My ePortfolio – The final piece of the puzzle.

http://quinnms.wix.com/quinnskalka

After roughly 3 and a half months of classes, we’ve finally reached the end (for this semester anyways). 3 projects later and we’ve finally reached the culmination of all of our hard work, the ePortfolio.

The most satisfying part of the ePortfolio process was seeing all of my work in one place. As the semester was progressing, it was easy to forget about a project like the Why I Write essay while working on the Repurposing or Remediation projects. Seeing all of my work from the semester on the same page gave me a great perspective on how far I have come during the class. The project that I am the most proud of was the Remediation project. It caused a lot of headaches and tired fingers, and I don’t necessarily think that it turned out as well as I had envisioned, but that’s the reason I am the most proud of it. A typical essay, while by no means easy, doesn’t take nearly the effort that I put into making my podcast.

When it comes to what was frustrating about making my ePortfolio, can I say everything? All kidding aside, I had many bouts of frustration with the technical aspects of creating the ePortfolio. Not being able to have any text appear when hovering the mouse over an image is one of the issues that gave me the biggest headaches, but even things such as formatting the text and moving elements around on a page caused issues. I could honestly tweak and adjust my ePortfolio forever, changing subtle things like font sizes and the spacing between elements, but the only thing I see myself realistically continuing to work on is making my ePortfolio mobile friendly. With phone technologies increasing in leaps and bounds, I would like my ePortfolio to be accessed on a mobile device, and look good while doing it.

While making the hundreds of minute decisions that went into my ePortfolio, like text color and hyperlinks, I forgot to take a step back and think about the theme of my ePortfolio. I first noticed that I had neglected that fact when Brie pointed it out to me during the screencast activity. I got so caught up in the details that I forgot I needed my ePortfolio to portray a message to my audience, as well as be a showcase for my various works. Brie also suggested that I needed to expand on why I chose a hockey rink for my background, and I think that I was able to appropriately address that in my opening statement.

I certainly plan on continuing to add to the ePortfolio as I continue on through the minor. I may not keep up on the blog posts or reflective texts, but I plan on uploading new pieces of writing, keeping the ePortfolio up to date so that I can continue to share it with family, friends, or potential employers.

Congrats to everyone on finishing up a rousing semester in the gateway course, and I hope to see you guys in future writing classes.

Advice for Future Minor in Writing Students

First of all, Congratulations on being accepted into the minor program. I’m sure this is a very exciting time for you all as you begin your journey through the various classes in the minor. After just finishing up the Gateway course myself, I am confident that you will have an awesome experience in the course. Like most of you, the majority of writing that I had done up until the Gateway course was your standard, 5-7 page academic essay. The great thing about the Gateway course is that you don’t have to do that anymore. Each project, from the “Why I Write” to Remediation, is so open ended that you can really do whatever you want. Always thought about writing a short story? You can do that. Have you ever wanted to direct your own movie? You can do that too. The Gateway course was the first chance I ever had to push the boundaries of what I thought I was able to accomplish as a writer, and I have grown in leaps and bounds because of it.

Now that I am done ranting about how cool the Gateway course has been, I just want to mention a few things that I have learned while taking the course that I think will be able to help you guys.

  • Get to know everyone in your class. For the first time in your academic life, you are surrounded by peers who actually want to write. No longer do you have to put up with the kids who are taking writing because they have to. The more people you get to know in your class, the more people you can ask for advice.
  • When you think of which original source you want to use for your repurposing and remediation projects, don’t use it. The best part of the Gateway course is being able to explore new areas of yourself as a writer, so you don’t want to just use the first idea that comes to mind. Think about which piece of writing will lead to the most diverse projects.
  • Finally, take advantage of every opportunity your instructor offers. While my peers gave me great advice on things such as style and voice, the conferences with my instructor were the best for brainstorming and reworking my ideas to fit the project guidelines. Your instructor is there to help you develop as a writer as best you can, make sure you don’t squander that opportunity.

Additional ePortfolio Works

When I first approached the idea of which pieces of writing to include, I had to first decide what theme or purpose I wanted to convey through the writings I picked. I thought of all of the classes I have taken up until this point, and realized that I have had to write, in one form or another, in each class. Whether it’s an academic essay (like the ones written for Philosophy and Classical Architecture), or a laboratory report (Biology, Chemistry), I’ve had the opportunity to continue to develop my skills as a writer, even without taking English or Writing courses in each semester. The opportunity to display additional works outside of our class is a wonderful platform for me to showcase my talents with these other areas of writing. I plan on including the aforementioned Philosophy, Architecture, and Biology writings, as well as research essay from my previous Writing class, with the hopes that the wide range of topics and styles will best showcase my abilities as a writer.

