Life Is a Highway - Rascal Flatts

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I just realized that over the last week or so my posts have been a bit long. Is that good or bad? Since it is my grade, I might as well put some effort into the blog. Time is flying; it waits for no one. The next few weeks will go by at a steady pace and then it will be finals. I think it will be time for me to do some hardcore studying and looking over notes from classes. Progress on my paper is on a hold since I've not worked on it over the last few days. I have do some research and go back to add in sources to support my statements. The Part 4 is due soon, so everyone is probably going to be glad to finally state their opinions. After that we will have to put all everything together in one big paper and I assume present it to the class.

This year felt like driving on a highway. We start off on a path of nowhere and most of us end at the destination of making it through our first year of college. Let's make the best out of our lives and just have fun. Put a smile on your face. It will make things a lot better. The more you smile, the more you will find yourself making someone's day a little easier.
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The Zen Koan: Using Zen Thinking to Deepen Your Stories

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In Zen Buddhism, the object is to circumvent our usual habits of thinking logically and try to access a deeper form of truth. In the Rinzai branch of Zen, puzzling statements known as koans are used to challenge a student's traditional way of thinking. Examples of zen koans are "what is the sound of one hand clapping?" "if a tree falls in an empty forest, does it make a sound?" and "what does your original face look like?" The questions are mysterious, baffling, and often frustrating because they have no logical answer. A lot of the time, some of the best and most haunting short stories arouse the same emotions in us, because they use a similar technique.

Short stories are at their best when they defy logic just a little bit. When they leave a question hovering in the air, unanswered, but haunting. Zen masters purposefully provoke their students into frustration by asking these questions and saying that every possible answer the student comes up with is wrong. Finally the student stops giving clever, rational answers and bursts out, "I don't know!" or gives some similar emotional response. It is this emotional response the master is looking for, a crucial first step to connecting with the question on a deeper level. In your writing, leave a little to the imagination. The stories that stick with us are the ones that leave us asking questions. Why did that character behave that way? Did he really have to do that? Why didn't she ask him what had happened? etc. etc.

The zen koan is a good metaphor for making your stories more emotionally satisfying, rather than logically so. Many fledgling writers feel that they have to explain everything that happens in the story. They must explain every character's motivation and why this happens when. While it's good to show motivations, let the reader do the work of figuring it all out. Don't explain everything, and better yet, leave some thing ambiguous. If there is a mystery hovering at the end of your story, or if the story could be interpreted in two different ways, it adds great depth. It will keep your reader invested in the story and wondering. So don't be afraid to leave some things to the imagination, or to build two possible interpretations into the story. It will leave an air of mystery hovering in the air long after the story has finished.

Blair Hurley is a creative writing student at Princeton University. She writes the blog Creative Writing Corner, which offers daily writing exercises, how-to's, and thoughts on the writing life.
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Journal 7

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This is a journal that I wrote when I was in English 1010 last semester. We had to write about a reading selection that we would recommend to someone to read.

I would recommend the selection "On Being 17, Bright, and Unable to Read" by David Raymond to students in school who maybe having trouble reading or meeting the standards of the "regular" students. In a way, this should be an inspirational story because I know there are some students (in elementary and high school students) that have trouble reading at an expected level. Although Raymond had dyslexic, he still manage to do his work. Students should learn to help one another out if they are being challenege in some way or another. I picked this essay because Raymond shares with his readers how he made it through school and life with this problem.

If there is a child that has problems reading, I believe it is up to him or her to tell the teacher so that he or she can help the student. No child should not be left behind for no reason at all. This essay can be read by anyone of age, not just students who are in school. This short essay allowed me to think about myself as an English teacher that could have a few students with dyslexic or just having problems reading and writing. There can be a lesson learned from anyone who reads this essay.
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An Elderly Lady's Attic

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As I walk up the attic stairs and enter the doorway, a sense of a ghostly atmosphere sends goosebumps up my arms. When I look in the attic, the glowing rays of the sun through the round window appear to be the only source of light. Instantly, the sun is hitting an old bookcase with dusty shelves. There is a thick layer of dust on the top, as I glide my hand across the smooth surface. To the left of the bookcase is an old picture from the Romanticism era. The texture of the fram is curvy with pointy edges. The intricate spider webs cover my hands as I reveal the title of the picture.

