Am I crazy or just adventurous? Maybe a little bit of both, I suppose. After more than a decade since living abroad, I decided it was time for a new international adventure. In March I requested a two-year leave of absence from teaching English at Millersville University and I moved my family in July to Nairobi, Kenya, and it has been a whirlwind ever since! I am teaching secondary English and social studies at Rosslyn Academy, an international school that was built on a former coffee plantation. From the moment I arrived, I have felt at home here.
I am surrounded by an array of wildlife from various kinds of monkeys to colorful hornbills and hummingbirds, from massive indigenous trees to dazzling flowers of all shapes, and I haven’t yet gone to see “The Big 5” yet (lions, elephants, buffalo, leopard,and rhino)! I look forward to exploring Kenya with my family, as we discover this amazing country together, starting with a visit to the baby elephant orphanage and visiting The Great Rift Valley teem to life at sunrise. I even get to go on a 3-day school field trip to a volcanic lake!
Then there’s my new professional life. In the past three weeks since I have been back in the secondary classroom, I am both exhausted and inspired. I forgot how much energy 12-year-olds have and how I must teach them differently from the young adults with whom I usually work.
Nevertheless, I have found the work to be rewarding and fun. So far we have learned about anthropology by creating our own cultures and burying the artifacts for future excavation. We have been crafting board and video games around global explorers’ travels, and we have examined the world of mythology through superheroes and dramatic interpretations. I am already more sympathetic to our teacher education students now that I have stepped back in their shoes.
Besides my work at the school, I look forward to working with medical school students on their academic writing in a program with John Hopkins University and a local university. I also will lead local groups of Montessori and Kenyan teachers in professional development using drama-based pedagogy. Shortly, I also hope to assist teachers in Nairobi slums.
Needless to say, there is so much to do here –both personally and professionally–that my time here will fly by! I look forward to learning and growing and bringing a taste of my adventures back to Millersville when I do.
Penn Cinema has joined up with Millersville English and the Film Club to present arthouse cinema the first Tuesday of every month. Millersville students can get in free to these screenings by mentioning they are with the film club at Millersville.
The September 6th film is Lion in Winter, starring Peter O’Toole and Katherine Hepburn. This is the story of Henry II, with amazing performances by both leads. Film starts at 7 pm.
Henry II: “Well, what shall we hang… the holly, or each other?” 1183, and it’s Christmas at the Plantagenets: Peter O’Toole’s heavily bearded king has sprung his wife, Katharine Hepburn’s Eleanor of Aquitaine, from ten years of imposed-by-him imprisonment to negotiate the succession among his sons, Geoffrey (John Castle), Richard, later the Lion-Hearted (Anthony Hopkins in his feature debut), and John (Nigel Terry: Excalibur, Caravaggio), with King Philippe of France (future 007 Timothy Dalton in his first film) on hand to kibitz – and then the scheming, backstabbing, turn-coating, shocking revelations, and nonstop barbed quips ensue. Adapted by James Goldman from his own play, Lion won three Oscars, for Hepburn (her third, and back-to-back with Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner), Goldman, and the music by James Bond composer John Barry, with nominations for Best Picture, Director, Costumes, and for O’Toole, four years after his nomination as Henry in Becket – two of his eight non-winning nominations). Eleanor: “What family doesn’t have its ups and downs?”(Film Forum)
Film Critic Roger Ebert gave the film 4 stars (out of 4) in his review, stating:
One of the joys which movies provide too rarely is the opportunity to see a literate script handled intelligently. “The Lion in Winter” triumphs at that difficult task; not since “A Man for All Seasons” have we had such capable handling of a story about ideas. But “The Lion in Winter” also functions at an emotional level, and is the better film, I think.
Discussion led by Dr. Jill Craven follows the film.
Millersville offers a free movie-streaming service to all faculty, staff, and students. It has many great films, including much of the Criterion Collection (some of the best/most important films of all time in their best formats, with special features).
Check out Kanopy. You log in with your MU email login and password and you get free films! You can also trim films into clips for class presentations (there are a number of documentaries that would be useful). These can be integrated into D2L forum posts, for example. Make your presentations stand out with video.
Students can earn up to $500 toward scholarly activities by applying for Millersville’s Noonan Grants. If you have a trip, conference, or creative event that requires funding, check out the Noonan grants to see if the activity qualifies for funding.
Please note: Typically, the committee has approved funding for active student participation in conferences and performance competitions, field trips, and programs bringing speakers/consultants/activities to the campus for the benefit of large numbers of students. Generally, grants are limited to transportation, registration, and admissions fees. The committee does not fund meals and lodging; these costs must be borne by the student or another sponsoring group. Noonan requests may not exceed $500.00.
