Spring Writing Group & Semester Goals

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For the next 12 weeks, I’m meeting weekly with a group of graduate students to work through this book by Wendy Belcher. The book walks you through – day by day, week by week – developing a publishable paper from something you have already started. I’ll be working on the social network analysis proposal that I had accepted to AERA, the American Educational Research Association conference in New York this spring.

Our writing group started meeting last summer and fall as many of us transitioned out of coursework and into the pre-dissertation abyss. I struggled to structure my time, I didn’t have the intellectual stimulation of hearing about other people’s work, and I needed the informal but practical information from others about committee members, deadlines, credit registration, etc. So we started meeting every Thursday afternoon. This became a time to both connect and work together. I have blocked it off on my schedule and look forward to it every week. (One colleague and I also started another group across campus on Wednesday afternoons!)

That said, I needed a little something more than just showing up to write together. I wanted accountability to getting work done and a sense that we were all working on something together (though on separate tasks, obviously). I heard about this book and had the idea to use this with our writing group and AERA papers, which I knew I wanted to turn into a journal article. I started floating the idea to a few others, and pretty soon we had a group of 7 graduate students interested.

Generally, we’re planning to structure the time as follows:

  • 12:30-1:30: informal checkins, lunch, workshop ideas
  • 1:30-2:30: debrief the previous week, I’ll preview the coming week
  • 2:30-onward: write

I think what I am most excited about for her book is that she emphasizes doing a little every day. I tend to want 5 hours to work on writing tasks, which doesn’t usually happen with lots of meetings, commutes, and small children! This spring I’m committing to writing in shorter chunks of time and working on more writing projects at a time.

Her website also has a lot of the forms that you might need, and I also created this spreadsheet that has the topic for each day and allows you to print a weekly schedule.

My goals for this semester, May 15th:

  • Physical spaces paper is accepted to a journal
  • Social network analysis paper is submitted to a journal
  • Dissertation proposal drafted
  • PiPNIC how to guide written
  • 6 blog posts

Other big conferences and tasks this spring:

  • Presenting a session and poster at the Carnegie Summit in San Francisco in April
  • Presenting a paper at the annual AERA conference in New York
  • *hopefully* Presenting a paper and participating in a symposium and doctoral consortium at ICLS (International Conference of the Learning Sciences) in London in June
  • Working on formative assessment rubrics for personalized learning (IES and Joyce Foundation grant work)

I’m thankful for lots of good work to do and good people to do it with!

 

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Book Notes & Thoughts: Organizing Locally, by Bruce Fuller

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Organizing Locally: How the New Decentralists Improve Education, Health Care, and Trade, by Bruce Fuller.

It’s been a full semester since my last post though I have certainly done a lot of reading in that time! My desk, nightstand, and bookshelves are perpetually stacked with library books or cheap used paperbacks from Amazon that I intend to read. And while I do read (or “Harvard“) most of them, I always intend to blog about them, but I don’t.

This first week back at work in my office, I sketched out my spring writing syllabus, made my plan for using Wendy Belcher’s “Writing Your Journal Article in 12 Weeks” with my writing group, and stacked up six books I intend to read this semester. It all feels very productive – good new year kind of stuff.

My goal is to blog about 6 books this semester, and as part of that, to remind myself that these blog posts are NOTES and THOUGHTS. Mostly they include quotes I like or want to remember, thoughts or reflections that come up in the moment.They are not reviews, arguments, or critiques. This is my commonplace book in the cloud. One of Belcher’s strategies, if you are struggling to start writing, is to write down quotes from someone else. So I’m trying to put my blogging at the beginning of the semester – a way to warm up my fingers for typing the many things I need to write this spring!

With that, here are my notes and thoughts from reading Organizing Locally…

 

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