I walk closer to the picture amd hear mice squeaking to their hole in the wall. The scent of the room is musty mixed with mice droppings. As I follow the sound of the mice, I trip over a wire that causes me to notice a table in a corner. The small, round table has a vase of dirty water containing a variety of dead flowers. Taking a step back, I hear the sound of shoe stepping on a dead roach. As I continue to look around, the walls are designed with a lacy theme. Walking out of the attic, I can tell that an elderly lady has stored these items here and never comes back up here.
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Outside Event 4: The River City Writers Series

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This morning I sat in during the interview of three authors who all have books published. Each author, Christine Kenneally, Joshua Prager and Stacy Sullivan, said important facts and interesting things about their work toward the writing of their books. These are nonfiction writers; therefore, it is their experience or exploration of their interest. I did not stay the entire time, but I did get to hear important details on researching and how that relates to being a writer. It was like we were given their perspective on how they wrote their book and struggles with approaching how to continue the books. Here is what I grabbed from attending this River City Writers Series interview.

As each person talked and said something, I jotted some notes. I did not get the historical information, but I got something that will benefit me. One thing I would like to do in my lifetime is to get book published. I'm not sure what it will be about, but when that time I will know. One of the questions that were answered dealt with the research of the topics in order to write the book. Research may not be something we all enjoy, but it has to be done one way or another. If it is a subject we are fascinated about you will soon find piles and piles of notes and information on our desk pertaining to the chosen subject. This is something that the writers shared with the audience.

Josh Prager's editor was surprised at the amount of endnotes in the book "The Echoing Green" which is about baseball. I do agree with him since you have to provide evidence to tell your readers what you are talking about is true and where it can be found. With this said, it shows that you are not making anything up that is not your own opinion.

I recall Stacy Sullivan, if I'm correct, saying there's a time where we should stop researching and start writing. When we are overwhelmed in the collection of information that is needed for us to write an article or a story, we should stop and process what we found. This means that we should start reading to help us support what we want to say with proof. We have to read in order to write something. You have to reflect on what you have discovered. Personally, I have to sit down and read, read, and read in order to incorporate what I have research or quotes in essays that I may be writing.

Deadlines are important. I forget which writer mentioned the fact of meeting deadlines, but it deals with being a writer. It is important that I turn in all assignments when they are due whether in person or online. Although deadlines are not helpful since you may be limited to completing a task in two weeks. On the other hand most people can't get anything done unless they are told when the assignment is due. If you wait until the last minute, you will not have written anything productive. This is something important in being a writer.

Another concept that was mentioned is writing about something other than what you are passionate about. I find this to be true. I may not like writing about certain topics given, but I can do a good job at writing about education. In other words we should to write about different subjects. Go beyond the box and write about that is something that does not interest you. You should apply all your skills and abilities to further the development to be a writer. One of the writers said once you write articles and reports on different subjects you will find out what really interest you.

The writing process is very important. In class we are writing a first draft, then we are proofreading and peer reviewing within our groups, and then we edit, and make a final paper. Being able to break everything into chucks will help us all as writers. Taking one step at a time will help us find the mistakes and making sure we all apply everything in a story or article. Allowing others to be able to see what you are writing and get second hand opinions is a good idea. You can find what needs to be improved and what you should take out or keep. The use of the writing process was mentioned by one of the authors.

When Wendy told use we had to attend two of the River City Writers Series events, I really thought it was going to be boring or something that not of interest. Now that I have attended two interviews, it was worth the time in listening to what each author had to say. I can use what I learned as a writer in my paper that I'm working on for English and in other classes in the future. Everything that was said is helpful to work through the process of being a better writer.
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It's the Weekend!

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Today is the big game for the Memphis Tigers. I wished the best for them. Last Sunday they won the game and I hope they win the game tonight. This morning I heard the bell go off at 8:00 playing the Memphis Fight song. Why is there a train near the campus? All I could hear during the debates this morning was the train; well actually two came through here. This happened in my morning class while students were talking. My government teacher told us that there will be no class on Monday. I'm so glad since I work hard getting up and getting to class on time.

I do have a quiz for that class soon and a debate I will have to present to the class. To prepare myself for the quiz, I will have to read two lecture slides and two long chapters from the book. I will do my best to make a better grade on this quiz. This includes going with my gut in choosing the right answer.

In another thirty minutes or so is the last interview for the River City Writers Series. It is also my last required event. I'm so happy to have them all done. With three writers it will be interesting to consume everything they will say. I'll jot notes and everything they will say that is an attention grabber.

In other news, we have Student Government Association elections next week. I do not really know who to vote for since I really don't know anyone on the ballot or where they stand in helping the advancement of the University. The building of the new University Center is coming along fine. It should be completed by Fall 2009.

Enjoy your day!
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Outside Event 3: Dr. George Lord

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Dr. George Lord works with Partners in Public Education. He holds the position of being the Director of Research, Assessment, and Program Development. He has written publications and co-authored a few on school leadership, school achievement, parental involvement, and mayoral led school systems. During the spring break, I had the privilege to have a one-on-one interview with him. I just am lost at putting the interview together, so I may have to contact him again.

