Tag Archives: Ball State

Dr. Megumi Hamada recommends "THE SCIENCE OF READING"

The Science of Reading (2010), edited by Snowling and Hulme, is a volume in the series Blackwell Handbooks of Developmental Psychology, published by Blackwell. This volume offers comprehensive coverage of most of the recent research
in cognitive and linguistic processes involved in reading.

For those who are fluent readers, reading seems to happen without much conscious attention. Although this may be true, the brain is still processing information from the given text. The Science of Reading illustrates how our mind works during reading in English and other languages. The book contains 27 chapters, which are divided among seven sections: word recognition processes in reading, learning to read and spell, reading comprehension, reading in different languages, disorders of reading and spelling, biological bases of reading, and teaching reading.9780470757635

The Science of Reading views reading from an information-processing point of view. Under this view, reading is considered an accumulation of simpler processing (e.g., letter, word recognition) built onto more complex processing (e.g., discourse comprehension).

During the 1970s and 1980s, when a top-down approach to reading was more prevalent, it was thought that readers do not need to pay attention to individual words. Reading was viewed as a “psycholinguistic guessing game” (Goodman, 1973), and the reader’s job was to hypothesize what a given text means based upon their own background knowledge. The information in the text, such as meanings of words, was believed to merely confirm the hypothesis, rather than be the main source of information for understanding the text. Continue reading

Celebrate the Legacy of Maya Angelou

Born in the Jim Crow South, Maya Angelou used her passion as an activist and a writer to inspire discussions surrounding civil rights. As a way to celebrate Angelou’s written works and devotion to social, political, and economic equality, organizers at the Office of Institutional Diversity and BSU English hope to nurture a diverse university community. 


 Sunday, February 15th

Charlene Alexander

Charlene Alexander, Director of Institutional Diversity

I Read…I Rise Poetry Slam

Monday, February 16th

Tribute to Maya Angelou

Stedman Graham, who got his MA at BSU.

Stedman Graham, who got his MA at BSU.

  • 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM
  • Student Center Ballroom
  • Keynote speaker: Stedman Graham
    • CEO of S. Graham and Associates, a Chicago-based management/marketing consulting firm.
    • Conducts lectures and seminars worldwide, inspiring young people to transform into leaders.
    • Author of eleven books, including two New York Times bestsellers and one Wall Street Journal bestseller.
    • Earned his Master’s degree in Education at Ball State.
    • Oprah’s boyfriend. 🙂
  • At the event, you’ll learn about how you can volunteer in the Muncie community.

Continue reading

From English Major to University Leader: Lola Mauer

LolaLola Mauer, the Director of Annual Giving at Ball State, is one of us.

And you can meet her on Friday, Nov. 14, 2014 in 310 Student Center at 2 PM during Career Week.

She’s been working in higher ed fundraising since graduating with an undergraduate degree in English in 1998. She spent five years working at Ball State (earning an MA in Creative Writing along the way) before leaving to head up the annual giving program at the University of South Carolina.

She was a Gamecock for seven years, won ten awards from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) for fundraising (young alumni giving, direct mail, employee giving campaign and student philanthropy education).

In 2011, she moved to Dallas where she worked as a consultant. She had multiple university clients around the country and helped them with strategy in alumni outreach and giving.

She returned to Ball State in 2013 to serve as the Director of Annual Giving. And boy are we glad.

She speaks at national conferences on a variety of subjects related to higher ed fundraising and has written for CASE Currents magazine.

In her spare time, Lola also serves as a youth advisor for junior high and high school aged students here in Muncie and is secretary of the board for Friends of the Little Big Horn Battlefield National Monument.

Do you have any advice for English majors who are trying to figure out what comes next in their lives?

  • Capitalize on your talents and combine that with what you love.
  • Be sure to have a plan.
  • Write every day.
  • Travel the world (or at least the states) to gain experiences that expand your horizons and help you write what you know.
  • You will be gifted with the advantage of flexibility and a skill set that can be used in almost any career.

Don’t convince yourself, or allow others to tell you, that an English degree limits you to only working as a teacher, professor, or author. 

So: how did your English major lead to your career? What skills did you learn as an English major that helped you transition into that job?

