24 August 2009

09-10 school year begins

Here it is another school year and we are almost a week into it. We started class last Thursday at Putnam City High School.

So far things are going well for me. I am teaching an Earth Science Class this year for the first time. Its a slightly different population than what I usually teach in my Physics classes, but not really any different than my Physical Science classes. They are just 2 years older than the Physical Science students. Many of these students have not had success in science in the past so I have to think outside the box to get them engaged.These guys will challenge me, I'm sure! Only time will tell if I am up to that challenge.

My Physics classes seem to be typical except for two things:

  1. I am teaching a section of Physics I which has over 25 students in it.

  2. On the information sheets, many students said they decided to take the class because of me. Talk about pressure. Its like being chosen for a role in a play and asked to perform. This really makes me feel good about being a teacher because it tells me students are talking about me and that those are good things.

I have also started a new educational chapter in my own life as I have begun the Master of Arts in Curriculum and Instruction at SNU. I did some serious study about whether to attend OSU, OU, or SNU. I did give UCO a precursory glance, but never any serious thought. I chose SNU for a few reasons over the other schools. I was a little hesitant to pick them just because I didn't really want both degrees from the same school, but alas, fate had different plans.

The MACI program at SNU is eligible for the teach grant. This was a big one for me. The grant is from the federal government and is available to anyone who is working on a teaching degree, either undergraduate or graduate. It comes with some conditions but they are easy for me. First, you have to be teaching in a school that receives Title I money. Putnam City High School qualifies. You also have to agree to teach in a high need field such as English Language Learning, Special Education, Math, or Science. I teach Physics, so that's taken care of. You also have to agree to teach for four years for each TEACH grant program you participate in. Since I'm not planning on leaving teaching, that seems to be taken care of, as well.

SNU's program also works towards getting their master's candidates certified as National Board Teachers. In Oklahoma that means a yearly stipend of $5000 which will go a long ways towards paying off student loans incurred during my time at SNU. If you don't already know, they are a private university and have some pretty pricey tuition. I'm not saying it's not worth it, I'm just saying its expensive. Concerning that, I do feel like I was very well prepared to get into the classroom and teach.

OSU and OU had some great programs and I felt like all three had options that were suited for an older student like me, but the National Board put me over the edge with SNU. None of the state institutions offer National Board certification and that was a great component of SNU's program. Of course they don't guarantee that you will pass the certification, but then no school guarantees that you will pass ANY certification test once you finish your education. All one can hope for is that the school will prepare you well enough that certification will not be an issue.


I am really beginning to feel at home in my classroom. I was able to have my SmartBoard mounted to the wall, I got a fish tank full of fish, and due to the departure of some of my colleagues, I am an old face around school. These are all good things and just endear my job to me even more than it already is. I am even able to help a new teacher work with the development of a brand new class: Earth Science. He is coming to me for help and guidance and ideas, which is weird since it seems I was JUST finishing school and staring my first year right in the face. Good things are happening in my school and in my classroom and I am excited to be a part of them!

thanks for reading,


16 August 2009

concerning the upcoming school year

This week is a special time of year. I am nervous, excited, and a little bit giddy. Classes start at Putnam City High School this week. I have learned to enjoy the anticipation of the start of school over the last two years. I get to the point of not being able to think about much other than school.

I am going to be doing some technology training this week with teachers in our building, so that has done a good job of keeping my brain occupied with other stuff. But now the week is nearly here! Its almost time to begin working with the most amazing students ever to walk the hallowed halls of Putnam City. My Pirate Time students will all be seniors, so that makes it even more exciting!

I have done a wiki with my students in the past. However, this year, I am going to be teaching a section of Earth Science, as well as my regular schedule of Physics I and Pre-AP Physics I. I found a great blog post today about using a wiki in a history classroom. He is working on getting his students to think critically when they write. What a terrific concept! I am trying to figure out how to adapt that to my classroom. I am also trying to decide what to do about using the wiki in my Earth Science classroom. I'm just not sure exactly what direction to go with it. Its really easy to have students choose a famous physicist and write about them, but Earth Science? I'm stumped. If you have ideas on how I can improve the current assignment for Physics or adapt it to fit Earth Science, I'd love to hear about it!

09 August 2009

A "working" summer

This summer has been the busiest so far, at least since I've been teaching. I used to tint windows, so summers were my busy season. Its been refreshing to have a few weeks off to relax by the pool, catch up on some yard work, that kind of stuff.  This summer, I only had June to "goof off". I did do some pretty heavy goofing off, too! However, once July came around, I started going to Stillwater to Oklahoma State to do some research in the physics department. Specifically, I worked in High Energy Physics. Wow. That is some abstract, cool, mind-blowing stuff. It was awesome! I also was invited to present at the Oklahoma Alternative Education Conference. That was really good. I enjoyed presenting, but more than that I got some really good information that will carry over into my classroom. I did do a little bit of technology training during June. It was only three days, but I ended up getting a Mac out of the deal, so that was a really good deal. I also got to look at some great pedagogy methods for technology integration during the training. Plus, I was able to share my passion in a one day class I taught called Wikis, Blogs, and Discussion Boards. Definitely worth the time I spent preparing for it. I got good responses from the other teachers, so I guess it was as good for them as it was for me!

I guess I'll have to get used to this kind of stuff. I got so much out of my experiences I'm going to try to do some more of the same stuff next summer. The monetary compensation wasn't half bad either!