Archives for the month of: July, 2013

I find the extensive and flippant use of mind-altering substances by youth (and those who are of legal age when such an age exists) incredibly disheartening. The problem here is not just from the obvious physical and mental repercussions of these choices, but the motivation behind the initial choice to engage in an activity like binge-drinking or getting ‘stoned’. To me, these trends signal that we are living among a sad people; modern society has very little actual obligation, has a sense of entitlement, and is bored very easily.

The trends don’t seem to have an ending point for me, because (among other things) technology continues to expand and with it will come a more rapid boredom period. People so often now are frustrated by not having wireless internet access for their phone everywhere or even with wireless service that is not as rapid as they’d like, it comes as no real surprise to me that suddenly little Johnny has grown up and is very bored with high school and further is bored with his life after high school, career and all.

What’s more is that pop star figures, people who are idolized by many Americans, routinely abuse drugs and alcohol out of their own boredom with their lavish lifestyles. On the same level, so many people readily admit to being very fond of adrenaline. Personally, I don’t actually understand this affinity, and for me it represents a level of mental instability. Regardless, though, all of these things are considered acceptable and ‘cool’ even. There is no end to a downward spiral when the world is obsessed and/or fascinated by said spiral.

How to Create a Free-Thinking and Constructive Classroom Environment

How to Create a Free-Thinking and Constructive Classroom Environment

The use of recreational marijuana use is becoming increasingly pervasive in schools. Students’ level of apathy rises with its use, and because of its widespread portrayal as harmless, more and more students are making the choice to use pot.

Tobacco smoking is a choice made by almost one fifth of twelfth-graders  in the United States. Every year tobacco use causes more than 400,000 deaths, many of these addictions beginning in the users’ childhoods.

Alcohol, the most widely used mind-altering substance among secondary students, shows direct ties to poor choices made by students and sometimes even depression. By the time they have finished high school, almost 75% of U.S. students have used alcohol.….0…1ac.1.19.img.q4cS8yans10#safe=off&hl=en&authuser=0&site=imghp&tbm=isch&sa=1&q=pot+leaf&oq=pot+leaf&gs_l=img.3..0l10.66599.68316.0.68580.….0…1c.1.19.img.dcDcfw9Jmn0&bav=on.2,or.r_qf.&bvm=bv.48705608,d.cGE&fp=e073f09bb265521&biw=1251&bih=598&facrc=_&imgdii=_&….0…1ac.1.19.img.q4cS8yans10#safe=off&hl=en&authuser=0&site=imghp&tbm=isch&sa=1&q=cigarette&oq=cigarette&gs_l=img.3..0l10.12585.14265.4.14415.….0…1c.1.19.img.p3LTL6GQZPA&bav=on.2,or.r_qf.&bvm=bv.48705608,d.cGE&fp=e073f09bb265521&biw=1251&bih=598&facrc=_&imgdii=_&….0…1ac.1.19.img.q4cS8yans10#safe=off&hl=en&authuser=0&site=imghp&tbm=isch&sa=1&q=alcohol&oq=alcohol&gs_l=img.3..0l10.86943.88269.6.88525.….0…1c.1.19.img.TK0xXeEt7R4&bav=on.2,or.r_qf.&bvm=bv.48705608,d.cGE&fp=e073f09bb265521&biw=1251&bih=598&facrc=_&imgdii=_&

Thoughts on curriculum design:

While throughout the course I have admittedly become slightly more comfortable than I once was with standardized testing and mandated guidelines given at statewide or nationwide levels for teachers to teach their students, I still feel nostalgia for the times I’ve only read about in books. That is, I am still partial to the belief that students and teachers both perform better when given liberality in their methods of teaching and learning (or with little to no specified curriculum design). That said, this course has inspired me to believe that while specified curriculum design may be a pain, it intends to ensure that students are learning the same information at the same time at a similar pace across the country. Continuity is a positive aspect of mandated curriculum designs. If one were to approach the topic a little more optimistically, s/he could note that curriculum’s design helps truly creative teachers to flourish and go above and beyond to meet requirements as well as bring in his or her own desired inclusions.


