Thursday, October 21, 2004

Newstalk weblog

First class weblog of the new term, the NewsTalk weblog will allow students to post about the articles we will be discussing in class, and eventually they will put up other articles they have found as well as what they have found out in a small group project that they will do. It's a project in its infancy.

This class has always used only reality as its textbook; it has a headline exercise (match the headline and the paragraph) and news clips from live television. This time of year, it's hard to stay away from Kerry-Bush-hype-etc. as our students aren't generally that interested in it, but there's plenty of other stuff they are interested in, and this site will keep an ongoing record of it.

For the record, this class might appear to be teaching any number of things, but is mainly focused on discussion skills, vocabulary development, and using life as a schema for picking up culture and's always been fun, and I hope it stays that way!

Monday, October 18, 2004

Great weblogs

Of course I'm proud of the latest term of students, many of whom made great weblogs, and I'm proud of the most recent issue of CESL Today, which is made from them, but I am also interested in the following: What is their reaction to this? Is there an undercurrent of resistance to public broadcasting of developmental English? How many of these skills are transferrable, or matter in the big picture? How much use will these weblogs have when all is said and done?

More later...I'll keep you "posted"...

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Finding Adam

This is an interesting story. We were contacted by Christine Kallman in Minnesota, who wanted to use a poem by Adam Abdulkadir Alamin which had been published by CESL Today, in the last poetry edition, in 1996. Adam was from Eritrea and had written another article about Eritrea. But nothing in his file gave us any clue about how to contact him. We only wanted to ask him permission, on behalf of Ms. Kallman, to use his poem.

He had transferred to Winona State, in Minnesota, and a Google search revealed nothing, but an article in the Minnesota Daily about a demonstration in Minneapolis (here an Alamin Adam is a food science major), and this, an intense anti-Khartoum account of Eritrean political activity implying that someone by his name had changed his name, and gotten involved in this.

We would still like to contact Adam, and tell him about this honor. But all other trails appear to be dead! If you can help, let me know. For all I know, this is a common name, and might appear in many places, not to mention that Eritreans may be hard to find via the web.

Friday, October 08, 2004

History of CESL Today

CESL Today is the student newsletter here, and I've begun to be more conscious of its history as it is going through another historic change: going online, becoming mostly online, with its paper version nice but perhaps less important.

When it started about ten years ago, I actually envisioned it as being an almost-daily, functioning newspaper, really serving to tell people what was happening at any given day. I realize that the weblogs can be doing this, and doing it effectively, if we get people using them regularly. That would mean freely contributing as well as opening it up and actually reading it once in a while. Our purpose is, and always has been, to get our students reading and writing a lot about their daily lives, in English, as a community.

I will keep posting about this history. The biggest points in its history are as follows: 1) when it was switched from and AE2 project to an AE1 project; 2) when the first issues were put online; 3) when Adam Abdulkadir Alamin received recognition for his poem; and 4) this month, when it has become a program-wide project, with contributions from all levels, based on the weblogs that are for the most part connected out of here.

I will "keep you posted."