Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Teching or Teaching

When Dr Burton asked who wanted to post about Ebooks in education I jumped at the chance. I have mixed feelings about electronic format books. In fact, earlier this month I posted about the incredible book block that left me awe-struck. I was so inspired by this exhibit because there is something about physical books that stirs emotion, whether that emotion be for the book itself, how they came to own that book, a significant event that happened while they were reading it, holding it or looking at it. That same emotion isn’t present when the book is read and archived on an iPad, Nook, Ebook or Kindle.

However, I am torn. As I was researching the use of Ebooks in education I came across a site that directs you to over 90 online libraries that offer over a thousand free books! Free! This means that with the use of just one computer or other electronic reading format, each classroom could have their very own library for free. This opens up a whole new world to under-funded public schools all over the world. There is now technology available to give first graders access to the classic fairy tales and high school students a copy of Julius Caesar. I cannot deny that this is amazing.

I did a quick search on ERIC, and found that Stuart Smith, a published author, wrote a paper that I strongly agree with. His claim is that without proper use of technology in education, it will be a disadvantage to the student rather than an advantage. Substituting a computer program for a traditional lesson is not educating. There is no stopping technology, and as I previously explained, there shouldn’t be, because with it students can have access to hundreds of books, but teachers must be properly trained on how to use technology in education. Technology must be used to assist the teacher and enhance the lesson, not be the lesson. There will never be a single class of students that when given a high-tech lesson will all consume it. Each student is an individual who has a learning style unique to themselves, and just because technology can enhance education, does not mean that always will. Therefore, teachers must be doubly aware of students and how they are reacting to technology in classrooms.

Friday, May 27, 2011



Ebook formats-Bri
The guides for creating ebooks-Nyssa
Lit Content-Aly
Where do you find ebooks-Sam
How are ebooks consumed-
Communities that discuss ebooks-alshley lewis
What ebooks have been most successful-Derrick
Uses of ebooks in education-me
Technology in Education-Me
Electronic textbooks-Ashley Nelson
Scholarly lit on ebooks-Alex
Conversion to create ebooks-Sam


The other day I posted a few discussions on Goodreads under the Children Literature group. I was surprised that people replied!

This was the original question I posed to the group discussion:
What do you think of this story?
I am focusing my research on relationships between humans, and in comparison to the ones created in this story, they can have either extremely positive effects or very negative effects on children in the public education system.
What are your thoughts on the relationships formed in this story?
Is it worthwhile to research today, or is it simply a story?
What makes it worthwhile?

Within the same day two people commented. I liked their posts, not necessarily for their answers, but mostly for the spark their answers created in me.

Chandra responded saying, "I read this one with my daughter fairly recently and I definitely don't think it's irrelevant at all. The story is still powerfully effective in helping children explore difficult themes (fear, death, loneliness) and developing empathy and understanding for others.
But you say you're focusing on the relationships between humans in this story? Hmmm, that's a tough one since the primary relationships are among the animals - Wilbur, Templeton, Charlotte, the Geese, etc. The only human relationships depicted are those of the Arable family - Fern and her parents and brother and the Zuckerman farm folks and they're very much background characters. Or am I misunderstanding your intent and you're studying all of the relationships in the story and applying/comparing them to real life human relationships?"

Later Cheryl responded to my questions, and I must say I loved the new light she brought to the table. She wrote, "Since the animals are so anthropomorphised, they hardly count as animals. I mean, Wilbur is a boy about Fern's age, Charlotte fills the role of an aunt or a mentor, Templeton is like a crotchety uncle or neighbor.
Of course the animals' life cycles are so accelerated compared to the humans' lives, the animal/human r'ships change over the course of the story. Fern originally cares for Wilbur as if he's an infant, but by the end of the story he's more mature than she is. Yet they both do grow & learn wisdom."

Cheryl's comment about how the animals' life cycles are accelerated made me wrinkle my brow at first. She is right! That is why this story can teach so much in just a few short pages. In fact, the audio version is only 3 hours long, but since the relationships between the characters, whether it be friend or motherly basis, develop and end so quickly, the reader can easily relate, respond and learn from White's "children story".

The LRC and Art in the Classroom

2) I did a search through the Literature Resource Center database to discover any lesson plans that would be useful to my classmate, Amy, with her art direction she is taking with Where the Red Fern Grows.

3) I used the LRC database, which provides access to many web resources on more than 90,000 authors and works of literature.

