I hope everyone has a awesome, fun and safe Halloween! It was one of my favorite holidays growing up! I enjoyed dressing up and trick or treating with my friends around the neighborhood. I remember back then little old ladies would hand out coins and sometimes fruit! Of course my Mother would VETO the fruit ASAP! My little face would frown every time I saw a shiny nickel coming my way! But of course I was always polite and faked a smile and took my coin with a quick muttered “thank you”. Then I prayed the next house would have less lame goodies to offer us kids. I must say these memories are the sweetest. I swear I reminisce more now while in graduate school then I have in years! It’s a wonderful feeling I must admit. One I won’t soon forget, even as this graduate journey of ours is quickly coming to an end. Oh Vey! These moments I’ve been having of deep reflection and introspection have helped me along in my writing process for all of my classes this semester. I can hear my voice getting louder, stronger and more powerful each and every time I put my pen to paper.
As far as what I plan to work on for this week, Medea has inspired me to add a new slide or two into my own thesis presentation slides. I’m so very proud of my sister from another mister! Her thesis project speaks to my soul. Our memoirs are different, yet the themes throughout are very much the same. As I watched and listened intently I decided to add two more slides to my own presentation. These slides will include my family tree and a brief description of why this is an important element of my story telling. I began working on my slides for the thesis walk through weeks ago. Although I’m not slated to go until the end of November, I wanted to get a head start. Taking three full time classes which include our Thesis class is no easy feat! My course load is full and jam packed with serious reading, writing, creating, revising and analyzing a lot of material. But so far so good! I’ve managed to keep my head above water! I will continue to work on polishing and finishing up my thesis presentation slides. I’m excited to share my story and journey with you all! Please stay tuned…Xo
This week we are moving past the halfway mark in the semester. I marvel at the fact that we have made it to Halloween weekend. Enjoy a bit of bewitching time. Also, we will all take a collective deep breath, in anticipation of Election Day this coming Tuesday. And my regrets for the abrupt cut off of our discussions last night at the very end of our classtime at 7:15pm. It was on my end technically, and I am sorry for any lost threads of thought as per our on-going discussions.
Thanks to Medea
Another wonderful presentation (and reading) by your peer Medea this week, who showcased her memoir. It is a piece of writing that courageously (and effectively) bridges two seemingly disparate topics. On the one hand Medea writes from the humorous lens of her quirky Italian-American family – a family built on both strong familial bonds and love, as well as certain strict cultural codes of conduct. On the other hand she is writing about the perils and struggle with anxiety. She at once is able to make us laugh out loud, and also understand (with empathy) a kind of silent ongoing trauma. She bridges these two worlds with both levity and grace, and her writing pays tribute to the good and bad in these perspectives that are inextricably linked. It is a unique project and it captures a world that only she could tell, and it works because the writer is singular and talented. Thank you Medea for sharing this with all of us, and I know you are now on the homestretch, with just slight revision and some lit review refinement to close out this special project. Bravo!
Please take note:
Your final submission date for all of you this semester is Friday December 18, 2020. For those completing their thesis this semester, 12/18/20 is the deadline you will submit your final project, and all supporting/developmental material that you would like to share (your overal thesis portfolio).
For the rest of you who will be working on your thesis in the Spring ’21, 12/18/20 is the deadline that you will submit your thesis proposal which should include: (1) a clear statement of the topic and its significance; (2) a statement of your thesis research inquiry and/or the importance of your contribution in the context of the creative genre(s) you are working within (3) a in-progress literature review; (4) a working outline of the thesis (5) and brief description of your in-progress research methodology.
On a final note, I just want to share love and support for Mary Kate as she anticipates the arrival of her daughter (in these final moments before her birth). We welcome her into the world with joy, and we are proud of you Mary Kate for writing a compelling and moving young adult novel while also preparing for the first addition to your growing family. This is a profound blessing and a beautiful moment for our small writers community, and we are all wishing you both well. xo
There is no doubt that this is a busy season, and intense stretch of time for all of us. It is also a time that typically produces some amount of fatigue. With this in mind, I sign off with my weekly reminder to all of you to pace yourselves, and to go gently on yourselves as you set goals and continue to learn.
