Sunday, January 20, 2013

Blog Assignment #1

This is Me

Hello! My name is Wannetta Fincher.  I am a student at the University of South Alabama in Mobile.  I plan to major in Health Education with a teaching certification because of my passion for helping others and working in a health related field.  I am taking EDM310, a micro computing course, to stay afloat in today's rapidly advancing technology.  This blog is a part of my experience in Dr. Strange's course.  This will be my first blog post, however I look forward to learning and benefiting from a network of academics.

Coming down off of that, I will share a little about myself.  I was born and raised in the Marshall Islands,  Kwajalein to be exact, which is part of the largest atoll in the world located in Micronesia  approximately seven degrees North of the equator.  My mother is Japanese and Marshallese, the indigenous culture, and my father is Native American and European.  Growing up in two cultures with different  languages has taught me about people and given me an appreciation for diversity and respect for other cultures.  Moreover, some  places I have lived are Hawaii, Massachusetts, North Carolina, and Alabama.

Before South, I attended University of Alabama in Huntsville pursuing mechanical engineering. One may ask, why Huntsville, Alabama? Kwajalein is a US Army Missile Defense Testing base with a high concentration of engineers contracted by companies such as Raytheon, Boeing, Lockheed, and KRS, mostly based in Huntsville.  Therefore, a large population of the residents move to that area after finishing contracts.  Meanwhile, realizing I did not want to sit in a cubicle all my life, I took a break to find my passion.  As soon as I was ready to go back to school, I decided to come to South Alabama mainly because of the location near the water.

Although free time is scarce while juggling work and school, if I could do anything right now,  I would sleep.  However, if I had time and finances, I would travel the world in a hot air balloon.  I would go skydiving, hiking, camping, climbing, cliff diving, canoeing and kayaking.  I had two months off recently only to find myself on a  road trip across the country camping at every national park I came across.  I strongly recommend one to experience the beauty of this country.  On top of that, I love anything that involves athletic coordination, exercise, or simply playing games.   Time with family and friends take priority.  I am the baby of four brothers and one sister, and a proud aunt of seven nieces and nephews.  Being away from support has been rough, but it has made me resilient and taught me to never take the ones you love for granted.  Thanks to technology, I have my family and friends here everyday.   The opportunity to attend an exceptional school, Kwajalein High School,  has given me an understanding of the difference that teachers, mentors, and coaches make in a child's future.  My mission is to make that difference.

Classroom Jazz

Before I begin, I am going to tell you a story that illustrates my motivation to pursue Health Education.  In eighth grade, I took a Health class.  Although I was active in sports, my family seldom stressed health and nutrition.  On the first day, my teacher passed out calendars and food diaries for us to evaluate our nutrition and health.  Unfortunately, the majority of us were either malnourished or exceeding recommended caloric intake.  Next, she had us write a goal above our calendars and also write exactly what we were going to do to achieve that goal.  We learned about habits; it is possible create habits in three weeks.  Never exercising outside of athletics, I chose to start running or walking daily.  So, I chose a partner and we began walking.  After a while, we started running three light poles and walking one.  Not long after, we had ran a mile without stopping!  We eventually ran two miles everyday until the end of the assignment.  Furthermore, after I had reached my goal on the third week, I could not stop.  She was right about habits.  For the rest of my high school career I ran four to six miles everyday and up to half a marathon.  Needless to say, I also had made my family an entirely revised grocery list.  This story illustrates the impact of Mrs. Peterson's class on my future.  She inspired me to want to help others.

When I think about my future classroom, the only constants will be change, stimulation, and an effective and comfortable learning environment.  My plans as a health educator include traveling to third world areas to teach and campaign for health, diet, and nutrition.  My certification covers grade six to twelve, however my preference focuses on middle and high school.  Nonetheless, I am happy to work with all grades and ages.  I chose this focus bracket because these students are becoming mature enough to think critically, evaluate situations outside of simply following directions, and possess the power to make changes.  Therefore, keeping in mind that my instruction will be nomadic, my future classroom will be a wholly stimulated classroom created by my immediate students and their work.  Imagine a classroom of desks arranged in pods to promote social skills and teamwork while exposing students at different academic levels to be positive peer models.  The walls will have posters made by the students to share information and evaluate other's work.  This will enable students to learn while just scanning the immediate environment.  Constant motivational reminders will be posted throughout the room to lock essential information into long term memory.

I plan to utilize scientifically researched methods of teaching while combining effective, personal experiences as a student.  Positive reinforcement, praise and observational learning will be stressed.  I will give an explicit and clear overview for the course and explain daily activities as many students need an idea of a larger picture to fully understand their expectations.  I will save time in lessons for questions and open discussions while encouraging students to answer each other's questions and supply peer input.  This will promote critical thinking and problem solving.  If available, textbooks will be used with presentations to aide understanding and provide examples of how the information pertains to the students personally. Moreover, trivia games will be incorporated to make learning rewarding and memorable through positive reinforcement.  Of course, we learn by doing and practicing.  I will lecture for the auditory learners, show powerpoint presentations for the visual learners, hold discussions  and assign projects for the hands on learners, while having them take notes for practice and relearning.  Importantly, instilling confidence in the students will facilitate learning.

