Sorority Formal Advice

I know some of you are in sororities and I would love it if you could give me some tips to include in my upcoming Her Campus article. It’s a guide for freshman girls all about formal. I’m not in a sorority and have only been to date parties and semi-formals so I’m not sure exactly what formal is all about. Please tell me the dos and don’ts of formal–anything from the pre to the post event. I’m looking for things that involve who to bring, what to wear, etc.

I know this is kind of random but it is related to writing and I figured you guys would have great insight into the topic. Please email me your dos and don’ts at ericanavesian@hercampus.com. Thanks!!

ePortfolio Proposal

I want my audience to have a fun and engaging reading experience. I plan to create my ePortfolio on WordPress because it is a user-friendly, professional looking platform. My goal is to design a purposeful layout and create different tabs in order to provide my readers with easy navigation. Although each writing piece will be different in terms of content and design, I want my portfolio to appear as a cohesive piece reflecting who I am as a writer. I want my readers to view each artifact and gain a full understanding of my purpose and tone. In order to do this, I want to display each writing example neatly and creatively by including visuals such as photos and videos. When appropriate, I will attempt to redesign my various writing examples to further emphasize the thesis of each essay and give my readers another avenue of entry into my writing.

I want my portfolio to be somewhat interactive, but I don’t want the interactivity to distract from my writing examples. I will incorporate links to the various blogs/websites I write for. I also might incorporate my own personal blog and Twitter feed. I’ve considered creating a new Twitter account specifically for this portfolio, but I think my personal account will work just fine because I usually use it to promote my articles anyways. I will probably also include a link to my LinkedIn account in order to connect the two. I haven’t decided if I want to allow comments, but I do plan to include a function that allows readers to contact me if they are seeking a freelance writer or if they want to discuss my writing experience and techniques.  I think this will help me to network with other writers in my field.

I definitely want my portfolio to be organized around a guiding theme because I like when things fit together as a whole. I want my reader to get a real sense of who I am as a writer by reading my portfolio. Every subsection should fit nicely with the overall theme and add something new to the mix. For example, my academic writing will be separated from my fashion/lifestyle writing. I want my theme to be apparent but at the same time I want my readers to make their own interpretations of my portfolio.

As I stated above, I want to include photos and possibly videos in my portfolio because I think they will enhance my original messages and compliment my writing examples. I also might want to include sound, but I’d have to try out different songs and see if they fit well with my guiding theme. I’m very excited to start working on my portfolio and can’t wait to see how the final product turns out.

Storyboard Success

I originally had the grand idea of making my storyboard like a pitch for a new magazine photoshoot, then I realized this would take a lot of time and effort (something I do not currently have with an 18 credit schedule). Then I decided to make a poster and divide it into four different “scenes” (one for each section of my website). This turned into a fail too. I realized that using my laptop and all of the wonderful technologies would be the best way to go, so I started designing a mock website homepage and had a ton of fun experimenting with colors, fonts, layout, and design. Then I added in reflective comments to justify my choices and explain my purpose. After creating my storyboard, I decided to steer away from Glamour and produce my own website. Why should I stick to their theme when I have my own wonderful ideas? My current challenge is choosing the proper platform–I would LOVE if I could actually develop a usable site. Any advice would be much appreciated!

Assessment: Material vs. Value

http://thesituationist.files.wordpress.com/2011/05/grades.jpg

After reading Yancey’s article, I decided to “assess” my homework progress for today. I think I’m doing fairly well considering I woke up at 1 in the afternoon. I had a quick breakfast, recapped the weekend with my roomies, packed my backpack, put on my new flats, and headed to my favorite study spot–Starbucks.

I decided to read the Yancey article before even turning on my computer. You’d be surprised how long it would have normally taken me to read a 5 page essay like this had I been tempted by Facebook and all the Halloweekend pics. And now here I am writing this post, essentially assessing Yancey’s writing.

I like how she opened her article by mentioning the “Mom Overboard” articles in the New Yorker. It frames her argument about self-assessment and the unfamiliarity of the process. “We are, she suggests, assessed in a material way.” I agree completely with this. We try hard in school so we can get good grades on our report cards, we strive for all A’s so we can be valedictorians, we want top-notch GPAs so we can get into prestigious universities. And once we are accepted into these prestigious universities, we pull all-nighters and study obsessively so we can get good jobs, make a lot of money, and have successful lives.

