Elon Students run 26.2 miles in the Nashville Country Music Marathon

By Megan Wanner

32,000 runners gathered in Nashvilled to run in the Country Music Marathon

32,000 runners gathered in Nashville to run in the Country Music Marathon

The man in the booth at the start of the marathon calls out “Go” to signal the start of the 13th corral of runners at the 10th Annual Country Music Marathon in Nashville, Tenn.  Out of the 32,000 people running the 26.2 miles in the marathon, which included 48 bands playing a variety of songs ranging from country music to classic oldies, two were Elon University sophomores Courtney Corr and Taylor Hughes.

Unfortunately, around mile 20, Hughes started to experience cramping in his calves.

“I had to stop to walk then every time I tried to run again I could only go for about a minute before almost collapsing,” Hughes said.  “I ended up having to walk the last few miles.”

Corr stopped running to walk with Hughes for four miles before Hughes insisted she run the last 2.2 miles to the finish line, finishing in 4:41:44.  Hughes finished about 15 minutes later with a time of 4:58:27.

The two sophomores were among 4,136 finishers in the race, 2,335 male and 1,801 female.

Corr and Hughes traveled approximately 500 miles to run 26.2 miles Saturday morning in the 85-degree Nashville heat.

Corr’s father also ran alongside Corr and Hughes while her mother and a friend of the family ran and walked the 13.1 miles to constitute a half marathon.

“We wanted to run the full marathon, but with her knee problems and my foot problems we just couldn’t,” said Candy Corr, Courtney’s mother.  “Instead we had a good time drinking all the water and eating all the food offered along the way.”

Check out how Corr and Hughes felt after running the Marathon:

Check out why Corr and Hughes decided to run 26.2 miles:

Greek Community Shows Off Their Dance Skills at Elon University’s Greek Week Dance

By Megan Wanner

First place winners Sigma Kappa dance to their island theme.

First place winners Sigma Kappa dance to their island theme.

The Elon University Greek community as well as non-Greek supporters gathered Wednesday April 22 to watch the fraternities and sororities show off their dance skills at the 2009 Annual Greek Week Dance.

The winners of the Greek Week Dance were the fraternity Sigma Phi Epsilon and sorority Sigma Kappa.  Coming in second place were  the National Pan-Hellenic Council and sorority Alpha Xi Delta and in third place were the fraternity Sigma Chi and sorority Alpha Omicron Pi. 

Elon University is home to 23 Greek organizations, eight NPHC organizations, seven Interfraternity Council organizations and eight Panhellenic Council organizations. 

Among the NPHC organizations are the fraternities Alpha Phi Alpha, Phi Beta Sigma, Omega Psi Phi and Kappa Alpha Psi and the sororities Sigma Gamma Rho, Alpha Kappa Alpha, Sigma Phi Beta and Delta Sigma Theta.  The Interfraternity Council organizations include Kappa Alpha, Pi Kappa Phi, Sigma Phi Epsilon, Lambda Chi Alpha, Kappa Sigma, Sigma Chi and Sigma Pi.  The Panhellenic Council organizations include Sigma Kappa, Phi Mu, Sigma Sigma Sigma, Alpha Xi Delta, Alpha Omicron Pi, Alpha Chi Omega, Zeta Tau Alpha and Delta Delta Delta.

Watch Tri Delta perform their shipwrecked themed dance:

Environmental Awareness at Elon University

By Megan Wanner 

As part of the Earth Day events, students prepared to spread trash and sift through it to find recyclables.
As part of the Earth Day events, students prepared to spread trash and sift through it to find recyclables for Landfill on the Lawn.

 

The Green Team and Sierra Club at Elon University are partnering for Earth Week April 20-24 in order to raise awareness about environmental sustainability.  This includes Earth Day on April 22, the anniversary of the birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970.

 

In a man-on-the-street survey of Elon students, 90 percent considered themselves environmentally aware.

 

“I pay attention to a lot of the news that goes on about environmental things like recently the ice shelf in Antarctica split and I just find a lot of that stuff to be interesting,” said freshman Andrew Somers.  “I’m convinced of global warming through that way and I think it’s important to pay attention to what goes on so that’s what I do.”

