Sunday, May 29, 2011

How to Read Critically (and My Summer Do-List)

How to Read Critically

(The following was drawn from notes on a lecture by one of my professors, during
one of the class meetings of Juvenile Justice. So, in case you've been struggling
to read research articles and respond to them in a critical fashion, see below.
I took Juvenile Justice Fall 2010. Sorry for the delay.)

In order to read critically, you must do two things:
1) Read for fact: an understanding of theories and their evidence
2) Read for implication: now what?

Typically, a research article is designed in the following way:
1) ASK: presents the problem and its background
2) CRITIQUE: critiques the previous theories surrounding the problem
3) TELL: presents a new theory about the problem
4) SHOW: ties in evidence to support the new theory
5) IMAGINE: imagines the "now what?" and explains implications for the future

In reading critically and finding the format of the research article as you read,
there are a few key things to remember to look for:
- A shift in words signifies the article's claims (however, but, therefore, given,
thus, etc). Take note of such claims and the supporting evidence that surrounds them.
- Notice previous claims or theories you recognize and evaluate the connections that
are made by the article.
- Concrete words signify confident statements or claims (given, thus, therefore, etc;
NOT possibly, may, tend, etc).
- Take note of section headings and find thesis statements and key words for each
- As you read, develop one-sentence summaries of main points that are presented (or
mark one-sentence summaries that are already written within the article).
- Pay extra attention to the first and last paragraphs of sections, as the paragraphs
that lie between are primarily supporting information.
- Nearing the end of the article, look for words that alert you of the summary (in
short, in summary, in conclusion, etc).

My Summer Do-List

I've been in the midst of unpacking, repacking, cleaning, and organizing since I got
home from school on May 15, left again on May 18, and came home again on May 22.
Since May 22, I've mostly been sleeping, as well as working, and completing the verbs
previously listed. In addition, I wrote up a list to keep myself on task. The list is
currently incomplete, as I know some things slipped my mind, but it's a good start.

To be operationalized (and S.M.A.R.T.), goals must be written down.

(in no particular order, much to the chagrin of my OCD tendencies...)

- read. a lot. The Uglies Series(x3), This is Your Brain on Music, Full Dark No Stars, etc.

- bookmooch. get rid of those books in the corner.

- school portfolio.

- t-shirt rag rug.

- write. Metamorphosis. Teacher. Semester reflect blog. Journal.

- pick a grad school.

- GRE on Aug 1.

- people.

And, for immediate action, sleep.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Accountability & Communication and Hypocriticism

I have a feeling this will be a shorter post, but we shall see.

First off, I have minimal work to do between now and when I leave school on May 15
and I am SO bored. I need a new close friend who is also an over-achiever and non-
procrastinator. Granted, I did have the opportunity to go to a clique picnic today,
but I declined because I do not feel like I've been fully-inducted into that clique.
However, there is another clique-picnic on Friday that I will be attending and a
clique-dinner on Monday evening that I will also be attending. Similarly, there are
things that I could do to keep myself occupied: piano, recording, making jewelry,
drawing, sitting outside, going for a drive, etc, etc. However, I'm craving something
more social and, because I know of no one who is available, I am writing.

Accountability & Communication

In a recent and ongoing dialogue with the President of my college, two of the trends
that continue arising throughout our emails are those of accountability and communication.

As a student, prior to emailing the President, I felt very much in the dark about
administrative decisions, actions, and motivations. I do not know what the status
quo is at other institutions of higher education, but the fact that there is a
disconnect between the powers that be and us students who are affected by those
decisions bothers me very, very much. Because of this disconnect, students like
myself do not concretely know the motivations and desired consequences from the
actions and decisions of the administration and rumors thus are created and spread
violently across campus. In short, it's very important to be that administration
decisions and actions are shared with the student body and, more importantly, the
motivations behind these decisions and actions are likewise dispelled.

Similarly, there is a feeling of a lack of accountability among staff of the college.
From not completing the task of laying some carpet to not noticing and refilling the
silverware, dishes, food, etc; I get the impression that there is a lack of pride
in one's job and job description & duties.


I'm not going to write much about this, but I just wanted to say how deeply it upsets
and bothers me when a person judges or reprimands or looks down upon another person
because of a certain behavior, even though an extremely similar behavior is being done
by the former person. Does that one, tiny little detail of a difference really make
one action acceptable and the other not? No.

Also, I'm sorry if I'm ever hypocritical in any way. I wouldn't be surprised and I

In other news, I gave two leaving faculty members thank you/well-wish cards today
and, while they were both touched and appreciative, it was quite sad, particularly
when I told one of them that a third favorite faculty member was also leaving. :(

In regards to this, a lot of reactions to the announcement of a leaving faculty
member were something along the lines of, oh I understand because a bigger opportunity
will be better or you can't expect someone to stay somewhere so small, etc, etc.
Wait, WHAT? You picked a small school, commit to it. You picked a small school, love it.
I simply cannot fathom a faculty member having "settled" on working here because it
feels so insincere to commit to an educational setting all the while knowing that you
see it only as a stepping stone. A greater commitment and truer passion is required
for effective teaching, so I refuse to believe that any of these responses are true.


