Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Gliffy: "Creating diagrams online" (Pukman)

Today, Pukman @ WinK pointed out a TeacherTube demonstration of Gliffy in a post he entitled, "Creating diagrams online." Unfortunately, the video widget in his blog post caused at least two browsers to crash, so he has deleted that post.

Nevertheless, the actual TeacherTube video, Gliffy Tutorial, will give you ideas of what you can do with a free online graphic tool such as Gliffy. Although the video picture isn't all that clear, the demonstrator's voice is quite audible.

As the demonstrator says in the video: If your register online, you can try Gliffy for free. I used Gliffy to produce the graphic in the post, "Student blogs are springboards to WinK" (2007.03.24). Below are a couple other diagrams that I've made with Gliffy, one about learners and the other for teachers:

(Draft for BCcampus Book Project, 2006.09.01)

(The LTD Project Blog, What is mainstream? 2006.08.30)

A Rogue's Gallery: Two Avatars for the Gallows

office envir. picassohead DreamAvatar01Would you please help me choose an avatar for pab?

I'm having trouble choosing amongst a picture of my office environment, an abstract impressionist portrait and a new Dream Avatar (in order from right, above).

If you don't think any of those are suitable for the Writing Studio Blog owner, please vote for "something else."

Many thanks!

Create your own: Dream Avatar or PicassoHead.

Avatars for Blogs and Gmail

Graphic representations such as avatars or photos in Blogger profiles or as Gmail pictures can help establish your online identity, and help your peers remember who you are when you chat with them and comment on their blogs. Online sites can enable you to create individual avatars that you may be able to use in a Blogger profile:
  • View Blog
    • View my complete profile
      • Edit your profile: Photograph;
or as a Gmail picture:
  • Settings: My picture.
For example, I assembled the avatar above at the Dream Avatar site. It took little more than ten minutes to browse and choose elements (body, hair, clothing, shoes, accessories):
  • pausing the cursor over interesting selections to reveal their names,
  • mouse clicking to toggle them on and off for automatic previews, & then
  • saving satisfactory results.
I'm wearing: an Anti-Fashion Aqua Hoony Tee, Anti-Terror Forest Camo Pants, a Celestial Wrap, an Angelic Sash, another Celestial Wrap, and Black High Tek Sandals. It is possible to edit a Dream Avatar after you have saved it.

If you know or hear of any other sites like that - that you, your friends and classmates can use to create personal avatars; please let us know in comments on this post, with links to the sites and notes on how to use them. If you need help getting an avatar that you've already made into your Blogger profile or Gmail settings; ask a classmate who has one already, or ask a lab assistant or your instructor for help in class.
[257 words]

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Writing IIIc: Exams (2007.07.21 & 25)

This post includes a short slide show that presents the tasks for portfolio-based Writing IIIc exams (2007.07.21 & 25):

This slide show is from a Keynote (Mac) presentation using the Portfolio theme:
  • Exported as a Powerpoint presentation (PPT: Mac & Windows), and
  • Uploaded as PPT to SlideShare (registration required).

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Your Portfolios: Common Faults to Fix ASAP

I will use this post as a collection point for faults that I've noticed while previewing Writing IIIc portfolios. I will list and number faults that I've observed on more than one blog, so everyone can identify similar problems in their own portfolios, and fix them.

Please review each numbered item carefully. If what I describe matches (a) problem area(-s) in your portfolio, please take whatever steps are necessary to fix your portfolio immediately. Then explain in comments on this post what you've done to fix the problems, and give item numbers for reference (I'll do number 0. - 1. as examples).

From now till exam time, return frequently to this post to see whether I've listed additional faults, or your classmates have made new suggestions for fixing those faults in comments on this post.

