Every year I think, "this will be the year I finish my novel." I've been saying this since I started my novel over 10 years ago. In fact, I think it's been so long that someone else has probably written my novel already. Perhaps it's time to start anew. But I find I need inspiration and a goal.

Last year, I took a non-fiction writing class and found myself writing constantly. For one, I had to for the class, but I was also inspired to write. After the class ended, writing regularly fizzled out. Why? The desire hadn't died, but the goal of what to write & how much had faded. Of course, like every year, August was supposed to be my month of writing, but that month was hijacked by cancer, so it had to be another month. It happens to be November. Why November?

I had forgotten this, but last year, I signed up with a writing organization and on October 23rd, I received this odd email from "nanowrimo.org." "Who the heck is that?" I thought as I clicked on the e-mail. It was a reminder that November is national novel writing month! So, I'm participating in the challenge to write 50,000 words during the month of  November. I am also challenging my students to do the same. For me, it's a novel. For my students, it can be whatever they like. I'm also offering extra credit for anyone who completes the challenge. Check it out! You might just get inspired, too: http://www.nanowrimo.org/.

Copying @KarlBimshas, I am also posting a Word Cloud of my first 2,137 pages all written on November 1st. Create your own word cloud using wordle.net.

Now go write!

OK, so I realize it's been awhile since I've posted a blog. The truth is...I think this blog title is cursed. Let me explain...

In choosing my blog title, I focused on what my students call me. They call me "Professor B." However, that name was taken. Interestingly enough, Professor B has not blogged since 2003 after she was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. I didn't take it as a sign; I simply chose "MS. Professor B" for my title. Well, perhaps I should have taken the title as a sign.

Ironically enough, on June 4th, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. My prognosis is positive. Surgery went well, and although it had metastasized, it hadn't gone beyond one lymph node. After recovering from surgery, I took a short break from treatment for my wedding and my honeymoon (yippee!!). Upon my return in August, I began chemotherapy. Warned that it would be rough, I convinced my supervisor to allow me to remain off campus Mondays & Fridays. Since three of the five classes I teach are online, being on campus is not a concern. Being available, however, is. Therefore, I had to devise a way to remain accessible to all of my students from off campus.

Granted, I check email in and out of the LMS about 5 times a day and read discussions at least once a day. I also make chat available for my students, and they have used it from time-to-time; however, for my on-campus students, this wasn't enough. That's when I started using Elluminate Live.

First of all, I created a link in Blackboard. My office hours are posted in the Syllabus, and during those hours, I click on the link & Elluminate loads. I also make individual appointments. Students follow the same process to visit me live online. (For a video demonstration, visit their website.)

When the "Office Hours" link is clicked, Java uploads and a new window opens. Once open, I can write on the whiteboard, share files, demonstrate websites, display videos, chat with students, and share audio. I can even record the sessions for students to play back later. If students have a webcam and a microphone, they can share videos & speak live as well.

The window looks like this (notice the interactive tools):

The most effective session I have had yet was actually with my on-campus class. I was having a particularly rough week fighting an infection. It was important to stay away from crowds for fear of contracting more germs and getting sicker. I was also miserable, but I didn't want to take another sick day. Instead, my class joined me online. They logged on to my online office hours, and although they did not have webcams or microphones, they followed along with my short lecture, asked questions via chat, and voted "yes" or "no" to my questions. I also asked some quiz questions and they typed in their responses. I hooked up my webcam, too, so they could see me.

Student comments were positive. Comments included, "This is cool, but we miss you!" That warmed my heart. Elluminate may not be a permanent solution for conducting a live class, but it's a powerful tool for days I just can't make it to campus. I can also see many other uses including telecourses, recording lectures during class, conducting reviews or Q & A sessions, and many more.

* Of course, I use Elluminate in conjunction with Blackboard 9; however, an online version outside of an LMS is available. Check it out!
My students insist on using the Citation Tool in Word 2007; however, they assume that if they simply enter the material, it will be correct. However, the citation tool works just like spell-check: it doesn't fix everything and you still have to know what you're doing. The following video should help demonstrate to students how to correct the mistakes of the Citation Tool while still allowing them to use the tool. Hopefully, they'll get the message. Let me know what you think!

My first Prezi Presentation. Presented at WyDEC 2010 in Sheridan, Wyoming at Sheridan College. A great conference!

Linked to a Google Site: https://sites.google.com/site/wydec2010/