Sunday, January 20, 2008

a new semester

so the first week of the new semester has ended. although it really seems like it's been two weeks since I was back at work the week before (and getting up at 5:30am no less for it. ugh). I am taking three classes again this semester: discourse analysis (which should be time consuming but really interesting and useful), collaboration and argumentation in science ed (which should be interesting and hopefully lead to a dissertation topic), and multiple regression (yay more stats!). I only have classes two days a week which is kind of nice, and that opens up the rest of the week for getting lots of work done and going to various schools in the area to collect data for our project.
this week I also finally submitted a paper to be included in a encyclopedia-type book for classroom teachers. and I'm first author! so exciting!

the reason I was getting up so early last week was because we were running our project at a school 40 minutes away from me and I had to get there at like 7am. we were working in a 9th grade physical science class and almost all of the students were minority students and on free or reduced lunch. the five days I was there were a real eye-opening experience to the day-to-day issues that teachers face at these kinds of schools. it is really important to get the kids to respect you, otherwise it's impossible to have any discipline in the class and get any work done. we had to battle with it the whole time we were there (for example, one of the periods had some kids in it that had been in jail already and just didn't see the point in listening to us). plus, most of the kids weren't too excited about learning about thermodynamics so that didn't help. the good news is that by the end, many of them found the program interesting and liked being able to use the computers to have discussions with the other students. and some of them actually learned something. woo hoo! but it also made me think a lot about how to motivate these kids. I mean, seriously, I don't blame them for not wanting to pay attention in class or learn about thermal conductivity. it is so removed from what they think is important in their lives at this point and many of the problems they perceive in society probably stem from institutions such as schools that don't necessarily treat them well.

in other news, Legos are awesome.