All posts by Stephanie Jones

Writing Research Studies: A Look Back



When I started this course I knew that it was going to be challenging. I was prepared for this course to be much harder than the Writing Theories class that I took in the fall. This course was just as challenging as I expected but the challenges were manageable. If I don't remember anything else in this course I will remember how to research with a specific purpose. I read a lot of articles this semester about writing theories and practices the research part of this course led by my own interests and questions. This is where I did the most meaningful work. The work that got me thinking about what is going to happen at the end.

I had no idea what I wanted my thesis to be in January. Truthfully, I still don't know what for sure but the work I've done over the course of this class has lead me in the right direction that will guide me towards my end goal in this course of my learning. I didn't have any expectations for this semester other than the fact that I knew that I would be doing some challenging work. Last semester was an introduction into my graduate studies. This semester the ball really started rolling. It was reassuring to know that I had a pretty good understanding of different philosophies, theorists and their research. I felt really secure in my work and what I was learning. The work load was something that I could understand and use in my profession.

The most challenging weeks for me were when I had a sudden family emergency that took me away from school work for a while and Katherine's week. She presented texts on participatory learning and she had loads of data research in her articles that was a challenge for me to decipher. At that point I wondered if I was missing something? Should I really be here? Do I even belong here. Nothing was making sense to me and everything looked foreign. It took me a long time to read through the work and glean the important parts that I needed to discuss in my blog. This really was a challenge for me. But when I was done I learned so much from this experience. I learned about myself as a scholar. I learned what my limitations are and I was able to push through.

For as much as I have learned I also learned that there is so much more that I need to learn about researching Writing Studies. I thought this field was new but it has been around for quite sometime and the people that are known for doing the work in is this field is on a very short list. And from what it seems like, all of their ideas intersect in some form or another. Our discussions were always so rich and informative it gave me a new perceptive on the articles we read weekly. I would learn what I didn't know or understand from the articles through our discussions.

I want to say I became a better writer in this course. But I doubt it. I think I am still an okay writer. The area that I did experience growth in is my research abilities. I didn't realize how much I research things as a teacher. I am always doing research in some form or another when I am preparing for my lessons. But doing research to write a thesis argument that I am going to present for academic purposes challenged me. It taught me how to research and think about research in a different way. And I learned so much about myself and how I should spend my time doing my research and research doesn't mean you read something in its entirety. You can't there's no time. It was the learning how to look through texts with purpose and intentionality. I welcome all that I have to learn and I am appreciative the knowledge that I've gained from this course.

Dr. Zamora you will be missed and I don't know what I am going to do with out you on the rest of my journey. Thank you for inspiring me to go beyond, push harder and think deeper.


Class Blog: 

Discussion Lead Paper:

Research Proposal:




Writing Research Studies: A Look Back



When I started this course I knew that it was going to be challenging. I was prepared for this course to be much harder than the Writing Theories class that I took in the fall. This course was just as challenging as I expected but the challenges were manageable. If I don't remember anything else in this course I will remember how to research with a specific purpose. I read a lot of articles this semester about writing theories and practices the research part of this course led by my own interests and questions. This is where I did the most meaningful work. The work that got me thinking about what is going to happen at the end.

I had no idea what I wanted my thesis to be in January. Truthfully, I still don't know what for sure but the work I've done over the course of this class has lead me in the right direction that will guide me towards my end goal in this course of my learning. I didn't have any expectations for this semester other than the fact that I knew that I would be doing some challenging work. Last semester was an introduction into my graduate studies. This semester the ball really started rolling. It was reassuring to know that I had a pretty good understanding of different philosophies, theorists and their research. I felt really secure in my work and what I was learning. The work load was something that I could understand and use in my profession.

The most challenging weeks for me were when I had a sudden family emergency that took me away from school work for a while and Katherine's week. She presented texts on participatory learning and she had loads of data research in her articles that was a challenge for me to decipher. At that point I wondered if I was missing something? Should I really be here? Do I even belong here. Nothing was making sense to me and everything looked foreign. It took me a long time to read through the work and glean the important parts that I needed to discuss in my blog. This really was a challenge for me. But when I was done I learned so much from this experience. I learned about myself as a scholar. I learned what my limitations are and I was able to push through.