Censorship, I feel, is still a bad thing. I can see that regulating levels of vulgarity and violence as it’s represented in a classroom (or in anyone’s life, for that matter) can be beneficial in that a person can learn many of the concepts taught at uncomfortably graphic levels without exposure that might render him or her nightmares without it, but forbidding something is really no solution. Ultimately, hiding something doesn’t make it disappear, and in fact might just make it all the more desirable to viewers for whom it has been forbidden. To justify teaching something that has often been censored, one simply has to find its relevance to the audience to which it is to be received. Many times novels that have been censored are not so terrible, and neither is their message; some novels which were originally censored a long while ago teach lessons much more effectively than do other texts with their same ideas. When a text has been forbidden because it explains too truthfully and too understandably, an easy justification for its teaching is found.


Participating in discussion boards is often fun, and in this course I found that was exactly the case. Reading replies to my own posts and being required to respond to others helped to make this class very engaging and interactive, especially within a group of people who I have never met, but now feel that I know well. Our discussion boards, too, proved to be educational on a psychological level. It was very interesting to see different students’ takes on the varied topics covered.


My most professionally-tied goal, to write and publish books, I feel is benefited by every English course I’ve taken. This class I found to be particularly beneficial for it, also, because I desire to write varied books, but have a series of educational books for children in mind. Learning about aspects of teaching and what works and what doesn’t in a classroom will likely come to benefit my future writings a great deal.

Lesson Title:               Think Outside the Jar                  

Subject/Topic:        The Bell Jar- Sylvia Plath              Grade/Class    10th grade        


What do you want the students to learn?  These should be observable. Be specific and include no more than three)

1. Come to an understanding of the rationale behind Esther’s feeling, and an understanding that straying from society’s constructed concepts of what is normal is completely acceptable, and should even be celebrated.

2. Understanding and ability to use literary devices used by Plath in the text.          

3. Ability to decipher plot progression and cause and effect within the novel.           

Academic Standards:

Refer to Arizona Academic Standards or Common Core. You can also use ones relevant to your situation, just be sure to refer to them (source or website)


-Bell Jar text



-thinking minds

Anticipatory Set/Motivation:

Preceding the book, we will have a conversation about the expected behaviors and experiences students expect from their high school experience. Students will submit anonymous slips of paper with a time in their lives when they felt isolated or ashamed of their own ‘different’ experiences in life so I will have a vantage point to create hypothetical situations to discuss with them the topics presented by the text to reach students on a personal level. An explanation that this text covers some of the difficulties students experience in high school and beyond, and discussion will continue throughout the text to help students think about very emotional situations rationally.


  1. Discussion and individual research/short summary of Sylvia Plath’s life.
  2. Assigned readings of chapters 1-4.
  3. Discuss symbolism of Esther giving a false name, discuss Esther’s discomfort with and the way in which she handles being with Doreen in Lenny’s apartment, why does Esther lie to her boss about her ambition/why does she second-guess her knowledge of what she wants to pursue?, what is the significance of Esther admitting her admiration for her boss even though she has so recently lied to her/ what is the symbolism of the girls’ food poisoning from the banquet? Students write four or more reflective sentences from discussion.
  4. Assigned readings of chapters 5-8.
  5. Discuss Esther’s relationship with Buddy, Esther’s concept of what it means to lose virginity, and her experience skiing. Students write four or more reflective sentences from discussion.
  6. Assigned readings of chapters 9-12.
  7. Discuss Esther’s encounter with Marco, her apathy toward her appearance, and her thoughts and contradicting emotions toward suicide. Students write four or more reflective sentences from discussion.
  8. Assigned readings 13-16.
  9. Discuss symbolism of Esther’s approach to the flower arrangements, discuss Esther’s pattern of seeming a bother to her various acquaintances, and discuss her relation with Dr. Nolan. Students write four or more reflective sentences from discussion.
  10. Assigned readings 17-20.
  11. Discuss Esther’s new reaction to shock therapy: is the fact that she feels a portion of loss to her original self positive or negative?, discuss Esther’s loss of virginity, what does Esther’s firm separation from Irwin say about her and what are the implications of the novel’s conclusion? Students write four or more reflective sentences from discussion.
  12. Students will write a 5-7 page paper on novel’s content, lessons taught, and literary devices used throughout with partial help from the notes that have been taken following the class discussions.


