Oberlin Blogs

Classy Last Semester

February 20, 2010

Ma'ayan Plaut ’10

I will refrain from talking about how fast time has flown since my first semester at Oberlin, the amount of cool things I've done that only begins to cover all the things Oberlin has to offer, and that you guys should try to do everything that is here and then some. End spiel.

My final semester is full, but not in the traditional sense. I am a part-time student, taking 6 hours this semester. The credits have been pieced together between several really awesome classes, united by the common theme of teaching (remember that I like to have a theme to my semesters? I don't know how I'm going to theme my life in the real world...).

My classes, in final form (oh no, it's my final semester!):

Senior Project in Cinema Studies, Part Two - Rian Brown-Orso and Jeff Pence. The more intense, more time-crunched version of my last semester class, we have a really rigorous schedule set up to finish up all our individual projects. Our twelve-person class has expanded to fifteen, as some returning abroadees have joined our fleet into a... baker's dozen plus. Eh, my creative energy for this is apparently zapped because I've been spending hours taking hundreds of pictures of vegetable minutiae and compiling them into a stop-motion animated film. No lies, it's going to be great but insane. I'm really proud of it and I'm not even done yet. My major is amazing, take one.

Cinema Practicum in Media Literacy and Pedagogy - Rian Brown-Orso and Geoff Pingree. When I heard about this class last semester, I knew I would be a complete idiot to not take this class. Media? Cinema? Movies? Teaching? Credit for doing the things that I want to do with my life? YES. Anyways, this is the first year for this class, but the first of many. The class is focused on creating a two-week curriculum for a media summer camp being held in Oberlin this June, and we're spending most of the semester learning the best ways to do this. This is also the first of many projects that are part of the Apollo Outreach Initiative, the community outreach part of the new Apollo Theater. You can track our class, the students in it, and our "homework" (a series of reflective videos and writing about our learning and teaching experiences, past, present and future) at the Apollo Outreach Initiative blog. It's being updated all the time, and you can see me telling a story about my favorite teacher for elementary school! I'll keep you guys posted (read: a new blog post in the next few days about an exciting field trip to make paper!) My major is amazing, take two.

Teaching and Tutoring Across the Disciplines - Anne Trubek. I started tutoring when I was in middle school through an after-school program, I tutored math and English privately throughout high school, and now I'm actually being trained to be a tutor! More specifically, I'm learning how to be an effective writing assistant. About half the students in the class work in the writing center (oh, glory be the writing center! Lovelove the writing center! Use them like salt: liberally and both during and at the end of the cooking process), and the others are writing assistants for a variety of writing-intensive classes. There's also an associated lab class that meets every few weeks, which is a convergence of all the writing associates and writing center tutors, both the ones being trained this semester and the seasoned writing tutors.

That's it for my official classes on my transcript this semester... but that's not all! Part of the stipulation for my tutoring class is that you spend six hours a week in the writing center or are a writing associate for a specific class. I wanted to become a tutor for a class I was interested in, with a professor I really wanted to work with. Geoff Pingree is just that kind of guy... note that I'm involved with two of his classes this semester and I've taken several classes with him over the past three years. He's an incredible man and in such high demand. Promoting him here isn't going to make him any less popular... do it. Just take one of his classes and you'll see what I mean.

So, just for this semester, there's a bonus class!

First-Year Seminar Program: Media and Meaning - Geoff Pingree. Secret: I wanted to take this class my first year, but I took Pat Day's "A Sense of Time and Place" instead. My theory is that all first-year seminars exist to teach new students to think, specifically, like Oberlin students, but to interact with the world around them as thinking adults. Pingree's seminar is like the prerequisite (not officially, but in process) for the media literacy practicum I'm in, with multiple media used both in the classroom and in the students' homework. There's a fair amount of writing, and self-reflection, and multimedia journals... all of this is a dream come true for me to tutor for.

I love this class, I love these students, and this is definitely my favorite part of this semester. I have met with almost all the students in one-on-one conferences on their first papers, and I left both evenings on such an academic high. Conversing about media and understanding with students who are just starting to dabble in this experience is incredible. Ahhhhhhh, it's such a good feeling. I love working with fresh and excited minds.


Independent of the fact that this is my final semester as a student at Oberlin, I feel like this is a good stepping stone between being a student and the real world. Academically, this semester is very meta: spending a semester being educated about education. My dad keeps on telling me I'll end up a teacher. I'm not disputing that, but I just don't know if I want to do it immediately post-graduation. It's in my blood, though, and I'm just letting it develop even more this semester.

I'm really really excited. Does it show?

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