4) I tired to find specific lesson plans for using art in conjunction with Where the Red Fern Grows, but the results were not exactly what I was looking for. I found several lesson plans that use this novel to encourage the male student to read and make connections with another male protagonist, but nothing specific with art. I broadened my search to simply 'art in the classroom' with little hope of finding anything helpful, but I was pleasantly surprised.

5) "Lesson Plans That Wow!: 12 Standards-Based Lessons for the Classroom and Art Teacher K-12." ForeWord 21 Aug. 2009. Literature Resource Center. Web. 27 May 2011.

I found a book that deals specifically with using art to teach students at multiple grade levels and with multiple art mediums.

7) Amy is focusing her research on the different art forms of this novel, and with this book it explains how students learn visually, and that by integrating art into the lesson plans, many students will be more proactive in the learning process if other avenues of learning (besides the usual literary interpretations) are made available to them.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

My Feminist Side and WorldCat

Tonight I caved into my true feelings of feminism and researched any feminism in Charlotte's Web through WorldCat research data base. I have mixed feelings on this, because I feel like I default to feminist research too often in my academic writing, but I guess I can't deny my inner-feminist tonight!

WorldCat is a database that combines multiple private and public libraries from across the world to provide all means of media (articles, books, sound recordings, data files and visual materials). In the three years of studying at BYU I have never used this particular data base, but I found its contents to prove more useful tonight than my other default data bases such as LION, JSTOR or Ebsco.

Tonight I flitted through LION, Project Muse and LRC, but I couldn't find anything that I was particularly interested in. I took a break and started reading about my fellow classmates research results, and found that some had had success on WorldCat, so I took their advice and gave it a try. I simply searched "Charlotte's Web" as the primary keyword with "feminism" as a secondary keyword. On the 6th result I found an interesting article that combined the story, feminism and education into one article. Can we get any better than that?!

Time to practice MLA! Roberts, Sherron Killingsworth. "The Female Rescuer in Newbery Books: Who Is She?" Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association. San Diego, CA. 13 April 1998. Conference Presentation.

This particular article focused on how Charlotte the spider is a nurturing mother who sacrifices, as mothers do, to save the life of Wilbur. They are not simply friends, but the relationship is more of mother/son based.

I am focusing on how friendship can play a role in the lives of children when they are at the most impressionable age, and this article states that Charlotte's Web is recommended for children ages 8-14, or the most impressionable age, so they can see the influence of gender roles in not only friendships, but also the different levels of friendship.

I Want to Hear From YOU!

I am currently studying EB White's story Charlotte's Web for my English 295 Advanced Writing in the Digital Era course. I was given the chance to pick my own book to study, and I have loved diving deeper into this classic children story. But I want to hear YOUR thoughts:

When was the first time you read the story?
Who/How did you first discover this story?
What are the major themes inside?
What do you think the author wants to teach via this story?
What is your favorite part? Character?
Do you think this story should be taught and read in public schools?

Don't feel like you have to answer all of these questions, but any input would be great. Thanks!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Exploring JSTOR to Find Connections Between E.B. White's Characters

1) Exploring JSTOR to find connections between EB White's characters.

2) My purpose in exploring JSTOR, a research database, is to discover material on Charlotte's Web that sets a foundation for my research about how the relationships developed in the story are similar to interactions found in the public education system.

3) JSTOR is a private research data base that focuses on humanities, social sciences and recently added science titles to its library. These information available focuses on these specific areas, and date back as far as the 19th century!

4) I searched JSTOR's database for all articles dealing with Charlotte's Web. At first I wasn't worried that my search would turn up too many articles, because I didn't believe there would be a surplus of information on E.B. White's story. The search results proved me wrong with 811 results. Of course, not all of the results are useful to me, but I did find a title that caught my eye about what makes Charlotte's Web a good book to begin with. I opened it up, and was pleasantly surprised by usefulness of this article to my research.

5) Neumeyer, Peter. "What Makes a Good Children's Book? The Texture of Charlotte's Web." South Atlantic Bulletin, 44.2 (1979): 66-75. Web.

6) Neumeyer's article explored how White's use of diction and syntax adds a deeper meaning to his writing via the character's names, language and sentence length and structure.

7) This article explained that the character's dispositions were enhanced by the way White crafted his words. This goes into a deeper theory that those possessing wise, creative or negative dispositions may, in reality, act and say exactly what White wrote his characters to do or say.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Goodreads or Badreads?