Students’ final paper will incorporate original objectives and continued daily participation (at least two contributing thoughts per student per day or a 350-word paper on the day’s topic in the case of an absence) ensures the students’ comprehension and application of the taught material. (9-10.L.2) (9-10.L.4)


If a student is uncomfortable or has parents who are uncomfortable with topics covered in text, s/he may write three 2-page papers on women of the 1950s, peer pressure, suicide, depression, Sylvia Plath and/or psychiatric medicine. If there is failure of participation, students will be required to spend lunch breaks with me to complete mandated tasks. If unwillingness to participate persists, academic penalties and mandated disciplinary measures will be taken. (9-10.L.2) (9-10.L.3)

The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath’s only novel, covers very relevant topics for high school students and their life following high school. While the text didn’t receive any awards, its relation of a girl’s life through her own personal and then added outside demons and developing a rational outlook on her experiences benefits any audience tremendously enough to warrant reading. Esther begins a troubled girl, spends time seeking answers and feeling more alive, survives many tumultuous situations, including several attempts to end her own life, and finally begins her journey toward healing albeit still aware of the possibility of her depression to overwhelm her. A typical class would begin with the questions being written on the board, an opening statement from the teacher, and the students largely controlling the conversation from then on, with the occasional guidance and fact provision by the teacher.

Incorporating Technology in One’s Classroom

This instructional website helps teachers adapt and best use technology within their own classrooms.

Philosophy of Teaching with Technology Cont’d

Defense of gamification of learning.

Philosophy of Teaching with Technology Cont’d

Defense of gamification of learning.

Philosophy of Teaching with Technology Cont’d

Defense of gamification in learning.

My philosophy as far as teaching with technology is concerned is one which is somewhat wary, but also aware of potential benefits. I am all in favor of teaching being accentuated by the benefits that come with student and teacher interaction with technology but certainly cannot find that technology should be used as a crutch or should be the dominating force in the classroom. Technology opens many doors for its users, and as we delve into the time when teaching with technology in classrooms is a constant reality, my only hope is that we don’t accidentally let our originally forged doors close in our paths.

Teaching is an art. Teaching and learning are very fundamental to the modern state of civilization we’ve reached. While it’s undeniable that humans are easily distinguished from most other animal species, there are some portions of our basic ways which should not be overruled by a new and powerful invention, technology, that we have come upon. Technology can accentuate learning to a large degree. Having technology implemented in our lives and in our classrooms as we do today is a brilliant means of providing fact checks (so long as we stumble upon a reliable source) or allowing us to simulate difficult-to-explain and/or understand phenomena. The problem could come, though, once we are willing to cast aside our own prior ways of ensuring a certain level of memorized information within each of our human brains in exchange for reliance upon technology. If we rely too heavily upon technology, our own creative thinking may shortly be gone forever and that situation gives us potential to be very easily influenced and perhaps misguided. Technology can advance us, and let it only do that, rather than carry us into a regressive behavioral pattern.

Technology can be implemented well in the classroom when it makes texts more affordable, it helps to provide options for students to play learning games and when it is used to expand horizons. I have purchased a number of college texts online; purchasing texts through a website is great because it saves paper, is less expensive up front, and often makes the text easily accessible. Let us not forget, though, the benefit and feel a physical book provides. Learning games, such as cutting fabric to learn fractions, building houses from properly spelled words, and so on can be a very fun and memorable experience for students. Some may worry that students will get carried away with lessons being taught in too fun a manner, but I see no problem in this. Learning to use technology practically, to expose truths and untruths (media literacy), is a wonderful benefit to technology in the classroom. If a student never again has an unanswered inquiry of ‘why?’, we have a bright future ahead.

Don’t Let Technology Get Out of Hand:

Are Students Becoming Too Reliant on Technology?

Mobile phones, laptops, the internet…the list of resources modern technology has made available to students is long and impressive. But are they becoming too reliant on technology at the expense of vital academic and communication skills?

The internet has been hailed as one of the greatest inventions of the modern age; a magical gateway to information, communication and resources unlike anything we could previously have dreamed of. Many have claimed that it is the greatest single technological advance for education, as it opens up opportunities for studying, discovering and learning that were hitherto unimaginable. But as time goes by and the first generation of students to truly grow up with modern internet technology from birth reach their teenage years, some have started to question whether students’ over-reliance on technology could be more of a burden than a blessing…


The internet provides students with the enormous advantage of a world of information at their fingertips. The simple act of tapping a search term into a keyboard can deliver a Google-selected list of hundreds of relevant articles in under a second – a far cry from the hours students would spend leafing through library books and journals in days gone by.