I found last week’s assignment, Write-Down-One-Question about your Thesis Process, helpful on several levels. First, I intend to use this best practice with my own students when I am evaluating their thesis statements. I will need two class periods to provide feedback since I have around 20 students in each of my English classes and will have the other students work on their writing projects or to conference with a peer as I conduct my mini-writing conferences. One important protocol is that I would need to assign a more proficient writer with a developing writer during one of the peer review sessions. Overall, I believe that by being a student of writing I am honing my skills as a teacher or writing. From this process, I learned how difficult it is to come up with a thesis and how difficult it is to revise it. Hence, graduate school and remote learning force me to rethink and reimagine my pedagogy.
Second, I appreciated the precious one-to-one conference with Dr. Zamora and the written suggestion of adding an adverb (“actually”) made the sentence more nuanced and more powerful. I was also struggling to articulate the significance of my research. Thanks to Dr. Zamora I was able to articulate the last part of my thesis: …that help provide equity in the classroom and support learners who lack cultural and linguistic capital. I was unable to connect my research proposal on online grammar checkers to equity in education. Using equity as a springboard, I started another research thread of equity and accessibility in the classroom. I am also revising my Works Cited and working on my slides for my presentation. Therefore, my blog this week is short and sweet.
Working Thesis: Critics argue that students mechanically accept suggestions from online grammar checkers without understanding the grammatical underpinnings. Although some students may mindlessly accept editing suggestions, online grammar checkers, similar to calculators, are actually tools of empowerment that help provide equity in the classroom and support learners who lack cultural and linguistic capital.
This past week was more productive than previous weeks. I started putting together all my sources and citing them accordingly in hopes to finish an annotated bibliography to help me with the literature review. My plan is to have my annotated bibliography completed by this weekend and start working on my literature review. Also, I'm… Continue reading Annotated Bibliography
It’s been another interesting week, and I found myself working on newer pieces of my project. Unfortunately I wish I had developed more work this week but that was not the case, it was a very slow week for me mentally and physically as I dealt with a lack of motivation, energy, and bit of bad stress. But anyway last week I was planning and brainstorming my new scene or scenes, And this week I was able to finish those scenes. In addition I was also able to work with the creation of my website which will go hand in hand with my project. In this case I made the choice oh going with the platform named WIX. And I’m glad I did because using it again reminded me of some old pleasant memories. A long time ago I used to use wix for blogging, and even for some of my college classes. So basically I used to use it for personal projects or school projects and I was able to familiarize myself with the platform at a decent level. But then I stopped, and it’s been some years since I last used it. This time around since I am using it for a bigger project I’m trying to relearn and familiarize myself with it again because my new website will be heavy on presentation. This will be especially the case with the distribution of information. And so I found myself creating different tabs or rather categories that will inform background information about my project.
Life update-still no baby yet! While she technically isn’t due until Friday, mama is just ready to meet her! Everything is cleaned, washed, organized, and ready to go for when she’s ready, but this waiting game is tough! Just trying to soak up every minute I have to relax right now!
That being said, maternity leave has been wonderful so far! I’ve been able to catch up on all the miscellaneous tasks that got pushed to the side, while also trying to catch up on some sleep!
In terms of my thesis, I truthfully feel like I’ve been in a little bit of a limbo the past few weeks. I’m chipping away at things, such as my lit review and revising a few of my chapters, but so much has occupied my mind that I haven’t been able to sit down and just produce even more. Which I think is completely okay. So this week, I continued to polish and add to my lit review, but I wasn’t able to write those two chapters like I wanted. My goal is to write today, but because I am feeling inspired not because I have to! I’m looking forward to it!
Another week, another yikes. Here’s what I know: I highly value the theses that I have seen from my peers. They are personal, honest, and creative. Of myself and my thesis considerations I feel hazy, dishonest or insincere, and unable to reach a level of creativity that I actually feel good about. I am prepared to roll with that. I was asked to come up with some six different directions that my thesis could go in, but I think that the yoke of the idea ought to remain with some kind of self-reflexive correspondence.
