An Update, and Some Academic Editing & Proofreading

I started this blog as a PhD candidate in English & Cultural Studies at McMaster University. During my degree, I worked as a TA, a Senior Writing Assistant at McMaster’s Student Success Centre, and a freelance copy editor and proofreader. In the final year of my degree, I also started full-time as an Educational Consultant at the McMaster Institute for Innovation & Excellence in Teaching & Learning.

Working as an Educational Consultant was a great opportunity. It was a new avenue to explore after completing my dissertation investigating the pedagogical dimensions of canonical Asian Canadian literary texts, and it allowed me to continue doing the type of thinking-out-loud that I’ve been doing through this blog. But Dry-Erase Writings, and my love of working with writers as both a writing advisor and freelance editor, also attest to the satisfaction playing with language gives me.

So I’m committing myself to working in both fields: as a freelance editor and educational consultant. As an editor and proofreader, I work with businesses, scholars, researchers, and web content providers. If you want to know more about the editing & writing services I provide, please visit

This means that Dry-Erase Writings is officially on hiatus. Maybe I’ll come back to it, but I can’t pretend to myself any longer that I’m somehow going to start posting regularly again. I think this also means that the post-PhD era can be a strange sort of timescape to step into. This has been the case for me, anyway, because time really does feel like a different thing these days, now that the dissertation stress, and the stress of working too many jobs at once while underfunded in my fifth year, has sloughed off. I’m thinking of a University Affairs piece I read recently called “Certainty and Time.” It’s a brief and well-measured piece about stepping off the academic career track, and it’s a good one.

It’s time to take some time.


Colouring Stages of Concern at STLHE

We were in what looked like an elementary or high school biology classroom. I looked up; the ceiling tiles were painted accordingly. My lips twitched into a smile, an eyebrow arched tile-ward: directly above me was a detailed painting of sperm en route to an egg at the tile’s centre.

felt pensThe Society for Teaching & Learning in Higher Education’s (STLHE) annual conference was housed this year in Duncan McArthur Hall at Queen’s University, which happens to be the home of the university’s Faculty of Education. Each of the sessions I attended over the course of my two-day stay in Kingston, Ontario, were in classrooms like the one described above. To some of my colleagues, the setting was familiar. They had attended teacher’s college in similar settings. For me, the colorful posters covering the walls, the diorama and terraria littering window sills and shelves, and the abundance of tools needed for making such visual displays all sat in quiet conversation with the thinking, learning, and reflection prompted in me by the excellent sessions I attended, and the thoughtful people I met.

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A Guide to Writing a Thesis

This post was written by PhebeAnn Wolframe, PhD. She began her PhD studies in September 2009 and defended her thesis, Reading Through Madness: Counter-Psychiatric Epistemologies and the Biopolitics of (In)sanity in Post-World War II Anglo Atlantic Women’s Narratives , in December of 2013. PhebeAnn also tweets @scriptedskin.

Lisa asked me to write a bit about my dissertation writing process. What makes me qualified to advise on the matter?

1) I completed a dissertation

2) I did it in a timely manner (I finished researching and writing it under 2 years)

3) I often found myself frustrated (as I think many PhD students do) trying to figure out how, specifically, one writes a dissertation beyond the “just do it!” advice that is so common.

Having found a pretty successful method via trial and error, I might as well share it with others, who may find it helpful! That said, there is no one way to write a dissertation and what worked for me won’t work for everyone. You will still go through a process of trial and error in figuring out what works for you.

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What Is a Seminar?

…here pedagogy  seems to be invisible: seminar participants run the conversation themselves, pursuing the unfolding dialogue ideally through non-hierarchical interactions.

This post was written by Sarah D’Adamo* and Christien Garcia**, PhD candidates in English & Cultural Studies at McMaster University.  

What Am I Not Hearing?

