Motivation: A Summary on Levoie’s Lecture “The Motivation Breakthrough”

Motivation:

An (Expanded) Summary on Levoie’s Lecture “The Motivation Breakthrough”

Parents and teachers of all generations have long struggled with similar battles. One huge idea that these authority figures wrestle with frequently is the question of motivation. Why is my student not motivated to learn English? Why is my child not motivated to do his homework? How can I motivate my son to weed the garden or do chores around the house? As an educator, these are my battles. As I am preparing for another school term, I enjoy spending time researching and learning about current issues and strategies with which I can battle them. After listening to a lecture by Richard Levoie, the subject of motivation became my passion for this year. In this essay, relying heavily on Levoie’s ideas[i], I will explain some foundational understandings of motivation and spend some time giving examples of ways to combat this giant in the classroom and home.

A primary misconception about motivation is that sometimes it is present and other times it is not. The truth about motivation states that all human behavior is motivated. When a student prefers to lay his head on his desk during a riveting geography lecture, something is motivating him to behave that way. It is correct assume that he is not motivated to learn geography, but it is incorrect to assume that he is unmotivated. Something – some power – is motivating him to respond in a way that shows he doesn’t care about geography. When we understand that all human behavior is motivated, we are enabled to create channels or devise strategies that direct that attention and motivation where we as authority figures desire it to be directed.

Motivation is a far more complexly structured idea than we tend to give it credit. We must understand that what motivates you as an individual, may not motivate me. What motivates Donald Trump is likely different than what motivated Charles Dickens. As multifaceted as people are, we should most assuredly know that motivational needs are equally multifaceted.

Each person is intrinsically motivated by different core motivational needs or styles. If a motivational need or style is triggered, a child will respond by getting excited and motivated about the chore, assignment, or project we wish for them to complete. What are these core needs and how can they be uncovered? Several of the needs outlined by Levoie which I will discuss in this essay are the following: power, inquisitiveness, gregariousness, autonomy, and affiliation.

The motivational need of power usually surfaces when a child desires to have some control over at least one aspect of his life. Allowing a child or student to experience power, however, needs in no way to diminish the power of the authority figure – it is not a bad thing. Children who are motivated by power can easily be recognized by their argumentative nature. They are the ones who seem to always question an authority’s position and seem to enjoy contradiction. A mistake authority figures often make with these children is allowing the child’s behavior to make feel insecure and disrespected. As aforementioned, there are healthy ways to give these children areas of power that motivate them and quench their argumentative side. The secret lies in the idea of choices. When a child has the power to make a choice, he has power. It’s not great power, it’s not world-transforming power, nor does it diminish his authority’s power. It’s simply the power of making a personal choice and it’s motivating enough for the power-driven child.

Children who are motivated by power can be given choices like the choices in these examples. Imagine that your child has been playing in the toy room. The room is in a wreck and you, as the parent, wish for the child to clean up what he has disarranged. “Johnny,” you may begin, “you have made a mess in the toy room and I want you to clean it up. Would you like to clean it up before supper or after supper?” Instead of giving them room to argue with you, the child is given power to choose. Once a child has verbalized a commitment to a task, he is much more likely to stick to it. An example in an educational setting may be the following: “Today I would like you to write your spelling words three times. Would you rather write them on white paper or orange paper?” Approaching motivation this way will likely stimulate your child to work.

Inquisitiveness is also a core motivational need. Children who are motivated by this style need lots of exploration and hands-on projects. Instead of lecturing on a subject, they need to experience it on their own. They are motivated by hours of personal research and experimentation. They never use the same recipes over again. These are the people who ask themselves, “What if eternal life could be discovered by mixing sulfur and potassium nitrate?” These are the people who in turn discover cool things like gunpowder. Parents of an inquisitive child may motivate in the following way: “Sarah, I would like you to make cookies today, but I want you to try a brand-new recipe and see if you like them.” An educational example may be asking a student to fill a poster board with as much unknown information about Nicola Tesla as he can. These strategies compel the child’s need to be curious, and thus he is motivated.

A child with the motivational need of gregariousness is simply motivated by doing something with another person. Asking a gregariously motivated child to spend hours creating a poster board with unique information will not motivate him; however, asking him to complete such a task with a group will be the incentive he needs. Children with the need to be socially motivated need to work in groups and discuss ideas with others. They are often most productive and successful when they are given opportunities to socialize while working.

