Don’t look so sad; I know it’s over

Well, the poster session, for seven of us, is tomorrow and then the class will be completed.  I’m going to miss blogging.

The most difficult thing about the term was the poster.  How are you going to place 4500 words onto a tiny backdrop with pictorial representations of everything we’ve learned?  A big moment for me was when I learned to place youtube videos into my blog.  I really could not do my curriculum without displaying the youtube performance that we were discussing.  I know I will have to get current and get hip, but I did not know how to do it.  It is rather like being locked out of the house.  It is so easy to do, you just have to know how.  However, some of the youtube links will not work.  Just a heads up.

If you want your youtube to display in the video, you are going to have to do one extra step.  You will have to type a bracket in front of the link like [ and the words youtube=.  Then you will have to travel to the end of the link, and end bracket, like ].

So, the day after I wrote in “Voice Lessons,” that I was a back up singer in the Brother I was Right band,  I felt so validated because I got so many replies to my blog.  Later that day, Professor Woodworth showed me this Peggy Lee video.  The name of the video is Baby, You was Right. Validated again. Now if I could just do a tenor, crooning voice and find a black sequin number in a 1X, I would be ready for my close-up.

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What is “Trick or Tweet?”

So, I was mulling over my curriculum and how to enhance it when I happened to catch the Jimmy Fallon show.  His show comes on real late at night.  Why wasn’t I getting the rest I so badly need?

The television audience was tweeting their most embarrassing moments with their parents.  A guy from the television audience tweets “My mom dressed me up as Alex Trebek for Halloween.  At every house, I said “What is Trick or Treat?”  Perhaps I thought this was wildly funny because I am a BIG Jeopardy fan.  But I could not help noticing that it was funnier in a tweet than in person.  The tweeting was part of the joke experience.  It was funnier because Jimmy Fallon’s television audience is allowed to participate, and it transmits in seconds.

This is a lesson in social media. Can we continue to argue that social media is not a valid form of communication after it becomes the major act in latenight television?  Why is the joke funny on a tweet and not as funny face to face?  The gentleman who sent it in had to make sure it was exactly right before he pushed the “send” button.  This is an observation about the writing life, because the tweeter had to make sure that it was written correctly so that it would be funny.

Another important one for us to remember was in October, 2006 when our then President George H. W. Bush said he “do[es] the Google.” Technically he is correct.  He can say “do the Google;” it was only funny because by October 2006, Google had become a verb.  Such as “I Googled Writing Across the Curriculum and found out that the Clearinghouse was located at Colorado State.”  Google is a verb.  However, in Bush’s defense, “do the Google” was OK grammatically, because the phenomenon of Facebooking and Googling is new.  Who is to say that Google is a verb?

Let us forgive George Bush for “do[ing] the Google.”  Some of this is new for everyone.


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Voice Lessons

Hello out there!  I am adrift in my curriculum assignment, but I have been thinking about you all.  I cannot wait to attend your poster sessions on Monday and Wednesday of next week and see all the exciting things.  I have enjoyed this class so much and it will be fun to see every idea spring into action.

I had a little trouble with my curriculum.  Am I the teacher or the student? I find myself getting out a pen and paper and preparing to write the assignment. I would like to be the class participant and do the assignment, rather than assign it. As I am writing the curriculum, am I supposed to give commands or make suggestions?  Do I say to the student “You will want to spend the extra time to …” or do I say “You must …”

As some of you already know, I am a parent of teenagers and college age, but only two boys.  I try never to say, “Because I said so!” as a response. Why do I care?  I could command until the cows come home, but my saying so does not make it so. Usually, when I say something, they find out I was correct, all along.  I never follow up by saying “I told you so.”  They remember that I did, in fact, tell them.  No one ever  learns anything my someone affirming “I told you so.” The learning experience is the telling.  I am just a back up singer in the Brother, I was Right band. Experience is indeed how we learn.  Alas, there is no extra credit for having been right.

If you are an elder statesman, like myself, then time is on your side, because we’ve had so many more opportunities to learn (and sometimes burn) than someone who is 16.

I find myself saying “You will need to …” and “Save this article, because you will use it in …”  However, if I tell my students this information, it will give away the entire game.  They are supposed to learn it for themselves. Brother, I was Right may  not work here, because the student is singing his own song.  My job is to be part of the audience.

Good luck with your curricula or your reflection piece. The learning has just begun.


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Let’s Salute Family Historians

I wanted to mention my project with the Prattaugan Museum and Archives of Autauga County.  I am cross-referencing family names and giving a main entry record to the 80 or so genealogical histories in the collection.  Some of the works in the collection are not really genealogical family histories, but rather folk stories of early Autauga County.  Although these are not published pieces, some dear people took the time to jot down what Autauga County was like in the rare old days.  Now we have a folk record of Autauga County, priceless in its own right.  These family historians are a writing community such as we have been talking about throughout the course in Writing Across the Curriculum.

