Wednesday, December 06, 2006
I learned a lot about different cultures.
I met some really nice people, and I will always remember them.
Some of the students improved quite a lot! It was amazing to watch their English growing over the semester.
The students gained some valuable skills that are going to help them in their future studies.
The students made some new friends in the class.
See, there are lots of positive things from last semester . . .
From now on, I am going to try and focus on the positive things.
When life gives you lemons, you should make lemonade!
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
You will write approximately one entry per week (minimum 12 entries) with a minimum of 200 words for each entry. Students are encouraged to write more.
You are also required to read and make comments on two other student or teacher blogs every week for a total of at least 24 comments. Students are encouraged to make more comments.
The final due date for the blog project is Friday December 1 when you should have a total of at least 12 blogs and 24 comments. You need to do at least 12 blogs and 24 comments in order to get full marks. Your blog contributes to your final participation mark.
Please note that you are only allowed to write one blog entry per day. Multiple entries made on the same day will be counted as one entry.
I went over these parameters with the students in class. They all had the handout, so they could have read the requiements. However, many students didn't write the requisite 200 words per blog! It was right there in black and white! Also, many students missed the requirement that they only write one blog per day. How depressing. I think some people are going to be shocked by their blog marks. 12 blogs x 200 words per blog = 2400 words. That means if you only wrote 1200 words over the course of the semester, you only received 50%. That mark is then calculated as part of the final participation mark.
The most interesting aspect of all of this is that many of the students who received low marks on their blogs, also are receiving low marks in class. There seems to be a direct correlation between the amount of effort students put into their blogs and the grade they receive on their essays and exams. The irony of all of this is that students come to me a week or two before the final exams, and they ask me "what can I do to get a better mark". Well, you could have blogged at least 200 words every week like you were supposed to.
I'm so curious . . . don't the students see a connection between doing homework and getting a high mark on the final exam? I guess not. That is why they end up failing. My job is to try and get them to see the connection. You can't expect to be a great pianist if you never practice. You can't expect to be a great writer if you never practice.
Friday, December 01, 2006
Who had fun at the pizza party last Friday???? I know I did! I ate so much pizza, it was amazing. After classes had started again, we found out that there was lots of pizza left over, so naturally I had to eat more. I think I must have eaten six pieces of pizza . . . and I wonder why I have been gaining weight. I think the best pizza was the Greek Pizza. It was the perfect mix of feta and mozzarella cheese. I do love pizza . . . . anyway, enough about pizza!
Today is the last day of classes before the final exams. I brought in madarin oranges, chips and juice so that we could have a snack while we were studying. It was fun. I got the mandarin oranges because they were from China, and I thought it would be nice for the student to have something from home. I tried to find things from Iran and Romania . . . but there was nothing from those counties in Safeway. Sorry Salia and Adelheid!
Anyway, I hope all the students get lots of studying done this weekend. My biggest piece of advice for them was to read ALL of the articles in their reading textbook, and their writing textbook. They should even read the articles that their teachers hadn't talked about in class. I hope everyone does this. I also suggested picking 10 new words from each chapter and memorizing them. I hope it helps . . . it can't hurt :-)
Good luck everyone!
Friday, November 24, 2006
Monday, November 20, 2006
I really enjoyed going to the Ancient Peru Exhibition at the Nickle Arts Museum. It was nice to do something different for a change. I couldn't believe that the University of Calgary would have such a nice exhibition on campus. I was really impressed with all of the gold artifacts. It's amazing to think that such an advanced culture existed here in the Americas way before the arrival of the Europeans. Even worse, that culture was basically destroyed by the arrival of the Europeans. I read somewhere that one of the worst cultural genocides took place after the arrival of the Europeans to the Americas. Millions and millions of people died.
It really gives you something to think about. Especially here in Alberta. We always talk about what a young province this is (we are only 100 years old), but actually, this province has 1000s and 1000s of years of history, it is just that history is the history of the native peoples, and it tends to be ignored by the dominant culture.
Anyway, I recommend that if people were impressed with the Ancient Peruvian exhibition, they should make a trip down to Writing on Stone Provincial Park, or to Head Smashed in Buffalo Jump to seem more of the indigenous cultures that existed here before the arrival of Europeans.