 

 

 

However only 64 percent of students polled believed their Elon education had made a big difference in their environmental awareness. 

 

“I haven’t really had any of my classes really talk real specifically about environmental awareness or what to do to reduce carbon footprints or anything,” said junior John Knowles-Bagwell.  “The stuff I know about that is just through gathering that stuff from newspapers or general knowledge so Elon hasn’t really been the biggest source of information for me.”

 

Of the students polled, 67 percent said they were concerned about global warming and taking personal action.  Personal action consisted of 10 percent who said they conserved water, 61 percent who said they reduced/reused/recycled, 23 percent who said they tried to reduce their carbon footprint, 2 percent who voted “green” and 36 percent who said they walked more and took fewer trips, using less gas.  There were 17 percent of the students polled who responded they did not take any personal action to help the environment.

 

“I definitely would recycle a lot more if given the opportunity at Elon and they do make it very easy but if they made it easier with different steps to do,” said sophomore Meg Anderson.  “If had been given a recycling bag, I would have recycled more.”

 

 

Elon University Professor Kennth Calhoun Speaks to Students About Aspects of Interactive Media

By Megan Wanner

Calhoun speaks about interactive media to students.

Calhoun speaks about interactive media to students.

Professor Kenneth Calhoun, assistant professor in the School of Communications at Elon University, N.C., spoke to Reporting students April 8 about interactive media and its place in the world of Communications.

Interactive media is a two-way system of communication that allows for active participation with the audience by allowing them to have choice and control. “Compare a CD with the old tape format,” Calhoun said. “If you listen to a cassette when you hear song five on your old Michael Jackson cassette you have to rewind or fast forward because it’s a linear thing…But with a disc, it is all located on the top of the circular shape and there’s a laser that reads and it allows you to get to that information faster. That is a technology now enabling choice because if you want to hear song five you just hit five and it goes there and immediately plays. You always had that choice with the analog format of tape, but it wasn’t as convenient and available.”

Calhoun outlined three “flavors” of interactive media, storytelling, responsive visuals and conversation, students could use to “extend their reach” beyond the writing aspect of media.

Within the storytelling aspect, communicators use media objects such as interactive narratives, digital storytelling and menu-driven multimedia to produce multimedia stories for their audiences. These media objects are seen on Web sites such as interactivenarrative.org and secondstory.com where audiences can have a completely different experience with media. “There are ways that interactive media is being used to tell stories that aren’t just video stories sitting inside a frame,” Calhoun said. “There are stories that you have to kind of navigate your way through.”

Responsive visuals are displayed in numerous formats including games, maps, timelines and rollover graphics. The key to these visuals is to make the audience’s interaction with them truly rewarding as they have the opportunity to touch, play and explore. “Those kinds of responsive experiences are now a part of the storytelling packages or part of the Internet experience because of the authoring tools that enable it,” said Calhoun.

The conversation aspect of interactive media is more focused on blogging, wikis, picture sharing and social networks. Conversation is based on creativity, exploiting and hijacking in order to reach audiences and to advertise.

Calhoun is gearing up to teach the newly introduced Interactive Media graduate program at Elon University.

Check out more about what Calhoun has to say about interactive media:

Sensitivity is Key: Investigating Children’s Issues

By Megan WannerTop 10 Tips sensitivity

When it comes to investigating children, many issues can be brought to the table.  Everything from neglect and abuse to malnutrition and poverty are issues dealing with children.  Children die every year from the many issues we do not always consider childrens’ issues.  As journalists, it is our responsibility to investigate these issues and make the public as well as governing entities aware of them in order to seek reform and prevent more deaths and injuries from occurring.

The children’s beat is not the easiest, by far.  Anything having to do with children is a sensitive issue.  Those at fault neglect to take responsibility for occurrences and those who are knowledgeable about the situations are sometimes weary to talk about them, especially family members afraid of the consequences for loved ones.  This is where a journalist must be especially careful in the way they go about obtaining information.  Sensitivity is a must, keeping in mind the role of all sources in society as well as in the case.  People are much more willing to talk to someone they believe truly cares about their situation and are going to help change things for the better.