He came to speak to Wendy's classes this morning. I really enjoyed hearing him speak and talk about the No Child Left Behind Act. From reading publications related to education, hearing from people who work in the field, and the media, this act is an very important issue. The NCLB is so broad that it can not be narrowed down to common terms. Each year PIPE sends out a community report card for parents to those who have children in the school system. Within all this information, it gives you important information on every school in the district. You can see what school has a percent of highly qualified teacher. You can also see the scores of each school and if they have increased or decreased.

To better understand the process of AYP and have different schools are on the lists the state provides, you must know the definitions or the steps to define if a school is passing or below the average. You can find all of this in the community report card for parents. Everything that was said during the speaking this morning will help me with my paper on the education system and how we can make it better. You should read Open to the Public: Speaking Out On "No Child Left Behind" if you want to see how students, parents, and teachers are feeling about NCLB in Tennessee and Memphis City Schools.

While Dr. George Lord was speaking I jotted down some of things that grabbed my attention.
  • There is nothing in the Constitution about education
  • Trillions of dollars is spent on K-12 education --> this includes federal, state, and local funding
  • Tennessee State Board of Education --> serves as a guide to local school board
  • Students are engaged in their own education driven by the grade rather than the desire to what to learn
  • The No Child Left Behind Act is the modern version of the Elementary and Secondary Act
  • Education is getting blamed for everything that is happening around the city
  • Information is data which equals the process of people understanding what is presented to them
  • NCLB make schools either pass or fail
  • NCLB gives you the choice of whether you want your child to stay at a below average school or keep them there
  • Society does not value education or knowledge as other counties
  • There are tests that allows us to see where we are ranked among other countries

I've read a few articles about different teachers in New York and their success in using different methods and strategies to teach their students. During my research there are articles that really touched me and should be read by everyone to be encouraged to DO something to help our schools in Memphis.

As an English major attending the University of Memphis to become a teacher, I am on a mission to make our education system better that will allow teachers to want to teach students to make them productive and successful citizens.

Dr. Lord provided me with a better perspective on the No Child Left Behind Act. I think everyone should get a full understanding of it if they do not know anything about it. Though math and reading skills are important, we should focus on our students getting a well-rounded education.

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A Casual Wednesday

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Ah! Wednesday, the middle day of the week. This week is going by quickly. I think the next two days will be a breeze. This semester I can say that I have so much time during the week and less than that on the weekend. They should extend the weekend an extra day and have school four days a week. I wonder what that will be like. I can only imagine. It is hard enough waking up for 8AM classes for an entire week. Getting up around six in the morning feels totally different than waking up for high school.

At the strike of noon, during my algebra class I guess the clock tower went off. The bells were playing the University's fight song. It was my first time hearing it. The teacher was confused when it went off because she never heard it before. Must be something new they decided to do this week. I'm not sure why they played it today, but it shouldn't be a problem to hear it again.

Yesterday in my Memphis Lead Team meeting one of the members have night classes. I think I would want to do any classes during the night. An evening class sounds a bit better. Maybe a class that is in a bit into the evening, but not at night. The student that got kidnapped last week tells me that I should be aware of what is going on around campus. I do not want to myself at risk in that type of situation. Who would want to kidnap a student and drive off with them and drop them off at a random site? The outcome of the student being unharmed is good. They had an article all about the two guys that did the crime. I forgot what the student was going outside during the middle of the night. I don't know what he was going, but I was asleep.

I'm tired of hearing the news about Mayor Herenton and how he wants to take over Memphis City Schools. At first he wants to resign, but only if he is able to take over the schools. If that will not happen, he will continue to be Mayor of Memphis. With this being said, I have not read in depth the situation and all the pros and cons, and everything else in between. I usually hear what is happening on TV or visit the local news websites. During the week, I read the blogs that are written by citizens of Memphis. Not all of them are about the bad things, but what is going on in the city. For example, I may read about the Lester Street tragedy, good places to eat around the city, and local art galleries. There is always something interesting to read on the internet; especially blogs. Often I read about politics and American Idol.

In no particular order, here is a list of Memphis blogs I read through the week:

Not only do I read those, I usually go search on the net for other websites and blogs to read when there is nothing else to do. I'm thinking about making a list of websites and blogs that are my favorites or a daily dose of reading. You may notice two buttons on the side of the page. They are the status button for AIM and Yahoo messengers. They let you know when I'm online. If you have those messengers programs then feel free to hit me up by clicking one of the buttons.

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A Good Conversation

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Today was a beautiful Tuesday. Amazing weather we are having today. The walk around campus was delightful as the windy blew strongly and the warmth of the sun beamed on me.

