MA or MFA? What Do You Think?

I think it’s time for me to start thinking about going back to school.  Ok, I’ve really been thinking about it for a while, but now I’m getting restless and I want to start in the next few years.  But I have questions for you, readers!

 

There are two low-residency programs that I am interested in and I’m not sure which one I should pursue.  Both are at Fairleigh Dickinson University here in NJ and both focus on writing.  The first program is the Creative Writing and Literature for Educators MA.  It’s specially designed for teachers and focuses on the pedagogy of writing along with literature.  I love that it’s the first of its kind to focus specifically on high school teachers and I know it will be useful going forward.  I also know I will learn a lot and I will enjoy it.  The residency is very short, only requiring a weekend stint on campus followed by online work during the semester.

The other program that intrigues me is FDU’s new YA Concentration in their Creative Writing MFA.  The MFA program is obviously more focused on the craft of writing and specifically YA writing.  The faculty is awesome (Coe Booth!  Eliot Schrefer! Donna Freitas!).  It does require 3 10-day residencies, which can be split between the NJ campus and Wroxton, England.  I could not attend the Wroxton residencies because they take place n January, so that means I would have to do all three residencies in NJ, which would result in it taking me longer to graduate.  But it’s such an awesome program!

Seriously, can I combine the two programs?  I want to do a semester or so of the MFA workshops and all the pedagogy for the MA!

Any ideas? Advice?  I don’t plan to leave teaching and I certainly don’t plan to go into administration.  I do plan to continue writing, so both the MA and MFA would be valuable.  I think I know which way I am leaning, but I would love to hear from others.  I do know about some of the other low-residency MFA programs but FDU is close and much more convenient at this point in my life.  But if you know of a program that combines the best of the MFA and MA program, please feel free to let me know!

 

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Final #sol14 Post

Today is March 31 (barely, by the time I post this.  Must.type.quickly!) and that means it’s the end of the Slice of Life Challenge.   I’ve been participating in the challenge since the beginning and this is at least the 3rd year in a row that I’ve blogged every day in March.

But that’s not what makes me smile.

11454297503_e27946e4ff_hNope.

What makes me smile is reading the reflections from my students, many of whom wrote 31 slices this month on their own blogs.  Half of my 80 freshmen chose to continue blogging on our private Kidblog site, but the other half blogged publicly for the first time!  (You can check out their blogs here). Later this week we will reflect on the experience but more than a handful did a bit of reflecting on their blogs tonight.  It made my teacher heart swell with pride to read that the process actually turned out to be enjoyable, worthwhile, and sometimes fun.  A few students even plan to continue blogging!

I love watching my students grow as writers and the most dramatic growth often occurs during our Slice of Life Challenge.  They begin to write better and faster, they begin to come up with interesting topics faster, and they begin to take compositional risks.  It’s awesome.

But now it’s 11:30pm and I just finished reading and commenting on about 30 blog posts.  Now, I sleep.  Unlike some of my students I will of course continue blogging.  But it will be back to our regularly scheduled posts around here.  I may not blog everyday, but Slice of Life certainly helped with my blogging block of the last few months!

Food Truck Fiesta! #sol14

11454297503_e27946e4ff_hLast night Chris and I went to a local food truck fiesta, the first of it’s kind in our area.  The event was meant to be small, with about ten trucks in attendance, and the weather consisted of rain, rain, and more rain.  We’ve been hoping to try some of the food trucks for a while but most of them work in North Jersey so we were looking forward to last night’s event.

Apparently, so was everyone else.

We severely underestimated the number of foodies in the Princeton area.  And we underestimated their devotion to food trucks.  It was pouring rain when we got to the event and I was a little nervous because I saw a comment on the Facebook event page that noted lines were 1.5+ hours long.  No way, I thought.  That’s just someone who was grouchy about the weather and exaggerated their experience.

When we pulled into the parking lot, the rain picked up.  We could barely see out the front window of the car and it looked like the festival wasn’t too crowded.  Then I started hoping that they wouldn’t shut down early, as we had driven about 25 minutes to get there.

After donning our rain gear, we made our way to the middle of the food trucks. It looked like the crowds weren’t too bad…….

