Pack It Up!

As the semester comes to a close, the first thing you think of is “I’m done with finals!!!!!” So exciting right? That finals week is pretty rough on people. So rough that when I go to the Torg Bridge to study in one of many iMac desks, there are none available so I have to do my work in the quiet floor. WHY DO YOU GUYS DO THAT TO ME?

Anyways, I don’t really panic when finals week comes so my first thought is “I don’t want to pack” when break is near. One of the things I hate the most in the world is packing. Most of my friends actually like packing because they say it “adds to the excitement” for the event they are packing for which is in this case, going home. Well I hate it. Why you ask? Because I just hate it. I don’t like the idea of compacting and decreasing the amount of stuff I need in order to travel or for anything else. High maintenance? No. I’m just lazy when it comes to thinking of how to organize how to pack. I think I’m pretty disciplined since I do the stuff I tell myself to do but when it comes to packing, I procrastinate. And I mean procrastinate really really hard.

This case with packing to go home is the worst for me since I’m moving out of my apartment this semester so I have to pack ALL of my stuff. I’ve been doing a little packing here and there but majority still remains to be waiting to be packed away. Saturday is the deadline and hopefully, I can get it finished. Fingers crossed!

Rant aside, ironically, I don’t mind unpacking. Actually I find unpacking therapeutic since I get to put everything in place where they belong. There is a sense of relief and satisfaction I feel. Mind works differently for everybody I guess. I probably won’t unpack all of my stuff since I’ll be moving into College of William and Mary so until then, I shall be antsy seeing all my stuff in boxes and bags in the corner of the living room. Darn!

 

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I Love the English Department!

Virginia Tech. It may be biased coming from a student, but it is a great school. To add, it has a great English department where I feel just at home every time I visit the building.

As a sophomore now, I have a general idea of how teachers are going to teach from the first couple of days. In my freshmen year, I had to take a lot of first year classes with various social science classes, which were not really what I had in mind when I applied to be an English major in Virginia Tech. Although I knew all schools have these requirements, I felt kind of betrayed and cheated when they threw different social science classes at me when I stepped into campus. I wanted to take English classes dang it!

I eventually just bit my tongue and sucked it up. I signed up for different classes to fulfill the requirements and had mixture of English, math, geosciences, and horticulture. Personally, my schedule looked odd and confusing but it was something I had to do. Now that I look back, I’ve come to appreciate all my English teachers. It seemed to me that a lot of the science or math related classes were dull and the teachers were not as uplifting and personal with the students. Understandably, there were certain classes that had over 300 people and it’s hard to become personal to each of them but I think it would’ve been better for the professor to be spirited at least. Some science professors I had just read through the PowerPoint slides and it resulted in just banal and boring lectures. It’s hard for students to be engaged and be interested in topics they “have” to take when the professors are not encouraging them to be.

However, all of my English professors (and yes I do mean ALL of them) were so passionate and enthusiastic about the subject they were teaching. Once I took a American Literature with a professor as a required course for English majors and I was dreading it the first week. However, the professor was so animated and spunky that he made the topic of discussion more interesting than it really was. He’s a sneak one isn’t he? Hahaha. But it worked. I prefer to observe the class rather than speaking but he subconsciously urged me to speak about my views and opinions on the stories and guess what? I had great discussions. I think it has changed me permanently and from then on, I noticed that I speak out and express my views more in lectures. This experience is basically the same for every English professor I’ve had so far. They push me to learn about the things I’m not particularly interested in and I think that’s a great characteristic to have as a professor in a big college where students just pass through the day with classes they “have” to take. I just want to tell the English department that YOU ARE THE BEST.
I’m not saying that all science or math classes have horrible boring professors but it’s particularly hard to find teachers that really grasp the student’s interest and attention. I’ve had few geography classes that had great interactive professors  who taught me so much about the Earth and they truly did make an impact on my life. So I want to give them a shout out too.
So on that note, keep moving students. There are professors who really care about you!