But with the internet’s ease of access come disadvantages too – false and inaccurate information is easily disseminated and it can be difficult to accurately trace sources or corroborate information. Meanwhile, the sheer volume of research materials online can make it ‘too easy’ for students to find the information they need, allowing them to compile an entire roster of facts by copying and pasting without actually having to understand or analyse the information they are sifting through at all. Whilst a student twenty years ago would have had to read and digest a huge amount of information in order to put together a report on tree frogs, for example, using different sources for different parts of the project, a modern student would be able to discover everything they needed to know from a single internet site, picking up little knowledge in the process.


With the rise and rise of fantastic technological solutions for communication, from mobile phones to iPads to Skype and Facebook, a wealth of education opportunities have become available to modern students. Pupils from UK secondary schools can now hold online debates with a class of their contemporaries in the United States or beyond, whilst projects like class blogs, interactive group webpages and programs to design interactive online animations have allowed educational communication to blossom.

But at the same time, some argue that the over-reliance of modern teenagers on technology and devices such as mobile phones and laptops is taking its toll in other areas of education. Literacy and writing skills are said to be suffering as children write less and less longhand and text message expressions take precedence over traditional grammar. Simple communication skills and vital understanding of personal interaction are also said to be suffering, as young people spend increasing amounts of time online and communicate using their keyboards rather than face-to-face. Reliance on such methods of communication could be deeply detrimental to their ability to form healthy relationships with others in the long-run, concerned critics say, whilst they also open up dangerous possibilities of cyber-bullying and the persecution of young people online.


Another major flaw of teenagers’ over-reliance on modern technology is the ease with which students are able to plagiarise others’ work, whether intentionally or even without realising it. The more students come to rely on Wikipedia and Google to answer their homework questions, the less they are required to use their own minds to come up with independent thoughts and opinions. Instead, they are able to simply click, copy and paste.

The Solution?

It is clearly facetious to suggest the abandonment of technology in education, as the wealth of opportunities it provides to students is undeniable. But perhaps as we teach our children to use their electronic devices and internet access to learn and discover, we should also concentrate on encouraging them to develop as far as possible in other arenas too. E-communication is a fantastic resource but it should not be a substitute for face-to-face interaction and time spent outside with friends. Online research is an invaluable tool, but should be complimented by studying in libraries and reading books as well. And interactive learning and online teaching can be brilliant experiences, but they must not replace the vital dialogue and bond between teacher and pupil. By ensuring that our students remain educated in interpersonal and ‘real-world’ skills as well as electronic know-how, we can best prepare them to make the most of the opportunities technology has to offer without suffering any of the potentially detrimental consequences.


Use Technology to Expose Truth:

What’s in a Bottle of Coke?

When advertisements attempt to associate certain values with a brand, they often deploy images which subtly reference those values.  Not so with a brand like Coca Cola.  In 1971, Coca Cola’s “I’d like to teach the world to sing” television commercial forged a direct link between Coke and world peace.  In this MediaLit Moment, your students will examine a 2013 Superbowl commercial from Coca Cola which utilizes a variety of documentary images to make a statement about the brand.  The fun—and the challenge—of the activity lies in identifying the values, lifestyles and beliefs which “fit” within the brand.

Have students analyze how a television commercial attributes positive values to a brand

AHA!:  The producers of this commercial want me to believe that Coca Cola is part of everything that’s good about the world!

Key Question #4:  What values, lifestyles and points of view are represented in, or omitted from, this message?

Core Concept #4:  Media have embedded values and points of view.

Key Question #5:  Why was this message sent?

Core Concept #5:  Most media messages are organized to gain profit and/or power.

Grade Level:  5-8

Materials: computer, high speed internet connection, data projector, screen

Activity: Ask students if any of them watched the Superbowl.  Did they have any favorite commercials? Do they remember any that were really patriotic?  Commercials for Jeep and Dodge trucks might come to mind.  Tell students that they’re going to take a closer look at a Superbowl commercial for Coca Cola which also says that the product stands for something:

Play the commercial twice and allow students some time for comments and questions.  The commercial makes use of security camera footage to “discover” people around the world in   their best or most altruistic moments.  Ask, how does the commercial make them feel?  How does the security camera footage in the commercial help to make them feel that way?

If time permits, give them a basis for comparison by playing a Superbowl commercial for Hyundai which utilizes fantasy and wish fulfillment to “say” something about the brand: