Monday, May 26, 2008

Spring Workshops

The LAC is offering some Spring workshops on writing academic papers.

The workshops start this week.

The Thesis Statement
Thursday, May 29 - 10:30 - 11:45 in 405 Tier Building
A strong thesis statement articulates the unifying theme of an academic paper. It may present an argument or opinion, describe an idea, or provoke an analysis. Different disciplines and types of essays require varied forms of thesis statements. Learn how to organize your key ideas, narrow your focus, and clearly direct your paper through writing a strong thesis statement.

Organizing Your Paper
Tuesday, June 3 - 1:30-2:45 in 405 Tier Building
Organizing is an integral part of a well-written paper and helps the reader to recognize key ideas. Organizing can happen when narrowing down the research question and creating an outline and can happen again at the paragraph and sentence level as you decide in which order to present your information. This workshop will focus on the many different ways to approach organizing papers, which will also help writers feel more controlled as they write their papers.

Revising Your Paper
Thursday, June 5 - 2:30-3:45 in 405 Tier
A strong paper is seldom written in one draft. Changing content, sequence of sentences or sections, as well as editing for the finer details enhances a paper’s readability and improves its strength. Gain control of the revision process: learn to revise for common problems with unsubstantiated statements, poorly integrated quotes, faulty structure, weak content, and basic grammar. This workshop offers guidelines on making decisions about what to look at when revising and editing and tips on how to improve your writing.

No registration is necessary and the workshops are free. If you have any questions please call us at 480-1481.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

More Web tidbits
I have been using for a couple of years now and grown used to web bookmarks that are easily accessible from whichever computer I'm using. Check out this blog (while you are there take some time to explore it - there are lots of useful tips on studying, learning and time management) on the advantages of, and then check out itself!

Visual Dictionaries
Visual dictionaries provide illustrations of words and concepts. Do you want to know what mesocarp* is and what is looks like? Use a visual dictionary. Merriam Webster has a glitzy one. Another Visual Dictionary (copyright by Bernard Dery, but no other information about the hosts of this site except that they are partnered with Wikipedia) has a simpler, but relatively deep dictionary. And then there's the quirkier, artier, visually satisfying Visual Dictionary which is a "collection of words in the real world. Photographs of signage, graffiti, advertising, tattoos, you name it." You couldn't find mesocarp in this dictionary, but you'd find a great illustration of "teenage"

Writer's Block and DarkCopy
Most writers, at some point, have a hard time putting words on a page. When we face that moment, distractions can further interfere with the writing process. DarkCopy has created an online 'distraction free' site where writers can enter text (which is saved automatically) without worrying about format, word count and all those other niggling details that can sometimes derail us. You can even make the writing box full-screen to further that writing immersion.


* it's the pulp of a fruit

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Some tidbits

I've linked to Grammar Girl before, but I don't think I've linked to this – Top Ten Grammar myths. I love this list because it highlights assumptions made by both inexperienced and experienced writers.

For those of you who think "a run-on sentence is a really long sentence," here's a link to a great handout on subordinate clauses (created by Robin Simmons whose website Grammar bytes is also worth checking out), as well as one we created on sentence structure. If you want to find ou if you have a problem with run-ons, or need help deciphering these handouts please stop by to see one of our writing tutors!

And, because it's exam season, here is a brochure on exam stress put out by Alberta's mental health board and a trio of our handouts - preparing for exams, tips on taking multiple choice exams, and writing essay exams. Finally, now is a perfect time to try out Counselling's "Chill out at Noon" meditation group.


Monday, March 17, 2008

Avoiding bad study habits.

Hmmmmm, one of the bad habits I should obviously avoid for 2008 is procrastination. I apologized for my rather spotty blog additions.

Cal Newport who wrote How To Become A Straight A Student also has a blog called Study Habits. January's entry (which I saved many weeks ago . . .) is called "5 Bad Study Habits You Should Resolve to Avoid in 2008." This entry is useful (particularly his first suggestion – study with a plan) as is much of the rest of his blog. Check it out.


Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Learning and Memory from multiple perspectives

I just found this totally funky website on memory and learning designed by Bruno Dubuc (affiliated with Canadian Institutes of Health Research). The website is interactive and adjusts focus and level of information based on your knowledge (Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced) and interest (Social, Psychological, Neurological, Cellular, and Molecular).

So, for example, the first "Beginner" (the default) sentence is "Memory and learning are so closely connected that people often confuse them with each other. But the specialists who study them consider them two distinct phenomena." However, if you click "Intermediate" the opening sentence is "Learning is a relatively permanent change in behaviour that marks an increase in knowledge, skills, or understanding thanks to recorded memories. A memory is the fruit of this learning process, the concrete trace of it that is left in your neural networks." And finally, the "Advanced" opening sentence is "Learning is a process that lets us retain acquired information, affective states, and impressions that can influence our behaviour. Learning is the main activity of the brain, in which this organ continuously modifies its own structure to better reflect the experiences that we have had."

All of these sentences present memory from the psychological point of view. If you then click on "Social" the first sentence (Intermediate) is "People have always tried to keep some records of what they have learned. The earliest records consisted of oral tradition, rituals, and cave paintings. Later on, the ancient Egyptians used pictographs called hieroglyphs to glorify their pharaohs. The subsequent invention of alphabetical writing marked the first universally accessible form of external collective memory (as opposed to internal individual memory, located in the human brain). This was the birth of history."

I really like the flexibility of this site and how easy it is to see how different disciplines approach a different topic. Students who are taking different subjects (as most of do) may find themselves discussing/learning the same topic from a number of different disciplinary perspectives. However, sometimes we have a hard time seeing topics from multiple perspectives and this site provides one useful example of such an exercise.


Thursday, January 24, 2008

Graduate Writing Kit

The University of Ottawa has developed a wonderful resource for graduate students called the "Graduate Writing Kit." The "kit" covers graduate writing, thesis writing, writing a thesis proposal, information management and writing a literature review. As many graduate students know there are few writing resources available for them, so this new site is very welcome!

Also, don't forget about the graduate section of the VLC!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Yet another podcast post

I confess I'm addicted to listening to podcasts. In particular, I like listening to them on the bus on my way home after work when I'm kind of brain-dead, but still need to do some work. I also like accessing information on my own terms and podcasts allow me to listen anywhere – even in the bathroom!

It's easy to find great radio-based podcasts (I love CBC Radio 3 & NPR's All Songs Considered for example) but informational podcasts on something other then technology (and the wonderful grammar girl mentioned in the previous post) are more difficult to track down. However, McMaster's Centre for Student Development has developed a useful series of video podcasts that are short (usually under 4 minutes) and to-the-point. These podcasts present time management, writing, math, and learning tips. I really like the one podcast called "winning through wedging" (as opposed to "winning through wedgies"). They also come in a variety of video formats: video iPod, mp3, Flash, Quicktime and Window's media.


Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Grammar Girl and "Writing Dates"

For me, January is all about remembering to write down the correct year. For the next couple of weeks I'll be writing 2007 instead of 2008. New year or not, there concerns about how to deal with dates in text that arise over and over again – for example, do you write two thousand and eight or two thousand eight? Grammar Girl (Quick and Dirty tips for Better Writing) tells us what do in this case, as well as explaining why we should never write January 1st, 2008 (you write January 1, 2008), where to put the comma, and whether to capitalize New Year's Day (you do). Grammar Girl's podcasts can be downloaded on to your mp3 player and/or read in transcript form on her web page.