Wednesday, June 29, 2005

June 30th research question/focus

Homework for today was to think about a possible focus for your short research project. I hope you came up with something. Remember in class I said simply summarizing the story and repeating back what was briefly mentioned in class is not going to earn a passing grade. Instead I want you to focus your thoughts on a specific feature or 'thing' in the story that you want to find out more about. Also recall from class my suggestion is that you try to look for ideas and issues that seem interesting to you or that make you curious becuase these will probably be the easiest for you to talk about. If you have done so, great, now lets do a short writing about it. IN a sentence or two, please describe your focus for this research. Then you might include some of your ideas on how you will go about your research. What do you think is the next step? What will you be looking for specifically? Where will you be looking specificially? Also feel free to include any questions you have about your assignment and/or more specifically your research.

After you have posted, about your topic and your ideas for your next step, you should start working on finding information. I will start reading your posts and offer what advice I can in class. If you have specific questions, you might ask me, or read the information on the link below, it is very helpful in writing papers.

After about thirty minutes I will ask for a volunteer, we will look at a student's direction and work on helping tailor their topic, offer suggestions about research, and begin to cull through the inoformation they find... hopefully through participating and watchig this process, you too will be able to focus and collect important and relevant information for your own topics.

If you are stuck:
Here is a page that has some more information on
developing a research topic/question/thesis that might be helpful to you if you are stuck.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

June 22nd Brother's Grimm

Hello! I thought yesterday's class was very productive with many people sharing ideas and I heard a lot of conversations in the small groups too, so I am guessing you all had things to say. I want to encourage those of you who haven't been sharing your ideas, thoughts, questions, comments, and observations to please feel free to participate. By adding your voice to the conversation, you will 1) find time moves more quickly, 2) you get to practice and using your English, 3) add to the overall learning of the class. I encourage everyone to share your thoughts.
  1. As for class today, I want to acomplish two things, one is comparing the Brothers' Grimm version of "Aschenputtel" to the more well-known French version of "Cinderella."
  2. I want us to do a short bit of reading on other versions of "Cinderella" and be prepared to discuss the reasons why we find so many varieties of this story in the world.
  3. You will also want to find a version of the next story we will read in class "The Juniper Tree" online and make a copy, and read for class tomorrow.
  4. Finally, I will also ask you to do a short writing about class focused on 1) the Brothers Grimm and/or 2) the story we looked at I will tell you which one based on what we acomplish in class today.
If we are unable to finish any of these goals in class, they should be considered as homework that should be done before the next class. More instructions to follow.

Versions of Cinderella
A bibliography of different versions of Cinderella
Politically correct re-telling of Cinderella

extra reading, for those who are interested in the 'why' behind the stories and their rise in popularity AND the reason for the changes in Europe all taking place around the time these stories and the others we have looked at were first written down.
"The Age of Reason"
"The Age of Enlightenment"
These are by no means definitive explanations, but they do add some cultural context for the reasons all these stories started to be written down at the same time in all these countries. Enjoy.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Sunday 6/19

Today is Father's Day and I am not feeling much like writing. Apart from reading Beauty and the Beast for the second time, I acomplished very little actual school work this weekend. I hope you will all forgive me. I did, however get to check out some of the dance 'thingy' that happened on Sunday at school. I had a few students from one class who were in a couple different groups, so I felt like going. We went. It was fun to watch in a way, interesting more like it. I enjoyed what I saw, but sadly, we weren't lucky enough to see any of my students (or any of the groups in army camos) perform. Naomi is pretty finicky: she can't stand being in a dark, hot room for long and quite frankly neither can her father. Seeing as how it was 'my day' and she wasn't happy, we didn't stay long. Oh, I did see Yuka Mori when I was on the way to Indian food. There is a new restaurant down under the tracks behind tsutaya and it is pretty good. Yeah, we saw Yuka as we were getting on the bus. It is fun to see students out in the 'real world.'

Anyway, apologies for not getting my work done, hope you had equally relaxing weekends!

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

06-15-05 Hans Christian Andersen

Today's class will be a research-oriented class. We will find out information about the author of this story as well as the story. The overall goal is to develop a resource of information about Hans Christian Andersen, his fairy tales in general and of course, "The Emperor's New Suit" in specific. You will have 45minutes to research, then we will have about 40minutes to discuss and share information, and 5minutes to discuss tomorrow's assigment: "The Little Mermaid."

