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)]
Blogged with the Flock Browser
Revised, annotated, and illustrated in Blogger

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Favorite Place(s): Brainstorm 02a

Few or no other people
Comfortable chair
Cool (not hot) or cold
Fresh, crisp, cool or cold air
Cold beer or mulled wine
animals: birds, humming birds, insects, worms, cockroaches, spiders
[39 words]

Favorite place(s): Brainstorm 01

These words and phrases are the outcomes of approximately 90 seconds of brainstorming, thinking out loud, while typing a list in a word-processing document.

Few or no people
Fresh air
Cool (not hot)
[41 words]
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