Student Grants for Research and Creative Activity (SGRCA)
These grants are for research or creative projects for both undergraduates or graduate students. Please review the SGRCA Guidelines for more information on the purposes, requirements, and deadlines for this grant.
Types of Proposals Funded:
1. Activities involving student participation, such as performances, competitions, or other presentations at state, regional, or national conferences/meetings. Admission, competition, registration, and transportation costs will be covered up to the maximum award amount.
2. Support for travel involving a group of students to present research papers may also be requested.
3. Computer runs / processing charges.
4. Survey compilations / reproductions charges /mailing costs.
5. Archival, library and museum fees for research purposes, with associated travel costs/mileage.
6. Purchase of equipment, materials and supplies.
7. Purchase of books, DVDs CDs, CD-ROMs, etc.
9. Publishing page charges. (Attach verification)
10. Shared research or creative projects.
Throughout our years here at Millersville, English professors have worried about how our students often have to split their time between learning and working. As professors, we want our students to get the most out of our teaching, and it’s difficult to engage students who are tired or underprepared to do their best. The English faculty often wished there was some way to make it so that our students didn’t have to work while taking courses.
While English doesn’t have the funding to free everyone from work, we do want to offer an opportunity that may help a significant number of you who are willing to take the initiative to find your own funding. It’s called Scholly, a scholarship-finding application that English will now provide free to its students and that they will then have for their lifetimes (grad school awaits!).
To get this app, please email email@example.com from your millersville email with your name and M#, stating that you are an English student. You will be sent back an activation code that you can then use to set up your own personal Scholly account, customized with your unique qualifications. The rest is up to you. I do ask that if you score a scholarship, you let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org—we want to know whether this app is useful for future students.
Sallie Mae American’s leader in college lending provides access to award-winning database with over $16 billion in scholarships from 2.8 million sources.
Scholarship Experts Forbes.com’s vote for best scholarship search engine. 2.4 million scholarship and fellowship programs totaling $14 billion. Customized list of scholarships that match student’s hobbies, interests and academic background.
In the hopes that this can help some of you find more time to enjoy reading, writing, viewing, learning, and culture in general.
Come join us for the Grand Opening of the Writing Center in the McNairy Library room 106 on September 18th at 4pm. President Anderson will attend, and Associate Provost Adams will supply cookies (and Starbuck’s is right across the hall). We hope this new location in the library will enable more students to work with Writing Center consultants to improve their prose.
The Writing Center can help with all sorts of writing, and work with students at all stages of the composition process (from prewriting to the editing phase). Appointments with consultants last for half an hour, and students can either make appointments or drop in. The Center also accepts online submission of papers if students want just written feedback. For more information, see the Writing Center webpage.
The new writing center will open for business on Monday Sept. 11th.
Students who are interested in becoming writing tutors can go to the following link and fill out this application. Find out more information by talking to Writing Center Director Dr. Bill Archibald in Chryst 104.
Students with complementary interests in science and writing have a new path to take at Millersville, the MDST Science Writing. In this program, students will develop science specializations that they can deepen and put to use through writing. This program provides skills that are in high demand and that can help students become strong voices to support environmental causes, technological understanding, and science advocacy.
Today, many professional science organizations push their members to develop communication skills. The same is true for industries. By knowing both science and effective writing, students will graduate with expertise that is in high demand in careers as journalists, science & technology bloggers, communication specialists in medical and health agencies as well as governmental regulatory agencies. The energy industry and non-governmental organizations focused on the environment also need writers with a good grasp on science.
The MDST Science Writing will provide foundational understanding of two key cores. The first core provides journalism courses, including newly developed courses in Science Writing and Environmental Advocacy Writing. More English courses are also under development. The second core asks students to specialize in two of four science disciplines (earth science, biology, physics, and/or chemistry).
The MDST Science Writing draws from advisors in each of the connected science disciplines and is headed in English by Dr. Justin Mando. Dr. Mando, a recent graduate of Carnegie Mellon University, was recently hired for his specialization in science writing. His research focuses on public engagement in scientific controversies, specifically the debate over hydraulic fracturing in Pennsylvania. He is also an avid fly angler and, since arriving in Lancaster County, has fallen in love with the Susquehanna River.
The MDST Science Writing will not only provide in-class skills, but also experiences in the field to work as both scientists and writers tasked with communicating findings to concerned parties. Dr. Mando plans to begin a Susquehanna River Project that invites interdisciplinary participants to engage with the river to raise awareness of threats, of its value to our community, and of the lessons it has to teach us as researchers and writers.
