Monday, July 23, 2007

weblog activity

I originally wanted to post about my fluency exercises, a regular event in EAP2WW, where my students are filling up their class weblog with interesting things to read, along with the folk tales that is this term's weblog promotion.

But before that, I took a look around, and found some unusual things. First, GE students have interesting posts and interesting links, to different places. GE is always so direct! I love that in a group of people. Second, Dave, our most consistent and most town-oriented blogger in Carbondale, has gone so far as to mention me and my various blogs, in an overview of what's left after a prominent blogger has announced he's leaving. Plenty is left! You don't have to smoke on the bus to get a good tour.

Here is what is up with the fluency exercises. I noticed, in my high-level writing classes, that there was a severe weakness in the area of general confidence, general fluency, ability to think and write together, at once, to use writing as a meaningful medium for everyday communication....we're talking here about a population that is gifted in the oral realm, able to pick up words and use them immediately; quick studies in the area of oral acquisition, yet virtually unable to complete the process of getting thoughts down in writing to use them to communicate- so tied up, in fact, that they tend to copy and paste from other sources in desperation. So, the fluency exercises were a response to this.

Now, we haven't backed down on the serious side of the class, which is the essays one can read in their personal weblogs, linked on the template to the left. Not everyone has all three that should be up by now; all are about population; but, you can see that we also do our best on the classic, five-or-more paragraph essays; we produce. We iron out grammar; we work on just expressing straight meaning. In some cases fluency is just getting in the habit of using capital letters, checking spelling, putting punctuation in the right place. This is not a habit yet for some of our writers...and, sometimes I think that should be the first priority, if they want their writing to be taken seriously in the realms where they'll be using it.

In the course of making interesting assignments, I figure that a side-benefit is that a number of people will read these short snippets- and I have evidence that they do. That addresses another general weakness of the program...I figure that if you lower the price (8 sentences never killed anyone), raise the reward (reading what a friend says is always better than reading what a stranger says) and make the content more interesting, they'll have an attractive element to them. It doesn't have to be formal, or organized, to be good for them.

That's the goal. I want them to speak; I want to listen. I'd like to hear them say whatever they can; whatever they want to. It's fun to read; you learn a lot.

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Monday, July 16, 2007

comment culture

From the world of women's-issue weblogs (fertility, etc.) comes this case of a post that generated over 800 spontaneous comments, most of which, as far as I can tell, were not responses to each other, but were responses to the original post. The woman had just had her yet-to-be-born twins tested; this was her 13th try; the tests came out well.

Here you have some serious blog-reading, commenting, participation in community. Another example I hold out to you is from small town newspapers, such as our own Southern Illinoisan; it frequently publishes stories about small-town happenings and allows readers to comment. It has now had to control the comments a little more strictly, since articles about such things as car accidents became venting opportunities and a kind of free-speech, free-for-all forum with insults flying, etc.

I realize that the power of the medium is a double-edged sword, and won't blow its horn any more, but, it's interesting to say ways a new medium can evolve and be taken in by elements of communities.

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Thursday, July 12, 2007

To my faithful fans, the gig referred to below has been cancelled, due to personal crisis of the bandleader. Do not go out to Carterville on my account....but, maybe another time!


Tuesday, July 10, 2007

notes from around and about

A collection of my son's reviews, which make me proud. I can say that he started his journalistic career here at SIUC- as I guess I did also. I'm kind of a casual participator in the citizen's media, but he's bettered me, I think. I told him to get into the web-design part of it, and he would be employed for life. I'm not sure that's what he wants.

Working on patiently updating CESL Today, cleaning up a disaster in the back library. I have heard that the restriction on all old logos, the more draconian of regulations for webmasters, may have been lifted. You may recall that I'm not so much against the high-noon-at-pulliam sidebar, though it is difficult to work around the same insidious red color day in and day out- but I am opposed to the deliberate forced defacement of old archived materials (ok, I admit, they weren't all that great to begin with)- the wreckage of which still upsets me- because of a "uniform look" rule. If that part of the webmasters' requirement is gone, I'm glad to know it. But I'll be happier still if some old logos can see the light of day again. The logos to me represent historical eras- and those who delete history are bound to go diving through server-logs and web archives trying, sometimes futilely, to recover it. I should also mention that an extreme time shortage has hurt this effort, as well as the St. Lucien project, the archiving of old faculty pictures and historical records, and numerous other projects, which mostly just take time, and a few moments by a computer.

Finally I invite one and all to the Mix in Carterville to hear yours truly- Fri. evening, 7-9, be there or be square.

To those who missed it, abroad and wherever, a happy Fourth. It poured buckets here. We've moved from hot-tub to sauna now, though- it's likely to be prickly until October. Time to stop driving after 6:30 in the morning.

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Thursday, July 05, 2007

as promised

Leverett, T. (2007, May). Dialects in a changing language. Global Study Magazine 4, 3. London. pp. 56-57. Available online at:

This one is now the cover story of the online version of the magazine; I'm working on another, and will have a pretty solid collection before I'm done. Most of the old ones are here- which is kind of a gateway to my older creative stuff.

I hope everyone had a good Fourth. Some advice: watch out for firecrackers. Watch out for lightning storms. Avoid standing water. Don't drive through anything you can't see the bottom of. Don't blow off firecrackers near barefoot kids. And don't give sparklers to a two-year-old.

What do you call a grammar question that blows up in your face? A grammar cracker.

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