In my case study of Auburn University’s WAC program, I discuss the display of the website from the University of New Mexico,  Writing Across Communities. Some people in our community are not affiliated with a college or university, yet communities write!  Family histories and anecdotes sometimes don’t get any respect, but they are a part of the local canon and other community members are reading these works.  For this reason, I am attempting to cross reference the family names.   So that when Mr. Wood comes in, there will be numerous name entries for WOOD.  So many community members come in looking for their family names.  Finding aids always make it easier to get to the part of the literature that you need more quickly and efficiently.

Making it easier to use the genealogical collection has been a privelege for me.  I have practiced my writing skills in describing some of the literature. On the main entry card, I describe the work.  Is it an anthology of anecdotes from the past, or is it a genealogical record?  Does it have maps?  Does it have portraits?  I learned cataloging back in the 1980s, THE HARD WAY!  Negative reinforcement is not a good way to learn a skill.  Born of a bad experience, I have cataloged throughout my career as a paraprofessional library associate.  The cataloging I learned has stood me well in describing these works.  Someone is going to want to know which works are stories and which are genealogical records.  Others are going to want to know which works have the last name Buchanan in them.  I hope I have described the importance of finding aids and descriptive cataloging.

Better, I hope I have shed some light on writing communities that are not affiliated with the university experience, but are part of the collective.

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A Thing of Beauty is a Joy Forever

I chose from Creative Commons this week The Public Library of Science.  Most of you could have guessed the choice.  Love a database with multiple journal offerings.  Every April, along with several librarians, I gather at the steps of Montgomery’s capitol building and rally for Alabama Virtual Library.  Cannot get enough of the online database, and since we help students navigate these, of course I am going to choose an online database.  I decide to read an article to view the epistemology of the scientific articles.   I read “Toward a brain-based theory of beauty,” by Tomohiro Ishizu and Semir Zeki.  I found this article under PlosOne, which is a journal within the database.  Their interviews were with 27 males and females, all right-handed.  Now, why did they choose only right-handers?  These subjects all rated paintings and scuptures in pursuit of the beautiful.  Ishizu and Zeki explain scientifically how they arrive at their conclusions.  They also preface their study with a short course on aesthetics, the philosophy of art.  Before scientists delve into the science of beauty, they will have to give a brief background on the idea of art.

This article is very interesting to the study of aesthetics.  Is there a scientific way to judge art?  Can beauty be found in a laboratory experiment?  Ishizu and Zeki interview subjects, and we must remember that beauty is subjective.  The interviewees are only giving subjective opinions.  However, the scientific pursuit of beauty in art is fascinating.


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Open Mic at the Library

You knew I would have to respond to Taylor Mali’s rendering of Galway Kinnell’s poem, “I’ll Fight You for the Library.”  First up, I love Galway Kinnell’s poetry.  As I understand it, Kinnell wrote the poem and Taylor Mali performed the poem.  Is this your interpretation?

However, I wanted to address today in the content of the actual poem.   It is often true that committees make decisions that are not in the best interest of the students.  We all have discovered this fact. When committees place their needs before the students they serve, there can be a fight!  I would like to avoid this problem in my professional life.  This poem brings to life the irony of persons who are “just doing the right thing,” by appearances.  Turns out they are doing exactly the thing that will upend student performance and learning.

This poem is a cautionary tale.  Do we endeavor to have students research and learn, or do we continue with our facilities utilization meeting?  There is an easy way to change a location of a meeting.  Think email.  We must think of the students first.


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Overstuffed couch – Best Offer

When I substituted for grades five and six in Lompoc, California, my students asked me if they had to “couch” the answers to their questions. I had no idea. All I could picture was a ratty old couch, the kind you might see in the lobby of your city’s rec center.  I’m thinking, whatever this is, I’m avoiding it.  I told them sweetly to place their answers in complete sentences, while recognizing that I sounded like every other substitute teacher you have ever met.

I asked another teacher at prep period, “What is this couching idea?” because I was not yet ready to let it go.  She laughed.  “All it means is that they have to embed their answers to the questions in a paragraph or two.”  So, instead of the old-fashioned “write your answers in complete sentences, please,” their assignment should be a well-shaped paragraph that answers all the questions from the assignment. They were naming this couching, but I could not shake the image of the couch that has should have retired years ago.

They were embedding their answers, rather.The fifth and sixth graders were ahead of their game, but did not know it. Interestingly, embedding quality writing into the disciplines is the idea behind Writing in the Disciplines (WID). Instead of assigning upper division writing and Writing Intensive courses, the WID model seeks quality writing opportunities within the courses already scheduled. This is an interdisciplinary approach that reaches all students, sounding the clarion that writing matters throughout the academy, and not only a focus in a separate writing class.

Can we couch our WID program into the fall schedule?


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