The Art of Science

Poetry is brought to life through a myriad of ways: spoken word, dance, performance, etc., but has recently been unexpectedly mixed with robotics. While it might not sound like these two subjects would go hand in hand, educator Sue Mellon has found it to be a rewarding combination.


Image via Mind/Shift

The dioramas are the student-made visual representations of the poetry. Due to the help of the robotics, lights will flash and colors change when a student says a certain word in the poem (for example, saying “water” triggers a blue color in the diorama to deepen). Working on a physical project based on poems helps the students connect with, and understand more deeply, the poetry they are studying.

To me, it also says that perhaps these categories aren’t as separate as they seem. Often, we mark a separation between things like “science and math” vs. “the arts.” What is so intriguing about robotic poetry, then, is that it’s not only innovatively teaching students how to connect with words, but it also shows us that we shouldn’t make such a distinction between the “categories,” since there is inherently art in science, and science in art.

Read the full article from Mind/Shift here

Teaching with Twitter

Image of phone displaying a Twitter feed. Twitter is famous for sharing information in only 140 characters. Beyond sharing thoughts, general life updates, and news dissemination—a few of the typical ways Twitter is used—is the idea of using this site as an educator to stay connected with students and parents. Mind/Shift details 28 different ways we can teach through tweets.

One of these is to use Twitter to encourage student discussion to continue beyond the classroom. By connecting the students on one platform, and with things like hashtags to keep organized, they can ask questions, share ideas, and continue their group learning beyond the allotted class time. Another of the 28 ways is that it allows announcements to happen in “real time”; the cancellation of class, an update on a project, etc., can all be shared immediately to a social media platform many students are already regularly checking (potentially unlike their email inboxes).

It can also help students create professional online networks. For those who are already tuned into Twitter, it can be used to help teach them how to politely connect with those in their desired job field. For students who aren’t as familiar with the site, it teaches them how to effectively communicate, all while helping build their personal brand.

Personally, I have often seen professors syllabi stating when students send emails, it should have a clear and detailed subject lines, and if the message itself is more than five sentences, the students should come into office hours instead. This is another issue than can potentially be sidestepped by educators using Twitter; students would need to be concise as they only have 140 characters, and teachers wouldn’t need to spend as much time sorting through piles of emails. What are other ways Twitter can be used to expand education? Let us know on Twitter! – @msuwrac

Malea Powell Interviewed for MSU Today

Malea Powell was recently interviewed on MSU Today as part of their Faculty Conversations. Malea, who has worked at Michigan State for over ten years, spoke passionately about her work and the students she’s had the opportunity to teach.

As former Director of the Rhetoric and Writing graduate program, Malea is especially enthusiastic about higher education. “I like working with Ph.D. students because I like the idea that I’m producing my colleagues. Those will be the folks I’ll eventually be in my discipline with and that’s very exciting.”

Her specific interest in the discipline focuses on “American Indian material rhetorics and the degree to which these ‘everyday’ arts are related to written rhetorical traditions…I’m really interested in the connections between material makings—like basket weaving—and textual makings, like writing.”

To learn more about her research, her contributions to the Conference on College Composition and Communication, and her work here at MSU, read the full MSU Today article here, and enjoy her interview below.

From Brain Pickings: “Ode to the Book” by Pablo Neruda, Exquisitely Read by Tom O’Bedlam

Front Cover of "The Poetry of Pablo Neruda"

Searching for a little inspiration in your day? Brain Pickings is always a good place to look, but there is one article in particular that is well worth your attention. It features a poem by Pablo Neruda, a Chilean poet, titled “Ode to the Book.” Translated into English, it speaks of life, books, perils, mythology, and travel in such a beautiful and mystifying way that it makes your fingers itch to pick up a pen and start writing your own stanzas. And as if that wasn’t enough on its own, you can also listen to the poem being read by the deep, gravelly voice of Tom O’Bedlam, who has narrated many classic works. Enjoy!

Re-Imagining Our Work

One project usually tackled by students in first-year writing courses is a “Remix” project, in which they take a paper they have previously written in the semester, and make a multimedia project that delivers the same message as their paper. Lessons learned from this assignment include how to communicate through different mediums—from words to images, videos, or songs—as well as how to look at their work from different perspectives, through different lenses.

It has the tendency to turn things on their heads a bit, which is good because it gives us the chance to examine how and why we view things the way we do, and the effect that has on our opinions and decisions. For example, here are a few examples of what modern songs would look like as retro vinyl:

Retro vinyl cover of Lady Gag's "Poker Face"














Retro vinyl cover of Interpol with Obstacle 1

How does this remixing change our perceptions?

Trello, a Free Digital “To Do” List and Project Planner

If you’re anything like us, you have many different things going on in life that you need to keep track of. As students, faculty, and active members of the community, it seems like there’s always something lined up on that “To Do” list. One crafty and helpful way to stay organized is through the free website, Trello.

Categorized into cards on boards—which, essentially, are simply lists—you can easily move tasks and items around, depending on when you need them done and what list you prefer. What sets this apart from just being a digital notebook is the fact that you can share boards with other people, making it an invaluable tool when working in a team or group situation. For example, if you’re organizing a fundraiser, you can create separate boards for keeping track of entertainment, food, and location. Within those boards, you can form lists on the cards, and then assign team members to certain tasks by adding their name and icon to that card. For a more detailed explanation, check out the video below.

Here on the WRAC Communications Team we use Trello to track web content and projects. We’re able to communicate about these projects with one another in a centralized location, while also sharing necessary documents. Whether it’s organizing events, coordinating team projects, or even keeping track of your own daily lists of things to be done, Trello has proved itself to be an excellent free resource to help you stay on top of things.

Songza: Free Music For When You’re Working

Last fall, I discovered a website called Songza, which advertises itself as audiences listening to “music curated by music experts.” Organized by playlists and genres, you can select whatever type of music you’re in the mood for based upon a few different factors.

For example, Songza allows you to select what time of day it is, and then what style of music you’re currently searching for—“Brand New Music,” “Enjoying the Morning,” or “Working (no lyrics),” to help pinpoint the best station  for you at that specific moment in time. After that, it’s as easy as selecting the genre you feel like listening to, and then the site will start streaming your jams.

Alternatively, one of my favorite features is that you can also search for stations or playlists you’ve enjoyed before. One of my regulars is “Downtempo Instrumentals,” because it provides a nice blend of music that blocks out other noise as I work on campus or in a coffee shop. Similar to Spotify or Pandora, you can give a thumbs up or thumbs down to songs as they play, improving the station you’ve selected.

While you won’t find the Billboard’s Top 40 Hits on this site, it’s a great resource to use when you want some music to accompany your work, cooking, travel, or other activities. Happy listening!

More Free Website Templates

Series of website template images

Image viw

If WordPress doesn’t have what you’re looking for, never fear. WIX is another platform offering you free templates to build your website. You can choose from different categories based on the type of website you’re looking to create, such as one for business, fashion, photography, or design and art.

After choosing a template, it is incredibly easy to personalize your site. This free tool is designed to help you make a website in an easy manner, and does so by allowing you to make changes to your site by double clicking on text, or with helpful popup boxes that guide you in altering tags or images. We didn’t want to offer any resource that we weren’t sure of, so we created a basic web page to test how simple it really was to build it. As it turns out, ten minutes later we had a functional page that was easy to edit and customize. Feel free to check it out, especially if you’re looking to create a site yourself!