Thursday, December 18, 2008

New Sidebar Gadget: Followers

A new Blogger gadget that I've just added to the sidebar opens another avenue of access to Writing Studio Blog updates. It's down to the right, between Local Favorites and Subscribe via gmail (now Get mailed!) gadgets. It's the green starred item in the sidebar Layout screenshot (right).

The first avenue for notification of updates was subscription via mail functionality provided by Feedburner, which I blogged up last January (Subscribe via Gmail Today!, 2008.01.10). You may have missed that, if you failed to read up on previous posts as I suggested at the beginning of Writing III. Some folks prefer mail notifications; others depend upon handy lists of links to favorite sites in their own sidebars, or feed readers there or elsewhere (for example: Google Reader).

Now signing up to follow a blog generates an RSS feed in your own Dashboard, and there are at least two ways to get started. One works for any Blogger blog (though it doesn't seem to work on Edublogs, at least not right away); you just grab the URL of a blog you want to follow, and "ADD" it to your Dashboard Reading List. Here's a snapshot of the list I've started:

The "ADD" button is at the foot of your list.

The other way to follow a Blogger blog is to find one you want to follow that displays a Followers gadget. You can subscribe through the gadget, and updates from that blog will automatically appear in your Dashboard Reading List. For more info. about following, including private or public following options, I recommend these Blogger Help Center posts:
[279 words]

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Writing IV: Portfolio, §§1a & 1c (template)

This portfolio template is for you to:
  • Copy with permission, under license from the Writing Studio Blog (License, below);
  • Paste into a new post on your own blog;
  • Complete with data from, and reflections upon, the body of your writing on your blog for Writing IV, section 1a or 1c; and
  • Publish with the label "portfolios" (plural, without quotation marks).
Your complete portfolio for this semester is due – published and labeled on your blog – by Monday, December 22, 2008 (17:15, JST).

///// Beginning of template (Copy from "End ..." [below] to here.) /////

Student ID: vwxyz
Please replace "vwxyz" (above) with
the last five digits of your student number
(without quotation marks).

Portfolio for Writing IV,
Section 1a OR 1c

[Please delete the unsuitable class section and "OR" (above), along with this line of remarks.]

(See: Note 1, below)

0.0. Overview

Reviews, Posts, Words, and More

(See: Note 2, below.)

[Please embed your proto-portfolios here; then remove this line of remarks, including the square brackets.]

1.0. Essays

(See: Note 3, below.)

Please complete this table with data gathered from essays on your blog. See the Key (below) for definitions of the symbols in row one, and complete columns four through nine with numerical values (0, 1, 2, 3, ...).

1.1. Showcase
Short titles with links

Website review 08.09.29 (375+ words)

Favorite place(-s) 08.10.20 (450+ words)

Mrs. Doubtfire 08.11.04 (500+ words)

Community life 08.11.17 (default length*)

Kumamoto's best-kept secrets 08.12.01 (5+ ¶¶)

Learning with computers 2008.12.15 (6+ ¶¶)

Totals ---

¶: number of paragraphs five (5) or more sentences in length
W: number of words
C: number of comments
L: number of links
P: number of photos or other graphics
M: number of other media included in post
*: "long enough to cover the ... [communities] you choose," Writing Studio Blog, Preparation for Next Essays, 2008.10.29)

1.2. Best Essay

Selection and Assessment: Which of those six assigned essays do you feel is the best that you've written this semester, and why? Remember that a complete answer is better than a short answer, focus on your writing, and give at least two reasons to support your assessment.
  • [Please remove these remarks, including the square brackets, then identify your best essay, and write out your reasons for selecting it here.]


Titles of posts with links
Dates of comments
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 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? ---

* Current semester comments on essays and other posts
** Please list the most important qualities of comments on each type of blog post. That is, explain briefly what makes them good comments.

2.5. Recent comments display

Does your blog display recent comments from blog visitors in a prominent location, for example, in a sidebar, header, or footer widget? Where, or why not? Please explain.
  • ...

