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Session 5: Keeping Things Together

Last week in class, we touched on the importance of having some form or another of organization to keep all of our thesis work together. I have a few different forms of organization, which may not be the most efficient but it’s what works for me. To start with, I’ve been writing Retrograde in Scrivener. The program allows me to organize by scene and chapter, with the ability to comment on things I want to go back and revise and space to keep notes, both in a scene-by-scene capacity as well as for more overarching story notes. Fun fact, you can buy custom themes made for Scrivener from small shops on Etsy…and I couple months ago, I treated myself to one of those themes.


To track my revisions, which I’m doing in stages, I use Notion. This allows me to track which stage I’m on and where I need to be putting my focus at the moment. I can show it better with a little screenshot than I can explain it in words:

There are questions in each stage that I ask myself about the story, and then “tasks” get more specific about how I can address that concern within the story as I’m going through and making changes.

As far as the lit review goes, I’ve created citations for the articles I’ve already read on a Google Doc. Those that I still have to read (I now have a list of 23, after reading about 4 sources over the past week, eliminating 2 of the 4 but then finding a bunch more potential reads in the works cited), I have on a sheet of paper that I keep in my classwork folder. I also print out my articles to read them, makes notes and highlights on them, and keep them all together in that folder. As you can see, I like to do some work on pen-and-paper even though the majority of my stuff winds up being digital. In line with that, whenever I need to brainstorm or try to figure out a particularly tough problem with the story so far, I turn to a specific notebook and freewrite.

My lit review work has been going well, although I worry that I have to pick up the pace because I keep finding more and more sources that I’d like to read through. Last week I put in some interlibrary loan requests for the fictional sources that I want to read through, and I’m hoping to receive those by November. I’m less worried about the speed that I can read those, at any rate. It’s more the scholarly articles I’m concerned about. However, I am just going to keep trucking and continue to read several articles a week.

I’ll see you all tomorrow, and I’m quite excited to present!

A New Viewpoint

This week was interesting to say the least. I sorted through the information I am using and tried organizing my beginning thoughts so I can move forward collecting my next set of information. I want to collect information in sets and go through them and then start another set of information until the end of this process. Then I may have themed groups of my information.

A new viewpoint came about this week which changed my direction a little, or helped me bring my concept more into focus. Last week I came to grips with understanding that I do not want to present a proposal, but this is more of a creative understanding of the passion I have for working with children and having learned all about new innovative tech teaching tools and finding a creative way to merge these two that is within guidelines of todays teaching standards.

I have trapped myself slightly, but for this same reason it works for me . My oldest being in preschool for the first time gives me a new perspective of school, and I will use this approach as a parent to speak about it.. I have seem it from a teachers perspective, of course from a students perspective, but now as a parent I have a slightly new outlook and will continue to gain more as the year progresses.

I knew I always wanted to be a teacher growing up, but after having my first child my idea shifted to opening my own. Somewhere to start a business foundation for myself , so this is where the spark and drive was to be determined to complete my vision from. I feel safest talking from a parent perspective and adding my input in other ways because this is a role I play everyday and am able to adapt in, and confirm off of experience.

This week I had a turn, or a pivot, in my research as my own daughter made me question my own theory in a way. I forget that although I am very good at parental controlling what my daughter watches on her iPad there are other ways that sometimes she may have access to things I don’t allow. The internet is so vast with everything to show and it is nearly impossible once someone is given access to this vessel to completely block everything. A regular video showed off of actors and actresses dressed up as character from my little mermaid. All seems well until long story short I hear Ariel is about to deliver her baby and needs to get back to the sea. Safe to safe what I heard made me go watch and a very innocent looking video almost changed my mind. This has happened before but this situation really clicked with me because of me working on this thesis about this very topic.

Although I did not gather any new information this week sorting through the info I already have and really sitting and thinking of what I truly want o express with this thesis was very much needed. I was starting to feel a bit stuck, but just being able to find a position satisfied me and made me really see the direction I am going in this process.

Keeping A Momentum Going?

I’m not going to lie, work has been beating my a**. So lately I haven’t been giving as much time as I like too. But I will say, I write an essay when I can especially when I draw some inspiration or think of a moment/ idea I want to write about.

So far, I read “The House on Mango Street” again. I read it when I was a kid, I remember liking it, but now I read it again as an adult. I tend to use and tie this book in with my literature review. This week I also plan to dive into Sylvia Path’s work (I already own some of her books) and see what I can draw from that as part of my literature review.