When governing bodies or commissioned agencies are the ones responsible for occurrences, especially fatalities, they are typically unwilling to admit their flawed practices are partially responsible.  In this case, a journalist must dig deeper than human sources into paper trails that can reveal the information these entities are withholding.

When Washington Post reporters Sari Horwitz, Scott Higham and Sarah Cohen revealed DC’s child protection agency’s part in the deaths of 229 children from 1993 to 2000, they had to take all these considerations in mind.  The more the Post discovered, the more dismal the story became, especially as they discovered that many of these childrens’ deaths could have been prevented had the agency been more careful with the cases, monitoring children they were supposed to and investigating cases that needed to be considered.

An important part of the investigation was the examining of documents having to do with the deaths.  “The Post obtained the previously undisclosed records of the child death reviews: death certificates, police reports, autopsies, caseworker notes, hospital records and internal death summaries,” the reporters wrote in their article.  These records opened the door to more information than reporters had obtained before, opening doors to sources who could not only verify the information, but who could shed more light on the stories the documents could only begin to tell.

For more information on investigating the disadvantaged check out “The Investigative Reporter’s Handbook” by Brant Houston and Investigative Reporters and Editors, Inc.

The Internet and Literacy: Positive and Negative Effects Felt in Local High Schools

By Megan Wanner

See the full layout on http://issuu.com/mwanner/docs/literacyeffects

DSCN1992

Alexa Battey, a student teacher at Southern Alamance High School, looks around the room at her 20 College Prep English seniors. Most of them look bored reading Macbeth which some have even referred to as “MacBoring.” Far from the Internet surfing these teens are used to, Macbeth requires interpretation, not just the surface reading these teens have become accustomed to.

“The novels seem to be over their heads,” Battey said. “They’re not used to that type of writing…They’re used to things being very basic. Things on the Internet today are easy-reads, just stating the facts and basic details. They’re smart, but they’re used to things being put in front of them and not having to dig deep.”

To Teach or Not to Teach

Perhaps one of the reasons why adolescents struggle with texts they are given in school is because they cannot relate to what people consider “classics,” making it hard for them to read them in their entirety.

“I think it’s almost a bad idea to force them to struggle with classics or with difficult texts because I think it just eventually kills their interest in reading altogether,” said Laura Williams, director of the Curriculum Resources Center in the School of Education at Elon University. “I think that, at least as far as what they might encounter in English classes, it would be much better to use texts that they have the ability to relate to, young adult literature that deals with the issues that are real to them, the characters feel real to them not these things that are ancient with tortuous vocabulary and sentence structure.”

Many teachers believe the best way to encourage students to read more difficult texts is to make the readings more relevant to their lives. By making them relatable, students are more likely to enjoy these books as they view them as worthwhile reading.

“I try to find classics they like and do projects that connect them to their lives,” said Lynn Bare, an English teacher at Southern Alamance High School.

But classic texts can relate to teens lives more than they realize. Once they get past the difficulty of understanding what is written and delve into the plotline, it is easier to see the connections.

“Shakespeare is relevant to anything the kids are doing,” said Mark Meacham, English teacher at Walter M. Williams High School. “The issue is understanding the language and vocabulary and if you can get to where they understand that you can devote more time to what is going on…It really depends on the language and getting them to buy into it and…putting [the content] up front so they can understand what is going on.”

A New Age of Literacy

definition of literacy wordpress

Before tackling the question of how the Internet is affecting adolescent literacy, the term “literacy” must be defined. As an age-old definition, literacy is simply the ability to read and write. However, with the growing use of the Internet and technology, literacy has taken on a new meaning.

According to research done by the National Council of Teachers of English, “Twenty-first century readers and writers need to be able to: develop proficiency with the tools of technology; build relationships with others to pose and solve problems collaboratively and cross-culturally; design and share information for global communities to meet a variety of purposes; manage, analyze, and synthesize multiple streams of simultaneous information; create, critique, analyze, and evaluate multi-media texts and attend to the ethical responsibilities required by these complex environments.”