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
Friday, November 03, 2006
One of my favourite things to do is go to the movies. I thought I would talk about two of my favourite movie theatres: The Plaza and Paramount Chinook. Last weekend I went to the Plaza Theatre to see the movie "Little Miss Sunshine". It was totally awesome. I really enjoyed it, and I thought that it had a powerful message as well. Basically, the film is about a little girl who travels with her family across the United States to participate in a beauty contest in California. I thought the movie had a lot to say about how bad beauty contests are, especially for young girls. I really enjoyed it, but even more, I enjoyed going to the Plaza Theatre. You see, the Plaza Theatre is only a five minute walk from my house in Kensington. I have been going to the Plaza Theatre for about 16 years, and it is one of the few things that hasn't changed in Calgary. I really love the Plaza. It is an old fashioned cinema with only one screen, so it can only show one movie at a time. Usually, the movies shown at the Plaza are alternative movies that you don't often get to see in the big multi-plex cinemas. Everything about the Plaza is a total trip down memory lane. I highly recommend that my students go to the Plaza at least once while they are in Calgary to experience what it used to be like going to the movies in Canada. Plus, matinees at the Plaza on Saturday and Sunday are only $6!
At the other end of the scale, you have Paramount Chinook. Those are the theatres at Chinook Centre. It is the total luxury modern movie going experience. The seats are the ultimate in comfort, and you never have to worry about some annoying lady with big red hair sitting in front of you because all of the theatres have stadium seating. It's great. Right now, if you dare, you can so and see the movie "Grudge 2". But be careful . . . I almost pooped my pants when I saw it on Hallowe'en. It is basically a J-Horror film, but shot in English. Eeep. I don't want to blog about it anymore. It was just way too scarey, but if you like horror films, you should go.
Anyway, get out of the house on one of those cold wintery afternoons any weekend, but a bucket of popcorn and settle down for a movie experience . . . plus it's a good way to study English :-)
Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Anyway, what I want is for the good bloggers out there to encourage the other students to get blogging. I check the blogs almost everyday, and I know that each week that a student misses blogging is a week they missed out on the opportunity to improve their English. Blogging only works if students do it all the time, or at least the minimum requirements for this assignment. I'm so depressed. Oh well, I guess it is like the English saying "you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink"
Thank you to all the bloggers out there who are going to encourage their classmates to hurry up and do some blogs!!!!!
Saturday, October 28, 2006
I went for a walk the other night, and here is a picture of Calgary from a hill close to my house. I live in Kensington, and right behind me there is a ridge with a park that people can walk along. There is quite an amazing view of Calgary from the park. The view is really impressive, but it kind of gets me down too because I think of all of the wasted electricity. Most of our electricity in Calgary comes from burning coal, so every light that is left on directly contributes to global warming. But then again . . . maybe that's the plan. It can get pretty chilly here in Alberta during the winter. Maybe this is all a conspiracy to increase the average temperature of our city to make it more livable during those long cold winter months!
Friday, October 27, 2006
I can't believe that half the semester has already passed. Mid-terms are over, and now we have to prepare for the final exams already. At least we still have half a semester left. I hope everyone uses the rest of their time wisely!
As for me, I just got accepted to do a presentation at a huge conference in Seattle. I'm so excited. It is THE big international conference for English teachers. They only accepted 21% of the people who applied, so I am feeling really lucky that they accepted my proposal. Naturally, I will be doing a presentation on blogs :-) I think this is going to be my last presentation about blogs because it is time I start focusing on my PhD. It is so weird being a teacher and a student at the same time. I keep telling my students to get busy and study, but then I keep putting my own studying off until the last minute. For example, I have a big paper due in my PhD seminar on Monday, and I still haven't started working on it. Boo hoo. I guess I'm not going to have a very fun weekend. Anyway, I can totally empathize with my students right now!
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
I'm back in Calgary, and I have to say that it's good to be home again. As all of my students know, I was just in Winnipeg for a Teaching English as a Second Language conference where I was doing a presentation on blogs. It was a lot of fun, but I kind of missed home. Wow, I was only gone for four days, but I got homesick! My presentation was on last Friday morning, and I was really impressed by how many people came to hear me talk. I talked about blogs and how they can help students to learn English from each other. I hope that the people who came to my presentation will start to use blogs with their students!
Anyway, it wasn't all work while I was in Winnipeg. I also went for long walks around the city. I walked all along the river and I also so the Manitoba Legislature building. The weirdest thing of all was the Hudson's Bay Store. It had a huge grocery store in the basement. I never expected that! One good thing though was that I found some specialty chocolates that you can only buy in Winnipeg. When I saw them, I knew that I had to buy them to share with my students. They are called Mordens' Russian Mints, and I guess they are really famous in Winnipeg. I think my students liked them. I shared them with my students today, and I had enough of them to share with both classes! It's too bad we can't buy these chocolate in Calgary. They are pretty good!
