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We are on our way!

Great to see you and begin your second semester of MA Thesis. This is the final stretch. There is ample work ahead. Yet, you have finished all the ground work to complete this, and you have the time and support needed to get there. (All of this is built into this semester’s seminar design). As you know, we will continue to use this website as our central location for the work, and we will meet weekly to check in and consider your steady progress, in order to get to the finish line and your MA degree.

For next week:

Write your first blog of this Spring semester.  Circle the wagons, and take stock of where you have been, and where you think you need to go.  Map out a semester plan for progress.  Be specific.  

Plan to conference with me based on your submission from last semester.  I will speak with each of you individually regarding the work you submitted last semester, and the plan for this semester.  

Welcome back, …time for Part 2 of thesis!

I hope this opening message of Spring ’24 finds you well and rested after a well-deserved break. As we embark on a new academic term, I want to extend a warm welcome back to you. You are now on the homestretch headed towards your MA graduation in May!

First and foremost, I want to commend each one of you for the hard work, dedication, and resilience you have demonstrated in your thesis journey thus far. Undertaking a master’s thesis is a significant undertaking, marked by ebb and flow of energy and ideas, and your commitment to this process has paid off in Part 1 of our process together. The upcoming months promise to be both challenging and rewarding as you delve deeper into both your research and your writing/implementation effort.

We will continue our work together with our “seminar-style” “accountability-in-community” approach. As always, we will emphasize collaboration and peer learning, and continue to share key insights into each other’s work. Remember, you are not alone in this journey, and your peers can be valuable allies and sources of inspiration.

As you resume your thesis work, take a moment to reflect on the progress you’ve made and the goals you hope to achieve. Stay focused, stay curious, and most importantly, stay passionate about your research and writing. Your work has the potential to make a meaningful impact!

See you soon,

Dr. Zamora

Wrapping up!

Thanks to Jasmine for a walking us through the thesis work you are developing on digital literacies in early childhood education. This is an important focus, and your personal identity as both an EC educator and also a Mom of three little ones, offers an especially rich perspective to pursue this work in depth. I am looking forward to the multimodal development of the project, and I look forward to reading your Literature Review. What does it mean to be a “digitally literate” child in this day and age? What practices (fostered both at home or in school) lead to a well-adjusted happy child who thrives in an increasingly digitized/networked world. So much of this depends on how well a child comes to understand the digital world around them. But exactly what this growth entails is murky, and so Jasmine’s work is positioned as both timely and urgent.

Research Days (Spring 2024)

I would like to encourage all of you to consider presenting some of your work at RESEARCH DAYS 2024 (April 22-24, 2024). Kean Research Days is a campus-wide celebration of faculty-student research and creative activity. This annual event sponsored by the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs provides students the opportunity to present their preliminary or completed research and creative activities to the campus community. Registration for “Research Days 2024: Hybrid” will open in January 2024. Please consider sharing some of your thesis work (something to mull over during the break). If you have any questions, you can inquire via email – researchdays@kean.edu

Final announcements

Remember that you should be considering your plans for the upcoming break, with an eye towards keeping your thesis “alive” during the long pause in our gatherings (Dec. 19, 2023) until the start of next semester (Jan 16, 2024). I hope you will all take a well deserved rest, and then I hope you can give your work some realistic/modest momentum before late January when I see you again.

Four our final class meeting, we will meet in person in the KUWP office next week on Dec. 12th for one-on-one meetings to touch base before you submit you final work for Thesis Part 1. Please come with any questions you may have so I can help each of you individually with your final preparations to close out the semester. Your final submission is due by Dec. 19th, 2024. I will meet with Jasmine (4:30pm), Erik (4:45pm), Gianna (5:00pm), Jules (5:15pm), and Giselle (5:30pm). That is a loose sense of time, as some sessions may take longer or shorter, depending on the questions/concerns you may have.

Keep going everyone. The light at the end-of-semester “tunnel” can be seen!

The final few weeks of Part 1, MA Thesis

It is officially December!

We are now looking at about a three weeks remaining until the close of the first half of your thesis project, so each of you really needs to envision how this last push will unfold in your schedule. I am confident that each of you is holding this reality at the forefront of your mind, but there is still a lot between now and then to address in completing your proposal document, your Lit Review (in-progress) document, and your Final Self-Assessment & Portfolio. I think that it might be beneficial to make a specific schedule at this point in time, to understand how that time will be best used to make the deadline. Please map out the next 3 weeks specifically, understanding what goal is central to each week left on our semester timeline.

Dec 5 Conferencing; Jasmine’s presentation 

Dec 12 Conferencing; final concerns before submission

Dec 19 Deadline for proposal submission

Remember that at this stage you can bring in drafts of your proposal work, your methodologies section of your proposal, or even your Lit Review, as a way to get early peer feedback as you prepare for final Fall Semester Portfolio submission.

