Culture Shock: Moving Accounts of Teaching and Learning

Screen Shot 2014-02-26 at 2.48.16 PM“You must be in culture shock, right?” Miss Hass’s teaching intern meant well. My steely look somehow convinced her to go on: “I mean coming to this place must be so different.”  She knew I had just arrived from upstate New York the month before to sit in the first class of my senior year at San Bernadino High School. Picture Ally Sheedy in The Breakfast Club anticipating Winona Ryder in Beetlejuice— that was me. Grim. Disengaged. Pissed at the world.

When our rust-belt poverty resulted in a second eviction notice in 4 years, Mom read this as an invitation to southern California’s sun-belt opportunity. So we packed what we could into a UHAUL (sleeping accommodations on the roof), and we drove the 2673 miles from Corning, New York to 29 Palms, California. My brother, a Marine stationed there, put us up until we could get on our feet. Mom found us a home in San Bernardino a few months later, and I began my senior year of high school, the only white-looking, punk girl in my English class. These superfacial differences aside, I was checked out of school, felt under-challenged, and dropped out for a month or so before eventually going back to finish.

I began to resolve my culture shock after two years of working at the Jack in the Box on Baseline and Waterman. I enrolled full time in California State University, San Bernadino, an open enrollment university, and worked my way through, mostly in fast food and retail for 25-30 hours a week.

When I did get into classes, my writing was awful: fragmented thinking led to equally fragmented writing. Ideas dolloped on the page like layers of a bean dip. With similes about that bad. But I loved reading, and words helped me make sense of my experience. So I began paying attention to the writers who were turning phrases in ways that made sense to me. I went through more writing styles than Madonna identities. Eventually, during my junior and senior years when classes got smaller, a few encouraging professors listened to what I was trying to say and I began to improve.

Over the years, that idea of culture shock has begun to make more sense to me as a teacher and learner. It has influenced my faculty development workshops and teaching philosophy.

More importantly, culture shock as a theory, can help us make sense of the struggles that come with loss and migration. It can help us put words to the foreignness of coming to a new country, region, or college. It can help us tell the stories behind the steely looks. Professor Cheryl Caesar developed a site that does just this. Students writing for this site voice their struggles when coming to a place like Michigan State University, help each other find resources, and share their stories. Visit: caitlah.cal.msu.edu/divein for more stories.

Visit Ellen’s website for the full post: “Culture Shock

Social Media Afterlife

Source: themarysue.com
Source: themarysue.com

As the age of technology grows older, more of us face the question: what do we do with a person’s social media accounts when they’ve passed away? Many families and friends choose to continue to post pictures and memories on the person’s wall in order to help keep their memory alive. However, Facebook has made it possible for people to request to memorialize an account so it is impossible to login. As a form of closure, the person’s Facebook wall becomes a sort of memorial, collecting all the thoughts of friends and family. Although it’s a bit morbid and slightly haunting, DeadSocial allows one to create a message or a series of messages through various social media sites that will only become published after they’ve passed away. The site states that its purpose is to allow people “to say goodbye in their own time and their own unique way.” Although this may be jarring in the wake of mourning, it’s also quite startling when a dead friend or family member starts liking pages on Facebook. However, this is just a sad reminder of how little control we have over our social network data. Companies will continue to use our information to make money even after we die. To learn more about social media in the Afterlife, check out Readwrite’s article here.

Traveling Through Digital Spaces: Digital Rhetoric

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DR123WRA 415 Digital Rhetoric is a course offered to students in the Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures (WRAC) department, which allows students to dip into different styles of digital spaces. This course is designed to help students gain knowledge that is essential to the study and practice of digital rhetoric. I had the opportunity to take Digital Rhetoric with Professor Liza Potts in Fall 2013. In the four months I was in this class I learned how to use three new Adobe programs, Photoshop, Dreamweaver, and InDesign. I also had the opportunity to experience online programs, such as Camtasia, Joomag, and easel.ly.

I wasn’t the only one who got the opportunity to improve my digital skills. This course allowed my peers and I to explore different spaces on the Internet and analyze how individuals communicate and build audience through these spaces. In analyzing these spaces, we were able to create projects and present them in different ways, with the common goal of delivering our findings through the digital world.

Liza encouraged us to step outside the Microsoft PowerPoint presentation, and to choose from other delivery options that best fit our projects. She wants her students to “explore different tools and different delivery modes. These projects are their opportunity to learn new tools, practice skills, and explore issues of audience and persuasion.”

WRA 415 Student Projects?

Carly Mangus, a senior in Professional Writing with an emphasis in editing and publishing, used Weebly to delivered her final reflection paper, which was “Defining Digital Rhetoric”. Weebly is a web-building tool designed to offer step-by-step web development instruction to help anyone establish a website. Carly chose to deliver her project in the form of a website because she felt that it made the most sense, if she is discussing digital rhetoric it makes complete sense to apply the concept of digital rhetoric visually.

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11 Elements Every Blog Post Needs

Source: Copyblogger.com
Source: Copyblogger.com

The allure of my headline is the fact that it declares there are things every blog post needs and the fact that you don’t know them motivates you to read further. To survive and thrive in the blogosphere, bloggers must hone their skills and commit to their craft. Their voice needs to be persuasive, their language seductive. Blog posts need to provide something for the reader – a laugh, a tip, a piece of anecdotal advice. If they’re not beneficial, they won’t be read.

Every post needs to leave their readers wanting more, obsessively checking for the next entry. And don’t underestimate the power in the simplicity of a bulleted list. The easier it is for readers to digest, the more likely it will be consumed. Check out the incredibly cool infographic in its entirety by Copyblogger here.