Friday, December 31, 2010

Cool websites to teach writing

For technology resources teaching, Jennifer Verschoor's blog,  My Technological Journey, is hard to beat.
Words – so innocent and powerless as they are, as standing in a dictionary, how potent for good and evil they become in the hands of one who knows how to combine them.... Nathaniel Hawthorne 
As a language teacher I really find it difficult to motivate my students to start writing in class. The Internet is a resource that complements the dynamics of my class. It is easy to access, up-to-date and immediate source of authentic materials. Since I started introducing technology and using a wiki with Middle school my classes have definitely changed. Please check below the cool sites we have been using this year.
  • Writing Fun A MUST for teachers.  This website motivated my students to enhance their writing skills.
  • iWrite Provides several examples for students to learn how to write effectively.
  • Writing Exemplars I make my students search for writing samples created by other students worldwide.

Studying on their own or in a self-paced study group, students become their own teachers, although (as a college writing teacher) I've seen enough misguided "feral" and self-administered feedback to recognize the pitfalls. Teaching yourself writing does not eliminate the need for 3rd party feedback.

In my mind, this is a central problem to developing an effective self paced writing program. If you write on your own, outside a group and without a writing buddy, what are your best strategies for getting feedback on your writing? What options are available? 

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Pros & cons of group vs private submission & review

Posted by Dr. Karen F. Kellison, Program Director Educational Technology, James Madison University, to an IT forum that I follow. See also Death to the Digital Dropbox: Rethinking Student Privacy and Public Performanceby Patrick R. Lowenthal and David Thomas. All this goes to the question of public vs private submission, peer review (sharing writing with group), group work, etc. 

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Mele Kalikimaka!

From Language Log ~ a linguistic and an entirely appropriate Christmas or Kalikimaka greeting

"Mele Kalikimaka" is Hawaiian for "Merry Christmas". Or, more precisely, it's the English phrase "Merry Christmas" as pronounced in Hawaiian. And it was the title of a hit song for Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters in 1950:
There's also a (different) 1978 Beach Boys song, originally released as "Kona Coast", which features the same phrase: "Mele Kalikimaka / is Merry Christmas in Hawaii talk-a".
"Wait, what?" you may be asking yourself. "Mele" for "merry", OK — obviously /l/ is the closest thing to /r/ in Hawaiian, we're used to that from stereotypes (and even facts) about Japanese and other varieties of "Engrish".  But where did that kalikimaka come from?
Here's the consonant inventory of Hawaiian:
The only fricative is /h/. So what should they use for /s/? Well, according to Allison Adler ("Faithfulness and perception in loanword adaptation: A case study from Hawaiian", Lingua 116(7): 1024-1045, 2006), it's sometimes /h/ and sometimes /k/. Thus the English word crease might be rendered as kaliki or kalihi.
Then there are the extra vowels. That, of course, is because Hawaiian doesn't allow consonant clusters — so that /kɹɪ/ becomes /kali/ – or syllable-final consonants — so that /mas/ becomes /maka/.
(Actually, according to Adler, the illegal consonants are sometimes dropped and sometimes licensed by adding extra vowels — thus trade might be rendered as /kaleiʔe/ or as /kale:/.)
And you might have noticed that the epenthetic vowels are somewhat variable. Thus Mary Kawena Pukui and Samuel H. Elbert, Hawaiian Dictionary (1986) gives christmas as both kalikimaka andkalikamaka:
But Kalikimaka is apparently the favorite version, and it's the one that made it into the song, as well as into the earliest printed evidence of the borrowed phrase. According to Robert C. Schmitt, "Holidays in Hawai'i", The Hawaiian Journal of History, 29 1995:
The Hawaiian version of "Merry Christmas," Mele Kalikimaka, did not surface until 1904, when it was printed by Ka Nupepa Kuokoa. First proclaimed a national holiday (by Kamehameha IV) in 1862, Christmas was included in the list enacted by the 1896 legislature and has remained a legal holiday to the present time.
("Ka Nupepa Kuokoa" is a Hawaiian-language newspaper that began publishing in 1861.)
So Mele Kalikimaka to all!