Please remember to blog your weekly progress report! And I will see you all virtually next Tuesday at our regular time. Jasmine will present her work thus far. I will send you all a link before class.

In the thick of it…

Here we are in the most productive and most dense stretch of thesis time for the Fall 2023 semester. Believe it or not, the close of the term is now in sight. After Thanksgiving break next week, the semester will be at warp speed until we part for the holidays. Keep your eye on the prize, and remember – small goals and steady engagement is the name of the game when life gets even more busy.

It was good to hear from you all about the things you think you are doing successfully as you are gain momentum. I am glad we discussed some things you feel you might be faltering on as well, as you try to make progress. As you continue to balance the issues of pacing, downtime, mindfulness, etc., remember that even veteran writers struggle with the challenge. All this is just to share the simple fact that if you feel overwhelmed, you are not alone. You are trying to complete a thesis in the midst of a lot. Just do your best, take each week as it comes — reflect, reset, and recharge.

Thanks to Jules for her presentation. Her thesis is now emerging as a thoughtful non-fiction memoir structured by small vignettes about life. As peers, you offered supportive and formative feedback. I am glad to see the emergence of a unique and compelling non-fiction piece. Keep going!

Remember you are invited to Friendsgiving!

Next up for thesis: we will have the pleasure of hearing from Giselle. I look forward to seeing you all on campus next Tuesday night.

And make no mistake, you are now in the thick of your work, which is where you should be. Try to keep going, but also remember “you can’t pour from an empty cup.” As we head towards Thanksgiving and the close of the year, take deep breaths, be kind to yourself, ask for help where you can, and consider “writing it out”. Writing down why you feel overwhelmed or anxious is another great way to help alleviate those feelings. It helps to do this unstructured – having a written stream of consciousness allows you to express yourself freely and getting those thoughts out of your head will be a relief. After you get some of the feelings out, you just might feel better enough to find a way back into your thesis writing.

Boo! HALLOWEEN is Almost Here

I don’t mean to scare you all, but we are officially headed to Halloween, which means that the remaining time in this semester will start to really fly by, from here on in. As an academic with many semesters under my belt, I am well attuned to the rhythms of the Fall semester. What typically happens is we hit Halloween with a sense of the semester midpoint, but the remaining time really whips right by. This is in part due to Thanksgiving and then the quick approach of the holidays, which bear for many of us the weight of complex emotional expectations. In other words, our experience of time will accelerate, the pressure dial is turned up, and the worry involved with reaching personal goals will start to dial up too. But I am here to say it will be ok. I am of the mindset that if we acknowledge these impending factors, we can head off the way in which it might take us all by surprise. My advice for the next few weeks is to keep your eye on the prize, and remember that “slow but steady” wins the race. (If you were wondering – in this context, “the prize” is a successful completion of the semester).

Here is some food-for-thought about the challenge of procrastination, and the bigger picture (with some laughs):

Recap

Thanks Gianna for a great overview of your thesis project, which is well underway. It was a treat and a truly inspiration to hear you read a small excerpt from the universe you have built in Retrograde thus far. The themes (and the writing itself) are already deeply felt and distinguished, and I look forward to your further thoughts on what a “second” and even “third” draft might entail moving forward.

Next up! The following week we will not be meeting, but your do not have “off”, as the time we would be together should be used wisely with intention. I have labelled the coming week as “Independent Work Week” and I look forward to hearing about your overall progress in your blog posts.

I will see you all on Zoom on Oct. 31, and we will have the pleasure of listening to Erik’s presentation that evening. Until then, keep going and put in the concentrated time it takes to write and develop a big picture project like the MA thesis.

And remember, until we meet on Halloween night, …a candy a day keeps the monsters away.

Dr. Zamora

Organizing….

I am glad to have a thoughtful conversation with all of you last night, and I am very pleased with the progress you are making thus far. You are all more deeply engaged in the ebb and flow of your research at this point. At this stage, it is more clear that each of you is pursuing a more customized approach to the discovery of material and readings of influence. This is the nature of the work, and I am glad you each have a sense of how to keep going based on our conferencing time together last night.

I want to remind you all that organizing all of your materials over time is a key aspect of success in the MA thesis process. Each of you will devise your own version of how to organize all your work as it unfold. I mentioned that former students have had some success with “Scrivener” in the past. “Tailor-made for long writing projects, Scrivener banishes page fright by allowing you to compose your text in any order, in sections as large or small as you like. ” I also mentioned that many of you will devise your own organization systems, perhaps all in google tools. There is also the tool called “Miro” that I have used for certain writing projects – as they state – “Build, iterate, and design faster with Miro — the visual workspace for innovation.” Or perhaps you want to organize all your work in the google suite – with docs, folder, forms, etc.? Please be conscious that your organization system for your thesis is a key aspect of working effectively overall. Next week, you will share out your organizational approaches during class time.

