Grant Writing Tips

On September 29, 2014, in Dilemmas, Monday Motivation, Uncategorized, UWindsor, by gregorynpaziuk

Grants. Who needs them? Right, most of us need them, because higher education can be mighty expensive without some governmental or institutional financial assistance. The catch is often that applying to these grants can be a lot of work. What is a student to do?

If you follow us on Facebook, you likely saw our shared post from GradHacker, where some clever writers shared their tips on grant writing all last week. That got me thinking: what kinds of guides are there out there for newbie grant writers? Below is just a sample of what our internet trolling produced.

Know Your Target

Granting bodies know what they’re looking for and can sense when you’re trying to cram your unrelated idea into their specific requirements. As Jacob Kraicer writes in “The Art of Grantsmanship“, before you start an application for a grant, “Make sure that your proposal ‘fits’ with the mission of the agency and that your objectives match with those of the agency. Make this ‘match’ explicit in your written application.”

What Grantmakers Want You To Know

The University of Western Ontario’s Library has a helpful list of sources that discuss what granting bodies would love to tell grant applicants. Aside from rants about house styles and decorum, there are some more formative comments, like GuideStar‘s advice that even funding bodies welcome suggestions on the other ways their organization can help you (i.e., donations, connections, etc.). This might not be true of agencies like SSHRC or NSERC, but it’s worth remembering that 99% of these agencies have more than monetary matters in mind (and so maybe you should too).

Grant Writing Is Not An Island

Or rather, grant writing does not take place on an island. Or maybe we mean that no grant writer is an island. The bottom line is that you shouldn’t keep your grant application hidden from your peers and supervisors. As one writer at the Office of Research Services for UOIT points out, “…all applicants can benefit from colleagues’ reviews to ensure that you have thought through all aspects of your research.”


What are some of your tips on how to write a successful grant application?


Other Resources

Simon Fraser University Library Research Commons: Grants and Funding



Learning With GIFs

On September 26, 2014, in Laughs, We Made It: It's Friday, by gregorynpaziuk

What do you know about Graphics Interchange Formats (GIFs)? Maybe you use them to comment on internet issues. Maybe you’re an expert and have taken part in some of the pretty heated debates on how to pronounce “GIF”. But have you ever thought about the artistic or educational value of GIFs? We have, and so we’re sharing some of those thoughts (w/ links) to give you a much needed break from real issues this Friday.

  • Can GIFs be art? Yes. At least according to MJ Franklin at Mashable. And given the body of evidence he assembles in “10 Mesmerizing Illustrations That Prove GIFs Are Art“, it’s hard not to agree.
  • If all this teaching and learning sinks in and you make a career of it, you might one day experience the world of academic publishing. If you do, you’ll likely wonder what your editor really thinks of your work (because, as scholars, we are all naturally suspicious and emotionally fragile). Life in Academic Publishing offers a unique window into the editor’s mind (with GIFs).
  • Speaking of GIFs, scientists are working right now on unlocking the unused potential of these animated images. As it turns out, much of this potential is tied up in learning possibilities. Take, for instance, this list of 20 Gifs That Teach You Science Concepts Better Than Your Teacher Probably Can. Or as we like to think of it, “20 Gifs You Can Use to Teach Science”.

Happy Friday!


As you may have read on the graduate studies homepage, building your learning and teaching skills just went digital. Well, it’s been digital for a while, but is one of the more exciting things to happen in the online world of student professional development in quite some time.

The website was developed by a group of Ontario universities and funded by the provincial government. Comprised of McMaster University, Queen’s University, the University of Guelph, the University of Ottawa, the University of Toronto, the University of Waterloo, and Western University, the Ontario Consortium for Graduate Professional Skills Training Development has designed the modules to provide easily accessible professional development to graduate students. No word yet on if or when modules might be opened up to undergraduate teaching assistants.

What’s Cool About

First and foremost, the site is designed to allow you to learn about each topic at your own pace. The GATA Network is always emphasizing the need to seek out professional and personal development, but we know that sometimes those things just don’t fit into a student’s busy schedule. Having these types of modules online and self-directed should make it easier for all of us to brush up on our skills from the comfort of our own couches.

