Monday, October 11, 2010

October 11th: Psychological Monsters

I just counted it up...we're now in week 8 (out of 17) of the semester.  It seems like we just got started--I'm starting to get overwhelmed with all of the stuff I have to do!  I'm going to have to buckle down and stay organized and try to beat my personal besetting sin--procrastination.  Besides teaching my four writing classes every week (and all the piles of grading that come from them! This is a major area where procrastination can be deadly), I also have women's study group meetings Monday and Wednesday. On Wednesday, I am the teacher, so there's quite a bit of preparation there, as well as house cleaning and fixing a meal for twenty.  Friday nights I've been taking turns attending "religious discussions" on the east (my) campus and the west campus with Lee.  Sundays are an all-day time of great fellowship--meeting at Ron and Evelyn's on the south campus (although sometimes I visit Dale and Lisa on the central campus), then lunch with whoever can stay (often ten to twelve people), a couple of hours to crash in an unavoidable Sunday afternoon nap, then meeting at Colonel and Kelly's at five, then back to the south campus to Ron and Evelyn's for dinner (she usually makes some sort of soup and sandwiches--last night was beef and noodle soup, yum!) and one or two intense rounds of Settlers of Catan. 

And now I've accepted teaching one more class a week, an evening course in oral English for local middle school teachers that should last for ten weeks (the rest of the semester).  It does mean an increase in pay for the overtime hours, which was one motivation, but also it sounds like an interesting opportunity to teach a totally new demographic--teachers instead of students, who I would likely otherwise never meet.  I'm looking forward to using many of the oral English lesson plans I've come across but never been able to use in my writing classes, so it's a fun professional challenge as well.  I've always been a teacher, and it's a bit hard to imagine myself not doing something related to teaching or education; I've tried to steer away from teaching at a few points in my life but I keep coming back to it.  Being a teacher is just part of who I am.  And then, there's also the summer vacations...that doesn't hurt my love for the teaching profession at all, either.

The last two weeks we've been discussing descriptive writing in class, which I find is a lot of fun to teach. Today we began with talking about vocabulary for describing people and personalities--I introduced them to terms such as introvert/extrovert and open-minded/close-minded. Those of you who know me well know my fascination with psychology and psychological testing (I have a minor in psychology), so I took the opportunity to use a simple personality test with my students. There are ten horizontal rows of four adjectives, and you must choose which of the four words describes you the best. Afterwards, you tally up how many you chose in the A, B, C, and D column. A majority of A's mean that the person is a Controller, for B's, a Motivator, for C's, a Developer, and for D's a Stabilizer. Here are the descriptions:
Then, for their in-class journal assignment, the students answered the following questions:
1. According to the Personality Survey, are you a controller, a motivator, a developer, or a stabilizer?

2. Do you agree with your results from the survey? Why or why not? If not, which personality type do you think best describes you?

3. What do you think the world would be like if everyone was a controller? How about if everyone was a motivator? What if everyone was a developer? And what if everyone was a stabilizer?

4. How do you think you and your classmates can benefit from the variety of personality types in your class?

I've used others personality surveys before that I like much better and that I feel are more accurate (but then again, how much accuracy do you expect in ten questions?), but I had worksheets for this one and it fit the time constraints of the class perfectly. I may see if I can make some modifications or find a similar test that I like better before class tomorrow. I need to make more copies, anyhow. By the way, I was a controller. This assessment does fit my in-class personality as a teacher, but not my personality as a whole, as I am definitely an introvert. I'm not too concerned if the survey isn't terribly accurate; probably all the better, as it gives the students more fuel for thought to write about if they don't agree with it and go on to explain how they really are. 

After I gave them time to think over these questions and write in their journals, I got the chance to try a description activity that I've never had the chance to use before: monster art! I gave each students two pieces of paper. First, they had five minutes (okay, closer to ten...I have a lot of perfectionists) to draw a monster. Monsters work well for open-ended activities because there is no one way to draw a monster--it could be something with fur, or feathers, or scales; it could have two eyes or three ears or five feet or seven antennae; it could have wings or paws or hands or flippers. A monster could be a cute fuzzy thing from Sesame Street, or could be a shadow with flashing teeth from a Halloween thriller. After everyone had drawn a monster, I took them up, shuffled them, and then passed them back out face-down. Now, the students had to work in pairs. One partner would look at their monster, but keep it hidden from the other. Then they would describe it while the partner followed the description to draw it on the second sheet of paper. After they finished, then they could compare the original and the copy to see how well their description had enabled the partner to draw it. It was a good way to illustrate through experience how we can give someone else a mental picture through our descriptions. There were some very cute and creative monsters! I think the activity went well, and I think I'll keep it in my repertoire.


Katy said...

Oops, it's week 7, not 8. I can't count, apparently.

Anonymous said...

too much like Dorothy in the Wizard of OZ--There is no place like home...

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