A few weeks ago Dr Burton asked me to write a post about Goodreads, a social networking site for readers. I smiled and agreed, but deep down inside I was not happy. When he asked how I was liking Goodreads I may have stretched the truth a bit. I said it was alright, and I liked that I have been able to connect with old friends and coworkers through the site. Currently that was the only positive I had to say about Goodreads, so it has taken a while for me to do some research on this site so I could deliver a positive post about the site. Dr Burton probably thought I had just forgotten to do as he had asked, but, also, two weeks later I am delivering his requested post on a site I pretended to like more than I did at the time.

Goodreads is a social networking site and library combined. Here you can keep track of what books you have read by shelving them, rating them and giving reviews; you can also mark what books you are currently reading and, my personal favorite, what books you plan to read. The site recommends books and you can search books, but, according to the creator of the site, you mostly find books you want to read or discuss books with friends that you find either by searching, linking Goodreads to your yahoo, gmail, hotmail, twitter and/or facebook.

At first I didn't like Goodreads. In fact, I started an account over a year ago, but I puttered out and hadn't been active for months. I was a little annoyed when I was asked to reactivate my account for this class because I don't particularly like this site. I felt like I couldn't find anything, there wasn't much on there and I wasn't active enough on the site to actually have it matter. However, since being asked to frequently use this site, I have discovered all that Goodreads can do. There are discussion forums that I frequently search for people discussion either Charlotte's Web or other children stories like it. I have also enjoyed getting back in touch with old friends' bookshelves. I also didn't realize how popular much press Goodreads has received over the years. They have a steady stream of publicity that has spread the word about Goodreads.

I didn't give Goodreads the best shot the first time, but this time around I spent more time becoming familiar with the site and all that has to offer. Anyone that reads and is interested in expanding and organizing their personal libraries should really give Goodreads a test drive. Be patient with the site, explore and use the tools available and you'll learn to like it despite any initial problems you may have with it.

Press Information
What is Goodreads?
How it works

Saturday, May 21, 2011


Dr Burton lectured us on Friday about stepping up the academic quality of our posts, and focusing our research and ideas into a topic of study. It has only been 24 hours since that lecture, and I am already breaking the rules.

This weekend I drove to my sister's house up in Wyoming to meet my newest baby niece, Dafne. As I was sitting on the couch holding her, a commercial interrupted my peaceful moment. The commercial was advertising for a brand of birth control. I am not anti-birth control by any means, but I was a little shocked by this commercial. I feel that it goes against the sacred nature of family. The commercial depicts women 'shopping' for their lives, but they blatantly overlook the husbands and boldly turn down the children. They pick up degrees, extravagant vacations and the perfect houses, all of which are good, but I do not believe family should be turned down in pursuit of other goals and accomplishments.

As I held this week old baby, I was so mad about the negative message that was being broadcast throughout homes all over the nation. I turned to my mother and said how horrible this was, but I want my opinion heard louder that I think this is a terrible message and use of modern technology.

Here is the link to the commercial if you would like to see why I was so upset: Beyaz Birth Control

Thursday, May 19, 2011


Today I experienced Art. First, I bought one of those etch-a-sketch pads that pulls bits of magnet up to the surface with a pen. I bought this for two reasons 1)It is a Tangled etch-a-sketch, so when I am done experiencing art, I can then give it to my 2 year old niece and maintain my title of Favorite Aunt. 2) Garth Williams, the illustrator of Charlotte's Web, created many sketches for E.B. White, so instead of picking up a pen and paper, I picked up an etch-a-sketch to practice on.

Garth Williams illustrated not only Charlotte's Web but also Stuart Little. However, his work was not limited to these two stories. He illustrated for multiple authors, most of which we have all probably read, and did not realize Williams was the common artist for all of the texts.

The original sketches from Charlotte's Web were recently auctioned off last October. Williams kept all of his original sketches in his personal files, and after his death in 1996, the originals were kept safe in a bank vault. For fourteen years they remained locked away, but the cover art and all but two of the 46 interior illustrations were predicted to be auctioned for $30,000 for the cover and $12,000 for each single illustration.

While I read the text, I remembered why elementary school is so great--picture books. Charlotte's Web is littered with colored sketches that bring the text to life. I choose a few of my favorites to share with you:

This picture depicts one of the most entertaining adventures of Wilbur when, while trying to impress Farmer Zuckerman, he enlists the help of Templeton to help him fly.

If you have read my previous post on bottle feeding animals, then you will understand why this picture makes me smile. I think it is the epitome of summers on a farm.