If the main concept is “Me” as I believe is appropriate here, both because I envy and desire some likeness with my peers and because I am up for a challenge, then I believe something of a web more than a bulleted list may come in handy.
This is a “mindmap” that I created on a free site. I was asked for 6, but I really believe that any of these 5 ideas could represent a thesis I could seriously engage with, research, and maybe even be proud to graduate with. I think they are different enough to have sincere conversations with myself and others as to the merits of each, but close enough to me that none are a stretch to make my own.
It’s been time already to work on this, and I am behind. But I’m confident that somewhere here is my thesis and I am ready to get down to it.
This past week, I attempted to try and put together one scene for my thesis project. This was a much more difficult task than I thought it would be if I am being totally honest. As I sat down to complete this, it came time for me to decide what scene exactly I wanted to work on and build. Given that my story is still in early planning phases, I found narrowing down where I would want to start with and work on first to take more time than I thought it would. Ultimately, I decided to go with the beginning of my story, the first scene. For me, this was the best way for me to go because I think it would give me a jump start in creating the world or universe that I want my story to be set in. Those kinds of details are what will make this story everything it can be, because it will set up a clear direction and vibe for me to work with and build towards.
As I sat down to do this, I began to type feverishly as I could begin to feel everything take shape. I did not even mention a single character, so as I went on I found I was not writing a scene so much as I was putting together a concrete list of elements that I wanted to be present in the first scene and the symbolism I want to include in the onset. This may have veered a bit from where Dr. Zamora suggested for me to do, and I am not sure if she is going to like it, but I can honestly say for the first time in the last several weeks, I truly feel like I have made a step in the right direction.
Hi and welcome back to another week! Honestly, I’ve been so caught up with work this week I almost forgot to update you guys on what I have been up to. This week was a workload and to be honest, I’m very proud of that because I’ve kept a gazelle intensity with working this week and I hope that this energy lasts till the end of 2020.
I have been working on my lit review and it’s coming along nicely. There are so many books and journals to read out there that are interesting reads but it’s getting more difficult to weed out the best resources for my lit review. I’ve read some more work from English professor and ESL program Director Vivian Zamel about her theories and pedagogy on ESL writing. The articles were very insightful and edifying however, I did not believe that they were fit for my research. Nevertheless, I read more articles from other ESL professors and teachers like Margo DelliCarpini and Ruth Spack which I will share with you below.
Margo DelliCarpini earned her Ph.D. in Linguistics at Stony Brook University and is an assistant professor of TESOL at Lehman College, CUNY, where she works with ESOL certification candidates. She has taught ESL at the elementary, secondary, adult, and higher education levels.
As a newly certified teacher, Margo was hired to teach ESL high school students in the upcoming fall. She was excited to create interesting lessons and activities for her students. However, she was shocked on the first day of school when her students were not as she expected. She found that the materials she prepared would not help her teach ESL students in an effective way. After just that one day she was ready to quit but she didn’t. She states,
I didn’t quit. I went back to the drawing board, revised, researched, consulted teachers from other disciplines, and sought out appropriate material. Eventually, I was able to teach these students how to read, how to write, how to get the main idea from a passage, how to respond to literature by making connections to their own lives, and how to believe in themselves. It didn’t happen overnight, and the students and I learned together. (DelliCarpini, pg.98)
Margo was proud of her success as an ESL teacher; she attributed this success to four skills, English, listening, speaking, and reading. She states that ESL teachers should integrate these four skills in English as a way to accomplish communication goals. In the classroom, she taught grammar-based tasks, practiced oral language skills, and taught students to read a range of information from street signs to product labels and literature. Her approach to teaching ESL students was personable and relatable and that’s what made her time teaching ESL effective. In the article, she writes, “Success is more likely when the content is meaningful and relevant to the learner, which leads to enhanced motivation, another necessary component in successful second language acquisition’ (99). I loved this article because it described both the challenges and joys of being an ESL teacher. Margo did not go into this career having all the resources but learned through the students and other dedicated staff what is most effective for new language learners and that was to make a connection. What she needed to succeed in the classroom was for her students to be supported in every way possible. From home to school life all of these factors had to be connected. I like the points Margo made in her article and also the facts that she mentioned were insightful and truthful.
