Introducing Njka

Njka is a visualization project that I am trying to turn into a novel.  It documents my ideas for the journey of a rookie teacher through the first year of teaching in a community that is quite different from the one in which she grew up.  Those who know me know that I am currently working toward certification as an English teacher.  This project is my way of working on my teaching philosophy, critically reflecting upon my assumptions and cultural baggage, and preparing to face the joys and sorrows of the classroom.  Those who know me, too, know that I like to write stories.  In high school, I wrote stories for myself and my friends all the time; some of my friends even liked them!  So, if you would like to go on this journey with me, click on the image above and take a look around.  The login is guest and the password is guest.  If you want to become part of the “community,” just sign up!  Thanks!

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Mindset for the Class of 2014

I stole this list from Communispace and hope they do not mind.  For teachers, however, it might be a very useful list to consider.

1.     Few in the class know how to write in cursive.

2.     Email is just too slow, and they seldom if ever use snail mail.

3.     Al Gore has always been animated.

4.     “Caramel macchiato” and “venti half-caf vanilla latte” have always been street corner lingo.

5.     With increasing numbers of ramps, Braille signs, and handicapped parking spaces, the world has always been trying harder to accommodate people with disabilities.

6.     Had it remained operational, the villainous computer HAL could be their college classmate this fall, but they have a better chance of running into Miley Cyrus’s folks on Parents’ Weekend.

7.     Entering college this fall in a country where a quarter of young people under 18 have at least one immigrant parent, they aren’t afraid of immigration…unless it involves “real” aliens from another planet.

8.     Clint Eastwood is better known as a sensitive director than as Dirty Harry.

9.     Doctor Kevorkian has never been licensed to practice medicine.

10.  Colorful lapel ribbons have always been worn to indicate support for a cause.

11.  Korean cars have always been a staple on American highways.

12.  Trading Chocolate the Moose for Patti the Platypus helped build their Beanie Baby collection.

13.  Fergie is a pop singer, not a princess.

14.  They never twisted the coiled handset wire aimlessly around their wrists while chatting on the phone.

15.  DNA fingerprinting and maps of the human genome have always existed.

16.  Cross-burning has always been deemed protected speech.

17.  Leasing has always allowed the folks to upgrade their tastes in cars.

18.  “Cop Killer” by rapper Ice-T has never been available on a recording.

19.  Leno and Letterman have always been trading insults on opposing networks.

20.  Computers have never lacked a CD-ROM disk drive.

21.  They’ve never recognized that pointing to their wrists was a request for the time of day.

22.   “Viewer Discretion” has always been an available warning on TV shows.

23.  The first home computer they probably touched was an Apple II or Mac II; they are now in a museum.

24.  Czechoslovakia has never existed.

25.  Second-hand smoke has always been an official carcinogen.

26.  “Assisted Living” has always been replacing nursing homes, while Hospice has always offered an alternative to the hospital.

27.  Once they got through security, going to the airport has always resembled going to the mall.

28.  Adhesive strips have always been available in varying skin tones.

29.  Whatever their parents may have thought about the year they were born, Queen Elizabeth declared it an “Annus Horribilis.”

30.  Bud Selig has always been the Commissioner of Major League Baseball.

31.  Pizza jockeys from Domino’s have never killed themselves to get your pizza there in under 30 minutes.

32.  There have always been HIV positive athletes in the Olympics.

33.  American companies have always done business in Vietnam.

34.  Potato has always ended in an “e” in New Jersey per vice presidential edict.

35.  Russians and Americans have always been living together in space.

36.  The dominance of television news by the three networks passed while they were still in their cribs.

37.  Nirvana is on the classic oldies station.

38.  Children have always been trying to divorce their parents.

39.  Toothpaste tubes have always stood up on their caps.

40.  Food has always been irradiated.

41.  Rock bands have always played at presidential inaugural parties.

42.  A purple dinosaur has always supplanted Barney Google and Barney Fife.

43.  Beethoven has always been a good name for a dog.

44.  Walmart has never sold handguns over the counter in the lower 48.

45.  Having hundreds of cable channels but nothing to watch has always been routine.

46.  The U.S, Canada, and Mexico have always agreed to trade freely.

47.  They have never worried about a Russian missile strike on the U.S.

48.  It seems the Post Office has always been going broke.

49.  The artist formerly known as Snoop Doggy Dogg has always been rapping.

50.  The nation has never approved of the job Congress is doing.

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What is language?

William Shakespeare, chief figure of the Engli...
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According to a few sites, Shakespeare coined over 1700 words.  Other writers have made their contributions to the English language, which is often a language that accepts words from everywhere and every culture.  So, what is language and who decides what standard English is, anyway?

The French are much more protective of their language.  L’Académie française protects its language from infiltration by other languages, wanting to keep it as pure as possible.  There are, of course, situations in which it cannot be helped – such as when technology intervenes and the words associated with the technology must be used instead of translated into French.  I first studied this phenomenon in high school philology and linguistics class.  It was interesting to see how the French jealously guarded their language while the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) expanded to include newly coined words at a rapid clip.

I’m asking this question because I am preparing to teach English at the secondary level through the MAT@USC – the Master of Arts in Teaching through the University of Southern California.  As I approach the point where I will student teach, I’m wondering how restrictive I should be when it comes to the language that students use, both in discussion and in writing.  I would rather be less restrictive.  Language is a creative semiotic tool that allows us to communicate with one another and also helps us think.  It is used to generate our worldview, help us with higher-order cognition, and make sense of the world.  It is culturally situated.  Who am I to insist that students change their fundamental way of thinking and making sense of the world?  That’s just a reflective question, one that should be answered before generating a solid opinion.

What do you think language is?

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