Bonus Points and CCCC

When I was talking with one of my students about bonus point possibilities, which I have encouraged them to suggest, she mentioned giving bonus points for comments on my husband's blog, Time and Place (at I gave it some thought, and although I'm not sure I'll add that possibility to the list that's growing, I'll incorporate her own suggestion for comments that students make on an online discussion board that I can post on the Blackboard site. That's reasonable and relevant and enhances their thinking about the work they're doing. 

That got me to thinking about whether I ought to consider comments to my own blog entries, plus, it might motivate me to post entries more often. I have been so sporadic about posting entries on here, but I should get back into the habit of making regular and more thematic ones (i.e., based on a certain type of theme). The only problem is: my so-called "themes" keep changing! 

This week my topic is "GETTING READY FOR CCCC (pronounced "four seas" by those who are not in the composition field, or rather, "4 Cs"). I'm excited about this year's conference, but I hope I have enough stamina to log all those walking miles that inevitably lie ahead.


More Substantive Magazines and Essays

I've been referring to substantive magazines and journals a couple of times on this blog, and I wanted to add a few more to the list, particularly for those who are working on research projects. 

Interesting Journals, Substantive Magazines, and High-Quality Newspapers

Blogs and Websites

Keep checking back on this site to see any additional sites or links.

Looking Back at June, Ahead to July . . .

So, it's been slightly more than six months since we've been here in Erie, and my head has almost stopped spinning from all the changes in the past two years. And to think I originally moved to this area in the first place 29 years ago because I wanted my life to have fewer changes! 

Oh well, many have been good--marrying my wonderful husband Dan at the top of the list! We'll be celebrating our 21st anniversary this year on the 4th with our usual fireworks display ;-)  even though everyone always thinks it's for the fourth of July.  WW Writing Services is getting busier by the day, what with Thumbtack and LinkedIn ProFinder among the various places people find out about my consulting services. Here's the logo I'm using for it.WW Writing Services

Might not be the most elegant one, but it'll do for now. 

LinkedIn's ProFinder sent me 75 referrals in the past WEEK alone!! I just caught up with responding to all of them today! Also discovered that I seem to have two Skype accounts (so that means two separate Microsoft accounts as well): wwaustin and drwendywarrenaustin, and the latter seems more tightly connected to my original Microsoft account and hotmail email address, so it seems to work better, although I had used that one (originally) exclusively for my SNHU students. It looks like I might be teaching again this fall also, so that's not a bad thing that I still have that account. Next post on the blog I'll have some miniature resume samples to display.


Fake News, Detecting Bias, and Unreliable Sources

I just read a very informative article today in the Chronicle of Higher Education's ProfHacker column called "Stop the Spread of Fake News," by Lee Skallerup Bessette. In it he talks about Facebook and how a lot of people say they don't get their news from Facebook, but tend to find out things that they think is news long enough to keep alive that tasty Kool-aid of believability that spreads faster than the news that it's not true. He mentions "Mish" Zimdars' site, "False, Misleading, Clickbait-y, and Satirical `News' Sites" which is a goldmine for research writing students!

Another site he mentions is "Fight with Facts, Not With Rumors," written by science fiction writer and blogger, Naomi Kritzer.  In turn, she points to another site, "          " that includes a list of 

American News X
Being Liberal The Other 98% DailyBuzzLive    
BiPartisan Report The Freethought Project   GulagBound    
Winning Democrats Addicting Info    
PoliticusUSA LiberalAmerica    
BlueNationReview Newslo   The Daily Currant    
IfYouOnlyNews Politicalo        
USUncut DailyNewsBin        

Me and Mom

Famly6Among the comments that I wrote in responses to student posts, I mentioned Mom and some of her funny moments. It is so nice thinking about her, so I thought I'd just place a picture here of both of us. I hope I can go visit her soon again.

End of Term Considerations

I'm winding up my last day teaching two sections of ENG 123 for Term 16EW6, although next week starts a whole new term: 16EW1 all over again! No matter how long I teach the short terms for SNHU, I still feel like the length of the terms should be "semesters," 15 or 16 weeks. But I guess that's not unusual, considering I taught for 24 1/2 years with those course time frames.  I'm always wishing I could have done a few things differently at these times. 

For one thing, I wish I had stressed how annoying it is to have repeated grammatical or punctuation (surface-level) mistakes in a piece of writing, especially one considered a final version. Next term, I should warn students about things that irritate me. Here's a list:

  • Unclear or vague pronoun references--it, this, them, that, they, etc..
  • Missing commas after an introductory clause
  • Fragments
  • Too many "there is/are/was/were" phrases in a paper
  • Using regular paragraph indentation instead of hanging indents
  • Not even thinking about a title for a paper
  • Thinking that I don't actually read the papers thoroughly or know when a student is writing a bunch of BS
  • there's more, but I don't want to come off sounding like Oscar the Grouch.
  • Students who don't bother to read the etext or the directions (Guidelines) for an assignment
  • Obvious plagiarism

I'm not happy with the way the Course Modules dumb down the paper-writing experience. More "Design Feedback Tickets" to fill out--ugh! I spend enough time grading, doing outreach, checking the Grade Center, and talking or emailing with students. 

I'm glad I didn't see too much blatant plagiarism this time. It's the bad paraphrasing-kind of plagiarism or near-plagiarism that I mostly see, and that's not necessarily a student's fault since they are simply learning how to integrate sources. It's so hard to do that skillfully, but it's 10 times harder when a person doesn't read on a regular basis. 