We are constantly assessing ourselves–through numbers and grades–everything quantitative. I see it as simply “checking off” the boxes in life, but where is the value in this? We are conditioned to think in terms of grades and, because of this, we fail to notice the meaning of our work.  As Yancey mentions, we need a way of determining if things are going well. Our own self-assessments and introspection may serve a larger role in the measure of our success than the letters scribbled on top of our papers.

One thing I hate about the current standard of grading (the material-based assessment) is the clear-cut letter/number grades but lack of reasoning behind the assessment. This type of grading is very subjective and varies depending on who’s grading your work. I recently got 99/100 on a take-home assignment. I should be happy with this high grade, but instead I am left wanting answers–why did I get one point deducted? Where did I go wrong? What’s the big difference between a 99/100 and a 100/100? Couldn’t the GSI just have given me the perfect grade? I’ll never know…

But if value-based assessment would have taken place in the situation above, I would probably have my questions answered. The self-reflective comments would give my GSI a look into my thought process and help facilitate a conversation between me and the GSI. This would help me see where I went wrong and how to improve my writing in the future. I agree with Yancey that this dialogue is essential to the writing process.

Online News Community/Public Forum

http://www.blogtrepreneur.com/wp-content/uploads/top-100-women-bloggers.jpg

When I first started brainstorming for the re-mediation assignment, I had way too many ideas. I guess this is better than having no ideas at all, but still it was hard to figure out what direction to go with this project. I wanted to create an interactive article for the Glamour website, an actual blog, a new website or a public forum. Eventually I decided to create an online news community/public forum to combine all of my original ideas into one. I think this will be the best way for me to re-mediate my original argument about blogs and new media being a net gain for society. As of right now I’m thinking of using Wix to execute this project because I recently used it to create another website and think it will allow me to include all of the necessary elements in my online news community/public forum. The only problem I ran into with Wix was its tendency to freeze. This made the whole website creation process slow and somewhat annoying. I definitely do not want to run into these same problems again! I would love it if you guys had any suggestions on better platforms to use for my online news community/public forum. Here are some examples of online forums I may use as inspiration: The Women’s Nest, In The Powder Room, PepsiCo Women’s Inspiration Network, and GoGirl Finance.

I’d like your feedback on my proposal:

I plan to develop an online news community/public forum (essentially an interactive website) for Glamour readers.  This will be a public forum that allows real women to communicate with one another and share the news. My ideal audience is all Glamour readers regardless of their current level of political involvement.  I want my audience to join “the conversation called blogging” and be completely engaged in this online community. I plan to bridge the gap between hard news and soft news by providing an outlet for discussion of issues, ranging from rantings about political candidates to advice about where to buy the most comfortable high heels. This online news community/public forum will be a part of the Glamour website and build upon their Glamocracy blog section which contains political articles written in personal/opinion-based tones. My reason for choosing to create an online news community/public forum is that it will represent the argument addressed in my essay about new media being a net gain for society. This public forum will allow readers to participate in the creation of news. I think it is a great extension of my previous essay and has real world applicability and functionality. My plan for the story board assignment is to pretend like I’m pitching this project to Glamour executives, again something that I would potentially be doing in my future career. I want to connect this project to my print article by including a scan-able bar code in the print version that directs readers to the online news community. This way, all versions of my essay will come together as a whole.  I’d like to model the “I am that Girl” website because it is easy to navigate, has visually appeal, and contains well-organized relevant information in the form of images, videos and text. As you may notice, the site has been revamped since my initial blog post, but I think I actually like it better now which is why I plan to use it for inspiration when re-mediating my argument. 

What do you think?

Reflection on Blogging

Posts: I noticed that all of my blog posts have a very reflective, introspective, personal feel. I think I learn more about myself as a writer as I blog. My blog writing style is similar to the self-reflective comments we write for assignments. As far as the reading response posts go, I have a sort of conversation with the text/author (although I know they will not actually answer). When it comes to the open-ended “write about something writing related” posts, I think I focus on my writing process and my feelings towards writing. Each new writing task I encounter in life gives me a new perspective on writing, and I like to talk about this in my blog posts. Overall, I think my blog posts are reflective of me as a writer. I try to use an informal, conversational tone and really express what I’m feeling. I would describe my blog persona as honest and self-reflective. I think my newer posts are most satisfying because I felt really passionate about the topics I was blogging about. My older posts and some of the reading response posts are not as satisfying because as I read them I can tell I didn’t really care about the topics I was writing about. This could have to do with my hatred of long reading assignments and lack of interest in overly in-depth historical accounts (like the Ong piece).