It seem as the semester comes closer to an end students start to slowly stop coming to class. Although half of the students were not in class, I still enjoyed our discussion. The discussion was good and a couple of students shared very thoughtful knowledge. Overall, I woke up to a late start and glad to have the chance to be back in class. I will admit that I was not fully engaged in the participation of the class.

Friday there are three writers that will end the River City Writers Series for this semester. We have an assignment that we have to complete by this Thursday on three writers: Christine Kenneally, Joshua Prager and Stacy Sullivan. We also have other assignments due as well. Thursday we have a speaker coming to us to talk about the No Child Left Behind and go in depth how it relates to our schools in Memphis. These will be my third and fourth Outside Events for this semester. It is kind of like killing two birds with one stone.

I always enjoy having a good conversation with people. Who doesn't? Not everyone is a people person. The more you read about current events, issues that are going on around campus, and then you can grab a cup of hot chocolate and have a very awesome conversation with someone. In other words, we should talk and have discussions to understand each other. As written in the writing response I wrote entitled Understanding Another Viewpoint, humans are quick to react to something that is said in the sense of not agreeing with what we believe. It is not every day thing to stop or walk to class and start talking with someone about a magazine article.

In general, you can have a conversation with just about anyone. I know there are people who can walk right to you and start talking and you will not noticed what happened 30 minutes later. Not everyone will want to hear you talk about something that means something to you whereas a person will just to push you away. A bad conversation can always turn into a debate or the use of curse words. Hopefully, you are trying to make peace rather than trouble. As people often say, don't start anything that you can't stop. That is the last possible result you want.

When you bump into someone, greet them. That conversation can be about anything, but it is a pleasure to talk to someone rather than no one.
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Big Paper: Part 3

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Over the last few days I've been very much off topic of school assessment. It is not that I had nothing to write about, but had nothing far as schools and my paper to write a post about. I've noticed it has been awhile since I posted something about schools.

Part 3 of THE BIG PAPER!!! This part of the paper will need plenty of worked to be done. I feel this is not as bad as the first part. This is where our opinion comes into the picture. I need to better on this part. I really just scraped something together. It is not a full three to four page. It is a naked paper with no citation. Just statements with nothing to support what I'm saying. Right now everything is on a tight schedule. It is not that I can do better, but I will do better. I'm facing the fact that this is just a sketch to sort out the direction I'm focusing on right now during this paper.

I read the given questions to be put in thought. I kind of answered those questions without exactly putting what is not needed. I'm hoping this will be good as the second part I just turned in last week. I'm thinking that my first part needs to be be rewritten; however, I like the way it is right now. At the time being I'm going in different directions. As I usually say often, this is not hard, but only a challenge.

The only thing I'm worried about is finding something new to say. Being redundant in this paper is the last thing I want to happen. That is worse case scenario for me. I sent off my paper to my group and it was imperative that I emailed it to them. I'm just waiting to get their papers in my inbox. Hearing what they have to say will help me out in a greater advantage rather than me just being completely lost and isolated on an island. I am aiming to squeeze every effort through this last month school and study hard for finals.
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Questions. Comments. Responses.

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It is a brand new week. The last full week of March and then one month of school left!!! I am so ready to get out of school. April will be here soon. Let the finals begin. I got spoiled from being at home last week. It was a drag going to class this morning. The work in English is insane, but I'm really enjoying the class. Deadline after deadline. I'm not quite sure if this blog is boring or it is unique. It could be a blog that you read each day along with other sites. I guess what I write and my way of thinking keeps you coming.

I'm recovering from getting my tooth pulled. I still have to continue eating on my right side until my gums heal so no food will get down in the hole where my former tooth was. My wisdom tooth was impacting into the one that was pulled.

This past Friday I checked my blog see that a person by the name of Russ left comments on two posts. "Are you freakin' high, bro?" is what I read on Friday's post comment. I started laughing. I wonder what made him ask me that. I'm looking to see this person continues to read my blog and leave comments. I think it is amusing. It does not bother me. He can comment all he wants. That came out of nowhere. I hope Russ keeps reading my blog and leaving comments. I was not high when I wrote last Friday's post. I can't imagine myself being in that state of nature. I did not know what to say. I was like "wow." I think that was the highlight of the day.

Then, later I read he decided to be a critic and talk about my grammar about what I wrote on the debate. It really did not bother me since I already knew that I make mistakes here and there and forget to proofread. However, I was speechless and did not really know how to respond to his comment. Keep them coming, buddy!

