Tuesday, October 9, 2012

53302_Harrett_BlogWk8 A Little Early Start

Greetings friends,

I know I am getting a little early start on the week but I did want to go ahead and get a jump start on finishing up this eighth and final week.  This has to have been one of my all time favorite educational experiences.  It was a short and sweet term filled with loads of information, lots of informative assignments, never short on conversation and fellowship, and a sure bet to spark one's curiosity.  Dr. Cristine Goldberg is a Web 2.0 technology genius.  She knows exactly what can go wrong and how to prevent it ahead of time.  For that, I am very thankful.  I like to say that she has taken all of these sites for a test drive and now we can claim ownership.  All joking aside, it's been a wonderful start to my graduate school experience.

This week we will focus on developing our own idea toolkit.  This toolkit, if well thought out, and developed over time will prove to be beneficial to us as educators in a number of critical situations.  Having a continual focus on visual literacy I know that our students will benefit as well.  She developed sets of pictures that peaked our interest, stirred our curiosity, and made us laugh.  One thing I picked up from her sharing is that we should never leave home without our teaching credentials and our digital camera.  You just never know when an opportunity will present itself for you to begin to develop visual literacy sets.

We continued discussion on the brain and much valuable discussion came from that.  It is actually senseless not to incorporate all that we have learned in this area into our lesson plans and into our teaching.  Our students can benefit from this, we can certainly receive huge benefits and rewards from this knowledge, and our families will certainly share some of the benefit as well.

Once again, we're doing blog reviews, so I hope that I've characterized my blog in a way that is pleasing to every reader and made it visually appealing for all.  On a more personal note, today I got the privilege of taking my 16 year old to get his driver's permit and boy he wants to drive everywhere literally in one afternoon.  I need a break! I'm just joking.  He's been a real trooper and I believe that he's going to be a great driver, just like his big sister.  This is the culmination of all of those things that we do to nurture our kids.  It all starts to work towards their independence and our letting go.  He's my last one at home so I'm cherishing every moment of this.  Now, that's a very happy child, wouldn't you agree?

Have an awesome week.  Pictures to come soon.

Peace and blessings, Belinda Harrett
All Rights Reserved ©, Please Request Permission To Duplicate. Belinda Harrett, University of the Cumberlands.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

53302_Harrett_BlogWk7: An Anniversary, Sweet 16, Fall Break, and a Little School Work

Greetings Friends,

Happy Fall! The weather is reaching an awesome pinnacle.  I'm reminded of that special ceremony 22 years ago on this day when I married the most wonderful man in the world.  And then 6 years later to the day, he gave me one an absolutely adorable blessing in my perfect 16 year old son, who is celebrating his birthday today.  This week begins my Fall Break but it will be filled with much work as a substitute teacher filling in for those getting an early start on their weekend.  The week will end with me traveling to spend time with my beautiful daughter in Tennessee to spend her Fall Break, college style, with her.  I'm going to need a vacation when I get back.

Sadly I report that this week's theme and activities hit home with me.  The brain is an area receiving much attention these days and with good reason.  There's something going on.  Parkinson's, Alzheimer's and other brain related diseases seemed so rare or almost completely unheard of when I was a child.  They all seem so commonplace now.  The push to understand and combat these diseases is very much a reality for me.  I lost my father-in-law recently to Parkinson's Disease and Dimentia.  I also lost an aunt to Dimentia.  My father was also diagnosed recently with Parkinson's and he is fading fast.  If you think it's not important to me, think again.  I must aggressively pursue information on a regular basis to help my husband who has a propensity to develop the disease as well as my children begin now finding ways to preserve their brains.  My daughter danced the ballet for 11 years and I know that there were huge cognitive benefits with her participation in the arts.  My son danced the ballet for awhile as well and I know there were cognitive benefits for him as well.   The connection between the arts and cognition are critical for us to understand.  The need to parlay this information and use of the techniques are also very important for our students.  The need to push these learning tools over into our curriculums will have huge benefits for cognition, memory, motivation, temperament, attention, and things like reading acquisition and sequence learning.