For as much as I have learned I also learned that there is so much more that I need to learn about researching Writing Studies. I thought this field was new but it has been around for quite sometime and the people that are known for doing the work in is this field is on a very short list. And from what it seems like, all of their ideas intersect in some form or another. Our discussions were always so rich and informative it gave me a new perceptive on the articles we read weekly. I would learn what I didn't know or understand from the articles through our discussions.

I want to say I became a better writer in this course. But I doubt it. I think I am still an okay writer. The area that I did experience growth in is my research abilities. I didn't realize how much I research things as a teacher. I am always doing research in some form or another when I am preparing for my lessons. But doing research to write a thesis argument that I am going to present for academic purposes challenged me. It taught me how to research and think about research in a different way. And I learned so much about myself and how I should spend my time doing my research and research doesn't mean you read something in its entirety. You can't there's no time. It was the learning how to look through texts with purpose and intentionality. I welcome all that I have to learn and I am appreciative the knowledge that I've gained from this course.

Dr. Zamora you will be missed and I don't know what I am going to do with out you on the rest of my journey. Thank you for inspiring me to go beyond, push harder and think deeper.


Class Blog: 

Discussion Lead Paper:

Research Proposal:




Humanity in a Digital World


It is no secret that we live in a digital world. This digital world we live in is a massive. It has become a part of our reality that we exist in every day. The articles we read this week What is Digital Humanities and What's it Doing in English Departments? by Matthew G. Kirschenbaum and The Literary, the Humanities, the Digital: Toward a Research Agenda for Digital Literary Studies gave a very interesting perspective into this particular area of study. 

All semester I had heard Dr. Zamora mention this term Digital Humanities but I really didn't understand what it meant. So I was very pleased to have the opportunity to learn more about it through these works. Initially, my first takeaway from the Kirschenbaum article was this visual image of humans in the digital world. 

 
via GIPHY

As a middle school english teacher it never dawned on me that digital humanities was not welcomed in an English classroom. I welcome the opportunities to bring my class into the world. But I can see how some areas of academia would be hesitant to accept this. Even though Digital Humanities was shaping up to the be next big thing. There were about five points laid out as reasons why there is resistance to this movement. There is no denying that , "...the digital humanities is about a scholarship and a pedagogy that are collaborative and spend on networks of people and that live in an active life online." (Kirschenbaum 60) We no longer live life and/or learn in isolation. We are connected learners. I lived this first hand in my Networked Narratives class. One of my professors was not physically in the class yet we have had active meaningful and academic discussion via online networks such as Twitter, Hypothesis, Blogs etc. 

 Kirschenbaum ended is article by asking this question, "Isn't that something you want in your English department?"I found myself answering with an unequivocal yes.

Humanity in a Digital World


It is no secret that we live in a digital world. This digital world we live in is a massive. It has become a part of our reality that we exist in every day. The articles we read this week What is Digital Humanities and What's it Doing in English Departments? by Matthew G. Kirschenbaum and The Literary, the Humanities, the Digital: Toward a Research Agenda for Digital Literary Studies gave a very interesting perspective into this particular area of study. 

All semester I had heard Dr. Zamora mention this term Digital Humanities but I really didn't understand what it meant. So I was very pleased to have the opportunity to learn more about it through these works. Initially, my first takeaway from the Kirschenbaum article was this visual image of humans in the digital world. 

 
via GIPHY

As a middle school english teacher it never dawned on me that digital humanities was not welcomed in an English classroom. I welcome the opportunities to bring my class into the world. But I can see how some areas of academia would be hesitant to accept this. Even though Digital Humanities was shaping up to the be next big thing. There were about five points laid out as reasons why there is resistance to this movement. There is no denying that , "...the digital humanities is about a scholarship and a pedagogy that are collaborative and spend on networks of people and that live in an active life online." (Kirschenbaum 60) We no longer live life and/or learn in isolation. We are connected learners. I lived this first hand in my Networked Narratives class. One of my professors was not physically in the class yet we have had active meaningful and academic discussion via online networks such as Twitter, Hypothesis, Blogs etc. 