I surprised myself when I saw this illustration and liked it. I've previously said that I do not like spiders, but I took a moment to study this illustration, and an appreciation for the cleverness of spiders developed. Charlotte's web is a simple pinwheel web, yet she was never taught how to weave a web or what method works best. She was born with the instinct, and that is something to appreciate.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Many Forms of Charlotte

As encouraged by Dr Burton, I am experiencing Charlotte's Web in multiple ways. Tonight I am looking into different mediums of the famous children's story. When I got home from class today I had a package from Amazon with the 2006 video version of Charlotte's Web starring Dakota Fanning as Fern. One of the many reasons why I love this class is that for my homework tonight I am not stressing out over math problems or memorizing chemistry formulas; I am watching a movie. As the movie plays I am comparing it to the text and picking out the differences. In the beginning I was picking out line differences. This wasn't in the book, or that was left out of the movie ect ect. But then I began to look past those differences and recognize how they are consumed differently. The movie is hilarious. To some it may not be funny, but to me I find it fascinating at how the producers of this movie personified animals. The sheep stand in groups and follow each other nowhere; the cows stand and observe and make snide comments, and the horse is apart of the barn, yet superior to the other animals. The producers nailed this! The personalities of each animal is exactly what you would expect them to be in real life. The text does this to an extent, but watching the animals talk to each other makes the experience so much more colorful.

As I am curled up on the couch watching this video, I picked up the Kindle my sister gave me and searched for what means Charlotte's Web is available in this format. To my surprise, it isn't available! There is an audio version of the text (read by the author), and there are several books on the author, E.B. White, but the actual text is not available through Kindle. Ha, this proves my point that the hard copy formats books are better than electronic formats!

Mrs. Arable: Do you think animals can really...talk?
Doctor: I don't know. Maybe an animal said something to me and I didn't hear it. Maybe children are better listeners.

Failure Is an Option

Right now Dr Burton is talking about how to experience literature creatively. He gave the example of paper mache sculptures of church presidents. This may or may not have been successful. He encouraged us to experiment and don't worry if it fails! He said, "Failures are not failures if you can contextualize and talk about them." I love this. Maybe because it lets me justify the class I failed last semester. I learned a lot from the class, but I did indeed fail :) So, to my mother, I didn't fail! It's okay, because I can talk about how I failed, and how I learned humility and writing all in the same course.

But I have an experiment in mind to experience Charlotte's Web. In the book Wilbur is given a buttermilk bath. And just to keep you all interested, a video will be posted in the future of this very process. My brother is against it, but he is only 12, preteen and still 1 inch shorter than me, so he will help me whether he wants to or not!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Spiders Are Not Friends....Usually

As I am reading Charlotte's Web I googled some facts on the author, E.B White. I found an intersting segment on the inspiration behind his stories. Charlotte's Web's inspiration made me think differently. White was simply watching a spider weave a web, and he became fascinated at how clever the spider was. From this one moment he then wove a story about friendship and salvation.

This made me stop for a second and think about spiders. Ew. Spiders make me shudder sometimes. I recently moved into a basement apartment that had quite a few tenants already! I have squished, stomped, stabbed and drowned more spiders in the last 3 weeks than I can count! But, after reading White's quote on his inspiration, maybe next time I'll watch the spider at his work for a few minutes before I abrubtly end its life.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Fern and I Would Have Been Great Friends

Yesterday I settled down to read Charlotte's Web, but I barely made it through the beginning pages without feeling all warm and fuzzy inside. I am usually not a warm and fuzzy type of person, but I felt this way for two reasons:

1) "No, I only distribute pigs to early risers. Fern was up at daylight trying to rid the world of injustice" (5).

This quote will bring any Wallentine to roll their eyes. I can't count the number of times I have heard either my own father or any of his brothers quote this line. I used to think my father was a real comedian, but then I learned that most of his funny lines come from Charlotte's Web or The Outlaw Josey Wales. This particular line was said at any moment of good intent on the farm. If I stopped the swather to let a mouse run out of the way, he would laugh, roll his eyes and say I can't rid the world of every injustice. This line is part of my childhood. It rolls through my mind whenever I do or see anyone else take a minute to step over the worms on the sidewalk or swerve to miss (an action rarely done in the Wallentine family, right Laci?) a rodent running across the road.

