Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Ignite Talk on the Idea of Transparency In Writing, Creativity, and Imagination

Here's my Ignite talk titled The Idea of Transparency In Writing, Creativity, and Imagination. I had a lot of fun working on it and it is an idea that I established as a result of our English 1103 class. English 1103 was a great course to be a part of and I truly enjoyed every moment of it.

Thank You Lacy!!!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

English 1103: No English Necessary

As English 1103 nears its end, I reflect on all of my work and assignments and I realize there was never much "English" involved. From the beginning I was taken back by the emphasis being placed on creativity and meta-cognitive thinking rather than on grammatical structure and rhetoric. I mean think about it, TWO of my THREE major projects were creating symbolic Lego structures... My longest actual paper in this course was probably no more than 1 page. So comes the question, how much did you actually learn Spencer? I would confidently assert that I learned more in this class than I would have in an otherwise structured course teaching the same material. Here's why:

Free as can be would be the best way to describe it. From what the assignments asked you to do to the class room atmosphere Lacy established, our courses' structure provided a comfortable stress free environment for students to work in. Our online g+ community was just as important as our classroom meetings. We provided real feedback and helpful criticism to each other without fear of being judged for out work. We got to work with many different students in class on various projects so there was never a dull lecture setting.

   Our assignments were pretty much at our discretion. I remember at the beginning of the semester being upset because I was always used to having an immense amount of direction regarding assignments. Lacy on the other hand explained the assignment in enough detail to where we knew what we had to accomplish but she left us without any constraints or restrictions. This was something I wasn't used to but it turned out to be quite possibly the best experience I have ever had with a class. It challenged me to think independently and to generate my own ideas and concepts rather than just recycling the visions of another. This played well into my make cycle submissions because I created Lego structures and a video that were unique to my experiences and how I interpreted the assignment. Being able to interpret an assignment and run with it in whatever direction you wish is awesome because it allowed me to come up with whatever I wanted and as long as I justified it, it was on point with the assignment.
   The videos and topics we discussed in our classroom setting also served as more of suggestions and possibilities to help us generate ideas. They worked well at opening our minds as students to a concept that we hadn't previously thought of.

As I mentioned before, our course was centered around creativity and meta-cognitive thinking. It may seem silly but until I wrote that previous sentence I didn't know what meta-cognitive thinking actual meant... So really I went a semester without knowing what this course is actually about. Great. Anyways, now that I do know what it means (thanks google) I can say that the true emphasis of this course was problem solving and working through the "chinks" using abstract and creative methods. All of our work was aimed at identifying a problem or flaw in society and fixing it using our own unique thinking. Take for instance a topic we talked about last week. We discussed the steps for getting into college. The arguably "flawed" source we covered explained the process of getting into college as a defined steps with no variation to the way it needs to be conducted. As a class we discussed our opinion on the source's portrayal of getting into college and offered our unique views on what we thought the necessary components were to getting into college. My vision can be seen in the picture from my day book below.

As I close out my reflection on English 1103 and my experience in the course, I now am able to see the bigger picture as to what the course aims to accomplish. I can say that in my opinion, this course is meant to move students away from dependent recycled thinking and towards unique self-generated thoughts and ideas. It has been somewhat of a course where I have had to find myself as I have had to truly determine and establish who I am as a writer, a maker, and a thinker.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Call For Papers Reflective Blog Post

Currently we are doing a lot more writing in English 1103. What is cool is that a giant web of interaction regarding our call for papers is forming. Everyone is involved in not just their submissions, but also the submissions of everyone else who is writing on their group's topics. In this way there is a lot of assisting and guiding which is actually a really cool concept to see on such a large scale. As for my role in this larger "web"... I feel that I am contributing good opinions and outlooks on subjects and that my submissions are furthering their group's message. Specific to my Beauty These Days submission, I found that I was able to take a unique approach to this group's call to papers. Below shows my documentation process for my submission and you can see that I had two distinct thoughts I wanted to express in the paper.
Another aspect to the writing of my submissions has been trying to incorporate academic sources on my topics. I have had a bit of trouble regarding finding truly qualified academic sources but have worked hard to integrate the ones I have found. Below is my thought process on how I could incorporate a source into my Working Through The Problems Using PIC submission. It is a rough idea on how I planned on intertwining the source but the reasoning behind me writing out my ideas was to get a general sense of direction in terms of my approach.
Overall my writing for my submissions has proven a challenge for myself from the standpoint that it is the first time in English 1103 that I have had to go back and think critically of my work. I like the concept behind what we're doing though so hopefully my minor difficulties in my writing will prove to be only a small problem.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Toyhack Reflective Blog Post

When I began to think about what I wanted to make for my toyhack, I started by thinking of what toy, or "medium" if you will, I wanted to use. One toy we discussed in class that resonated with me was Lego bricks. It was something I had used in my previous make so I realized I was taking a risk at being repetitive, however I knew I could make a great build with a lot of meaning and symbolism by using the bricks. Next I brainstormed some problems or issues I could raise in my toyhack. As if a light-bulb went off inside my head, I realized what message I wanted to convey through my make, the idea of nature and mankind interacting and the delicate balance between preserving rural environments from urban expansion. Once I settled upon this theme, I got to work on sketching out my vision for the make. These pictures show my thought process as documented in my day book.

These drawings gave me a starting point to visualize what kind of Lego bricks and pieces I was going to use for the make. The idea behind the layout was to emphasize the contrasting elements of a rural and urban environment by juxtaposing the two. As I transitioned into actually building my idea with Lego bricks a few changes were made from the original sketch, as you can see in the pictures below.