Our class slides:

I am also glad we took the time to do some active listening with the Structured Dialogues protocol. In addition, we spoke about the potential of peer-learning paradigms (as well as the ways these approaches may flop). I want you all to keep considering the signaficance of learning from eachother as we move forward, especially as we start the presentation cylce, because so much of the in-bulit accountability comes from our small group dynamic. Overall, peer feedback and active listening are critical to all of you.

Your to do list:

Next week Gianna will begin our presentation series (in person, on campus). After her presentation we will have another check in on your process thus far, and also discuss organizational strategies you are developing. **Remember to blog. Please highlight new discoveries, the organizational methods you are developing, and report out where you are on your Lit Review process.  

Enjoy another week in the autumn sunlight!

Building momentum…

It was good to connect last night and to share some insight into your early search techniques and early writing ideas, as you all try to build some momentum now. I am glad we discussed the Literature Review process, and that you now understand how to approach this element of your overall MA thesis work. Building and revising your Lit Review will be a work-in-progress from here on in.

Class agenda slides:

By now you should be all be in reading and research mode, taking notes mode, and perhaps you are also discovery mode with your own personal writing. Remember that moving forward, you will have regular opportunity to work together in a peer-feedback format, and you will also have periodic invitations to read your work-in-progress to each other, in order to refine certain evolving concerns and/or questions. Therefore, each week you should be collecting/organizing your work as it unfolds, so that you have easy access and recall as the work manifests and grows exponentially. The overall accumulation of thesis materials and artifacts will require certain organization that you should be mindful of – from the start. Be sure to keep things organized in a way that makes sense for you – there should be folders, notes, and systems (digital and hardcopy) that keep track of everything for you as your process unfolds over time.

To-do list:

Next week on 10/10, I will see you online in our Zoom room. I will send our link ahead of time. We will discuss your Lit Review as it is starting to shape up. Be prepared to share how it has been developing, and plan on sharing certain reading selections that you have recently discovered. What have you chosen to focus on? We can conference about your research process thus far, offering each of you further suggestions as we consider the things you are gathering.

-As always, please blog on your thesis progress.  Report out on how the Lit Review process is working for you. What materials have you gathered? What materials have you actually read? What kind of note taking process are you engaging in? What have you eliminated in your accumulation of research?

The week after, on October 17th, we will meet in person in Rm. 308. Gianna will kick off our first thesis presentation.

See you next week!

Autumn is Here!

I hope you are having a replenishing week, and that you are able to carve out at least the five hours of concentrated/dedicated time for your thesis work. This is the time when nature announces a kind of “shift” in the air, and it call us to “settle in”. The season is a time to celebrate the changing of the light, and the hues of transition. I love the late-September-into-early-October turn. Such a potent feeling comes upon us when it comes to the mood and tenor of Autumn – a time of reflection. Fall has always been my favorite season, perhaps because of the sense of passing time, and the refracted light which signals to me pause, take stock, and savor moments.

I am so glad we were able to make our way into the library this week and spend some time with Craig Anderson. As you might have discovered, there is a lot to know (“tricks of the trade”) when it comes to searching databases and finding pertinent research for your ongoing work. Craig gave us an initial glimpse of how to navigate the online portal of our Learning Commons, but there really is so much more beyond what we were able to touch upon in our workshop time. Please remember that you can always work directly with reference librarians to find the scholarship or reference material needed to further develop your MA thesis project. And you can use the online chatbox to send basic inquiries. In addition, you can contact our Kean librarians directly, or in person, to set up more customized support for your research process. Also remember that the reading/research process starts off with a broader lens at the beginning phase of thesis development – your “discovery and invention” phase. It then necessarily narrows at some point, and your own Literature Review starts to come into focus. Next week I will be discussing in more detail what a Literature Review entails, in the specific context of your MA thesis.

Autumn’s hues….

Keep up your blogging progress reports which will be important in touching base next week for some conferencing.

I will see you in our Zoom room for next class.

Happy Autumn!

On Our Way

On the road again…..

I am pleased we continued our early thesis time together with a Spiral Journal protocol to help sharpen your perception about your early-stage development of your MA thesis work. I am so glad we took the time to focus a bit on the importance of the Library and the Kean University Learning Commons in terms of resources for developing your thesis. We will connect with Craig Anderson on 9/26. Craig is one of Kean’s excellent reference librarians, and we will participate in his workshop geared towards MA students doing research. You will learn more about the vast resources at your fingertips, which is most certainly an important step for your continual thesis work. I hope you will try a few other workshops there in the future that might be supportive, and also get to know a librarian or two at Kean, while you work on your thesis overall.

Here are the agenda slides from last class:

After settling the presentation calendar together, we also discussed the concept of an Early Proposal. Hopefully this helps you start to narrow the focus at the start of your formal journey with this big project. Please remember to write your first blog, after engaging in some free-writing, mind mapping, and some possible reading/research. Generate lists, and start your own process of discovery and invention.

I will see you next week in class.