 Kirschenbaum ended is article by asking this question, "Isn't that something you want in your English department?"I found myself answering with an unequivocal yes.

Letting Your Creative Juices Flow


After seeing the titles of this week's reading selections I was excited to read them in preparation for Hope's presentation. We are smack dab in the middle of writing our proposals and this is extremely rigorous work. It was a welcome break to think with the other side of my brain for a moment.

The Lit Review is every bit as challenging as Dr. Zamora told us it would be. I think it is because while we are considering the works that will help us with our thesis we have so many angles and lens to look through. And it is truly hard not to give every text a close read from start to finish. Knowing and understanding what you need and why this bit of information is useful and necessary to you is the   tough. It requires some serious analyzing every step of the way. I must admit that I really do appreciate the process and I am learning so much, as cliche as it may sound from doing this work.
via GIPHY



This first excerpt I read was from the book titled, On Writing Well by William Zinsser.  Zinsser pointed out some specific writing moves to help writers and journalists write about people. We read Chapter 12 Writing About People with the purpose of interviewing skills and techniques. Many of the strategies he talked about made sense to me as a reader. I love reading non-fiction books about celebrities and politicians and usually those books are penned by someone else. Yet, you can still hear the voice of  the person telling the story.

The journalist that interviewed former First Lady Jackie Kennedy was able to capture this in a novel I recently completed titled Conversations on the Life of John F. Kennedy. Interviews of Jackie Kennedy were recorded and written in this book. While reading this book I felt as Jackie Kennedy was telling me the story. At no point while reading did the "writer step in" and make the experience seem "secondhand." I was there in those moments right with the First Lady.

Zinsser writes, "[The persons] words will always be better than your words" (p100). This is so true and hard to do as a writer. Writers that are able to capture this have better interviews and pieces written on their particular subject. As a reader of these types of works, I appreciate those writers that are able to do this well. Looking at this from the lens of a writer I know that there takes a lot of skill and preparation to this correctly. You have to do your research as Zinsser points out. "Never go into an interview without doing whatever homework you can...You will be resented if you insure about facts that could have been learned in advance" (105). So often I hear this done in interviews and it makes me cringe. I want to read about something that I don't know and I can't simply Google it. This is kind of hard in today's world but still possible.

It was helpful to learn that you as the writer still hold the power to tell the story. You have to weave the words of your subject together and bring the most informative and/or interesting product to the masses. Reader's need or "deserve" a "tight package." I can appreciate this as a reader and I understand the difficulty of it as a writer. But Zinsser does offer some points one of which I thoughts was the most helpful was when he said, "Don't become a prisoner of your quotes-- so lulled by how wonderful they sound that you don't stop to analyze them. Never let anything go out into the world that you don't understand" (111). I felt that this showed me that even when you are writing non-fiction you are still telling a story. You still have to make smart moves and choices as writer for the final product or message you are constructing.

Right now I am reading Barack Obama's book Dreams From My Father. Former President Obama wrote this so it is a narrative. The second article we read this week was titled, Writing a Narrative by WW Norton. All of the rules they laid out and structures they set for writing a good narrative can be found in this book. You can hear his voice spoken through each word on the page. The point of view is consistent, and he sets the tone right from the start as to why he is writing this story. With that purpose he takes on a ride and journey where he explores himself and his father through the eyes of the people that knew him. As I read this I thought about this book the entire time. Given Former President Obama's Ivy League education he uses more words and anecdotes to tell his story but premise is still the same. If I were ever going to write a narrative I would use this novel as one of my mentor texts.


Letting Your Creative Juices Flow


After seeing the titles of this week's reading selections I was excited to read them in preparation for Hope's presentation. We are smack dab in the middle of writing our proposals and this is extremely rigorous work. It was a welcome break to think with the other side of my brain for a moment.

