Exploring my Passions

I never realized I could have so many open tabs on my computer screen.  While looking through the different subject categories and research guides on the UM Library page, I felt like I wanted to look at EVERYTHING.  While I’ve used the library guides before for previous research and classes, my research was often so focused that I wasn’t able to explore all of the different categories that I wanted to — the topics were close-ended.  This time?  I had tabs open from subjects of English Literature, to health disparities, to the history of Detroit!

After sorting through everything though, I found myself continually going back to articles that I found on education and diversity, since they interested me so much.  It was really interesting to read through different studies that talk about how we teach students about race and the racial climate of schools can affect students.  I’m really interested in researching more on how different social identities play a role in school development, especially because I plan to work with students as a social worker in the future.  At the same time, I discovered while looking through all of these articles that I’m also very much interested in literacy and education as well, and would love to find a connection between both literature and race in schools today.  There was also a big distinction between articles focused on higher education, and those focused on primary and secondary education.  I think that both are extremely interesting for different reasons — higher education because it’s something I’m actually living through right now, and can relate my experiences to, and secondary because it’s the age group that I eventually want to work with.

Overall, I thought that this assignment was really fun and helpful for making me research and think critically about many different facets of research that I am interested in.  While I’m still a little uneasy about the vastness of topics that are possible, I am excited to see what’s in store as the semester continues!

What a Semester…

I honestly cannot believe that this semester is almost over, and that we had our last gateway class yesterday!  I remember walking into class on the first day having no idea what to expect from a course that broadly covered a bunch of new students to the Minor in Writing, but I can honestly say that I have learned so much more about my writing as well as different forms of new media writing that are really interesting to work with!

The best part of this class for me I think was definitely the creation of my online portfolio (I also really loved working with the re-mediation project!).  When I found the wix.com site, I instantly knew that was the platform that I wanted to use to showcase my work for this class.  I remember way back when we first started, I couldn’t stop playing around with the different awesome features and shaping my portfolio in ways that I felt were representative of me and a good way to highlight the different types of writing that I have done.  The ability to be creative yet in a way that is very applicable (now I know more of the nuances for making websites/portfolios online!) has been an amazing aspect of this class that I have appreciated and really enjoyed developing over these past few weeks.

Overall I’m generally really pleased with how my portfolio is now.  However, I do think that after this class ends I will be going back and looking over the reflective/contextual language that I used for my different sections of writing on my “Work” tab.  While I am proud of what I was able to convey right now, I somehow feel that the words aren’t “right” — I just need to find the right way to say what I want to say.  I think this is a factor of me choosing a theme (a writing “scrapbook”) a little late in the process and not being able to accurately put into words exactly what I want to convey about me as a writer.  I hope that my portfolio shows that I am a writer who likes to reflect and remember the little moments that impact my work as well as the memories that are forever associated with different pieces of writing and stages in my writing development.  I hope that exploring this can shed light on both myself and my personality, as well as my writing style.

Well, I guess this is it!  My portfolio’s debut and my debut as a Minor in writing!  Take a look, and let me know what you think!  I’m excited to see what others have created as well!  It’s been a great semester!

http://alyssalo.wix.com/alyssalopez

 

Enjoy your winter break!

~Alyssa

Myself as a Blogger

As someone who has had to blog for other classes in the past, I thought that I knew everything that I needed to know about this platform and type of writing.  Because there was no direction given to the ways that blogs should be written in my previous classes, I felt like blogging was just a boring old way to keep track of your thoughts on different issues and communicate with others in your class.  The thoughts that I had posted were never addressed or responded to — the entire process seemed quite uninteresting and not useful in a class setting.

However, I can tell that my thoughts on this have changed by the way that I now take the time to think more critically about what I plan on writing and making this interesting and engaging for the greater audience I am reaching.  I think that because of the time that we spent in this class reading different blog posts and studying the ways that blogging can be fun and make a difference were crucial to my growing appreciation for blogging.  Especially in terms of the perspectives that we read about in the blog carnival, I have continued to search for blog posts that catch my attention and showcase a writer’s inherent abilities and distinct voice as a strength.  While it still might not be the most easy or enjoyable use of my time, I can at least recognize now the effort that goes into creating and maintaining a blog and blogging persona that feels natural and true.

