Tag Archives: English

Focus on Forms: Annotated Bibliographies

Do you sometimes reach the end of a semester and can’t remember anything about texts you read at the start of the course? Or, have you compiled a long list of Works Cited for a project and find that the sources are starting to run together in your mind? An annotated bibliography could help with that! For this series, “Focus on Forms,” we’ll be highlighting writing forms you may encounter in your courses and delve into any unique qualities they hold, beginning with annotated bibliographies.

Annotated bibliographies are like Works Cited pages with opinions—housing collections of sources with a short synthesis that may include a brief summary, key themes relevant between items, and how these sources contribute to your project’s goal. This index of citations evolves from a static list with the added information that assesses the accuracy of the pieces and relevance to your overall research goals. They can also be a bit tricky because annotations depend on concise, powerful execution to not only capture key elements of the text but also reflect their importance to your research project or interests. This is a curated collection; the pieces selected should consider what is unique about each text and how it contributes to the collection as a whole. Annotating a bibliography can help solidify a text’s resonance with your research or assignment and bring out new directions for your project (or remind you what ideas belong to what text at the end of a long semester). All in all, an annotated bibliography can test your research skills, synthesizing abilities, and increase your capacity to write concisely and powerfully to create a highly useful reference document.

For more on the mechanics of creating an annotated bibliography, check out Purdue OWL’s excellent breakdown (with links to guidelines for MLA, APA, and Chicago style citations): https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/general_writing/common_writing_assignments/annotated_bibliographies/annotated_bibliography_samples.html .

Want to learn more about creating a curated source list? Chat with a librarian during their “Ask a Librarian” hours online, over the phone, or in person at the McNairy Library: https://www.library.millersville.edu/home .

Have questions about bibliographies, sources, citations and more? The Millersville Writing Center is ready to help: https://www.millersville.edu/enwl/writing-center/ .

Beating Writer’s Block Tips: Alternate Starting Points

Welcome to February and welcome back to our series on beating writer’s block. Last week was about engaging with your class materials (articles, textbooks, videos, etc.) and giving yourself time to process new information. This week we’ll look at another possible stumbling block you may be encountering.

Now that you’ve consumed the content and given yourself time to process, this time when you sit down you produce something but after an hour it is only an elaborately drawn “The” at the top of your page. What gives? You may be facing a second hurdle: feeling trapped by the way you think a paper “should” be written.  Sometimes you may feel obligated to follow a linear construction for your paper – starting with an intro and finishing with a conclusion. I’ve got great news for you! You don’t have to start at the beginning! If you’ve caught on to a good idea, follow it to its fulfillment, even if you know it is not the first concept you will introduce in your piece. Write down everything that comes to mind. Writing down what you know will set the foundation for you to engage with the parts of an assignment that you may be struggling with. If you’ve encountered a composition course, you may have heard a professor say that “writing is a process,” which is to say that you have options in how you approach an assignment and these approaches will not be the same for every piece you create. Finding an alternate starting point, such as creating an outline, storyboard, or even just a keywords list with knowledge you want to include can engage your mind with a new infrastructure to help you move past a writing approach that isn’t working for you. 

The Millersville’s Writing Center (https://www.millersville.edu/enwl/writing-center/ ) can help you with this and more. Tune in next week as we continue this series and best of luck with your upcoming fourth week of class! 

Beating Writer’s Block Tips: Content is King

by Becca Betty

A new semester is here and Spring is right around the corner, prompting thoughts of fresh beginnings and launching us into new aspirations for 2023. However, as students and writers we can sometimes encounter difficulty in facing down these new beginnings, many times coined as the phrase “experiencing writer’s block.” Over the next few weeks, this blog will be posting some tips on getting started and adapting our mental frameworks to overcome common stress-points while writing. The advice that follows is drawn from my own experience as a student and writer and is by no means an exhaustive list but rather a starting point from which you may form your own systems for combatting rhetorical clogs in your critical thinking process.  

To start off with, content is king. A deep understanding of the materials you are working with will form the basis of a strong argument. So, you’ve read, listened to, watched, or otherwise consumed your media of interest and sit down to write out your assignment and …nothing happens. Hurdle number one: the thoughts aren’t coming. My advice is to stand back up and take a step back from the assignment to give your mind time to process the new information it has just consumed. Processing new knowledge takes time, a luxury we don’t often afford ourselves as students with approaching deadlines, but even giving your mind a five-minute break before returning to the task at hand could give you the extra push you need to get started. This is kind of the biological equivalent of the technological standard “have you tried turning it off then turning it back on again?”  

The Millersville’s Writing Center (https://www.millersville.edu/enwl/writing-center/ ) can help you with this and more. Tune in next week as we continue this series and best of luck with your upcoming third week of class! 

Alumna Profile: Lea Scott

I currently work as a 9-12 school counselor at a Career and Technical Education (CTE) school in Chester County, PA.  After graduating from the ‘Ville in 2005, I took a teaching job at the same school, instructing grades 9-12 in World Literature, British Literature, and American Literature.  I finished my Master’s in secondary counseling at West Chester University in December of 2012 and took on a counseling job in July of 2013.

I consistently reference my English roots and my office is filled with YA novels and undergraduate texts as well!  Reading is still one of my very favorite hobbies.

Alumna Profile: Nicole Quaste

Nicole Quaste
Nicole Quaste

I attended Millersville as an English major from 2009–2013. I then went onto grad school at Villanova and completed my Masters in English Literature with a Certificate in Communications in May.

I currently work a Yardley, PA-based company called FXExpress Publications, Inc. as an assistant editor for travel publications Global Traveler, Trazee Travel and Wherever Family.

I’m grateful to Millersville every day and miss it dearly.

Scholarships App

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 englishoffice@millersville.edu 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 englishoffice@millersville.edu—we want to know whether this app is useful for future students.

In addition to this app (free to you), the following sites are recommended by http://www.financialaidfinder.com:

  • FinancialAidFinder Scholarship Listings
  • FastWeb Database contains more 1.3 million scholarships worth over $3 billion.
  • College Board Database has over $3 billion in aid from 2,300 sources.
  • 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.
— Jill Craven, Chair of English