Continue reading

Cathy Day Discusses Her Involvement with Midwest Writers Workshop

This past July, Midwest Writers Workshop (MWW) gathered for their annual conference at Ball State University. Through the help of a grant from the Discovery Group, many Ball State students had the pleasure of attending this conference as scholarship winners and paid interns.  Brittany Means, one of the attending students, received the award for best poetry manuscript, as well as for best overall manuscript and a $200 cash award! Click the link below to read Cathy Day’s post on her involvement and experience with the MWW.

 BSU + MWW: or “How I Spent My Summer Vacation”

Creative Writing Students Immerse Themselves in Cinema

The Cinema Entertainment Immersion, or CEI, is one of Ball State University’s fantastic immersive learning ventures. It combines students from the departments of English, Theater, and Telecommunications to produce professional-quality short films. As with all of BSU’s immersive learning projects, the main goal of the CEI is for the students to gain a unique and practical experience. The CEI allows students to perform the central roles of film production, with students from the English Department’s Advanced Screenwriting course writing the scripts, students from the Theater Department’s Acting for the Camera course auditioning for and acting in the major roles, and students from the Telecommunications Department directing and producing the films. Throughout the project, the students involved learn how each role in film production works together as part of a cohesive unit to create a quality finished product.

Here’s what screenwriting Professor Matt Mullins had to say about the English facet of CEI:

“I select the best short scripts from the Fall Semester of English 410 (Advanced Screenwriting), and sometimes a few from English 310, if there are strong screenwriters in my section of the intro course.  Overall, I usually end up choosing between 15 and 20 student scripts for consideration for the CEI. Then Dwandra Lampkin (Theater), Rod Smith (TCOM), and myself sit down and pick the top five or six.  Those six scripts are then cast with students from Dwandra’s course and put into production by Rod’s students over the Spring semester in the context of TCOM 487 (the CEI course).  The finished films are then showcased every April at the CEI Showcase in Pruis Hall.

I think that the quality of the films is steadily improving.  I’m specifically focusing Fall sections of 410 around the idea of what creates a compelling story and what is suitable for the CEI in terms of story type/genre (i.e., no epics or sci-fi or ‘high-concept’ scripts); setting (things we can realistically film with the facilities here at Ball State—which do include some use of green screen/CGI); and age of the characters (the principals need to be roughly college-aged so they can be cast from the theater class).”

Because they require a lot from the students who participate, these immersive learning programs can seem daunting at first.  However, because of the extra effort, students get more out of these educational experiences both personally and professionally.  Such programs provide students with unique learning opportunities, enabling them to realize abilities that will prove to be valuable to their careers both during and after college.

Guest Post: Debate! by Shawna Vertrees

Shawna Vertrees

So there we were, two English Education majors in the national tournament for the NEDA organization. Granted, we were in the novice round, which means our opponents had been debating for less then a year, but these were communications majors, political science majors, future lawyers and lobbyists. I imagined these students would be using glib tongues, in-class debates, and well-honed arguments the way we use thesis statements, essays, and critical research.

You might be wondering why we were even there. We are both enrolled in Comm. 220, and our teacher, Ms. Jenkins, gave us the option to forgo debating later in the semester for a weekend spent debating in this tournament. Considering that we would have to research and prepare for two more debates during the time of year when our most important papers would also be coming due, we opted to get this out of the way early and sacrificed our weekend to the NEDA tournament.

I had never debated academically before. I had done some impromptu speeches during high school, but that was ages ago. I am a non-traditional student and I’ve aged considerably since my high school career in the 90’s. The tournament lasted two days and we debated a total of nine times. In the end, we won first place in what is called “Novice Crossfire.” After the debate, as we were basking in the glow of our win, I mentioned how I thought English 230 was a class I was glad to be taking, as it required critical thinking and analysis that was easily applicable to the debate. It turns out that Kassie Markovich, my partner, was in another section of the same course and agreed that the skills we were learning in the class had given us an edge. In my estimation, the pressure to suss out what a critic is saying about a work and then apply this point as support for my essay’s thesis made me into a more articulate debater.

