Thursday, September 27, 2012

Reading and Writing and Language

"According to Foster (2003) it is important to read a text from the stance that the author intended. He also argues that it is important to have a reader’s perspective and a worldview. Given the multiple tasks that readers must accomplish, in what ways can literature help us to better understand others and ourselves?"

Today's blog post is brought to you by my need to get homework done! So here we go, answering my professor's prompt in the format of a blog post, in a blog. 

Professor Willis, please enjoy.

So everyone has probably read some sort of text in high school that's by an author from another culture or race than they are. For some people it's The Kite Runner or The Color Purple and for minority students it just happens to be the vast majority of the curriculum.  Most of the time, those few minority texts get thrown in there because at some point in the year teachers go "oh shoot, I have to include some form of multicultural text." 

Of course, this is not the best reason to include multicultural texts. We should read these texts because they give us insight to how the rest of the world works. Surprisingly enough, the rest of the world does not look, think, or act like you. In fact, there may be students who are not of the same culture right in your class! Right now! Heck, some of them might not even speak English as their first language!

Shocking, but true. So as educators, what are we supposed to do? Well, first and foremost we have to include multicultural literature not just because we have to, but because we are supposed to meet the needs of ALL our students, not just the white, middle class ones. Besides, there's a lot you can do with a really good multicultural novel that will expand your students' minds. 

Jim Burke, the author of our textbook, The English Teacher's Companion writes that "Stories offer the one place where we can meet and, through these narratives, better know ourselves and those sitting at the table with us" (Burke 405). So what does that mean? It really means that even though at first glance, your students might have nothing in common with the characters in the novel, but dig a little deeper and you can find a wealth of common experiences. 

A person in a class two years ago said that he couldn't relate to the story because he wasn't a Chinese woman. No, you can't relate because of that, but you can relate to the fact that the caracter had problems with her mother, or had difficulty with relationships, or some other emotional factor. What many students fail to realize is that just because a character on the surface doesn't resemble them doesn't mean that we can't relate. Look at all the success we see with the Harry Potter series! Am I a wizard? No. Do I fight evil? Probably not. But can I relate to the fact that even now we struggle with personal relationships and discovering ourselves? You bet I do.

Another good reason to pick a multicultural text for your classroom: English Language Learners. This is one of the fastest growing groups in today's schools, according to a No Child Left Behind policy brief. What a lot of educators think when they find out that they have ELL students in their classrooms is that they have to give up reading literature, especially multicultural literature. 

I only have this to say to those educators:

You CAN still include multicultural literature in the classroom, even though you still have ELL learners in there! The No Child Left Behind article actually states that "Students need to learn forms and structures of academic language, they need to understand the relationship between forms and meaning in written language, and they need opportunities to express complex meanings, even when their English language proficiency is limited" (NCTE 4). Multicultural lit is perfect for this because it not only expands these students' minds, but it still allows them to access those common experiences in literature.

That, and we have to make sure that all students have access to the same curriculum, or at least one that covers all the same basic points outlined by state standards. There have actually been lawsuits over this very fact, with parents and students arguing that the district needed to provide "a meaningful curriculum for children who were limited in their English proficiency" (Hakuta 2) and that not doing so "violated Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964" (Hakuta 2). These students have the same rights as a native English speaker and as such, deserve to be educated using the same texts you would use if they were native speakers.

But what about those students who speak English, but they don't speak the Standard English that every educator wants to see so badly on an exam or paper? How do we deal with them? My answer is that we still use multicultural texts to reach them. They speak a little differently, they didn't come from another planet! An book I read states that "some writing teachers have jumped to conclusions about AAE due to a lack of reliable or sufficient information" (Redd and Webb 3), and it's true. Many educators aren't quite sure how to handle African American English or other dialects because it's different. Many educators have the view that we need to correct it. When interviewed, an educator told researchers that one of the biggest problems they had  " definitely like issues with standard English versus vernacular English. Um, like, if there was one of the few goals I had this year was to get kids to stop sayin, um, 'he was, she was...'" (Alim 185).

Okay, this was me as I read this exerpt:

Yes, I know, I shouldn't be laughing at this person but they're criticizing their students for improper speaking English when their own language is peppered with 'uh', 'um', and 'like'. I just couldn't take her seriously. Not that any of you take me seriously right now, but that's where I'm at. We shouldn't necessarily squash our students' language because it isn't Standard English. I think we can preserve both. Faltis and Coulter describe a scene where a classroom of English Language Learners are doing a read around of their own work. One student writes his stories in his native language of Russian, then paraphrases for the class and on later drafts, will most likely revise into English.

