Friday, December 2, 2016

Say No to Distractions!

Hi Roxy Readers - the Fall 2016 semester is slipping away, and it's time to buckle down and study for final exams. Once again, I'm sharing information about apps that will help you avoid procrastination. I've added a couple of new apps, so give them a try.

Do it Now, Not Later!

Today I have to make choices, and one of the hardest choices I have to make is between surfing and writing. It always seems the waves are best when I need to stay on dry land. The end of the semester is fast approaching, and final papers are due soon. I’m in the trenches with all of you right now as I have a final paper due, too. I won’t tell you the length because it will just shock you. I have to get it done once I’ve finished my blog post. :-) If you put things off like I do, I want to encourage you to stop procrastinating and get on it!

When you find yourself procrastinating, you just have to prioritize. Do you really need to re-watch Parks and Recreation? Is Destiny really more important than your grade? Of course not! Procrastination happens for many reasons, and sometimes we need a little help with our choices. I’ve gathered a list of handy websites, apps, and add-ons that will help you in your ongoing battle against procrastination.

1.       Self Control
This is a program that is only available to Mac users. You tell it how long you want it to block your favorite websites like Facebook, Imgur, Pinterest and anything else that sucks up your time. You can’t even get to these websites if you restart your computer or delete the application! It’s cruel, but it’s for your own good.

2.       Get Cold Turkey
This is basically the same thing as Self Control but for Windows users (because procrastinators use all platforms!). The interface uses a humorous-looking turkey and asks you to donate any amount you want ($0-$20) to block websites from your viewing pleasure. It also gives you the option of donating the money to charity.

3.       Productivity Owl
This Chrome extension is really serious about keeping you on track. If it notices that you’ve been spending too much time on frivolous websites, the Productivity Owl flies in and closes your tabs. Of course, you can control what the owl thinks are frivolous websites and regulate how much time you’re allowed to spend on the sites.

This free Android app temporarily blocks programs on your mobile device. You set the date and length of time to block. Once that time is up, you'll have access to the apps again. 

5.       StayOnTask
This app will randomly check that you are doing what you've said you would do and not wasting time. Again, you set the parameters, and the app will pop in to see if you're on task. StayOnTask is a free app in Google Play.

All of these programs have one thing in common: you have to want to get things done. Sometimes all we need is that extra push. Push yourself, please; you’ll be happy you did. The end of the semester is so close, and we just need to hang on. Before we know it, we’ll be riding the waves again.

That's it for now, Roxy Fans! This is my last entry until the spring semester. Good luck on your finals!

See you next time the sun is up, the breeze is cool, and the waves roll into view. ‘Til then, hang ten!

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

And then there’s all our Instructional Programs

Wow! This semester is zooming by, and there is STILL so much to share about The Fourth! So far I’ve talked about the cool spots to hang out in up here. No doubt, the most popular space is the Stone Writing Center, but we also offer all kinds of instructional programs benefitting faculty, staff, and students. 

SWC Experiences: Have you been part of an SWC Experience? They are Interactive sessions, customized for specific classes and individual assignments. Instructors can bring their students to the Fourth to learn about our services, see our space, and experience the SWC.

Workshop Series: Designed for writers across all disciplines, the SWC Writer Workshop Series provides students an opportunity to discuss challenging concepts in grammar, writing, and research. Our interactive sessions are 15-20 minutes in length with time for Q&A. Students are introduced to specific editing and revision strategies to avoid common grammatical errors and create stronger, more powerful writing. Students also learn how to successfully incorporate source information into their writing and avoid plagiarism. If you’re on my stretch of beach next week, Nov. 14 - 18, stop by The Fourth for Workshop Week. Here’s the list of topics:
  • APA Documentation
  • MLA 8th Edition Documentation
  • Preparing Notes for the Essay Exam
  • Tips for Combating Test Anxiety
  • Study Apps: Quizlet & StudyBlue Flashcards
Online Tip Sheets: Helpful handouts for writers are available on the SWC website. Handouts cover topics in Grammar and Punctuation, Composition, Literature, Documentation and Research, and Résumé Writing.

We’ve got you covered here on The Fourth. Come see us!

See you next time the sun is up, the breeze is cool, and the waves roll into view. ‘Til then, hang ten!

Thursday, October 20, 2016

This is 40!

Undeniably, the most well-known component of The Fourth is the Stone Writing Center. SWC is my retreat - my place to be when I’m not riding the waves. It’s my home away from home.

So, here’s the story of how it all started. In 1976, the concept of a writing center began in one room of the English Building. This resource soon expanded to include a second room, more staff, and text and audio-visual materials, formally becoming The English Learning Center (ELC). This center fulfilled the late Dr. Virginia Stone’s dream that Del Mar College provide a place and the staff for students to get one-on-one instruction, supplemental to the classroom, in English skills. We became the Writing Center in the 90s. In 2006, we officially changed our name to Stone Writing Center.

What happens at the SWC? We provide one-on-one and small group writing instruction to help students from all disciplines develop and strengthen their writing skills. Students can meet with a tutor on campus or they can submit their work to the Stone Writing Center Online in Canvas. The SWC offers spaces, devices, and other technology for students to use individually or in groups; students are also encouraged to bring and use their own devices. The SWC and its services are also available to the community.

Much has changed in the 40 years the Stone Writing Center has been open. Yet, it has never lost sight of its original help students become better writers and lifelong learners.

Happy Birthday, Stone Writing Center! 