Once the books are sorted out and kind of done (doing that first since a book is a lot more to absorb and way more hefty with information compared to an article) I will then go to the articles/ research and see what I will be pulling from there as part for my review. I would say all my progress thus far has seem slow but I do feel like while it may be a steady pace, I have been working and all this work I have done will result into the final bigger picture in the end. Hopefully the next couple of days I can devote a bit more time that way I can get even more work done, and see even much bigger results.


This was probably the easiest research reading I‘ve had to do in a while because I was genuinely interested and needed to know more. I’ve found roughly 5 articles this past week, emphasis on roughly. I mean, yes, they grab my interest but I’m kind of trying to see how they can work together. I’m trying hard to not find too much unrelated material and just grabbing whatever interests me.

From last class, I kept the words “forgotten memories,”in my head as I was looking for key terms to start researching. A lot of the articles I found and noted down for myself had to do with acculturation and the different effects it can have on mothers versus daughters. The other half of the research I touched upon had to do with postwar El Salvador. This is super important to me because this was the war that my parents had fled from, yet I know nothing about it besides the destruction and violence caused.

The postwar articles I think will be useful in that they show the war’s effect on a grand scale, so it’ll help me come up with how to word interview questions. Like I said, I really don’t want to go over there and ask tough, traumatic questions to my family. I think this will help dig up related concerns though.

The acculturation articles are interviews, so obviously it’ll help to see some type of structure. But, one article, “Navigating Personal Borders: Recovering Memories of Identity and Culture,” really caught my attention. There is an interview where the interviewee, a woman born in Mexico but was brought to the US at 3 years old, tells her childhood story through photos.

I’ve mentioned previously that I wanted to incorporate photo in my work too because things that I don’t remember in my actual memory, I can always find them in old family photos. The interviewee had the same idea and it’s really interesting to see my thought process play out in this article.

One more piece that aligns with what I’m trying to dig up is called, “Solito”. It’s a NY Times Bestseller from a Salvadorian writer, Javier Zamora, who recounts his experience in migrating to the US as a child. This book has brought so many things to the surface for me already and it just feels like it fell into my lap at the right time. Since I’m going for a more creative approach, this is definitely an important source to have.

For now, this big jumble is all I have, but before I go further into research, I want to take what I have, organize them, make sure they actually work for me, and hopefully apply it to what I’m trying to create.

A tough Lit review

I believe that the literature review will be the toughest part for me to complete. Since I’m thinking of doing a memoir in verse I have found a some stories in verse, and lots of autobiographies.

  • Crank by Ellen Hopkins (YA fiction in verse)
  • In the Country We Love by Diane Guerrero (Autobiography)
  • Someone Like Me by Julissa Arce (Autobiography)

and from our trip to the library I found lots of articles on DACA. The struggle of Individuals like myself, the discourse around policy and the effects it may have on their health.

  • Becerra, Cesar. “Keep the Dream Alive: The DACA Dilemma.” Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, vol. 40, no. 6, Dec. 2019, pp. 847–58. 
  • Billini, Alicia. Dreamers: Stories of DACA Recipients in Higher Education during the 2018-2021 Political Climate, Western Michigan University, United States — Michigan, 2021.
  • Becerra, Cesar. “Keep the Dream Alive: The DACA Dilemma.” Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, vol. 40, no. 6, Dec. 2019, pp. 847–58. 
  • Patler, Caitlin, et al. “Uncertainty about DACA may Undermine its Positive Impact on Health for Recipients and their Children.” Health Affairs, vol. 38, no. 5, 2019, pp. 738-745,745A.

Out of these seven sources I’ve found, I believe the first two are going to be the most impactful right now. Since CRANK is written in verse and In the Country We Love is about the family of actress Diane Guerrero being deported at 14. (a fear that every child of immigrants has). I’ve also been doing a lot of freewriting about, myself, my life my experiences. and here if you can read my chicken scratch is the last one I did.

So if you can read any of that, I want to fixate on the line. “melting my young culture and adopting a new one whilst its being plated in Ecuadorian gold”. To think that came out of my brain during a solo writing session in which I was just going to toss out.
Now to pour this into research, I need to find sources that deal with the dangers of assimilation, or loss of identity or the journey of finding identity. I will start writing poems on my own identity, on why I’m here, who I am and want to be, but its easier said than done. I honestly feel as if I’m staring at an abyss of my own creation. Of things I’ve forgotten or willingly set aside. It’s staring back at me, like a parent sitting across a dinner table waiting to have a long overdue conversation.