2) Bottle feeding! When Fern is given the runt pig to care for, she is now required to feed the piglet by bottle. I grew up doing this. I have tried and tested thousands of ways of mixing powder milk without getting clumps or spilling it everywhere. One summer I stole my mother's wire wisk to whip up the milk. She later found out and was not impressed with integrating her cooking utensils into my daily chores. My dad once showed me how he would place the palm of his hand over the top of the bottle and then shake it to mix the powder; he failed to mention that your palm had to be quite a bit bigger than the bottle top or the milk would end up covering your face. Reminiscing on my childhood, I think I can claim that I have bottle fed almost every animal on a farm including, cows, horses, lambs, pigs, chicks (not by bottle of course!), cats and even a dog or two.

I am only a few pages into Charlotte's Web, but already I am excited to delve deeper into consuming this piece of literature through different avenues. Dr Burton wants us to consume our personal novels in a different way than usual, so how I plan to do this in several ways. A couple examples are: first, read it with an avatar. A PETA avatar. This one will be interesting and hard, since PETA and I disagree on some points. Second, is from the point of view of different characters. The jealous younger brother? Templeton? Fern? Third, is via experiments. Living on a farm is great, and reading this book gives me an excuse to go home and play with the pigs! : )

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Amazing Block of Books

A few weeks ago I was sitting at the desk of a coworker waiting for him to fix a piece of equipment so I could install it. As I was waiting, I picked up his newspaper dated April 12 and started skimming the articles. I read the usual articles, the Police Beat, the opinion pieces and an article on Facebook and Zuckerberg, and as I was folding the paper up and trying to be appear patient, an ad caught my eye. I stared at this ad in wonder for a minute before I turned to another coworker, nudged him and said, "Look at this!" He glanced at it, glanced at me, and said, "Cool." Cool? No! Not just cool! This was amazing! It was an advertisement for the Museum of Art and the newest exhibit on the "The Matter of Words". The picture featured was a huge block of books! It was huge! I wanted to clock out and go see it right then, but that would undermine my mother's good efforts at teaching me patience and responsibility. When he finally finished repairing the broken equipment, I asked my coworker if I could take his newspaper. He looked at me with a weird look (he usually does anyways because he thinks my choice of hair color is ridiculous), but nodded and said to recycle it when I was done. I did not recycle it; in fact, I still have this newspaper. It was packed up with me when I moved apartments, and the other day, I got to see the book block, and it was truly amazing.

Last Thursday, my coworker, Justin, and I were out early working on a project, and our first stop: the MOA! I was so excited! I hadn't had a chance to go see this amazing book block yet, but here was my chance. I contained my urge for instant gratification, and helped Justin with the project first. As we were being escorted by a security guard to where we needed to go, I asked her if the block was still here and if so, could we maybe just stop by it. I am sure Justin thought I was a dork, but I didn't care. She was very nice, and said we could definitely stop by it, and she even gave me a few facts about it. I was so excited. When we finally stopped by it, and was breathless. I like art; I wouldn't say I am a die hard art fan, but I appreciate its beauty, but this piece shocked me. As I walked around it, I became more and more mesmerized with it. Unfortunatley, I had to go back to work sooner than I would have liked, but I did do some more research on this block of books.

Adam Bateman, along with two others, completed 46 works of art focusing on books and the written word. Bateman built his masterpiece, "The Fourth Thousand Years," right inside themuseum. However, before construction on this piece of art, the Museum's floors had to bereinforced in anticipation of how much this would weigh. How much does it weigh? 83,000 pounds! That's right, 41 tons of books-that's as much as 30 to 40 cars! 70-80% of these books are LDS books, too. As I walked around it I could see Bibles, Books of Mormon and and other LDS teaching manuals scattered around the walls of this block. There are some 100,000 booksholding this 14 foot sculpture, and there isn't one speck of adhesive in the whole block. It is held together only by gravity. Bateman said concerning the structure of his art,"[It] is only possible through following strict parameters of stacking and using plenty of experimentation and faith."

Why did this amaze me so much? Was it the vastness of the sculpture? The titles all hidden from the eyes? The wavelike flow of the books? The amount of books? Because surely this shouldn't be so incredible since Kindles were marketed, right? Inside a small square that is only 1/3 inch thick and weighs 8.5 ounces there is capacity to hold 3,500 books. This little, black Kindle can buy books, share books, highlight and save favorite passages and can be taken anywhere you want to go. Why doesn't this inspire with the same awe-filled emotion as the Bateman's art exhibit did? In my hand I can hold 3,500 books, which is amazing, but it doesn't inspire me, or make my love of the English language grow.