Friday, December 17, 2010

on rewriting

This short article illustrates the deep difference between making corrections, proofreading or copy editing, and rewriting,

William James on rewriting from Sentence first

William James said he wrote every page of the Principles of Psychology four or five times over. Vladimir Nabokov made a similar admission: that he had rewritten, often several times, every word he had ever published.

The craft of writing is in large part rewriting. The main thing at first is to get our ideas down — to record rough outlines, key images and impressions. After that comes the slower work of rewriting: changing and rearranging, pruning and smoothing. We strengthen connections, tighten syntax, pare away the clutter, and find words that tally better with our intentions.

Rewriting overlaps with editing. Both aim to enhance the sense, structure, style and coherence of prose. Writers often describe the act of verbal composition in three-dimensional spatial terms, almost as though they were sculpting. The comparison is familiar. Sculptors prod and pester and play with a lump until at last, inspected from various angles, it has become a luminous or at least bearable object.

In a letter to his friend Sarah Whitman, to whom he had sent some proofs of the Principles, William James wrote:

If there is aught of good in the style, it is the result of ceaseless toil in rewriting. Everything comes out wrong with me at first; but when once objectified in a crude shape, I can torture and poke and scrape and pat it till it offends me no more.

Toiltorturescrapeoffends: his words convey concretely the difficulty of rewriting. This is why some people dislike it. It takes practice and perseverance to master the selection and arrangement of words. Ernest Hemingway told the Paris Review that he rewrote the last page of A Farewell to Arms 39 times before he was satisfied with it. Asked what the problem was, he replied, "Getting the words right." James would have sympathized.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

TCC 2011 (Apr 12-14): Call for Papers & Presentations


Below is a call for papers and presentations for TCC 2011, scheduled for April 12-14 next year (2011). We hope that you will consider submitting a proposal. Details are provided in the announcement.

Thank you for your interest and support of the TCC Worldwide Online Conference. 

Warmest regards, Bert Kimura, Curtis Ho & Sharon Fowler, Coordinators

TCC 2011 Call for Proposals

Sixteenth Annual
April 12-14, 2011
Pre-conference: April 5, 2011

Submission deadline: January 28, 2011


TCC 2011 invites faculty, support staff, librarians, counselors, student affairs professionals, students, administrators, and educational consultants to submit proposals for papers and general sessions.

The emergence of Web 2.0 created a global platform for communication, collaboration, and sharing. People, technologies, and perspectives have converged on the Internet that has spawned global communities and platforms such as Twitter and Facebook.

The Internet has changed education. Many issues and concerns, however, have yet to be answered fully: How do faculty, staff, students and the communities served collaborate and innovate to produce positive learning outcomes? How can students learn through virtual worlds, educational games, augmented realities, or the use of smart, mobile devices? What best practices or choices have emerged in online learning? How do we keep up? How can we support each other? 

