Category Archives: Class

Professor Aimee Taylor and her Classes Explore Ball State's History

This semester, #bsuenglish Professor Aimee Taylor developed and organized an alternative final project for her ENG 104 class that focuses on archival research of Ball State’s history. With it, she hopes to immerse her students in scholarly research and unravel ageless inspiration. She will also be attending a conference this May where she plans to shed light on this exemplary work she is witnessing from her first-year students.

Ball State University will soon be preview-full-keepin_it_100.jpgcelebrating its 100th anniversary, but one English class is already getting a head start. They are looking into the archives from 1917, the year the university’s land was purchased, to now. The professor behind this project is Aimee Taylor, who the English Department hired this past fall. She has experience with archival research at her alma mater, Bowling Green State University, and decided to apply this technique to her ENG 104: Composing Research course. For the course’s final project, students must compile research in their selected time period and connect their findings to the central question: “How has Ball State changed?”

Many of her students were intrigued by this twist on a typical research assignment. Out of her four sections, she was met with some adversity that led to necessary accommodation for her students’ passions. While she has provided an alternative assignment in those cases, she is enthused by the fifty or so students who did choose to move forward with the history project. Professor Taylor broke up each of her four sections into one of the 25 year spans since 1917, and has already watched her students flourish within these time periods.

Professor Taylor allowed her students to first explore the Digital Media Repository, or the digitized archives, before she required them to dive into more complex research. The archives include texts, catalogs, daily news, student publications, and donated photographs and videos. Yet a lot of her students aren’t looking at institutional content, such as how Ball State spent money or how populations changed; they are looking at how Ball State has changed in ways that they can relate to. Students have been able to relate many of their finds to their majors, extracurricular activities, and personal backgrounds.

In one of the research project’s preliminary assignments, one of her students made a connection within her position at Ball State’s student-run radio station, WCRD. This student looked into the radio station’s archives and was able to use that information to advance her involvement in the project. She was able to unite her passion for the radio station and the class project and gain insight into an area for which she has a tremendous passion.

These are the experiences that Professor Taylor has sought to initiate. She motivates her students to experiment with different types of content collection while immersing them in new environments because she values these skills. Projects like these are what revise attitudes toward scholarly research and rejuvenate students to learn. It is through archival research she has certainly found a unique way to connect students to their university, history, and each other.

English 444 Blank Book Sale: December 3rd and 5th

Sustainability is an important goal of immersive learning courses.  Preferably, immersive projects can continue to run as part of the standard curriculum.  The department of English has several sustained immersive learning projects, including the Broken Plate literary journal, Creative Writing in the Community, and Book Binding, which is one section of the capstone course, English 444, as taught by Dr. Rai Peterson.

The book binding course teaches students to hand-sew signatures and text blocks and to bind them as books, using a variety of binding methods such as Belgian, case-book, carousel, Coptic, Japanese stab, pamphlet stitch, and others.  Students in the course write researched, original text (which might vary from an in-depth, researched thesis to an introduction followed by a collection of original poetry or prose), and each student brings out a hand-bound edition of four copies of her work.

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Dr. Miranda Nesler on Using Innovative Instruction and Expanding her Classroom to Larger Communities

In the spring of 2012, English Professor Dr. Miranda Nesler instructed a class called “Performing Humanity in the Renaissance” (Eng 363). In creating the course, Dr. Nesler sought to provide  Renaissance content as well as to introduce innovative teaching and learning opportunities. In order to achieve these goals, Dr. Nesler and her class created the blog, Performing Humanity in the Renaissance, which primarily features student posts and which is still active.  In the following guest post, Dr. Nesler writes about her pedagogical experiment.

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Flash Mobs: Eng 104 as a Mini-Immersive Learning Class

Many of Ball State’s unique educational opportunities are based in immersive learning. Unfortunately, many classes are not given this exciting and innovative learning atmosphere for a variety of reasons. English 104 has largely been among these classes until recently when English Professor Adrienne Bliss stumbled upon a radio broadcast which was the inspiration for a whole new immersive learning opportunity. Continue reading see Dr. Bliss’s personal account on this mini-immersive Eng 104 class.

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Book Talking? A New Spin on the Book Report

Today’s guest post, written by current English student Amanda Drozd, discusses a recent class project she created which gave a new spin to the traditional book report: book talking. The project explored the possibilities of incorporating technology into more and more facets of education. See Amanda’s full post below.