Another element of English 230 that I found extremely helpful is the idea of templates. I gather that these are not tools employed by every professor, however Dr. Collier has provided us with a book of templates to use as support for our essays in English 230. While they are by no means required, or even made the focus of a lesson, perusing and adapting them has made me a better writer. Because of this comfort with the adaptation and use of a literary template, I was able to understand advice from the debate coach, Ms. Jenkins, as templates for use in the debate. She advised that I begin each refutation of a point with, “Judge my opponents have said______.”  I cannot count how many times I would look the judge in the eye and say “Judge my opponents have said  _______ but the evidence says  ______.” Anyone who has had English 230 with Dr. Collier will recognize this as a variation on the formula for framing an argument with an opposing critical quote. I credit Dr. Collier’s templates and Ms. Jenkins advice for the other award I won at that tournament: I was the fifth best speaker out of 20 or so, despite the fact that I was unpolished and made numerous, blatant fumbles.

It was a great experience and I highly recommend both classes to students both in the English department, and in other disciplines. Seeing the application of critical thinking skills learned for writing in the realm of policy debating was really something. If you have a chance to do what Kassie and I did, I suggest you take it. And thanks again to the Ball State Debate Team for being so welcoming and helpful. Special thanks for Dr. Collier and Ms. Johnson for running some extremely useful classes. And of course, a great big huge thank you to my partner Kassie.

J.D. Mitchell’s Journey into the Peace Corps, Part II

Photo courtesy of Peace Corps.gov

“I leap over the moon.

And then, Heather tells me that my nominated assignment in Asia is still available, or, and she assures me this is rare, there is an English-teaching position available in East Africa that leaves at the end of May. She is leaving the decision to me: Asia or Africa?” – from “…Part I

*****

I leap over the moon a second time.

And then I say, “Africa sounds great.”

March 23, 2011: It’s mid-afternoon and I’m trying to convince myself to do some homework. There’s a succession of three hard knocks at the front door, the sound I’ve been waiting for. When I open the door, a large white envelope slumps against my foot and inside is a large blue folder, containing all of the information pertaining to my assignment. The first thing I see is a letter that begins, “Congratulations! It is with great pleasure that we invite you to begin training in Ethiopia for Peace Corps service.”

I didn’t decide to join the Peace Corps on a whim. There’s a lot to consider, especially the time commitment and the lack of modern amenities (running water, electricity, internet). There are vast cultural differences and a new language to contend with. For more than two years, I’ll wash my clothes in a river and my drinking water will come from a well, and it will need to be boiled. There’s new food. There’s not a Taco Bell. But, somehow, each of these challenges and obstacles is something I’m looking forward to. Ethiopia will offer a new way of life and I imagine my Peace Corps service will be an opportunity to learn as much as I have in the past four years.

On May 23, I will travel to Atlanta, where I’ll meet the other 70 volunteers who will be serving in Ethiopia. After two days of staging, where we’ll get to know each other, review pertinent information and receive a few more vaccinations, we will travel to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Through eight weeks of PST, I will receive training to become an English Language Teacher Trainer. In this role, my primary duties will be teaching in conjunction with my Ethiopian counterparts. I will collaborate with primary schools, colleges of teacher education, regional and state education bureaus, and education offices to produce creative methodology that will emphasize critical thinking and language mastery. Additionally, I will lead and partake in a significant amount of HIV/AIDS education and awareness programs throughout my community and region. I will also initiate a number of secondary projects to improve the conditions of my community. Through these experiences, I expect to broaden greatly my world perspective and not only leave my comfort zone, but annihilate it. After 17 years of organized education, I’m enthusiastic about the opportunity to apply what I’ve learned and to continue my education in a radical way.

For anyone interested in learning more about the Peace Corps, I offer this advice:

  • Educate yourself. Visit the Peace Corps website. It’s excellent and comprehensive. There’s information about what volunteers do, where they go, and what it’s like. They explicate the benefits of serving. Besides the obvious cultural and personal experiences, there are graduate school opportunities, transition funds, health insurance, and the potential for partial cancellation or deferment of student loans. There are videos, webinars and stories. Before you consider applying, you should know as much as possible.
  • Talk about your decision with friends and family members. They’ll be curious and will ask you questions, and you’ll see how much you actually know. Plus, it’s a big decision and it helps to talk about it.
  • Try to find someone who’s been in the Peace Corps. Ask about their experiences, the challenges, the rewards. First-hand accounts can be very helpful and informative.
  • Sit and think. Two years is a long time, especially in a developing country. Lay around and think about it. Make a list of the pros and cons. The application process takes between nine months and a year, so you have to apply well in advance of when you would expect to go.

