Back at it?

This, starting to write on the blog again, is like getting back to an exercise plan, you just have to start again!  I haven’t done much writing since this late winter/early spring when I was trying to finish my dissertation.  I wrote the last two chapters of my dissertation in about 2.5 months while it took me over 3 YEARS to write the first three chapters!  Now that my fingers have rested up, similar to a marathon runner’s legs resting up after a race, they’re ready to get back to writing.  Also similar to getting back into an exercise routine, this post is going to be short as I build my stamina for writing.  I don’t want to strain or sprain a muscle (finger or brain).  It is my hope to return soon and share some of my thoughts on what I am reading right now.


The problem with research

Happy Sunday all!  Before you get on your high horse and remind me that I haven’t written anything in a few days I’m counting today as a win.  Why a win?  Because I’m actually writing something and a day of writing is better than a day of not writing, no matter how many days have passed.

Now onto explaining what I mean in today’s title.  Currently I am working on the reading section of my dissertation.  Chapter 2 for me consists of sections on visual perception, kindergarten readiness, readiness assessments, and emergent literacy.  One of the sub-sections under emergent literacy is reading achievement and that is section I’m stuck on right now.  Not that I do not have ideas about reading achievement, but they are my ideas.  There is an unspoken rule about dissertation writing: writers don’t have the authority to have  their own ideas until chapter 5.  This means I’m trying to find research articles explaining what reading achievement is, how it is measured, and why it is important.  If any of you out in reader land have thoughts or ideas of search terms, please let me know.  I would really like to be done with this section by the end of the month.  Thanks and talk with you later this week.

And as I wrote about earlier–let me know if you spot any grammar issues.

It has been recommended…

It’s Wednesday which usually means I have time to run away for a few hours and do some reading/writing/working on my dissertation (HEY MOM! like the parallel structure there?!). If you haven’t noticed already, my grammar leaves a lot to be desired. I think my writing has good voice but I’m sure there are many people who read this and go “Oh my! This girl has a higher degree?”. See, like that punctuation right there. Without looking it up, I’m not even sure that’s right. It looks right-ish and sounds right-ish but I’m betting a Junior High student would be able to tell me if my punctuation is correct.

So where am I going with this entry? Good question. Like a doctor who has recommended a daily health regimen for a patient, it has been recommended that I make sure I have a daily writing regimen.

Currently I am in the process of doing a lot of reading for my dissertation therefore I am not doing a lot of writing. Because of this, my writing skills suffer (especially the grammar skills). This is where the blog, again, is the solution to this problem. By writing something here, in a more regular fashion, I am leaving myself open for comments. It is my hope that when some of you are reading this, you find some of my grammar mistakes and offer suggestions on how to fix them. I might take your suggests and revise posts or I might comment back asking for further explanation. Just beware, if you comment, you might be asked to help proof my writing.

I think that will do it for tonight. I have a limited amount of time and I should probably get some real work done before I can’t think straight.

Happy Grammar Hunting!

I don’t know which is worst?

I’m not sure which I would have rather done a Coach to 5k New Year Resolution or the writing one.  Here’s why…when one makes a fitness goal it is not uncommon at the onset to experience some discomfort as muscles that have not been used in a long time find their new purpose (sometimes unwillingly).  And to add an extra layer of fun, because it is winter you are likely to get sick.  And then you feel gross.  And one day you decide that your bed is calling to you louder than the gym and you answer.  Once the illness is over, you try going back to the gym but it is without the excitement you had for it just a week ago because of the forced break you took due to illness.

