Monday, October 26, 2015

Personal Learning Assignment #3

The third personal learning assignment had us teaming up with two other participants in the Conversations that Inspire: Coaching Learning, Leadership and Change course from Coursera. We were asked to discuss our weaknesses and disappointments, as well as things we do well and who is proud of us. It was a very interesting exercise. Below are my reflections on the assignment.

My first feeling before our Skype call began was nervousness. I didn’t know these people, and I wondered how they would react to this round-robin sharing. My feelings of nervousness soon subsided after we introduced ourselves. They were genuine people, and seemed very interested in what was being said. That helped a lot as we began to share our weaknesses, disappointments, and what we might do better.
It was nice to hear what others were dealing with. I liked talking with others and getting ideas and tips. When I shared my own flaws and weaknesses, they weren’t judging me. They just listened and had some brief feedback on what I might try to do differently. Hearing ideas on how others deal with issues helped me think of ways I might deal with my own flaws or weaknesses. My classmates also put some perspective on the situation.
I felt slightly more uplifted after this second round of questions. It’s not necessarily easier to “toot your own horn,” but it does make you feel better. It feels better to talk about positive things than when you’re talking about what you do wrong. These feeling were different from the first round, because I wasn’t concentrating on my weaknesses or flaws. I was talking about what I do well, and that always makes me feel better. It helps remind me that, “Yes, I can do this. Yes, I have accomplished things.”
I noticed that the NEA wasn’t as bad as I’d expected. I think it helped to talk to people who didn’t know me and could be objective. The PEA was more prevalent in round two, and really kicked in when I was talking about my accomplishments, because it feels good to talk about what you do well. This exercise was very helpful in showing me that it’s not always a bad thing to talk about your weaknesses or flaws.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Personal Learning Assignment #1

I’m currently taking a class through Case Western Reserve University called Conversations that Inspire: Coaching Learning, Leadership and Change. This post is my Personal Learning Assignment for the first week of class.

The thing that strikes me the most about the people on my list is learning by example. I've seen many people do things that have inspired me, and I realize that I want to do them the same way. The three themes I’ve been most inspired by are hard work, positive outlook, and learning.

For example, my father is and always has been a hard worker. I've tried to emulate that and feel that I'm also a hard worker. Positive outlook is also a theme that has motivated me across different life stages. My grandmother has dealt with many challenges throughout her life, and has always looked on the bright side. Besides my grandmother, a close friend also has a positive outlook no matter what is going in her own life. I try to do that as well. I’m not always successful, but those two people have inspired me to have a positive outlook. Learning is a theme that has been present throughout each life stage. My mother has always been willing to try different jobs and learn new things, so she doesn’t get stuck in a rut. My grandmother is another example of this. A former coworker inspired me to go back to school and continue learning. I’ve always been inspired to learn something new, and I think I’ve been successful in doing so.

The other thing that has struck me about motivation is what not to do. In past jobs, I’ve seen what other people are doing, and I’ve learned that I don’t want to do something the same way. I think it’s just as important to consider bad situations as inspirational as it is good situations. I think you learn as much about yourself during the bad times as you do during good times. In fact, you might learn even more through a bad situation. 

Stay tuned for this week’s assignment!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon

Monsters don’t really exist, do they? But what if they do…

The Winter People goes back and forth between present day and the early 20th century. West Hall, Vermont is a place where strange things have happened for many years. Sara Harrison Shea lost her young daughter, Gertie, in a horrible accident. She is overcome with grief, and when she discovers a way to bring Gertie back, she can’t resist. Sara quickly discovers that sometimes the dead are better left alone.

Ruthie’s mother Alice has gone missing. While looking for clues, Ruthie stumbles across Sara’s secret diary. Ruthie realizes that maybe her mother wasn’t wrong to insist that she stay out of the woods.

The Winter People is the perfect Halloween read. If you liked this book, you might also enjoy The Night Strangers by Chris Bohjalian.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Could You Pass the Test?

[photo source]
A few weeks ago, I saw this article on the Mental Floss website about U.S. citizenship. It has 10 questions that might be on the test immigrants take when they want to become U.S. citizens. As a natural-born citizen, I've never had to take the test. I looked through the questions, and was horrified when I realized I couldn't answer all of them correctly.

That prompted my next learning assignment. I challenged myself to research the answers to each question. Below is each question, the answer, and the source where I found the answer.