Some children are motivated by autonomy. If a child is motivated by independence and doing things by himself, he needs to be given that space. As a parent, you may have a little girl who must dress herself, comb her own hair, and put on her own shoes – all by herself. She will be very unmotivated to get dressed or work if her parent insists that he can do it better. A child like this should be given some opportunity to do these things on her own. Because doing her own personal care is motivating for the child, the less-than-ideal quality of the personal care can be overlooked. In an educational setting, autonomous students will feel restricted and unmotivated if they are always asked to do a project in a group. These students need space to exhibit their intellect, knowledge, and personality without always being confined to a group.

Another sect of children is motivated by affiliation. Knowing that he belongs to a larger cause motivates the child to work hard for his affiliation. Children like these will be motivated to read, when it means they are a part of a community library system with larger gains, larger goals, and larger bounds. Parents or teachers may find affiliation motivated children always wearing tee shirts with logos of their favorite eatery, sports team, or school. When they are working for someone or something larger than themselves, they feel motivated to do their best. These children are quick to be motivated by and to rally around causes or people that feel threatened or celebrated[ii]. Parents can encourage a child by supporting his ideas. He can accomplish much knowing that his family or parents are backing up his work.

Motivation is a complex term that means varying things for each child. Parents and educators should be aware that children rank from low to high on these diverse motivational needs. When we understand how our child is motivated and what kinds of strategies motivate him, we will be more successful authority figures in our world, our schools, and our homes.

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[i] Levoie, Richard. “The Motivation Breakthrough” DVD Lecture. 2007 This essay can be considered a review on this lecture. To learn more about this subject, I highly recommend further available online resources by Levoie.

[ii] www.soran.edu.ig.

Thoughts on First Semester Clinical

It’s Thursday and I am sitting in my favorite coffee shop 50 minutes from my house. It’s a peaceful afternoon, I’m soaking up the late afternoon sun by the window, and lovely piano music wafts into my ears. I’m in that drowsy, contented, coffee shop mood… You know when life feels wonderful, you feel accomplished, and all your cups are full.

I met my sister here for a chat. Then I goofed off on Instagram. I need to study because we have church campout this week end and I want to have my school work done so I can party unencumbered. However, the urge to write about my day first, currently overwhelms my discipline to study.

Let me write about today. It was my second day of clinical. We were at a long-term care facility. Last night the pre-clinical anxiety was upon me. I was also frustrated with myself because once again I wasn’t able to get everything I planned done before clinical. Besides that, it kept getting later and I was determined to get to bed super early so I would not be tired at clinical today.

I managed to get to bed in a decent time in the end although not as early as I had hoped. For me getting adequate sleep is super important. When I am in new situations and much is expected of me that I am not yet totally comfortable doing, I find things go so much better if I am well rested.

Although my first clinical day two weeks ago went super well, I was still nervous about today. Sometimes kind of knowing what to expect is worse than having no idea what you are getting yourself into. 🙂

But today was phenomenal. I credit several factors for this:

  • I got a good night’s sleep.
  • I packed my lunch, set the coffee-maker, and set out my clothes and supplies for the next day last night already.
  • I studied for the quiz we had today.
  • This morning I had coffee, and eggs on toast with cheese. Good solid food!
  • On the 20-minute drive to clinical I prayed–for wisdom in caring for my resident that day, that I would remember the correct way to do things, for courage to always do what is right, and for all of my clinical group that we would have a good day and good group dynamics.

Last night I was having a serious back ache/cramp where I could hardly straighten up. I prayed that God would take that away by today because I didn’t know how I’d take care of a resident with pain like that. Today when I woke up, it was gone. I also prayed I’d be assigned a resident that didn’t need assistance being lifted/moved just in case my back wasn’t completely normal. God granted both requests.

Two weeks ago at clinical I felt so lost, like a fish in the Sahara, had no clue what to do or what was going on, or who was who. The day went okay but I hated that feeling. Today, even though I only had one day under my belt, was a totally different story. The nurses were more approachable, I knew the routine of the facility better, I was more confident in my skills, I was able to answer call lights, and I felt like I knew what I was doing and what was expected of me. It is a lovely feeling to feel like you can hold your head high and walk around like you actually know what you are doing. 🙂 [Never mind that I forgot to double pulse and respirations to get the actual rate, and forgot that when you estimate blood pressure you have to add 30 mm Hg to the systolic before actually taking the blood pressure.] But all is well that ends well.