When it comes to writing a paper vs. taking an exam, I think I lean more towards Team Paper. Writing is an entire process, with many steps involved that include receiving feedback at certain points throughout the project. I think this suits me better than a one shot attempt, like what you get with an exam, because it gives me a chance to work with a few different ideas, workshopping them until I am comfortable that I will be able to include everything that is expected on the rubric. For an exam, there is a level of uncertainty regarding exactly what is going to end up on the exam, which is more stressful than knowing exactly what is expected, something that a rubric offers. Because of all this, I have been enjoying our remediation and eportfolio work more than studying for my Orgo and Bio finals.

Storyboarding My Remediation Project

Seeing as how I made the brilliant decision to use a yellow colored pencil, rendering my eportfolio mock-up essential impossible to see, I will instead focus on my remediation storyboard for this post.

Storyboard
Storyboard for my Remediation Project

Luckily, because I am going to be doing a podcast, I was able to avoid any drawings in my storyboard. The rough storyboarding process went really well, and helped me think of a few different ideas that I hadn’t thought of up until that point, including adding a commercial to break up two of the segments, as well as come up with opening and closing statements.

One of the biggest obstacles I am having right now is finding about 2 or 3 hours of time where both of my guests and myself are willing and able to sit down and record all of the audio that I need. Even though I am planning on a 30-45 minute long final product, I’d like to get around 2 hours of audio recorded so that I have plenty of material to work with during the editing process. During the storyboarding process, I realized that only my “1st period” requires both of my guests in the room together. After that, answering the questions sent in by “listeners” (I’ll most likely make these up myself or ask other friends to come up with a few) and discussing life after hockey doesn’t necessarily require answers by both guests. This might be the answer I am looking for on how to overcome scheduling conflicts.

During the storyboarding process, I found it frustrating that I haven’t really decided how scripted I want this project to be. Ideally, I would be able to give each of my guests a note card with the major themes and goals I aim to cover in the podcast and just let the discussion happen naturally. The problem with this is that neither myself nor my guests have ever recorded a podcast, and I fear that our inexperience will lead to a lot of awkward and unusable audio. After creating my storyboard, I think that I am going to leave the details of my guests answers up to them, but I am going to write up a script of how I want the discussion to progress. Hopefully doing this will keep my podcast sounding like a natural discussion between friends, but also make sure the exigence of my project is adequately covered.

GarageBand Soundcheck

As we get closer to the rough draft being due for our remediation projects, I wanted to test out the mic on my laptop to see if recording directly into GarageBand with my mic would provide adequate sound quality for my podcast. I tested a number of different variables, such as distance from my laptop, mic volume, and type of sound recorded (like male speech, male basic, megaphone, etc.). From my initial testing, it seems like the mic on my laptop is more than sufficient for recording a good quality discussion. Adjusting the mic volume solved any problems I had with being too far from my laptop. The male speech option was also great for amplifying my voice, while seeming to dilute the ambient sound of the room around myself. The other feature that seemed to work well was recording a song that was playing from my laptop straight into GarageBand using the mic. The sound quality was fine, and this will help me include any sound effects or music that I might want to add.

The only real problems I’ve encountered so far is my limited knowledge of editing the sound clips that I have recorded. I can somewhat confidently cut pieces of audio and move them around, but some of the finer editing and mixing details are lost on me. While I don’t plan on doing the recording in the Podcast Center on North Campus, I will most likely still sign up for a tutorial to learn some of these editing techniques that I have yet to master.

Below is my attempt to upload my soundcheck files that I played around with in GarageBand. This is the area I am most unfamiliar with because I am not used to saving audio files for uploading in other areas. Please let me know if you guys were able to hear the audio file I uploaded.