As for myself as a blogger, I will have to see whether or not I will continue to blog in the future — be it for future classes, jobs, or just for fun.  The thought of creating a blog seems a little less scary now, but I’m still not sure if I would really be able to ever be super comfortable sharing so often in this public medium.  This is something that I am still working on — becoming more comfortable with the idea of being viewed or criticized by others.  But as an essential part of blogging, I realize that this will always happen no matter what the situation.  It’s just a matter of time… let’s see where the interesting things that I’ve learned throughout this class will take me!

Thoughts on Revision

So this week I was a little confused and turned in a revision of my Re-Purposing paper, instead of the Why I Write revision that was due.  Luckily I’ll still be able to make revisions once the comments for that paper are returned, but I actually thought it was interesting what I found while revising my paper last weekend.

What I actually did for this paper was set it aside for a long time (I really hadn’t looked at it in depth since I turned it in) and then came back to it in order to do revisions.  Now, I’m sure this is actually what many of you do for papers, especially since I remember my teachers since high school explaining what we should use this strategy to gain a fresh perspective on our own papers.  However, I can honestly say that I’ve never done something like this.  I always rush to revise and feel like it’s better to get everything done at once — which really isn’t that helpful the more I think about it.  After going back last weekend and reading through the paper again, I found myself agreeing with some comments and having a clear enough mind to answer some of my questions that I had.  I also found myself being a little to critical I felt at times, with different features like tone sounding good to me after some time away from the piece.  I really couldn’t believe how much clearer my mind felt after not thinking about the essay for about a month!

I am really this late to the game?  Is this a strategy that mostly everyone uses?  I can’t believe that as a junior in college I am just now figuring out that this can be a really helpful tool for revision!  I hope that in the future I can continue to keep this up and practice this skill in different ways with papers and assignments… it was a really interesting thing to learn as I revised this paper!

E-Portfolio Updates

Though I haven’t spent much time lately on my e-portfolio, I just uploaded all of the pieces of work that I’m using and feel relieved that part is over.  I absolutely love spending time on the creative aspects and design of the entire site, but it’s getting down to the nitty gritty and I have to get a start on my reflective writing and finalizing my theme for the e-portfolio.

Screenshot of E-Portfolio
My E-Portfolio’s Front Page

When I began working on this page, I was convinced that I didn’t want to have a theme going on.  They just seemed too cheesy and overdone, so I was really against trying it out.  However, after looking at different past e-portfolios in class and talking with others, I definitely have a different opinion.  I guess what I was really against was some sort of metaphor that would drive my website.  However, lately I’ve been considering using either “exploration” or “snapshot/scrapbook” to cohesively bring my e-portfolio together.  I really want my e-portfolio to be a reflective yet professional medium that I could show prospective employers or just my family and friends.  I’ve found while looking through the different pieces I am choosing to include that I have grown so much while at UM, and am proud of how I’m progressing and learning to write in different ways.  I’ve been enjoying the act of exploring different mediums, styles, etc.  At the same time, I feel like my writing is very personal, and a lot of it centers on different snapshots of my time in college, moments with my family, and other episodes that I am enjoying reflecting on.  So as you can see, I’m trying to find a happy medium in my reflective writing and e-portfolio theme between exploration and scrapbook… and I haven’t completely figured it out yet.

As for the writing parts, I just have to say that it was a pain to upload the different documents into my Wix e-portfolio.  I forgot that they had to be in PDF format, so I opened all of my documents and saved them as PDFs one by one, which took some time.  Then my computer died and I forgot my charger at my aunt’s house, so I lost some of the work I had uploaded to the website… yeah, it was a fun afternoon.

Here’s a link to my e-portfolio:  http://alyssalo.wix.com/alyssalopez

I’m still working out a good amount of kinks and haven’t uploaded any reflective writing yet, but if you have any questions let me know!