With a writing goal you might also feel some discomfort at the onset because you are trying to get the words that are floating in your head down in someway that will make sense to others.  You are also trying to think of topics that will be interesting to these others who might come across your writing.  And then, because it is winter, you get sick.  And the call from your bed (or coach in front of the TV) is louder than the call from your computer and you answer.  That describes me the end of last week.  2-3 days of just vegging on the coach trying to feel like a person again.  The only real thoughts I had were I need to make sure I drink but if I drink too much I’ll have to get up and go to the bathroom–I don’t really have the energy for that.  I think I’ll go with dehydration.  I think the whole family is thankful I am better now.  But now, like the person in the paragraph above, I’m struggling to find that inner-drive to get back to work.  That I daily spend time to read and write and not waste it.

So as the title suggests, I don’t know which is worst.   I’m just glad to be back in normal health.  Also, I’m glad that while there was a slight dry spell on this blog it is my hope that the rains have returned and that the everything is starting to return to the lushness it was before the drought (or really that it would become more lush).

Happy Monday all!

My words for Wednesday

Here it is Wednesday already and day three of the Sarah will write everyday campaign.  If it takes 21 days to create and change a routine/habit, I’m just 18 more days away!  So here are my thoughts today.

First let’s discuss the dissertation.  For those who don’t know (but since I know it’s only my family members who read this you probably already know) right now I am working on the first three chapters.  In my program, first you write the first three chapters and usually also complete your IRB application.  Once the first three chapters are finished you meet with your committee for your comprehensive exam over those chapters.   It is usually at this point that the IRB application is also approved to submit to the IRB committee.  So you might be asking how are those first three chapters coming along?  Well I have chapter three finished, minus some editing/revising, chapter 1 has some components that are finished, and chapter 2 feels like a huge mess!  While chapter 1 and 3 have a pretty standard format to follow, chapter 2 is the review of literature and it is really open.  It is up to the researcher to determine what shoulders her research will stand on and then find, read, and synthesis that information.  This researcher has some ideas on what shoulders I will be standing on BUT I think I’m missing a few. That has been today’s struggle.

Here’s how I’ve been attacking chapter 2–treating it like 4-5 little smaller papers.  I am pretending that each subsection is paper.  Once I have the papers written then I will go back and write the transitions between the sections.  Up to this point I’ve written drafted  sections on: working memory, Gestalt and visual perception, and kindergarten/school readiness.  The last section I think I need is one on reading achievement.  To say this last section is a broad topic would be an understatement.  What does “reading achievement mean” is the question I’m trying to answer.  Today while participating in some task avoidance I had a thought: my dissertation is mostly concerned with emergent and early literacy so I should be sure that I discuss the different components of early literacy and how success in those components leads to success in later reading success.  Why I did not think of that before I don’t know.  But now I am excited to write about topics I know really well–phonological awareness, phonemic awareness, letter naming…Now I get to start thinking about those subtopics and remembering all the super-sized shoulders I can stand on.  So reader, beware–in the coming weeks there might be a good many posts about early literacy.

And because above I have “first let’s talk” that means I should have a second or lastly.  So, lastly, I am a teacher with a 2-hr delay tomorrow.  There are so much questions to ask oneself when you have a delay.  Should I sleep in? Should I be a good mother and make good breakfast for my crew (pancakes)?  Should I take my crew for donuts before taking them to daycare (a little later than normal)?  OR do I…wait and see what tomorrow morning feels like?  I’ll let you know.

2015 Resolution: I need to write so I can do more writing…does that even make since?

So here it goes…I’m really putting this out on the interwebs which means it is true because everything you find on the internet if true.  Now, I know I’m a few days late thinking about, posting about, sharing about my New Year’s resolution but I figure it goes along with my whole “asking for forgiveness than permission” personality.  There are a host of other reasons why I’m writing this but I’ll get to those later.  Here’s my 2015 resolution:  I resolve to not necessarily get healthy (lose weight or be able to beat my 5k PR), to not have a cleaner house (but try to keep things the way they are), instead I will finish my dissertation and be Dr. Bond before Christmas 2015.  Actually, I would really like to be Dr. Bond before next birthday but am giving myself an extra month and a half buffer to have everything completed so I can even graduate in December 2015.