Yasir, you want tips on how to make money. A million dollars to be exact is more than enough money for me. There could be plenty of ways to earn that amount of money for college. You have your basic way of saving up money and doing scholarship search. Try starting your own business. That would be very helpful. Skills and abilities and a good price will help you earn money. I'm pretty good with computers and with a moderate usage of it. I basically help my family out who are beginners at computers. I should start charging every time someone wants me to help them. Making good grades and applying for scholarships as said earlier can help. However, they are other ways of making money. You just have to go out start an adventure. Hope that helps, if not you we can always talk about this.

Hopefully I will enjoy this week and end March with a bang. April 23 will be here before we know it. I'm so energetic right now for some reason. Hope you continue reading my blog.
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Extra! Extra!

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I'm feeling a bit better since my visit to the dentist. I'm slowly eating regularly food, but I'm ready to eat a buffet of good. My mouth still aches a little bit. Someone punch me in my left jaw! Now, let me go on and write today's post for this week.

This has been one of the best weeks out of the semester. I feel that did a terrific job on my writing peices this week. Although they were long, I could not have written them in 200 words. Therefore, I was not planning on limiting myself on the word count. That does not matter. what does matter is my writing and how it relate to this moment in time. I believe we all should be dared to dream a path to our future. Dare to think about life and how it can be a new world. Next, we should be able to go out and do something that will help ourselves and our community.

I noticed that this week's posts are not about schools, education, or anything related to my paper. I did post my part two of my paper and then everything went from there. Do you have a question you would like for me to answer? Do you think I'm overdoing this blog? I want to hear your comments and questions. Post them in the comment area or email them to me. I would be more than happy to respond to them in upcoming posts.
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Our Perspective

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Yesterday I went and got a tooth pulled. Once I got my tooth pulled it was not that bad of a process. The feeling of having food and unable to eat it for a few days is killing me. I am not having fun eating soup. I wished I didn't have to miss Wendy's class this morning. A break from Intro to Theater is nice since I have been in that class every single day. Also, I will get a break from writing notes for a change. One day I will be able to attend the 1020 Project Speaker Series!

This week is a short for me as far as going to my classes. Monday I wrote on the subject of thinking and creativity based on a quote from Ray Bradbury. I do not recall reading anything about neither the author nor his books. Therefore I could not relate his writings in what I had written. Tuesday I wrote about the debate in class and Floyd Skloot. In the end, everyone has a different aspect of the debate and probably how it relates to them in one way or another. The debate got everyone thinking and I assume there was a lesson to be learned from the debate. Floyd Skloot talked about his writings, his relationship with his daughter, and the audience asked questions or listened as he talked.

Last week, I wrote about spring break from the point of an magazine article. Learning a new word and defining it from articles from a magazine is interesting and very useful. Meeting with your accountability groups and peer editing is important to writers whether they like it or find it not useful and unrelated to them. However, for me I really enjoyed meeting with my group and discussing our papers.

In my own view, I believe there is a connection between everything that we have completed over the last two weeks in English. Not that my focus is just on this class in particular whereas classes are important enough to muster up something to write about, I tend to think what I write is meaningful and something to share with everyone else.

With everything said, our thinking and perspective of the acting locally can help not only ourselves, but the world. This reminds me of people telling the youth to go out and vote because it counts. The connection between everything is that out thinking, expressing ourselves, and acting counts and matters. Most people do not think that, but they should step outside the box and dare themselves to dream and think.

I did not post yesterday and I'm posting today so I will no get behind on blogging because that can happen. Trust me, it can. Now that winter is over and spring is here, I think it will be a refresher for everyone to go out and just enjoy the warm weather. Spring time makes everyone happier in my eyes. Flowers will start to grow. The trees around the University will begin to grow leaves. When you take a walk around campus, it will be a brighter day. You will start to notice that activities outside will be happening here and there; people will be enjoying the warmth of the sun.

Though I have jumped from one idea to the next in two paragraphs, however, there is a connection. There is meaning. When we understand ourselves and other people, we may contradict each other. When we understand an author's way of writing, there is meaning.

Reading and writing something "pointless" to some people while to others it helps to speed up time. What I am trying to say is that between reading, writing, and thinking, we can gain something from doing those three actions. Reading, writing, and thinking will cause us to change something we would not normally do in our lives. We can gain a better understanding that will make us sprout like flowers and bloom like a tree. We will appear to be different and glow like the sun. Though you may not understand clearly what I'm writing, but you will accept it in your own way.
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Outside Event 2: Floyd Skloot

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I had the chance to go to a last minute speaker interview. Though I did get to attend the entire interivew, I still was able to hear some good information and a bit about one of his book. The one thing that caught my attention is the Mr. Skloot wrote his poetry. His poetry tells a story. To select a few poems would take the element or purpose of the book. This book I do not recall, but the important thing is the concept. I never took the time out to understand and study a published author's writing. Reading for meaning is something Wendy is teaching us.

