Sunday, November 29, 2009

Dealing with writing anxiety

Hi All, I hope that you had a good holiday and weekend. Even those of you on big deadlines, I hope that you got a little bit of time to chill.

I'm headed for jury duty tomorrow (!!!) so am submitting my monday post now. here is a good article from the Writing Center at UNC, regarding anxiety that students sometimes face re: writing.

Be well!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Saturday morning video (early) -- Muppets rock!

Hi All,

I'm going to take some time away from the computer this weekend, so I'm posting your weekly video early! Typically, I try to find videos under 2 minutes (after all, you have work to do!), however, in honor of the holiday weekend and the fact that sometimes muppets rock, I bring you:

Good luck with the work! Cheering you on,

Monday, November 23, 2009

Learning is a Radical Act

My colleague Martha Ezzell just had a wonderful piece published: "Learning is a Radical Act" Here is the beginning paragraph --

Learning ought to be a radical act. Learners should make significant changes in perspective in the process. This is not the type of change that can be measured by how much a student knows at the end of a course that she didn’t know before. Rather, for learning to be a radical act, a difference in constructing meaning about a significant area must occur. The learner should recognize the change.

To read the full article:

Cheering you on in your work!


Saturday, November 21, 2009

Saturday morning video -- Meet Phil Dunphy, yo

Good morning. I don't usually use this site to promo stuff, but I love this new show "Modern Family" -- here's a snapshot (that is funny even if you don't want to check out the show):

Good luck with the work!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Lesson learned -- slow down.

A few weeks ago, I had a very full day of meetings and other commitments. Anyway, I got back to my office and didn't have a lot of time before class. I had just downed a quick dinner and was going to wash up. I grabbed my toothbrush and toothpaste and headed for the bathroom, still in a big hurry. I put toothpaste on the brush and started to brush my teeth and AAGGHHH, the toothpaste tasted terrible! I looked down and realized that I had grabbed hand lotion, not toothpaste. Lesson learned. Slow down. Breathe.

Cheering you on in your work!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

This is what procrastination looks like!

My very good friend Lisa is working on her dissertation. She is also one of the funniest people I know (and in fact is researching humor -- how cool is that!). She blogs about her dissertation process and earlier this year, posted the following re: procrastination. This is reprinted with Lisa's permission. Enjoy! And then get back to work! This is called:

"What to do when I don't want to do"
  1. Make a list of the things I should be doing
  2. Reorganize the list of the things I should be doing
  3. Search for software that will help me keep track of the things I should be doing
  4. Check e-mail
  5. Check Facebook
  6. Check Linked-In
  7. Post to my blog
  8. Read other people's blogs
  9. Subscribe to new podcasts
  10. Sync my iPod
  11. Clean out my closet
  12. Buy stuff, preferably clothes or shoes
  13. Search for journal articles that I don't really need
  14. Think about working out
  15. Avoid working out
  16. Think about making a really healthy dinner
  17. Eat some string cheese
  18. Pet a dog
  19. Make a list of improvements we need to make to the house
  20. Call Charles to see when he'll be home

Monday, November 16, 2009

Staying Motivated - revisit your early goals

There are a range of feelings that can make this time of year challenging for students. A few that come to mind... feeling overwhelmed and lacking motivation. As we near Thanksgiving, final papers, projects, and tests are on the horizon. This intense amount of work along with the regular responsibilities of life (not to mention any crisis that may have emerged!) can be overwhelming. Other folks may be looking toward winter break and having trouble staying motivated. One approach to counter these feelings is to revisit the goals that you set when you began graduate school. What were your motivations for engaging in graduate study? Personal goals? Academic goals? Career goals? Reviewing these goals can help us refocus and also remind us that we are progressing along the path.

keep at it!

Photo by HLS

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Free (cool) art!!!

One of my former students, Ali Spagnola, is a painter with a fun and distinctive style. A few years ago, she began a free painting project wherein she creates paintings for free, on request. She has shipped her work all over the world. You can write to her and be very specific ("please paint front loading washing machine with an orange background"), or less specific ("please paint a dog"), or totally open ("surprise me"). She will then create and send you, for free (!!!!) the painting. Some of us choose to send a little money her way to support her work, but plenty of folks take the paintings for free and Ali is totally cool with that.

Ali is nearing her 1000th painting!!!!!! Be part of this wonderful project and snag a cool painting for your home, office, or for a gift.

And if you think of it, tell her I sent you.

Congrats as you near 1,000, Ali!

And to the rest of you, I'll be offline most of saturday, so no video this week. I'll see you back here on Monday. Keep at it!


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

To study is to co-create

"To study is not to consume ideas, but to create and co-create them."
-- Paulo Freire

How do you co-create ideas with your classmates? With your teachers?

A more traditional view of education is that teachers teach and students learn. Contemporary and progressive thinkers including Freire, Jane Vella, Stephen Brookfield, Parker Palmer and Kenneth Gergen believe that knowledge is co-created through dialog.

Think of an idea that emerged in dialog with a friend or classmate. When I do this, I get this sense of the energy between us -- the "stuff" that we create together. I love this notion. It seems almost magical to me, the knowledge that is created between us.

Cheering you on!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Friday, November 6, 2009

Don't aspire to write like an academic, aspire to find your smart and clear writing voice

Hi All, I have occasionally had students who told me they were concerned that their writing did not sound "more academic." Well, you definitely don't want your papers to read like a text message or a facebook post. However, I strongly encourage you to not to use five words when one will do just fine, just so you can "sound academic." I believe that the best academic writing conveys complexity and confidence. Academic writing should not include slang (unless the research topic is "slang"!), shouldn't sound like you when you're chillin' with your friends. Academic writing should convey professionalism and should reflect that you are a scholar, that you research, think, and write with depth. At the same time, I strongly prefer writing that is clear and accessible, rather than writing that was penned by someone who is trying to impress me with a big vocabulary or a density of thought.

Having said that, folks at the University of Chicago have created a fun online toy "Make Your Own Academic Sentence" -- this is a hoot and reminds us what happens when academic writing goes wrong. Give it a try:

Good luck with the work!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Connecting with classmates

For adult students, it can be easy to show up for class and then leave at the end without really connecting with colleagues. For the most part, grad school is not like undergrad wherein we then saw our classmates in the dorm or in the cafeteria or whatever.

Today I'm writing to encourage you to look for one or a few classmates with whom you think you could have a good collegial friendship and then try to connect. Ideally, you will find one or a few folks who you can call between classes when you want help with some work or need to vent or need a kick in the you-know-what. Perhaps you and your closest colleague will occasionally meet before class for dinner or meet on a Saturday for lunch.

As adult students, we sometimes feel isolated. As one reader wrote earlier this fall, graduate students often feel disconnected from campus life. And again, we don't have the academic community of the residence halls and otherwise living on campus. However, we can create our own connection, our own circle of support. I believe that the students who connect with at least one colleague in their program greatly increase their chances of success. These connections also enrich our experience of school, I believe we learn more deeply and also benefit from the gift of new friendships.

Seek to connect.

Cheering you on!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Proofreading your writing

Hi All,

Happy Monday! Learning to proof your own work is an important step in your academic process. Here are some tips from the writing center at Purdue:


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