Wednesday, July 13, 2005

The sample reading

So for yesterday's class, you were supposed to read the pages from our second semester taxt book A Short Guide to Writing about Film. I am wanting to get your reaction to the reading, your thoughts feelings, and questions. I am looking for a a lot more than 'it was too difficult' or 'i like movies,' both answers are fine, but you will need to expand and explain more about your reaction to this assignment than that. Above, I have put a link to the book's homepage at Longman. Check the link out. It has the table of contents, features, and other interesting information about the book.

I would like you to take a few minutes and discuss the reading with a small group before we write about it. I will give you about 15-20 minutes to do this. I want you to share your ideas about the reading. In general, I want to know specifically what problems you had with the reading, if any and (again, if any) questions you had. Below are a list of questions you might want to discuss, or think about as I will ask you to answer some or all of them in your writing (which should be in a paragraph form, not just question answers.)

Questions to help you focus. You don't need to answer all of these, or any of them really, but this is the sort of information I am looking for. It is not about total comprehension, I am curious if you can engage with the text, find something meaningful, and/or make statements about the reading you have read, a reading that is basically 1st or 2nd year college material. I think you can, and I want you to try. I hope discussing it with others will help.
  • How was the reading?
  • Why? What specifically made you react to it as you did?
  • How much time did you spend reading it? Do you think it would be easier if y ou had spent more time on reading it?
  • Based on your reading assignment, what advice could you give other people to help them comprehend this book more easily? What activities or study skills might help you understand this material more clearly and easily?
  • What questions do you have about the reading? What was interesting or confusing to you?
  • What did you like about this reading? / What did you not like about it? Why?
  • Did you look at the two end of chapter questions on page 34? You should but if you didn't look at them now. What did you think about them? Do you think you could answer these? Do you think it might be helpful to be able to answer these?
Discuss these questions and your own thoughts about the book in groups, but quickly get beyond 'Too Difficult!' and explore why or how. Share what you did understand with your group. I think you will find that together, you understood a lot more than you think! Use the discussion to organize your thoughts and share ideas with others so you are more capable of writing about your feelings in a meaningful way. At the end of this activity, I will give you about 15 minutes to type your feelings.

Good luck.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Mukade -- nasty but apparently seductive as well

05-07-10 10cm "Mukade"
Originally uploaded by skawt_p.
I think i have the name correct. This is what I found in the woods in Japan. Here I thought this country was safe: that yoour borders were protected, that your people praised the way of non-violence and ultra-strict gun-control, that you had killed the only really dangerous predator (the wolf) long ago, and even your only posionous land-based snake the mamushi is not really all that dangerous since it's teeth are small and it doesn't put out a lot of venom. Here I thought I was pretty safe as long as I wore a bell in the woods, and stuck to the path. Boy how little did I know. These incredibly fascinating critters, are very fast, as is evidenced by the fact I couldn't get him in my photo frame, nor could I get my boot in there for a size comparison, run in packs of two and grow up to about 15cms. Why on earth did no one tell me about these crazy killer centipedes that leap out at you and, from what I read, are very aggressive. My students tell me they are called "mukade" and since i know no better, I am willing to beleive them. By the way, the scientific name for these nasty critters is Scolopendra subspinipes japonica

Funny, it seems that the information on them is a bit scattered. One student says, very dangerous one says not dangerous, one says, 'only if they bite you three times.' everyone who asks says that it hurts if they bite you and thus I suspect it the chances are pretty remote I will get bit more than once. Besides, I learned to check my shoes and boots in Tucson, and usually pay close attention to where I am stepping, so I sincerely doubt i will get bit at all (knock on wood) but man, I wish someone would have warned me before I went around rooting in the bushes in the damp, sticky forests!

Don't get me started on the big hairy spiders.... ooooo give me cold cool Aomori with its general dirth of icky crawly bugs. Bears I can handle, they are big and you know to be afraid of them, don't touch the big toothy hairy thing, but small little scuttling bugs that hide and bite ya when you aren't looking, that is just uncool!