Students can read and respond to literature in any way or language that they like. That's the way they'll connect best with the material, so don't try and fight it. Roll with it and make it work for you. Make sure that students know that yes, they can respond to the multicultural readings in any way they like for the rough draft, but know that the ultimate goal will be to have a paper in Standard English. That way, they'll be able to get all their ideas and thoughts onto the paper while still working towards that ultimate goal. Everyone ends up happy.

Now maybe this won't work perfectly in every classroom due to administration or what have you, but as educators, isn't it our job to at least try and make sure that all students have access to literature and language that they can relate to?


Monday, July 2, 2012

Things That Make Me Happy

As I remember them.

Finding out my specific running shoes are now carried by the store I work for, meaning an employee discount:

Getting a second job:

Turning 21:

Finding out I'm going to Boston in July:

Having an AWESOME run after being away for a while:

Me to life:

Yes, I know I haven't been updating. Yes I know I haven't been writing. There's been a LOT going on. Like all of that. Yes. So. I should be sleeping now. I'm not because...well...internet.

Also, the Avengers is awesome and everyone should see it.

Song of the Day: Fighter by Gym Class Heroes

<3 Erin

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

That Moment

How I felt when I finished writing my novel:

And this:

And then I realize I have to start editing and it's like this:

Please read and help me edit?

Thursday, April 19, 2012


I don't have a quote for ya'll today. Mostly because I'm tired. Partially because I thought of a good one while I was running today. Not to brag, but I kinda like it.

"Don't look down. Look straight ahead. Trust that your feet know where they're going."

It was weird. Yesterday I was running five miles and I felt like the ground was getting a little weird on me (I was not dehydrated, before anyone asks) and that just popped into my head. And I like it. I mean, when you think about it, it's true. Your feet DO know where they're going. Be it in karate or running or anything. So don't look down, because that means you're second guessing yourself. Look up and enjoy the scenery.

Anyway. Now exiting English Major Mode.

I've been so crazy busy the past couple weeks. I had all sorts of shenannigans going on with school work and stress and a combo of the two making me sick. I actually skipped my 11 mile run on Saturday. Whoops. But instead I stayed in and wrote a paper, so it wasn't a total loss.

Just about a week until the race! Starting to get nervous...but I think I can do it. I have to keep saying that. A week to the race, then about two weeks until Finals. SO. CLOSE.

I'm tired, so this is a shorter post. I did see Clive buzzing around outside, so that was awesome. He's been all over the place this spring!

Song of the Day: Blackbird by The Beatles

<3 Erin

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


"Running is a mental sport...and we're all INSANE!" - Unknown

Why yes, yes we are all insane. Can't remember if I've posted this or not. I'm under the weather and worried that it's going to get worse. I have no time to be sick!

But yesterday I had to run five miles, and decided that I would have to do it on the indoor track at the rec center. Some of my thoughts over the course of this run:

Oh god, my legs hurt. Maybe I should take tomorrow off.

Why the hell are people using the treadmills if they're only walking? That seems like a waste of a treadmill...just go on the track!

Wait, is that guy wearing jeans? OH GOD WHY? Why would you wear jeans to work out?

On that note, why is that girl wearing yoga pants to run? It's too warm for that! Well, maybe it's against her religion to wear shorts. I shouldn't jump to conclusions.

*Five laps later, near Yoga Pants girl again* Okay, maybe it's not religion because she's rolling them up and HOLY COW. Her calves could cut steel! Jeebus! Why on Earth would she try and hide awesome legs like that?!

Why do people insist on walking in the wrong direction on the track? I'm just more likely to purposely run at you.

Lot of people wearing those skele-toes shoes. I wonder if those feel funny.

It's hard to think about things when I'm running. I know I have lots to do, but I can't focus on it. I wonder if that's the purpose of running...

Oh hey, last lap! I should pick someone to beat by the end.

Target acquired. Target caught. Target surpassed.

I want chocolate milk.

Yeah, my brain is a little ADD when running. No worries. But I'm getting geared up for race day...have an outfit in mind for the half, but I'm just realizing that I've got to pick out one for the 5K the night before. I'll post pics closer to race day. I'm still holding out hope that by the race I will be able to get my hair into a ponytail, but I'm doubting that. Very sad. It's getting longer, which I'm happy about, but not long enough.