Early Repurposing Project Progress

For those of you who aren’t familiar with my repurposing project, I am going to be revisiting an essay I wrote for my AP English class in highschool about my pre game ritual before hockey games. That ritual was an all day affair, starting from the moment I woke up, until only minutes before game time. For those who are unfamiliar, a brief list of common superstitions for hockey players can be found here. I want to repurpose my original essay into one or more newspaper/magazine article(s), that will include interviews with friends who have played hockey about their own pre game routines. I am also trying to exploit any connections I have with the hockey team here on campus to try and interview players about their rituals. If anyone has connections to the team that they would be willing to pass on I would certainly appreciate it.

The reason I decided to pick this piece was because of my interest in the sport. I’ve been playing ever since I could walk, albeit at a more casual level of competition now, and am a huge college(UofM) and NHL(Blackhawks) fan. Because my essay is all about my ritual, I thought that I could further the argument by expanding the discussion to include unifying and differing traits for hockey players as a whole. I also want to see if I can find rituals used by successful players and those used by less than successful players, maybe making a connection between success and particular rituals. A few famous players superstitions can be found here, but I want to find a more comprehensive list, if possible. A few questions I might ask you the reader include; What other outcomes/situations/variables in general could I relate to superstitions? Do you think I should write a few different, shorter, newspaper-like articles? Or one longer, magazine-like article? Are there sources of information other than player interviews that I could realistically hope to obtain?

Something for the UM sports fans.

Maize n Brew

I am relatively unfamiliar with the world of blogging, both writing my own and following others, but a blog that I have begun to follow regularly is Maize n Brew. MnB is a sports blog that primarily covers any and all news surrounding Michigan football, but other sports do manage to get occasional coverage. While the blog covers all recent and breaking news surrounding the team, there are a few specific weekly posts that I pay particular attention to. How to watch Michigan vs. is posted hours before the game every week, and includes things like what channel the game is on, 3 players to keep an eye on, and a recommendation on what to do after the game, win or lose. My favorite post is the weekly Recruiting Roundups that are posted every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. They give updates on how the current recruits are doing for their high school teams, previews and predictions for potential future commits to the program, and any other rumors surrounding football recruiting.

University of Michigan football recruiting news.
[Image credit to Maize n Brew]

MnB is certainly worthy of a follow for any Michigan sports fan. Even though the state of Michigan football is in decline, and many of the recent posts make that abundantly clear, there is a lot of breaking news and interesting information posted to satisfy the die hard fans.

Style Masquerade Follow-up

Building off of last week’s activities concerning “What Counts as Writing,” I want to look at how style can be influenced by audience. I posted last week that a tweet is a new form of writing that has become increasingly popular with the increase in social media use. The choice in diction used in a tweet can certainly be dependent on the user’s followers (audience). For example, a corporation using twitter for marketing purposes is going to want to avoid vague and abstract language so as to appeal to as wide an audience as possible while being as informative about the company as possible. On the other hand, my twitter is full of tweets that contain jargon and abstract inside jokes that I know my followers, which are comprised mostly of my friends, will be able to understand and enjoy.

Shifting focus now to another form of writing that I posted last week, musical artists have to be conscience of style, especially when considering syntax. One of the most common structures of syntax used in song lyrics is parallel. Parallel structure can be seen in different forms between different musical genres, each with their own audience of listeners. Rap music most commonly ends lines in rhyme, adding to the flow and rhythm that avid rap fans crave. The opening to Lil Wayne’s A Milli  is a good example of the parallel rhymes to end each line:

I’m a young money millionaire

Tougher than Nigerian hair

My criteria compared to your career this isn’t fair

Another form of parallel structure that emerges in song lyrics is repetition. Although used in many different genres, repetition can especially improve music that relies heavily on storytelling, adding an interesting stylistic element to the song. A band I really like that uses a lot repetition is The National. An example of this repetition can be found in the song Karen

I must be me, I’m in my head, blackbirds are circling in my head

I must be me, I must be me, black feathers are falling on my feat

Through varying uses of both diction and syntax, style can be a helpful way for a writer to develop an identity that can assist in reaching a specific audience.

What it means to be a good writer today.

With everything from tweets to satirical comedy counting as writing today, being a good writer is a more encompassing definition than it ever was. Before the turn of the 20th century, audiences were easier to anticipate because the only major mediums of writing were written books and newspapers. Now that the internet makes writing more accessible to a wider audience, writers have to be more conscience of the wider exposure that their writing will receive.  This means that to be a good writer today, a writer has to be able to write within different mediums (blogs, social media, academic writing) and write in a way that can capture the wide array of audiences that will see everything that is written.