2.6. Additional reflections on comments

  • [Please remove these remarks, including the square brackets; then write out your reflections on both giving and receiving comments here.]
  • ....

3.0. Book Reviews

3.1. Showcase Short titles
with links
Dates ( Words Comments
Vampire Killer



















: Please calculate and list book review Totals for words and comments without including those from the example (above).

3.2. Best Book Review

Selection and Assessment: Which of those book reviews do you feel is the best that you've written this semester, and why? Remember that a complete answer is better than a short answer, focus on your writing, and give at least two reasons to support your assessment.
  • [Please remove these remarks, including the square brackets; then identify your best book review, and write out reasons for selecting it here.]

4.0. Blog Layout, Labeling, Linking, & Media

4.1. Does your blog display an archive?

4.1.1. Does the archive display the titles of posts?

4.1.2. Is the archive organized by month?

4.1.3. Is the archive at or near the top of the sidebar?

4.2. Does your blog have labels displayed in sidebar?

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

  • "essays" (plural) AND "portfolios" (plural, without "proto-")

  • "quickposts" (plural, with no space between quick and posts)

  • "links" (plural) AND "media" (plural)

  • "movies" (plural) AND "websites" (plural)

  • "brainstorms" (or "brainstorming"), "essay prep.," AND "free-writing" (or "free-writes")

4.2.2. Does your sidebar display other labels?

  • How many other labels have you attached to three (3) or more posts?
    • ___ other labels attached to three or more posts
    • Which labels, and to how many posts each? Please list those labels instead of www, xxx, yyy..., and list numbers of posts instead of n, m, o... (in parentheses), below.
      • www (n)
      • xxx (m)
      • yyy (o)
      • zzz (p)
      • ...
4.3. Links & media ---
4.3.1. Does your blog include photos or other graphics?

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

  • How many of your blog posts this semester include photos or other graphics?
    • ___ posts including photos or other graphics
4.3.2. Does your blog include posts with multiple links?

  • How many of your posts this semester include three (3) or more links?
    • ___ posts including three or more links (including this portfolio!)
4.3.3. Does your blog include other media?

  • How many of your blog posts this semester include other media?
    • ___ posts including other media
  • What kind(-s) of media have you included in posts this semester? Please list the kinds here:
    1. ...
    2. ...
    3. ...


  • What media content that you originally produced, if any, do your blog posts for this semester contain? Please list and explain each item briefly, and add short links and dates ( for reference.
    1. ... (short link, date)
    2. ... (short link, date)
    3. ... (short link, date)



4.4. Overall presentation

What have you done to enhance the overall presentation of your blog? List and explain the three most important content, display, formatting, layout, or other presentation changes that you have made on your blog this semester.
  1. ...
  2. ...
  3. ...

5.0. Additional reflections on your blog and your writing on it

Please feel free to include reflections on both spring and fall semester work, as well as on the content of this portfolio (proto-portfolios, showcases, and reflections).
  • ...
  • ...
  • ...

6.0. Advice and suggestions for yourself, your peers, and your successors

  • ...
  • ...
  • ...

  1. This portfolio template derives from the templates for Writing IIIc and Writing IVc portfolios (2007-08), and Writing III, §§1a & 1c (Fall, 2008).
  2. Please use the same code in section 0.0 that you used to embed your proto-portfolios (PPFs) in the footer of your blog, which you should already have revised to display your 2nd (fall) semester PPF first.
  3. The essays section (1.0. Essays, above) derives from Proto-Portfolio 2-02 (2008).

This portfolio template is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. Please attribute to "the Writing Studio Blog" (without quotation marks).

Creative Commons License

///// End of template (copy from here to "Beginning ..." [above]) /////

[87 words (introductory remarks, only; other content derived
from previous templates and related sources)]

People's Choice Podcast Award: Grammar Girl

The winner of the 4th Annual (2008) People's Choice Podcasts Award in the category for education was Grammar Girl: Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing. Grammar Girl is 2.5 year old show, hosted once a week by Mignon Fogarty, who is now exploring video podcasts.

