Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Just some thoughts

The following things you will shortly read have floated around in my head for quite some time. It makes sense to sit down and hash them out with words and maybe even get a little feedback from my readers, however few they may be. I don't know how much sense any of this will make, but here it goes.

At the beginning of the summer, I traveled with a team of students here at the university I attend to South Asia for a mission trip. The trip amazed me, and God revealed things to me through the experiences of the trip I would not have learned here in the United States. Well, to make a long story short, I returned to college and found out the church I attend plans to take a collegiate mission trip to this same location this winter. Of course, this instantly spoke to my heart, and it intrigued me. The trip costs less than it did with the university, and I already own all the clothes and necessities I would need for the trip. I know if God wants me to go, he'll provide a way to raise the funds, and it will work itself out.

And then I think about how I want to move off-campus next semester and how much that will cost. I wonder if my parents will not want me to go on the mission trip because they want me to stay here and work to pay for rent if and when I move off-campus. I just hate talking with my parents right now about money because money runs low right now, and I know we don't have a lot of it. Living off-campus and paying rent means more up-front costs every month, and I won't have the meal plan the university offers so we would have to work out a plan for food as well. In the long run, it would be cheaper than living in the dorm, but I don't know what parents will say. And if I can't find another job besides the newspaper, then living off-campus or the mission trip might be out of the question all together.

But these musings find company with one thought that remains in my head on a regular basis and has resided there longer than any of the above thoughts. On May 15, 2009, (yes, I still remember the date), I received a response email from a publishing company to whom I had sent the manuscript of my book. The author acquisitions representative told me in the email that her company wanted to publish my book. I reread the email tonight--being a good idea or not--and the butterflies in my stomach were still there as my eyes graced across those words. They only take 4% of the tens of thousands of submissions they receive every year. But--yeah, here's the catch--to publish with this company would cost me a whoppin' $4,000. I do not have this money. But every time I hear this some or think about what I would do with a large some of money, I think about my book. I just want to hold it in my hands and know that it belongs to me. I also know that publishing this book represents the selfish desires in my heart, my selfish flesh.

So every time I get to this point where I can't decide what I'm supposed to do with my life or the near future, I have to ask myself, "What is the most selfless? What would Jesus do?" And of course, I find a pull back to the mission trip. But then I wonder if that too constitutes selfishness because it would be easier on my parents financially if I stayed here and worked. Maybe a win-win situation does not exist. I don't know. But I do know that God is good. He is fantastically and amazingly sovereign and good. I believe he will fulfill the desires of my heart in ways I cannot imagine. I also know he knows best for me; better than what I know for myself.

But those desires to go on the mission trip, live off-campus and save every penny I can to publish my story root deep in my heart. The roots run deep, and I have a passion for missions just as I have a passion to hold this story in my hands bound in a cover. It's sad that all these issues hinge on money. Why money? But I know God can do anything. Anything.

Thank goodness God exemplifies goodness because if not, all the above mess going on in my head right now would just be a whole lot messier and crazier. Thank goodness. Thank goodness for my awesome, loving God.

Until next time,
God Bless

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Media in my Classroom

On the website The Journal: Transforming Education through Technology, an article discusses how one can incorporate technology in the classroom. The article is entitled Enticing Teachers to Try Technology. Some teachers are hesitant when it comes to using new technology in the classroom, but this article shows how it can be done effectively and well.

One media I had never considered using in the classroom would be a blog for students to use to discuss homework or group projects. It could be set up where all the students know the user name and password, and they could collaborate as a whole. A blog would encourage learning and thinking without constant input from me, the teacher. I would, of course, step in when questions needed answered, but it would be about the students figuring out problems together. Another aspect of a blog would be for students to set up their own individual blog and use it as an online journal for which I would give points and check regularly.