I expect this cycle to repeat itself ad infinitum in the next two years of my life. I will have to come read this post when I am in stage one and all down in the dumps. 😉

Today marks the end of Week 5. This means I am 62.5% finished with my first semester of nursing school! So far it continues to be extremely manageable while challenging, socially fulfilling, and competing with the speed of light.

My classmates are marvelous. Our instructors tell us we are a great group. That is nice to hear and I am praying it continues through-out the next two years.

So long,

A. Friesen, SN

Nursing School Isn’t So Bad, Be Careful What You Pray For, and Don’t Let Your Little Sister Out in Public

My friends, it has been a long time. My last post was in April and it was a compilation of all your wonderful responses to my homeschool survey. (I got a 100% on that paper by the way.)

My fingers have been getting the itch these last few weeks. And my soul has been bleeding to write–to pour out the expressions of my heart and mind on paper and screen. I think that urge comes only to those of us who process life better through writing versus those who process best through talking.

I took a walk the other day and I wanted to write about how glorious the evening was–how clear the spring air, how peacefull the sluggish creek, how green the swamp grasses, and how thrilling the final splendor of a late spring sun just before it sets. I wanted to share it because then I felt like I had enjoyed it more thoroughly myself.

Life has been crazy! Tomorrow is the last day of my third week as a nursing student. Folks, if you are considering nursing school–let me tell you–it is quite doable. All the youtube videos make it sound like just the worst thing ever. Granted, I’m only three weeks in, but supposedly these are those hard weeks where you are new and not used to the workload and it’s supposed to be just terrible.

Maybe for some it is, but for me it has not been like that. They have been easier and funner than I expected. I haven’t cried once. The workload is manageable. I’m not minimizing others’ experiences–I’m just giving my opion and being a voice for the flip side of the coin in case you needed to hear it. 🙂

I may have to eat all my words in several weeks or months. I’m completely okay with that.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

On a more serious note, this weekend I totalled my car. An elderly gentleman pulled out in front of me and I braked and swerved but still hit him in the back. The impact spun him around in a complete circle. Praise God, my four passengers and I, and the other driver were all okay. We escaped with nosebleeds and bruises. It happened so fast I didn’t really have time to get scared before it was all over and we were all fine.

I said in the title, “Be careful what you pray for.” I have two confessions to make. First, I have gotten very careless and loose with my driving habits. I routinely am on my phone and drive above speed limit. Two very bad habits. Second, I am aware of these bad habits but habits are hard to break and even when you know something is bad in your head, translating that to actual changes in your life is hard. So I half-way said a prayer just in the last several weeks. The prayer went something like this, “God, I have these bad habits that I can’t seem to break. Please let something happen that will scare me enough to make me stop, but won’t actually be serious/sad/horrible.” I don’t know if I actually prayed it or not because as I thought about it, I didn’t want to pray it for fear it would come true.

Well! Fast-forward to last Sunday. That is exactly what happened. It could have been SO MUCH worse! But it wasn’t. Then I remembered my halfish prayer guiltily and wondered if I had brought this upon myself unecessarily. Did God really have to go to such extremes to teach me because I refused to make the effort to retrain myself and shape up? It is quite merciful of Him to do so before something worse did happen. It is humbling and embarrassing…but it is what it is. I have purposed to turn over a new leaf in my driving habits book because I can’t imagine how horrible I would feel if this accident had been my fault because I had been on my phone or something.

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And finally, on a celebratory note. My little sister got married last Saturday. It was such a splendid wedding. The decorations were stunning, the bride gorgeous, the bridal party good-looking, the food scrumptuous, the open-mic sweet, the weather perfect, and the choir music absolutely heavenly! I savored every moment of being the maid of honor. But as the happy couple drove away to streaks of fireworks, it was all over. Now I am home alone and treasuring the things about my sister that used to annoy me, like she’s dead or something. She is only going to live 35 minutes away. It could be a lot worse, but loss is loss and I guess you could say I’m mourning. (Tears, Louisa. Don’t you feel special?) It’s like those things people say after a young person dies, “They were taken so young. It just doesn’t seem like it was their time.” That’s how I feel about Lou getting married. She was so young and taken from me so soon–that’s why I advise not letting your little sister out in public. Some random stranger might notice her and stalk her until she agrees to marry him. (Just kidding.)