This new definition of literacy could be a good thing. While it is changing the traditional view of literacy, technology is transforming our ideas and encouraging us to broaden our scope of knowledge and abilities.

“Both the challenge and the opportunity of technologies, including video, are that they offer more ways to make meaning but they also require new ways to derive meaning,” said Stacey Novelli, legislative associate for the National Council of Teachers of English.

Even so, a digital age where having the ability to analyze and interpret video is considered just as important as having the ability to read comprehensively is certainly an interesting one. The Speak Up 2008 report sponsored by Project Tomorrow states, “For most students, technology is an integral part of their toolkit for participating in the world—they use it to communicate, organize their life, collaborate and create content and context for their own learning.” However, many people do not believe this is how adolescents view the Internet.

“I do think especially teenagers, adolescents, and maybe even upper elementary they are more geared toward viewing it as entertainment that they are gaming online or they are Facebooking or they’re going to YouTube and the focus is on diversion,” Williams said. “The focus really isn’t on trying to see it critically, trying to put it in a social context, trying to decode the messages that are embedded in whatever media is coming at you.”

Reading and Writing in a New Age

With the Internet comes a plethora of information all at the tips of our fingers. This can be both good and bad when it comes to the way adolescents use it and how it affects them.

“There are too many opportunities for them to not have to think on their own,” said  Angelique Austin, an English teacher at Southern Alamance High School. “I preach to my Advanced Placement students every year to not even look online for analysis, to think for themselves.  It’s also given them the outlet to read Sparknotes, Cliffnotes, etc. Now, there are so many summaries of what we study that they feel there is no need to read the actual text.  What they don’t understand is that they lose the experience, the language, the passion of that author.”

The Internet is changing the way we view many aspects of our lives, especially when it comes to students researching for papers. Rather than going straight to the bookshelves, students head straight to the computers.

“One of our librarians had a discussion with my students and I about using more books for their research projects, and she had a very good point,” Emily Byrd, English student teacher at Hugh M. Cummings High School.  “I had scheduled computer lab days for my students to do online research for their projects.  When I suggested we go into the media center to search through the books as resources, they thought I was crazy!”

While the Internet is changing the way adolescents read and research, it is also changing the way they write.

“Research over many years shows that technology can affect writing positively,” said Novelli. “For example, people revise more online so that they can improve their writing more easily and thoroughly.”

Abbreviations and slang are in common use on the Internet, especially with social networking sites, blogs, Instant Messenger and other communication sites. Proper English is rarely used when adolescents are communicating with peers. Unfortunately, adolescents seem to have lost the ability to switch between what is considered proper and what is not.

“They use abbreviations and slang when they are doing college resumes and essays,” Bare said. “We have to go through and eliminate abbreviations. They want to just use that in their communication with other people and don’t realize other people don’t use that.”

ABSS teachers

Just Skimming Around

Tara Ariel, mother of five, has always homeschooled her children. She currently has two daughters in the fourth grade, one who is 9 and the other who is 7. While her 9-year-old does not enjoy reading, her 7-year-old cannot stop picking up books. Ariel says the differences between her two daughters show especially when they have reports to do that require research.

“It’s funny, my 9-year-old is the one who drawn to the computer and my 7-year-old is the one who would rather go and look at a book and look at all the pictures,” Ariel said. “We just did a report on whales and she didn’t even want to get on the computer to look. We have a bookcase, we had some books, and she found out her own information on her own. So she chose that over getting on the computer, but my 9-year-old would just read the captions and write down a couple of things and thought she had already done her report.”

This is the exact reason the Internet is more appealing for adolescents, and for kids moving into adolescence, especially those who do not like to read. Rather than feeling like they have to read everything, they can read surface-deep and feel like they have all the information they need to be knowledgeable on a topic.