IMAG0647Hey, so I take  my cat for walks. Not on a leash. I just leave the yard and head out into the long grass that surrounds it, and he takes off. He sticks pretty close, except for when we get too close to a tree, and then he promptly scampers up it, ears back, a hint of the maniacal to his head whipping left and right, eyes round, tail twitching.

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Students Can’t Multitask. Or Can They?

Lecture notes on display at the Hamilton Warplane Heritage Museum, uploaded to last Monday.

Lecture notes on display at the Hamilton Warplane Heritage Museum,
uploaded to last Monday.

Two weeks ago I shared part of a post by Maryellen Weimer, titled, “Students Think They Can Multitask. Here’s Proof They Can’t.

Today I’d like to meander in a slightly different direction. A post I came across by blogger and associate professor of psychology, Erica Kleinknecht, suggests otherwise. It seems that students can multitask, in a way, if, as Kleinknecht phrases it, the task they are engaged in is “rich with detail that can serve as cues for later memory retrieval.”

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Show & Tell

Two things I wanna share with you.

First, a colleague of mine, Jocelyn Sakal Froese, tells about her first-tutorial tactics here, on her blog Surviving Till Sunday. This is a TA who won the CUPE 3906 TA award in 2012 (for which she was nominated by her students). This is a TA who is constantly giving me new ideas and insights into teaching & learning. She is a thoughtful, reflective, and intentional teacher. As she half-jokingly puts it in her “First Day Jitters, Redux” post, she “advocate[s] for DOING A THING” in tutorials, because she wants “dynamic” activity and learning in her classrooms.

Second, delightfully snarky Katherine Firth writes a blog called Research Degree Voodoo. She has embarked upon a project she dubs “Writing the Article Series,” in which she live blogs the writing of an academic article. The first post of the series can be found here, but my favourite post so far is the one in which she sums up her “progress” mid-way through the process with:

So this series so far seems to be: and then I made a plan, and then the plan didn’t happen, and then I made a plan and then I did less work than I planned.

Ha! Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?! I love Katherine’s blog for this scathing honesty, and for her incredible ability to write a “scholarly” blog in a non-scholarly style. She writes just as you imagine she might speak; her voice is conversational, witty, and a downright relief amidst all the academic “mumbo-jumbo”–the term she uses to describe academic-speak in her “About” page.

Students Can’t Multitask

From, "Your crotch can kill, claim Alberta ads." Feb. 21, 2013,

From, “Your crotch can kill, claim Alberta ads.” Feb. 21, 2013,

I found myself completely confused, mouth agape, as I stood in line at McMaster’s Wellness Centre this week. I was looking at one ad of what I now know is a series produced by the Alberta government. The ad reads: “Crotches Kill.” I stood there at the Wellness Centre, eyes darting from the bold letters (can we call it a slogan?), to the image of the lady looking really happy about (with?) her crotch; then my eyes dropped a bit, taking in the assortment of free condoms placed just below and to the left of the ad, and then they darted right back to “CROTCHES KILL.” WTF, right? W. T. F.

Okay, so eventually I figured it out. Texting can be a fatal distraction when you’re DRIVING! (I was worried for a minute there, that it might be catching, or something. But no (phew!), texting is not an STI!).

A great post from blogger Maryellen Weimer compels us to ask, however: Can texting be a fatal distraction from LEARNING?

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Your Syllabus

Yes, it’s that time of year again: time to revisit your syllabi. My last post before the start of the Fall semester is all about asking your syllabus some hard questions. In it, I discuss how you might productively reflect on your syllabus by considering its tone, the message it sends to students about you, your course, and your field, and what its Accessibility Statement says about your approach to accessibility, equity, and teaching & learning.

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Empathy, Resistance, & Curiosity

On the limits of empathy in pedagogy, this post starts with a query from Deborah Britzman before moving into a consideration of a 1993 article by Anne DiPardo, Professor of Education at the University of Colorado. DiPardo’s account of a semester-long relationship between a student writing assistant at a college writing centre and a student learner is thought-provoking.

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