Wednesday, June 30, 2010

1st Semester Portfolios: Discussion Post

In this post I quote liberally from student comments on a previous post (10 portfolio posts from Writing IV (2009-10), 2010.06.29). Concerns and questions that I gleaned from those comments focus on four aspects of coursework:
  1. Word Counts, 
  2. Blog Posts, 
  3. Blog Designs, and 
  4. Portfolio Development. 
I'd like to reflect a bit on each in turn.

1. Word Counts

Niina said, "I was puzzled about [the] number of words, because there were some person who they reached 10000 words[,] and there were some person who they didn't reach 10000 words in first semester" (WED JUN 30, 11:17:00 AM JST).
Asaki asked, "Should I post more than 10,000 words, right?" (WED JUN 30, 10:08:00 AM JST).
Though the questions in the previous post (10 portfolio posts..., 2010.06.29) focused on second semester portfolios, Niina's right; some of the 1st semester proto-portfolios included in those second semester portfolios last year (2009-10) occasionally did reveal total word counts less than 10K words. That may be why Asaki asked whether she should "post more than 10,000 words...." She's right, too; everyone should exceed the target for original writing, by writing – not copying – 10K+ words this semester.

The closing date for word counts, book reviews, and other blog posts is the due date for 1st semester Portfolios; please check the Calendar of Events page and Writing Studio Blog calendar for details.

2. Book Reviews (BRs) and Other Posts

YUKI asked, "How many BRs do i need to finish in this semester?" (WED JUN 30, 10:21:00 AM JST).
Kana said, "I'd like to know what to write except diary" (WED JUN 30, 09:57:00 AM JST).
As I have told students who asked in person, in class, the target number of original book reviews is 12 or more [for] this semester. Book Review Showcases in Portfolio Templates (sheet 1_2_BRs) already have space for 15 or more. That's one per week, on average. If you write more, you can increase the number of rows in your spreadsheet; if you need help doing so, please ask someone who knows how.

Regarding what to write about in routine weekly posts (three or more per week, on average), your imaginations are the limits. For more about topics and foci for day-to-day posts, please see Beating Blogger's Block and Citing Sources (WSBlog, 2008.10.10).

3. Blog Designs

Hitomi said, "I concerned about their blog design[-s]. Some blog is cute" (WED JUN 30, 11:31:00 AM JST).
I'm concerned about blog designs, too. Two of my main concerns are: 1) ease of reading, and 2) efficient use of your time to demonstrate and develop your writing ability. You may wonder what that means.

By "ease of reading," in general, I'm talking about neither too large nor too small fonts, and neither too colorful nor too plain texts. For example, too little contrast between texts and background colors defeats readability. You may have heard me say, "I think pink stinks!" That is, especially, light pink on white or dark pink on red. It is best to stick to dark text colors on light backgrounds, or light text colors on dark backgrounds.

Standard blog templates usually take both readability and color coordination into consideration. They are quick and easy to choose or replace.

By "efficient use of your time...," I mean that, if you spend hours and hours trying to get your blog design just perfect, right away, or trying to turn almost every word in a post a different color, you may lose hours and hours that you might better have spent:
  • Writing or re-writing blog posts, book reviews, or essays;
  • Commenting on classmates' and peers' posts; and 
  • Responding thoughtfully to comments on your own.

4. Portfolio Development

Chika mused, "What shall I do to make a good portfolio?" (WED JUN 30, 10:15:00 AM JST).
Chika's musing is spot on. A short and general answer for now is to keep looking around, listening carefully to, and learning from your classmates, peers, and predecessors. Weak or strong, they provide the best examples and models available.

Now, in hope of promoting a[n] open exchange regarding portfolio development and enhancement, I'd like to leave this post open for follow-on comments. Please feel free to express additional concerns and questions about your portfolios for this semester in comments on this post, as well as to respond here to those of your classmates and peers. I'd also like to ask in advance for your understanding that questions about portfolios and their composite elements for this semester, at least questions not voiced in class, belong in comments here – on this post – rather than in individual mail messages.

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PS: Even if you don't comment on this post, you SHOULD "subscribe by email" (at the foot of the comment window) to get notified immediately whenever classmates or peers comment here.
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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

10 portfolio posts from Writing IV (2009-10)

Last year, students in sections 1A and 1C built their first and second semester portfolios in separate blog posts. The ten listed below are from second semester (Writing IV, 2009-10).

Though you'll be building your portfolios on individual blog pages, using a modified portfolio template, I still hope that perusing the ten portfolios listed below will give you an idea of what you can do to showcase and reflect upon your own work in Writing III and IV this year.

Please look all ten over, and let your classmates and peers know what you see and think in a comment on this post. Here a some questions to get you started thinking about portfolios.
  • What impressed or surprised you most as you perused those 10 posts?
  • What concerned or puzzled you most about those portfolios?
  • What did you notice that might strengthen portfolio presentations?
  • What did you notice that might weaken portfolio presentations?
  • What else would you like to know about developing your own portfolios?
I look forward to reading lots of thoughtful and though-provoking comments on this post.
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Monday, June 21, 2010

Videos, quizzes, transcripts, and notes

Below is a sample video-based listening comprehension quiz drawn from the Real Canadian Songbook. After listening to the song, and taking the quiz, you can check your answers against the transcript, and read the notes to find out more about "culture, grammar, slang, or pronunciation" (ESL Video Quiz, Quiz Instructions, sidebar).

This quiz is in the Low Intermediate category. If you'd like something less or more challenging, try quizzes in other categories ranging from Beginning to High Intermediate. On the ESL Video :: Free ESL/EFL Video Activities for English Students website, there also are different kinds of music and other kinds of videos to choose from, for example:

I can hardly wait to go back for more!
[120 words]

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Commenting Tips

In class today, I invited students who had completed their self-assessments to go walk-about, so to speak, among peers' and near-peers' blogs. In case you didn't join us, or you want to have another go, this post will help you retrace our footsteps.

There is a link leading to lists of blogs for other classes on the Writing Studio Wiki, in §2.3. When you visit peers' blogs, please read their posts carefully and thoroughly; then post friendly, neighborly comments.

Now here's a tip to help you follow exchanges on the posts on which you comment, and to help you keep track of your out-going comments[, too]: Activate the follow-up mail option BEFORE you post your comments!
  • In the comment interface on each post, click on the subscription link:
    • Subscribe by mail (in English displays), OR
    • メールで登録解除 (in Japanese displays).
  • Then compose, preview, and publish your comments.
Afterwards, Blogger will send follow-up messages automatically to your gmail account to let you know when blog owners reply, or other visitors post additional comments. These follow-up messages will help you return easily to on-going comment exchanges. They also will help you remember how many comments you leave on classmates' and peers' blogs, for tallies in your Proto-Portfolios.
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Thursday, June 10, 2010

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Essay 1-01c: Your Essay Title Goes Here

[Type a short paragraph introducing your voice recording.]

[Type a short summary of this post.]
[15 words]

Essay 1-01c: ...

[Type introduction about here.]

[Type conclusion about here.]

Monday, June 7, 2010

Audacity Recording: QuickStart Guide and Tutorials

This post displays a couple video tutorials that I discovered recently along with a QuickStart Guide prepared by the Celebrate Ohklahoma Voices community (Resources: Handouts: Audacity) on coachcarolesite (Audacity Lessons). Both videos explain basic startup steps, then mention a few other ways to use Audacity. The second one also explains where to get Audacity, as well as the encoder necessary to export MP3 audio files from Audacity, for use at home if you wish.

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