win this week’s care package!

Care Package Front

Are you ready? It’s time for our weekly care package giveaway question!

All first and second semester students are eligible to win a care package – just post an answer to the following question in the comments before midnight TONIGHT to be included in the drawing for this week’s care package. The winner will be chosen randomly from all of the respondents tomorrow afternoon. Got it? Good!

If you could share a meal with anyone from any period in history, who would you choose?

taming your reading dragons

Written by program assistant Nina Gunther-Segal 13F

Taming Your Reading DragonsOn Tuesday, February 25 (after some scheduling issues due to snow!) Asha Kinney and Alana Kumbier shared their reading expertise with a group of interested students. Asha works in IT, specifically with educational technology, and Alana is a research librarian who works mostly with CSI classes. If you’re interested in getting an overview of what happened at this workshop and what resources were introduced — if you, too, would like to learn to tame those reading dragons — read on!

What Happened:
Participating students received a handout with a list of the topics that would be covered at the meeting, their brains fueled by the multitude of delicious snacks provided (seriously, Trader Joe’s has the best snacks). Alana and Asha started off by giving participants the opportunity to ask to focus on specific things with which they might have needed help. They went on to provide participants with tons of helpful information, starting with low-tech options (all-purpose reading and distraction-avoidance strategies) and then ramping up to higher-tech ones (dealing with PDFs, text-to-speech, etc.).

What We Learned–Low-Tech Tips:

  • The SQ3R reading method: This is a prescribed process for reading that really helps with retaining and digesting the information you encounter. It’s broken down into five steps:
    1. Survey – Go over the chapter, looking at headings and its general structure and content, before you dive in more deeply.
    2. Question – While surveying, ask questions about what you’re seeing (i.e. turn headings into questions).
    3. Read – This one’s pretty self-explanatory, but basically just do what you’d normally do when reading, structuring your understanding with your prior surveying/questioning.
    4. Recite – After reading a section, go back over its content and tell it back to yourself (or another person). Reproducing the content in your own words can be especially helpful if you need to write a paper on the topic and want to assimilate the information to avoid reciting it verbatim.
    5. Review – Step away from the chapter and then come back to it over a period of several days to better assimilate it.
  • Reading three times: Don’t worry–this doesn’t mean three times as much work! Instead, try this:
    1. Skim the reading (look at the headings, intro, and conclusion).
    2. Read more deeply — add annotations, and attempt to contextualize the information in the overall study of your class to figure out what’s most important to retain.
    3. Go back and note whatever is most important after class discussion of the reading.
  • Pomodoro Technique: This entails working in 25-minute increments (or however long works best for you) to accomplish a task. So many of us don’t even start a task because it’s too daunting, so breaking it down and having an end in sight makes it more psychologically manageable. Here’s how this works:
    1. Pick a task to accomplish.
    2. Set a timer for 25 minutes (here’s a helpful one: pomodoro.me).
    3. Work on the task without any diversion for 25 minutes, until the timer rings (if anything else comes up, ignore it and write it down to do later).
    4. Also helpful is keeping track of how many increments you’re doing for a task, to get a sense of your general pacing for various tasks (i.e. to read a certain number of pages); this allows you to plan the timing of your future work.
  • Miscellany:

    1. If you’re reading and you come across words or concepts you don’t know, take note of them and skip them, then return to them later–this helps prevent breaking the flow of your focus.
    2. A speed-reading technique that helps with visual focus is placing your fingers below the line you’re reading and following along so that only that line is visible. You can increase the speed of your hand’s movement to encourage yourself to read more quickly without losing track of your place on the page.

