CHLA 2018: The Handbook for Mortals and the Muddy Waters of YA Best Seller Status

Presentations, research, YA Literature

This year at CHLA in San Antonio, Texas I am making two presentations.

On Friday, June 29 at 11:00 am, I am participating in Panel 3B: The Syllabus Exchange. I will be presenting on Multimodal Assignments and talking about my most recent course, The History and Rhetoric of Science Writing for Children.

If you attended but were unable to take a copy of my handout home with you, please feel free to download a copy here:

CHLA 2018 Syllabus Swap Handout: Multimodal Assignments

On Saturday, June 30 at 3:30pm in the June Cummins room, I will be presenting a conference paper entitled “The Handbook for Mortals and the Muddy Waters of YA Best Seller Status.” If an attempt to make my presentation more accessible, please feel free to take a look at the complete PPT slide deck and the text version of my talk, available below.

Presentation Script (Text only version)

Handbook Muddy Waters PowerPoint Presentation

I hope to see you in San Antonio!

Celebrate Teaching Day 2018

Pedagogy, Presentations

This year, for Georgia Tech’s Celebrate Teaching Day, I chose to focus on using social media (i.e. Twitter) to create a public-facing research journal. This exercise was a part of a larger unit asking students to research possibly impossible materials on 19th century female authors of science texts for children, in co-operation with the Baldwin Library of Historical Children’s Literature. For more on this assignment, please see the entry for this course in my teaching portfolio.

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Georgia Tech Wikipedia Edit-A-Thon

digital humanities, Pedagogy, Service

As co-chair of the Curricular Innovation Committee in the Writing and Communication Program, I am helping to organize and plan the campus wide Wikipedia Edit-A-Thon on March 3 from 10am-2pm.

For more information you can follow us on Twitter (@WCP_Innovation) or view the Facebook page.

Georgia Tech Daily Digest article



Demystifying Wikipedia Workshop

digital humanities, Pedagogy, Service

In preparation for the campus-wide Wikipedia Edit-A-Thon on March 3, the Curricular Innovation Committee is hosting a workshop on “Demystifying Wikipedia: Understanding the Logic of How Wikipedia Works” on Thursday, February 16 from 11:00-11:50 am in the Stephen C. Hall building, room 103.

Our guest speaker, Dr. Andy Famiglietti, will talk us through how to work with Wikipedia, both in the classroom and as a part of scholarship/service work.

Wiki_Edit_final Flier!m/11005

Presentation at MLA 2018

Presentations, research

I will be presenting on the 2018 MLA Panel 314 titledBlended Learning: Balancing Social Media and Face-to-Face Pedagogies.” The panel is sponsored by the HEP* Teaching as a Profession and will take place on Friday, January 5, 2018, 12:00 noon–1:15 p.m., Chelsea Room, Sheraton.

My paper “Better Learning through Hashtags: Building Community and Improving Discussion with Twitter” will discuss productive ways to integrate Twitter into composition and English classroom practices; it will cover both general best practice guidelines and specific examples of successful activities, based on a case-study course taught at the Georgia Institute of Technology in 2016 and 2017. This presentation will argue that as a classroom tool, Twitter can be used to improve comprehension, expand peer-to-peer interaction, reinforce active learning, and introduce multimodal forms of class participation. Well-designed Twitter assignments and activities can expand students’ spheres of interaction beyond the physical classroom and into a digital social media environment. This presentation will discuss the potential of “livetweeting” as a framework for student active learning work that embraces the interactive and collaborative nature of Twitter as a social media platform.

My Powerpoint is available here: MLA2018_BetterLearningThroughHashtags

Presentation at SAMLA 11/5


I will be presenting at SAMLA 2017 on Sunday, November 1!


11-21 Beyond the Blockbusters: Themes and Trends in Contemporary Young Adult Literature
Piedmont 5
Chair: Rachel Dean-Ruzicka, Georgia Institute of Technology


  •  Rachel Dean-Ruzicka,
    Georgia Institute of Technology (
    “Say Something Once, Why Say it Again?” The Prolifera on of Psychics and Psychos in Young Adult Literature
  • Rebekah Fitzsimmons, Georgia Institute of Technology
    Genre Conventions of YA Dystopian Trilogies
  • Ya’ara Notea, Beit Berl College (
    Reimagining Forma on: The Female Bildungsroman’s Comeback in the 21st Century
  •  Jeremy Johnston, University of Western Ontario (
    Purging the Silence: Young Adult Literature and the Discourse of Mental Health

SAMLA_Presentation_2017 (downloadable)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Special thanks to Rachel Dean-Ruzicka for organizing the panel!

Fall Semester Goals


In the spirit of rendering academic work more transparent, I am going to post my fall semester goals again. I’m hoping this will work as both an accountability tool for myself and a pubic accounting of the work I’m doing in less visible parts of my professional work (specifically in research and service areas).

To Write/Edit

  1. Twitter in the Classroom journal article – November 1 deadline
  2. Digital Pedagogy certificate project – November 15 deadline
  3. Dystopian Trilogies essay for edited collection: December 15 deadline
  4. Introduction for edited collection with co-editor: December 15 deadline
  5. Article on Hewins corpora- source, materials, justification, uses – January



  • ENGL 1101 – 3 sections of “Making the List”: Bestsellers, Best of, and Banned Books
  • Planning ENGL 1102 course on science writing for children for Spring 2017
    • Including partnerships with Baldwin Library and Serve-Learn-Sustain
  • Act as a client for 2 CS-Tech comm teams


Other projects:

  • Assembling corpus based on Hewins “Books for the Young” list
    • Seminar on corpus linguistics and corpora
  • Planning campus wide Wikipedia Edit-A-Thon for Curricular Innovation Committee (March 3, 2018)
  • Planning Scholars’ Council meeting and anniversary events for spring 2018
  • Job market applications

Summer Goals Accountability



As predicted, my summer goals were overly ambitious and I did not accomplish all of them. I think was likely going to be the case no matter what.

