Saturday, March 30, 2013

Will MOOCs Work for Writing?

…a post by Chris Friend on Hybrid Pedagogy

When faced with a complex, fluid, and potentially uncontrollable situation, I’ve often heard people say, “It’s like herding cats.” I can think of no more complex, variable, and fluid task than writing. Its nuances and complexities seem to defy consistency; what works as “good writing” in one circumstance can be disastrous in another.

Indeed, the push toward multimodality in student writing means even the products can vary: essays one minute, blogs the next, videos after that. We also strive to develop stylistic variation: the strongest students develop a personal voice that makes their work distinctive. Everything about writing activities makes them seem like one-offs: what works in each instance is different than the next solution. The complex challenges of teaching students to work within that degree of variability makes me despair.

Read the rest of Will MOOCs Work for Writing?

As for my own take so far, based on the writing, discussion and peer grading components of courses I have have participated in or followed, the answer is still a resounding no. Duke's Composition 1 started out with a promising level of energy and enthusiasm among engaged participants but bottomed out early. For me, it was a combination of the disappointing first reading, the prospect of writing about an article not worth reading, and the level of analytical commentary in Forum. I'll miss the thoroughly engaging crowd L2 writers and still have hopes for Cathy Davidson's approach and deep experience with building collaborative assessment models. Otherwise, I am so with Jonathon Rees on this one. 

Monday, March 25, 2013

8 Common Writing Mistakes

…and this has what to do with #dcmooc? Strike through 'creative' or read it small 'c' to mean any and all writing as acts of creation. Clearer now? If not, then very simply: the advice here holds for all writing. If it didn't then it would not be very good "creative writing" advice, would it? 
common creative writing mistakes
We all make mistakes in our writing. The most common mistake is the typo–a missing word, an extra punctuation mark, a misspelling, or some other minor error that is an oversight rather than a reflection of the writer’s skills. 
A more serious kind of mistake is a deep flaw in the writing....grave mistakes that are often found in various forms of creative writing. 
I see most mistakes as an opportunity to either learn something new or to make an improvement to a piece of writing. While mistakes can certainly be frustrating and rewriting to weed out mistakes can be laborious, each fixed mistake is a step toward a more polished piece of writing, and every time you resolve a problem in your writing, you become a better writer.
Read on to learn more about the 8 Common Creative Writing Mistakes elaborated on in this piece. They are as follows:

1. Dull Beginnings
2. Unnecessary descriptions and details
3. Verbiage (excerpt included: this one is a particular bête noire
Despite popular belief, verbiage is not a synonym for words or text. It specifically means an “overabundance or superfluity of words, as in writing or speech; wordiness” (source). Verbiage is not a good thing. It means you’re using too many words and the work could be more concise....Don’t spend an entire paragraph saying something that could be said in a single sentence. You’ll put your readers to sleep!
4. Redundancy and stating the obvious
5. Unnecessary or ineffective repetition
6. Failure to use or over-dependency on spelling & grammar check
7. Filler words and phrases
8. Lackluster ending 

(Take note: these can infest any form of writing ~ why should we be satisfied let academic, reporting, blog posts, articles in popular or niche mags, how-to or any kind of writing be bad reads? I won't get into how much the expression, "creative non-fiction" pisses me off)

Sunday, March 24, 2013

I am an old fashioned letter writer

…yet another MOOCthis one about writing, so I'm putting CWL back in harness to post assignments and reflections. The course is English Composition I: Achieving Expertise, from Duke and on Coursera. It may seem like an odd choice for someone who has taught FY comp: since I have already blogged recommending it to my ESL self-paced study group and on Facebook to local GED students (albeit both with qualifications), I should check it out personally ~ and definitely before recommending it further or adding it to my GED and Independent Learning pages on 

The first writing activity, "I am a Writer," is a "brief essay (~300 words) in which you introduce yourself as a writer to your classmates and instructor. How would you describe yourself as a writer? What are some of your most memorable experiences with writing? Please draw on your experiences with writing and refer directly to some of these as you introduce yourself as a writer. After you have written and posted your essay, please read and respond to two or three of your classmates' postings." Mine (also here on the course Forum) follows:

A “letter writer” long before the internet, I penned and snailed hand written letters in another lifetime. I come from generations of inveterate letter writers. That shapes my earliest writing memories. Learning languages, I would start writing letters in the new language as soon as I had a handful of words to rub together. I still am one: same genre, different medium. 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Google Poetics | World Poetry Day Challenge

World Poetry Day Challenge
Google Poetics celebrates the World Poetry Day with a special poetry challenge!
Use existing and/or newly made google poems to create a longer poem and email it to with WORLD POETRY DAY in the subject line. We’ll publish the best ones as they come in.
If possible, please use an image editor to create the combined poem so that we don’t have to do the editing for you. Also, let us know how you wish to be credited.
We're kicking off with the poem above put together by our founder Sampsa Nuotio.
Let the poetry flow!

Google Poetics | World Poetry Day Challenge Google Poetics...

Monday, March 4, 2013

A plea for syntactical sanity

…on US National Grammar Day…tolerance and being less judgmental prescriptive the rest of the year too would be nice too. As Kory Stamper points out in this essay,"Vigilante peeving does nothing to actually educate people. What it does instead is shame them and make them feel bad about how they speak, write, and even think."

Most dictionaries feature usage guides and and tips, though,
like grammarians, not all agree. Photograph: Felix Clay
This National Grammar Day, I'd like to see the smugly correct put aside their peevs. English is hard enough without asshats

I love National Grammar Day. I also hate National Grammar Day. That may be surprising – after all, I'm a journeyman grammarian. I make my bread deciding whether a word is an attributive noun or adjective, parsing adverbial uses over conjunctive uses, writing those delightfully boring usage notes in your dictionary.

I love National Grammar Day for all the reasons you'd expect a massive nerd like me to love it: a chance to revel in and highlight the most-dear idiosyncrasies of my language and our feeble attempts to explain it. All you need to do is read through all the Grammar Day haiku that have been written, each falling like a cherry blossom in late spring, to get in the spirit.

But I also hate National Grammar Day, because it ends up being less a celebration of the weirdness of English and more an annual conclave of the "peeververein" (as gentleman-copyeditor John E McIntyre so eloquently calls them) [and] correct[ing public] signage in the name of "good grammar". Grocer's apostrophes are scribbled out, misspellings fixed, and... [an] orgy of less/fewer corrections.
Remember, this National Grammar Day, that there are people all around you with varying degrees of knowledge of and appreciation for the intricacies of English. Instead of calling people out on 4 March for all the usages they get wrong, how about pointing out all the thing things that people – against all odds – get right?

Read the rest of A plea for syntactical sanity on US National Grammar Day | Kory Stamper This article was originally published by harm•less drudg•ery is crossposted by kind permission of the author
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