Secondly, on first glance, the interface seems pretty easy to use. Modules are simply designed, connected to supplemental resources, and embedded with assessment to make sure that you’re retaining what you’re reading. There is even an automated certification process that allows you to keep track of (and show off) which modules you’ve completed. The site also has a blog component that discusses/links to discussions on issues facing GAs and TAs.

Thirdly, it’s free. It’s all free. And not like “Answer this skill testing question” free or “Send us a cheque” free. Really free. Are we making that clear?

Perhaps the most important feature of the site, though, is the wide variety in the modules it already offers. Module topics include but are not limited to the following:

  • Teaching online
  • Building a teaching dossier
  • Intercultural competency
  • Converting a CV to a resume
  • Academic and professional communication for new scholars
  • Mentoring undergraduate students

To learn more about the site or start one of its modules, visit and read up on the FAQ.


Learn APA from a Cartoon Dragon

On September 19, 2014, in Laughs, UWindsor, We Made It: It's Friday, by gregorynpaziuk

As a wise woman once said, “It’s Friday. Friday. Gotta get down on Friday.” So, here we are, on Friday no less, and we’ve decided to get down with comedy because we all lack comedy in our lives. Hopefully something in the selection of links below remedies that. And maybe you learn something.

  • The Internet has matured to the point that you can pretty much assume that there is a “generator” for everything. As Google informed us this week, that includes generators for writing essays. But before you scream out in the name of academic integrity, you should know, there is a lot of assembly required with the Ashford Thesis Generator.
  • By the way, do you find referencing and citation boring? Would you find them less boring if they were taught to you in, say, I don’t know, a cartoon? Of course you would. So of course someone made this video: Adventures in APA Formatting. Warning: May contain talking dragons (just kidding, there’s totally a talking dragon).
  • And speaking of funny…oh you like funny? The University Players are all about funny. This year’s staging of Molière Impromptu promises next level comedy. Tickets are also extremely cheap (just $8!) for UWindsor students.

Happy Friday!


What’s New at the CTL

On September 17, 2014, in Being a GA/TA, GATAcademy, Workshops/Courses, by gregorynpaziuk

Did GATAcademy give you the workshop fever? Well, you’re in luck. The Centre for Teaching and Learning has plenty of opportunities to develop your skills on the horizon. Check out a brief preview of upcoming workshops below.

Contact Jessica Raffoul ( or visit the CTL registration site ( if you’d like more information on these upcoming events!  I’ve highlighted a few below:

Effective Communication Across Languages and Cultures
Date: September 19, 10am to 12pm
Presenter: Emma Bourassa, Thompson Rivers University
In this two-hour workshop, instructors will learn to communicate more effectively by developing their teaching and intercultural communication skills. Participants will challenge some of the underlying assumptions that can interrupt communication and learning in a multicultural/multilingual classroom and practice strategies that they can use right away. Registration:

Professional Conversations: A Necessary Tool for Change
Date: October 21, 1:30 to 3pm
Presenter: Kerri Burchill, John Hopkins University
This workshop explores effective strategies to put an end to “pedagogical solitude” (Shulman 1993), and shift institutional and individual thinking away from what Senge et al. (2004) refer to as “reactive learning” into “deeper levels of understanding.” Participants will explore a professional conversation framework, and will discuss how this framework could be applied to their own context. Registration:

Authentic Assessment (Half Course)
Date: Wednesdays, October 8 to November 19, 1:30 to 4:30pm
Authentic Assessment is an approach that takes into account the contexts in which that learning will actually be used once students leave university.  This half course will introduce participants to the principles and practice of this approach to assessment of student learning.  Registration:

Instructional Skills Workshop (ISW)
Date: December 9 to 11, 9am to 5pm 
The ISW focuses on helping participants sharpen their teaching skills, develop coherent, engaging, and effective lesson plans, and use participant feedback to guide improvement.  Each day involves a workshop in the morning, followed by a videotaped, microteaching sessions in the afternoon. Participants will be videotaped teaching a 10-minute, mini-lesson on a topic of their choosing, and will receive constructive written and verbal feedback from the other participants. At the end of the course, participants will receive a certificate of completion. Registration is $125 for faculty members and staff, $50 for sessional instructors, and $35 for graduate students.  Lunch and refreshments will be provided.  The ISW will also be offered during the Winter semester, February 17 to 19.  Registration:


