I’m sitting in my office going through the usual re-entry rituals at the beginning of my almost 39th year of teaching here. My friend and colleague, Phil Krejcarek teasingly reminded me yesterday that he started a semester before me. Our esteemed colleague Gary Olsen started here in 1975.
I smile at the usual beginning of semester chaos. Passwords that don’t work (or I have forgotten); printers that need to be reconfigured because of upgrades; a necessary visit to the book store to make sure that my texts are in.
Today is Move-in Day for freshmen. I read in the Waukesha Freeman that Carroll is expecting 58 international students from 25 different countries bringing the total of international students to 97.
I choose to exclude Carroll from my summer life as much as I can responsibly can and devote my time to family relationships, reading, and being outdoors. Among my favorite “good reads” this year were the following:
Umberto Eco’s The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana
Paul Silvia’s How to Write a Lot.
Evan Kindley’s Questionnaire
Julie Lindsay’s The Global Educator
J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
Jeff VanderMer’s The Big Book of Science Fiction
Neal T. Jones’ A Book of Days for the Literary Year.
The Annotated Alice
Viet Than Nguyen’s The Sympathizer
Ayad Akhtar’s American Dervish
Ken Liu’s The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories
Ethan Canin’s A Doubter’s Almanac
Sharon Guskin’s The Forgetting Time
Karen Joy Fowler’s We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves
Charlie Jane Anders’ All the Birds in the Sky
Brian Crane’s 25 Years of Pickles
Ivan Doig’s Last Bus to Wisdom
I’ll be giving away all these books to interested students. What books would you recommend?
I also have seriously explored this summer some software tools to facilitate my goals for writing more and giving students opportunities to publish.
This will be an interesting transition year. A nationwide search for a new Carroll President; a Psychology Program Review; personal decisions. But for today, a few meetings and then still time to play at North Lake and continue learning from Leo the Great.
Throughout the 2015-2016 school year, we four undergraduate research assistants in “Dr. Simpson’s Neighborhood” have been familiarizing ourselves with several different learning tools described on Jane Hart’s Top 100 Learning Tools List. As we read about and played with each tool, we wrote blog posts using WordPress to let the world know more about the features, benefits, tips, and drawbacks of each learning tool based upon our personal experiences. As these blogs were being published throughout the fall semester, Dr. Simpson suggested OURwriting our own book about how the tools can facilitate learning in the classroom and business world. We responded to this challenge with both trepidation and zeal!
We took each of the blog posts previously written and compiled them into one large Microsoft Word document. Then, over the course of about two months, we carefully went through each blog post. We improved the writing, further developed ideas, updated our learnings, corrected errors, added pictures, and temporarily removed hypertext links. We divided the learning tools we examined into 5 chapters: Video Editing Software, Social Network/Interactive Networking Tools, Note Taking Tools, Data Collecting Tools, and Presentation/Sharing Tools. We added screenshots for examples and created potential cover pages for the book. We decided upon a basic layout: an introduction at the beginning of each chapter, a reasonably detailed description of each learning tool, and an explanation of how the tool is useful in business and educational settings.
(Alison Lehman) Converting our short, to the point blog posts to a book format was no small task. Creating a book took a lot of planning, coordination between team members, additional investigation into the learning tools, and large amounts of time to create, write, coordinate and edit our thoughts and experiences. Initially our idea was “simply” to convert each WordPress blog onto Google Docs so that each team member had access to the book-in-progress no matter where they were. This decision was vital to a successful workflow of communication. We could leave notes for one another on the Google sheet, see what each other had been working on, and be aware of what still needed to be completed. When the WordPress blogs were converted into the Google Doc, I had naively assumed that a lot of the information we had previously written would be easily ported into the book. However, varying writing styles and incomplete information did not easily lend themselves to a smooth transition into a book. Consequently, we chose almost to completely scrap the original posts and start anew. In hindsight this decision was a blessing in disguise because it gave us an opportunity to rethink our ideas, add important details, include updated information and impose a common, improved format from the bottom up. Since we were not producing short blogs anymore, a lot more research went into investigating how to use the tools, what the tools were most useful for, and the utility of these learning tools in the classroom and business environments. Though the discussion of each learning tool examined was primarily written by one or two individuals together, but each was then edited and read and reread by each individual of the research team. Creating a book taught us all about proper planning, how essential clear communication is between members, how to incorporate the ideas and thoughts of each member, and how to establish and maintain a realistic timeline for completing a managable task. Our ideas were continually being improved and applied to better enhance the effectiveness of our collaborative first book-writing efforts. With the final product being steps away from completion, I am proud for all time, effort, and resources that were dedicated in creating a book of this kind. I look forward to the future projects and goals the research team will accomplish together. When a great group of minds come together, there is nothing that can stand in the way of their success and ambitions.