Comments: I really like the comment function of the blog. It allows me to see that people are actually reading what I write which is always a good thing. Most of the comments I received show that the reader agrees with me in some way or at least understands where I’m coming from. This plays into the idea that blogging is a conversation. I found the comments to my first post most satisfying because my peers asked questions in their comments which led to a back and forth discussion. I think this is how the commenting function is supposed to work. I love reading comments that seem to praise my blog posts. As I read through the comments, I don’t think any of them are unsatisfying. Even the ones that disagree with me still offer a glimpse of insight as to why they think differently than me. These type of comments allow me to approach things from new perspectives. My comments are almost all full of praise. I always try to look for the best in my peer’s blog post and highlight that aspect of it. Since I know how great it feels to receive compliments, I try to compliment others as I leave comments. I also try to mention if I agree with them on certain opinions; this is similar to what I’ve noticed in the comments I’ve received.

Beneficial blogging: As I’ve mentioned before, I think some in-class blogging would be beneficial to me as a writer because it would allow me to write in a controlled setting without much distraction. I also really like the openness of the blog assignment and the freedom to choose when and how to blog. I think this will help make me a stronger blogger.

Current goals for blogging: I plan to blog about things that really interest me in terms of writing. This way, my blogs will reflect the true me. I also plan to blog when I am free of distractions and actually have something meaningful to say.

Always Writing.

Source: http://dreamcolleges.com/image/GET-SCHOOLED-girl-writing-thinking-e1294776033118.jpg

It seems like I spend a big part of my life writing–for school, for internships, for work, for pleasure. I am always writing. My roommates study for biology exams and complete homework sets for math as I construct the perfect paper. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed by writing. With so many assignments on my mind, it’s hard to figure out where to start. I’m the type of girl who starts about 7 different assignments at once and, although I never procrastinate, has the burden of finishing them all at the same time–and making sure they are perfect. I noticed this becomes harder when all of those assignments are writing assignments.

To give you a better idea of how much writing I do on a weekly basis, here are the writing assignments/tasks on my mind this week: Communications 451 prospectus & term paper, English 229 online profile/portfolio, English 229 blog post, Communications 381 literature review & research paper, Writing 200 blog post, Writing 200 draft #2 of re-purposing an argument essay, Writing 200 portfolio, StyleLine Designer Spotlight article, Her Campus style article. Wow. That’s 11 different writing assignments. Seeing this list makes me realize just how much writing I do. Now don’t get me wrong, I love to write. But when I have this many different things to write, some of the fun turns into pressure and stress as I try to successfully complete each assignment and figure out what paper I should work on first.

It’s tempting to dive right in to the fun fashion articles for StyleLine magazine and Her Campus, but then I remind myself that I am a full-time (18 credit) student at the University of Michigan and my school writing assignments should probably take precedence. Although there are no “internship syllabi”, there are deadlines. And this is why it’s important for me to consider due dates for all of my writing assignments, not just the academic ones.

I decided to make myself a writing schedule to help keep me sane:

  1. Eng 229 online profile/portfolio (Due Thurs), started
  2. Writ 200 draft #2 of re-purposing an argument essay (Due Thurs), started*
  3. Eng 229 blog post (Due Thurs)
  4. StyleLine designer spotlight article (Due Fri), did the interview*
  5. Her Campus style article (Due Fri), need to write the final draft when I get the rough draft back
  6. Comm 381 lit review (Due Oct 21)
  7. Comm 451 term paper (Due Dec 5)
  8. Comm 381 research paper (Due Dec 9)

Writ 200 portfolio (Due ??)

Writ 200 blog post (Due today: COMPLETE)

Comm 451 prospectus (Due Mon: COMPLETE)

Maybe now I will be able to write without feeling the need to pull out my hair or scream each time I remind myself how many different writing assignments I have. Some people would probably laugh at the idea of even thinking about a writing assignment that isn’t due until the beginning of December, but for me it’s absolutely necessary to start planning ahead.

Do you feel like you are always writing too?

It’s All About the Design

While browsing the web to find 5 of my favorite websites, I noticed a theme among the ones I chose. They are all very pleasing to the eye (and all about fashion, confidence, dating, and/or magazines). What can I say? I am drawn to these topics. One website I especially like is i am that girl. I chose it because of its fun, informal appeal, interactivity and use of photos. Each time you scroll over a new section, either a word or a picture, something happens. The words flash, the pictures light up, and there is a clicking sound in the background. There is also a cool transition each time you click on a new tab. I think all of these functions add to the appeal of the website by allowing the audience to interact with the website. This website emphasizes its visual focus by including a cute logo and effectively grouping together photos in a collage format.  I like how i am that girl is set up like a bulletin board. It’s a cute layout and design choice that draws in the reader and matches nicely with the site’s positive message.