1. How many amendments does the Constitution have? 
A: 27 

2. What is the economic system in the United States?
A: Capitalist/Market Economy 

3. Name your U.S. Representative. 
A: Peter Roskam, 6th Congressional District
Source: House of Representatives

4. What are two Cabinet-level positions? 
A: Department of Commerce, Department of Education
Source: White House 

5. Who is the Chief Justice of the United States now? 
A: John G. Roberts, Jr.
Source: Supreme Court 

6. Who lived in America before the Europeans arrived?
A: Native Americans 
Source: World Book Online Reference Center (one of my library's databases) 

7. The Federalist Papers supported the passage of the U.S. Constitution. Name ONE of the writers.
A: Alexander Hamilton

8. What is ONE thing Benjamin Franklin is famous for? 
A: He was the first to propose a monthly magazine in America. 
Source: Library of Congress

9. Before he was President, Eisenhower was a general. What war was he in? 
A: World War II 

10. What did Susan B. Anthony do?
A: She was an activist and reformer who supported women’s right to vote.
Source: Infoplease 

How many of these questions did you know the answers to?



Wednesday, July 22, 2015

What I've Learned About Sci-Fi

At the start of the new fiscal year, I took over the Science Fiction collection. I don’t know a lot about Sci-Fi, so I started reading the chapter on Science Fiction in Genreflecting. The first thing I’ve learned about the genre? There are so many different categories! Below is a list of the categories with a short definition of each, as well as one must-read in each category. This post is just a start to learning about Science Fiction, but it’s helpful to have an overview to refer back to when I need it.

Space Opera
Defined as “colorful action-adventure stories of interplanetary or interstellar conflict.” (Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, 1999)

Hard SF
Defined as “narratives of an imaginary invention or discovery in the natural sciences...something that the author at least rationalizes as possible to science.” (Pilgrims of Space and Time, 1947)

Military SF (SF subgenre)
“more interested in military strategy, the chain of command, and the pressure that technology puts on space-age warriors.” (Genreflecting, 2013)

Time Travel
“enables the reader to see for themselves what has been - or what is to come.” (Genreflecting, 2013)   

“Steampunk marries time travel and alternate history with the dark techno-chic of Cyberpunk.” (Genreflecting, 2013)

Techno SF (Cyberpunk)
Defined as “focusing on the effects on society and individuals of advanced computer technology, artificial intelligence and bionic implants in an increasingly global culture.” (Brave New Words: The Oxford Dictionary of Science Fiction, 2007)

Slipstream and the New Weird
Slipstream is defined as “a blend of SF and Mainstream storytelling.” The New Weird is defined as “grotesque Urban Noir and cross-genre experimentation.” (Genreflecting, 2013)

Dystopias, Utopias, and Armageddon
“Modern utopian fiction tends to conceal dystopian worms deep in the utopian apple, or depicts an outside threat to the utopia’s existence….Contemporary dystopian tales are often set in a postapocalyptic world.” (Genreflecting, 2013)

Alternate History and Parallel Realities
“the ultimate ‘what-if’: major differences result from one crucial change in the historical record.” (Genreflecting, 2013)

The Shape of Things to Come
“what awaits us tomorrow, as we deal with challenges that were not foreseen by the technology-loving futurists…” (Genreflecting, 2013)

Earth’s Children
“characters who have motivations and response that are very like ours, who are nonetheless not human…” (Genreflecting, 2013)

Aliens and Alien Invasions
“They are the ultimate ‘other,’ the Alien. Most unsettling, of course, when they are just like you and me.” (Genreflecting, 2013)
    The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Go. Learn Things.

[photo source]

Scott Bakula plays Dwayne Pride, one of the main characters in NCIS: New Orleans. Pride can often be heard telling his team, “Go. Learn Things.” For some reason, that phrase really hit home with me during one of the last episodes of the first season. It really hit me as a call to action, not only for the characters in the show, but for me personally. In a way, a lightbulb went off.

I’m passionate about lifelong learning, but in past year or so, I feel like I haven’t done much learning. When I heard Pride say, “Go. Learn Things,” I realized that I had to make learning a priority again. The point of my blog has always been to have a place where I can synthesize what I’ve learned, and also share thoughts on all kinds of topics. I haven’t blogged nearly as often as I should, but I’m about to change that.

My library’s new fiscal year begins tomorrow. One of my goals for the coming year is to blog twice per month about things I’ve learned. I have a few ideas in mind for what I might blog about, such as: using Microsoft Publisher, weeding library materials, content curation, and using Canva to create images.

Now that I’ve told the world my goal, the next step is to make it happen. Expect to see posts twice per month on things I've learned. I'll also post at other times on other topics that are dear to my heart, like scrapbooking, and running. 

So, here’s to accountability. Stay tuned to see what I learn next!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

Bryan Stevenson is the director of the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama. EJI’s mission is to help people on death row, incarcerated children, and those without a voice. Just Mercy tells the stories of the people who have been wrongly accused, those who can’t speak for themselves, and those who are affected by our broken justice system.
This is the best book I read all year. Bryan Stevenson is a wonderful storyteller, and I often forgot that this is nonfiction. He is obviously passionate about what he does and is trying to make a difference. Just Mercy was an inspiring read.
If you like this book, you might also like The Other Wes Moore by Wes Moore.