Thursday, July 20, 2017

MACIE Apprenticeship: Media and Children's Learning

Me heading to my first day as a Graduate Teaching Assistant!

This semester I apprenticed as a teaching assistant with Dr. Laura Meyers in the course ECEE 3605, Media and Children's Learning. Through the course of Maymester I co-planned with Dr. Meyers and Courtney Hartnett, observed Dr. Meyers' instruction, evaluated students' work in class and online, and instructed students in class. I also spent time reflecting, It was a challenging and intense apprenticeship where I learned a great deal about myself as an educator and what it takes to plan and execute an undergraduate course in a compressed time frame. 

In my introductory goal statement that I sent Dr. Meyers before beginning my apprenticeship, I outlined what I looked forward to. In that statement, I said "I’m looking forward to learning how an undergraduate class is designed, implemented and adapted to the students who take the class. I’m interested in gaining an understanding of how undergraduate students interpret and represent their thinking around issues of childhood and media literacy and the way they apply different theoretical frameworks to these topics." 

The Course
Dr. Meyers leads students in a discussion of Socio-Political Theories

Dr. Meyers, Courtney and I met multiple times in March and April to prepare for the course. When it came time to begin, I was excited to meet the students and hear about what they were interested in learning. The students came from a variety of degree programs and professional backgrounds. 

Our first week of class we reviewed several cognitive development theories and theorists such as Erikson, Bandura, Piaget and Bruner and in the second week we began to cover socio-cultural theories such as Queer Theory, Critical Race Theory, Feminist Theory and Socioeconomic/Class Theory. It was fascinating to see students grapple with these theories and apply them to various forms of media such as picture books, movies, television shows, video games and advertisements. 

Students' Charts on the Socio-Cultural Theories we discussed in class and applied to various media genres.

When it came time for me to design and lead a class period I was anxious about planning and executing an entire 3 hour class. What I'd forgotten is that I'm an excellent teacher, and what I didn't realize was how the spirit of teaching remains constant no matter what age the student is. My experience as an early childhood educator came right back as I found my groove while leading discussions about documentary films we'd all watched.

A list of critical vocabulary words generated by students and instructors.

I kept a reflection journal that documented my day to day experiences as a Graduate Teaching Assistant. In addition to this personal reflection, several weeks after the end of the course, Dr. Meyers, Courtney and I met to review student evaluations, reflect on our experience and consider how to adapt what we learned from this course to other contexts. 

In my reflection journal from the day I taught class, I wrote "I'm so glad that's over! I forgot how exhausting teaching is." I also wrote down my feedback from Dr. Meyers, which included "The student learning objectives were not specific enough for this lesson. How do you know if the objectives were met? You could provide a ticket out the door, do a think pair share, do some observation, or have informal mini conferences." In my mentor text I came across this statement from Ken Bain, which backed up my reflection and Dr. Meyers' feedback: "Our subjects use a much richer line of inquiry to design a class, lecture, discussion section, clerkship, or any other encounter with students, and they begin with questions about student learning objectives rather than about what the teacher will do" (2004, p. 17).

The most unexpectedly challenging (and therefore most useful) parts of my apprenticeship were the incredibly dense pace of Maymester, and evaluating student learning. Our course met three times a week for three weeks, which seemed perfectly reasonable until we began. In addition to the in-class commitment, I was surprised by how much time planning, reading, viewing and grading took outside of these class hours. It was a valuable reminder of just how much work goes into every class session and has helped me as a graduate student, giving me insight into the behind-the-scenes work of educating college students. 

I struggled with how to evaluate students fairly. Courtney and I split the students' work between us and compared notes, but even with the small class size and shared workload I spent a great deal of time reading, thoughtfully providing feedback and communicating with students about their work. I wanted to be fair, but also to ensure that students were doing their best work and that they were really attempting to integrate the child development and critical theories we discussed in class. 

I could see many students wrestling with feminism, critical race theory and queer theory as they watched both the cartoon (1991) and live action (2017) versions of Beauty and the Beast. In class, it was easier to tell which students had prepared for class and which hadn't, but I found evaluating their written work challenging. I wanted to be sure to be consistent and objective, but also wanted to be sure to take their in-class participation and representation of content into consideration whenever I evaluated their progress as learners. As Ken Bain notes in his book, "Students' conversations might help indicate how they were approaching the problems, but the professors would never rely on that evidence alone to make final assessments." (2004, p. 156-157).

Mentor Text
Dr. Meyers recommended that I read Ken Bain's What the Best College Teachers Do in support of my apprenticeship experience. The book was incredibly useful as I unpacked and digested my whirlwind Maymester experience and considered my future as an instructor in any context. Bain and his colleagues conducted a study in which they examined the teaching practices of "outstanding teachers" at the college level. Bain defines this as instructors who "achieved remarkable success in helping their students learn in ways that made a sustained, substantial, and positive influence on how those students think, act, and feel" (2004, p. 5). Bain's insight into the day to day and pedagogical practices and attitudes of highly engaging and effective professors was interesting and useful. Though the book is a little dated at this point it was a quick and enjoyable read and it put a nice cap on my apprenticeship experience.