     One could be an exceptional teacher, however a lack of motivation from students can hold a classroom behind.  It is important to motivate students without overwhelming them by creating an inviting, interesting, and challenging atmosphere.  For instance, if one would like a child to read more, surround them with books, have them read, read to them, and have his or her peers reading around them.  Additionally, I will concentrate on assuring my students of their capability to learn the material and do well.  A student does better and will not give up if he or she feels the task is possible. Again, my students will learn through all senses: writing, reading, watching, and discussing.  Group work, open class discussions, and peer reviews constantly provided will promote learning and critical thinking.  Hands on activities and projects  should help create firsts and lasts to engrain material into long term memory.  Additionally, outside projects such as Mrs. Peterson's habit experiment will be included.  Altogether, these methods should facilitate learning essential skills and applying that knowledge to all aspects of life.

Supplies are limited in third world areas, however I will make the best with the tools available.  I plan to utilize a textbook, workbooks, and powerpoint presentations that highlight the most important details and provide an illustration with research and video clips.  Video clips are powerful tools because there are countless avenues to explain and reframe an idea so that more students can grasp a concept.  Moreover, peer learning and teaching can make a big difference.  For instance, projects and group presentations will spark more interest than me lecturing.  Getting the students involved and active in class can be a tool to motivate peers to follow.  Journals were a large part of my education which helped me to write creatively and effectively while giving me an opportunity to relieve stress through expression.  I will continue to blog and utilize networking sites to find ways to improve myself, share experiences, and learn.

Pausch's Take on Time Management 

I used to believe I did my best work when I was faced with a deadline; if the deadline was tomorrow.  Randy Pausch's on Time Management and procrastination is casual, has a hint of humor, and is to the point.   Pausch addresses concepts we all have thought about subconsciously, however he simplifies the difficulties of time and stress in a way that makes you feel silly for ever thinking any task was complicated.  An influencial part of Pausch's lecture is when he brings up having a plan, anticipating change, and how to carry out the plan.  He says, "If you do the right things adequately, that is much more important than doing the wrong things beautifully."  He also says to do the ugliest things first and get them out of the way.  I found that asking yourself if something is important and why something is important can help you prioritize.

This was not the first time I have been exposed to Randy Pausch.  Last year, a friend sat me down to watch the full lecture.  I believe this was his last lecture before he passed.  His lecture made me feel like I could do anything I set to my mind.  His words motivated me to work hard, do the right thing, and pick myself up.  All in all, Randy Pausch was an influential person who touched many lives.  I never knew him, but he inspired me.


  1. Children in third world countries are sometimes forgotten about and I like that you care.As a child all I wanted was a teacher who cared and from what I see you will be perfect.Dr. Pausch video was very inspiring he did'nt want you to feel sorry for him he wanted you to learn from what he said .

  2. You are the first native of Marshall islands to take EDM310. Welcome!

    Travel the world in a hot air balloon? Wow!

    "Thanks to technology I have my family and friends here everyday." The point of a PLN!

    You will watch the Last lecture once again this semester. I watch it at least twice a year. And cry every time!

    Well written. Welcome to EDM310!

  3. I am happy to add some diversity to EDM310! Thank you for reading my blog. I was intimidated at first, however I am getting more excited everyday to learn.

    I figure if I had the time and expenses that hot air balloons can make anyone happy.

    Thank you Warnetta for the comment. I try to be my best for others. As for Pausch, sorry would not describe how I feel. Although emotions are difficult to express through writing, a better description would be grateful, in awe, and inspired.

  4. Wannetta, nice post! I like your addiction to exercise and travel (road trips, hot air balloons). If you ever make it to Skagway in September I could use you on the Klondike Relay (a 110 mile relay race run by ten member teams through from Skagway to Whitehorse). You're going to make a great health instructor, but remember, you also have a book (or two) in you. Keep a journal.

  5. I truly enjoyed reading your post. I would love to be as fearless as you! You are absolutely right, traveling around the world in a hot air balloon would be an amazing experience; however, I am deathly afraid of heights so I know that would not be possible for me.
    I also think that it is wonderful you have such a passion for teaching health, especially to children in third world countries. I believe that you will be an exceptional teacher and will make a great deal of difference to children around the world.

  6. Mr. Fielding!
    It is great to see you made it to my blog project! I will have to start training today if I make it there by September. I would love visit Alaska and see you of course! Also, I have not forgotten about the book. I recently lost all of my journals to a fire! I always love hearing your input. You have pushed me tremendously throughout the years. Thank you for always believing in me.

    Hi Jerica! Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog and I'm glad you enjoyed my post. Heights are definitely an inavoidable detail while flying in a hot air balloon!
    Again, thank you for your words. I'm hoping to make a difference.