These few minor differences from the sketches to the actual product were as a result of me working through problems I faced, whether it be lack of bricks or space. I am personally happy with how my toy hack came out. I feel that I adequately symbolized the problem I aimed to encompass. I took an approach that included some good planning and prior thought which led me to successfully display my vision in my make.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Spencer's Meta-Blogging Post

Throughout my blogging this semester, I have picked up on some patterns and describing characteristics of myself as a writer and a learner. First off, I would say in my first blog post that I established a sense of openness to the unorthodox nature of our class and its format. For some people, it is hard to be open and vulnerable which is an essential part to our class structure. The first time I exemplified this sense of openness was when I posted my first science question which was,  "Why is it that recyclables are sorted if they're all going to end up recycled anyways?". Although it might not seem like a big deal to post a question like this, it was a little nerve racking putting my thought out for others to view and critique on the g+ community. During the time of my first blog post I had also read Atul Gawandi's Becoming a Positive Deviant. This short piece on 5 simple steps to follow in order to become a positive deviant related heavily to specific situations that affect me as a college student. There were two steps that had a lasting impact on me, what I took from them was that I am going to start creating more depth in my relationships through questioning and I am also going to work on not complaining and staying positive.
As I wrote my second blog post, I began to pick up on a few more aspects of our English class. The first was that I would have never expected that an English class would put grammar and rhetoric on the back-burner and bring creativity and conceptual thinking to its forefront. During this period of the course we began to reflect on ourselves and our history as writers and science learners. This idea transitioned into our make cycle one which aimed at defining ourselves as writers, scientists, and learners. The way I chose to portray myself in this make was through a comedic video poking fun at my downfalls as a maker. To conclude this blog post I summed up my experiences in the class so far as, "thought provoking, unconventional, and fun. The free-flowing environment coupled with intellectual discussion makes it a class I don't mind going to at 8:00 am."
My third blog post was categorized as a reflective blog post for Make Cycle Two. My reflection on my make consisted of a summary of where my inspiration came from and what my reasoning was behind my build. The parts to my make are symbolic of places I have learned or experienced science on the campus of UNC Charlotte. It is in my belief that the learning I gain inside the classroom directly translates to my interactions with the outside world. If it weren't for our discussions in our English 1103 class I would have never viewed things in the scientific context I do now. I used my field experiences as the branching points from the classroom learning. To illustrate this, I first pasted pictures from each of the four field experiences on a map of UNCC's campus to show a general location of where my experiences took place. Next I built a representation of my idea using Legos. I built each of my four field experiences and centered them around a replica of our classroom. Arrows stemmed from the classroom and pointed to each of my field experiences. The reasoning behind choosing science learning locations on the campus of UNC Charlotte versus other locations nationally where I have had experiences is because until my English 1103 class at UNCC I didn't realize how much science and learning there was in every aspect of everything. You can justify science in any medium and any scenario. The make I built for Make Cycle Two was made to pay homage to the valuable thought processes I have inherited as a result of our English 1103 class.
There are many things I have picked up on in my writing and reflecting during our blogging process. Perhaps an overarching theme however that can be used to categorize my blogging would be progression. I am able to see the meaning behind assignments and how they aid our overall course goal.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Make Cycle 2 Reflective Blog Post

For my make cycle two I chose to make a map and a Lego representation of the places I have learned and experienced science on UNCC's campus. To begin, I took pictures from the four locations of my field experiences and photo-shopped them in the general location in which they occurred on a campus map of UNCC. Once my 2D map was created, I realized I could take the mapping process further and portray it in a second medium. Upon thinking of ideas, building a representation of my field experiences out of Legos came to mind. I went with the idea and built each of my four field experience locations. The four field experiences are centered around a classroom which is representative of our English classroom. The idea behind the arrows is that our learning stems from the classroom and influences our everyday interactions with other locations. I chose to map only my learning and the science I have experienced on UNCC's campus versus other locations because I feel that our English class has opened my eyes greatly to what science and learning is and just how much it is occurring around us. My field experiences greatly influenced my work and ultimately became the focal point of my make. These are four locations in which I experienced learning or science as a result of being in our English class. Without the knowledge I gained from our class, I would have never seen these four locations in the light that I do now. Our class, and specifically Lacy, have supported my work. As I mentioned earlier, our English class has allowed me to view science and learning in everyday life in a completely different manner. The discussion and thinking that is generated in class leads to expanded thinking and unconventionally beneficial learning. My Make Cycle Two is a culmination of my learning and the science I have experienced in the short time I have been on UNCC's campus. My interactions with locations outside of my classroom have been of direct relation to my learning inside our classroom.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

With my first month of college nearing its end, I am amazed at what my classes have taught me and specifically, what my English 1103 class has become. I would have never expected that an English class would put grammar and rhetoric on the back-burner and bring creativity and conceptual thinking to its forefront. I have been nothing but pleased with how English 1103 has turned out to be but it is still a little weird how unorthodox the course is. Since my last blog post, we have been focusing on our personal histories as writers, scientists, and as makers. As a class we constructed a timeline of different science and writing memories we had from our past. It was interesting to find similarities between people's histories and to see that many people experienced the same types of situations as myself. Below are some pictures I took of a similarity I discovered; some people did dissections around the same time as each other in their science classes. Also, we finished our first make cycle not too long ago. This make cycle also aimed at defining ourselves as writers, scientists, and as makers. I chose to make a comedic video poking fun at my downfalls as a maker. Since the video itself did not want to upload, I have also posted the link to my G+ page for you guys to view it. To sum up English 1103 thus far, I would have to say it has been thought provoking, unconventional, and fun. The free-flowing environment coupled with intellectual discussion makes it a class I don't mind going to at 8:00 am. I am excited for what the remainder of the semester has in store for me!