I've already added a link to all episodes of Grammar Girl to the Course Links (favorite site list, sidebar). "Arra best," to Jim Smiley of the JALT Materials Writers group for pointing out the awards site (jaltmwsig, message 672, 2008. 12.11).

You can catch a promo. video and live interview with Fogarty @ 12:14-16:02 (that's minutes, not hours) in the 2008 Podcast Awards Winners! video below, or on (December 6, 2008, People's Choice Podcast Awards Ceremony). The top 10 episodes of Grammar Girl focus largely on word choices, but also on grammar, punctuation, and style. Check her out!

(retrieved 2008.12.16)
Blogged with the Flock Browser
Revised in Blogger
[159 words]

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Word Borrowed Perfectly: Japanese to English

This post reflects a note I scribbled on a bit of paper while watching television months ago, October 28, to be precise. It was about a word borrowed from Japanese, and - if my ears had not deceived me after two listenings (17:00+ and 21:00+) - perfectly so into English.

I say perfectly, because an NHK News in English announcer's usage of the adopted word represented adaptation of a common, stand-alone Japanese noun generally unmarked for number, to make it into a plural noun marked with an -s, or rather, with the sound /-z/.

Can anyone guess what that word was? There will be a grab-bag surprise for the author of the first accurately spelled guess in a comment on this post by a current Writing Studio participant. You must appear in person during a class meeting to collect the prize.

Here is a bit of context from the note for a hint; the "It" refers to a letter reportedly discovered in Kumamoto:
  • "It had been sent to ...-s [n., pl.] of the Fukui domain."
Good luck brainstorming! Please post your best guesses in comments on this post.
[188 words]

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Learning with Computers (LwC): Class Outlines

The class outlines depicted below represent the main points that you should cover in the sixth essay assigned for this semester. We collected main points, topics, and sub-topics from individual lists of ideas that students brainstormed and posted as essay prep., brainstorms and quickposts in class, then combined related items and created hierarchies from them to construct working outlines.

The outline from Writing IV, §1a, is in two overlapping parts; the outline from §1c is in one part. If you click on the images (below), you can get full-size views.
  1. LwC_outlines20081210_1a-1.png,
  2. LwC_outlines20081210_1a-2.png, and
  3. LwC_outlines20081210_1c-0.png
You should feel free to adopt ideas for topics and sub-topics from either class outline, and add your own supporting ideas (anecdotes, arguments, examples, opinions [, reasons {pab, 2008.12.11}]), but make certain to cover all of the main points from the outline for your own class. Details in the outlines, especially "Other...?", you may treat as variables.


If you have questions or concerns about how to use these outlines to compose and organize your essays, please spell them out in individual comments on this post well in advance of the due date (Writing Studio Calendar: 6th essays...). Finally, please remember to label all assigned essays, and only assigned essays, with the label "essays" (plural, no capitalization).
[216 words]

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Paragraphs for Review in Google Spreadsheet

In this post I'm going to reflect upon and amplify work done online and in class in recent weeks. While I hope that you check your gmail regularly for course-related announcements, a recent reply to a two-week old message shook my confidence that all of you do so. For that reason, I'm posting these notes here, rather than relying completely upon another Google spreadsheet mail notification (forthcoming).

Those of you who reviewed paragraphs in the Google spreadsheet to which you posted them in November may have been unaware of general comments that I had added to row two before class last week (December 3rd, cells 2A-2I). In order to view lengthy comments there, when text wrapping was off, you would have had to double-click in each cell. For example, about titles, I wrote:
Please use accurate and catchy titles! There are confusing, inaccurate, and unnecessary alphanumeric code prefixes in this Title column [column E], for example: MR2-01 and Essay2-02 (no spaces before numbers). There also are titles that reflect assignments, but not the content of particular essays. However, please don't change titles here, unless you already have changed the title of your essays on your blogs, and are copying and pasting the revised titles in here. Titles should reflect content, theme, and focus. Accurate labels, for example, "essays" (... [three] Ss and one A), "movies," and "reviews," should suffice to convey other information instead of code (the exception to this rule is post titles for book reviews, for example: BR 2-01, ... -02, ... -03, ..., BR-12: [+ short book titles]).