Man oh man, were we ever wrong.  The lines at some of the trucks were seriously over an hour long!  And the trucks without lines were out of most of their big sellers important ingredients.  Chris was excited to try the cheese curds from the curds truck and that line was short.  The cheese curds were also amazing!  But then I tried to get cupcakes and they were closed for the day.  I tried to get donuts after that, but the line was 45 minutes long and I was soaking wet.  I finally settled for tater tots from the tots trucks only to learn they had run out of the cheese and most other toppings.  My tots were good, but they would have been much better with cheese.

I can’t imagine what this festival will be like when the weather is better.  I hope they get 5 times the number of trucks!  Otherwise, we might save time just driving around NJ to visit the individual trucks….

 

 

*A list of the trucks that participated yesterday.

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Therapy Dog Art #sol14

It’s not everyday that you come home covered in green fingerpaint, but that’s what happened to my dogs this morning.

Yeah, I was also covered in paint. But it was worse for them!

What exactly were we doing at 11:30am that resulted in green paint everywhere? My two dogs were painting pictures for an art auction!

Yes, you read that right. And it was pretty awesome!

Dublin and Bailey are both certified therapy dogs with Bright and Beautiful Dogs and they do visits about once per month.  Dublin recently participated in a Rutgers University study that looked at the effects of therapeutic animals on children with autism.  Bailey is a big fan of reading with the dogs at a local library.  Both of them love working and it’s pretty great for Chris and I, too.

Our local chapter of therapy dogs is called Furry Angels and they work with a local rescue called Adopt-a-Pet.  Adopt-a-Pet is holding a canine art auction in May and some of the therapy dogs and rescue dogs are contributing paintings.  This was our first time painting and it was nothing like I expected.

It sounds easy, right?  Have the dogs walk through the non-toxic paint and then let them walk across the paper.  Easy-peasy.

Except not at all.  Because my dogs, who will roll in the mud, walk into raging waters, and run through the wet sand on the beach decided that they were drawing the line at finger(paw?)paints.  Nope, not having it.  Not at all.

With some gentle coaxing (aka bribing with treats) we got them to dip their paws in the green paint and create an Irish-themed painting.  It was a slow and steady process but we are pretty excited about the results.  Hopefully it will raise some money for the rescue dogs!  Plus, we got to practice first and ended up with a fun painting to bring home, too.

 

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Bailey was displeased with the whole process and let us know afterwards (and again after her bath).  Dublin was a little anxious but you’d never know from the above photo.  Both dogs were covered in green paint and then proceeded to wrestle in the yard and smudge paint all over each other.  Baths were a necessity when we got home!

The Aussies will be at the auction on May 2nd, so stop by if you want to meet them!

More info on the auction/fundraiser:

“What could be cooler than a picture personally painted by a Pup? Come for a fun night! Come to meet the “Pup Artists”! Come if you’ve ever adopted a Pup! Come if you plan to adopt a Pup! Come to support Adoption of a Furry Furever Friend! Buy your very own, one-of-a-kind piece of artwork, produced solely by and with the full cooperation (well maybe with some coaxing and bribery thrown in), of our  4-legged family members! Come to watch or come to bid, or just donate if you can’t come. It’s all about one terrific cause- Adopt a Pet and Save a Life- it may be your own!”

Information here

 

Science Symposium #sol14

Today was the second (and final) day of the Monmouth Junior Science Symposium.  I love attending this event each year with the freshman and I always learn a lot.  This year, HTHS had a lot of students presenting papers and they all did a phenomenal job.  I was so proud of my seniors, who have become expert speakers and presenters over the last few years.  And the research they are doing?  Seriously, the world is in great hands. :)  Plus, one of our sophomores took second place overall, which is just incredible!

My favorite part of today was the keynote speaker.  A professor at Monmouth University, Dr. Gary Lewandowski studies relationships.  His presentation today was entitled “The Science of Love” and it was so apropos!  Just like the research my students have been doing alongside Romeo & Juliet, he talked about how the human brain reacts to love.  It was a funny and fascinating presentation and I loved all the connections my students made to Romeo & Juliet.  I couldn’t have planned it better myself! Plus, he told the audience about the best types of pick-up lines (cute ones) and the best time of day to ask someone out (in the morning, before the stress of the day sinks in).  I saw a lot of students taking notes!

But two days on field trips makes for one very tired Sarah.  I planned to write more about MJSS but I just don’t have the energy.  Sometimes, sleep is just more important!

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