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I told ya we were a good looking bunch. 😉 Photo Credits: Emily Mast Photography [and this is a screen shot, her real photos are great]


Tomorrow is my first real clinical day of nursing school. We are going to a Long Term Care Facility. I am nervous, scared, afraid I’ll mess up, and all that. I feel so unprepared and unready. Argggg..I hate it. So I’m sitting here writing instead of going over skills and reading over assignments. This is much funner. And maybe in the end–just as good for me. I’ll let you know how it goes.

So long my friends…….

April

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Homeschool Survey Results Are In & WINNER ANNOUNCED

Good afternoon everyone!

THANK YOU SO MUCH for all of you that participated in my homeschooling survey! I really appreciate it. Your responses went above and beyond my expectations! I had to get at last 20 responses for my project. I got 77! Unfortunately, I had to remove 5 that were incomplete/incorrect. However, I am thrilled with the 72 I used to tabulate the results.

I spent a couple of hours this afternoon filtering through your input and compiling responses. It was very fascinating! I still need to sit back and see what conclusions can be drawn from the data. 🙂 This is more fun than you might think.

DISCLAIMER: I did receive some feedback and some of you messaged me and added to or explained your answers. I enjoyed hearing from you. As I thought about your feedback and saw responses, I realized several things and would like to make a few disclaimers here:

  • This was a very basic, limited survey.
  • I have never done a survey before. I am not an expert. After the fact, I wished I would have worded some of the questions differently.
  • I realize this is a very huge topic with a large number of variables. Any one of those variables could make all the difference in whether homeschooling is a good fit for a family or not.

HERE ARE THE RESULTS for those who are interested:

Completed Survey Responses: 72

Male: 21 (29.2%) Female: 51 (70.8%)

Age Range: 16-56 years

Religion: Christian—46

Follower of Jesus—3,

Mennonite—8,

Anabaptist—6,

Born again Christian—2,

Protestant—1,

Christian Brotherhood—1,

Beachy—1,

Evangelical Christian—2,

Jesus—1,

No organized religion—1

Were you homeschooled at some point in your life:

Yes—47 (65%) No—25 (35%)

How would you describe your experience overall:

Positive—36 (76.6%) Negative—11 (23.4%)

Would you consider homeschooling your children:

Total Yes—37 (51%) Total No—5 (7%) Total Maybe—30 (42%)

  • Of those who were homeschooled, how many said they would consider homeschooling:

Yes—26 (55%) No—4 (9%) Maybe—17 (36%)

  • Of those who were NOT homeschooled, how many said they would consider homeschooling:

Yes—11 (44%) No—1 (4%) Maybe—13 (52%)

Compared to their traditionally-schooled peers, how well socially-adjusted are the homeschoolers you know:

Homeschoolers have better social skills—7 (10%)

Homeschoolers have worse social skills—24 (33%)

They have equal social skills—41 (57%)

Compared to their traditionally-schooled peers, would you say most homeschoolers you know received a quality education:

Homeschoolers received a better education—28 (39%)

Homeschoolers received a worse education—16 (22%)

The quality of their education is about the same—28 (39%)

Do you think homeschooling should continue to be legal in the United States:

Yes—70 (97%) No—0 No strong opinion—2 (3%)

What do you think provides the strongest support for the choice to homeschool:

  • Children can receive a more “custom-made” education and receive more one-on-one time—20 (28%)
  • Parents can choose the curriculum used and what worldview it teaches—18 (25%)
  • It is much more flexible–families can travel and children can learn non-academic life skills—16 (22%)
  • Parents can keep their children from experiencing a lot of negative peer pressure/influences—13 (18%)
  • Parents are responsible for their own children; therefore, they should be teaching them—5 (7%)

AND NOW WHAT YOU’VE ALL BEEN WAITING FOR…

The winner of the $15 Starbucks gift card is–

Lucky Winner

Congratulations Kristen!!!

Unfortunately, most of you didn’t leave your email address, but I decided to enter you all anyway.

Kristen, you didn’t leave your email. All I know is that your name is Kristen and that you had a birthday last weekend. 🙂 If you see this, please contact me below to claim your prize. Also, if any of you who took the survey have any further comments, please feel free to send them to me below as well.