For reasearch-groups. Read quickly, I will not repeat this in class. I want you to quickly organize yourselves into groups of three (writer + 2 researchers), and decide the focus of your research:
  • The writer and his body of work (all his tales together) 2groups
  • This text ("The Emperor's New Suit") and it's possible message. 2 groups
  • The next text ("The Little Mermaid") and it's possible message. 2groups
  • Other texts ("The Ugly Duckling" "The Brave Tin Soldier") 2 groups (1 each)
As for what information you give us, that is up to you, but the idea is to help us understand the meaning and imagery in the story.

Once your group has decided on a text, the writer should come write it on the board, so we can track it. All groups should write a comment to the blog below, telling the name of the group members, and on whose page you will be making your post (writers will post the information for their group on their own blogs, with links). While you are doing all this writing, yoru researchers will be finding new information for you. IF they don't have things for you to write, you too might do some research.

While the writer is busy, researchers will spend their time finding information online, reading it and summarizing, including their own interpretations and reactions. depending on your focused topic, researchers will have to perform diffferent tasks: researching, reading, summarizing, compiling links and assessing their value. Your job is to feed information to your writer, to give them links, to help them gather information. How you get the information to them is up to you, but maybe you could use your blog or their blog (comment) windows. You are experts at this by now, you guys will have to figure out how to make it work!

A couple of helpful sites for everyone.
Pages of Shades This is the site I used for the text for today's fairy tale. It might be helpful. I also found this page to be a good resource, but be warned the readings are long and will need to be summarized, if used at all.
Hans C. Andersen's Works This is a great, through resource. All his works are listed, many of them hyper-text linked.

There are lots more sites, you will have to find them on your own. I am hear and would be happy to help, but a lot of this is reasearch you should be able to do on your own.

As for our conversation, i don't expect perfection, but your group should be able to find somev information, interpret it, and add your work and thoughts to the conversation.

I look forward to seeing what we found out. Good Luck!

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Team Tanuki Execution Force - consulting the map

Well this weekend, I followed my baser instincts, returned to the woods, and hunted my friends with paint. Yes, yes, my truly gross American nature came out. I guess I felt the need to bond with other manly folks by shooting them with big wads of paint. As embarassed as I am to admit it, It was stupid fun, meaning I had a great time. Today I am sore -running and crouching and yes, getting shot takes it's toll on the body, I sure am glad I don't have to do this sort of thing for a living, or for real. By the way, ask me, and i will show you my 'war wounds' (paint balls bruise leave marks when they hit, and yes it hurts ALOT, so you try really hard not to get hit!)

One more thing: you know it is funny, while we were out there to do simulated violence to each other, i actually found most of the time, I was sitting in silence waiting and listening to the forest. It was very peacful in the quietly dripping woods, very green and very wet. The green wetness was punctuated by short bursts of activity, and in those bursts, I usually shot all my friends, but good. Ah, yes it was a good day.

Honestly, I was almost too embarassed to share this, but felt I might as well, since although I feel a bit guilty, I must admit, I did enjoy myself throughly. Also worth noting: the best player out there with us was a woman: her and her team (who didn't come this weekend) are supposedly one of the most feared regular teams that plays this course, so the game isn't just for Americans, nor is it all male. Yes, it is still a bit barbaric, but then so are any number of organized sports. The key to this and any other competitive game is to realize this is just a game: play by the rules, and leave the game when you leave the field. A couple pictures...

Team TEF makes a bold stand

Team TEF makes a bold stand
Originally uploaded by skawt_p.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

June10th "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow"

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, online book

Another online version of the Legend of Sleepy Hollow

A great site that explores the legend and its importance in 19th Centure American Literature. It is said that the writer Washington Irving is the originator of the American Short Story and that much of the narratives from the US follow the patterns that he created in his two most famous 'Legends' of Sleepy Hollow and another famous legend called "Rip Van Winkle."

Wikipedia site on Sleepy Hollow. Ah Wikipedia, my good friend. This can give you a brief overview of the story and while this is a good place to start, this is the minimal amount of work. I would expect students to look at this, check out some of the links and explore at least the history surrounding the story, (the author, location, -- click on af ew of th elinks in the text or at the end of the article) if not actually trying to read the story iteslf on some fo the other sites.