(Arianna) Until writing our own book, I had never appreciated the time and effort that goes into writing. The need to sit down and carefully read and reread and reread again every page trying not to miss a single typo or spelling error and making sure all of the tenses match up is daunting but necessary. However, after about ten proofreads and several edits to the document, we were able to publish our hard work.
(Lizzy) Well, writing this book was definitely an eye opening experience for myself. I had never once thought I would have the opportunity to write a book, much less publish one for others to enjoy. I did not know how much work goes into writing a book until we had to be a team and work together on creating this book. We had to combine all of our different writing styles together and blogs that were almost done to blogs that needed a lot more work. We had to write about applications that seemed so basic to us, but were actually a lot more detailed than we thought. I know while writing the Excel piece that I had no idea all that could be done with this learning tool until I started to use it for some of my classes and explore the different features it has to offer. I had no idea for more than half of these applications all that they could do. Personally, I now use some of these tools on a daily basis and i can envision singing them at work, at school, and for future purposes. I have gotten so much better at writing because of Alison and her helping me have a better writing style and teaching me to watch my grammar better. Also, I have never been so open and excited to learn about internet tools that are so useful and that everyone can have access to till I started working with Alison, Arianna, and Tia. We all have come together and given each other different perspectives on our idea of the book, how to write it, what to include, how these tools can benefit others and in what ways. It was such a great experience. It took a lot of time, but was most definitely worth it for the end result and the great feeling of accomplishment all of us get to share together, including Dr. Simpson. Without Dr. Simpson helping us as a team to give us the resources, the challenges, and the time to write these blogs and experience these tools, we never would have had this great opportunity. I have made closer friendships with these beautiful ladies because of writing this book together and getting to know each other. We all have such different ways of thinking and different perspectives on how we interrupt certain situations or applications and it is really cool how we can all combine our ideas together to make our first book and for us to grow as partners in the workplace and grow a friendship outside of it. This book I believe also improved our relationship with Dr. Simpson because of the collaborating we all needed to do to get to where we are now as a team. We can only grow from here and I can not wait to experience this journey with each of my teammates!
I recently purchased a five-year journal and I’m using it, as a planning tool for things I want to accomplish in the next five years. Inspired by my sister-in-law who a year ago told me that she might attempt to read my late father-in-law’s copy of James Joyce’s Ulysses, I’ve begun identifying “great books” which I’d like to have read in the next few years. Ulysses is on my short-list at the moment, though I vacillate on whether I should invest the time in READING it. If so, I want to finish reading it by next Bloomsday.
The question, now, is should I commit myself to reading Ulysses—or instead curl up with Robin the Newf and study my dog-eared copy of Berke Breathed‘s Classics of Western Literature: Bloom County 1986-1989.
Christine Smallwood has a thoughtful review in the June 9 & 16 2014 New Yorker “Ghosts in the Stacks” of Phyllis Rose’s The Shelf: From LEQ to LES.
Smallwood raises some issues about reading of considerable interest to me:
how we choose books today has been dramatically changed by technology (our preferences and reading habits are monitored and curated
what scholars read and how they read has changed (a distinction is made between close reading and surface reading)
I was appropriately admonished by her last paragraph:
And what about the books right in front of you that were published, even purchased, but, for all you know, might as well not have existed? My own bookshelves are filled with books I haven’t read, and books I read so long ago that they look at me like strangers. Can you have FOMO about your own life?…The alphabet is great, but there is nothing quite as arbitrary as one’s own past choices. Reading more books begins at home.”
Timeout on buying new books to read until I review what is filling my home office bookshelves. This is also a wonderful opportunity to use my LibrarianPro app.
Hmm—32 books in shelf # 1 beginning with father-in-law’s 1927 copy of the Best Known Works of Edgar Allan Poe and ending with Philip Tetlock’s Expert Political Judgment. How delightful!