The Lit Review is every bit as challenging as Dr. Zamora told us it would be. I think it is because while we are considering the works that will help us with our thesis we have so many angles and lens to look through. And it is truly hard not to give every text a close read from start to finish. Knowing and understanding what you need and why this bit of information is useful and necessary to you is the   tough. It requires some serious analyzing every step of the way. I must admit that I really do appreciate the process and I am learning so much, as cliche as it may sound from doing this work.
via GIPHY



This first excerpt I read was from the book titled, On Writing Well by William Zinsser.  Zinsser pointed out some specific writing moves to help writers and journalists write about people. We read Chapter 12 Writing About People with the purpose of interviewing skills and techniques. Many of the strategies he talked about made sense to me as a reader. I love reading non-fiction books about celebrities and politicians and usually those books are penned by someone else. Yet, you can still hear the voice of  the person telling the story.

The journalist that interviewed former First Lady Jackie Kennedy was able to capture this in a novel I recently completed titled Conversations on the Life of John F. Kennedy. Interviews of Jackie Kennedy were recorded and written in this book. While reading this book I felt as Jackie Kennedy was telling me the story. At no point while reading did the "writer step in" and make the experience seem "secondhand." I was there in those moments right with the First Lady.

Zinsser writes, "[The persons] words will always be better than your words" (p100). This is so true and hard to do as a writer. Writers that are able to capture this have better interviews and pieces written on their particular subject. As a reader of these types of works, I appreciate those writers that are able to do this well. Looking at this from the lens of a writer I know that there takes a lot of skill and preparation to this correctly. You have to do your research as Zinsser points out. "Never go into an interview without doing whatever homework you can...You will be resented if you insure about facts that could have been learned in advance" (105). So often I hear this done in interviews and it makes me cringe. I want to read about something that I don't know and I can't simply Google it. This is kind of hard in today's world but still possible.

It was helpful to learn that you as the writer still hold the power to tell the story. You have to weave the words of your subject together and bring the most informative and/or interesting product to the masses. Reader's need or "deserve" a "tight package." I can appreciate this as a reader and I understand the difficulty of it as a writer. But Zinsser does offer some points one of which I thoughts was the most helpful was when he said, "Don't become a prisoner of your quotes-- so lulled by how wonderful they sound that you don't stop to analyze them. Never let anything go out into the world that you don't understand" (111). I felt that this showed me that even when you are writing non-fiction you are still telling a story. You still have to make smart moves and choices as writer for the final product or message you are constructing.

Right now I am reading Barack Obama's book Dreams From My Father. Former President Obama wrote this so it is a narrative. The second article we read this week was titled, Writing a Narrative by WW Norton. All of the rules they laid out and structures they set for writing a good narrative can be found in this book. You can hear his voice spoken through each word on the page. The point of view is consistent, and he sets the tone right from the start as to why he is writing this story. With that purpose he takes on a ride and journey where he explores himself and his father through the eyes of the people that knew him. As I read this I thought about this book the entire time. Given Former President Obama's Ivy League education he uses more words and anecdotes to tell his story but premise is still the same. If I were ever going to write a narrative I would use this novel as one of my mentor texts.


Exploring the Possibilities of Writing Through Social Learning

The social climate in our country is the equivalent to a pot of stew that is on the verge of boiling over. I would go as far as to argue that the climate is more like a bomb waiting to explode. Students on any grade level of the academic spectrum are over exposed this environment. You can’t turn on the TV without hearing about the happenings of our newest President and the cast of characters starring in his presidency. This coupled with a country that has never been more racially divided in recent years. It is hard to be oblivious to the talks of terrorists, building walls, dropping bombs, women’s rights, public education and other hot button issues. So my question to this as an educator is how do we use this information or the world around us to teach? You can’t ignore it. Teachers can’t close off their classrooms from the world around them. We can thank the internet for that. So since we can’t shut it out, how do we bring it in?
Those probing questions led me to the selection of my two readings for this week. The first selection is the chapter 8 from The Activist Learner by Jeffory D. Wilhelm, Whitney Douglass, & Sara W. Fry. This reading really outlines and explains the meaning of terms like “service learning.” This is an idea that I was not formally introduced to until I got to college. I was in primary and secondary school during the late 80’s up until the late 90’s and this concept was never introduced to me as a student. Then when I went to college and started to study to become an educator the professors would mention it in passing but never in great detail. Partly because they knew change was on the horizon. Getting even a glimpse of the idea that this type of teaching and learning was possible piqued my interest and sparked my passion to be an educator.
The other article that were read is  Chapter 13 from Writing For Change: Boosting Literacy and Learning Through Social Action by Jennie Flemming and Ian Boultan. In this they discuss how “Social Action is a community of development theory based on the simple premise that change is possible” (87). As an educator you have believe this if you’re going to impact change. This belief can be translated to curriculums that you can create to teach your students. I wonder about the logistical details of how these lessons can be tailored to K-5. Being this innovative can be a huge undertaking for a teacher. “...all people have the skills, experience and understanding that they can draw on to tackle the problems they face. Social Action workers understand that people are experts in their own lives, and we use this as a starting point…”(88). When the people are children how do we as educators give them the tools that empower them to take the reigns and follow their drive and passion.
I believe in this type of learning. I think that educators should look for every opportunity to put the learning in the hands of the students. They have more to say than we give them credit for. We are all living in this society together each bringing different experiences and perspectives. Educators need to step back from the notion that they are the end all be all experts of what they’re teaching. I believe that this thinking is what is keeping more people from embracing service learning  and that is a shame.