It has been a while since I sat down and read a book for leisure time or just to read it for a purpose that can be useful. Sometimes I don't understand the purpose of poetry, except for the basic concepts of just writing it for fun or just expression of a person, but writing poetry to tell a story is totally amazing!

I don't know much about the relationship between Rebecca and her father, but I must assume that there is a strong connection between the two. When she told the audience that she read the stories about herself in high school, it was something fun and amusing to share with her friends. It would be very interesting for a friend to write about my life or how knowing me for during college years made an impact in some way or another in his or her life. Now that is something to ponder about.

The author mentioned something about writing about the old Jewish people and they complained about the food and everything, but it was in a funny way. The moment about the old guy and the soup was funny. Overall, from sitting in during the interview, I could tell that he has written wonderful books that are worth sharing to family and friends.

This is my second event of the semester and I have two more events to attend. I do plan on trying to attend one of the speakers from the 1020 Project Series. I think everyone should attend any event where people are speaking because you are not aware of what could affect you and if someone that person may have said will be useful in the future.
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The Debate

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Today in class we had a debate. It was in my area of expertise if I may say that. However, I did not say anything since my tooth was hurting. I enjoyed the debate that we had in class because it was something different. In general, I'm not a big fan of debating in the sense of not knowing much of a given subject.

I don't remember everything, but there is a limit on the amount of students that can be in one class. Being able to teach a class of 25 students in elementary and 35 in high school is a difference. They are on a different age level. One must have patience to teach a group of students. Every student has the chance of learning. Therefore they should want to go outside the class and learn on their own. Parents can make their children go to school, punish them in some way, beating them upside the head, or whatever will make or help them to want to learn.

Let's not get the personal issues get in the way of the situation. If I have a personal issue, the best thing I can do is to help myself get over that issue. A student should seek help if they are having an academic problem. Not sure if they would be a personal problem. I can't just say I have an issue with math if I am having trouble with it in class. I'm not sure what exactly what is a personal issue when it comes down to learning in the classroom.

I think the debate is helpful in allowing us to talk about a topic in an orderly way without acting like we have no sense at all. Again, this was very off guard and different from what we normally would do in class. Debating is something I would like to do again another time in the class. From this, we all can be able to see and understand others and their way of thinking. It is a learning process in one way or another.
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Stop Thinking Equals Creativity

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“Don’t think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It’s self-conscious, and anything self-conscious is lousy. You can’t try to do things. You simply must do things.” ~Ray Bradbury

I find this quote to be very true. Every day I find myself thinking; think too much or too hard. hen this happens, I get a mental headache. I usually get them all the time because I'm trying to think, but I think too hard which leads to making things a bit complicated. Thinking does stop the flow of creativity. In a sense, relaxing and just letting the thoughts flow is a better way. The thoughts that I or someone else comes up with, those must be put into action. If they sound lousy, as the quote says, we must not try them, but we must do them. Although they sound plain and dumb, with less thinking and putting the ideas aside, then this allows the mind to function in a creative way. If they are "dumb" then, we should do them and see what the outcomes are. Every statement I made so far may sound confusing, but again, I'm doing a bit of thinking with a mix of creativity. The only part you have is to make sure you understand the concept before you make a contradiction.

The voice within us will tell us when we think of something that is not on the creative side of the mountain, then feelings of regret will cause us to go against moral values or right and wrong actions. Self-consciousness allows us to feel that we are being "watched" or the feeling of being the person that stands out the crowd of people. At times when we think it is our self-conscious that is thinking and we find it to be one crazy or weird thought. In simpler terms, we think than those thoughts will be our self-conscious rather than being or showing creativity.

If I have to show my creative side, I try not to think too much about and just let everything flow out. All the ideas and thoughts are placed on paper out so I can put a little bit of this and that together to create something useful. Great minds think alike, especially when there is a need for more than one person to come up with a creative art form or a one-person job.

It seems like every Monday and Friday are two days where I can not think of anything to write about in blog, especially if I have not researched or done anything on my paper. The juices stop flowing and I have to read or relax in order to write something that that has meaning and shows my writing abilities rather it is creative or a formal writing piece. If we all stop thinking for a moment, it will allow us to be creative. Not in the way of just stop thinking about an idea and forget about. Thinking about the idea for a moment and then wait a few days and come to back and see how creativity allows you to play with the idea so that it can be useful and not your self-conscious that gives you that feeling of regret or rejecting the moral values that you have.
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The Rising Age of School Assessment

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Every year experts and researchers are always finding different ways to check how students are learning and how well they are learning from their teachers. Throughout the school year, different states across the country have mandatory tests to evaluate how every student is learning and if they are learning to their fullest potential. To help school leaders to see the academic and social aspect of the school, there may be either school surveys or district wide surveys to see what needs improvement. There are moments when educators and researches will try to find a new path to remove defects or to adopt a better way of reforming education. This is one way school assessment affects what and how students are learning. There is no change in playing the blame game for accountability in schools. School assessment is to modify or update current standards and guidelines to fit the needs of traditional, classroom settings.

