About Me

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Nashville, TN, United States
My name is McLean Smith and I am an observer of life. I like to create music, capture experiences, and refine expression through my observations. To me, music is a feeling. It is something that captivates one in the moment and releases reactions unknown. It is something I wish to create for the rest of my life. It is something I hope to share with the world.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Topical Service Learning Reflection #3

My experiences at the Cohn Adult Learning Center have demonstrated that discourses are apprenticeships that produce meta-knowledge for one's primary discourse.

In the "Literacy, Discourse, and Linguistics: Introduction and What is Literacy?", Gee asserts that discourses are the enculturation into social practices via apprenticeships with members of dominant groups. My sessions at the learning center support this notion because my interactions with my students would symbolize a type of literacy training. I, a member of the American dominant group, taught my students how to interact with American culture. Similarly, my students, members of foreign dominant groups, tutored me in their respective cultures. As such, the learning center incorporates social practices into its literacy development program to actively immerse its students into American society. This immersion ameliorates the students' lives because said students learn to function as natives.

Additionally, Gee proposes that learning another discourse produces insights into one's primary discourse. He states that this meta-knowledge clarifies one's previously acquired knowledge. My experiences at the training session for the Cohn center affirm Gee's idea. While tutoring at the Cohn center, I learned multiple techniques that taught me meta-knowledge about the English language. Accordingly, I gained insights into my primary discourse because I acquired knowledge about my primary discourse's fundamental aspects, syllabification and pronunciation. As a result, I discovered the importance of the human tongue in linguistics and developed a rudimentary method for elocution. My meta-knowledge enabled me to instruct my students appropriately and elucidate American discourse during our sessions.

From my experiences at the Cohn center, I have witnessed that discourses are apprenticeships that produce meta-knowledge for one's primary discourse.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Topical Service Learning Reflection #2

While tutoring at the learning center, I observed how space influences one's attention and schedule.

The limited space at the learning center requires individuals to look beyond their daily lives. As such, students and tutors have to book appointments to participate at the learning center. Said students and tutors learn how to plan around rush hour traffic, work schedules, and unexpected obstacles.

In America, many situations require scheduling to optimize the conditions of social meetings (i.e. job interviews, restaurant dining, equipment repair, et cetera) due to time and spatial restrictions. As individuals perform this folkway at the learning center, they practice time management and improve their social interaction with others in American society. Thus, I witnessed how spatial limitations socially affect one agenda.

Additionally, the learning center arranges its desks in a manner that prevents students and tutors from distractions. Tall barriers deter wandering eyes and thwart forecast predictions.

The learning center's arrangement of space forces its students to concentrate and accomplish each lesson's objectives. To me, the Cohn center's spatial positioning demonstrated said center's attempts to create an advantageous learning environment rid of distractions. Therefore, I realized how spatial arrangement can prevent distractions to the learning process.

My experiences at the learning center taught me how space influences one's attention and schedule. From my observations, I have learned how spatial arrangements try to incorporate optimization techniques.

Transcription of "Epic Etude in G-Minor"

Screenshot of My Digital Storyboard

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Topical Service Learning Reflection #1

After conducting research and tutoring, I found that my formative literacy experiences and my sessions at the Cohn Adult Learning Center were enlightening and satisfying.

From my interviews with Belmont songwriters, I learned techniques to write songs. Belmont songwriters tend to isolate themselves from others while they write songs. They prefer to write in insulate spaces because there are fewer distractions and their thoughts are not influenced by others' judgements. The correspondence between their insular predispositions and my preliminary attempts at songwriting gave me immense satisfaction. It was pleasing to know that my initial spatial reaction to the songwriting process was the technique that Belmont songwriters employed. Additionally, Belmont songwriters have multiple ways to overcome writer's block. While some choose to use a stream of consciousness, others like to take a break and revisit their work later. I could not find an universal tactic that Belmont songwriters employed because each songwriter had his/her preferred method of tackling his/her writer's block. Although there was no unifying theme in respect to writer's block, I was satisfied by the songwriters' answers because their divergence demonstrated the individuality of songwriting.

