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Preparing Early For Final Exams

by | Posted April 22nd, 2014

Within the next few weeks final exams will arrive at your door. You may be thinking it’s a little too early to talk about final exams. Trust, it’s never too early to start preparing. We tend to forget that preparation means planning ahead, and instead we procrastinate. Social Media 101 offers 10 study tips for final exams. Read through these tips and plan the next few weeks accordingly, and avoid stress. It’s important to keep your energy levels high and your stress low. In order to achieve this use your available study time more efficiently by organizing a calendar. Go grab your calendar, start planning, start studying, and be ready to welcome your final exam when it knocks.

When You’ve Run Out of Ideas

by | Posted April 21st, 2014

We all know that feeling of writer’s block. It sets in right around the 14th page of a required 15-page paper. Just when you’ve gotten to a great point in your short story or when that cursor is blinking on a completely blank screen. Writer’s block always sets in at the most inopportune time and can sometimes linger to the point where you’re not even sure you’ll have any more ideas. I have written for many different outlets ranging from business social media to creative writing, and sometimes I just feel like I won’t ever think of that next great tweet or short story.

What’s a writer to do? I’ve hit this wall plenty of times and sometimes it has led me to give up on a project completely. I don’t want that to happen to you, so over the years I’ve developed some ways to keep myself from getting completely off track, and I thought I would share them.


Source: The Collaborative Writer

Brainstorm. Write down anything and everything that comes to mind, you never know when a great idea will hit. Sometimes I will have the craziest dream that I know could be turned into a great short story, or I’m driving the hour-long ride home and I’ll think of an idea for something to blog about. I always have to have a pen and paper nearby so that I can write down anything and everything that comes to mind. Especially with dreams, they’re always vibrantly painted on the back of my eyelids when I wake up, but as the day goes on the details become fuzzier and fuzzier. So, I find it’s best to write everything down in as much detail as I can right when I wake up. (more…)

Dive In: A Culture Shock Resource

by | Posted April 17th, 2014

Culture is an iceberg. Most of what we immediately think of is just what’s above the waterline – food, music, holidays. But so much of the cultural norms are hidden below the surface, and it can be overwhelming to try and navigate all the hidden expectations when you’re thrown into foreign waters. To ease the experience, CAITLAH (Center for Applied Inclusive Teaching and Learning in the Arts and Humanities) created Dive In with the help of WRAC faculty member Cheryl Caesar.

Dive In is a forum where students can talk about their experiences with culture shock in the MSU community. This website gives students an outlet to discuss the differences in culture and to express their struggles in acclimating to MSU’s culture.

dive in website screenshot

Over the years, Caesar has asked her first-year writing students to expand their audience beyond their classmates, to write beyond their culture bubble. For First-Year Writing classes at MSU, this is a ubiquitous goal. However, Caesar wanted more for her students. “ I got tired of asking them to imagine they were writing for a particular audience — why not do it for real?”

In 2012, Caesar submitted an idea to the FYW Program for a new pilot curriculum based on culture shock. Part of the curriculum included a written personal narrative about students’ experience with culture shock. The necessity for the Dive In website came later, “I began receiving so much wonderful, thoughtful and creative material that I could not just keep it to our classroom,” Caesar explained. She began dreaming up a website that encompassed campus and beyond, stock full of information on various cultures as well as local and campus resources.

The project quickly gained traction and soon other MSU staff and students jumped on board. “A senior in Teacher Education, Caren Kadri, is interested in taking it on as a research project. Also, two groups of students from Kate Fedewa’s WRA 150 are doing research in order to contribute profiles and FAQ. One group, headed by Alex Heavin, will be presenting this research at UURAF (University Undergraduate Research and Arts Forum) in April,” said Caesar.

The heart of the website though, is student stories. One such story comes from Q:
“Living in a different culture is like a double edged sword. Not only people can learn another culture, but they also can feel culture shock as I had. I still have a language problem, but I am better in English now than I was before. And I have learned about American behavior such as eye contact and have become used to it; so I can respond to people while they are talking, even sometimes other people avoid my eye contact while I’m talking. Moreover, I have found many entertainments with friends in the US besides my playing style in Korea, so I can spend and hang out with others more time. Fears can make your situation worse. Do you want to make new friends? Have a little courage.”

Currently, Dive In has been a great tool for students in FYW; however, Caesar would like the site to be more widely known and used by students, campus organizations, and professors. “I would like to see it known to all new students [. . .] And I would like students to take it over as their own forum, with a chat room and whatever else they might envision,” she said. Caesar is hoping to extend the reach of the project by one day getting the website to become part of orientation or become a freshman seminar.

You can get involved by writing about your own experiences, offering comments or suggestions, or sharing resources on culture shock (such as events, articles, and FAQs). Caesar can be contacted at caesarc@msu.edu.