During the 1930’s, the College Entrance Examination Board created the SAT test. The SAT was the first, single test for college admission; later came other tests, such as PSAT/NMSQT, the College Level, Examination Program, and the Advance Placement Program. The ACT test is governed under ACT, Inc. During the 1950’s and 60’s, district wide test were given to follow up on accountability in schools. Not only did the government create national programs such as the ones mentioned, but they started testing on a narrow scale from states giving tests to local school districts. As a starting point during the 1900’s all types of assessment were being created. These assessments strived to improve success for students and motivating teachers to work harder. Around this time period, statewide testing program began to take action and now they are nearly forty programs across the country.

The time to enforce international assessments began in the 1980’s and 1990’s since the scores on the mathematics and science sections of testing would pave for political power or risking a downfall of social and economic status (Stiggins). Though this is years back from now, the No Child Left Behind Act only focuses on math and reading skills in order for a student to be ready for the “real world.” There is something similar with NCLB Act and the international assessment in past years. They all focus on one main idea and not offer a well-rounded education.

Reflecting back during the 19th century, students were tested to see if they mastered everything that was taught to them. As it is today, they would not move into the next grade if they failed a test. The failure of the students was not blamed on the teacher, but on the students themselves. Teachers were interviewed by board members and a member from the church on order to make sure none of the students showed any immoral conventional views or beliefs of their religion (Ravitch). An educational psychologist, Edward L. Thorndike, from Columbia College, performed numerous test using scientific methods to measure student academic performance; however he did not believe that were going to be used for school accountability. Therefore he concluded that education should be strictly for school and their administration.

The writer Diane Ravitch states that “testing was regularly used in the schools, there was no belief within the profession that tests should be used to hold anyone accountable.” The National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) was formed in 1970 to serve the purpose of providing schools, educators, and just about anyone student achievement and test data for American students. Since this information was released, school officials are still today trying to find ways to help students raise test scores and improve achievement. As Stiggins states in his essay, “this reevaluation must center not on how we assess student achievement but on how we use assessment in pursuit of student success.”

On a national scale, there are different assessments that can affect students and schools as well as colleges. To dive on into the local state level, in Tennessee there are several different state wide assessments given to students on different levels. A well known test that is given during the spring of each year for students in grades 3-8, the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program (TCAP) Achievement Test. This standardized test uses an “easier” format of multiple choice type questions given from subjects taught to students in their classes. Since 2002, students in the ninth grade must pass the sub-test of the competency test in order to graduate with a regular diploma.

A new test called the Gateway Test is required for students to pass the Mathematics, Science, and Social portion in order to graduate. Currently, the governor is toughing up on student standards and the Gateway Test is supposed to be no longer use in the state. There is also a Writing Assessment given to measure the capabilities of students writing different essays to writing prompts. In High School, the familiar End of Course Examination was proclaimed on October 28, 1988 (TCA 49-1-608 and TCA 49-6-6001(a)(1). There are ten of these examinations given. In the future, the State Board plans on having more tests for just about every subject to measure student achievement and measure how well schools are doing each year.

School assessment and accountability goes hand in hand with reforming the American education system. Every test that is given each year measures the knowledge of a student. There is no limit on giving a test to someone whether they are applying to enter college or take advance placement test for a course. Along the same lines, tests go to the extreme level of being a requirement in order to graduate high school. There is always history to how every test began and what their purposes are within the school system.

Sources:
- Stiggins, Richard J. “Assessment, Student Confidence, and School Success.” Kappan Professional Journal. November 1999: pgs. 191-198. Vol. 88.

- Ravitch, Diane. “A Brief History of Testing and Accountability.” Hoover Digest. Hoover Institution. http://www.hoover.org/publication/digest/4495866.html

- Merit Software. Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program. http://www.meritsoftware.com/standardized_tests/TN.php.
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Go With the Flow

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I do not know to write in my blog today. I guess it is one of those days where I lost my muse to write. The weather has been beautiful and it is much warmer this week than it was last week. Spring is around the corner and then comes summer. I guess I am just ready for school to be out. The semester is moving along steadily, but not fast enough. I made my five, well a bit over five comments for this week. Originally, I doing a comment a day; however, I usually do more than the required five. I guess in another month I should be getting the Harper's magazine and the Atlantic Monthly. The two publications should be interesting to read each month.