There are so many forms that books come in now. eBooks, iPads, Kindles, PDFs, Audio books and even remixes such as movies are being consumed by readers all over the world. But, in my opinion, books will never become obsolete. Why? Because of the connection physical books create. Dr Burton asked our class why some people prefer books over Kindles, and my classmate, Ben, answered for me saying that he lost the connection with the book when he read it in a technology format. This is so true. We loose the relationship we form with a book when we do not read it in its intended format of paper and ink. We create theses relationships when we recall memories and the books we had in our hands at the time, or when an epiphany hit us when we were reading it or carrying it or just looking at it! Books become our friends with memories and relationships when they are in their physical formats; something that cannot happen when you archive the book in your Kindle.

A Kindle doesn't create this wonderment, I wonder why?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

***Attention Teachers***

Today's class had me all giddy. Ya'll will probably think I am nerd for it, but today's activity rekindled my excitement for teaching. Last semester I took ENGL 276R; this is the class that is the entrance course into the English Teaching major. Here future teachers are given mass amounts of ideas on how to effectively teach. One teaching activity I remember was the "Chalk Talk" day. Professor Wing wrote a topic on the board ("love"--we were going off of Romeo and Juliet), and then the class was given markers and we wrote our thoughts, comments, ideas and opinions on the topic. We would comment off each others' comments, and have a huge silent discussion all through white boards and dry erase markers. However, we were outdated.

Dr Burton started a Google Doc about the evolution of books, and for a good 30 minutes our class was dead silent as we all had a silent discussion via this Google Doc. We could watch each other type their comments, and using all our ideas, a very large document was the end result on the evolution of books, eBooks, iPads and other electronic reading devices. It dawned on me that this was the future for teaching. Instead of writing on white boards or chalk boards, teachers and students can have "Mac Talk" via Google Docs. I got all excited and started planning lessons I could do this way, and then it hit me that in 2 years when I start teaching, technology will have evolved even further and Google Docs might already be a thing of the past.

But until then, what do you current or future teachers or non-teachers think of this teaching method? Would a less monitored Google Doc discussion be effective in a high school class? Would the kids like it? Or would they get bored with it?

PS I know at least 4 of my followers are teachers or future teachers, so you better leave your opinions! : )

My Mom Will Love This.....

My hair will look like this one day, but it will be more purple. I really do love color.

Added 1 hour after originally posted: I posted this picture to my facebook profile as well, and within minutes a friend commented saying her friend had posted this same picture on her wall a couple days ago. I told her how random that is because I found it on StumbleUpon.com and not off her wall. I am becoming more and more aware of how connected the internet can be!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

My Day in a Song

I wish it was the weekend already. Don't get me wrong, on a regular basis I love my job, but today was one of those days where I should've stayed in bed when the alarm went off!

However, a little advice from Ralph helps to be optimistic--"Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in, forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day, you shall begin it well and serenely...”

Monday, May 9, 2011

Creepy or Connecting?

Today in class Dr. Burton focused on connecting with people. When he first said this I thought to myself, "I already am connected!" In my mind I listed the ways I connect with people through technology, and by the amount of time I spend on Facebook and from the 200$ phone bill I paid last month because I used all my minutes twice, I think I connect enough. However, this class has proved me wrong.

English courses have an advantage over many other courses because as class we interpret and share out thoughts on pieces of literature. It is through these class discussions that we come to know our classmates' personal opinions and feelings whether we want to or not. I have come to know Ben Wagner and Rachel Schiel because they sit on either side of me, so we talk during class, but other than these two, I wouldn't say I have been a social butterfly, but as I looked around at my classmates today, I felt that I knew them-even though I've never spoken to many of them. How is this? Through online connections. I saw Matt Harrison across the room, and I thought, "Oh ya, we both love the movie Fight Club." I know this because he posted it on his blog. Behind him was Derrick Clements who posted one of the funniest articles I've read on Diigo. Really? French kissing over the internet? I thought it was funny, and it showed me a bit of his humor. This probably sounds creepy; in fact, I'm sure it does, because it sounds creepy to me as I read what I've written so far, but the truth still stands: I know the personalities of my classmates via the online connections we've made in this class, yet I've never verbally spoken to many of them!

Facebook and texting are not really connecting (most of the time they are simply ways to procrastinate and run up a phone bill). However, through sites I've joined because of this class I have connected with people on a more than status update foundation or semi-colon and parenthesis smiley face : )

Sunday, May 8, 2011

If It Ain't Broke, Don't Fix It!