However, when taught how to use the Internet proficiently, students can effectively use their skills of skimming to their advantage, quickly assessing Web sites for trustworthy information. This can help them to find the information they need quickly, an advantage of the Internet over books.

“They know how to and have had practice with evaluating the information they find on the Internet (sources for their research projects) for accuracy and relevance,” said Byrd.  “I would say that it is helping them.”

tips for parents

Shortened Attention Spans

In addition to a lack of comprehension, surface reading while surfing the Internet has also allowed kids to have a shorter attention span. Rather than push through reading something, kids can click a link for something new and never finish reading what they originally sat down to read.

Part of the problem with the Internet is the attractiveness of it all. As adolescents are in the constant search for something new and interesting, any advertisements or links that are eye-catching have potential.

“I think the problems with young people are they are a little vulnerable to the razzle dazzle, a little vulnerable to the distractions that are often there on the page,” Williams said.

Part of the issue with reading books is that they take time to read and process, time adolescents are not willing to devote to them. They want the information to be straight to the point as fast as possible so they can move on to other things. With the already short attention span of a teen of around 30 to 40 minutes, they do not want to spend this time processing a few pieces of information. Instead, they want as much information as they can get before becoming bored. The Internet allows them to do this. Rather than having to motivate themselves to push through pages of information, they can type in a search word and instantly discover multiple sources with straight-forward information about it.

“They are used to a fast-paced world; they are used to getting information at light speed,” said Austin.  “When they actually have to read and think and deduce on their own, they give up a lot quicker than I think they would have in the past.  They also have shorter attention spans,

so reading is boring to them.”

Pleasure Reading Decrease

A report issued by the National Endowment for the Arts included research on the book-reading habits of teens in correlation with school workloads to determine if this was a factor in the decline of pleasure reading in teens. A long-term trend analysis revealed that while the number of high school seniors who spent six or more hours a week doing homework decreased from 47 percent in 1987 to 33 percent in 2006, the leisure reading rates for high school seniors did not increase but rather decreased as well.

“The majority of my students are not picking up books to read, regardless of their access to the Internet,” said Alison Welch, an English student teacher at Western Alamance High School. “Some students are completing reading assignments for class, but very few of them are even doing that, it seems.”

Financial Corruption, Misconduct and More: Delving Into For- and NonProfits

By Megan WannerTop 10 Tips nonprofit

While for-profit businesses are typically scrutinized when it comes to financial affairs, the problems going on with a for-profit may have to do with misconduct within the organization.

Take for example the investigation into the adult homes in New York City. These privately and state-run homes are supposed to be a place where the adults receive the care they need, but closer scrutiny by reporters at the New York Times revealed otherwise. Rather than receiving the attention their mental states required, the adults were neglected and left to their own devices, many of them fatal.

The reporters followed paper trails of Social Security, state, court and coroner’s records, psychiatric and medical files that led to the startling statistics. Their article “Broken Homes: A Final Destination” revealed “At 26 of the largest and most troubled homes in the city, which collectively shelter some 5,000 mentally ill people, The Times documented 946 deaths from 1995 through 2001. Of those, 326 were of people under 60, including 126 in their 20’s, 30’s and 40’s.”

For-profits can be overlooked and their actions highly unreported, causing them to rarely come under scrutiny by the government who assume everything is going well. In the case of the New York City adult homes, the Times reports “Officials at the State Department of Health, which regulates the homes, acknowledge that they have never enforced a 1994 law that requires the homes to report all deaths to the state. Asked for records of any investigations into deaths at the homes, the department produced files on only 3 of the nearly 1,000 deaths.”

Delving into the misconduct of for-profits can lead to investigations into the misconduct of the entities charged with regulating them. When the deputy health commissioner, Robert R. Hinckley, was presented with the findings from the investigation, he said he would have the State Department of Health look at ‘“ways to better investigate those deaths that are reported to us”’ in addition to having the state “issue a regulation alerting the homes that it would strictly enforce the 1994 law on reporting deaths.” However, seven weeks after saying this, the department had failed to do anything of the sort, giving reason to why the misconduct of the homes was going undetected.