This week at UC we explored many websites that take on an area that is new to me "social bookmarking".  I have found it to be incredibly useful for many applications but none more than personally for myself in my own classes.  The PBS site "Cyberspace" is a wonderful tool for the classroom especially for exceptional children.  The sites are carefully designed to meet the needs of the 21st Century classroom but more importantly for the 21st Century workforce.  Combining these two elements are important in the individual classroom in many ways.  It once again, affords teachers everywhere the opportunity to move back to creativity in the classroom over the "teach to the test" method of learning.  This is exciting.  I know that each and every one of us can embrace some of the technological changes coming about in Web 2.0 technologies and the implications in the classroom.

Finally, we seem to be rounding out our early Fall semester.  For me, I will be complete my first two graduate level classes.  As a student who comes from a family with no advanced education it is very rewarding for me to personally reach this pinnacle.  This semester has seemed to go by at warped speed but it has been very influential in my ability to consume and collect information that I can use directly in the classroom.  For that, I am very excited.   I wish everyone much success in the rest of the term.

Now you see why I do what I do! These two beautiful gifts from God.  God Bless You.  Catholics everywhere, the Year of Faith has now officially begun ~ embrace it.  Ooops, sorry, but one last minute addition ~ my piclit ~ so excited ~ I am actually creative. I love it.


Peace and blessings, Belinda Harrett

All Rights Reserved ©, Please Request Permission To Duplicate. Belinda Harrett, University of the Cumberlands.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Those Dominicans and Their Preaching

Hello everyone,

I hope that everyone is having a great week. I am so sorry that I am a little late posting this week. I was called in for the entire week to fill in for a gym teacher whose mother has taken a turn for the worse. She is not expected back any time soon. Please pray for them as they go through this most difficult time and please pray for the students of this inner city school as they make the adjustment to their long-time p.e. teacher being called away. This is very difficult for young children.

St. Dominic was a preacher at heart. His preaching was purely passionate. Dominic devoted himself to a passionate life of teaching and preaching out of a pure love for God. I love the way that even though he knew how it was necessary to overcome some of the most egregious heresies of his time he demonstrated time and again that the best approach to overcome the enemies of the faith was to solve the problems with a steadfast devotion to prayer, contemplation, and humility. In his preaching his focus was the dignity of human life. He was humbled and insisted that Dominican Friars were unrelentless in their pursuit of humility and their entire trust and confidence in God as the answer to evil. Preaching is an artform that takes much preparation, self-denial, and strict obedience in the spreading of God's Word. As he died, he encouraged his followers to hold true to humility. Their spirituality is largely apostolic.

One of the things that struck me as interesting about both the Dominicans and the Franciscans was their devout vow of poverty. Their mission had them completely devoted and focused on the ministry of preaching. According to Aumann, Bishop Fulk of Toulouse issued a document in which he declared: "We, Fulk ... institute Brother Dominic and his associates as preachers in our diocese ... They propose to travel on foot and to preach the word of the Gospel in evangelical poverty as religious." (127) I cannot imagine how poignant their preaching must have been given this devotion. I'm thinking now of our recent diocesan wide census where parishioners volunteered to go door to door. I wonder if our message would've been more powerful to those in our neighborhoods if we had traveled barefoot, devoting ourselves to a defined observance of poverty. I tell you if someone showed up at my door and said they were from the neighborhood Catholic church and was conducting a census of the religious traveling barefoot with a visible vow to poverty I would take them in and I would convert just on the face of their humbleness.

St. Dominic is an excellent example of how we need to rid ourselves of our personal self-efficacy and devote ourselves to the whole spirit of God. We need to let Him work in us the way that Dominic allowed Him to work in him. We can begin to appreciate what Dominic has left the Church in his contributions to sacred doctrine as a preacher and teacher.

Have an awesome week.

Peace and blessings, Belinda Harrett

All Rights Reserved ©, Please Request Permission To Duplicate. Belinda Harrett, University of the Cumberlands.