Vernor Vinge's SciFi novel, Rainbow's End, is very different from my usual reading selection. In fact, I honestly didn't love it. It was okay, but I am not a SciFi convert by any means. As I was reading, I tried to take Dr. Burton's advice and apply it to my life. This was hard; however, yesterday I found an application!

Yesterday I drove up to Kayesville Utah to help my family with spring branding. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this, spring branding is where we go round up the cattle from their winter pasture and give them vaccinations and a brand. On a normal basis I wouldn't say this process runs as smooth as butter, but yesterday went about as smooth as Jiffy Chunky Peanut Butter. Why? Because of technology! Maybe Tommie Parker isn't so crazy for sticking with his "ancient laptop" in the early chapters of Vinge's SciFi creation.

It all started with the generator. The practice of branding animals can be dated back to the ancient Egyptians. Surprisingly, not much has changed since then. My family uses an electric brand that is powered by a generator that we haul out to the corrals. We had our first calf all stretched out and ready to brand, but the generator would only work as long as somebody continuously sprayed starter fluid in it. As we were all sitting on the fence waiting, I sent a text to my boyfriend saying the brand was broken! He replied with, "You just put it in the fire till it's hot, Carlie, what's the breakdown?" Technology is the breakdown. Fire branding was foolproof. Just put it in the fire, wait till it's hot and stick it on the calf! Since then we have created "easier" ways to brand, but sometimes easier is not always the best route.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Baby Showers and Jelly Beans

Yesterday I went to a baby shower. Guys, there is a reason you are not invited to these gathering, and you should count yourself lucky that you are excluded from the estrogen parties. We play games, oooh and aww over the ruffles and bows, eat and talk. However, one of the games particularly interested me this time. At every shower there is a guessing game played where the hostess takes a baby bottle and fills it with some sort of candy, and then the guests are asked to guess the correct number of candies inside; this shower had a sippy cup filled with jelly beans to guess at. We all put in our guesses and waited to see who had won the sippy cup. My mother actually won with a guess of 72--only 11 beans off of the correct number of 83--and won a bottle of bubble bath.

On a less girly topic, James Surowiecki's book The Wisdom of Crowds is all about this exact game women have been playing for years! Women are always a step ahead. ; ) Surowiecki argues that if a crowd is asked a question, then their answers are averaged, the averaged answer will be closer to the correct answer than any of the individual answers. I decided to put this theory to the test, so I gathered all the ladies' guesses and pocketed them. Today I added up their guesses, divided by the number of guests and voila! The averaged answer was 74--only 9 beans off from the correct answer. Next time I am invited to a baby shower (hint, hint sisters!) I now have a fool proof way of cheating a win out of the Guessing Game thanks to James Surowiecki.


I'm reminded of the quote from Princess Bride about how "marwige is what bwings us together" when I think of family. My family is not as dysfunctional as some, but we have our quirks. Tonight they are all on my mind, and this is my blog, so blog about them I will.

I have three older sisters (all married) and one younger, very spoiled little brother. I do not say spoiled lightly either; he is the only boy, so he is The Boy. I was the baby of the family for 8 glorious years, and then he came along. I remember the day my mom told me she was pregnant. I cried for hours. I ignored him for the first couple years. Sure, he was fun to play with, but he definitely took my spotlight right out from under me! I have since overcome my jealousy issues with sharing the baby spot on top of the totem pole since I am obviously still the favorite. :)