If anyone is thinking about applying or has questions I may be able to answer regarding the application process, or anything else, please email me. The above information is only a fraction of what I’d like to say about the Peace Corps and if you want more details, don’t hesitate to contact me. My email address is jdmitchell@bsu.edu.

J.D. Mitchell’s Journey into the Peace Corps, Part I

JD Mitchell

I’m cautious about deleting emails without reading them first, especially emails with a teasing subject line like “Ready to change your life?” Because usually I am. Or, “How far are you willing to go?” Because running a marathon is on my bucket list. And, “Want to make a difference?” Because my embarrassing obsession with reality television isn’t accomplishing much. I first heard about the Peace Corps when I was a freshman; I had twenty minutes before Survivor started and I checked my email. The subject line got me. The email promised travel, experience, and adventure. The next week, I attended a presentation at the study abroad center, and throughout the next three years, the idea coagulated in my head. I thought about it. I read about it. I thought some more.

The Peace Corps was conceived by John F. Kennedy in 1960 and began sending volunteers to developing countries only a year later. The mission of the Peace Corps is three-fold:

  • Help the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained men and women.
  • Help promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples served.
  • Help promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.

To accomplish these objectives, American men and women apply to serve a 27 month commitment in a variety of fields, including: Education, Health, Environment, and Business and Information & Communication Technology. The first eight to twelve weeks of a volunteer’s commitment are Pre-Service Training (PST), which takes place in the volunteer’s country of service. The emphasis is the acquisition of language and the skills necessary to each volunteer’s assignment. After PST, each volunteer is relocated to their community, where they will begin their assignment and receive on-going education. The PST and assignment are rewarding but rigorous, and this is emphasized from the very beginning of the application process. Below is a timeline of my application from beginning to end, which spanned a little more than a year:

March 20, 2010: I begin my Peace Corps application.

June 29, 2010: I submit my Peace Corps application. The application, despite its thoroughness, can be completed much sooner, depending on the applicant’s schedule and time constraints.

July 7, 2010: The Chicago Regional Recruiting Office receives my application and sends additional materials to be completed: two fingerprint cards and the National Agency Check card that authorizes a background check.

August 18, 2010: I drive to Chicago for my interview. It goes well, and Betsy, my recruiter, tells me she will nominate me for service. A nomination is like saying, “Hey, we think you’d make a good volunteer so we’re moving you forward to the next phase.” A nomination doesn’t guarantee an invitation. A nomination is tentative but includes a region of service, job and departure date. Betsy tells me it could take up to two weeks to receive a nomination.

August 19, 2010: Betsy calls with a nomination. This. Is. Very exciting. Although I specified Africa as my primary region of interest, I am nominated for an English-teaching position in Asia (country unknown) that would leave in mid-June 2011. I happily accept my nomination, but my recruiter tells me a nomination is provisional and could change.

August 24, 2010: I receive my medical packet, which includes dental and (very thorough) physical forms. The medical phase is infamously regarded as the longest phase of the application process and it is the phase that often leads to disqualification. The Peace Corps requires such a thorough medical check because volunteers are placed in rural communities of developing countries, where medical supplies and provisions cannot be guaranteed for certain conditions. The Peace Corps makes each volunteer’s health a priority and wants to take as few risks as possible in that regard.

October 26, 2010: After eight weeks, I complete the medical forms. I make a copy of all of the forms, seal the originals in an envelope and take it to the post office, where I see it placed in the appropriate bin. I experience a sense of accomplishment never before felt by completing paperwork.

October 28, 2010: My medical information is received. Since the Peace Corps does not impose an application deadline, there are thousands of applicants at each stage of the process. Each volunteer’s medical kit is prioritized according to his nominated departure date and medical kits are not usually reviewed until four months prior to that departure date. Translation: the waiting game begins.

About a week later: I receive dental clearance.

February 25, 2011: I received a letter from Peace Corps Headquarters informing me that I am medically qualified for service and that my application has been forwarded to the Office of Placement. I change my Facebook status. I tweet. I call my mom.