Thanks for the information, Stephen

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Wednesday July6th editing

Well not much of an assigmnment here for you really, but I will tell you what I want you to do in class. You should work in groups of three (if you are not in a group of three you should tell me so). Exchange your two copies of your draft with your partners and decide who will be keeping track of the time, as time is important. Editor, write your name on the bottom of the papers you read, I will grade editors on this, so make sure you write your name and that your partnerr doesn't lose this edit before Friday! You should be able to read through and comment on each others' drafts in about 15minutes per paper, so I think you should take the first 30 minutes or so and make corrections and edits. Then, as a group you should discuss each paper in turn. Discussing each paper should take about 10 minutes per paper.

What are you looking for? What should you be making comments on? Throughout the semester, we have done numerous peer-edits that should give you a sense of what we are looking for, but briefly, I will spell out some of the most important things you should be doing on this draft for your partner.
  • First, use a pen, not a pencil. Your comments will be easier to see if you use color. Penciled comments are just too easy to overlook and ignore.
  • Editors, write your name on the top of their draft.
  • write down their topic on the top of the page.
  • underline their thesis, and circle their specific comments, observations, or claims about the topic. remember, 'the story tells us 'various things' is not specific. If their ideas aren't spelled out clearly in their thesis, you need to alert them to this problem.
  • Looking for arguments that support the thesis. You should number the main arguments they give to support or develop their thesis.
  • after reading the entire paper, check the title. Is it appropriate?
The last five points are in fact questions you might want to answer in your own words at the end of their writing.
  1. Answer the question 'are their supporting claims given enough illustration (examples and/or understandably thought processes) to make them beleivable and understandable? If they are, write a yes next to the ¶, if they aren't you should try to advise your writer on how they can improve them.
  2. Have the supporting points been related to the thesis clearly with through explanation of their importance and significance? This is the 'E' in pie, and it basically asks has the writer made it clear what we are supposed to think about this supporting point? have they related the point to the topic/thesis/context clearly, or are they expecting the reader to guess and assume things that might be added to make their thoughts more clear?
  3. Has the writer explained enough about the context and/or defined the key terms and/or ideas that are necessary for their readers to understand?
  4. Has the writer used spell check? have they worked to reduce their grammar mistakes? can you help them with these at all?
  5. How is the organization of the paper? do the ideas flow together, or coudl they be organized in a different order to make them more effective? are some ¶ in need or breaking up into more self-contained ideas?
This is a long list, but not exhaustive and if you see other things that need to be commented on, feel free to do so. If you see somethign that you are not sure about, you can ask me or the writer for further explanation. Editors should take the time to look over their writers' papers and make the comments on the draft as well as try to briefly answer the questions after you finish reading. These comments will help your writer re-write their essay for the second draft due Friday.
good luck.

Sunday, July 03, 2005


Originally uploaded by skawt_p.
Whew, now this is more like it! I was worried that the hot weather of June meant it was going to be outrageously sticky and icky in July, August and September but this breif respite of rain has given me hope. Yes it is overly humid and wet but it is cooler and much more bearable. Thank you Weather Gods, you have heard my unsaid prayers, made the rain fall, and slashed 10 degrees C off the temperature. Not bad work. And as for me, I found the weather most helpful in motivating me to do my work too. Got most of your papers graded, and should be able to hand them back by Tuesday, baring unforseen problems. This is good cause looking at our older work will help us with editing our current writing as well, so this is actually perfect timing... yeah. Uh, the rain also helped me to catch up on my sleep! When it is hot, i tend to stay up too late, since that is the only time I feel I can get anything done without sweating to death. The last two nights have allowed me to sleep a bit, and so the complaint now is that I am too hyper... uh oh, i will try to control myself for classes this week, promise. Back tot he safer topic of the weather.... now sacred storm lords, if only you could do something about these darn mosquitoes and the tragically inadequate screen doors we have that allow all but the very largest of these tiny blood suckers into the house. Ack! Oh well I can live with a little itching I suppose, as long as the heat holds off.

So how long does one of these rainy seasons last anyway?