Sunday, May 1, 2011

HOBY 2011 Mixtape

Like I have the past two years, I made a mixtape for my HOBY kids.
Below is the track list and my explanation of each song, as well as
an addendum of a few songs that didn't fit/I forgot about.

Enjoy! (Also, for the last post? Song I could fall asleep to?
White Noise by Mogwai, which is the closing track on this mix)

_____01 – A Million Tomorrows – Pretty Lights
To start this mix, I present to you an instrumental piece by electronic artist, Pretty Lights. Upbeat electronic music is what I use when I need to be productive and write papers or read. Pretty Lights has also done neat covers of some classic rock songs by Pink Floyd, Eric Clapton, and others.
_____02 – Completed Nihilism – Mouse on the Keys
Mouse on the Keys is a jazz/rock-fusion band from Japan that consists of two members on keyboards/piano and one member on drums. This track is simple, but is a necessary lead-in to the next track.
_____03 – Spectres de Mouse – Mouse on the Keys
This song was the first Mouse on the Keys song I heard when I was shown the music video for it, which is amazing. If you haven’t noticed already, you’ll notice by the end of this mix that I’m very biased toward music with lots of piano.
_____04 – Creepin’ Crazy Time – Big Blood
Big Blood is my most recent new favorite band. Throughout this mix, it is also evident that I’ve been on a big folk kick. A lot of Big Blood’s songs are weird, but they are so good. They also did covers of Erik Satie’s Trois Gnossiennes, which are some of my favorite classical pieces.
_____05 – Buried in the Water – Dead Man’s Bones
Dead Man’s Bones is another folk-y band, but is less upbeat in most of their songs. This song is no exception, but I think it’s waltz tempo and better-than-Cash Cash-esque vocals are beautiful.
_____06 – All Delighted People – Sufjan Stevens
Sufjan Stevens is another folk artist with a beautiful and unique voice and musical genius mind. This isn’t my favorite song by him, but it’s a powerful one that gives me chills.
_____07 – Rabbit Will Run – Iron & Wine
Iron & Wine is another folk artist (frontman, Sammy) who I saw in Baltimore on April 20th and this is one of my favorite songs, the others being Me & Lazarus and Big Burned Hand and Your Fake Name is Good Enough for Me. It was a great concert, opened by The Low Anthem. Essentially any indie-folk band with a bass clarinet and/or baritone saxophone will be able to make it into my heart.
_____08 – Mexican Standoff – Elbow
Before I started my folk kick, my favorite band at the time was Elbow. Their song, One Day Like This, came up on my Arcade Fire Pandora station and I loved it. That song and another, Grace Under Pressure, are my favorites, but Mexican Standoff is a close third.
_____09 – Lotus Flower – Radiohead
Lotus Flower is from Radiohead’s most recent album and, although I tend to prefer their older stuff, the music video for this is great, with frontman Thom Yorke dancing alone. It’s simple, but it’s catchy and beautiful.
_____10 – Butterflies & Hurricanes – Muse
I used to really, really like Muse, but now I have to be in the right mood, otherwise they are obnoxious. Frontman Matthew Bellamy has a powerful voice and this song has an amazing piano interlude.
_____11 – In the Land of Magnolias – Vitas
Vitas is a Russian pop singer with an incredible male falsetto range. His music can be really weird, but it’s perfect when I want something different.
_____12 – Shiller – Ratatat
My obsession with Ratatat occurred at the same time as my obsession with Elbow (and Pheonix and Matt & Kim and Miike Snow and Passion Pit) and they are what I listen to when I have heavy reading I need to get through. Shiller is tied with Lex and Wildcat as my favorite.
_____13 – Rothko Fields – S. Carey
S. Carey is my current obsession. Sean Carey is the drummer/pianist for musician, Bon Iver (bone ee-vair), and this is his minimalist folk project. I saw S. Carey on April 1 and it was incredible. I consider it to be one of the most moving shows I’ve seen, second only to the 2nd time I saw mewithoutyou, followed by when I saw Phish.
_____14 – We Fell – S. Carey
Although S. Carey’s Rothko Fields is absolutely my favorite, I couldn’t put just one of his songs on this mix.
_____15 – White Noise – Mogwai
I chose to close this mix with White Noise by Mogwai because it is a great cool down electronic piece that makes great background music or a great closer to what I hope you think is an awesome mix.

Before I discovered Elbow and the mix of artists that came along with them, I was really into two bands, but could not fit any more music on this mix. So I advise you to check out Two Door Cinema Club (my favorite song is Do You Want it All?) and The Bravery (the first song I heard was An Honest Mistake and my favorite songs are Believe, This is Not the End, and Tragedy Bound [explicit]). Lastly, if you like dubstep (or if you have no idea if you like dubstep), my two favorites are 1975 by Zeds Dead and Cracks Begin to Show (Flux Pavilion Mix) by Freestylers.