Thank you all so much again for participating! I turned in my finished primary research project tonight just under two hours before the deadline! 😉

P.S. If any of you ever need participants for college assignments, please let me know. I would be happy to return the favor!

Until next week, April

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Thank you!!

Homeschoolers: Poorly Educated Social Misfits? & I Need Your Help

THE TOPIC


Homeschooling can be a controversial topic. One that gets people in highly emotionally-involved debates. Some people are religiously homeschool-only, while others make rules in their churches that you may not homeschool or they decry it to the wazoo. Some stand by completely uninterested. Some like to think they are perfectly in the middle–they see the advantages of homeschooling and the advantages of traditional schooling methods.

MY REQUEST


I don’t know what your views are on homeschooling. I don’t know if you agree with the homeschoolers-are-poorly-educated-and-socially-awkward group, or the homeschooling-is-God’s-perfect-plan” group. It’s better that I don’t because I need your help. I want your opinion regardless of your position.

I am currently working on my second research paper for my English Composition class. For this paper, I need to do a little “primary research” myself. I have composed a short survey that I would like as many people as possible to complete for me. The more surveys I can distribute and the more diverse the group of survey-takers, the better.

The survey consists of 3 demographic questions [so I know who you are, don’t worry I won’t use names in my paper] and 7 multiple choice questions about homeschooling. It will only take you a couple of minutes.

Would you please help me out and click this link to take the survey? If you would send your friends over my way or send them a link to this post so they can take it too, I’d be much obliged!

Please respond NOW because I need the surveys in no later than THIS Saturday night!!

WHAT’S IN IT FOR YOU 😉


If you take the survey through the link in this post, leave your email address in the answer box of the first question! I’ll enter you in a drawing for a

$15 Starbucks gift card!

When all responses are in, the winner will be notified via email! I really do appreciate your help!

Thanks again!

April

P.S. If you want to see the results of the survey in the end, let me know! I could tabulate them and post them here.

My Anonymous Friend

Good evening friends!
I never cease to be amazed at how fast each week goes by. It is Wednesday once again. My life is crazy. Your life is crazy. Sometimes it is hard to just be—to simply live. I am currently in survival mode—living for the future, for the fun things ahead, for the end of the semester. But then I scold myself and feel bad because I know I should be savoring the moments.

I will never get to experience these moments and days over again. You would think I’d learn. I am forever looking back on the good ole’ days with longing and regret for not enjoying them as much as I should have.


Tonight, I want to share a little story with you about a friend whose name I do not know—for I met her very briefly only once.

One day I was driving home from school and I noticed her walking along the side of the road. She looked like a hitch-hiker or someone who might need a lift. I sped on by not really wanting to interrupt my day by bothering to check in on a stranger. But my conscience pricked me—and she was a woman, so I couldn’t use the he-might-be-a-creepy-man excuse.

I dutifully bumped my car into reverse and turned around to see if I could help her. As I approached, I rolled down my window and said hello. She stopped walking and smiled at me. She didn’t need a ride; she was just out on her morning stroll. And that was that.

Since then, we continue our highspeed, distance relationship. I travel that stretch frequently on my way to and from school. I’ve seen her several times since then. When I see her, I wave. She pauses by the side of the road long enough to smile and wave at me. I think she remembers I’m the one who stopped one day.

This two-second exchange every now and then as I speed by just makes me happy. I don’t even know her name, but she is my friend. We bless each other with some of the simplest tools of human relationship—noticing and acknowledging the other, a smile, and a wave. Sometimes the simplest things in life are the best—don’t miss them.


Do you have a friend like mine whom you see repeatedly but whose name you do not know? I’d love to hear your story.


Coming Soon…
Next week’s post will be about my second English composition paper that I am writing. For this paper, I need your help and your friends’ help. Check back next week for details and what’s in it for you! 😉

Good night my friends. April

How To Write Your First APA Undergraduate Research Paper

You all have heard me stressing about my research paper on this blog already. Well, tonight I got the grade and the Professor’s comments on that paper! I am thrilled! Grade: 100/100. His first word: “Excellent!”

This is a lovely debut to what I have to share with you tonight. If you are not a college student or an instructor or a writer, it will probably bore you. I apologize. (Check back next Wednesday for a cute story about my comfortable, regular, but primarily silent relationship with a total stranger.)