I enjoyed meeting with my group today. It was very helpful to have others read the second part of the paper. Something I still think that needs a bit of an edit is part one, but I may leave that alone since it is pretty much an introduction. It is a small chance for me to ask for someone to read over my paper. I want to say that I do not want just anyone editing my papers. They have to know what they are doing and surely they do not have to be an English major as Yasir pointed out in his blog post and at the group meeting. On this note, I will end my post for today here. Until next time...
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Propaganda

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I wrote my propaganda paper and was hoping it was an aspect, or context, along the lines Wendy expecting from me. I decided to write this paper based on the School Improvement in Maryland website. The entire website is centered around school improvement.

Different techniques can help change or influence an individual’s belief or choice or what will work best for them. Not only can one person be influences, but it can also do greater cause when manipulate a group of people. This persuasive technique is called propaganda. The media is always showing propaganda whether it is to help a business or corrupt the reputation of another person. The scope of school assessment and using ads, media, or any type of art can impress educators, especially the parents, that they can use all classifications of test, regulations, and data to help strengthen schools to give students a better education. Along the lines of using a variety of resources to measure one’s abilities and knowledge will be released for school system to improve public education on the local level.

The State Board of Education in Maryland has improved the school system’s district website to better help school board members, students, teachers, and parents so they can improve public schools. The images on the website are pictures of people that could be any one from the state of Maryland with smiley faces and probably having positive outcomes in their schools. The imagines of the group of people can persuade the viewer that the assessment and resources are working. Maybe the people in the picture put on a big smile to show that they are satisfied with everything the State Board is going for them.

Though there may be some glitches in the school system, they are convincing people that the assessments will work, the limitless powers will work. The photo is arranged where each group of people are working together as a team which is a good concept that they may claim to give off to the public. This technique is use to cover up any problems the schools, but to proposed to the public that everything is being handled in an orderly, fashioned manner. Not only to the school officials use the photo, but the entire site or what it is expressed is made to grab the attention of parents and school officials.

The photo on the main page of the website and the website itself is an artifact in the matter that education in our culture needs to be improved. The information given (data) from the test shows that everyone should play a part in the education system. Compare Maryland verses another state; the data may say that education is not taken into much value as another aspect in life. This artifact, or websites, tells that the education in this country is good and students are getting the best education given.

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Writing Excerise: Spring Break

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During Spring Break, I decided to put all my college assignments on the back burner. Instead, everything did not get completed. When Friday came, I ventured home and felt relieved that a week of burden would be off my shoulders. Although it may sound that I will have a vacation it another overrated, big city, however, I stayed home and relaxed. As the days went by, I thought about doing my work, but again I did not feel like completing them though I knew they were going to be due soon.

One exciting moment did happen. This moment was to do my interview assignment. I was nervous and ready to get the interview over with although I was anxious to meet Dr. Lord. We were to discuss school issues within the city of Memphis. It would have been better if I brought a tape recorder with me instead of limiting myself to my hands and ears. The interview ended successfully.

As the weekend came, school would start once again with no more days out. I embraced every moment of being lazy. This spring break was much needed for me.
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The Interview

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Over the last few days, I have been interacting with the blogger of Commontaries on the post that the blogger wrote about Kirk Whalum, Jr and his remarks about the school system. There have been comments between myself and the blogger. It is nice to see comments written among each other and someone reading what I have to say and just interaction. Whalum's idea of shutting down the school system until they can do something about the violence is not a good idea.

It is Monday again and back in school until April 23 (last day of class). I enjoyed the break though I did not get anything done. However, I did get my interview completed with Dr. George Lord, Director of Research at Partners in Public Education. I had the interview last Thursday afternoon around 2:00. I enjoyed the insightful information and his point-of-view about the issues that are affecting the schools in Memphis. He really gave me some really good information and the school the Community Report Card to Parents. It has some really good information on the status of school as of 2007 such as how many teachers are highly qualified, the annual yearly progress of schools and, if schools are in critical need of help. If you have any family members in Memphis City Schools, the parents should have the publication in the mail as of last week. It is available online, too.

At first, I was not sure who to interview until I took the chance of contacting Dr. Lord. Now the only thing I am dreading is typing it up and trying to piece everything into text form. I have a bit more time to do that and make it look nice. I'm progressing and I have that done. Now I just have to finish part two of my paper on the history of school assessment. I searched and searched so I hope I have information to get the paper done. This semester is almost done. I have one more midterm to do and I will be glad when that is done. Until next time...
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