Exploring the Possibilities of Writing Through Social Learning

The social climate in our country is the equivalent to a pot of stew that is on the verge of boiling over. I would go as far as to argue that the climate is more like a bomb waiting to explode. Students on any grade level of the academic spectrum are over exposed this environment. You can’t turn on the TV without hearing about the happenings of our newest President and the cast of characters starring in his presidency. This coupled with a country that has never been more racially divided in recent years. It is hard to be oblivious to the talks of terrorists, building walls, dropping bombs, women’s rights, public education and other hot button issues. So my question to this as an educator is how do we use this information or the world around us to teach? You can’t ignore it. Teachers can’t close off their classrooms from the world around them. We can thank the internet for that. So since we can’t shut it out, how do we bring it in?
Those probing questions led me to the selection of my two readings for this week. The first selection is the chapter 8 from The Activist Learner by Jeffory D. Wilhelm, Whitney Douglass, & Sara W. Fry. This reading really outlines and explains the meaning of terms like “service learning.” This is an idea that I was not formally introduced to until I got to college. I was in primary and secondary school during the late 80’s up until the late 90’s and this concept was never introduced to me as a student. Then when I went to college and started to study to become an educator the professors would mention it in passing but never in great detail. Partly because they knew change was on the horizon. Getting even a glimpse of the idea that this type of teaching and learning was possible piqued my interest and sparked my passion to be an educator.
The other article that were read is  Chapter 13 from Writing For Change: Boosting Literacy and Learning Through Social Action by Jennie Flemming and Ian Boultan. In this they discuss how “Social Action is a community of development theory based on the simple premise that change is possible” (87). As an educator you have believe this if you’re going to impact change. This belief can be translated to curriculums that you can create to teach your students. I wonder about the logistical details of how these lessons can be tailored to K-5. Being this innovative can be a huge undertaking for a teacher. “...all people have the skills, experience and understanding that they can draw on to tackle the problems they face. Social Action workers understand that people are experts in their own lives, and we use this as a starting point…”(88). When the people are children how do we as educators give them the tools that empower them to take the reigns and follow their drive and passion.
I believe in this type of learning. I think that educators should look for every opportunity to put the learning in the hands of the students. They have more to say than we give them credit for. We are all living in this society together each bringing different experiences and perspectives. Educators need to step back from the notion that they are the end all be all experts of what they’re teaching. I believe that this thinking is what is keeping more people from embracing service learning  and that is a shame.

Adolescent Fiction




This week Mary Kate selected the reading. Our reading were the following; Developing Students’ Critical Literacy: Exploring Identify Construction in Young Adult Fiction by Thomas W. Bean and Karen Moni Online Fan Fiction, Global Identities, and Imagination by Rebecca Black. 


In the first reading, Developing Students' Critical Literacry:Exploring Identity  Construction in  Young Adult Fiction, the following stood out to me:  

"First, identity is no longer anchored to stable employment, communities, or institutions. Rather, identity is constructed through the properties of individual action car- ried out—more often than not for urban teens— in nonplaces like malls, train stations, and airports. Identity is now a matter of self- construction amidst unstable times, mores, and global consumerism. "(642) The idea that identity is self-constructed based on outside global influences isn't anything that is so different or radical. The reason I paused at this thought was because of social climate we're in. There is constant talk of identity and transgender identity, racial identity with people in the headlines like Rachel Dolezal. It got me to thinking about the younger generation that inhabits this world and how they fit in this identity spectrum How will they define themselves within this generation? 