Higher-Tech Reading Tips:

  • Making text in a PDF recognizable to your computer: If you want to be able to select blocks of text or use text-to-speech, your computer needs to recognize it as text — the text in PDFs often appears to your computer as an image (especially if it’s a scanned book), but there’s a way to fix this! Robobraille.org allows you to upload a PDF and change it into recognizable text; you can also pick what kind of file it’s converted into (i.e. document, mp3 audio, Braille, e-book).
  • Adobe Reader annotations: Adobe Reader 11 (if you don’t already have it, it’s available for free download) has various tools for annotation. These include sticky notes, highlighting in different colors, recording audio, and drawing shapes. You can also search the text content of your notes for particular terms, making it a lot easier to find your notes on a particular subject. Preview also has similar features for annotation.
  • Text to speech: Hearing as well as seeing a reading can be helpful for understanding, and help keep focus. You can do this through robobraille.org, by having the PDF converted to mp3 audio. Mac users can select a block of text in TextEdit and convert it to an iTunes mp3 (and even change the voice and its speed in System Preferences > Speech > Text to speech). You can also download NaturalReader for free. And if you have an iPad/iPhone/Android, there’s the VoiceDream app, which has better voices than usual and a perfectly serviceable free version.
  • BeeLine Reader: Go to beelinereader.org to have the color of your text change in a subtle gradation, in such a way as to help keep your eye flowing. It sounds weird, but is actually really helpful.

A Final Note:
Asha and Alana noted the importance of having a backup method for documents. Hard drives die, and as terrible as that is, it’s even more terrible if they contain all your work and you lose that, too. There are several ways to do this, and an added benefit is that they make your work accessible from multiple computers (as well as iPhones and other devices):

  • Dropbox: It’s a free service that gives you plenty of remote storage in a folder on your desktop. Sign up and download it here: https://www.dropbox.com.
  • Google Drive: Allows you to create documents, presentations, spreadsheets, etc. and keep them all in one place on your Google Drive account, organized by folder. (drive.google.com)

Get In Touch:
If you’d like to reach Alana or Asha, or want more information on the workshop handouts, here’s their contact info:

Questions? Comments? You can reach us at newtohamp@hampshire.edu.

the top ten reasons to be an orientation leader

Thinking of applying to be an orientation leader, but feeling unsure about making the commitment? Have you started your application, but get so excited every time you think about orientation that you can’t keep your mind on anything else? Great news:

You’ve come to the right place!

We asked current and past orientation leaders to compile a top ten list to describe the experiences they’ve had with the new student orientation program, to give you a better idea of what you can expect as a member of the orientation staff. They think you should apply to be a leader, and so do we! Here’s why:

10. Campus resources! As an Orientation Leader, you’ll likely learn more about the Hampshire campus and campus resources than you have in your first year at Hampshire. A big part of orientation training is learning about these resources so that you can be more informed when working with new first-year and transfer students. The information you receive preparing for orientation will undoubtedly benefit you as you continue to navigate your Hampshire experience, and you’ll be super helpful to your orientees.

9. Skills! The skills you’ll learn in orientation training will be useful to you beyond orientation. The leadership skills that you’ll acquire through being an orientation leader will help you to make a positive impact in your community, on and off campus. You’ll also gain facilitation skills by working with your co-leader, you orientation group, and by leading an interest day activity. You’ll build your resume while making a difference in the lives of new students. Sounds good to us!

8. Learning from your peers! As an orientation leader, you’ll be in training sessions with students from all different divisions and backgrounds. Listening to the opinions and experiences of other students when discussing their time at Hampshire can be a great learning experience, and can further expand your understanding of the Hampshire community on the whole.

7. Positive change! Didn’t enjoy your own orientation group experience? As an orientation leader, you’ll have the opportunity to create positive change and help us to improve the new student orientation program. Take what didn’t work for you when you were a first year and make it better for the new students — they’ll thank you!

6. Repeat performances!  Love the welcome ceremony? Want to help introduce students to the climbing wall? Looking forward to a new common reading discussion? You can do it all again, and help us to make it even better!

5. Relationship building! You’ll make a lot of new friends during orientation, both with your fellow leaders and the new students coming in. The people you meet could become lifelong friends, all because of the bond you made during the orientation program. (This happens ALL the time!) As an orientation leader, you’ll also become a part of a unique community of orientation staff, a bond that you can carry with you throughout your time at Hampshire.

4. Perks! As an orientation leader, you’ll get to return to campus early, be fed by the orientation program, wear a fancy orientation leader t-shirt, AND receive a $300 stipend. Starting out the year with $300 is a great thing. Who knows, you may even get a chance to take a ride on the orientation golf cart with Josiah Litant and Jessica Ortiz. What’s not to love?