TCC invites papers and general sessions related to technology integrated learning, open educational resources, distance learning, virtual communities, and best choices in educational technologies. The coordinators are looking for a broad range of submissions including, but are not limited to:
  • Perspectives and personal experiences with emerging learning technologies
  • Case studies and progress in applying ICT and Web 2.0 tools for learning
  • Technologies that enable communication, collaboration, creativity, and sharing
  • Building and sustaining communities of learners
  • Instructional applications in virtual worlds
  • Distance learning including mobile learning
  • Open educational resources (OER)
  • E-portfolios and assessment tools
  • Student orientation and preparation
  • Ubiquitous and lifelong learning
  • Online student services and advising
  • Managing information technology and change
  • Global access and intercultural communication
  • Educational technology in developing countries
  • Educational game design, rubrics, and assessment
  • Student success and assessment strategies online
  • Professional development for faculty and staff
  • Projects for seniors and persons with disabilities
  • Online learning resources (library, learning centers, etc.)
  • Social networking games and MMORPGs in education
  • Augmented reality - blending virtual content in real environments
  • Online, hybrid, or blended modes of technology enhanced learning
  • Institutional planning and pedagogy facilitated by emerging technologies
  • Gender equity, digital divide, intercultural understanding, and open access
  • This conference accepts proposals in two formats: papers and general sessions. 
  • For submission details, see:
  • To submit a proposal, go to:
  • Papers are submitted in full and will be subjected to a blind peer review. Accepted papers will be published in the conference proceedings.
  • General sessions may be conducted in many ways including a forum, discussion, round table, panel, or pre-conference activity. These proposals will also be subject to a blind peer review.
  • Acceptances will be conveyed to the primary author or presenter by email. 
  • The coordinators are especially interested in proposals that involve student presenters. Fees for student presenters will be waived. Student presentations will be scheduled later in the day.
The submission deadline is January 28, 2011.

Presenters are expected to:
  • Participate in a pre-conference orientation session.
  • Conduct a 20-minute informal, interactive online session about your paper or general session.
  • Use a headset with a microphone during the presentation.
  • Upload a photo, a brief professional bio, and related informational materials to the conference web site.
  • Respond to questions and comments from conference participants during the entire conference.
  • Maintain communications, as appropriate, with the conference staff.
All presenters are required to register online and pay the conference fee ($99 USD; $179 USD after March 31). Group and site registration rates for faculty and students are available. Contact Sharon Fowler for details <>.

This conference is held entirely online using a web browser to access live sessions and related content. A computer equipped with headphones and microphone as well as broadband Internet access is highly recommended.

For additional information, see <>. For further inquiry, contact Bert Kimura <> or Curtis Ho <>.

This event is a partnership between and Additional support provided by faculty and staff at the University of Hawaii.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Turning Kids From India’s Slums Into Autodidacts | KurzweilAI

Turning Kids From India’s Slums Into Autodidacts

December 6, 2010

Source: The Wall Street Journal, Dec 4, 2010

Replacing the medieval habit of schooling — one teacher telling a bunch of children what to think — Sugata Mitra, an Indian physicist whose self-learning experiment inspired the film “Slumdog Millionaire”– is convinced that, with the Internet, kids can learn by themselves, so long as they are in small groups and have well-posed questions to answer.

Dr. Mitra asked a class of poor Tamil-speaking kids to use the Internet, which they had not yet encountered, to learn biotechnology, which they had never heard of, in English, which they did not speak. Two months later he was astounded at what they had taught themselves.

On their own, children can get about 30% of the knowledge required to pass exams. To go further, Dr. Mitra supplements SOLE with e-mediators, or the “granny cloud” as he calls it: amateur volunteers who use Skype to help kids learn online.

And now, Mitra’s Self-Organized Learning Environments (SOLE) are going global.

Posted via email from Academentia

Thursday, December 2, 2010

How to Help Students Write Better

This (mostly reposted/ re-purposed) article is also cross-posted Blogging English, a companion/ mirror blog of sorts, is for and supports an ESL self study group, which means I don't make a habit of marking student writing. Writing is supposed to be the primary focus, not that anyone there has been doing much of that lately. 

The lessons in this article go to feed back and editing. Does that makes this article irrelevant to self-paced writing. If you want to write better, you must actually write ~ and the more, the better ~ but feedback and revision are necessary. How much and what kind depends on purpose and audience. Still, handling any kind of writing feedback within DIY (do it yourself) structure is proving problematic.

Dr Davis at Teaching College English writes, 
I teach developmental composition. In my class, I require 7 essays and 3 rewrites, with a fourth rewrite as optional. Most of the other faculty require between 4 and 6 essays and between 0 and 3 rewrites. 
When I was much younger I required 14 essays in a 16-week semester.
I would like to encourage my students to write better, while not having to grade quite so many papers. So when I was reading the CHE forum, this caught my attention.
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