Another aspect that I really enjoyed about her article is that there were very important statements that stood out to me.
As our ELL population continues to increase, the only way to move forward is to equip teachers with the knowledge and skills they need to create classes that truly address the needs of diverse learners. (101)
ESL classrooms are enriching environments and ESL teachers and students had the freedom to select subjects that were interesting to the students. Now ESL students are no longer exempt from content assessments so this makes it harder for teachers to have the freedom to teach them to learn but force them to learn subjects and skills needed to pass state test. (103)
There was also a lot of articles that I read from linguistic professor and author Ruth Spack. She has done extensive research on the ESL learner community specifically the Indian American population. Here are a few short articles that I read from her career as an ESL professor. The last one I choose to include in my lit review.
Spack, Ruth and Vivian Zamel, ed. Language Lessons: Stories for Teaching and Learning English. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2008.
Zamel, Vivian and Ruth Spack. “Teaching Multilingual Learners Across the Curriculum: Beyond the ESOL Classroom and Back Again.” Journal of Basic Writing 25. 2 (2006): 126-152.
Spack, Ruth. “Teaching Across Cultures.” Rev. of Listening to the World; Cultural Issues in Academic Writing; Decoding ESL: International Students in American Colleges, by Helen Fox; Amy Tucker. College English vol. 58 (1996): 592-597.
This article was originally written in 1988 it was updated and revised in the year 2001. Both citations are included below.
Spack, Ruth. “Initiating ESL Students into the Academic Discourse Community: How Far Should We Go?” TESOL Quarterly, vol. 22, no. 1, 1988, pp. 29–51.
Spack, Ruth. “Initiating ESL Students into the Academic Discourse Community: How Far Should We Go?.” Landmark Essays on ESL Writing. Ed. Tony Silva and Paul Kei Matsuda. New York: Routledge, 2001. 91-108.
In this article writing researchers and teachers get together to study the ways ESL writers write. These writing researchers create a goal for writing programs to create better academic writers and develop approaches to teaching writing. This plan has emerged in response to criticism of previous writing programs geared towards helping ESL students become better academic writers.
In the article, Spack argues that when it comes to ESL writers there are two major problems. “The first is that there is a large gap between what students bring to the academic community and what the academic community expects of them” (pg. 30). These two problems create a wide gap in the academic field for ESL students because “even if ESL students are highly literate in their native language…the students lack of linguistic and cultural knowledge can stand in the way of academic success” (30). Even so, Spack asserts that “it is clearly the obligation of the ESL writing teacher, whether teaching basic writers or highly literate students to find a way to narrow the gap” (30). She provides two ways that ESL teachers can solve this problem. One way (as suggested by researchers) is to create writing programs to teach ESL writing as a discipline, the second is to state clearly what academic writing is and its goal. This problem and solution she discusses in her article is inspiring because there is indeed a gap between what teachers expect from ESL students and what the resources that are offered. I want to state in my research that ESL writing programs is one way that teachers can help close the gap and help ESL students succeed.
Stating the Facts
I mentioned before that moving forward I wanted to dive into more statistical facts and numbers about ESL learners. Specifically, I want to know the percentages of ESL learners in the state of New Jersey, the resources offered, and how our state plans to move forward with immigrant student populations. I have completed a great deal of qualitative research with the case studies. This part of my study is where I get into quantitative research with data and facts. The data draw on a variety of reliable sources from the US Census, New Jersey state performance reports, newly collected statistical information, and information gathered in a series of surveys completed by literacy committees.
The National center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance provides effective and proven learning strategies that work for ESL students. This educational report equips teachers and districts with the tools needed for proper assessment data and other resources for advancing ESL learning. Please take a look at the table of contents and other highlights below for more information. If you would like to have access to this information please clicking the image above.