My students at the Cohn Adult Learning Center taught me how to help others. While I tried to formulate a teaching approach, I learned that I needed to adapt said approach to each student because a generic method would not account for my students' unique circumstances. Thus, my experiences at the learning center demonstrated the necessity of paying attention to the particular aspects of my students and incorporating said aspects into my teaching approach. I felt satisfaction when my students proficiency improved after I refined my method based on each student's particulars.

While my formative literacy experiences and my sessions at the Cohn Adult Learning Center taught me different lessons, I experienced satisfaction throughout my learning process.

Dear Friend Post Re: Ethnographic Paper

Dear Dad,

I'm writing an ethnographic paper about Belmont Songwriters for my Third-Year Writing class. In my paper, I will try to concentrate on the songwriting process, writer's block, and the ways in which songwriters connect with their audiences. I have already interviewed several songwriters at Belmont and have made several attempts at songwriting to gain further insight into the songwriting culture.

I think I have finally found something that challenges me mentally and yields tremendous satisfaction. I hope you can support my endeavors while I tread in uncertain waters.

I love you and I always will.

Your Son,

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Service Learning Visit #4 (Hour 7)

On Thursday, I arrived at the Cohn Adult Learning Center for my last appointment. As I walked up the stairs of the school, I reflected on the different sessions and experiences with my students. I realized that while I could try to formulate a teaching approach, said approach would not apply to all students. One's system must adapt to the unique circumstances of one's students.

As I reviewed the lesson plan, my new student arrived and we began our session (his name will be Fred). Initially, Fred and I conversed about education. Fred told me about his elementary and secondary education in Mexico. After high school, he studied photography and became a professional photographer for ceremonial occasions (i.e. weddings, funerals, quinceanearas, et cetera).

The beginning of our lesson started with vocabulary terms regarding classroom objects (i.e. map, flag, pledge, et cetera). Fred was a brilliant individual; he could create elaborate examples using the provided terms. The only aspect of Fred's literacy that need improvement was his pronunciation, but he quickly corrected his verbal errors after some guidance. We finished the lesson plan early, and I asked Fred about his profession as a photographer. He told me about traveling to stunning locations for his clients' events. As he told me his stories, we chuckled over the priceless shenanigans of his experiences.

After Fred left, I filled out the paper work for the Cohn Center and walked down the stairs of the school. I opened the front door and sat on the curb. As I waited for my ride, I thought of my students who taught me how to help others. They taught me how to be a better person.

I will never forget their stories.

Service Learning Visit #3 (Hours 5 and 6)

The following Tuesday, I came back to the Cohn Center to tutor another individual. I no longer felt nervous about tutoring students because I had developed a system that produced successful results. I reviewed the lesson plan for my new student and organized the provided learning materials in a streamline manner. Shortly afterwards, my new student arrived and we began our lesson (her name will be Abby).

Our lesson started with a discussion regarding our work experience. Abby told me about her previous jobs in her native country and her position at one of the embassy consulates in Nashville. At the consulate, she collects data for regulatory agencies and tries to create relationships with new immigrants. While I could tell that she was an intelligent woman, Abby had some difficulty completing her sentences due to her lack of English vocabulary.

In the first hour, I tried to teach Abby words relating to work experience (i.e. resume, internship, manager, et cetera). Abby struggled to understand and pronounce each word, so we repeated the exercise until she learned the material. During our repetitions, I could see that Abby was becoming a little frustrated, and I decided a break might be helpful.

I walked in the hallways of the school thinking I might accidentally brainstorm new approaches, but I returned empty-handed. Returning to the session, I set a goal to complete the lesson plan. Surprisingly, Abby improved significantly and we finished the lesson. To conclude our session, we discussed the torrential rain outside. It was a tempestuous storm and we could hear the downpour from our seats. I asked her if she had an umbrella; she smiled and replied, "No." We both laughed.