The sources I found on DACA are great information on the ongoing discourse of immigrants like me, but I only see them as background to my experience. In the planet of Erik its the most currently level that shifts and changes. How its effects my education and my health and my ability to continue living here. However, my identity struggles will continues regardless if I reside in the US or get tossed back to Ecuador. They’ll be the same struggles from the Latino lens. I’m too white, my broken Spanish, and my sense of not belonging to name a few. This odyssey I’ve decided to undergo has brought up a feeling of being lost. Its an identity crises that I’ve been avoiding.

So I Started an Outline . . .

This week I have chosen to do a rough outline just to start putting together how I want to present this idea. I am not exactly creating a business plan completely, but I am focusing on a Part 1 and Part 2. This semester I will be completing part 1 which will be me creating a curriculum.

Staying focused on NJ as the location to implicate my model of a curriculum, because I live here currently and I have a general idea of what the early childhood education curriculums looks like at the preschool level, because I have worked int he field before and have kids of my own which has given me a closer insight into the the early parts of development for children, in a personal way. This is what peaks my interest with my topic as it relates to my everyday life, and has always interested me .

My main focus this week was looking at the different pdf’s on this site https://www.nj.gov/education/earlychildhood/preschool/, which has multiple pdf’s, have insightful information on different curriculums in NJ, how the teaching preschool system works in NJ, the standard that have been set, and the rules to follow when opening a center (or just looking at a classroom). This information provided the basis of where I started my research and what I started deeming most important to highlight at this stage in my thesis work. The website provides many informative perspectives of preschool education as a whole. 2 pdfs listed below:



These last few weeks as I settled into my idea I was starting to feel like I may overwhelm myself, because I wasn’t able to find topics as I was thinking I would. being that that I picked education as my topic and more specifically creating my own curriculum and model of a classroom, I began thinking I may have picked a topic that might get me stuck at some point. This week I focused more on finding the basics, which may set me back a little with research, but it has opened up the idea of my outline and how I plan to tackle this thesis.

Since I am in the process of understanding the preschool education system, on the first part of my outline I have noted that I want to talk briefly on why education is important to me. This will give my audience an understanding of why I choose this topic, and highlight some key reason other educators may care. I want go more in depth on why I have chosen this particular grade/ age level, and why it matters most to me and also what matters most in the process of creating a curriculum on my own. How will this do amongst the other NJ curriculums.

I will discuss the curriculums that are currently being used, in New Jersey specifically, and why they are successful with preschools across NJ. This will be a bulk of Part 1 because this will help guide me as I create my own curriculum. There are currently 4 that are in use in NJ preschools. Which is Connect4 Learning, The Creative Curriculum , High scope Preschool Curriculum, and lastly Tools of the mind. I have started explaining these generally within my google doc very briefly .

The note taking process at first was a little difficult, as I wasn’t really sure what direction I wanted to go in when it came to my topic, I just knew what it related. Now that I know I want to create my own curriculum example , with intention to focus on preschool and technology use within classrooms. Creating digital literacy is one focus, but not sole. I feel more selections will come to mind as I go through my starting points. I found a pdf that directly speaks of technology use in preschools specifically in NJ. Another focus could possibly be the reading and writing aspects as it pertains to digital and non-digital learning tools. This will tie in my understanding of English and how it is important in early childhood curriculum and and be a critical part in overall development.

Having created a citation page along with my my rough outline to guide my use of my sources has been created in google doc. This way I manage to know which sources will go with what topics to begin with. Created a computer folder of all the pdf’s that I have so far totaling 10. I know at some point I may need to create micro folders for each each section of my outline. My note taking process seems as though it is funneling as we spoke about last week.

I’m attaching my google doc of the outline that I have started here. https://docs.google.com/document/d/1iHgTaioapmO9bVqWWDxWjWwK0p0jasQRAzmUt9Pxv0A/edit?usp=sharing Building on this google doc each week as I discover new research will eventually turn into docs I feel that will be hyperlinked for the complete project, I’m just weary hyperlinks because they sometimes do not always open for me. I feel the hyperlink method to other parts or sections of my work will be the best way to present and keep things organized.

As I continue to build on this each time I feel it will come together nicely as a creative proposal if that makes sense. Splitting it into parts helps to assure that I cover the necessary areas to explain why I feel this is such an asset to the early child field, as well as the English field when it comes to beginner readers and writers, and seeing things from the teachers perspective.

Overall this experience is getting a bit easier since starting to use the funnel method as we discussed in class prior. I felt I was having an issue at first exactly understanding what I wanted to communicate which made my topic seem to general, but now with further insight I have narrowed down some of my key elements for my thesis.