Portfolio Faults to Fix ASAP

0. Of absolute importance!

0.1. Portfolios are invisible to visitors, or
0.2. Comments become invisible to visitors.
(see: Comments for fixes).

  1. Clippings from the portfolio template (Writing Studio Blog, Writing IIIc: Portfolio; July 6, 2007) include too much, namely: comment and label links from the foot of my blog post:
    • If you have included that part of my template post in your portfolio, those links may lead reviewers and visitors away from your blog.
  2. Portfolio posts for this (1st) semester lack titles, are not separate entries from proto-portfolios, or are incorrectly entitled, for example, "Proto-portfolio (2)."
    • These collections of your work aren't (or shouldn't be) "proto-" any more.
  3. Sections 1. (Essays), 2. (Comments), and 4. (Book Reviews) include URLs for blog posts, instead of reader-friendly links.
    • Long URLs don't fit in table cells, or stretch table cells so far that the tables themselves don't fit in blog layouts.
  4. Clippings from the portfolio template [2] (Writing Studio Blog, Writing IIIc: Portfolio; July 6, 2007) include too little from the beginning of the template; they don't include a your four digit ID numbers in the upper right corner:
  5. Titles of blog posts in portfolio sections 1., 2. and 4., if copied (Ctrl+C) and pasted (Ctrl+V) from original posts, reproduce spelling and punctuation faults in the original titles; or if retyped, rather than copied and pasted, introduce new spelling and punctuation faults to the titles.
  6. Blog archives are not at the top of blog sidebars, are not organized by week, do not show week ending dates, or do not show the titles of blog posts.
    • Once reviewers or visitors arrive at your blog (via links in your portfolio), a blog archive with titles displayed is one of the most powerful navigation tools that you can make available.
    • For instructors and yourselves, weekly displays show patterns of blogging activity that you can focus on in sections six and seven of your portfolio.
  7. Labels displayed in blog sidebars do not include "essays" (plural), the label "essays" is misspelled or you've labeled other kinds of shorter, less developed posts as "essays."
    • Precise labels, like blog archives, are among the most powerful navigation tools that you can make available to blog reviewers and visitors.
  8. Labels are not single words, and comprehensive of many similar posts, for example, "books," "music," "portfolios" & "reviews."
  9. Book review titles, numbers & subtitles are inaccurate or incomplete on blog entries, or not shortened for portfolio listings (§ 4.1.).
  10. Typing Speed Trials (§ 3.3.) missing average speeds or (up-)dates for three latest trials.
  11. ...

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

BotM Award Nom's: Best Sidebars (July)

Regrettably, Blog of the Month (BotM) nominations for Best Sidebar Presentation in May-June all referred to overall visual presentations. That is, nominations in comments mentioned numerous interesting pictures in blog entries, in particular, rather that extraordinary developments of blog sidebars. So I'm making one last call for one more award this semester.

In order to nominate a blog for Best Sidebar Presentation (July), your comment must include:
  1. The blog's title - linked to its URL; &
  2. A rationale for nomination - describing that blog's sidebar developments.
Please note:
  • You may nominate only one (1) blog for best sidebar; however, it may be your own;
    • If you nominate more than one blog for best sidebar, all nominations that you make will become nul and void;
  • You must code links in comments by hand:
    • Simple URLs of blogs will not qualify;
    • Links must include the blog's title (visible) and its URL (hidden in the code);
  • Nominations for Best Sidebar Presentation (July) close at midnight, July 26.

Announcing - BotM Awards for May-June!

Ladies and gentlemen!

The jury has made its decisions regarding blogging done in May and June. This time around, eight blogs received nominations for Blog of the Month (BotM) Awards from classmates and peers. In alphabetical order by titles (without special characters), these blogs are:
Best Book Reviews

Three of those blogs received nominations for best book review. In numerical order by review number, they are:
  1. Tomoko's review of The Troy Stone (1-09, June 19, 2007), which got one nomination;
  2. Madyu's review of Kim's choice (1-10; May 28, 2007), which got one nomination; and
  3. Triphaina's review of Jane Eyre (1-12; July 3, 2007), which got two nominations.
However, since Triphaina posted her review of Jane Eyre on July 3, the Best Book Review Awards for May-June go to Madyu's Kim's choice AND Tomoko's The Troy Stone - a tie!