March 11, 2011: A Placement Assistant sends me an email requesting an updated resume, among other materials.

March 18, 2011 – almost a year after I started the application: I have my final assessment interview via telephone. Heather, my Placement Officer, tells me the interview is intended to gauge each applicant’s mental and emotional maturity as well as receive any relevant updates. The interview lasts about half an hour and I think it goes well. At the end, Heather says, “Ok, JD. I’ll issue you your Peace Corps invitation this afternoon.”

I leap over the moon.

And then, Heather tells me that my nominated assignment in Asia is still available, or, and she assures me this is rare, there is an English-teaching position available in East Africa that leaves at the end of May. She is leaving the decision to me: Asia or Africa?

*****

This is the first of a two-part post series by J.D. Mitchell, which chronicles his application process and admission into the Peace Corps. If you, or anyone you know, is considering applying to the Peace Corps, I’d recommend reading this series. We would like to thank J.D. for his wonderful and informative piece.

Signed,

 

Jeremy Bauer

Slash Pine Poetry Festival: Day #1

Photo courtesy of Sean Lovelace. Left to right: Jeremy Bauer, Elysia Smith, Layne Ransom, Tyler Gobble

The Slash Pine Poetry Festival is organized and executed by a mix of University of Alabama faculty, interns, and students. On March 31st of this year, four creative writing undergraduate students, including myself, descended on Tuscaloosa, Alabama to fulfill our part of a literary exchange with the University of Alabama. We were chaperoned by creative writing faculty Sean Lovelace and Matt Mullins. We were in a van for eight to ten hours—time was hazy, so goes the road. We may have passed through the Midwestern Bermuda Triangle as well. When we arrived, we were greeted by sunshine and warm, complimentary cookies and milk. This boded well for our Southern literary adventure.

The University of Alabama campus was well groomed. It looked as if it had just gotten a haircut to ready for a big date—and we were happy to court. Pink, white, and yellow flowers added to a genial atmosphere, along with a mid-60’s sun. This made things comfortable and cradled any anxious nerves anticipating the undergraduate reading.

The Undergraduate Exchange Reading featured students from the U of A, Flagler College, a private four-year liberal arts college in St. Augustine, Florida, and us BSU undergraduates. We read in front of the Gorgas House, the first structure built on the U of A campus with an abundance history behind it (relating to the Civil War and otherwise). It was great seeing our exchange friends from U of A read again, and fun seeing what a new group of peers, those from Flagler, were writing.

The reading was scheduled to last three hours, as were all the festival’s readings. Even to those who love literary readings, this is one petrifying block of time. Mercifully, none of the readings took the full amount, and our Undergraduate Exchange Reading even had an intermission that included four or five different kinds of pie and apple cider. I don’t know if this is a common Southern custom, but a pie and cider break definitely keeps a reading lively.

The next reading was at the Children’s Hands-On Museum, where Lovelace would read. There were stuffed bears frozen in funny faces, an artificial Mission Control that took my retinal scan (I believe a blue light just clicked on and off, but it seemed legit), funhouse mirrors, and an old drugstore. Lovelace considered reading from an American wilderness scene with some critter pelt on his head. He tested it, and he really had something there, but we eventually found a stairwell leading to the actual reading space, so we conformed.

As I haven’t been to many readings outside of the BSU area, besides Vouched Presents, I was really interested to witness different reading styles and to see what writers brought to the performance aspect of literary readings. The first reader, T.J. Beitelman, made apparent his technical poetry style with a soft voice and careful pauses. Occasionally, he would put a tape recorder up to the microphone and play songs and outtakes from Bob Dylan sessions. Overall, his performance seemed very practiced and fluent.

Lovelace read various works from his chapbook How Some People Like Their Eggs, and a new series he’s been working on with the central theme of Velveeta. By far, he had the best audience reaction of any of the readers. His work also seemed the most contemporary, greatly regarding the now rather than discarding it, which many writers seem to do. BSU affiliations aside, he was my favorite reader, and if you have the opportunity to take a writing class with him, do it. Lovelace’s work was funny and vibrant, and every word seemed as deliberate and careful as Beitelman’s.