PW Senior Alyssa Onder accepted to Denver Publishing Institute

by | Posted April 14th, 2014


We are pleased to announce that Alyssa Onder, Professional Writing senior, has been accepted to the Denver Publishing Institute. While Jon Ritz brought the program to her attention as a sophomore, she only remembered the program recently while looking into her plans for after graduation. As a certification program, Onders decided the Denver Publishing Institute seemed to be a better fit for her than grad school. Associate Professor Stuart Blythe only has good things to say about the program, “The Publishing Institute is a terrific first step for students interested in book publishing. Many students actually walk away from the Institute with a job offer.” In regards to Onder’s acceptance, he explains, “Alyssa was in a section of my WRA 202 that I taught a couple years ago. Based on the good work she did then, I’m not surprised that she was accepted.”

While this four-week long program focuses mainly on book publishing, they make every day count. Lectures and workshops cover everything from book design and packaging to proofreading and copyediting to media marketing and a bit of multimedia publishing. In response to her acceptance, Onder explains what she’s looking forward to most, “I’m hoping to learn more about where the publishing industry is headed. Because DPI focuses largely on book publishing as opposed to magazine or e-publishing, I’m interested to learn about how the industry is keeping print alive and how I might be part of that.”

In addition to in-depth workshops on editing and marketing in the publishing business, the Institute also offers one-on-one sessions with DPI graduates and prominent figures in publishing. “I’m excited for the networking! There are so many experienced publishers, agents, and editors from the ‘The Big Six’ visiting DPI to work with students. I’m eager to meet them and learn about their experience with the industry.” Of course, ‘The Big Six’ Onder is referring to are the most distinguished publishing companies across the world: Simon and Schuster, HarperCollins, Random House, Macmillan, The Penguin Group, and Hachette. From these prestigious companies, there will be two representatives from HarperCollins and one representative from Penguin, Macmillan, and Random House at the Institute, respectively.

Upon graduating the program, she will receive a Publishing Certificate. Since Onder is in the Editing and Publishing track of Professional Writing, this program gives her a perfect opportunity to not only explore the publishing industry and what it has to offer, but to network inside the business and launch her career in publishing.

Random Challenge: Describe One Thing In Ten Ways

by | Posted April 12th, 2014

Terribleminds shares a writing exercise that can improve your writing, which is to take one thing and describe it ten different ways. Try it out. Pick a thing.

Here are the rules:

  • Focus on it and describe it multiple ways. Ten, as noted.
  • Each no more than a sentence of description.
  • (Feel free to choose a real world thing. Say, a lamp in your corner, or the flu you had last week.)
  • Differ your approaches in how you describe this thing.
  • Try pinballing from abstraction to factual — from metaphorical to forthright.

Here’s what I came up with:

After sitting in the car for ten hours, I was tired of traveling. My butt was worn-out from French kissing the seat. My neck was stiff like a pole. Like a baby with a wet diaper I was. Like an old and dusty bookshelf I felt. Frustrated and ready to stretch my legs. Connected like a group of organic compounds, waiting for H2O to break the bond.

Now you try!

The goal here is just to flex our descriptive muscles a bit.

Best of Twitter 2013

by | Posted April 11th, 2014

Twitter Glossary


I could start this by stating that Twitter is an incredible micro-blogging site that has revolutionized social networks and connected the world in a global conversation like never before – but I’d be stating the obvious. The truth is, Twitter is one weird place. Sure, it’s just one of the more popular corners of the Internet to hang out, but, not doubt, it inspires some odd behavior. Round up all the humans with internet access, give them 140 characters to state their opinions and the ability to read and respond to almost anybody else’s opinion, and we’ve got ourselves a straight up verbal rampage on our hands. Should be fun.

Let’s look back on the most popular Twitter trends of 2013. There are the more well known entities that you couldn’t escape if you tried such as Horse ebooks or Doge. (So done, much annoying.) And then there are the obscure such as Twitter canoes or subtweeting (The overuse of mentions and the blatant disregard of them so people don’t know they’re being talked about.). Some of these may not have reached you in your corner of the Twitter-verse because – let’s face it – Twitter is huge and some conversations don’t quite circulate far enough. One thing’s for sure: there’s no end to these trends. As long as Twitter lives, grows, and changes, so will its users and the rhetoric they use. Check out NYMag’s 2013 Twitter Glossary for more trends.

Hack, a new programming language by Facebook

by | Posted April 10th, 2014



Last Thursday, Facebook revealed its latest achievement, Hack, a new programming language. When Facebook was created ten years ago, it was coded entirely in PHP. However, as Facebook became bigger, the language became harder to manage and developers were more susceptible to making mistakes. The manager of Facebook’s Hack team, Bryan O’Sullivan, helped eliminate those errors by creating Hack. The website has moved almost all of its code over to Hack in the last year. The company released an open-source version of the language for the public last week.

As an open-source programming language, Hack was designed to allow developers to write bug-free code fast. By keeping some elements of PHP and combining the structure of other programming languages, Hack was born. In order to debug code more efficiently, instead of checking while the program is running, which is what PHP does, Hack will check for errors ahead of time, which is called static typing. The language itself is most similar to PHP; O’Sullivan encourages programmers that want to use Hack to only convert the parts of their code that are the most important, as it is not necessary to redo everything. This blending of both static and dynamic typing forms a method called “gradual typing” which has been shown to provide swift feedback and incredible accuracy.

Read more about this new language at ReadWrite.