Happy writing!

The Makings of a Flipbook

For the second tech challenge dealing with true web writing, I decided to look into online flipbooks.  Looking through past gateway portfolios, I always noted the different ways that papers and stories were presented through them — were they copied directly onto the page?  Did they open as a separate pdf file?  Did you have to download the paper you want to read?  The few that I noted with flipbooks directly in the browser were really interesting to look at, and I enjoyed the way that they were easy to read and easily accessible.

To make my own version of this, I basically just googled “online flipbooks,” since C-Tools wouldn’t open for me, and I didn’t know where to start. The website that I used was Flipsnack (http://www.flipsnack.com/), which was really easy to use!  I just created an account, uploaded a PDF file of my essay, and chose the background color.  It was super easy!  Here’s a screenshot of the flipbook, in the browser.

Flipsnack screenshot

The only problem that I ran into was actually linking it to my eportfolio.  I’m using Wix.com and I couldn’t figure out how to embed the link onto a page in order for the essay to be read.  I tried making a new page, using embedding codes, the plain code that was provided, etc., but I couldn’t figure it out.  Did anyone have success doing this on Wix?  I’d like to see how it looks and possibly use this for my portfolio!

I ended up just saving the new page I made and using a button to externally link to the flipbook on Flipsnack.com.  It’s definitely not how I wanted to publish it, but it’s the best I could do.  But I really enjoyed the easiness and options for creating web writing like flipbooks!  It’s something I might look more into in the future too!

Amazing Imaginations

Since I’m currently visiting my Dad’s family in Pennsylvania, it’s been so amazing to see everyone — especially my little cousins.  I get to see them once a year at the most, and it’s so sad (in a cute way) to see them growing up so fast!  My dad’s family is huge (every time I visit, I meet someone new), so it’s been overwhelming to say the least.  But my favorite part of the trip is always when my little cousins begin attacking me and just talking… and TALKING… and TALKING to me (seriously — I never knew kids could talk this much).

Today I was bombarded with crazy, made-up “dreams” from Toni (age 5) which involved a tiny lizard who worked with him to save the world from an evil robot who was using ice cream to steal pet turtles away from families (who knew that turtles liked ice cream?).  Then Jose (Toni’s brother, age 6) couldn’t wait to tell me another weird (and a little creepy) story about a possessed doll who controlled zombies that only eat human eyes… that one was a little disturbing.

At that point, three of my other cousins found us and wanted to start telling stories too.  I was admittedly a little tired of hearing the kids yelling and getting distracted, so I asked them if they wanted to write the stories instead.  This didn’t work for Toni and Jose, who aren’t that good at writing yet, so I had my other cousins Ashanti and Mike write for them.  This was… interesting to say the least.  It didn’t quite work out the way that I planned, but in the end ALL of the different stories, from all 5 of my cousins were somehow combined into one amazing story.  I couldn’t believe how creative these kids were!  Their story actually made sense (even though it was really really weird at parts).  While the older ones wrote their parts of the story, Toni and Jose drew pictures to go along with the story, which were so cute 🙂  And all of them were so proud of what they had written!  They showed EVERYONE and we even had Mike read it to the entire family after dinner. I don’t know who ended up taking the story home with them — otherwise I would have taken a picture of the final product!

I was such a proud cousin today, and I was so happy to get them writing.  I asked Ashanti and Mike if they ever write stories for fun and they told me they never had.  Hopefully they’ll start writing more!  I hope that they thought it was a lot of fun… I definitely had fun reading everything that they came up with!

So be on the lookout for a new bestseller coming out soon about a little boy named Carlos who has to save the world from some evil werewolves that know karate and lick you with green slime to poison you and eat your brains.  It’s definitely a page turner!

Colors and Fonts — Such Fun!