Best Third or Fourth Essays

Four of those blogs received nominations for best essays. That is, in alphabetical order by blog title, one nomination each for:
  • House of Keibo's exposition on his Ideal family (June 6, 2007), which got one nomination;
  • Triphaina's diary entry starting, I love Kumanoto, but ... (June 17, 2007), which got one nomination;
  • Mami's blog entry on Kumamoto (June 17, 2007), which got one nomination; &
  • Yuri's essay About Kumamoto (June 11, 2007), which got two nominations.
This makes Yuri's essay About Kumamoto the winner of the Best Essay Award for May-June!

Best Sidebar Presentations

Unfortunately, the jury has decided that, this time around, the nominations for blogs with best sidebars matched a previous BotM Award category, Best Visual Presentation (April), rather than Best Sidebar Presentation (May-June). The rationales for those nominations all referred to pictures in blog entries, rather than exemplary sidebar developments.

So we will reserve the award for best sidebar presentation until the month of July, and call for nominations immediately in comments on a subsequent post.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Book Reviews: Titles & Labels

What follows is a cross post from a comment on a student's blog, with extra links added. I want to remind everyone of book review title and label requirements, as well as examples and guidelines for them available on the Writing Studio Wiki.
For all of your book reviews, would you please revise the labels to one word: "books"? You can also use "reviews" as a separate label, for all kinds of reviews (books, CDs, movies...) if you wish, but "books" is the required label for book reviews.

Then, in the titles for all of your book reviews, would you please space between the words and before the numbers, and add a colon and a subtitle after the numbers? The spaces will make them easier to read, and the sub-titles [if you chose and spell them carefully] may make your book reviews more attractive for visitors who discover them in your blog archive.

There are detailed directions and examples for book reviews, titles and labels on the Writing Studio Wiki. To find them, please click through to guidelines for book reviews (on another page) from section 1.4. You'll find them under Book reviews (3. Titles & labels...).
Kana's blog, "bookreview1-10" (July 11);
pab's comment: July 13, 2007

If the deep links, above, for specific sub-pages and sub-sections of the Writing Studio Wiki don't work (because of updates later on), please let me know in a comment on this post. Then work your way down to the guidelines from the top level of the wiki, using either the search function or the current wiki outline and links.

Last typing topic for this semester

As I said in a call for typing speed trial topics about a week ago, I want "to post topics for future speed trials... [to enable you] to practice typing about the topic prior to in-class typing speed trials" (Call for TypingSpeedTrial Topics, July 5, 2007).

However, in response to that post, and to another in-class call July 11 - for easy, new topics for the next (and last) regular class meeting (July 18), I got no blog comments and heard no suggestions from you or your classmates.

So, to give those of you who need to practice repeatedly on the next topic before classes begin in order to break the minimum typing speed threshold for this semester (100 words typed in five minutes), I'm announcing the new topic now. Here it is:
  • Blogger blog blogging
If you haven't turned in a timely typing speed trial of over 100 words yet this semester, please collect your thoughts and start practicing on this topic now, so you can meet the typing speed requirement on time next Wed., July 18:
  1. 1st period typing speed trials are due no later than 09:15; &
  2. 2nd period typing speed trials are due no later than 10:55.
I'll resume calling for topics second semester, when the minimum typing speed threshold will rise to 30 words per minute sustained for five minutes. In the mean time, even if you've already surpassed the typing speed threshold for first semester, you should keep practicing with online or computer laboratory typing programs. That way, you may be able to clear the next typing speed hurdle early next semester.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Example reviews for essay six (due July 16)

I've compiled a list of example reviews to make it easier for you to find them as you work on your sixth essays, which are due by high noon on July 16. The Writing IIIc assignments for essays number five (175+ words) and number six (200+ words) were two different kinds of reviews.