Lonely Office Hours

On September 15, 2014, in Being a GA/TA, Teaching Tips, by gregorynpaziuk

Yes, one is the loneliest number, but it’s not like your office number is “111”, so why don’t students ever come to visit during office hours? Those of you lamenting that very problem right now – the GAs and TAs who sit in their office for hours just waiting for a student to pop in with a question/concern/ANYTHING – are not alone. In fact, in the first few weeks of classes, office hours can feel like the saddest birthday party ever/getting stood-up on a blind date/the waiting room in a dentist’s office. Why don’t your students use your office hours? It could just be that they don’t have questions yet. More likely though, you should consider trying the following:

Spread the Word

First and foremost, make sure that your office hours, your office location, your office number, and any other pertinent details about how students can contact you are displayed somewhere prominently for your students. If they aren’t already in there, it’s likely too late to add these details to the syllabus now. Even so, ask your instructor to share information about your hours somewhere that is highly visible to students. Healthy repetition doesn’t hurt either, so remind students about your hours, especially close to assignment deadlines, mid-terms, and exams.

Introduce Yourself

Different classes mean different forms of participation for TAs. As such, you may not always get the chance to interact with your students in class, face-to-face. If not, find another way to introduce yourself: ask the instructor for 5 minutes at the end of class, send out a welcoming email, or post an introduction using one of the tools on CLEW. Making yourself more familiar to your students is sure to increase traffic during your office hours, as students become more comfortable with your role as a resource and an aide.

Encourage Your Students

One of the funny things about office hours is that, no matter how anxious students are to have you available for questions, many still avoid visiting. This can be due to embarrassment, stressful scheduling, shyness, or any number of reasons. As Nyquist and Wulff (1996) note, one of the most important things you can do to encourage students to visit is show you’re interested in helping them. Being “available” is not the same as being “approachable”. Being friendly isn’t enough either. Students need to know you care about their questions.

For more on Nyquist and Wulff’s advice, including a template for office hour appointments, read “Tomorrow’s Professor Msg.#1348 Enhancing the Effectiveness of TA Office Hours“.


Let’s Twitter Together

On September 11, 2014, in Laughs, Tools, by gregorynpaziuk

Twitter is a wonderful thing if you use it right. No doubt you’re aware of all the furor created by Twitter’s decision to change how you view tweets. It’s a big issue in academia, where scholars are decrying a loss in functionality, a commercialization of an important forum for engagement, and a standardization of a highly individualistic archival tool. We agree. We also wonder if the new feed will prevent us from learning things like the fact that Maya Angelou has her own hip-hop album.

In all seriousness though, we thought we’d take this Friday (“Funday”) to celebrate one of our favourite things about Twitter: Grammar YUNiversity. Otherwise known as @The_YUNiversity, this Twitter account is one of the most informative resources on grammar issues that isn’t at all pretentious or stuffy. Don’t believe us? Enjoy this sampling of especially special tweets:

Picture 2Picture 3Picture 4

And that’s just September! Find more grammarly goodness by following @The_YUNiversity.

Happy Friday!


Keeping the Momentum After Orientation Week

On September 8, 2014, in Being a GA/TA, Think About It, Tools, by gregorynpaziuk

Over 200 UWindsor students and staff registered for this year’s GATAcademy, and from the looks of things, we had a good turnout. Not that we have to tell you, because you were there, right?

Good. And hopefully you learned lots of fantastic things and made lots of new connections that will propel you on the path to successful graduate and teaching assistantships.

But sometimes, after the glow of the first week of school wears off, we tend to lose all that ambition we had when we were talking about goals and development and “being all that we can be (as student teachers)”. Because development is part of an ongoing cycle, proper development should never really stop. That said, if you can’t attend a GATAcademy every week, how can you get your development in?

Cynthia Korpan, chair of the Teaching Assistant and Graduate Student Advancement (TAGSA) group, has developed a framework that identifies four pillars/actions of a GA/TA’s development: reflection, knowledge, skills, and ability. As a good motivator, you might ask your self: “Where am I in the cycle today? Which pillar(s) do my actions represent?”

Framework for Teaching Assistant Competency Development

TA Competancies Chart


Now What?