But–if you happen to be an overthinker like me, who stresses indordinately, learn with me. I present to you my tips on how to write your first APA research paper.


  1. Carefully read through all of your professors instructions. You must completely understand what the requirements are for this paper. Pull it all together and write it down on paper that you can have handy. I did this, and it was great to have as a quick reference.

  2. Start early. Do not procrastinate. Time is your friend. Use it wisely. You are probably tired of hearing this. It’s true, but something at which I fail miserably. 😦

  3. Choose an easy topic to research and write about. It’s your first paper. Choose a topic that there is lots of information about and that will be easy to conduct primary research on. I had to do interviews or surveys for my first paper. Keep that in mind. Will you be able to find people who will talk to you about whatever you are researching?

  4. Keep things simple. Don’t go to broad or too deep. If you are a perfectionist or overachiever, keep those expectations toned down just a bit. After all, you aren’t a PhD student. I felt so overwhelmed, unsure of myself, and incompetent about writing this first paper that I began surfing the web for how to write a research paper. While I did learn a lot, I think actually it was detrimental in that I delved to deep. I mean I even watched a YouTube video of a PhD student in the UK explaining how he took notes on literature for his research. Yeah. Above my head. You want to do well. But this is your first paper. Allow yourself to grow into a collegiate writer. You don’t have to do it all in paper one.

  5. Have a clear grasp of your thesis. It is hard to gather support for a thesis if you don’t you what you are looking for to begin with.

  6. Pick about three main arguments or sources to support your thesis. This is just a 4-6 page paper. Keep content limited and focus on a few quality points. I made this mistake. I over-collected information and overwhelmed myself by going too deep and too broad. On my next paper, I will keep this is mind from the start and keep my eyes open for a few key argument/points that are strong. I will focus on these and bypass all the other distracting and unnecessary research.

  7. Search for quality research articles. Your college probably has access to several research databases and academic journals through the college library. Avail yourself of these because this is quality source material that you would normally have to pay for. Good places to start: PubMed, Google Scholar, Plos One. Site ending in .gov and .edu are always superior to .com sites.

  8. When you find a helpful article, print it out. When you find a book, borrow it. Especially with online researching, it can be hard to retrace your steps to that one article you really wanted but now you aren’t sure on which site it was. I am a paper-I-want-to-be-able-to-feel-and-write-on-it kind of person, which means I used reams of paper to print out all my articles.

  9. Look for citation buttons and if there is one–USE IT! Most of these peer-reviewed articles and research articles have a ready made citation you can copy and paste or a citation button that will create one for you. Use them. It helps tremendously!

  10. Sit down and read through all your journal articles with a pencil and a highlighter. Grab a steamy cup of coffee and settle in with the slippers. This is the meat. I sat down and read my articles and highlighted bits of information that looked helpful. At the top of each, I penciled in the main point of the paper or what general points might be useful to me. I tagged each as useful, potentially useful, and not useful/relevant to my topic.

  11. MAKE AN ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY. My professor made us do this. It is a tremendous help. It takes some time at the beginning, but it is a life saver later, especially if you have lots of different sources. Later when writing, you will just be able to plug in the parenthetical citations and the references you already created into your paper. I referred to my annotated bib a lot when I was writing to see which source it was that I had found a particular piece of information in. It really kept me organized because it was an overview of all my sources and a brief summary of their main points.

  12. Read through your sources again taking notes. These notes were much more detailed than what I put on my annotated bibliograpy. The annotated bib is more for major general points, not tons of smaller notes. These notes were what I wrote from.

  13. Don’t stress. Anxiety just makes you up-tight and unable to focus (take it from someone who knows). I stressed. I shouldn’t have. It all came out just grand as I noted in the beginning. I don’t know how else to convince you–but just DON’T STRESS. You will be just fine.

  14. Break things into little pieces. This really helps with the overwhelm. Say, “Today I will work on the introduction. Today I will find a good case study. Today I will work on the arguments that support my thesis. I will work for one hour solid, then take a break, etc” In this post, I wrote about how I got my rough draft written for my first paper even though I was dreading it with every bone in my body.

  15. Bookmark the Purdue OWL on your google toolbar. It is an incredible resource for all things APA style (and other writing formats as well). It is the Purdue University’s online writing lab. My professors referred me to it.