Also, shameless plug here, if you're going to come to the marathon to cheer me on, how about a shirt to go with? I'm considering ordering t-shirts, but I need to know how many people will be in on this. Here's the design:

Ideally the words and design would be white on a red t-shirt. If I order 9 shirts, it would come out to about 12$/shirt, but that price goes down the more people we get in on this. The race will be on Saturday, April 27th on the U of I campus and I highly suggest carpooling if you're coming down to Champaign/Urbana. I can house people, but parking is limited. I need to know if you're coming, need housing, or want a shirt ASAP. Deadline will be Friday.

Writing has hit a sort of standstill. I know what I want to write, but it's just finding the time and motivation. I've got a lot of work to do for school (SO MANY FINAL PAPERS!), and I've gotten back into knitting lately. So yay? This Friday the Knit Wits are probably going out to knit at the bars, so keep an eye out for nerds with needles. I think tonight I'll try and find some time to get some writing done...those final three chapters won't write themselves!

And like that, I've run out of time to chat. Class is soon, and I must go.

Song of the Day: Call Me Maybe by Carly Rae Jepsen

<3 Erin

Thursday, April 5, 2012


Shepard: Good luck.

Grunt: I don’t need luck! I have ammo.

- Mass Effect 3

So I just registered for classes next semester.

My last semester on campus.

My last semester before student teaching.

My first semester as a senior.

In college.



Where did the time go?? It seems like not so long ago I was leaving for college for the first time, trying to figure out how to live in a dorm. Now I'm in an apartment. I used to be an Undecided major. Now I'm in one of the more specific tracks at the university. Holy cow. It just seems like time went by so fast.

I know last post I sort of touched on the idea that I was becoming an adult and I had a year to figure out what I was doing, but seeing that title kinda hit it home.


Damn. After this I'll be done with my official academic career. I mean, sure I'll go back eventually for my masters degree, but that's not for a long time. Once I'm out next May, I'll be out for a while. Yes, you can point out I'll ideally be in a school as an educator, but that's not the same. Huge difference between being on one side of the desk as opposed to the other, trust me. Don't get me wrong, I'm still excited for it, but it's just so weird.

I'll be the first one of my siblings to be out of college and in the workforce. In one circle of friends, I'll be the first one out as well and hopefully the first to get a job. I'll be living on my own (ideally) and doing all that super spiffy adult stuff everyone has to do. A good portion of my friends will either still be in school or across the country doing various jobs. I already know one of my good friends is going to be a lab tech with John Hopkins medical in Baltimore, so there is that too.

I guess right now I can't really think about it too much. If I do, I start to panic a little and I have enough to do in the meantime that I don't need to worry about something so far away.

It's too late for much more speculation. I'm tired and have tons to do later.

Song of the Day: "I Won't Give Up" by Jason Mraz

<3 Erin

Thursday, March 29, 2012


*going out* "What'd you have in mind?"
"Something that doesn't involve fighting Reapers."
"I don't think they've conquered the bar yet."

- Spoilers for Mass Effect 3, Shepard and Garrus Vakarian


Currently sitting in a coffee shop between classes. It's been busy with school and all, but we've got seven weeks left (just under) so it's getting there.

Oh, and remember Clive? He's back! I found out yesterday!

....when he flew into my face.

Me: Aw yeah, this is an awesome day! Running is cool! Life is OH DEAR GOD DID I JUST GET HIT IN THE FACE WITH A SMART CAR?!
Clive: Sup. I'm back. Thought I'd let you know.
Me: ...Hi Clive.

Good times. I finished Mass Effect 3, and while I don't want to post too many spoilers here (aside from the one up above), I will say I loved it. Even the ending couldn't ruin this game for me, since after letting it sink in, I'm a little more content with it than at first. Just hard to take in. But overall I LOVED the game. The writing was wonderful, the gameplay was so freaking smooth, and they brought the best of the past two games together in one amazing masterpiece. Wonderful.

I've been seeing a LOT of prospective students on campus lately...they're so cute! It's weird to think that a year from now I'll be graduating from college and (hopefully) getting a job. Think about that. They're going to put me in charge of children. Does ANYONE get a small twinge of FEAR when they hear that? Not that I think I'll be a bad teacher; Actually, for the first time in a while, I think I'm going to be a pretty decent teacher. I'm just a bit weirded out because I'm no longer going to be a student full time. We spend so much of our lives learning in classrooms and getting through years of the education system (Public, private, charter, or home school) and then're out. I'll be an ADULT. In some ways, I'm ready for it. But in others I'm not. At least I've got another year to figure it out. 408 days, to be precise. How incredibly....weird.

