Monday, September 14, 2009

The white rose..or finding things in your garden you did not expect

I have moved more times than I care to say and made gardens at all of them, including apartments. The items I have consistenly found over the years when I am digging are old marbles. It has come to be a sign of good luck for me to find them and I have a mason jar in my living room filled with them. I have yet to find one at my current home, but keep hoping. But the best treasure I uncovered happened like this:I was living in a 96 year old house in Grand Rapids, Michigan and was pregnant with my only child. There were some neighbor kids who kept cutting across my back yard through a hole in the fence and I located an old "granny gate" behind a neighbor's house, asked permission and dragged it home. I plugged the hole in the fence with it and when summer came, just before my son was born, a beautiful old-fashioned white rose grew up. My life was very difficult at this time, with an abusive husband, and that rose gave me new hope. My beautiful son was born soon after and eventually I was able to leave my husband and start a new life. That rose was such a gift.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

"I hate EBSCO"

My student Brian, very frustrated, said this to me yesterday as he was trying to find sources for his research assignment. Brian is angry about a few things right now. He has a crummy math teacher who doesn't teach, an art teacher who doesn't explain anything, and now there's EBSCO, which I think is the safety valve he can release. I know that I could have spent some time with him and suggested key words, but he was so worked up, I switched him over to Google Scholar, and we went through the whole keyword process he would have used in EBSCO and found a goodly number of scholarly articles. I also called up the math dept and set him up with an appointment to discuss his complaint, and he himself made an appointment to talk with the dean of his college, so I feel like he made some progress academically, even if he didn't use EBSCO to get there.a side note: the students, many of them, have taken to calling EBSCO, "ebesco." Very cute, i think. And the same day, many students showed me their EBSCO folders with new articles.

Keep encouraging your students in their new skills

Thanks to this faculty library learning community at BGSU, I have seen tremendous growth in my students' independent use of their EBSCO accounts and folders, and of their ability to find articles. Now they tell me they check there first, before heading out to Yahoo or Google. They are now aware also of Google Scholar, of keyword searches, of checking out books from the library (I have to tell you it does my heart good to see students with library books!), of ordering books through OhioLink, to just name the beginnings. I also see students who give up the fight too easily, who want to "change their topics because they can't find anything."Instead of letting them change their topics, I call them in to work beside me, questioning them about other key ideas, suggesting possible key words, and in this way, they feel I care about their own work, that I am a "literate responder" to their scholarly interests--and they get better at deepening their thinking about their topic and at performing their database searches.These are first-year students in ENG112 at BGSU and it is a real joy to see them progress. The more able ones dive right in and ask very advanced questions, which keep me breathing as a teacher!Namaste

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A 21st century guide to teaching freshmen college students to check out books from the library

I realized that my students were so comfy looking up articles in EBSCO from computer labs and their dorm rooms and didn't know how to actually check out books from the library. So I asked them to meet me, class by class at our wonderful college library. They were visibly scared:). I made this handout because I knew they had no idea how to find actual BOOKS in the library. I also have a high capacity for cracking myself up, so that explains some of the handout too. If others can use this, just adapt it to your own school. It worked pretty well with some coaching and encouragement, and some of my students, who are now 7 months into their college education, have just checked out books for the first time!

Dr. Cynthia Mahaffey
Bowling Green State University
ENG112 Actual Library Visit

Finding books on your topic for Multiple Source Essay #2 (Paper #3)

Today, we’re visiting our great library, Jerome Library. Your mission is to find at least two BOOKS on your topic. Use this paper to write down items as you go.

First, think about the social issue you want to tackle for this paper. Remember, the format is just like Multiple Source Essay #1, but you are picking the topic. So let’s start there, with a research question which you will make into an argument thesis:
How does______________affect____________in_______________?
(variable) (variable) (population)

Variables could be issues like: poverty, depression, heterosexuality, schooling, school funding, racial discrimination, profiling, sexual orientation, economic status (i.e. class), age, education, clean water, environmental pollution, foreign plant or animal species invasion, recreational camping, sport fishing, nutrition, prenatal care…. If you have a possibility, ask me.

[You may not choose the following topics as your old professor can’t bear it: abortion, euthanasia, capital punishment, legalization of marijuana, God, the paranormal, the drinking age]
Population is the group of people on whom you will be focusing: preschool children, grade school children, high school aged persons, young adults, college students, the elderly, men, women, girls, boys, babies, middle-aged persons (like your professor), African Americans, LGBT persons, Hispanics, Asian-Americans, rural whites….

Once you’ve thought about a preliminary topic (you don’t have to make a final decision today, but I don’t want you to change your topic without checking with me), look for several books on your topic. To do that:

1. Go to, then “libraries.”
2. On left hand side, click on “BGSU Library Catalog”
3. Use your variables (above) to fill in “keywords”. If at first you don’t get any hits, try other synonyms (similar words) and/or ask me. Don’t give up. Be sure to “limit your search” further on down on that form to more recent years, say 1998-2008. A book from 1962 isn’t going to help much.
4. When you find some books, write down their “Call Numbers” and “locations” here:
_____________ ____________ ______________ _________________
Check to see if they are “available”. If they are checked out, you may still be able to get them through OhioLink. If you see a book you really want, let me know and I’ll show you how to do that.
5. Now, the fun part. Go find the book. The circulating books are on the first floor. If you get stuck, look at the end of the bookshelves. There are maps. Or ask a librarian, or me.
6. Take your ID card and go check out the books tonight. Take at least two books to check out. You can keep them for three weeks, which is plenty of time for this paper.
7. You will be required for this paper to use at least one book, in addition to two or three scholarly articles from EBSCO or some other research database.
8. Take the books back before they are due! Never mess with the librarians!