However, after a particularly difficult summer personally, I am struggling a bit with how the realities of life can often intrude on our professional work in ways that are also often invisible. There is no space on the CV to report a death in the family or other family emergencies that understandably and rightfully occupy our time and attention, but therefore diminish the output of work that is so often already invisible.

Despite these life events that have made the past few months very difficult, I am pleased to report that I was able to complete some work and made progress on the (overly ambitious) goals I set for myself.

This is the list I posted back in June – crossed out items are done and italics items are much further along than they were at the start of the semester. The items in red . . . remain on the to-do list.

To Write:

  1. Dystopian Trilogies essay for edited collection
  2. Introduction for edited collection with co-editor (outline/notes)
  3. Hewins and Best of List presentation for CHLA (outlined/drafted)
  4. Hewins article based off of presentation and feedback from CHLA
  5. Twitter in the Classroom TechStyle article for the department (drafted – needs polish)
  6. Twitter in the Classroom journal article

To Edit:

  1. Essays from edited collections with co-author (15)
  2. Book project based on dissertation

Other summer plans:

  • Move across town – closer to work, better maintained house
  • Plan new 1101 course on bestsellers, banned books and best of lists, including SLS components
  • Begin assembling corpus based on Hewins “Books for the Young” list
  • ADDED – Complete Strategic Plan Advisory Group (SPAG) Curriculum Design for Effective Team Dynamics initiative
  • ADDED – Lots and lots of personal crises

I do intend to keep making progress on this list over the course of the school year, but I’ll be updating it with the new projects and plans I have coming up in the near future.

Perks of Researching Publicly


As a young professional in the academic field, I’ve been thinking carefully about the ways in which I make myself visible in the realm of social media carefully. I think it is unlikely and unreasonable for a scholar of my generation (very early Millennial) to be completely removed from social media and the Internet at large. Also, as I am exploring the possibilities of adding Digital Humanities components to my work, familiarity and comfort with digital tools is becoming more and more of a thing.

So why track my productivity in a public forum like Twitter?

First of all, it helps keep me honest. Studies have shown that accountability is the biggest predictor of success when it comes to creating new habits or achieving long term goals like weight loss or completing a degree. I know my dissertation group in grad school was a huge help in terms of structure, support and accountability to keep working, plugging away. Having fellow scholars to talk to, who could celebrate along with me that I wrote 12 WHOLE PAGES this week, was a big deal, both in terms of keeping motivated and in terms of staying sane during the isolating and lonely process of writing. While my colleagues here at Georgia Tech are amazing and wonderful, we aren’t all working on the same things, in the same field, or even on the same kinds of projects. Many would happily applaud my current accomplishments (I’ve added 80 sets of records to the database today!) they aren’t in the same trench and they aren’t digging with the same kind of shovel.


Second, I have come to realize that so much of the work that we as faculty and scholars do is invisible. I had a rather candid conversation with students last semester about why it took me SO LONG to get papers back to them (to be clear, SO LONG = 2 weeks). I asked the students how many of their papers I had to grade, and they looked around the room and said 22. I said, ok, but I have two other sections of this class, so multiply that number by 3. Asked how long they thought it took me to grade each paper, (or how long they hoped I spent on each paper), they gave a fair estimate of 15-20 minutes each. So even if I did nothing but grade, 70ish papers at 15 minutes a pop is nearly 18 hours of grading. Then, adding in the rest of the work for our class, which was teaching 3 sections for 1 hour a pop, three times a week, plus at least an hour of prep for each of those classes has me at 12 hours of teaching/prep time a week. Add another 4 hours a week for office hours and I’m spending 16 hours a week still working FOR them, but not on grading their papers. Then we add in things like eating, sleeping, commuting to and from campus (we live in Atlanta after all) and my students started to very quickly feel like 2 weeks turn around on their papers was reasonable after all. Then I started adding in the work they don’t see. Answering emails. Departmental committees and service requirements. And my research work – I spend probably 5-10 hours a week reading, either fiction in my field or academic articles and I try to write for 30-45 minutes every day. All of this on top of having a family and a social life. By the time I stopped adding things to that list, my students were kind of aghast at how much work I did and realized that when I said I spent all of my spring break grading their papers, I wasn’t kidding.

So to me, making the work that I am doing over the summer (and possibly into the school year) public does some of the work of making that labor more visible. It gives me something to point to when acquaintances or family members joke “It must be nice to have the summer off.”

Third, one of the things I struggled most with early in graduate school was the never-ending nature of our jobs. Once all the papers are graded, the classes for this week prepped and the inbox set to zero, there are articles to write, journals and new books to read, research to conduct, service to complete, students to mentor, networking to maintain . . . it can make a person crazy. Early on, I had to set goals for myself of what a “full day” of work looked like and find a way to turn that off at a reasonable hour.

Finally, I am starting to become more and more of a data hound. I am fascinated by the kind of data we generate as human beings and the devices that help us do it. I have a FitBit. I use Forest to track my productivity. And the more data I generate, the more honestly and realistically I can estimate how long it will take me to read a book, write an article, review an essay, write a letter of recommendation, or grade 70 papers. It will help me be a more efficient scholar, teacher and, frankly, friend and spouse – when my friends ask if I can come out to see Wonder Woman on Friday, I can look at what I need to get done this week, estimate how long it will take and say “absolutely yes, I’ll be there!”