Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Post 43: Student Health 101, Tutorial teaching, Writing Group, and Research Progress!!

Yesterday I got the most delightful email! I regularly read the Student Health 101 magazine that comes out every month, and saw some time last semester that they regularly solicit short student videos about a number of different topics, and so I decided that at some point I would try to learn how to put together a short video and submit something for a topic that I cared about and thought I had some useful advice. So a few weeks ago I submitted a little video about what I do to control my texting! As an introvert I LOVE texting, but try not to be on my phone all the time, so what I've found really helps me is to turn off the sound on my cell, which means that I don't get sound notifications every time I get a text, and that I reach for my phone when I am taking a purposeful break. Ultimately, it means fewer distractions, and is useful for things where the stakes are really high, like not driving and texting at the same time, or getting distracted by texts, then.

So, after spending about 3 hours learning how to use the iMovie program, and first, getting the length right, getting less nervous, rehearsing my little script so that I could concisely say what I wanted, and about 13 recordings later.... I submitted a video that I thought was not too bad. Certainly, I was tired and exasperated enough then to feel like throwing in the towel, and I thought that the sense of accomplishment from just sending it would do just great. So off it went!

AND YESTERDAY I FOUND OUT IT GOT CHOSEN!! That was really delightful! Now, I hope that there's a useful bit of advice out there for someone, or a couple someones, and now I have broken into my career as a video-journalist.

Okay, maybe not. But now I know a tiny bit about making a really short and simple video, which I didn't before I tried that.

Mini-salal (Gaultheria shallon) inside a stump along a trail through East Sooke Park!

My writing group and I also met yesterday afternoon, and it was such a productive afternoon!! We Skyped in our colleague Liz who's moved back to California at the beginning of this year; she's working on edits of her full thesis draft to get back to her supervisors, and wanted to get the first few chapters of her thesis back to them by the end of this week. She'd already gone through and addressed a lot of the simpler edits, and was working on some of the higher level (read: more challenging) edits when we checked in with her. The dynamic was admittedly a little bit different not having her in the room, but it was so nice to hear about how she was doing, and I think it really helped to reinforce her motivation to keep pushing through those edits, so I think it worked out for all of us. (I did check in with the others in the group this afternoon, and it sounds like it's working for us all.)

We did Pomodoros almost the entire afternoon, and I got so much done!! I wrote over 1500 words of new material: sections that have been floating in my head for the last couple weeks as I've been adjusting my energy budget to TAing (yesterady the 3 hours of teaching in a row didn't completely wipe me out, unlike the first week of tutorials, where I felt like I had run a marathon!). Between the new material, and going back for more edits to solidify a draft of my third chapter, it feels so good to see it coming together!

My third chapter is my methods chapter, and covers everything from the data collection, interview analysis and journaling, scope and limitations, and challenges. This will be, I think, the shortest of my thesis chapters, and has definitely been the most fun to write so far: it's had me reminiscing about my research trips, my wonderful participants, and the experiences I had when gathering that data. For example, there was a big theme of kindness of strangers for making those research trips work: when in Edmonton, I stayed with friends of my supervisor, a lovely couple, once of whom teaches at the University of Alberta. They hosted me while I visited the researchers there. When I was in Prince George, I was trying to find some milk for cereal the next morning, and I met Merlin, who gave me a lift down the highway to the nearest grocery store because it was on his way, and saved me a bunch of time. We still keep in touch!

And also while in Prince George, I spent a day driving logging roads with a wonderful woman and grad student there, Benita! We were enjoying the landscape and looking at forest regeneration and what shape the forests were taking about 15 years after the mountain pine beetle first passed through, and one of the numerous main areas where the outbreak began. It was a fantastic day, where we almost ran out of gas, and had to stop by a lodge to gets 15$ worth of gas from a canister. We took photos of the aspen forests and the lodgepole pines, and picnicked on the side of the Nechako River at someone's former hunting cabin; we had met the owner when we were stopped along the forestry service road to take photos, and the father and son came driving by and offered it to us as a lunch spot! That was a truly magical day.

Those research trips were a blast!

Signposts along the way. Great romp through the park. :)
In tutorial today, my students and I were discussing citation styles (in particular APA), and going over how to properly put together a citation, why we'd want to do that, and then a much larger discussion around how to assess the authoritativeness of a source, and understand the context of a particular article.

These kinds of critical thinking skills are sooooo important, and what myself and the other TAs has seen from the assignments was that students weren't quite researching deeply enough into where the voices of their sources were coming from, which includes everything from the funding people receive, the credentials they have, the journal/newspaper/magazine they are published in, the impact factor of the journal, and otherwise the bigger picture of locating and situating their voice in the discussion of [insert theme here].

They are bright students, I know they are, and I hope they'll use the information to their advantage; they need to show me that they can use the above outlined skills for their next assignment, so I am hopeful they will.
We hiked up a little island that you can't access when the tide is high. Beautiful teal waters in the little cove to see. 

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