As an middle school ELA teacher I find the books that speak to my students are the ones that are like the the novel examined in the article. "Critical literacy takes the reader beyond the bounds of reader response. As we are interested in missues of contemporary teen identity construction in young adult novels, critical literacy offers a useful framework for our exploration of the novel Fighting Ruben Wolfe (Zusak, 2000)."  I have never identified it as critical literary intact, this is a term that is new to me. But upon the reading I understand and can no identify the novels that I teach fall under this category. Novels like Outsiders, The Giver, The Hunger Games , Bad Boy all fall under this framework. And for the most part teens can readily identify with these stories. They understand the plight of the characters even if they are from a different background there is a familiarity there that they instantly make a connection with.

In the second article by Rebecca Black she speaks about online fan fiction. This is a term that I have very recently become familiar with because of the work I have been able to do in my Network Narratives class. For those of you that don't know Rebecca Black defines fan fiction as, "a unique form of writing in which fans base their stories on the characters and plotlines of existing media and popular culture. When creating fan ction, fans extend storylines, create new narrative threads, develop romantic relationships between characters, and focus on the lives of undeveloped characters from various media."  I wish this would've been in existence when I was an adolescence.  I would've been all over this. I really love that this is a genre that writing forum is being talked about and counted as significant in this digital age. That is very important because any forum that gets young adults to work int he creation stage of Blooms Taxonomy is well worth taking a second look. 



Adolescent Fiction




This week Mary Kate selected the reading. Our reading were the following; Developing Students’ Critical Literacy: Exploring Identify Construction in Young Adult Fiction by Thomas W. Bean and Karen Moni Online Fan Fiction, Global Identities, and Imagination by Rebecca Black. 


In the first reading, Developing Students' Critical Literacry:Exploring Identity  Construction in  Young Adult Fiction, the following stood out to me:  

"First, identity is no longer anchored to stable employment, communities, or institutions. Rather, identity is constructed through the properties of individual action car- ried out—more often than not for urban teens— in nonplaces like malls, train stations, and airports. Identity is now a matter of self- construction amidst unstable times, mores, and global consumerism. "(642) The idea that identity is self-constructed based on outside global influences isn't anything that is so different or radical. The reason I paused at this thought was because of social climate we're in. There is constant talk of identity and transgender identity, racial identity with people in the headlines like Rachel Dolezal. It got me to thinking about the younger generation that inhabits this world and how they fit in this identity spectrum How will they define themselves within this generation? 

As an middle school ELA teacher I find the books that speak to my students are the ones that are like the the novel examined in the article. "Critical literacy takes the reader beyond the bounds of reader response. As we are interested in missues of contemporary teen identity construction in young adult novels, critical literacy offers a useful framework for our exploration of the novel Fighting Ruben Wolfe (Zusak, 2000)."  I have never identified it as critical literary intact, this is a term that is new to me. But upon the reading I understand and can no identify the novels that I teach fall under this category. Novels like Outsiders, The Giver, The Hunger Games , Bad Boy all fall under this framework. And for the most part teens can readily identify with these stories. They understand the plight of the characters even if they are from a different background there is a familiarity there that they instantly make a connection with.

In the second article by Rebecca Black she speaks about online fan fiction. This is a term that I have very recently become familiar with because of the work I have been able to do in my Network Narratives class. For those of you that don't know Rebecca Black defines fan fiction as, "a unique form of writing in which fans base their stories on the characters and plotlines of existing media and popular culture. When creating fan ction, fans extend storylines, create new narrative threads, develop romantic relationships between characters, and focus on the lives of undeveloped characters from various media."  I wish this would've been in existence when I was an adolescence.  I would've been all over this. I really love that this is a genre that writing forum is being talked about and counted as significant in this digital age. That is very important because any forum that gets young adults to work int he creation stage of Blooms Taxonomy is well worth taking a second look.