Marathon training is going well. This Saturday is a whopping ten mile run, and I just heard from my sister that she's willing to make a shirt design for me! Which I think is pretty awesome, even though she won't be there. Distance and all, you know.

In the meantime, I've finally had a little time to work on my novel! It took me some time because I realized the ending was not what I wanted it to be, so there needed to be MAJOR revisions. Currently it's at about 80,000 words (I love seeing that number right there. SO MANY WORDS),and I've got another couple chapters planned out. I wanted it done by the end of my spring break, but that would currently involve time travel so I'm hoping for summer. Then I'll edit for the next two and a half months, then hopefully a self-published release in the fall. More updates as that gets closer.

And summer is coming! This summer I'm excited for everything I'll be doing...I've got a skype interview to talk to someone about volunteering with children who have special needs this summer, plus my birthday, work, I'm planning on taking a Shakespeare course at the local college so I can get that out of the way before fall (a schedule that has no class Fridays, and two days of the week I start at noon? Yes plz), running, chilling on the beach, and I just found out the days for the Karate Seminar that I want to go to. Mom and Dad, if you're reading this the dates are July 19th-22nd.

So yes, a busy summer but well worth it. I'd like to get a road trip in there, but I'm not sure if it'll happen. We shall see. Worst case scenario we go next summer or something. SO ready for warm weather. So ready to be done with this semester. Everyone I know for the most part seems burnt out and tired, so I know I'm not alone. I'm sure I'll update later, and more often. Please be patient with me.

Song of the Day: 1963 by Rachael Yamagata

<3 Erin

Monday, February 27, 2012


"If you want change, you have to make it. If we want progress we have to drive it." - Susan Rice, Stanford University Commencement, 2010

So it's been a while, but I've been keeping busy with projects and papers and lesson plans and the like. My usual laptop is out for repairs (hinge broke. Super sad), so I'm lucky enough to be using an old one from my dad. But here are my updates:

First off, running has been going pretty well. I think once my body realized that no, I am not going to stop, it started to man up and get used to running. I did six miles yesterday and three today. Yes, I feel it but it'll be worth it. The race is at the end of April and I'm still super excited. Two months to go, but still! Anyone who can make it down to support my dad and I as we run, it would be greatly appreciated. The race is Saturday, April 28th with the starting gun going off at 7:00 AM. Early, yes, but it should be nice out. Is it lame that I'm already planning an outfit? Because I am. I'd really like to look into some sweet lookin' running shorts (Nike Track Tempo shorts or something like that... the ones I like are red/black/white) but we'll see if they go on sale. Gotta keep workin though. Make sure that everything stays in shape and in fighting condition! And while yes, I am still doing karate, right now running is taking a bigger role because my pratcices are a little less regular. Still awesome, just not all the time.

I'd also like to do t-shirts for those of you awesome enough to come down and watch the race. Ideally I'd love to have the words "Go until it hurts...Then go a little further" printed on them, but I'm not sure what sort of design would work best. If anyone has some free time and artistic talent, I'd love to see what you can come up with. Either post to facebook or e-mail me a way to view the design/file.

OH! So I'm a huge fan of the series Mass Effect and the final installment, Mass Effect 3, is releasing on March 6th! This is a taste of the awesomeness that is supposedly included in the gameplay. That giant robot thing shooting at you is called a Reaper. They are bad and want to kill all life in the galaxy. That bug-looking thing that jumps on it is called a Thresher Maw. They are not friendly, but we're okay as long as they're not attacking US. And it has a new multiplayer feature that looks SO cool!

...Hell yes I have it preordered. I'm excited to see how this is all going to end. Plus it'll hold me over until September. What's in September you ask?


Yes. They are releasing a Borderlands 2. I cannot express fully how excited I am for it. The first game was so cool (millions of guns, obscenely crazy enemies, plenty of humor...) and it looks like they've taken everything and revamped it for this sequel. More guns, more unique character powers, more plot, more everything. While that isn't until the fall (and the date might get moved around), I'm looking forward to it.