For example, if your fifth essay is a restaurant review, then your sixth can be: a CD review, a movie review, a TV program review, a video review, or a webpage review. Here are examples on the Writing Studio Blog (labels: reviews), in a list distinguishing links from URLs:

URL: http://writingstudioblog.blogspot.com/2007/03/restaurant-star-of-india.html

URL: http://writingstudioblog.blogspot.com/2007/03/movie-dream-girls.html

URL: http://writingstudioblog.blogspot.com/2007/04/sharpe-advententure-films.html

URL: http://writingstudioblog.blogspot.com/2007/07/website-review-introducing-people-tree.html

Even though I've made the URLs above as small as readily possible, some of them are still too long to fit on a single line of a blog post. Moreover, all of the URLs listed above are too long to fit in the catalog of essays that you must complete for your online portfolios (§ 1.1.). That's why you need to use links to your essays, instead of just URLs.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Writing IIIc exams just around the corner

In a previous post (July 4, 2007), I outlined what to review during the three weeks prior to exams in Writing IIIc, namely the texts for this course:
  1. the Writing Studio Blog (as a whole),
  2. the Writing Studio Wiki (again, the whole thing), &
  3. the messages in your Gmail queues.
While the clock hasn't stopped, I note that - to date (July 10) - there are no comments or questions about the material to review. I welcome your feedback in comments responding to the review post.

Nevertheless, it is high time to move beyond the review and begin the collection, representation, selection and self-evaluation of blog work that you have done this semester, as well as to continue your reflection on the process of blog development. That is, it is time to build unified Writing IIIc portfolios from your proto-portfolios. Your online portfolios are due during scheduled exam periods:
  • Sat., July 21, 2007 -
    • for students headed overseas on KGU exchange programs this summer; or
  • Wed., July 25, 2007 -
    • for students not involved in KGU overseas exchange programs this summer.
To facilitate portfolio development, I have prepared a worksheet that I will distribute in class on July 11, and a portfolio template for you to copy, paste and build into a portfolio on your own blog. If you have questions about the worksheet, please ask in class on the 11th. If you have questions about your own online portfolio development afterwards, please ask in comments on the portfolio template post at least 72 hours before your portfolios are due.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Blogger tip: Help creating links

This quick post is to remind you of places to look if you need help making links when you're working on your blogs - developing your portfolio posts in particular - on your own between class meetings. The first is a Writing Studio Blog post introducing generic link recipes:
    • (Tuesday, April 24, 2007)
Next are Blogger Help pages:
Note: If those help pages are difficult to understand in English, try switching them into Japanese for a quick preview: "You can change the language of the help pages and menus by choosing a different one from the drop down menu in the upper right corner of any help page" (Blogger tip: Changing display language; April 24, 2oo7).

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Writing Skills Conceptualization

Discussing various concerns about accuracy and fluency of students' writing, including concerns about the public nature of mistakes on blogs, has once again challenged me to reflect on what writing is all about. I recall pointing out in a presentation at the recent JALT CALL [conference] with Mr. Tomei (June 2007), that writing for communicative and community-building purposes distinguishes Writing III from other courses focusing primarily on demonstrations of language knowledge or proficiency.

In retrospect, I feel that we could have done more to emphasize life-skills both manifested in, and requiring, written communication skills - computer-mediated and linguistic. These skills would include relationship forming, community-building, informing, negotiating, opining, persuading and more.

Writing Skills
[111 words]

Friday, July 6, 2007

Writing IIIc: Portfolio (template, July 2007)

ID: wxyz
Writing IIIc: Portfolio
1.0. Essays

1.1. Catalog

Titles of posts with links
Numbers of words
Numbers of comments
Restaurant: Star of India
1st (introduction)
April (150+ words)

2nd (campus life)
May (200+ words)

3rd (your choice)
June 5 (250+ words)

4th (Kumamoto)
June 18 (250+ words)

5th (review 1)
July 2 (175+ words)

6th (review 2)
July 16 (200+ words)


Note: Calculate totals without the example.

