Wednesday, September 28, 2005

I have a new blog!

Hello World!

I have just started a new blog with my students here at the University of Calgary. I am now teaching for the LEAP program. That is the Learning English for Academic Purposes program (it's part of the faculty of education). It's a lot of fun, and my students are really great. If anyone is ever bored, they should have a look at my new blog and say hi to me and my students.

Stay cool!

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

20 things to check for when revising your essay

Does your thesis statement adequately state your main idea?

Does the thesis statement contain an opinion about the main idea?

Does the thesis statement indicate the structure of your essay; that is, does it contain your controlling ideas?

Is the thesis statement the last sentence in your introduction?

Do your supporting ideas (topic sentences) show your attitude towards the main idea?

Are your topic sentences connected to the thesis statement?

Do you have good supporting details that are connected to the topic sentences and the main idea?

Do you have enough supporting details?

Do you need more examples?

Is there enough evidence in your essay to support your main idea?

Is the evidence you have used convincing?

Are your main body paragraphs long enough?

Are all the paragraphs logially connected to each other?

Do the sentences flow together?

Do you need transitions to make the sentences clearer?

Is the purpose of your essay obvious?

Are you able to convey your message to the reader?

Is your introduction interesting? Will it make people what to read your essay?

Does your conclusion start with a strong concluding statement?

Is your conclusion convincing?

Does your conclusion end with three or four added thoughts or comments that are connected to your topic?

Global Issues Final Essays

Write a 750 word essay based on one of the topics from the back of the book.

This is how I am going to mark your final essays.

Composition 5 points
- The student focuses on central ideas with an organized text.
-Paragraphs are well developed with topic sentences, supporting sentences and concluding sentences.
-There is an effective introduction that includes a thesis statement in the appropriate place.
-There is an effective conclusion that includes a concluding statement in the appropriate place.
-Ideas follow an effective principle of organization – e.g. least interesting to most interesting, smallest to biggest, less important to most important, etc.
-The ideas prove the writer’s thesis statement or topic sentence.
-The writer uses examples as appropriate.

Style 5 points
-The student has chosen appropriate vocabulary.
-The student has used a wide range of vocabulary.
-The student uses a variety of sentence structures.
-The student writes appropriately for his or her audience.
-The student uses effective transitions between sentences, ideas and paragraphs.
-The student uses formal academic English.

Mechanics and Usage 5 points
-The student uses standard word order.
-There are no run-on sentences.
-There are no sentence fragments.
-The student uses coordinators and conjunctions effectively.
-There are no awkward sentences.
-The student is able to use standard grammatical structures.
-The student is able to use standard word meaning.
-The student uses effective capitalization, punctuation, and spelling.

Presentation 5 points
-The homework is presented in an acceptable manner.
-The homework is not crumpled or folded or smudged.
-The student uses A-4 paper.
-The homework is typed.
-The homework is double spaced appropriately.
-The student uses appropriate formatting (paragraphs with indentation, correct margins, title, name, class, etc.)
-The student uses correct citations where necessary.

Content 20 points
-The information in the essay is interesting and relevant.
-The information is factual.
-The information used is appropriate for the text.
-The topic is interesting and well developed.
-The essay tells the reader something.
-The essay answers the question.
-The student uses enough information to answer the essay
-The student does not miss out key facts and details

Monday, July 11, 2005

I keep meaning to blog, and I keep thinking about blogs in my mind, but I never seem to get around to actually blogging. I wonder if my students ever actually feel like this. I think part of my problem is that I have two blogs, one for my IES class (this one) and one for my English II classes. I think I would put all the blogs together if I ever do this again.

Anyway, the thing that has been burning in my mind lately is the issue of academic freedom. I heard that another teacher here at Kansai Gaidai had been teaching the class about the Nanking Massacre and one of the studnets took an article home about the Nanking Massacre. Anyway, I guess the father of this student didn't like the article, so he complained to Kansai Gaidai that the teacher was forcing the students to study a controversial issue. To make a long story short, the university then spoke to this teacher and repremanded him for the way he was teaching the class about this issue. Needless to say, I was a little bit shocked about the entire thing. To imagine that a teacher cannot teacher any position he or she wants to teach is unfathomable to me in a university setting. If the student doesn't agree with the teacher, then the student is perfectly able to disagree with the teacher by presenting the opposing viewpoint. As I teach in my class, there are many sides to every issue, and everyone is free to disagree with everyone else. That is the way that knowledge is created in the classroom. To be silenced, I think, is the worst thing at all.

I remember reading somewhere (John Stuart Mill, I think) that freedom of speech is absolutely necessary in a society. For example, I may be complete right, and the person I am speaking to may be completely wrong, but only through the process of dialogue can I be sure that I am right. Or perhaps I am completely wrong and the other person is completely right. I can only learn if we are all free to express our opinions. Or maybe I am half right, and the other person is half right . . . it is only through dialogue that we would be able to put our two halves together and come up with the whole truth. If the process of dialogue and understanding is not gone through, then beliefs become dogma without any reason behind them.

Additionally, if the boy's father disagreed with the Kansai Gaidai teacher, the boy's father could have explained his own position to the son, and then let the son decide what is the truth about what happened in Nanking. Forcing someone to believe something is not the way to do it.

Anyway, if this were to have happened to me, and I found the university against me having academic freedom, I would be shocked beyond words. As it is now, I am merely flabberghasted, yet, cynically not so surprised.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Well I have finally well and truly succumbed to the heat, and I am now sitting in my room with the air conditioner going at full blast. I feel so guilty, like I am literally sucking the energy out of the earth . . . but I thought I was going to go crazy with the heat.

I have been reading so much about biomass energy lately! I never realised that biomass energy was so popular in Brazil. In Brazil, most cars run on ethanol that is made from sugar cane. I think this is such a great idea. It sounds like a good way to break our dependence on oil.

Anyway, that's my two cents for today . . . I have to go and enjoy my air conditioning!

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

good comment from another teacher

Hey guys, I got a really good comment from another teacher on my blog. He was talking about the issues or recycling right here on campus. Last school year, there used to be a group of students that used to go around collecting paper for recycling, but I guess they all graduated, and now there is no one left to recycle our paper. As I am moving back to Canada, this issue really worried me because I have soooo much paper that I don't need anymore, and I don't know what to do with it. I guess I will have to take it myself somewhere for recycling. It's too bad that there isn't a "save the environment" club on campus here at Kansai Gaidai like there are at universities in Canada / the US, etc. You'd think the university itself would be concerned with this issue. I wonder how we could get paper to be recycled here on campus.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Is 20 really the smoking age in Japan?

I was just chatting with a friend, when we realised that it seems like the convienience store on campus is selling cigarettes to underaged people. Isn't the smoking age 20 in Japan? It seems to me like a lot of people are under the age of 20, and they are smoking here at Kansai Gaidai. Does the university condone this? Isn't it illegal to sell cigarettes to people under the age of 20? I guess money is more important than health,legal issues, or even people's lives.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

I was just preparing for tomorrow's class about energy sources, and I found this really cool blog all about alternative energy:

There is really a lot of cool information about alternative energy sources such as wind power - check it out!