My sisters are more important to me than they probably realize. I have a different relationship with each one, and they aren't always peaceful ones. Natalie is the oldest. She has been married for 10 years and has 3 beautiful kids. She is 10 years older than me, so we connect in different ways. She is a giver; she'll give you the shirt off your back if she thinks you need it more. For example, she recently bought me a Kindle. The blasphemy! I am anti-kindle. She said I need to get over it, and since I would never buy one for myself she stepped in on my behalf. The reason she bought me this gift: because I was on her mind. That's how she is. She may not always be on time for the party, but she always brings the most thoughtful gift. Holly is the next in line. She is 8 years older than me, and has been married for 5 years with one miracle baby girl and another on the way! Soon! Like maybe tonight! Braxton hicks are so blasted annoying! Holly is the rock; she is an amazing role model for all of the family. Her focus on the church is something to admire. For example, he daughter is two and half, yet she knows exactly what to do during a prayer. She folds her tiny arms and squeezes her eyes so tight it is comical. A part from being comical, however, it is reassuring to know that if all else fails, I'll know someone will have my back up in Heaven! Dayna is only 2 years older than me. This was both bad and good. The bad, I listened to all the boys in my middle school tell me how hot my sister was. The good, I went to school with my sister. Ya, my middle school crushes were always crushing on my sister, but I also (I would never actually admit this to her) loved being in school with her. It was sad when she graduated, and I had to finish the last two years of high school without her. She is now married to her high school sweetheart, and we still have a somewhat nerdy friendship. I swear, nothing brings out the nerd in me like she does! Then I came along, and why have more kids when you already scored the perfect child?! Wrong. Eight years after I was born came Theron. He is a studly little sixth grader this year, and is turning down daily offers from girls to "go out." I remember this age; where we were going I don't know, but everybody was "going out" in middle school. He is growing up so fast I can't believe it. I just wish I could shrink him back down and keep him from the harsh reality of growing up. Sadly, I can't, but he is a good boy. Despite is sassy preteen attitude he is rocking to the max lately...

My parents, Todd and Conra, really are the best. My dad is "broad at the shoulders and narrow at the hip", or so he likes to think. A boy from my high school years commented one day that he would never come to the house because he was scared of my dad. Thanks, dad. My mom is a sweet heart. I've never heard anyone say a negative word about her. She supports me no matter what color I dye my hair, what I say or do or how many speeding tickets I may or may not have racked up.

My extended family is amazing (I know this post is getting ridiculously long, but when I think of family I cannot leave them out)! I have grandmas that love each and every one of their families, and that's saying a lot since both of them have huge families! My aunts and uncles are not the old, crabby kind that pinch your cheeks and leave nasty kiss marks on your face. No, mine are the kind that will drop everything to help their niece who ran out of gas on her way to school or drive miles and miles to be with her if she's scared of a hospital. No, mine are the kind that put family first and foremost.

I've watched my family pull together in times of need, but lately I've felt them come together for me, and I can't tell them enough how much it means to me. I love them all. All of them are crazy for sure, but what would life be if not for famdamily.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Blogging During Class

Professor Burton is currently reading his own blog post about students being engaged in their own learning. As I listen to his opinion, I find that this is what is wrong with me. I'll be honest, this class takes me out of my comfort zone. I have very brave family members who actively write with the intention of letting others read their work; I am the opposite. When I came to class last week I was expecting this class to be like every other English course I have taken while at BYU. I read a book, I write a paper on it, I hand it in to the professor, he reads it, grades it and I take the paper back and put in the my huge collection of school work I have been saving since 6th grade. Yesterday was the Add/Drop deadline for spring semester. I am in this class whether I like it or not, so I better start engaging in Professor Burton's class.

Today he started off with a lecture on engaged learning. He explains that there are more important aspects of a class than the resulting grade. Sometimes my GPA would disagree, but for the moment I will agree with him. If the grade is the end goal, then the journey to the end will be boring. It will entail completing a list of assignments that will join the ranks alongside my 7th grade Algebra homework (because those will come in useful someday). Even though I need a grade for this class in order to help my GPA, I am making a goal to care more about daily, engaged learning than my end grade.

What this means:
  • Breaking old habits in order to create new ones.
My old habits have already been explained to a point. I write for me and the professor. So much that even such things as a Facebook status requires edits and revisions before I'll post it, and if there is any grammar errors after it is posted I become deeply embarrassed of my writing. As a result of this class I will not hide my writing (even if I wanted to I couldn't as the whole class is designed to be public). I am not the best writer, but I'll bite the bullet and publicize what I love to do.
  • Connect my learning
As the next 7 weeks pass by I will make an active effort to see the connections between Vernor Vinge's Rainbow's End, James Surowiecki's The Wisdom of Crowds and basically everything else! What use is reading these books if they are not applied to life outside of the classroom? Even though I am not a Sci/Fi reader, I will read Rainbow's End, and find something good to apply to life.

Professor Burton concluded his lecture on students being engaged in their learning and not the grade by saying, "They could so much more if only engaged." I feel like I hear this all the time at BYU; however, the word engaged is used in reference to BYU's #1 goal of "Get Married!" and not so much mental engagement. Being engaged in your learning is important. We pay a large sum of money for our education, and unless we take Professor Burton's advice and apply and engage ourselves, all the money and time is wasted.