The style that I was interested in looking at for my re-mediation project was the different ways that color and font play a role in creating an interesting project.  I really never thought about these two features as being a big part of a presentation — I’d just pick one that I thought was nice looking.  After watching the Lynda.com tutorial on presentations that was on C-Tools, I thought it was really interesting and enlightening to think about these features in the context of the audience!  Before, while I was in the beginning stages of my prezi I had a standard Times New Roman font that looked professional (and admittedly plain).  Now, I drastically changed my first draft from a plain prezi made from scratch to one which has a basic template — and a fun new font.  See the picture below!

Font for my Re-Mediation Project
New font/template for my Re-Mediation Project

Because my audience is college freshmen, I thought a Blackboard template would be fitting for this sort of project.  Also, the font is WAY more engaging that boring Times New Roman, or anything like that.  As for the colors, they work together in a way that I think is simple, yet effective — which is really what I’m going for.  On Lynda.com they suggested some really “out-there” color palettes that I think draw people away from the content and more towards the aesthetics.  I hope that with the colors that I picked (black, white, yellow, etc.) these hypothetical students will be interested in what is being presented and stay engaged as well.  Overall, the tutorial on Lynda.com gave me a lot more to think about than I first thought possible!  I hope it turns out as good as I want it to!

 

Storyboarding Excitement!

Before I began my storyboard today, I have to admit that I was really not looking forward to it.  Partly because I am horrible at drawing, so I was worried about the scribbles making sense to other people, and also partly because I still hadn’t made a decision about sticking with a video or creating a website.  I decided to finally just start drawing out a flowchart for a video (since it’s the medium that I really wanted to work with from the beginning) and go from there.

Thinking about all of the different features of the video (shots, titles, voiceovers, sounds in the background, still photos, etc.) was really daunting and a bit difficult at first.  However, after the first few frames I really started to enjoy making tentative decisions about the video and thinking about the cool and interesting things that I could hopefully do with my footage.  My video is basically going to be a very short “tour” around campus featuring 4 resources (though there are also many more!) including MESA, Trotter Multicultural Center, the IGR program, as well as housing initiatives and the DPE program (especially since this video is geared toward freshmen students).

full storyboard

 

I can honestly say that I am so so SO  grateful for this storyboard — it has really motivated me to work with iMovie no matter how difficult it may be.  I’m really interested to work more hands on with this technology and create this video!  The video’s “tour” theme will consist of me going to different places around campus, and will include videos, photos, and interviews from different individuals who have experiences with the different places/programs.  Overall, I have a good vision in mind because of this planning, so I hope to start shooting near the end of this week/this weekend.  Hopefully I can have majority of my footage shot by next Monday, and put it all together by the time that the rough draft is due!

My only concern right now is whether or not my storyboard will live up to my expectations.  I have a lot of different things going on in my life and a lot of projects starting to be due coming up, so putting everything together is sure to be a challenge by next Thursday.  But I’m sure that everything will work out eventually!  I’m excited to see what I and everyone else in class will complete!

E-Portfolio Fun!

I just have to say… I have procrastinated on work for so many other classes because of this e-portfolio — it’s way too much fun!  I really enjoy putting everything together and finding pictures that I want to represent me and my work, as well as actually making sure that all of the links work and everything is in order.  I actually forgot how to upload my essays onto my wix.com page and keep them in the browser, so I was trying a bunch of different things and searching for help for about 10 minutes before I figured it out again!  (You have to link to a pdf version of the document, in case you were wondering!)  I’m really glad that this feature is available for my e-portfolio, and that it’s so easy to use — having to download a document to read it gets really annoying after a while!

Screen-shot of my e-portfolio
Part of my unfinished “Creative Non-Fiction” page

As I continue to work on my e-portfolio, I’m excited to get more in depth about the different pieces I’m using and my “About Me” section.  Right now everything is very bare and there are no descriptions (as you can see from my screen-shot), and I can’t wait to start reflecting on my writing and making the pages come to life!  Most of my links are in place for different essays, so it’s just a matter of finding an appropriate time (ie NOT when I have a paper due on Wednesday that I should be revising) to start putting everything together and continuing the fun 🙂   Hope everyone is doing awesome on your e-portfolios!  Can’t wait to see them all!