Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Today's Rant Brought to you in part by UVA*

*Yet another instance where Facebook was incredibly useful.

As most of you know I have been working on a Master's Degree in Reading Instruction at The University of Virginia. I have been working on this for about 4 years now and have thoroughly enjoyed my classes and learning and talking about teaching reading. Not only did I enjoy my classes, I did very well - earned all As. In every class I not only learned a whole bunch but I also knew a whole bunch - I felt like one of those kids I hated in high school, those kids who were always right and always got good grades no matter how hard they tried or didn't try.

One of the many things we learned about in the program is Word Study. I LOVE Word Study. It's basically good old fashioned phonics, but with a developmental approach - rather than the whole class learning the same thing at the same time like it was when we were in school you divide the kids into groups and teach them only what they need to know and are ready to understand. Not earth shattering, but a shift from the whole language (read to them and they will learn to read) approach of the 80s/90s. Anyway, Word Study is my "thing" - I quickly adopted the approach for my own classroom and took the initiative to learn everything I could about it!

Over the summer I tutored a 6th grade student as a part of my graduate program - he was working at a much higher level of word study than I was accustomed to working with. He was ready to learn about meaning units of the words and cool stuff like that. I didn't really know what I was doing, but like a good teacher/student I figured it out. I read up, I asked questions, I did research, I tested techniques and tweaked things to make it work. I didn't know what I needed, but I knew where to find out and how to learn it.

In December I took the Comprehensive Exam of everything I learned in the program. The test is 4 questions - each about a different area that we had learned about. You must answer each question in 3 double spaced pages or less, over 3 pages and it doesn't get read. The test is a closed book take home test, you pledge it with UVA's Honor Code and UVA takes their honor very seriously, you get caught cheating and you get kicked out.

One of the questions is about word study. I read over the question, confident that I knew the answer and saved it for the end, Word Study after all is my strong subject. I did the best I could with the question, it was a big question - I could have gone on for 10 pages and still left stuff out - so I didn't worry too much about the 1, the only thing that I'm not so strong on with word study - I knew the other points in my answer were good and I did the best I could on my own without going upstairs and getting the book (no one ever would have known, I'm too honest!) and looking up the parts I didn't know.

You can imagine my surprise a few weeks later when my advisor called to inform me that I had failed the word study question. That's right failed the question that I thought was the strongest. WTF????? That one little thing I didn't know, turns out that was the piece they were looking for. Never mind that in real life I could look it up. Never mind that I got the "meat and potatoes" of Word Study. Never mind that it was proof that I hadn't cheated (I'm sure there are folks who did look that part up, they are home free, while I'm stuck failing because I was honest).

It was not a huge big deal, I can retake just the Word Study question in the Spring. I'm pissed as all get out, but whatever, I'll read up and try again.

I realized last week that I knew the comps were coming up soon but I hadn't heard from my advisor - I'd ran into her back in Feb and she'd asked me to e-mail her, which I did, but I never heard back. So I fire off an e-mail to her last week, she responded and just needed my UVA e-mail to put me into a Blackboard site - didn't answer my question or anything! I gave her my UVA e-mail, but explained that it wasn't working for some reason (that's another rant) so could she please use my aol address to get in touch with me, because I really didn't want to have to deal with fixing it just for this (I'm done after I do the comps which I'm already steamed about having to do). In my last e-mail I asked directly: When are the comps? I never heard anything else from her.

This afternoon I logged into Facebook and one of my friends who is a semester behind me in the program had posted as her status: Comps are this Sat. WHAT????????

When I got home I placed an angry phone call to my advisor and sent her an angry e-mail both demanding she call me ASAP and explain why I hadn't heard that comps were this Sat.

She called me, baffled as to why I was so pissed off, and explained that she'd sent a whole bunch of e-mails - none of which I'd received. She blamed my e-mail for being "messed up". I have now explained that she must use my aol or fcps addresses - she is supposed to e-mail me the test Fri night, here's hoping it comes.

So, this Saturday I will be taking the Word Study portion of the comps 1 more time. Here's hoping I get it right this time!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

A Very Special Easter

In my previous post I told you all about my friends Susan and Michael and their adoption, well, in the last month much has happened! First of all, about two weeks ago we learned that the baby was in fact not a boy!!!!! That's right George Henry is actually Leah Katherine!

Leah Katherine was born on Wednesday April 8 at 3:53 AM! Susan and Michael have to stay in MD until the courts process the adoption and today I got to go up and visit them and meet "The Cupcake" or "The Angel" as she has been nicknamed!

This was truly an extra special way to spend Easter - with my dear friends who are now parents thanks to a truly unselfish act! Adoption is just plain amazing and "B" as we have come to know the birthmom as is a true hero in my book! Thank you B for making the choice that you did and bringing this wonderful family together! :-)

I know you all want to see pictures - I took close to 30 today of Leah and her cousin Dottie, but am only posting 5, and right now it's the "Leah Show"!