Session 4: Research Beginnings

Since I last blogged, I spent some time examining the sources I’d gathered after my bit of preliminary research. Upon viewing abstracts, a few seemed like they wouldn’t be of much help, so I tossed those out. That left me with eight research sources to read. Over the past couple of days, I’ve printed and read three. Two of them were of no help, but the third proved very useful! Not only did I highlight and comment on a lot of the content within it (some of which helps to justify the importance of Retrograde as a story), but its bibliography was a treasure trove of new sources; I found nine to add to my list. This means that as of right now, I have 14 research articles to read. I’m planning on using my thesis time this week to read a good chunk of them, which will allow me to eliminate some (as I did when reading these three) and be left with a stronger list. From there, I’m sure I will find more articles to read in bibliographies, and then I can always perform another database search or two. “The Interplay of Sexual and Religious Identity Development….” also helped me to list several more keywords I’d like to experiment with in my searches to turn up more helpful results.

As far as fiction research goes, I have a list of five books I’d like to read, in addition to a couple that are relevant to Retrograde that I’ve already read. In the next week or so, I’m going to start requesting these books via interlibrary loan. I am lucky that a few of them are graphic novels, which I’ll be able to read faster than I can read prose. This should help with time management of this whole research phase…though of course, I’ll probably wind up finding more fiction books that I want to add to my lit review. I’ve got to get reading!

I don’t have too much to report this week besides that I’ve started going through my research, narrowing down what I’ve collected and then looking for more. When I present to the class on the 17th, I will include some content from my research sources; I’ll have read a lot more by then, anyway…at least, I better have! I’m setting a goal to read at least five articles this coming week. Maybe I can even get up to eight, half of my current list. Wish me luck, and happy reading to you all as you continue with your own thesis research!

It’s Lit!

I run into a bit of a writers block within my essays. I do believe we are our own worst critics, and right now anything I write is just not good enough. So I’m going to take a pause on drafting right now. Maybe collect my thoughts, journal, and find inspiration. Part of my inspiration I know will come from my literature review. Tuesdays class was extremely helpful. Dr. Zamora giving me a list of writers to check out after reading my last blog post was a stir in the right direction. I’m going to start with reading “The House On Mango Street.” I read that book before but the last time I read it I was too young, and although I remember really liking it, I know that if I read it now as a much more older woman with a different mindset and different experiences; it’s going to hit much different. And probably help me with my thesis.

For now, I want to continue curating a list from Dr. Zamora, my classmates, and my own research as all part of my sources for my review. But I don’t want to go crazy just yet. For now I feel like I have a good list now it’s just diving in and seeing what I can pull and take from each writer. My list right now currently consists of 10-15 writers so once I get a solid take from that I will continue to look for more writers so my list can then get up to 15-20.

Although I know the literature review is probably going to be the second hardest thing I’ll do, I also know that in some degree It’s going to be more fun. This is going to be the inspiration part of it all. I will report next week of some of my takeaways, stay tuned!

Falling Into the Right Season.

Last weeks library experience was very helpful when it comes to the research for this extensive thesis we are all working on. I always remember how important the library is when I get there and can see all of the ways in which information can be processed. Craig Anderson did a wonderful job showing us some helpful tricks and tips to exploring and also narrowing our research into the direction we are choosing to take it. The database can really give a broaden version of what you may be looking for, but as researchers we are able to shuffle and discard what we don’t need, and find the true gems that can help us create our thesis.

I feel that I will actually be using Union and Maplewood’s public libraries along with Kean’s to get the information I am looking for. I don’t want everything I research to come from the internet, even though some will, but I want to challenge myself with the collection of my data and broaden how I do my research. I feel that I have used the internet and databases to my advantage thus far in the grad program, but I want to step out of my comfort zone little and see what more information I can discover.

As I continue to research my topic I see if won’t be hard to find information on technology use in classrooms, What I am finding most difficult is the preschool aspect I have within my topic. I want to focus mainly on preschool & Kindergarten, because to me these are the fundamental stages in school for children, and I feel a lot can be learned if applied correctly and adequately.

I want to give a shout out to Gianna because she sent me a really good link last week that connected to my topic. She sent me a link to an instagram page by a woman named Brittany Washburn who teaches a tech curriculum, which really ties into my topic of the idea that tech should be an apart of the curriculum. She focused more on middle school and high school students, but I was still intrigued scrolling on her page, and I liked a bunch of her techniques, so she gained a follow from me. This led me to all of the ads and emails I get about how to incorporate these tech learning tools onto my Children’s iPad, where I spend obscene amounts in monthly charges to accommodate them. I have seen personal progression with my children using the tech tools with intention and purpose which has created my view.