As for my novel it's kind of come to a stop. I know what I need to do to finish, but I've hit a sort of snag. One problem is lack of time (what with school and all), another is writer's block, and still another is the fact that the file is still on my usual computer. While yes, I did make a backup, I'm worried that I'll lose the backup and be chapters behind when I go to update the main document. I just need to know how to get to the end point. It's a bit frusterating really. I had hoped that I would have at least a rough draft by spring break, but that doesn't look like it will happen. Probably going to be done by summer at best. That would be ideal so I can spend those months sitting on a beach, editing the story so it can be the best ever. Just haveto wait to get my computer back and in the meantime do as much as I can with what I have. Does anyone have any ideas for breaking a writer's block like this? And please don't tell me to just sit down and write, because trust me I've tried.

Song of the Day: Bang Bang Bang by Christina Perri

<3 Erin

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Beginning in 2012

"Begin at the beginning and go on till you come to the end: then stop." - LEWIS CARROLL, Alice in Wonderland

Good advice, Mr. Carroll.

So. Ahem. It's been a while. How have ya'll been? Busy I suppose. I know I say this all the time, that I've been busy and bla bla bla. No, this time I'm chalking it up to sheer laziness. I looked at the blog. I said to myself "I should update." Then I decided to do other things.

Admittedly, that other thing would be working on my novel, but that's a different story.

....You see what I did there? I can be punny.

And for that one, I shall be shot.

But I'm exceptionally proud of what I've been doing with this idea. Funnily enough, it started in 2010, when I was chatting with Jim and he asked me "If you were a superhero, what would your power be?"

And thus it began. My friends and I talked and collaborated and characters emerged. I was slow to the game, and by the time I got asked the question, the characters of Aercheia, Alice, Gabriel, and Tychus were formed and developing. I thought it would be easy; I'd created characters before and it wasn't hard.

Then I met Tara. She was a pain in the ass. I had an idea of what she looked like, but no name until a week later. I chatted with Jim and my friend Ashlyn and eventually we all got a better idea of who this mysterious woman in my mind was. My friends spoke of how these people developed in their adventures together - adventures I listened in on and smiled at.

And one day I woke up and asked myself: What would happen if this woman entered their lives? And that was the beginning of a writing frenzy that lasted a few months. Chapters were short and choppy, the characters under developed and the plot sketchy at best. But it was my baby. I loved it. I even started work on a sequel. By the time NaNoWriMo rolled around in 2011, I was looking back at the first one and thinking "This could be better."

Which leads us to now. The original document was a measly 34,000 words, and that's including some small edits and author's notes. The new one? It's already at close to double the word count and nowhere near being done. Characters have life and are so very real to me. The few people who have seen it so far have said that they love the characters and while I admit, these people are biased, but I agree. That's what I think the strength of this book is in a way. I hope that readers can look at these characters and see themselves or a friend or a family member in their words or actions.

I'm still finishing up with a few more chapters (at the very least three more substantial chapters) but then it goes out to some brave volunteers for edits before the final phase. If you want to help me edit, say so. And if you do edit and like it (despite the errors I'm sure are in there), tell your friends. Have them tell their friends. Spread the word. I'll make it available for official purchase.

But I ramble. I get excited when I talk about projects like this.

School is back in swing and I'm already swamped. Taking six 400 level classes was not exactly my brightest move. But I like them, so it's not all work. Sometimes it's fun. Still stressful and maddening and makes me want to kick something into a pit This-is-SPARTAAAA style. You know...

That one.

Thanks Gerard Butler.

Also getting back to running. I was bad and didn't do a lot over break (it was cold so sue me), but with the half marathon coming up, I have to get back to it. Training starts in a week and a half! I'll be keeping everyone updated on how that's going and other things relating to the half. If you want to support me (no, I'm not asking for your monies...yet.), I've made a facebook event. Check it out and RSVP!

Soon I'll probably work on a T-shirt design, so that'll be kinda fun to have. The race isn't until April, but keep the calendar clear. Just coming out and supporting me by cheering is amazing. I've never run a half marathon before, but we'll see how this goes. If it's not so bad, I might upgrade and do the Chicago Marathon in the fall. But let's not get ahead of ourselves. I need to start by getting back into running.

I'm doing a few miles at a time, usually two but I think this week or next I'll work up to three. Not much, but it counts. Every bit counts.

Yes, it's a lot of videos. Shush you, you signed up for this when you started reading.

In the meantime, finish novel, survive school, knit my heart out, not freeze to death down here, do not lose sanity. Not necessarily in that order.

Oh frick, I've got to get to class soon. Cheers all. See you whenever I decide not to be a lazy person, pull myself away from the novel, and write to ya'll.

Song of the Day - Arms by Christina Perri

<3 Erin