There was a lot of reading and gathering information which I am still completing this week. By next week I plan to get more data and share some highlighted information with you all. Until next time. Thank you for stopping by!
Fellow writers, achievers, dreamers and the few frustrators,
Lend me your ear so I can share my tale of a few unexpected expectations this past week.
It all began on Saturday. I woke up with the intentions of completing three top priorities. First, my morning was busy helping my Grams make fish soup from scratch. Things went well and the soup was almost finish by the time I left for my afternoon gig. Secondly, I volunteered to work a school prepare for a special family movie night. The staff expected the 60 something people who RSVP’d to show up. Luckily the weather was beautifully clear and semi-spooky. I planned on helping for a few hours that way I could return home to work on my thesis. Unfortunately things quickly began to change. The weather was so crisp, windy and cold. Out of 60 families to show up, only eight did. We had blown up plastic balloons, goodie bags, popcorn, pretzels, cotton candy (and machine). The staff and I worked on so many things but no one was there to enjoy them but the staff. Seriously, I was even in costumed. Now here’s the kicker..when I returned home with the hopes of working on my thesis, I did not feel good. I was in the cool air for too long and felt lethargic. By the time I got home I didn’t work on anything except putting on my jammies and climbing into bed.
Sunday, I consider a peaceful day before the week’s chaos. I went into my office, worked on my desktop for 2 hours, tried to figure out my project’s final product, prepare to edit my Lit. review and then it happened. I felt tired again. This time in particular I began feeling drunk with sleep. At first, I couldn’t figure out why I kept reading the same lines over and over. I thought it was weird when my head continued to go lower and lower. You think I would realize that I was dozing off right? Nope. All the work I set up and organized on my table started looking like blurry waves. Who knew your lashes can make blurry waves? Finally I said dammit, I’m going to take a 2 hour nap. Great idea! Well that was until I heard a huge crash in the kitchen. My Grams tripped on the kitchen mat while holding a pot full of water that was next to another pot on the fire. Apparently her tripping made her fall and dropped the pot of water. Everything in the area except the top on the fire fell. Water was all over and she looked so shooked. Let me say, jumping out of my sleep left me shook too. Either way, she’s good now, I cleaned everything, finish cooking the food for her and didn’t get a chance to return to my work.
Monday and Tuesday was about the same, a semi-shit show. I work at a school and my position is to assistant those in charge. The morning shift is getting better except for the substitute starting the virtual class almost 45 minutes late. of course parents were pissed but not with me. Maybe my years teaching and being a director I do have expectations for people currently in those similar positions. Shocker everyone does not have common sense! Tuesday the teacher returned and I had to give her the rundown of everything that occurred. The afternoon shift is so disorganized and for some reason they make themselves believe I’m the more responsible one. No I don’t think so. Monday and Tuesday I had intentions on working on my project again but after dealing with those people I didn’t have the strength nor tolerance for myself. It’s unusual how they can zap energy out of you virtually.
I had plans. I had thoughts, possibly ideas. I had expectations of myself for the past few days. I didn’t accomplish squat. Surprisingly, I don’t feel bad nor stressed over it. Of course I wanted to work on my project but I didn’t expect things to be so tiring.
As of today (Wednesday), I plan on reevaluating things. I can’t control everything. What I can control is how I handle situations. Now I have a clearer mindframe to focus on what needs to be done.
I have 20 poems: each has a specific quote & will use 1-3 emotions from Plutchik’s wheel to help describe
My Lit. review is practically done but I need to review it again and make minor edits
I have my mission statement & a writer’s oath
I have some background context about myself
My annotated bib & work cited is completed
I am rereading my contemporary issue to keep me focused
From the beginning of the semester to now, I feel more at ease with the project directions. Honestly, I do feel a bit more anchored within its confidence. With that acknowledgement, I try not to focus on when the final product is due.
It’s true, I did have particular expectations and I also dealt with a new unexpected expectation. The quote below is what I knew but but I actually learned.