Looking for more GA/TA development opportunities at UWindsor? This list from the Centre for Teaching and Learning is a good place to start:

GATA Development Opportunities 2014


A Friday Fun Blog About Words

On September 5, 2014, in Laughs, UWindsor, We Made It: It's Friday, by gregorynpaziuk

Yes, the aptly dubbed “Friday Fun Blog” is back. As a new academic year starts, so too we start up with this weekly post that is only loosely academic and fully nonsensical. Can you guess the theme this week(Re: did you even read the title)?

  • Sesame Street has always been slightly ahead in the word game, which is why so many parents let their kids watch it. It’s so ahead, though, that many of the jokes are intelligent enough for parents, so that watching Sesame Street is less like watching The Wiggles and more like watching a tame John Oliver. Oh, hey, by the way, Sesame Workshop and John Oliver got together to do this video in support of Sesame’s “Words Are Here, There and Everywherecampaign. Careful: you can easily waste an afternoon on the video and the out-takes.
  • With words come a terrible responsibility. With a wider range of words also comes a larger arsenal for insulting people. Not that we condone insults, but we do find it interesting what passed/passes for insults to certain peoples, places, and eras (see Shakespearean insults, for example). Of all the insults we’ve seen this far, Lutheran insults really spit some hot fire. See for yourself with Tyler  Rasmussen’s Lutheran Insult Generator. (Note: Read Rasmussen’s rationale before you lambast him for cultural insensitivity).
  • Let’s get serious for a moment and talk about literacy issues among university students. Is it fair to assume that all university students possess superior reading, writing, and comprehension abilities? According to a study published this spring, no. In May, News1130 reported that “27 per cent of Canadians with at least a bachelor’s degree don’t hit the benchmark for what’s considered a basic level of literacy.” Why do you think that is? Maybe we would have all improved our literacy if Cookie Monster and John Oliver were a permanent duo. Read more on the story here.

Happy Friday!


How GATAcademy Restored My Faith In People

On September 1, 2014, in Conferences, GATAcademy, UWindsor, by gregorynpaziuk

As you’ve probably noticed, GATAcademy is a special time of year for us here at the GATA Network. All the excitement and promise of a new year seems larger when looking at the eager (and slightly fearful) faces of new teaching and learning scholars. This event tends to leave me a little more hopeful every time, whether I am taking part in or just observing intelligent discussions about smart practices in the classroom.

This year I am hopeful for a different reason. This year, like every year, the GATAcademy organizers put out calls looking  for enthusiastic individuals to volunteer as workshop assistants, hosts, guides, etc. However, the response from UWindsor students and alumni was unlike any other the organizing team had ever received. Over 100 people volunteered their time and energy.

The huge response from volunteers was unexpected to say the least and overwhelming to tell the truth. Even for one of the largest personal/professional development events on campus, often drawing hundreds of participants, the sheer number of volunteers exceeded requirements. As such, organizers were put in the rare position of having too much help and could not include every applicant on the volunteering team.

As difficult as it is to be in a position where it is impossible to include everyone, in many ways, the incredible response from volunteers solidified why GATAcademy is so great and why the UWindsor community is so special.

First and foremost, there is the symbolism of it all. There is something wonderful about people volunteering their time to an event that is about the personal and professional development of others. Volunteering at GATAcademy is about wanting to help others succeed. The fact that so many people wanted to volunteer says something, I think, about how much we want our peers to succeed.

Among the applications from potential volunteers, a common theme also appeared: the desire to give back to GATAcademy. So many applicants recalled their experiences at GATAcademies of years gone by, remembering the ways the workshops and the opportunity to meet other GA/TAs had helped to guide them as they embarked on their journey as student teachers. Clearly GATAcademy had also made these people see themselves as part of the teaching and learning community here on campus, just as we all should.

Even more applicants noted that GATAcademy was an opportunity to meet other students and immerse itself in UWindsor’s diverse community. The diversity of people that in no way hinders a shared passion for education make this community unique.

So if you happen to make it to GATAcademy this year – and there is still time to register – stop to consider just how truly awesome it is to be in a community that supports peer development. Teaching and learning are not solitary pursuits, and events like GATAcademy are a reminder that we have so much to learn from each other. Personally, the response from volunteers has also reminded me that people (but really, UWindsor people) are just the best.

Thank you!


funny gifs