1.2. Selection and assessment: Which of those essays do you feel is the best, and why? Please remember that a complete answer is better than a short answer, and give at least two reasons.

  • ...



Titles of posts with links
Dates of comments (yyyy.mm.dd)
Numbers of words in comments
Qualities of comments*
2.1. Your first comment on your instructor's blog

2.2. Your best comment on a classmate's blog

2.3. Best comment by a classmate on your blog

2.4. Most comments on:
Titles of posts with link
Dates of posts (yyyy.mm.dd) Total number of words in comments
Qualities of comments*
2.4.1. Any one of your essays When did you respond to those comments?

--- How did you respond to those comments?

2.4.2. Any of your other posts When did you respond to those comments?

--- How did you respond to those comments? ---

* Please list the most important qualities of comments on each type of blog post.

2.5. Additional reflections on comments:
  • ...

3.0. Typing Speed Trials (5 mins.)

Numbers of words
Dates (yyyy.mm.dd)
3.1. Worst typing speed trial

3.2. Best typing speed trial

3.3. Average speed for three (3) most recent speed trials

4.0. Book Reviews

4.1. Catalog Titles of posts with links
Dates (yyyy.mm.dd) Number of words Numbers of comments
Vampire Killer













Note: Calculate totals without the example.

4.2. Selection and assessment: Which of those book reviews do you feel is the best, and why? Please remember that a complete answer is better than a short answer, and give at least two reasons.

  • ...

5.0. Blog Layout, Labeling, Linking & Media Presentation

5.1. Does your blog have an archive in the sidebar?

5.1.1. Does the archive display the titles of posts?

5.1.2. Is the archive organized by week?

5.1.3. Is the archive at the top of the sidebar?

5.2. Does your blog have labels displayed in sidebar?

5.2.1. Do your labels include each of these required labels (typed accurately): ---
  • "books" (plural)

  • "essays" (plural)

  • "quickposts" (plural, with no spaces)

5.2.2. Does your sidebar display other labels?

  • How many other labels have you attached to three (3) or more posts?
    • ...
  • Which labels, and how many posts each?
    • www (n)
    • xxx (m)
    • yyy (o)
    • zzz (p)
    • ...
5.3. Links & media ---
5.3.1. Does your blog include pictures?

  • Does your blog profile include a picture or graphic representation?

  • How many of your blog posts include pictures or other graphics?
    • ...
5.3.2. Posts with multiple links ---
  • How many of your posts include three (3) or more links?
    • ...
5.3.3. Does your blog include other media?

  • How many of your blog posts include other media?
    • ...

5.4. What would you most like to do to enhance the overall presentation of your blog?
  • ...

6.0. Additional reflections on your blog writing:
  • ...

7.0. Suggestions for your peers and successors:
  • ...

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Call for TypingSpeedTrial Topics

For those of you who have yet to surpass the threshold of 100 words typed in five minutes - in a consistent and timely fashion, I would like to post topics for future speed trials (July 11 and 18) on the Writing Studio Wiki. This gives you opportunity to practice typing about the topic prior to in-class typing speed trials.

However, on July 4, students in neither class (Writing IIIc1 or IIIc2) suggested topics for coming weeks. So I am making a call for topic suggestions here.

Please suggest one topic that you feel will be easy for you and your classmates to type about, and provide (a) rationale(-s) for your suggestion, in a comment responding to this blog post, OR if you like a suggestion that another student has already made, please say so and explain why in a separate comment.

Please post your suggestions, statements of preferences and explanations no later than noon Saturday, [July] 7. Then I can collect the topics, select two of them for the coming weeks, and transfer them to the wiki in time for those of you who need to practice in advance to get some practice on topic before upcoming typing speed trials.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Preparation for exams: What to review

Here we are, less than three weeks away from final examinations for Writing IIIc. Please see the Writing Studio Google Calendar for dates and times of exams.

