Jenny’s Introduction

Hello All,

I’m Jenny Olson.  I’m a high school English teacher working on my master’s degree.  I have a wonderful husband, six rambunctious–I mean delightful–children (ranging in ages from 12-24), and two cats, Daisy, my WordPress pic because her face really seems to mirror how I feel frequently, and Isabel, who I most often call “Crazy” because it fits her best.

My plans for the summer:  Well, currently I’m in sunny Fort Lauderdale, where my husband and I have toured the Everglades, visited the beaches, eaten wonderful food, and will be frequenting Miami and Key West in the next couple of days.  My plans for directly after this course, or really during the last week of this course because I didn’t realize we were still doing class the second week of July:)), will be to go to Fort Walton Beach, FL with five of our kids to visit family and hang out on the BEST BEACHES in North America.  I have this class and Gender, Language, and Pedagogy for the month of June. I’m also the Cross Country coach at the high school where I teach, so I’ll be doing summer running, which for me means biking with my runners because I have a torn meniscus, two to four times a week until early August.  Otherwise, summer will be filled with a lot of hanging out time with our four kids who still live at home–they deserve a LOT of attention, since Mom is an English teacher, which means grading consumes my world between August and May each year–and reading anything I can get my hands on. I will also spend a great deal of time outside–I LOVE the outdoors, preferably poolside or beachside, but any outdoor time is good!

What I like to read:  So this is a tricky question.  I specialize in YA Lit because I’m desperate to give the students at my school ANYTHING to read.  I attend conferences, have helped with the Lincoln Award in IL for the last four years, and try to be aware of anything and everything related to YA Lit; that also means I’ve seen Jason Reynolds and Laurie Halse Anderson both speak in STL in the last couple of months, and I LOVE all things YA–that being said, usually summertime is my time to find some bestsellers, maybe a classic or two I’ve never read, and some self-help selections or memoirs.  This summer will be the exception with this YA Lit class, but clearly I couldn’t pass up a course like this with what I teach. I’m also a Game of Thrones fan, I mean of the books–the absolute WORST book hangover of my life was upon completion of A Dance with Dragons!  Hopefully now that the show is over, Martin will finish the books, and we’ll know what ACTUALLY happened.  

Past Experiences in Literature Courses:  I haven’t taken any literature courses in sixteen years.  I had some great ones during my undergraduate coursework. I had a semester class on Faulkner–that was a wild ride!  I had all of the typical American lit, world lit, medieval lit, renaissance lit, and Shakespeare courses; they were fun.  I’ve never taken an online literature course, so this is going to be a new experience. Luckily, I enjoy new experiences!

Online Learning:  I have no experience with online learning.  I’ve had access to Blackboard for courses and even had some smaller assignments uploaded onto Blackboard in previous classes, but this entire blog situation is all new to me.  I feel like it’s 1998 again, and I’m trying to figure out this new-fangled World Wide Web situation:))) Please forgive any silly questions or blog faux pas, but I am a quick study, so I anticipate finding a new skill set and perhaps something I can use in my classroom in the future!

Expectations for the Course:  I expect there are students from many different age groups and experiences in this class, so I anticipate glimpsing new viewpoints and learning from others about a topic that is very near and dear to my heart.  I anticipate being challenged. My response to social media opinions is to NOT ENGAGE. I have no interest in arguing or debating online, so I’ll probably be a bit shy at first of getting into the thick of alternating opinions and viewpoints–I expect I’ll struggle with this challenge initially but eventually will ease into polite engagement.

Ideal Student:  For any course, the ideal student is one who gives full energy and effort toward the subject matter.  Open-mindedness, an expectation of learning new things, and an active and questioning mind are always necessary.  A student who enjoys reading and discussing literature is vital for this course to be effective and enjoyable. Clearly, intrinsic motivation is a necessary requirement.  I become a bit annoyed as a student when I’m “all in” so to speak and I sense that others are giving a “half-hearted at best” effort; that is not to say that we are not all busy and have a millions things that require our attention, but proving my own point, we are ALL busy, so there are no excuses in a course where we can literally respond at 3 A.M. or 3 P.M. for half-hearted responses and effort.  (Please forgive if that sounds too strong, but I’m used to teenagers always explaining the million-reasons-why they can’t complete their 10-minute assignment <insert eye roll>.)

I believe that’s everything.  I’m looking forward to this course!  I’m feeling concerned and challenged by the amount of reading that it will necessitate, but I’m also very excited about it!

8 thoughts on “Jenny’s Introduction

  1. It’s nice to meet you Jenny! First off, I love that you used your cat’s hilarious facial expression as your profile pic. Cat’s can be so cheeky!
    Do you think this class could have an impact on your teaching in the future? Would you ever do a blog format with high school students? What are your thoughts on teaching best practices of technology/social media interactions as a theme through a YA class?
    I can’t wait to see your perspective throughout this class!

    • Great questions, Caitlin! I’m not sure about the blog format with high school students, although times are changing, and we’re constantly adapting as a result. Right now the biggest leap my school has taken in this social media direction is to suggest use of Twitter as a means to communicate and conduct assignments, especially on snow days. Otherwise, we haven’t been encouraged to do much yet. I do think it’s interesting, and frankly, I’m using myself as a guinea pig with this class to analyze the uses of social media in the classroom. I teach quite a bit about digital citizenship, and my students are 1:1 with chromebooks. As surprising as this may be, I still always have students who do not have wifi at home and other students who do not have cell phones, so we’re not quite to the point of this type of assignment yet.

  2. Nice to meet you! Six children! You must be a Super Mom. My mom only has me and my younger sister and she claims we gave her all her gray hair.

    • I’m not sure about Super Mom, Brittany, but I appreciate the thought. I do understand your mom’s comment about gray hair–that’s what hair dye is for; I invest in it heavily:) I was an only child, so I always wanted a very large family; I really love it when I get what I want! Oh, and I haven’t been bored in over two decades–#win!

  3. *wave* Hi Jenny! It’s great to have you in another class. I’m jealous you are already in Florida for the summer. I can’t wait to get a break and make it down in July.

    • I was so happy to see you as well, Carrie! My trip was outstanding–we saw so many places I’d never seen before, so YAY!! I’m glad you’ll get a break soon:)

  4. Jenny, I do a lot of teaching with WordPress in face to face classes too, and in the IRIS Center:, we’ve done professional development programs on using a variety of digital media for secondary ed literature and history courses, including blogs, podcasting, videos, you name it. If you’re interested, we may be doing another one this summer.

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