Sleepy Hollow Home Page
A site to help tourists explore the real physical place depicted in this famous setting from American Literature.

A Language Arts lesson for American students on Sleepy Hollow.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

June 8th John Henry

Today we will look at another folk hero from the US, John Henry. For class today, you should have read the handout with the short story of John Henry as well as the short definitions of the terms "Legend" and "Tall Tales." My question to you is what category would you place today's story?

Here are some further materials.

The Steel Driving Man
The first one is a full website with numerous articles, on J. Henry, all trying to discern where this man and the story come from. Take a look, maybe view a few pages and read a bit.

"Present at the Creation" NPR piece on Henry

The Next one is a radio piece done by National Public Radio. It is a good piece, and the site has some interesting links to give more back ground information.

John Henry Folk song Lyrics
Next, we have a link that has a version of the John Henry ballad's song lyrics. It is said that the folk song John Henry is the most popular folk song in America, but what is meant by 'popular' is not clearly defined. Still it is well known and there are many versions of the song, this is one of them.

John Henry Story (Hand out)
Finally we have a link to a copy of the article I gave you to read for homework, so if you misplaced your hand out, you can still be prepared for class.

My suggestion for you is that before class tomorrow, (and to some extent in class, but you will need to spend time outside of class as well) you might want to look at these sites, explore them and find out a bit more information about John Henry. In class, I will again put you in groups to discuss your story and this folk hero John Henry.

To help your discussion, you might try focusing on a specific element of the story, for example
  • subject/topic
  • diction/style
  • imagery
  • setting
  • ideas/message
Near the middle of class, I will ask you about 20minutes to write a comment about what you focused on in your group's discussion and what questions came up. I will also ask you to think about the next step. Keep in mind that you will write about one or more of these topics and narratives, what more information would you like to have and where might you start to look? How might you conduct a search for more information? Details on this are important since I doubt I can get you to share them verbally in class without first getting you to write about it.

So that is a brief summary of the assigment for tomorrow (today, if you are just looking at it in class). Good luck.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

June5th Live from the CALL conference

So I am sitting in ... wow I don't even konw where I am today, at Squirrel Something University (Ritsumeikan University Biwako Campus) at a CALL conference. CALL is the term for using computers to help teach language. (Computer Assisted Language Learning). It is fun to attend this conference in that I am getting to see what other people are doing in their classes. Basically, it seems like a lot of students are blogging now in Japan, so you are all on the 'cutting edge' of Language Learning, so congratulations!

While I did get a few new ideas, but mostly I learned that not many people really know what to do with the technology they have. THere doesn't seem to be a specific way to use computers in general (or blogs specifically) and most people are just sort of trying a lot of things. One thing I did like was the sharing. I saw a lot of people sharing ideas on the blogs they like the most. Here are a couple I was introduced to. A couple different ideas for blogs, for your consideration.

Mikan Moblog
This is a "mobile blog" a mo-blog where the writer is taking a picture a day of different things in Hiroshima. Its pretty fun and could be useful if you wanted to go visit Hiroshima.

Fatman-Seoul Blog
Another interesting blog writen by a person living in Korea who likes to eat. A good outsider's perspective on eating in Korea.

As interesting as looking at these were, I was most interested in seeing other student's blogs. I wasn't given any urls for other students, but I will try to find them. Okay, well I have to go back and listen now. If I find Japanese blogs of others students at other universities I will pass them along.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

June 1st

First off I want to say how impressed I am with you and your blogs. Many of you are commenting a lot on other people's blogs, that is great! If you have received comments from others, I really hope you will take the time to read what they are writing as well. This is the best way to pracitce and utilize your English skills and as I have said before, the more you write, the better your skills will become.

In today's class, I want you to work in small groups discussing the story "The Tiger's Whiskers." Summarize the story, discuss the meaning and be ready to discuss it with the whole class. We will talk about the story and how to use the book.

Next we will disucuss the handouts. "Defining Fairy Tales" &"Motif & Tale Type"

Finally, if there is enough time, you will have a chance to work on your paper that is due on Friday.