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That Workout Though…

I don’t look like it but I workout a lot. With a small frame, many people think I’m naturally thin and that typical “skinny girl.” Although I do get my slim figure due to genetics from my parents, I think it’s unfair that it’s okay for people to criticize “skinny” people but it’s a taboo for individuals to call people fat.

I think I’ve been through a lot of experience as an individual when it comes to people’s rude comments and critiques. And truly, I think people make those “shut up you’re skinny” remarks because of their own insecurities and jealousies and personally, that’s not the “skinny” person’s problem but rather the opposition’s. Why is it okay for people to tell slim individuals to go to McDonald’s and eat a Big Mac but it’s not okay for people to tell fat people that they need to get on the treadmill and run 3 miles? The double standard is not fair and I see the flaw in that system and how the society is working around it.

There are variety of sizes when it comes to humans and that’s shown in my group of people I know in Virginia Tech. I’m often scared to share my own criticisms on my body because I know I’ll receive those stereotypical remarks like “shut up. You’re so skinny though.” Although I am that “skinny” girl, I see some needed improvements every time I look at the mirror. It’s not like I’m trying to weight but rather build muscle. Even though I’ve been doing high intensity interval training for a while now, I attempt to achieve more and more. I wished that people would understand my opinions and stop shutting me down because of their own self-image problems and insecurities.

I watch the Biggest Loser everyday just to become inspired by individuals who have reached the lowest low with their obesity and push their limits to become a healthier and fit individuals. There should be more people like the contestants on the Biggest Loser, where people take action to take care of themselves and reach their goals rather than taking their frustration out on others.
Although I complain about the problem, I know it won’t go away overnight. I just wished that people were more considerate when it comes to sensitive topic such as weight and self-image and not just towards obesity but also people who are slim as well.

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The End…

I cannot believe my 5th semester of college is already over… that means I’m officially over halfway done with college…what a scary thought. I’m no where near ready for the real world! Writing and Digital Media has absolutely been my favorite English class I have taken so far. And that is saying something even though I hate english (no offense, I just never learned how to write well). The thing that made this class so special was the interactiveness as well as the variety of it. Each class was different and no class was simply a lecture. Each time we met was either a presentation, group work, peer review, discussion, or some other way to get everyone engaged. It made the material much more entertaining and relevant. I also enjoyed the freedom to explore topics we were interested in in a method that we were intrigued by. Thank you for a wonderful semester Dr. Warnick!

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Merry Christmas!

CAN I JUST SAY HOW MUCH I LOVE THE CHRISTMAS SEASON!!!

Minus the cold of course. I hate that part. But the Christmas music (the Christmas Pandora station is on point if anyone was wondering) egg nogg, the stockings all hung by the chimney with care, the fresh sent of the Christmas tree, it really is the most wonderful time of the year! Except for the cold.

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Project 4

Project 4 was quite a ride. I had  a much harder time creating the video and ended up needing a lot more time than I allowed myself to complete it to my standards. I do like that the final project was so open ended. I think with everything that we had learn and experimented with throughout the semester, this was a good way to put those principles into action in a way that we would enjoy and get the most out of. However, time management is clearly something I need to work on.

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iPad

Honestly the only thing I used my iPad for was to play Candy Crush Saga. I’m on level 377 no big deal. But I do miss having the iPad. Whenever I ran out of lives on my iPhone or laptop I could just go on it and have full lives! I’m not sure why they didn’t transfer. It was a cool experience to have the iPad for a semester however I would say if anything it inhibited my productiveness in this class because there were too many fun things to do on it.

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What I’ve learned about my learning

I guess I’ve known this for a while now, but final grades always seem to solidify my findings. I’m not a super fan of grades.

First off, just a mini rant: “minus” grades should not exist. They do not help anyone’s grade. In face, they actually subtract GPA points. How is that an accurate measure of anyone’s learning? (If you’re wondering if I received a “minus” grade as a final, yes, I did.)