Okay, so what does this have to do with this blogpost?  In order to reach my goal I need to get back into the swing of writing something everyday.   Really, I think I need to publish something everyday to keep my fingers used to typing and my brain use to writing and getting thoughts down.  By publish I mean in the way Calkins and Graves talk about the publish phase of the writing cycle–to make public.  I don’t really know if I’ll publish and post everything I write on this blog but I do hope to write something here everyday to help see how my writing improves (especially my writing stamina which I know pretty  much does not exist right now much like my 5k PR).  That’s were the title of this post comes into play.  So I can write academically I need to do non-academic writing along with some semi-academic writing. So those of you reading this, this is a warning (read this statement as “if you are a subscriber to this blog you might want to unsubscribe for a while”–my feelings will not be hurt) this blog might become more of a place to dump all the simple words and sentences I need to use up before I start using more complex words and sentences.  Sometimes this will be stream of consciousness writing.  Sometimes it might be a quick note about something that happened during the day.  Sometimes it might be about what I’m reading about for my dissertation.  Tonight it is stream of consciousness writing.  As for what kind of writing it will be tomorrow–only tomorrow knows because I have NO CLUE!!

TPACK Talk Opportunity

This semester, along with my doctoral course work, I have been working on my internship. I am doing a college teaching internship for few reasons.  First I should back-up and tell you more about how my program does internships. There are three choices.  First, if your goal is to be a Curriculum Supervisor for a school district, there is a specific internship you have to do.  I’m not interested in becoming an Administrator.  Actually, there is one administrator position I would be interested in (Reading/Literacy Coordinator) and I’m thinking I would not have to go through getting my Supervisory Papers.  Internship option #2 is a Community Service project.   This internship is designed for those who are already teaching in Higher Education and are not interested in becoming a Curriculum Supervisor. Internship choice #3 is the College Teaching internship.  I am interested in possibly teaching in a college/university setting (one of the reasons I’m in the program to be with) so this internship makes the most sense.  The class I choose was an issues and trends in literacy masters level class.  I teach a lesson about once every 3 classes and I also attend most classes.  I have really enjoyed this opportunity and it has actually given me my idea for my dissertation (but that’s a post for a different time).

Back to the original story.  One of the last class sessions the students were talking about what they were doing or planning on doing for their big final project–a theory into practice project.  In small groups, the students discussed what their idea were and shared any data they had collected.  After listening to some of the conversations the professor and I noticed that some students were not talking about who they were basing their theory into practice on.  When we came back together for a general question and answer period the professor first had to fix the misconception that some students had and stress that they were to take a theory/strategy we discussed in class, try it with their students, document, and write how it went.  Once we got that cleared up, we were able to answer some general group questions.

After most questions were answered a student, who hadn’t started her project yet, wanted to bounce the idea off the professor and I.  Her idea was to look at using an iPad app with struggling readers to increase their fluency.  While trying to work out what she really wanted to look at (reading fluency) and how she was going to use the iPad (for repeated reading practice) I totally surprised myself when I said “A framework you might want to look into is the TPACK model”.  Then I had to stop a moment and just be in awe of myself for mentioning the TPACK model outside of my Tech in Education class.  In this student’s case, it was very fitting.  She understands her content (reading fluency is important to becoming a proficient reader), her pedagogy (repeated readings), and the tech piece (iPad app) and this framework would help her see how each of those three pieces fit together to make a stronger learning experience.  I think towards the end of our conversation she was starting to make sense of it all but had a lot going on in her head as the Professor and I were both trying to help her have a stronger study.  I am excited to see her results and see if the students who used the app did have an increase in their words read/minute.  I will let you know.

The moral of the story, at first when something is introduced to you and you can’t wrap your brain around it, give it a few months and maybe an authentic purpose will come around and then you might surprise yourself at just how much you know.  The piece to remember is the authentic opportunity!