  16. You may want to explore Mendeley, Evernote, and the like. These are apps I’ve dabbled with. They do things like keep pdfs of the articles you found and create citations for you.

This post is horrendously long. If you made it here, congrats. Are you a desperate student like me? An annoyed instructor wondering how to get your students to improve their writing skills? I’d love to know. What are your best writing tips and strategies?

After all, overview paper for research paper #2 is due Sunday….and it all begins anew….

Three Tips for Tackling What You Dread

Recently I wrote a paper on anxiety for my English Composition class. I stressed inordinately about that project. But I learned a lot. Even better, I learned several ways that work for ME to actually do what I am dreading. 

The last several weeks I have been stressed and felt incompetent and incapable of the task before me. I was way overthinking things (as usual) and expecting more of myself than was probably necessary. Don’t do that to yourself. 

But let’s talk about ways for you to get to that job/assignment/project you know you have to do, but you’re majorly dragging your feet about. 

1. Turn off your phone.

If you are dreading a task, self-discipline levels for sticking to the task will be quite low. You will very easily be distracted by messages or checking instagram–anything to avoid starting that horrible job. Just prevent the temptation completely–turn off the phone. It will work as a reward too. Tell yourself you can only turn it on when you are done.


2. Set a timer for one hour. 

This is what I did when I was writing the rough draft for my paper. It was due date day–so this thing HAD to get done! I arranged all my papers and resources, my water bottle, my laptop. I turned my phone off, and I set the stove timer for one hour. Then I GOT TO WORK! I was amazed at how fast one hour flew by. Setting a limited time breaks up the task. Instead of thinking about the job as an overwhelming whole, setting a timer for an hour at a time will make it feel manageable. You can look forward to the end of the hour.


3. Take a break when it rings. 

Every hour I took a little break to eat, switch out laundry loads, or check email. This little break is your reward for your last hour of focused work. Do something to clear your mind and enjoy yourself. Keep it short though. 🙂


4. Repeat these steps until you are DONE! 

I had to repeat this four times. In four hours I had finished writing my rough draft. It felt so incredibly good to see that “submitted!” on my Canvas display. By this time, I was very ready to be done! I think four hours of working on something like writing is about the max. Depending what your project is you may be able to work longer.


I am a horrible procrastinator–particularly when I feel unsure of what exactly I am supposed to do or how to do it. But I loved how effective this method was for me. I know, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure this out. Some of you probably have already learned to do something like this to get those yuckies crossed off your list. But if not–go get that job done that you’ve been putting off for days!