I was surprised by the differences between the two portions of our session. One might think that the break helped Abby, but the changes in Abby's proficiency were too dramatic. I supposed that teaching was an interactive activity, instead of a static plan. Thus, one could only enjoy the fruits of education if one actively participated in the process. Sometimes one might plant seeds, and other times one might harvest giant pumpkins. One can only admire growth and try to analyze it sources.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Service Learning Visit #2 (Hours 3 and 4)

Two days later, I returned to Cohn Adult Learning Center for another appointment. I walked up the stairs and entered the learning center. After reviewing the lesson plan, I felt excited to tutor another person. My student arrived and we began our session (her name will be Jane).

To begin our lesson, Jane and I discussed our families and daily lives. Jane described her son and his interest in cartoons. Every morning, Jane and her son go downstairs and watch the shenanigans of "Tom and Jerry." While she recounted this habitual event, Jane's reminiscing tone indicated that her morning routine with her son was a bonding moment.

In the first hour, I tried to teach Jane about vocabulary terms regarding agreement and disagreement (e.g. annoyed, rapport, relationship, et cetera). Jane had some difficulties trying to understand and pronounce the words, so I tried to connect the lesson's material to her morning routine. I used animated facial expressions and body language to demonstrate the meanings of the specified vocabulary. Jane's comprehension of the terms improved and we decided to take a break.

After our break, we practiced pronunciation. We experienced some complications, so I decided to use the approach I created with Nate. As we experimented with my technique, Jane's pronunciation became defined and her face started to adorn a large smile. We attempted to complete the lesson, but we were unable to finish all of the remaining sections. Satisfied with Jane's progress, I chose to end the session and assigned no homework.

Following Jane's departure, I filled out the information sheet in the tutor folder. I handed my folder to the secretary at the main desk and observed her putting the folder into a filing cabinet. As I walked out of the learning center, my mind thought of the many folders in the filing cabinet. Each folder represented a unique individual willing to learn and improve, yet each folder was identical. While I waited for my ride, I wondered about the psychological implications of singular objects on the learning process.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Service Learning Visit #1 (Hours 1 and 2)

While walking into the Cohn Adult Learning Center, I felt nervous and uncomfortable. I had not mastered the techniques taught in the training session and, as a result, I feared that I would be a horrible tutor. Even with these apprehensions, I decided to make my way to the learning center on the third floor.

My early arrival allowed me to read over the lesson plan before my student arrived at the learning center. As I finished my reading, my student arrived and we started our session (his name will be Nate). We first discussed our respective heritages, hobbies, and daily life. Nate told me about his fascination with soccer and his journey from Japan to work at the Bridgestone factory in Clarksville.

In the first hour, I tried to teach Nate words relating to preparation (e.g. ready, clean-shaven, organization, et cetera). Nate was a brilliant individual, but he had some slight problems with pronunciation. After some attempts to aid his enunciation, I decided to instruct Nate to watch my mouth (in particular, my lips and tongue) and imitate my movements. His pronunciation improved and we took a short break.

During the second hour, we continued to complete the lesson plan. We started with a picture and described its settings and characters using the terms we had studied earlier. Nate finished the exercise and cruised through the remainder of the lesson. Ending early, I asked Nate if he had any questions about American culture. He asked me if I could help his voice inflection while asking questions. I told him to raise the pitch of his voice towards the end of his questions. We proceeded to practice. After several recitations, Nate enhanced his phrasing tremendously.

I assigned Nate some vocabulary terms to study for his next session and we concluded our session. He shook my hand and flashed a wonderful smile. I sat back down at my desk and filled out the paper work in the tutor folder. As I left the learning center, I felt a warming satisfaction. I realized that my earlier fears were unjustified, and that I could make an small impact on illiteracy in Nashville.