Since the focus of that data collection was weakest paragraphs in best essays as of November 19 (BestEssays_Self-Assessments form, item 3.e.), I am going to reiterate and amplify the follow-up questions from the spreadsheet that I announced in class on December 3rd, here, where there are layout options unavailable in Google spreadsheets (automated numbering and bullet points added, below):
  1. Is what you've posted a paragraph?
    • If not, why not;
    • If so, how so?
      • [In other words, what constitutes a paragraph?]
  2. What is the topic of the paragraph [that you felt was your weakest]?
  3. Is the topic [of that paragraph] defined in the first sentence (topic sentence)?
  4. Does all other information or opinion in the paragraph develop and support the topic?
  5. Is there any information or expression of opinion in the paragraph unrelated to, or ... [which does not directly support], the paragraph topic?
  6. Does the paragraph end with a sentence that reflects the topic and content of the whole paragraph?

The purpose of question one (above) was to explore your definitions of paragraphs, in particular, to discover what you had learned about paragraphs from other courses. If you can remember or retrieve a definition of paragraphs from Writing I or II, please share it in a comment on this post.

Question two (above), as we found in one class on December 3rd, also can apply to single sentences that some students posted for the weakest paragraph item (spreadsheet, column I). Once you identify the topics of sentences in question, they can serve as foci for paragraph development. In the first example below, the pronoun "It" reflects the topic from the initial sentence, "home page" (spreadsheet, cell 26I). In both examples below, the phrasing suggestions in square brackets introduce supporting reasons the authors could use to develop their sentences into paragraphs:
  • ¶6 Let's go to this home page! [It is very interesting, because….] (26I)
  • ¶6 I think French is more difficult than English [for three main reasons. First, French....] (32I)
Questions three through six (above) indicate weaknesses common in novice writers' paragraphs, and can serve as general guidelines for paragraph development. I say guidelines, rather than rules, because even experienced writers occasionally diverge from them. For example, in short paragraphs, concluding sentences may be unnecessary to maintain readers' attention, especially if following paragraphs start with topic sentences, and comprise topics that are closely related to preceding ones.

I'd like to close this post with thanks and an invitation. That is, first, with thanks to the students who explained their weakest paragraphs in class last week. I appreciate your efforts to share thoughts about your writing in a language other than your vernacular. Next, to students whose writing did not come to the fore as examples in class last week, I extend this invitation to identify what you see as major weaknesses of the paragraphs that you posted to the Goggle spreadsheet in November. A good place to spell out those weaknesses would be in the new column K on the spreadsheet, where we can all read and compare them. Finally, thank you all for your cooperation in our writing studio, both in class and in various online venues.
[811 words]

Monday, December 8, 2008

Two Exciting Typing Games

Straight away, I'd like to thank Pukman@WinK, indubitable master of quickposts, for pointing out two exciting typing games in recent posts on his blog (Great typing games, and Class of December 5th, both 2008.12.05). One game offers intensive practice typing letters and numbers, and the other[,] similarly intensive practice typing words.
  1. Alpha Attack - letters and numbers
  2. QWERTY Warriors - words
Hopefully you will transcend the kill-the-enemy prompts for both games, yet appreciate both the time pressure and accuracy requirements while you play. If the killing metaphor bears heavily on your conscience, you may wish to try some of the less hostile games at Only Typing Games.