3. Representing Hampshire! Orientation leaders are chosen to be representatives of Hampshire during one of the most important times of the year. As an orientation leader, you’ll represent Hampshire to the community of new students and families, and will have the opportunity to share your experiences with these individuals. It’s an honor to be chosen to represent Hampshire at this crucial time, and something that our leaders are very proud of!

2. It’s fun! Orientation is such a fun time of year, and the positive energy on campus is palpable. It’s warm, it’s sunny, you’re outside, and you’re at Hampshire! Sounds good to us.

1. You know you want to! Seriously, you know you want to, so what are you waiting for? Start your application today by visiting the application website. Learn more about what’s required, the selection timeline, and more! Don’t wait — applications are due on Wednesday, March 5!

Still have questions? Come to an information session to learn more about the orientation leader position. Sessions will be held on Thursday, February 27 at 4PM and Friday, February 28 at 2:30PM, both in the Dakin Living Room. Meet Jessica Ortiz and get your questions answered.

In the meantime, feel free to e-mail us at newtohamp@hampshire.edu for more information.

organizing your papers (and your life)

Organizing Your PapersOn Tuesday, February 18 from 3:30-4:30PM in the FPH Faculty Lounge, Will Ryan and Deb Gorlin, two of the three co-directors of the writing program, presented a special writing skills workshop to a group of first and second semester students. Couldn’t make it? Wondering what you missed? Read on for more information about what happened, how to get a hold of the resources that were shared in this session, and how to connect with the Writing Center!

What Happened:
While participants enjoyed some delicious snacks, Will and Deb asked them to introduce themselves and share the details of a current writing project and why it had them vexed. Participants spoke about perfectionism, desiring to impress faculty members whose work they respect, finding space for themselves in their own writing, improving their note taking in research, and struggling to find the words to accurately capture their thoughts. Sound familiar? Will and Deb used this information as a starting point in framing the workshop to cater to the needs of attendees.

Will and Deb began by sharing some useful advice about understanding writing assignments and prompts and the writing process, and then spent some time answering individual questions. They later went on to introduce a model for organizing analytical writing, which they further explained with a handout that has been dubbed as the most requested in the history of the writing program (you can view it here!). The facilitators followed the handout throughout the session, explaining each step and providing helpful hints for each stage. We’ve included a number of these hints below!

What We Learned (and other helpful notes from Will and Deb):

  • Getting ready to start a writing assignment? The first thing you should do is read the course description all the way through. Assignments are drawn from this document, and reminding yourself of the fullness of a course’s content can often help you if you’re struggling to start an assignment. Next, read the assignment to make sure you have a full understanding of the instructions and expectations. If the assignment is based on a text, make sure to read the assignment first. You’ll read the text more effectively and will be able to start calling out pertinent information sooner. Sound obvious? You’d be surprised at how many people miss this step!
  • Finished reading the text, but not sure that you understand the reading? Feel free to look up book reviews and secondary sources to help clarify things for you. Once you have this supplemental information, you can go back to the original text for a more informed read.
  • Ready to start writing? You might benefit from freewriting about the text first to help you spark some ideas for how you want to proceed. Once you’ve taken some time to think about things, try making an outline to organize the main points that you want to make. Just as you’d work out a math problem on paper, determining how to organize your work on paper can be a tremendous help. You don’t have to figure it all out in your head.
  • Once you begin your draft, pay attention to what part of the paper you’re in at any given moment (introduction, literature review, method, body, conclusion). Use the guidelines provided in the handout to help you determine how long each section should be, and where the different pieces of information you wish to share should be included.
  • Are your main points changing as you continue writing? That’s okay! Periodically going back and adjusting the introduction to accommodate these changes is an important part of the writing process. Plan to revise, and give yourself enough time to do so.

Additional Tips from the Facilitators:

  • Faculty often write assignments in the form of a paper outline. Try to break apart the prompt in this way to better organize your thoughts.
  • Your process is your process — don’t compare yourself to others. Some writers are heavy planners (pre-planning each step), while others are heavy revisers (free-writing first and organizing things during revision). The brainstorming <–> organizing <–> drafting <–> revising <–> editing <–> brainstorming loop goes in both directions, and doesn’t always have to be linear!
  • Thinking of taking a break? Don’t stop writing until you know what you’re going to say next. It’s much easier to come back to a writing piece when you’ve given yourself something to go on.

