direction for the week. I was definitely over planned for every day. However, that meant that my lesson would splash into the next day and things started to seem connected. My film viewing day was one I might change up a bit. I might use longer clips and fewer movies. At this time, I would probably give the students a better idea of what to look for and write it up on the board. When I asked for it in discussion they had it, but they did not have it written down beforehand.

I learned that teaching is about connecting. These lesson plans we are making should not just be isolated events. Everything needs a purpose and an end point. Another thing I realized was that I need to make time for myself. This week, I didn’t go jogging at all and spent most nights answering journal entries and marking small assignments. It is starting to drive me crazy. Honestly, I am going to spend my night playing video games and not even look at a journal entry. Time really speeds up when you are in a school. I don’t even feel like I spent a week teaching.

Writer’s Questionnaire

Writing Habits: A Questionnaire

I found this questionnaire while perusing ‘s blog. She gave credit to find the questionnaire on The YA League. I thought it might be interesting to reflect on my own writing.

1. Typed or Handwritten?

When I am fiddling with a few new ideas, I like to handwrite them in my Hello Kitty notebook. This notebook contains starts to poems or just ridiculous lines I hear around the university. However, when I want to start a piece, I will type it on the computer. My thoughts come and go quickly, thus the need to type.

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2. Cursive or Printed?

Printed. I used to be a cursive whiz back in elementary school, but it was all downhill from there. My cursive handwriting is atrocious and I often make up my own letters if I cannot remember the proper way.

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3. Show us your favourite pen.

When I write, I like to use colour. At one point I had a large stash of neon gel pens for my writing endeavours. I found that I got lost in the writing if it was all one colour. So, each break I took away from my piece would mean I would switch the colour.

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4. Where do you like to write?

My ideas seem to just fall out of my head while I am in the shower, but it is hard to get those down on paper due to the excessive amounts of water falling off my body. Aside from the shower, I find peace in writing a few lines in the ‘Crush’ space at the University. My emotions are usually at a bursting point when I sit over there and the paper gets filled with words.

5. Who are your five favourite authors in terms of authorial style?

Jane Austen

Ellen Schreiber

William Shakespeare

Vivian Vande Velde

Neil Gaiman

6. What are you your three favourite books on writing?

Teaching Adolescent Writers – Kelly Gallagher

How to Write About Shakespeare’s Comedies – Paul Gleed

To Rhyme or Not to Rhyme? – Sandy Brownjohn

7. Have you ever competed in NaNoWriMo?

I have participated in NanoWriMo twice in my lifetime.

8. Have you ever won NaNoWriMo?

I was successful in one of my attempts. I accredit the success to being in high school and having a lot more time for writing.

9. Have you ever had anything published?

There has been the odd poem here or there that has managed to squeeze its way into a Canadian writing journal or two.

10. What projects are you working on now?

My major projects are all on hold until after I finish university. However, I do enjoy free writing some poetry when I have a spare minute and  a spare emotion to unleash on a page.

11. What is your soundtrack to writing?

If I just want a bit of background noise to accompany my writing, I will turn to the Tsubasa Chronicle’s soundtrack to fill that void.

I Talk to the Rain

12. Do you have a writing pump-up song?

When I was working on my novel, I had one song and one song only that would bring some fierce inspiration.

So What – P!nk

“But I will wear my heart upon my sleeve”

‘But I will wear my heart upon my sleeve’

“Othello” – William Shakespeare

Misery and hate are a girl’s best friend when nuancing

Thoughts with dearest Iago. Emotions easily overtake

The senses and created a trying motif to look

Past. However, times can call for a change that may

Upset the world floating evangelically around

Your one sided longings. It is treacherous to leak out

The secrets you thought were secured to your sleeve,

But wanton pride must always be kept intact when

It is done. Weep your tears of uncertainty

And prepare to undo the feelings that were once

A birthplace for joy. The time for a sorrowfully sweet goodbye

Must be now and you cannot deny it any further. Brush

A shaky hand down your arm and sweep away

The remnants of that dream turned upside down.

– Carol Fisher