Another aspect of media I had not considered also mentioned in the above article is storing students' work in an online portfolio. In my high school English class, we kept portfolios, but they were kept in bulky binders easy to mess up and get lost. Using an online portfolio would ensure the student would never lose his or her portfolio, and it would be kept neat and organized. Pieces from expository work to short stories would be kept organized. An online portfolio is an English teacher's dream.

Skype is now a growing trend across the nation, but the last place I would have ever considered using it is the classroom. But it makes sense. If an author of a book or a speaker would be ideal to have in class, but just not realistic, Skype makes the impossible possible. Using an Internet connection, a web cam, and hooking up a computer's screen to a larger television screen, the author or speaker would be right there in the classroom. Students would have the opportunity to ask him or her questions, and time is saved in the long run.

Most teachers usually just hand out assignments as the year progresses, and the students, especially if no syllabus is given, have no idea what is coming or what to expect. A class website could be set-up to house an online syllabus with upcoming assignments, test reviews, study guides, and extra practice for students if they did not understand a concept during class. Discussion boards for students and parents would also be located here. This ideal element works because so many times students don't know what to expect and with this, no one would be in the dark.

These technology developments would influence my method of teaching in a number of ways. Classroom time would be managed better. The students would learn how to work better in the classroom since they are already working together on the blog discussions hopefully making class discussions deeper and longer. I won't be limited to just the items I have in my classroom. I can use the Internet and give examples and ask the students to interact through the Smart Board and other programs.

Some media might not be conducive to an in-class structure. I would use considerations such as what will save the most time, explain the subject the best, and invite the most student interaction. The more hands on time the students have and more brainstorming together, the better they will remember the material.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Becoming a blogger

Today was my second day of classes, and it went well. I had three classes today, and two of them are with my best friend Tarah. It was so fun. Our last class of the day was a class called Technology for Educators as Tarah and I are both studying to become teachers. One of the requirements for the class is to set up a Google account and to start blogging!!!!

Well, Tarah has never blogged before, and I had the privilege of teaching Tarah how to set up a blog. It's so much fun. I never thought blogger would be this much fun before, but it totally is.

Anyway, I will update more about classes when I have time later.

Until next time,
God Bless

Sunday, August 22, 2010

My Home Away from Home

I returned to college today. This is the third time I've moved into the same room, and it almost felt like I was a freshman all over again. My friend Mel came up to the room and met my parents, and she also helped me unpack a few things in my room. I just love that girl. She's so sweet and fun.

Then Tarah and I hung out for awhile and just chatted and caught up on a lot of things. I've missed her so much. She helped me hang some posters in my room. She's so bubbly and full of life. I love to laugh with her.

After I dropped Tarah off at her apartment (because she had ridden with me to the dorm), I went to my college pastor's house to see Mel. (She was my college pastor's wife's roommate in college, so now she rents a room in their house.) We got to chat and just relax. I hung out at (we'll call it D and L's house) D and L's house all the time last semester, so just getting to sit and relax was so needed. It was also so nice to feel warmed and welcomed back into their family. That even though we've had three months of summer between us, nothing has changed.

It feels so good to be back. I know without a shadow of a doubt this is where God wants me right now. And I'm so happy to be here. I'm so blessed with a plethora of loving friends that God has so richly provided.

Tomorrow my parents are coming to church with me, and then afterward we'll probably go out to eat somewhere. Then they'll go home. But I will stay here. When I was freshman, I was told that for awhile college wouldn't feel like home, but neither would home. And then after awhile everywhere starts to feel like home. I agree with that. My home feels like home, but this dorm room that I've occupied for the past two years is also my home. My college pastor's house is my home. That hotel in South Asia that we stayed at for two weeks is my home. Home is where the heart is. And maybe I've left bits of my heart everywhere I've been. So maybe I should've entitled this post "My Home (Not) Away from Home"?

Classes start Monday, and then it's back to the grindstone. But I'm glad. I've missed the routine. And I can't wait to see what God has in store for this year.

Until next time,
God Bless