Destroy This Village – Goodbye!

October 23, 2008

Edublogs in the end didn’t impress me.  The static Webpages, which at first blush seemed to inspire myriad possibilities as to their application, didn’t live up to their potetial; and true to their name, they sat as still as mummies, untouched at the top of my page.  Another nifty feature which initially caught my eye, the colorful, customizable templates, soon lost its novelty as well, especially when I realized that certain scripts and iframes wouldn’t work on the site.  The ultimate letdown was discovering that Edublogs currently does not support posting by e-mail – for a plausibly dynamic Website, that indeed is embarrassing!

So I’ve retraced my steps and have returned to Blogger, wiser and definitely more appreciative of the Blogger’s robustness after my e-sabbatical.  The number of available gadgets for the blog has multiplied exponentially like loaves of bread; the servers are still up and running (unlike Edublogs, which appeared at times to be in a state of perpetual maintenance); and of course, this blog shows up quite readily and frequently on direct Google searches.  Steady, reliable Blogger, as though a prodigal son I have come home!

Do Our Schools Invite Cheating?

In “Digging Out Roots of Cheating in High School” (Editorial Observer, Oct. 12), Maura J. Casey writes that experts believe that near-universal cheating is a bad habit and a challenge. Nonsense. Cheating is corrupt and should not be tolerated in any form.

For students today, the pressure to perform is phenomenal. Homework is a crushing, inappropriate waste of time and energy. Getting into college is a nerve-wracking, often heartbreaking experience. Standardized tests miss the point, and basically succeed only in creating income for testing companies.

Genuine learning can’t compete. Parents want papers quickly graded to their satisfaction. Teachers who give lengthy assignments or report cheating are made to feel like Torquemada.

These respondents no doubt view homework and standardized tests through a Western lens, which warps these two aspects of formal education, transforming them into, at its most extreme, demonic entities. However, I can appreciate the possibility that in America the increasing excess and regimentation of formal education is indeed creating a culture of cheating even while in Hong Kong, where “busy” homework and public exams dominate the educational landscape, cheating seems to be non-existent, or at least not a news-worthy issue.   

TD Session: How to Use Google Documents

Name of Lesson:  How to Use Google Documents


Grade Level: University
Subject: Web 2.0 Technology
Prepared by: David Woo

Overview and Purpose:
There is a growing demand for technology that fosters collaboration, analyzes data, and makes teaching and learning more convenient.  In this TD session, Google Documents will be introduced as a tool that meets these three criteria and is easily deployed in classroom teaching.   


Objectives:
Specify skills/information that will be learned

  • Browsing and selecting a template
  • Renaming the document, and putting it into a created folder
  • Becoming familiar with the document management sidebar
  • Becoming familiar with specific features of the document toolbar
    • Revision history
    • Download as…
    • Insert comments (definitely explore the comments options) -David Woo 10/16/08 2:12 PM
    • Formatting – strikeout, colors and more colors
    • Spell Check
    • Look up definition or synonym Is there a synonym for synonym? -David Woo 10/16/08 2:16 PM for word; check Web for word
    • Word count Check the statistics, how can we best use this information in helping our students set writing goals? -David Woo 10/16/08 2:25 PM
  • Sharing the document by publishing Remember, comments will not be viewable -David Woo 10/16/08 2:22 PM , e-mailing and adding collaborators
  • Understanding the potential of real-time editing in the classroom between collaborators

Materials Needed:

  • Google Documents (1)
  • Patience (infinite)

Other Resources:

  • Blogs

Information:
Give and/or demonstration necessary information

  1. Browsing templates.
  2. How to create a new folder.
  3. Exploring options in the document management sidebar.
  4. Exploring options in document toolbar
  5. Sharing the document with others
  6. Open a document on two computers and edit it on one of the computers to see the document update itself on the other computer
  7. Open a student’s argumentative essay


Verification:
Steps to check for student understanding

  1. Open a Google account.
  2. Create a new document and select a template.
  3. Rename the document, save and close it, and put it into a created folder.
  4. Download the document; insert comments; format the text; check spelling; and look up a word.
  5. Review the word count statistics and indexes
  6. Share the document with your neighbor.
  7. Edit and update a neighbor’s document.




Mid-Term Evaluation Feedback

October 15, 2008  Tagged , ,

These are the points that both classes reported.  As I address your suggestions, I shall inform you – DW.

Feedback
1) Report one thing that you have learned in this course up to this moment.
• Using skills to understand words
• Using Google Documents
• How to write a problem-solution essay
• Using vocabulary building skills
• Useful Websites (Nytimes.com)
• Brainstorming and grouping strategies
2) Ask a question which you would like answered before the end of this course.
• How to pass this course? (x2)
Who will mark the exam papers?
• What extra things can we learn in this course?
• How to complete the independent learning portfolio? (Bring your portfolios to class this Friday)
• What is your opinion of us?
• Report attendance (Friday)

1) One thing that is going well in this course
• Using computers and online software (x2)
• Dismiss on time
• Internet resource sharing
• Learning extra things
• Positive learning atmosphere, despite cultural differences
2) One thing that needs improvement; and a suggestion to improve this item
• Teach extra things
• Time management; provide more time
• Half-online; half printed out (on a Website dedicated to the portfolio)
• More independent learning guidance (Friday)

• Too early; provide make up classes or reschedule the class
• Midterm break; postpone classes
• Homework feedback;
- See me if you want individual feedback, otherwise individual feedback will not be given; quality and quantity of feedback should be specified as well
- Stop assigning homework

Skimming and Scanning Skills

—– Original Message —–

> Dear David,
> I have some questions about English. First, if I want to improve my
> skimming and scanning skills, what should I do? How to improve? Also,
> except skimming and scanning skills, is there any other methods that
> can improve my reading skills in IELTS? It is sincerely hoped that you
> can suggest some concrete ways to improve my reading skills in our
> daily life and  my reading skills in IELTS.
> Regards,

Student X

—– New Message —–

Dear Student X,
The first thing that I recommend you do is to understand when and with which texts you should use these skills, because sometimes, doubtless, we need to read slowly!  Try this Website which explores several generic reading skills – http://www.learningtolearn.group.shef.ac.uk/read/read_difkind_task.html

BBC Skillswise has different exercises with which you can practice these skills

http://www.bbc.co.uk/skillswise/words/reading/

Finally, here is another resource which explains skimming and scanning and furthermore provides dozens of Websites which cover these ubiquitous reading topics.  Try using one or two Websites alone as there are perhaps too many to evaluate intensively

- http://42explore.com/skim.htm

Student X, this involves a lot of – you guessed it! – reading.  I’m trying my best to enable you to learn by yourself, so that means that I can point you in the right direction, but your willingness to read (these materials) alone shall determine how much you reap!

As regards the IELTS test, maybe it is best that you investigate what specific reading skills are tested and procure materials that will enable you to practice effectively for the exam.  That is, find out what skills are examined in that test, find materials either in the SAC or online to assist you in developing those skills and see whether or not your IELTS score improves because you indeed have improved in those skill areas.  Keep me posted on your findings as, I’m sure, other students are very interested in knowing your results!

Let me know how you are progressing in your independent learning.  And allow me to continue to serve you as,

Your Loyal and Faithful Servant,

David Woo.