In general, I suggest reading the instructions and starting out at easy levels, after you re-familiarize yourselves with locations of letter and number keys. You also may wish to mute the soundtracks on the games. I find muting the sound helpful in concentrating attention on the typing targets, and on the feel of touch typing. [Here is an example of the feedback from a quick go at one of the games:]

Neither of the games Pukman pointed out allows much time for hunt-and-peck keyboarding. Nevertheless, I hope you enjoy the challenges.
[198 words]

Friday, November 28, 2008

Label Actions: Multiple Posts

This post shows how to search for a keyword from your Blogger Dashboard, and then how to apply a label to all of the posts you find. You can follow the steps to apply a new(-er) label to old(-er) posts, as well as to correct the spelling or capitalization of existing labels.

The keyword in this example is a label that I had used only once; it was on a recent post. I noticed the label in the sidebar earlier today, "paragraphs (1)," and decided to use it on more posts.

Here's how:
  • To find all of the posts in which you use a keyword, type it into the search field under the Edit Posts tab in your dashboard, click on the search button, and check for results.

In this case, I found 29 posts containing the keyword, "paragraph" (singular). I was almost ready for label actions, which appear when you open the drop-down menu with a click on the small black triangle.

Possible actions include applying existing labels, such as "abbreviations" (above), adding new labels, and removing old ones.
  • The next step is to select the posts to which you want to apply label actions.
Since I was fairly certain that I wanted to add a particular label to all of the posts found in my Edit Posts search (Dashboard [illustrated above]), I selected them all. Another way you can select posts is to tick the boxes to the left of individual posts in your dashboard list.
  • After selecting posts (all or some), you scroll down the list of Label Actions and existing labels to find the action (and label) that you want to apply.
I chose to apply (add) the label, "paragraphs" (plural) to all of the posts that I'd found.

The results appeared in a caption above the search field.

Note: Blogger added labels only to 28 of the 29 posts [that] I'd found in a search of all posts (drafts, scheduled, imported, and published). The 29th post that I'd found already had the label I was applying.
  • If you want to change existing labels, the process is similar:
    • Click on the label that you want to change in the Labels sidebar (Dashboard: Edit Posts).
      • This works like the search of all posts (Dashboard: Edit Posts: Search), but looks only for existing labels on them.
    • Select ALL of the posts with the label that you want to change.
    • Scroll through Label Actions, and apply a different or new label.
  • If you want to correct your *spellling or *CaPiTaLiZaTiOn of existing labels:
    • Add correctly spelled and capitalized labels first.
    • Then remove incorrectly spelled or capitalized labels.
      • BEWARE: If you remove inaccurate labels before you apply accurate ones, it may be[-come] extremely difficult to find all of the posts again, especially if you have labeled them with words or phrases such as "essays" or "essay prep." that don't appear in the posts themselves.
[489 words {+ 3, 2008.12.11}]

Did You Know? 3.0: Broadband for the Brain

Are you in ... [a] broadband backwash [bayou], or [a beach in] Bermuda?

Where would you rather be? Get a load of the new stat's in this video, and find out!

Blogged with the Flock Browser
Revised in Blogger
[40 words]

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

How to Post via Mail [from your cell phone]

Use a Mail-to-Blogger Address!

///// [end of photo + text message from cell phone: 6 words (not including title)]

A number of students have reported having difficulty making many blog posts each week, partly because they haven't had access to their blogs from computers at home (no computers, or no internet connections). However, this shouldn't be a problem for anyone who has a cell phone (I believe I was the last person in the class to get one;-).

It is a simple matter to set your blog to receive posts via mail. You can find directions here:
First, at a computer with internet access, you create a mail-in address in your blog Dashboard Settings: Email section from your username and a word you keep secret. While you are in the Mail-to-Blogger Address settings, you should decide whether you want your blog to save posts you send via mail as drafts posts, or to publish them immediately. I chose drafts, because I usually expect to get back on a computer again within a day or two (at most).

I learned how to do this in under five minutes, and had sent a picture to my blog from my phone within 10 more minutes--including time to add the mail-in address to my cell phone book, and to key in a short message, "Use a Mail-to-Blogger Address!" (above). It appeared among my blog posts as a draft:

Sending a cover photo and place-holder title (mail subject), for example: BR 2-10: Common Errors, would be a great way to get book reviews started, especially when you are away from computers, because you can always draft the text of your book reviews on paper to type in as soon as you get back to a computer. So blog on via mail!