Now don’t get me wrong- I’ve been on the Dean’s list since freshman year. I like school. I’m not failing anything. I just don’t like how learning is quantified.

My problem is with multiple-choice tests. I’ve never liked them. In this article by a Canadian teacher Joe Bower, his number 5  of “why multiple choice tests suck” is on my list as well.

5. Multiple choice kills the desire to learn. It might not sound like a big deal, but every time my students take a test, they are less likely to enjoy what they learn.

From my experience, any time I knew that the tests were to be in multiple choice format, I would just shut down. Why bother? I didn’t need to actually know the material- I just needed to make the best educated guess out of the 4 or 5 possible answer choices. Then who cared if I didn’t remember it after that? It was the final percentage that got me to the next level, anyway.

Like Joe points out, I am one of those students who is less likely to enjoy what I learn if I’m to be tested via multiple-choice questions. That to me takes out all the fun of learning because the objective is to make the grade, not get some useful information out of the lesson.

Even though they may seem harder, I’ve been a fan of short-answer and essay questions. Knowing that these types of questions will appear on assignments or tests has always motivated me to actually learn. I’ve had to do research, and I’ve found topics of interest to me that maybe I wouldn’t have if I just had to find answers from one chapter in one specific textbook.

Going along with this, I’ve also more enjoyed final papers or projects, as opposed to exams. I’m much more apt to procrastinate studying for an exam because all I care about is taking it and being done. If it’s a final paper though, I’m forced to do research and spend time on it. And chances are, I’ll probably actually learn something new. Tests are just regurgitating stale content.

Another factor I should probably address is that I’m a liberal arts major. My math and science friends I’m sure would completely disagree with me on the issue of standardized tests vs papers, and that’s totally fine. Our disciplines are very different. I would go as far to say, though, that at the upper-level of learning for even my science friends, they may prefer to do an actual project to showcase what they’ve learned, as opposed to just a percentage earned from a scan-tron test.

Because what, really, do grades prove? If you’re a “good student” and “study,” you can make good grades on your test. But did you really learn the material? Do you even care? Is the goal knowledge, or the number?

My numbers are good, but oftentimes I feel the learning process behind them could be so much better. With all that being said, these are my personal conclusions:

1. Large lecture classes with multiple choice exams= no motivation to study or learn. It’s an obligation to be there and a requirement to earn a decent number. Kudos if you do actually take away some good information from the course.

2. Papers= Actual errors- not just standardized ones- are what count against you. I can see what I’ve done wrong and learn to not do it the next time. This feedback is useful to me.

3. Open-ended questions= I either know my stuff or I don’t. No hiding behind an educated guess.

4. At the end of the semester, no matter how much I loved or hated a class, I usually find some good in it, something to take away. Even if I did get a B- because of a multiple choice test.

 

The Traditional English Class

While  proper essay writing and a good understanding of the English language are still important when it comes being successful as a writer, editor, web developer, or whatever other careers an English major might be interested in, the internet and social media have opened up new, more successful pathways for English students.  While reading Shakespeare is entertaining and teaches the reader how to develop plot twists and interesting characters, does Romeo & Juliet teach a student anything when it comes to getting a job?

As an English major, of course I enjoy Shakespeare and other traditional English courses like American Literature and Milton.  However, as an English major focusing in professional writing, I find that courses that discuss HTML and web development are much more helpful than courses on literature.  As a senior, I am taking more and more classes that are specific to my major.  In other words, four of my five classes that semester all focus on some sort of web writing, from HTML to online collaboration apps to Adobe InDesign and Photoshop. While, all these classes are helpful, I simply get tired and sick of staring at a computer screen all day when the first couple years of my college education focused on textbooks and notes.

The only class I have this semester that is not computer-based is Shakespeare. And, boy, is it refreshing. While there may not be as many takeaways than my professional writing courses, I find myself appreciating Shakespeare more because it is different from all of the other things I am learning this semester.

New English courses are arising and are indeed more useful than Shakespeare and other literature courses when finding a job, but traditional English courses still have a place in education.

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