I could easily predict who might get a decent grade in a class if I simply had a questionnaire at the beginning asking students if they read for pleasure at all. The ones you do will probably get a better grade. It's pretty amazing. 


I'm going to diverge from this topic for a brief minute and send a shout-out to my brilliant husband whose book was published a couple of weeks ago: 

Here's the blurb for it on the publisher page:

Congratulations, Dan! Quite impressive! (Those people at Wolters-Kluwer need to put a picture of you on their site, too, not just the other guy!!)

Dans book on bankruptcy

Dog Days of August are Better with a Pool!

It's been so hot lately that it certainly FEELS like "dog days." It's a good thing that I live in an apartment complex that has a swimming pool! In fact, these days, I am no longer a Massachusetts resident, but a Pennsylvania one (again); we moved here--at least 3/4 of our stuff--in late May, and then the other 1/4 of it in mid-June.  As much I loved Boston, and I still do, it's great to be able to see Nick and Ally more often and Emily and little Zander.

I've been amused and appalled at the debaucle of Trump as presidential candidate these past months. This week tops all previous weeks so far in absurdity, but I must say that headline writers everywhere are no doubt having a field day with all the things Trump or his minions is saying or doing., in particular, had the best/funniest ones I've seen so far.

Meanwhile, I've been researching how to build a swimming pool, which types are better, which are more expensive, and so forth. It's kind of fascinating. Plus, I'm going to make the best of being able to use the pool I can while I can! Especially before the next term starts, but even then, I'll continue. What do you all think of these different types of pools?

Pool  Smallpool1 Simple Sloped-backyard-pool-ideas-7Backyardpool Backyard-Landscaping-Ideas-Swimming-Pool-Design-Homesthetics-15 Pool lounges Heartpool

A Notch Above Popular, A Notch Below Scholarly

Whenever I teach College Writing & Research, I explain to students the difference between scholarly and popular periodicals (magazines, or its online equivalents). However, that binary is not as clear-cut as it seems at first, because in reality, more students these days are coming into college classes with far less background in reading and familiarity with a variety of publications than 20, 30, or 50 years ago. Since the 1970's when more colleges became open access, more first generation college students started appearing in college classes. With the advent of so many online college opportunities, like SNHU or any other university's online programs, instructors cannot easily determine whether their students are widely read or, like the majority of high school graduates now, aliterate* and only keep up with the latest technology, hardly aware of the current issues of the day.

When students begin to write their first research paper (at least, for many it is their first), they can only see the college  library's search engine as a glorified version of Google. Already plenty familiar with Google, they tell themselves, "why bother with the more "complicated" version?" Even though scholars in library science and information retrieval are trying to capitalize on this familiarity with the ubiquitous search engine, the process of finding scholarly sources for a college research paper is more complex and multi-layered than having one point of entry.

When I used to take my students on a "library tour," I would often ask them to browse the "Current Periodicals" section, a common mainstay of most college libraries' first floors. Sometimes I would require them to find three periodicals that looked interesting to them and/or related to their major, list all three on a worksheet, then find one article within any of those three, read it, and summarize it, including the summary on the same worksheet, along with comments about what they learned, if anything. After we did this, most of the time the students remarked that it was an interesting and useful experience and said they weren't at all aware of all the magazines and journals out there. Of course, even though no library carries a complete inventory of ALL the magazines and journals "out there," this introduction to the breadth of possibilities was always eye-opening to and relatively painless for the students.

More often than not, students were drawn to a category I would call "substantive" magazines, a notch above "popular," a notch below "scholarly," the typical points on either end of a continuum that instructors explain in terms of intended audience. Sometimes "trade publications" were on the continuum, too, closer to scholarly than popular, or sometimes used as an interchangeable category. I would list Time, Newsweek, and U.S. News and World Report in the category of "popular" magazines, with the National Enquirer or Us Weekly on the far end,  the "sensational" category. (To quote an old friend of mine, "Time is for people who can't think; Look is for people who can't read.") But there's another category that is a step above "popular," that includes magazines that appeal to the "thinking person," with articles of such extended length that the aliterate normally shy away from tackling. It takes far too much of their valuable time. Sure, they CAN read it, but why bother?

If you haven't figured it out by now, I use the term "aliterate" very much in the same sense Kylene Beers does. She talks about the "illiterate" (those who don't know how to read or how to read well), "literate" (those who know how to read and often do), and "aliterate" (those who know how to read but choose not to, or at least, not if they can help it). Most high school graduates who don't go on to college tend to fall into the aliterate category, but many college students, even college graduates. could easily fit into that category now, too. People simply get out of the habit of reading and either don't want to read or feel they have no time for it, having grown accustomed to scanning user-friendly websites (read: "soundbite-sized information chunks"). Just like our we need to exercise our bodies, we need to exercise our brains a little bit more, too, or that ability to read more thoughtful and complex pieces will become harder just like our muscles atrophy.

So, if you'd like to rekindle your reading self, here's a list of print magazines that you'll find in any Barnes and Noble newstand section. Following that, I've assembled a list of online "magazines" and blogs that don't directly target people in a particular field as their audience, whose readership could easily be called the "thinking person."

Online Version of Print Magazines

Online Journals


Research Data