[309 words]

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Essay Map: Composition Tool for Short Essays

I've written this short piece in Essay Map to re-explore its advantages and rediscover the kinds of output available at the end of the process. Basically, there are three main advantages of preparing an essay this way. However, output options are few.

Visualization is a powerful tool for realizing your objectives. With desired outcomes in mind, paths to achievement may clear. Essay Map helps you see the end from the beginning, and back again.

The purpose of this mapping tool is to show beginning writers ways of organizing and supporting their ideas. Although thinking is rarely if ever linear, conventional writing is. Organizing and supporting main points help readers understand writers' thoughts.

Paths on the map are easy to follow and retrace. Though Supporting Details frames lack topic specific headings for main ideas, an Essay Map enables you to review your introduction, main ideas, and supporting points with a few clicks as you are writing.

Essay Map makes it easy to collect and organize content for essays. The writing paths are easy to follow for step-by-step development of your main ideas. Though the displays are narrow, you can retrace your steps anytime, and review your entire map before you finish. To capture output, you need to print from the "Review my map" frame (and retype), or copy and paste text from individual input frames. Nevertheless, this is a cool tool for composing short five-paragraph essays!

[242 words]

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Revised in Blogger

Saturday, November 15, 2008

New Sidebar Link: Business Writing

To the Course Links list in the sidebar, I've added a new link. It leads to a new page deep in the LTD Project Wiki. Recent email updates from ULiveandLearn had reminded me of writing tips for business writers that I'd originally pointed out in a larger page on the LTD Project Wiki, Writing Resources.

Since that writing resources collection already had grown to the bursting point, and spawned separate pages from other sections, I decided to create a new page for the business writing tips, too. Then, to the new page (Business Writing), I added an RSS feed to automatically update the writing tips displayed on it. The tips there from ULiveandLearn focus in particular on writing email, for example, Why Format is Important with Email (2008.10.23).

However, many of those tips are readily applicable to other online writing media, for instance, blogs and social networking services, and to written communication of various kinds, such as report writing. They include suggestions for using non-sexist and reader-friendly language suitable for wide audiences. So I recommend browsing through them from the new Business Writing page, and reviewing the other LTD Project Wiki Writing Resources page, too.

[197 words]

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Green IQ Game and Carbon Footprint Calculator

If you are an English language learner with intermediate or greater reading ability, who is able to tolerate a brain-numbing audio loop long enough to try it, you might play the Green IQ Game. It could teach you a bit about the impact your lifestyle has on the environment.

I learned of that game from a post on Larry Ferlazzo's Websites of the Day blog (Test Your Green IQ, 2008.11.12), but I couldn't stand the music that started playing the moment I opened the game. So I won't embed it in this post. I removed a game like that from a previous post because it wasted bandwidth every time it loaded (Big Bob's Burger Joint..., 2008.09.04)) However, I will try [Green IQ] later with the speakers turned off. If you try it, please let us know what you think of it by leaving a comment on this post after you play.

If you're keen on a calmer, deeper, quieter, environmental consciousness-raising activity, you might try the the Carbon Footprint Calculator, instead. The Welcome screen in the calculator allows you to select a country (and locale) for comparison. Then on-site calculations based on your responses reflect impacts of certain human activities. The behaviors and preferences tracked relate primarily to housing and transportation, but also to fashion, food, shopping, and recreation.