10 Ways College Is Different Than High School

Disclaimer: I am writing from my experience which may be very different from yours. The range of school experience out there is very broad. Just keep that in mind.
  1. You are responsible for your learning–not the professor. In high school you were much more autonomous than in elementary school. You set goals, studied on your own, wrote essays, and even did experiments without supervision and wrote lab reports. But ultimately, you had a teacher overseeing what you were doing and making sure you were on track to graduate with everyone else. In college, it’s all on you. If you decide to binge watch youtube till midnight and fail the midterm the next day, no one is there hanging over your shoulder. If you goof off on the week end and don’t pay attention in class and then fail a class, that is no one’s responsibility but yours.
  2. It wasn’t discussed in class, but it will still be on the test. You may remember your teachers in high school (maybe more so in elementary school) not counting something because they never taught it to you. Not so in college. Here, the quantity of material is massive. It is impossible to cover it all in lecture. You are responsible to study content more thoroughly on your own after class. There will very likely be questions on the test that you will have no idea how to answer, if you did not do some studying on your own.
  3. You have a specific goal you are working towards. In high school, you are studying because it is the thing to do. Or because your parents require it. While it is true many go to college for the same reasons, there are more students in college (than in high school) who are there because they are pursuing a career–they have a specific goal to achieve. Especially in community colleges, there are older students and “non-traditional” students who have lived some life and now are back in school because they decided they want to become a nurse or a graphic designer or you name it.
  4. You must learn a new set of study skills. This is huge. I studied hard in high school, but it was different. I worked hard completing all the assignments and doing them well. In college, the focus is not completing all the little assignments, but learning and understanding the content. You have to find how you learn best–whether it is reading over and over, writing everything out explaining things to yourself, watching explanatory videos or drawing graphics that show correlations.
  5. You are now balancing many things–not just going to school. In high school, your main job was to go to school and do well. Perhaps you had a job on the side, but that was extra. School was priority. In college, you now need to start adulting. This is different for different people, but for me it meant figuring out how to work to support myself, while studying, and juggling other social obligations.
  6. You actually love learning and take it seriously. Again, this is probably not true of many. But I discovered how much I loved learning in college. In high school, I enjoyed learning but not to the degree that I do now.
  7. You have to pay for it or find someone else to pay for it. It is no longer your parents’ job. Post-secondary education is expensive. It is one of the reasons I originally dismissed the thought of going to college. As an adult, you now have to worry about daily living expenses as well as paying for all this. In high school, that was your parents’ job. Now it’s up to you. (Unless you’re lucky enough to have parents who will pay it for you.) There are definitely ways to make it possible–like going to a community college, applying for federal student aide and for scholarships.
  8. You do not have daily assignments; it is all about the exams. I mentioned this already. But in college the setup is so different. You do not have as many small, daily assignments. Instead you listen to lectures, read the textbook, and it is all building up to those lovely exams. Of course, there are some other assignments in between, but you get the idea.
  9. You will not necessarily get to know your classmates even if you see them regularly for 15 weeks. I’m sure this depends on your personality. In high school, you have school assemblies and you knew your class (if it is a small school like mine anyway), but in college it is not this way necessarily. You have different people in different classes. There is some overlap, but even so, you can all kind of keep to yourselves. It’s kind of sad actually.
  10. You will learn to pray even harder than you did in high school. This may sound strange, but I used to always say high school taught me to pray. Well, college will take that to a whole deeper level. 🙂 You will learn you are capable of far more than you thought. In the middle of it–not so cool, but upon completion–very rewarding!

Are you thinking about dusting off your backpack and heading back to school as an adult? Are you wondering if you have what it takes? Are you already pursuing a degree or just taking a college class on the side for fun?

I’d love to here about it in the comments!



“Everybody Who Has Plucked Eyebrows Looks the Same”

Today has been unusual but quite pleasant. I don’t usually get to sip coffee in three different coffee shops within a 26-hour period of time. Today is the exception–I have been working on writing a paper on anxiety for my English 122 class in college as I think I mentioned previously. As part of that process and to teach us in a small way how to conduct “research,” we are required to interview at least 5 people or survey 20 people. I chose to interview people. Hence all the coffee shops.

So far, I have had the opportunity to sit down with three people and ask them personal questions. 🙂 They have been champs! I have at least two more interviews to go, and this part of my paper is due Sunday. (Pray for me this week end if you think about it. 😉 While I’m sure this is all a very good learning experience for me, for someone who tends toward perfectionism, procrastination, and overthinking things–it is a bit stressful. However, I know that this learning process is very necessary if I want to learn how to write good academic papers. I understand that is a popular assignment in any bachelor’s program. If I want to go on to get my bachelor’s in nursing some day (which at this point seems very likely), I will need to know these things. Sigh….


On a different note…I had a thought today as I was driving to the next coffee shop. I love to listen to youtube videos while I drive because hey! it’s down time when I am not doing anything else. I thought about finding one to listen to, when I was struck with the thought that God would like an opportunity to talk to me too. Driving alone in the car is a great opportunity for Him. Instead of drowning myself in other people’s thought and content, I decided to resist the urge and let my mind process and think. And let God insert thoughts if He so desired. It is so easy to be constantly surrounded with noise, music, talk, information, stimuli, etc. It stifles creative thought and life-processing. At least I know it does for me. I think God must find it hard to get a word in edge-wise sometimes. I’m preaching to myself.


And now, my final thought for the day: One of the marks of maturity and security and wholeness is the ability to create and contribute. When someone knows who they are, is okay with who they are, and is no longer absorbed with their own pain and problems, they are free to imagine new ideas and contribute in meaningful ways to their friends, family, church, and the world in general. Let’s be those people by God’s grace.


Blessings on your week my friends!

P.S. The title actually is pretty irrelevant, but it made you click didn’t it? 🙂 I am actually quoting someone I heard say this today. They went on to say, “They look kind of like somebody pinched them.” It struck me funny then, and nearly makes me chuckle now as I write. Regardless of your views on this topic, you might want to consider that next time you ponder the topic. No offense.