—-Dr. Justin Mando, Assistant Professor of Science and Technical Writing
What Happens after Freshmen Composition: A Writing Summit Focused on Transfer
Our goal for first-year composition, like the field’s collective goal, is to help writers develop and prepare students for the writing they will do in other college courses.
~Kathleen Blake Yancey, Liane Robertson, and Kara Taczak
On February 10th, 2017 the English Department held a Writing Summit to discuss and share approaches to teaching writing with the Millersville University community. For an ambitious first goal, we engaged with the question of transfer – how can freshmen composition support writing practices transfer to help students excel at writing tasks in their disciplinary courses?
The idea for this event began after a Spring 2016 Writing Across the Curriculum survey found that most disciplinary faculty feel students are underprepared for W courses. To address these findings, Writing Studies held a Writing Roundtable sponsored by the Center for Academic Excellence Fall 2016. This well-attended Roundtable provided space for disciplinary faculty to discuss the writing needs of students, especially in upper level writing courses.
To further this conversation, Kara Taczak, whose co-authored work Writing Across Contexts: Transfer, Composition, and Sites of Writing earned a 2015 CCCC Research Impact Award, shared her work on Teaching for Transfer as the keynote speaker at the Spring 2017 Convocation. She then furthered her discussion of key writing studies terms during the first workshop of the Writing Summit. Following her discussion Drs. Farkas, Archibald, Mano, Halden-Sullivan, Corkery, and Pfannenstiel worked with faculty to develop assignments to support students at Millersville University.
Each of the Roundtable Workshops offered suggestions for introducing assignments, discussing assignments, and working with student drafts to help faculty support writing within their courses. For all presenters, the goal was to assist faculty using writing assignments with helping students recognize their prior knowledge. These workshops generated amazing conversation about ways of helping students recognize writing situations. We discussed ways of helping students reflect on their previous learning – of the writing practices they developed in freshmen composition and other writing courses.
Dr. Taczak’s workshop pushed us to consider how to help students develop strong theories of writing, recognizing their prior knowledge that would actually support their academic writing during college.
Dr. Farkas built on that idea emphasizing key terms from her Transportable Writing Tool text that resonate with students at Millersville. Dr. Archibald explained the ways the Chryst Writing Center supports writing theory development, especially when students begin attending as soon as a writing assignment has been assigned. Dr. Mando discussed ways key terms from Teaching for Transfer in combination with science key terms can help STEM majors develop strong theories of writing that support science writing. Dr. Halden-Sulliven explored ways of helping students devel
op an open mindset to support exploration and writing. Dr. Pfannenstiel provided ideas for incorporating digital writing assignments. Dr. Corkery described ways of helping students imitate disciplinary writing style. For each of us, the goal is to help students know which prior writing practices would best support their writing for a given writing task, to help students develop their own theories of writing. Discussing and implementing assignments that support a naturalized transfer of strong composition practices is just one way of supporting student writing on our campus.
As we move forward from this great event with new ideas and discussions, we’ll continue to consider how to develop strong curriculum to support writing practices transfer. I am developing a freshman composition curriculum that draws on the principles of Teaching for Transfer attending to the specific needs of Millersville students. As Dr. Mando and I explore this focus on key words to support student development of their own theory of writing, we’ll also help students develop multimodal practices to further support good writing. We continue to address the question that influenced the Writing Summit design, can freshmen composition help students recognize their own writing practices so they are more effective disciplinary writers.
We also recognize the need for this to be a collective effort. As a community, we must recognize writing as a practice, as ways of thinking and being that must be practiced regularly to help students attend to each writing situation they encounter. Strengthening students control over their own theory of writing in Freshmen Composition is just a first step to supporting and graduating strong writers from all our bachelor’s degree programs. We are excited for the possibilities and welcome the challenges that lie ahead!
—-Dr. A. Nicole Pfannenstiel, Assistant Professor of Digital Media
During the Spring 2017 semester, Dr. Timothy Shea has been teaching The Bible as Literature, a new installation of the English Department’s Reading Our World course series. This course asks the question, “Why read the Bible in a literary way?” and “How does the literary lens expand one’s understanding of the Bible?” It invites students to analyze and to interpret a collection of Bible stories, poetry, sermons, and apocalyptic texts through both a literary and cultural lens. The class also explores aesthetic themes, cultural traditions, canon formation. Students read, discuss, question, argue, and perform their own interpretations of this great text while grappling with its themes as found in music, film, and art adaptations. Furthermore, Dr. Shea invited a diverse group of biblical scholars, artists, and teachers, who lead the class in discussions of literary aspects of specific biblical passages. Dr. Shea works to both broaden and deepen students’ understanding of the Bible as an essential and expansive piece of literature that is an integral element of Western literature.