Again, please feel free to share your reflections in comments here afterwards. I'd really like to know whether you find either the environmental issues or the language used (vocabulary, in particular) familiar or difficult to understand. I'd also like to hear whether playing the Green IQ Game or calculating your Carbon Footprint influences your thinking or motivates you to make changes in your lifestyle.
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Revised in Blogger
[278 words]

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

The following is a representation of a post from the Language Learner Development Project Blog (LLD Project Blog, Happy Halloween, 2008.10.31), a work licensed "under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License" (LLD Project Blog, License). I am reusing the copyright image in the original post with permission of the copyright owner. You can see the copyright notice if your hover your cursor over the photo below [in the actual Blogger post, not the Feedburner mail announcement], before clicking.
This is a quick, seasonal, website recommendation... for anyone ... interested in customs, history, and traditions: a History of Halloween minisite at I recommend the articles entitled Ancient History and Around the World, but there's much, much more on the site [including advertisements, games, and videos]. Just click on the link (above), or the picture (below), and go see for yourselves.

© 2008 Y. Matsushita

If you'd like to compare the Jack-0-Lantern in the photo above with his predecessors from last year, please check out either of last year's Halloween videos (Writing Studio Blog, Welcome Home Hallows, 2007.10.31).

[106 words excluding the block quotation]

Revised 2008.11.06
[+10 words]

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Posts in Preparation of Next Essays

To prepare for upcoming essays, thematic movie reviews due next Tuesday (Writing Studio Calendar, 3rd essays due, November 4, 2008), last week I asked you to make two quickposts after you had viewed the movie to review, Mrs. Doubtfire:
  1. A quick list of themes that you'd noticed in the movie, with the labels:
    • essay prep., lists, quickposts
  2. A quick first impression of the movie, with the labels:
    • essay prep., free-writing, quickposts
In class today, I asked you to share items from those lists of themes found in the movie, and to reflect on themes shared in each class by making two (2) more quickposts, each on a theme shared in class. Please label your two in-class posts with at least these three labels: 1) essay prep., 2) free-writing, and 3) quickposts. If you wish, you may add the themes themselves to labels on these posts. If you click on the graphic (above), a larger format version will appear.

The purpose of free-writing in class today was three-fold, namely to:
  • demonstrate your fluency in writing on themes of your choice, and with or without reference to the movie;
  • lessen the number of weekly posts that you would need to write outside of class, so you can concentrate on outlining and drafting your essays this coming week; and
  • collect and publicize your thoughts relating directly or indirectly to themes in the movie.
Unfortunately, those of you who hadn't watched Mrs. Doubtfire had little other choice but to free-write without reference to the movie. All together, as of the end of class today, you should have had at least four (4) essay prep. posts on your blog leading up to your next movie reviews.

Between now and the due date for your thematic reviews of Mrs. Doubtfire, I would like you to make at least two more preparatory posts:
  1. A topic outline of the theme from the movie, including the main points that you want to make about it, with the labels:
    • essay prep., and
    • outlines (a new label for most of you, I believe); and
  2. A complete first draft of your essay, including:
    • a paragraph introducing the movie briefly, along with your choice of themes, and outlining the main points that you will make about your choice;
    • three or more body paragraphs explaining your interpretations of the theme (hopefully one evident throughout the movie), and supporting your interpretations with concrete, detailed examples from the movie; and
    • a concluding paragraph summing up your interpretations of the theme, and how you have supported your interpretations of it.
Students in both class meetings today asked how long these essays need to be. However they frowned at my stock answer, which is, "long enough to cover the themes you choose, and [to] support your interpretations of them." So I told all I would expect them to write at least 500 words, a round number that may suffice only if each and every word is on target, that is, on the themes that you choose from the movie.
[491 words]

PS: If you have concerns or questions about this assignment, please spell them out in comments on this post, well in advance of the due date. Though I will be away on business in Tokyo (Friday, Oct. 31 - Monday, Nov. 3), I will make every effort to respond in a timely fashion to comments made soon (before I leave).
[+ 59 words]

Original post revised 2008.11.06 [+ 1 word]

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Comment Chops for All [+ A Scavenger Hunt]

This post consolidates comments that I've attached recently to individual blogs, comments which apply, in general, to many more of your posts. I hope you will consider all of the suggestions in these three comments, reflect on them carefully in light of your own writing habits, and take them to heart in all of your blogging endeavors.