  • Bain, K. (2004). What the Best College Teachers Do. Cambridge, MA:  Harvard University Press.
  • Hahn, D (Producer), & Trousdale, G. & Wise, K. (Directors). (1991). Beauty and the beast [Motion Picture]. United States: Walt Disney Pictures.
  • Hoberman, D. & Lieberman, T. (Producers) & Condon, B. (Director). (2017) Beauty and the beast [Motiona Picture}. United States: Walt Disney Pictures.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Spring Fling

We met at John Howell park today for one of V's stealth parties. This time it was to throw colored powder at each other to celebrate the equinox.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Junk in my bag.

Raina asked if we could go exploring in my bag so I emptied out its entire contents on the table and she laughed at all the stuff we found.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

A Photo A Day Week 52

And this is it! Thanks for following my photos this year. They will be come back someday but for now I've decided to switch focus. More on that later. Now, photos!

[357] Monday 25 October 2010: 2nd Annual Intergalactic Pumpkin Carving Thing At Vanessa and Gabriel's. Photo (and pumpkin carving tools) courtesy of the wonderfully talented Everyday Celebrations.

[358] Tuesday 26 October 2010: D bought this, one of the coolest pumpkins ever carved, for $5 at the party. Here it is all lit up on our front porch.
[359] Wednesday 27 October 2010: My dear and sometimes estranged friend Framboise made these soaps and shipped them to me from Boston. They smell like fall.
[360] Thursday 28 October 2010: These are local chanterelles that I found (bought) at Community BBQ, which I cooked up for dinner tonight along with cornbread, cream peas and pork chops.
[361] Friday 29 October 2010: Laura leads the way into a VA Best Western where we stopped on our way to DC. We slept like the dead, woke up to watch Mr. Rogers, and continue on to the Rally for Sanity and/or Fear.
[362] Saturday 30 October 2010: Here we are at the Rally, a stone's throw from the Native American Museum but many many stones throws from where the actual famous people and sane/fear debate was occurring. Thank Buddha for Jumbotrons.
[363] Sunday 31 October 2010: My flight home was on this wee plane! When we were boarding it felt like I was on the tarmac in Aruba. Well, except for the temperature.
[364] Monday 1 November 2010: I played Clue Jr. with the girls I watch after school. It's not the most interesting game but a good start to deductive logic I suppose.
[365] (not sure how my year gained days but I've chosen not to worry about it) Tuesday 2 November 2010: I bought myself flowers, beer and cheese to celebrate my birthday eve and starting The Sandman.
[366] Wednesday 3 November 2010: Jennifer, my co-teacher, made me a delicious pie. I may have developed a small pie obsession. Oops.

For this next year (my 27th around the sun) I have decided to make a record of the things I learn every day. This is inspired by watching children learn every day, realizing that learning is *hard* and that I do it all the time. My friend Rachel mentioned that she really does learn something new every day and that she should write it down in a book. I took that and ran with it. So far it's going well but I still haven't decided whether to type them up. I'm still getting in a rhythm where I write every day. Either way I have loved sharing these photos with the world and getting everyone's feedback. This was a good start to my project and I will definitely do it again in a coming year.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A Photo A Day Week 51

This is the penultimate week!

[350] Monday 18 October 2010: Butter Peas, meet corn bread. Both expertly prepared in Laura's kitchen and expertly delivered to my mouth. Mmmm.

[351] Tuesday 19 October 2010: This is what D calls my "den" where Ender and I slept so that my hacking cough wouldn't keep him awake.[352] Wednesday 20 October 2010: We had a visit from a landscape architect who gave us some ideas about where to build our deck.

[353] Thursday 21 October 2010: Full MoOoOn.
[354] Friday 22 October 2010: All of the teachers at our school went to a Reggio-Emilia conference and I got to go to the fun session on how to use lines in paint. This is part of what we made.
[355] Saturday 23 October 2010: Speaking of paint, this is G-Money as a green cheetah. He was very adamant about the green part and later wanted to draw green cheetahs all over the place. [356] Sunday 24 October 2010: Ender is a delicate flower. Well, he's mostly just sad and in the cone of shame.

A Photo A Day Week 50

Two things:
  1. I have temporarily abandoned my numbering system because somehow I got off track. The year is almost over and somehow I'm not quite at 365 but once I sort things out I should be.
  2. I am currently in deep thought about what to do for my next 365 challenge. The year of photos will end next Wednesday on my birthday and I'm currently tossing around ideas for the next year. I haven't decided if I'll keep the blog as part of the deal. If you have any suggestions I'd love to hear them! The top contender is currently writing every day, which is a lot more than snapping a picture, something I often forget to do until just before bed.