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Apply For Dr. Rai Peterson’s Immersive Learning Course at the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library

 

A new Provost’s Immersive Seminar has just been added to the Spring/Summer schedule: Internship at the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library

This is a 12-hour course, requiring registration in two 400-level English courses and two 400-level marketing courses; all prerequisites will be waived for students accepted to this seminar. Students will read 13 books by Kurt Vonnegut, a biography of the author, and a collection of critical essays about his work.  Each student will participate in collaboratively writing a 5-year marketing plan for the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library and will be assigned to one of the following working groups:

  • Archival research and digital humanities database development
  • Film archive and oral history filming project
  • Product design for the KVML gift shop
  • Traveling museum design and fabrication

Students will be mentored by English and marketing faculty as well as Community Partners including the Indianapolis Museum of Art; the Indianapolis Historical Society; WFYI Television; Creative Street Media Group; Floyd and Stanich, Inc.; Eye on Art; Seven Stories Press; Hamilton Exhibits; and Lilly Library, IU, Bloomington.

Sorry but only students who are able to take two English and two marketing courses during both Spring and Summer semesters in 2012 need apply.  Applications are available from Dr. Rai Peterson, Department of English: rai@bsu.edu

Dr. Rai Peterson on the BSU Book-Binders’ Collaborative Event on Oct. 6

Graduates of ENG 444 Manifesto Book Binding are collaborating with faculty and print-making students from the art department to form a book-binders’ collaborative that will show and sell its work at the Downtown Muncie First Thursday Arts Walk on October 6.  Blank journals will retail for $5-60 at Gordy’s Fine Art and Framing.

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Guest Post: Kris Weaver on Creative Writing in the Community

At the beginning of the semester, I seriously considered dropping English 409. I found out it wasn’t like any ordinary English class I’d previously taken; this one would force me to take part in something bigger than myself. It wasn’t something I could just shuffle through, writing along the way, reading the material, and making the grade. For all my doubts in the beginning though, I’m really glad I stuck with it.

What scared me the most was the idea of meeting with a partner on five separate occasions, compiling meeting reports, and eventually writing something about that partner’s life for the rest of the world to read. In addition, I learned that my partner would have a disability. That knowledge left me feeling even more nervous than before: what if I accidentally said something offensive? Were there protocols I would need to know in order to work with this person? I had no idea what to expect.

Meeting my partner for the first time did a lot to put me at ease. Her disability was a mental one. She got confused sometimes, repeated herself a lot, and liked to talk, which ended up being a good thing. I met with her a total of six times and learned a lot about people like her by just being around her. She talked about her family and her friends, about her favorite television shows and books.

The goal of the class is to help give voice (in written form) to those who aren’t usually heard. For some of us in the class, this meant being partnered with kids from a local after-school tutoring center. For the rest of us, it meant pairing up with six women residing in a home in Muncie where they can live in their own social environment away from the normal pressures of the world.

I won’t presume to speak for those who were partnered with the kids at the tutoring center and their experiences. What I do know about my experience is that taking this class was rewarding in more ways than one. Not only does it teach writers to work collaboratively, but it helps the community form bonds that would normally be unattainable. This class accomplished its goal: people’s stories were told, and that’s all anyone really wants out of life—to know that they are heard.

Microstudies of Microblogging

Here at Ball State, researchers in the Rhetoric and Composition Doctoral Program and the undergraduate program in Professional Writing and Emerging Media have been conducting microstudies of microblogging and other forms of networked writing, using qualitative and mixed-methods approaches to data collection and analysis in order to develop rich profiles of social networking site (SNS) activity.  The 2011 #9ine Collaborative consists of faculty member Dr. Brian McNely, graduate students Emily Crist, Jason Parks, Stephanie Hedge, and undergraduates Melissa Ditty and Sarah Luttenbacher. 

Over the course of several weeks, these researchers explored the fascinating micropractices of everyday SNS use, studying individual, particular cases to learn more about the ways that writing and/as technology function(s) in peoples’ everyday lives. Deliberately small in scale, these studies introduce a starting point for further research into pervasive forms of writing work, hopefully raising some interesting questions for ongoing scholarship of dynamic mediation in practice. The findings shed light on the specific ways that users position themselves online—in the classroom, in relationships, and in the world. 

The resulting white paper—“Microstudies on Microblogging”—is the first of its type to be produced in the department. You can view the paper below, or download it from Scribd. 

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