You may note that I am quoting liberally from my own writing (with permission;-), and making it clear in context (this explanation) and through layout (ellipses, block indentations, italics, and references; below) that I am using long quotations in this post, yet avoiding self-plagiarism. If you would like to see the passages that I'm quoting in their original contexts, you are welcome to take part in a blogging scavenger hunt (A Scavenger Hunt, below)

Book review content and organization, and word counts
Would you please review Mr. T's Book Review Recipe for advice regarding the content and organization of book reviews? Rather than retelling the stories you read, your writing should reflect your choices of books, your thinking about the books you choose (before and after reading them), whether you recommend them to your classmates and peers, and why. You also need word counts on every post.
(pab, 2008.10.28)

Titles, introductions, keywords, and vocabulary references
When you write several hundred words about any topic, it's really important to be clear about what it is going to be in the title, and in the introduction, too. There [in yours] you suggest, ....

It also is important to incorporate white space in your texts, between the paragraphs, to help readers find your main points quickly and easily. Even with a computerized search, I didn't find ... [a keyword from your title] in your post. Perhaps you can find ... [that keyword] in the Visual Thesaurus... [, which] I've listed on the Writing Studio Wiki (Vocabulary References), and displayed at the foot of the Writing Studio Blog.
(pab, 2008.10.28)

Grammar, spelling, and links
I wonder whether you have grammar and spell-checked this rewrite in a word processing program (OpenOffice, NeoOffice, or Word), and whether you know how to make URLs into active links in blog posts and comments. If something you've written gets flagged during a thorough grammar/spelling check, and you're not sure how to revise it, please ask in class.
(pab, 2008.10.28)

A Scavenger Hunt

If you would like to review the comments that I've quoted (above) in their original contexts on classmates' and peers' blogs, you are welcome to take part in a blogging scavenger hunt to find them. There will be a small prize for the first student in each class who informs me in class precisely whose blogs and which posts (blog handles, titles, dates, and times) display those comments on them.

[459 words, excluding title]

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Additional Proto-Portfolio Items

For fall semester this year (2008-09), I'd like you to add two additional items to your proto-portfolio listings:
  1. Original audio (line 14), and
  2. Original video (line 15).
After you add those two new rows, below "posts with media" (line 13), please extend the calculated totals column from line 13 to line 15 (column H).
[56 words]

Friday, October 10, 2008

Beating Blogger's Block and Citing Sources

An email newsletter I received recently suggests various ways to overcome writer's block. These may help you achieve or surpass blogging requirements for this semester. One of them is free-writing, which we did in class last Wednesday:
There are a lot of things you can do to get over writer's block: take a walk, freewrite, listen to music, take your laptop to the backyard, or read other people's blogs.
(Vox Talks, How to Beat Blogger's Block, ¶2, 2008.10.10).

That same newsletter also proposes a variety of topics that may provide you with interesting stimuli for quick-and-dirty, or more thoughtful and thorough blog posts:
  • Culture,
  • Entertainment,
  • Life,
  • Music,
  • News,
  • Politics, and
  • Technology
(Vox Talks, ... Blogger's Block, ¶3).

  • In this post, I have included direct quotations from that newsletter to show you how you should make ideas that you borrow from other sources stand out from your own writing, in order to avoid plagiarism, and how you can help your readers find those (or related) sources to get more information.
    • The longer quotation (see: "¶2," above) comes from the second paragraph of the October 10, 2008, Vox Talks newsletter. It stands out from the surrounding text because it is in italics (i), [and] formatted as a block quotation (") with the Compose toolbar:
    • The other ideas that I've borrowed, the list of subject areas suggested in paragraph three of the newsletter (see: "¶3," above), I've reformatted as a list, and emphasized with bullets, again citing the source in parentheses.
  • For more examples of quotations and source citations, please browse previous posts that I've labeled "quotations" (sidebar: Labels).
[269 words, + 1 (2008.10.28)]
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Revised, annotated, and illustrated in Blogger
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