Carry on!

[343] Monday 11 October: Ender the cone-faced dog on our way home from Jesse and Whitney's for dinner. Not even a bit car sick!

[344] Tuesday 12 October 2010: This sign says "Everybody needs a church We'd love to be yours" [sic] and I pass it every day. I disagree with their premise, even though I happen to go to a church that I really love.
[345] Wednesday 13 October 2010: We nailed nails into our class pumpkin and later opened it up to see what it looked like. Hellraiser pumpkin!
[346] Thursday 14 October 2010: I started feeling sick and my sweet husband took me out for my favourite first-cold-of-the-season comfort food: tom kha gai, a spicy coconut milk soup. While we were at it we ordered everything else on the menu to meet our $45 minimum. Darn.
[347] Friday 15 October 2010: You can't see it in this picture, but this pumpkin is massive. It would apparently be excellent ammo for people named Mark Buckles to throw at Donnie Milton. So I've heard.
[348] Saturday 16 October 2010: First place* marathon runner!

[349] Sunday 17 October 2010: Laura shows her appreciation for banana pudding, which we have decided will be part of our Thanksgiving spread because it is the best Southern dessert that has not yet infiltrated all of The North.

*among UUCA music directors

Thursday, October 21, 2010

A Photo A Day Week 49

[336] Monday 4 October 2010: Yes, I have become one of those people who takes incessant photos of her dog. Deal with it.

[337] Tuesday 5 October 2010: The teachers at APP worked so hard on this project and when we finally hung our first Reggio-Emilia inspired documentation boards we were so proud of ourselves.[338] Wednesday 6 October 2010: I tried a baking experiment. I formed a hypothesis based on prior knowledge and tested it in the laboratory. I came to a conclusion. You can guess what that was. Experiments don't fail, they always yield results. These results happened to be of the tasty variety.
[339] Thursday 7 October 2010: Another experiment in the form of my first ever crock pot meal. It was not very good. They will get better.
[340] Friday 8 October 2010: We went out for dinner and to see the Aaron Sorkin movie. The restaurant (Spice Market, midtown ATL) tried to do fancy Asian "street food" but the decor and company made up for the uninspired food.
[341] Saturday 9 October 2010: After an unfortunate UofM-MSU football game the boys dressed up and headed to their concert, which was really lovely.
[342] Sunday 10 October 2010: We went to Carisa and Bala's wedding at the beautiful Red Top Mountain State Park.

Monday, October 04, 2010

A Photo A Day Week 48

[329] Monday 28 September 2010: Someone donated a box of ear candles to the preschool. So many that I brought some home to test out. Don't worry, I won't take pictures.

[330] Tuesday 29 September 2010: We've been working really hard on our Reggio-Emilia panel boards at school and this is what the revision process looked like.
[331] Wednesday 30 September 2010: We love Ender.
[332] Thursday 1 October 2010: We went to see La Boheme and it was fantastic. I knew Rent was based on it but I didn't know just how close it was. Without all the sex.
[333] Friday 2 October 2010: We bought G a giant (child-sized) hamster ball that he can roll around in. Jesse and Whitney are going to get us back hard-core for this one when we have a 4 year old. Still, totally worth it. I wish I had more photographic evidence.
[334] Saturday 3 October 2010: Laura and I followed up knitting class with a drive to Ellijay for fried pie and donuts. Er, I mean apples. Yes, we went for the apples.
[335] Sunday 4 October 2010: We went to a food fight party. I've now got 2 spontaneous and 1 scheduled food fight under my belt. It was super duper fun. Yay, Vanessa and Gabriel!

A Photo A Day Week 47

This week we said sad goodbyes to Sophia. We also got a really sweet dog who likes to run around in circles, chew on things and shake his butt. I'm told these are standard dog things.

[322] Monday 21 September 2010: We did some outdoor crafting during my afternoon job with the girls.

[323] Tuesday 22 September 2010: I've been dying to make Zingerman's chai recipe ever since the temperatures first dipped below 80. Haven't gotten to it yet, mostly because it takes a long time, doesn't keep well and I'm the only one I know who would drink it.
[324] Wednesday 23 September 2010: We started going out in front of the building for our morning meetings at school. Interest has definitely increased.
[325] Thursday 24 September 2010: Goodbye SiL! We'll miss you. Come home soon.
[326] Friday 25 September 2010: This is Ender the dog. We have decided to keep him because he's sweet, he looks like a hyena and we love him.
[327] Saturday 26 September 2010: I started my first scarf at my first knitting class! Learning is way harder than teaching.
[328] Sunday 27 September 2010: Donnie showing off his new (old) James Taylor record.