All for the chance at a Dream

It’s tough to write on a part of your life you’ve tried to avoid thinking about for as long as possible. The question may arise: Why weren’t you more proactive in figuring out your status? or Others who have recently got here have figured it out…why cant you? or my personal favorite which infuriates me Why didn’t you come here legally? A simple answer for the first and third question alludes to a kind of existential dread. The answer to the second is more complicated so I’ll save that for last.

Questions 1&3: Skewed Dread

Why weren’t you more proactive in figuring out your status?
So the answer for this needs a little bit of context. In 2011 during his first term, President Obama proposed the DREAM act as a pathway to citizenship for certain unauthorized immigrants. It was not passed by Congress (thanks asshats) and then turned into what is now DACA, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. Now this gives me the ability to A) not be deported B) receive in-state tuition (it does not guarantee the ability to apply for federally funded financial aid) and C) a social security number (Billini 25). To quality for any of this you need to be of good moral character, that means no criminal record (check), enrolled in school, High school or university (check), under 31 and have entered before 16 (check), and lastly, continuously resided and physically present in the U.S. since June 15, 2012 (check). So after hopping through those hoops and ladders you’re in. Congrats, yay, bring out the champagne, wooooo lets party…in Limbo. There’s nothing after this, that’s where it stops. Since it’s not a legal status I can’t apply for benefits such as: financial aid, food stamps, welfare or unemployment. I can’t own a gun (not that I want one), I can’t vote in any elections, can’t leave the country, and lastly no path to citizenship. Why am I not more proactive in gaining legal status? What can I do? I can’t vote for politicians who claim to have my back. I’m legally stuck, waiting for a miracle to land on my lap, waiting for others to grow a moral conscience.

Why didn’t you come here legally?
A question with the simplest of answers. I had no choice. I was a child of 6 thrust into a world divided by imaginary lines drawn by powers I could not comprehend. I can’t even go back to “my own country” because my visa would be revoked for 10 years. I would be stuck in a foreign country, with family I don’t know, with a language that’s slipping away from me. I once spoke to my mother about this. Why would they revoke my visa? I personally had nothing to do with this, you brought us as children. She told me “legally it was your responsibility to return when you turned 18 and apply for a visa that allowed you to emigrate to the US”. (quick side note on the bigotry thrown around these days about unskilled illegal immigrants, both my parents have Law degrees. Imagine trying to get away with anything in my house )
Well why didn’t your parents come here legally? We came on a tourist visa so technically we did come here legally. we just decided to overstay our welcome.

Question 2:Fear

Others who have recently got here have figured it out…why cant you?
Here is the big question that I actually have a semblance of control over. There are several ways to bypass my legal status that require a little bit of ~crime~ (and money). Who hasn’t heard about a Green card marriage? You marry a lawful citizen and within 6-8 months BAM green card and within 5 years BAM naturalization. However, if its found out you lied to do this, you get deported and the other party is charged federal crime along with several other fines, and even jail time. Since this is a capitalist nation you could invest half a million into a business and various other ways. Here’s an article stating all the legal way to become a citizen. Now, here’s where my upbringing comes in. As I mentioned in a side note above, my parents are lawyers so they like to do everything by the book, and legally. They raised me and my sister to follow suit, not cutting corners, following the law, and being a good moral citizen. This, alongside the consequences of breaking said laws, instilled in me a fear of being caught red handed. It can be seen in the poem I wrote on my last post, about the fear of standing out, of bringing attention to my self and my status and the safety of donning my chameleon’s cloak. (great title name for a poem).

Regarding Lit Review

Now that my informative spiel is over, I can speak on my research. It’s tough to research this topic since most of the results relate to Law and commentary on the injustices and lack of progress for me and the 800,000 others like me. That being said, it is a big part of my current identity. It might even be a GIANT chunk of my thesis, but honestly I see it as the upper most layer of me. It speaks nothing of my lyrical prowess, my wants or needs out of this life. I have this image in my head of a planet, let’s call it planet Erik. The situation of my status are the storm clouds in the Troposphere that can break at any second. Something completely out of my control. Continuing on this analogy, there’s still layers upon layers of earth that hold secrets waiting to be rediscovered.

Works Cited

Billini, Alicia. Dreamers: Stories of DACA Recipients in Higher Education during the 2018-2021 Political Climate, Western Michigan University, United States — Michigan, 2021.