Source: http://profile.ak.fbcdn.net/hprofile-ak-ash2/50556_25938310970_8138_n.jpg

Here are the 4 other sites I chose along with why I chose them:

Her Campus: Frequently changes, consistency in color, easy to navigate, tabs neatly organize topics into different sections

Shop Bop: simple, clean lines

Cosmo: good use of white space, consistency in all caps, big heading

Ed2010: easy to navigate, presents the material in a neat way by clearly labeling different sections, the use of blue and orange text against the simple white background is pleasing to the eye

What is Writing?

Source: My Photo, Edited via Picnik

Writing as Death.

“One of the most startling paradoxes inherent in writing is its close association with death.” Excuse me, what? Well I completely disagree with this statement (as is clear in my “Why I Write” essay).  I have never once associated writing with death. If anything, writing is like birth: a chance to reinvent yourself to the world. I do see how writing is able to be resurrected by readers, but why does it have to die in the first place?

Writing as a Technology.

I never really saw writing as a technology, but that’s probably because there are so many other technological things that are more obvious in the sense that we grew up in an era of digital revolutions. When I think technology, I think computers, ipods, cell phones, tvs–but I do not think writing. As I think more about it, I guess some form of writing had to go into each of these technologies.

Writing as Pictures, Pictures as Writing.

It’s interesting how something as complex as writing began as simple scratchings on a stone. I still think writing and pictures go hand-in-hand. Just think back to the books you read when you first learned how to read. Chances are, they were full of  mostly pictures accompanied by a few words.

Writing as Magic.

I think writing has some magical components, but I don’t associate it with magic in the oracle sense mentioned in the reading. That is taking things too far…And who are these “Glamor Grammar” girls? All I thought of when I read this part was the Glamour (as in fashion) girls!

Writing through Scribes.

When I read this part, I instantly thought of my sister who currently works as a medical scribe. I never knew this concept of having someone else record your thoughts and words for you dated so far back.

Writing as Solitude, Writing as Social.

I agree with Ong that writing is a solitary task. When I write it’s essentially just me, my paper, and the thoughts in my head. But writing is just as social as it is solitaire. I immediately think of the writing workshops we do and how much of a conversation takes place between the reader, writer, and text. There is nothing alone about sharing your writing with the world.

 Writing with a Voice.

When you write, you have to consider how you would say the written words out loud. What tone do you want? What message do you want to get across to your readers? These are the types of questions worth asking.  Although writing may seem passive and silent; simply words on a page, writing is just as alive and active as the spoken word.

Writing as Rhetoric.

Personally, I don’t enjoy the word rhetoric. I hadn’t even really heard it used until this year. I think the word rhetoric complicates an otherwise simple concept of “how to write effectively.” If you want people to write effectively, you should communicate to them in a language they understand.

Photo Editing

  • What is the range of software options available in this particular category? There are many options, but the ones we are familiar with are: Adobe Photoshop (payment), Picasa (download), Picnik (free website), iPhoto (Macs), Microsoft Office Picture Manager, and Paintbrush. Here is a list of other free online photo editing websites.
  • What is available for users with different levels of expertise? Photoshop is for advanced users who want to put the time into learning how to use photo editing software. It’s not all just about enhancing your photos, it’s about creating the photo you want. You can do a range of things including photo-enhancing (red eye correction, cropping, color correction) and photo creation (albums, cards, slide shows). Picasa is less advanced then Photoshop, and instead of being software that you have to purchase, all it takes is a quick download. It allows you to save your edited photos on your computer and tag people by face. Picnik is very user-friendly–five minutes with it and you’ll be a pro. It’s common among Facebook users. Picnik has a lot of fun photo effects and extras such as clip art and text.
  • Which options are supported by the University? Photoshop, iPhoto, and Paintbrush
  • What support is available online?  Here is a useful site for photoshop tutorials, a step-by-step written photoshop guide found easily through the Michigan Library website, and a Photoshop Tutorial.
  • What are your favorites (and why), and/or what else should we know? Erica’s favorite is Photoshop because there are so many cool photo-editing options with the software, but she is still learning how to use it. Kaitlin’s favorite is Picasa because of the easy-to-use editing tools and comprehensive photo-saving abilities.
  • Here are some examples of photos we’ve edited using the various photo-editing options!
Photoshop: Contrast, lighting

 

Picnik: Text, photo enhancement, clip art
Picasa: Color fading, photo enhancement