Get In Touch:
Want to schedule an appointment for yourself? Call or email the Writing Center staff to set up a meeting time:

  • Will Ryan – wjrWP@hampshire.edu – 413.559.5646
  • Deb Gorlin – dfgWP@hampshire.edu – 413.559.5531
  • Ellie Siegel – etsWP@hampshire.edu – 413.559.5577

Kyla and Andrew, the Writing Center interns, also hold drop-in sessions from 6-10 p.m., Monday-Thursday in the Library Training Room on the 2nd floor of the Johnson Library. Kyla and Andrew are also available on Sundays from 1-9 p.m. Check out their flyer for details on how to set up an appointment, send drafts, etc.

Learn More:
Can’t get enough of these great academic skills? Join us for another workshop! Our next workshop, Taming Your Reading Dragons, will be held on Tuesday, February 25 from 3:30-4:30PM in FPH 102. Learn how to get through your reading with the help of technology, all while enjoying some free snacks!

Questions? Did we miss something? E-mail us at newtohamp@hampshire.edu for more information.

people you should know: nina gunther-segal — our new program assistant!

Written by program assistant Nina Gunther-Segal 13F

3152c21Hi everyone! I’m Nina Gunther-Segal, the new Program Assistant in New Student Programs. I’m a first-year Hampshire student, so I know exactly what first years are dealing with (and I’m as excited as you all are about the cool new stuff that we’re experiencing). I, too, am figuring out how to navigate college and semi-adulthood, so as I write about helpful information I’ll also be learning it all myself. I’ll be at many of the events put on by New Student Programs, taking notes and participating as much as possible; I’ll also write about those events here on the blog for those who weren’t able to make it but still want access to that valuable information.

I’m a Div I, of course, so I’m not exactly sure what I want to study yet. However, I’m particularly interested in social justice/feminism, sustainable agriculture, and writing. I’m always up for a good conversation (or rant) about those (or other) topics. I spend a lot of time working on the Hampshire farm, heading over there to do chores (regardless of the severity of the weather–sometimes it’s a little treacherous, which adds some excitement to my days!) I’m also a part of the Black Sheep Journal and the Hampshire Climbers Coalition (the latter introduced me to rock climbing, which I now love and get to do for free–thanks Hampshire!) Having had great experience with both groups, I can highly recommend them. I also like to take advantage of Hampshire’s many yoga classes, and go on hikes up Bare Mountain and around Hampshire’s hundreds of acres of trails.

As a relatively new student myself, I’m doing my best to use my own experiences to come up with new ideas, new content, and new events for New Student Programs. I’m also hoping that my fellow first-years (or anyone else who has ideas) will approach me with their suggestions and requests–please feel free to email me at nmg13@hampshire.edu if you’ve got any suggestions.

Hope to see you all at New Student Programs events! Have questions about what’s coming up? Email us at newtohamp@hampshire.edu!

win this week’s care package!

Care Package FrontAre you ready? It’s time for our weekly care package giveaway question!

All first and second semester students are eligible to win a care package – just post an answer to the following question in the comments before midnight TONIGHT to be included in the drawing for this week’s care package. The winner will be chosen randomly from all of the respondents tomorrow morning. Got it? Good!

 If you could invent one new home appliance, what would it do?

win this week’s care package!

Care Package Front

All first and second semester students are eligible to win a care package – just post an answer to the following question in the comments before 8 a.m. FRIDAY MORNING to be included in the drawing for this week’s care package. The winner will be chosen randomly from all of the respondents tomorrow. Ready? Okay!

If you could memorize one book from history in its entirety, which book would you choose?

win this week’s care package!

Care Package Front

Happy Thursday, friends. It’s time for the first care package giveaway question of the semester!

All first and second semester students are eligible to win a care package – just post an answer to the following question in the comments before midnight TONIGHT to be included in the drawing for this week’s care package. The winner will be chosen randomly from all of the respondents tomorrow morning. Yay!

If you could choose the person who would play you in a movie about your life, who would you choose?