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

New Favorite Places

Hello Roxy Readers! I’m still oohing and ahhing over The Fourth! It’s such an incredible space, and today I’d like to spotlight one of my new favorite areas, the Student Complex.

Here’s what you’ll find at the Student Complex:

Re-Charge Zone

Probably (arguably?) the most popular place in the Student Complex, the Re-Charge Zone is located between the entrances to The Hub and the Stone Writing Center and serves multiple purposes. Students can collaborate on group projects or work on individual assignments at the tables provided in this area. Students can also just take a quick break and hang out between tutorials and classes while recharging their devices and enjoying a free cup of coffee.

The Hub

The Hub, a space characterized by movement, activity, and discourse, located in L433, features
  • designated zones for specific types of activities.
  • non-traditional learning space with adaptable workstations and numerous technologies that enable and encourage students to participate actively and collaboratively.
  • workstations which are easily reconfigured to the needs of students working individually as well as in groups. 
  • cutting-edge technologies to facilitate learning and to move the learning environment from ordinary to innovative.
Interview Resource Center

The Interview Resource Center (IRC) provides students a place to practice, develop, and implement effective interview skills. The room is spacious enough to allow for individuals or small groups to collaborate on interview techniques. Providing mobile workstations allows students to create a configuration to best suit their needs.

Career Readiness Institute

Ready to transition from student to career? The Career Readiness Institute (CRI), the final component of the Student Complex, just opened this Fall 2016 semester. Students receive help with Career Readiness, planning, development, internships, résumés, cover letters, presentation practice skills, and effective interview skills.

Students will have the ability to use web-based career planning and mapping software such as Focus 2 and Purple Briefcase on the Fourth with the assistance of Career Mentors assigned to these rooms. The rooms will also provide a well-equipped area for students to practice interview and presentation skills and create PowerPoints, Prezis or other presentation programs.

So, what are you waiting for? Come check it out!

See you next time the breeze is cool, the sun is up, and the waves roll into view! ‘Til then, hang

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

We’re a little Excited!

Hi Roxy Fans! I’ve missed sharing with y’all, but when you find out why, you’ll be as excited as I am!

::DRUMROLL:: Stone Writing Center is now part of The Fourth, and this is THE coolest place on campus!

The Fourth features active learning and planning spaces, instructional programming, and student resources like the SWC and the Student Complex. We believe that student success is enhanced through learning by doing. All of the spaces were designed with cutting edge technologies to create dynamic learning environments.

Our Mission Statement: The Fourth is devoted to serving the learning needs of Del Mar College students, faculty and staff, as well as the community at large, by providing active learning and planning spaces, instructional programming, and resources that encourage its users to learn by doing. 
  • Active Learning Spaces: The active learning and planning spaces on the Fourth have been created through a college-wide effort to provide innovative learning opportunities and learning environments to best suit the changing needs of our students.
  • Instructional Programs: Instructional opportunities are offered for students, faculty and staff and include programs such as SWC Experiences and Workshop Wednesdays. Online Tip Sheets and Canvas Help are also available. 
  • Stone Writing Center: The SWC provides one-on-one and small group writing instruction to students from all disciplines.
  • Student Complex: The Student Complex includes the Interview Resource Center (IRC), The Hub, and the Re-Charge Zone.

Each of the areas on The Fourth has unique qualities designed with students in mind. I’ll spotlight each area throughout the semester. If you’re on campus, come up to the The Fourth and check us out! We’d love to see you!

See you next time the breeze is cool, the sun is up, and the waves roll into view! ‘Til then, hang ten!

Friday, November 13, 2015

Organizing Your Essay Ideas

Hello Roxy Readers! It’s been a busy, busy time on The Fourth this semester. I haven’t even had time to surf! I still like to keep all my surfing gear organized, though. It means I’ll be ready to roll when I do find a chance to hit the waves. This made me think of the importance of organization in writing. Finding a good flow is very important to an essay; if your ideas are all jumbled, then your reader will not be able to follow your argument. Think of your essay like a formula. Once you have your ideas organized, you just plug in everything in between. Remember that good organization can be the difference between an easy-to-follow essay and a really confusing one. A writer may have good thoughts and arguments, but if they're poorly organized, then it doesn't matter.

An essay has three main parts: a thesis statement, supporting arguments, and a conclusion. Your thesis is your argument. This is what ties your entire paper together. Try to have a thesis before you start writing your paper, but if you don't have a polished thesis at this point, don't worry. There’s no need to force it. You will have a thesis eventually, but you also have to remember that it is the most important component of your paper. Your arguments are going to support your thesis, and your conclusion is going to restate your thesis.

So, hypothetically, now that you have your thesis, you can follow that up with your supporting arguments or evidence. If you find that you can't come up with much in the way of supporting points, then you may need to reevaluate your thesis. Your conclusion should restate your thesis. Notice I said restate, not repeat. You should use different words. You don’t want to introduce new material in your conclusion; leave all of that to your body paragraphs. See how it all fits together?

The easiest way to organize your thoughts is to create an outline. Here is a sample of what an outline could look like.
Include a thesis stating your argument.
Supporting point #1
Evidence that backs up your thesis and proves your point.
Supporting point #2
Supporting point #3
Restate your thesis in a different way and tie up your paper.

This really helps when you're stuck. It’s like a road map to follow. Your ideas are organized! Just like my surfing gear. If everything still seems all jumbled, visit us on The Fourth. We’re always happy to help you.

See you next time the breeze is cool, the sun is up, and the waves roll into view! ‘Til then, hang ten!