At this juncture, I imagine that you're wondering what to do to prepare for them. I think two to three weeks is just about enough time to prepare thoroughly, in advance; three days or three three hours simply won't allow you enough time for preparation, because there is so much course material to review prior to the exam periods, and - for a number of you - so much more blog development to do. After conducting your review, please post any relevant questions you have in comments on this exam prep. blog post.

If you were in a class that wasn't blended (online and offline) like Writing IIIc is, you would probably have a textbook, handouts and class notes to review. However, if you think that apart from small orange logbooks (Extensive reading logs), you have little material to review prior to exams, you will be ill-prepared for examinations this semester (Writing III), and for the semester to come (Writing IV).

The texts for these courses are probably both more numerous and more extensive than those you've had for any courses you've ever taken. First of all, we have both:

  • The Writing Studio Wiki - a hypertext consisting of an extended table of contents complete with internal and external references; and

If you haven't done so already, you should read each of those hypertexts completely. Even if you have read them already, you should review them thoroughly, and keep checking them frequently for updates in the next week or so.

Next there are examples of blogging, both good and not so good ones, in all of the blogs belonging to your classmates and peers in Writing III. Please keep visiting them, and when you find a quality you like about their blogs or writing styles, emulate them. Then there are all of the Gmail messages that your instructor has sent to you and your class mates. You should review all of those texts as well, for they provide models and instructions for you own blog and proto-portofolio developments.

During your review of all of those course materials, you may find items that are puzzling, unclear or even incomprehensible. If you do, please ask about those items in class, or in comments on this blog post, at least a week prior to scheduled exams.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Website review: Introducing the People Tree

I'd like to introduce a socially and environmentally responsible fashion company, especially to students interested in business entrepreneurship [added, 2007.07.04]. The Fair Trade Fashion Company - People Tree is all about supporting independent producers, promoting fair trade, and protecting the environment (Mission Statement). I learned about the People Tree from a recent documentary on NHK TV.

Safia Minney, the founder of People Tree, calls her blog the People Tree. Most if not all of the snapshots in her recent post about establishing organic cotton farms in Bangladesh are from scenes shown in that TV documentary.

People Tree currently makes more than half of its clothing from cotton grown organically in India, and is now promoting organic plantations in Bangladesh, too, where most cotton fabricated comes of non-local sources (Poisoned any farmers recently, darling?). The Organic Cotton page explains both problems related to cotton that isn't grown organically, and benefits of growing it organically.

A little over a month ago, representatives from People Tree took part in World Fair Trade Day celebrations in Tokyo. Events included a fashion show including Vogue fashions crafted from organic cotton (World Fair Trade Day - May 12). To find out more about how fair trade influences children around the world, please check out the World Fair Trade official web site for 2007.
[215 words]

It's time again for BotM nominations!

It is time, once again, for Blog of the Month (BotM) nominations. This post explains how to make nominations for May - June.

You may nominate individuals (classmates, peers from other classes, and yourself) for no more than one award each. If you nominate anyone more than once, all of your nominations of that person will become nul and void.

Awards for May - June will reflect upon three categories of writing and blog development. They are:
  • Best book review (May or June);
  • Best sidebar presentation (as of date of nomination); &
  • Best third or fourth essay (for Writing IIIc: 3. individual choice of topics, or 4. novel perspective on Kumamoto).
How to make nominations
Please make nominations, one at a time, in individual comments on this blog post. I will consider only accurate and complete nominations. All nominations for any category (review, sidebar or essay) must include the following information, namely the:
  1. Category: Review, Sidebar, or 3rd or 4th Essay;
  2. Blog title (for best sidebar) - linked to its URL, or post title (for essay or review) - linked to its URL; &
  3. Rationale for nomination.
To make a link in a comment may not be as easy as it is to do in a blog post. In comments, at present, you must encode links by hand. There is a recipe in the ltdproject wiki for a URL link and display text that you can use in a comment. Last, but not least, please remember to include rationales when you make nominations for any category of blog posting in May or June.

Deadline for nominations
Nominations for the months of May and June will close at midnight, July 6, 2007 (JST).

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