Some ending highlights of day one: Shook hands with Michael Martone after Lovelace’s reading, who was uniquely styled in his appearance and reminded me of Albert Grossman. Watched a video of an Abe Smith reading on Lovelace’s iPhone—even through the internet and small screen, it grabbed and shook the viewer with Smith’s attention to sound and performance. Smith wasn’t featured as a reader at the festival, but he could be seen slinking around at the different readings. I sincerely hope I get the chance to see him read live someday.

In Alabama, there are signs everywhere saying not to litter and “Keep Us Beautiful.” The hotel floor mat said, “we love that you’re here,” and the doors and walls simply said, “thank you.” Sorry you get so stuffed with tornadoes, Alabama (tenfold what Indiana experiences). You seem like a nice place.

Signed,

Jeremy Bauer

P.S. Still have one more day of the Slash Pine Poetry Festival to report on, so keep watching, BSU!

English Majors and the Job Market: You’re Okay

English majors get a bad rep when it comes to the job market. Frankly, we’re sick of it. A major goal of this blog is to show the versatility of the English degree. As our “Life After the English Major” section proves, we’re not just blowing smoke. One of the most important skills for any business is communication, and do you know what you’re studying in all of your literature and creative writing classes? Exactly.

According to the NY Times.com article, “Young Workers: U Nd 2 Improve Ur Writing Skills,” by Phyllis Korkki, “In a survey of 100 human resources executives…Nearly half the executives said that entry-level workers lacked writing skills, and 27 percent said that they were deficient in critical thinking.” The years of using dictionaries and thesauruses for unknown words can pay off, as well as studied attention to authors’ word choice and conveyance of mood. Much of today’s communication is done over email or similar text formats where mood can be lost, or most likely, misinterpreted. A person who keeps these lessons in mind can end accidentally passive aggressive messages and make for clearer communication, and few are better equipped for this accomplishment than English majors.

In her September 2009 post on Payscale.com, “Jobs for English Majors: They Do Exist,” Bridget Quigg shows that the numbers prove English majors can be competitive earners. Citing this graph of popular careers for English majors, Quigg presents some of the top positions for English majors:

Technical Writer                                        –      $68,900

Paralegal                                                       –     $53,100

Copywriter                                                   –     $49,900

Online Marketing Content Writer      –      $50,900

These are the median salaries after ten years. As Quigg notes, “They don’t top aerospace engineering majors, who come out number one overall at $108,000 a year,” but still, these aren’t exactly wages of destitution. In her article “Working Your Degree,” on CNN Money.com, Shelly K. Schwartz notes that regarding English majors, “The versatility of the degree, in fact, is what makes the post-graduation job hunt so hard.” This means English majors can fit to nearly any career field, and because the possibilities are so broad, it can be hard to zero in on a particular field, or realize the extent of these possibilities.

There may also be the need to sell yourself a little more to job interviewers. While they may know they need people with good communication skills, they may not know they can find this quality in an English major. This will require an explanation of your skills, which could benefit greatly from using buzzwords, such as your aptitudes concerning “critical thinking” or “dynamic (changeable) communication.” Selling yourself is something everyone has to do in job interviews anyway, so this shouldn’t put you off. Knowing the skills you bring to the table ahead of time can help put you a peg above other applicants, especially when said skills are unique and well-practiced.

In her article, Schwartz goes on to say, “…increasingly, insiders say, one of the fastest growing career choices for English majors is broadly defined as ‘business.’ The verbal and written communication skills that English majors possess remain in top demand at nearly every company in America.” Upon graduation, it’s commonplace for English majors to assume they’ve spent their college careers studying what they enjoy instead of cultivating specialized skills, and so they are left not knowing what directions they can take in terms of a career. The good news is that while you spent your studies doing what you love, you were also cultivating one of the most important skills to the job market: communication. More good news: proficiency with this skill means you can be an asset to any company, because even if an organization is filled with the world’s top tradesmen, people with skills not found anywhere else, the organization needs a good communication system to get the most out of these people—to work efficiently. In Schwartz’s article, Professor Ernest Suarez remarks, “Businesses tell us they like to hire English majors because they feel they can think. They’ve got the writing and analytical skills they need. The rest they can be trained to learn.” Don’t be afraid to mention this in job interviews, applications, or personal statements.

Signed,

Jeremy Bauer