Thursday, October 19, 2006
I should be putting the finishing touches on my presentation for tomorrow, but I just had to write about my breakfast this morning. I went to a local Winnipeg institution: Sal's. It was so great. I was just walking along Portage Avenue when I saw a sign that advertised a $2.99 breakfast. It was too good to be true, so I went through the doors and I felt like I had entered a time warp. It was like a restaurant out of my childhood: vinyl booths, waitresses in uniforms and cheap prices! For $2.99 I could have two eggs any style, toast, hashbrowns, and sausages. I haven't had a breakfast that cheap since about 1999 at the Lido Cafe in Kensington, Calgary (another of my favourite greasy spoons). Anyway, the breakfast was great. I am a bit of a breakfast connoisseur, and it had the perfect proportion of grease and butter to complement the eggs and toast. Yum. Anyway, if you are in Winnipeg make sure you try out this restaurant. It's a classic!
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
On another note, in the middle of all this preparation for the midterm exams, I went to Edmonton for a conference, and I made a presentation on blogs! It was so great. I met so many interesting people, and they love my students blogs. Naturally, that is because my students are so great :-) For my presentation, I first did a powerpoint about blogs, and then we went step by step creating blogs. It was kind of like the first day of blogging with my class, except that I talked a lot more about the theory behind blogging as well as some hints on setting up the teacher blog (doing HTML, etc). If anyone wants to know more about some of the theory behind blogs, they can read a paper that I wrote for the ATESL Newsletter:
It's on page 18.
Anyway, the conference was great, and I really learned a lot. The hotel was good too. I included a picture of my hotel. Next weekend, I am going to Winnipeg for the TESL Canada conference. I love blogging!
Thursday, October 12, 2006
I'm going to Edmonton tomorrow for a teachers' conference! I can't wait. The only sad thing is that I had to cancel class tomorrow, but then again . . . maybe my students will enjoy the break :-)
Anyway, I thought I'd write about last weekend. Today was my third day in a row eating turkey sandwiches. I have been eating roast turkey on rye every day for lunch since Thanksgiving. That's okay though seeing as I love turkey sandwiches. This year, my parents came to my house for Thanksgiving, instead of me going to there house. I found a turkey for only $7 at Safeway, so I bought it thinking that I would give it my mum to cook. However, when she heard that I bought a turkey, she totally misunderstood me and thought that I was inviting her and my dad to my house . . . and in the end I did! I made a huge Thanksgiving dinner all by myself. We had chopped turkey liver, matzo ball soup, roast turkey, mashed turnips, roast potatoes, baby brussel sprouts, turkey gravy and stuffing. I was soooo full afterwards. There was way too much turkey, even though I bought the smallest turkey I could find in Safeway. In fact, even after three days of eating turkey sandwiches, I still have some turkey left over. I guess I'll have to bring turkey sandwiches to the conference in Edmonton . . .
Well, wish me luck. I can't wait to share all the results of the survey with everyone. Keep on checking my blog because I'll put the results of the survey on here.
Enjoy the picture of my turkey!
Friday, October 06, 2006
I just made a survey to see what the students think about blogs, and I'd really appreciate it if you guys did it so I could have some feedback about this activity. I'm going to two conferences soon (one in Edmonton, and one in Winnipeg), and I'd like to tell people what my students think about this activity, so that is why I created the survey.
Thanks a lot for your help. I really appreciate it!
Please click on the link below, and it will take you directly to the LEAP 4 Blog Survey:
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
I want to discuss more vocabulary before we read the paragraphs in the grammar and writing books
I wish all the students were more active than this
More writing on the blackboard with examples of grammar and tenses
More vocabulary explanation. There are always more vocabs that we don’t know, and we are shy to ask
I wish the schedule could be changed
Make more explanations
A little bit more homework
more grammar and writing
post our cumulative marks
more interesting topics
more time to review in class before a quiz
bigger desks for writing (EdB 184)
I think all of those are really good wishes, and I am certainly going to do my best to help the student's wishes come true . . . I wonder if we go to the computer lab once a week instead of EdB 184, if that would help the desk issue . . .
Monday, October 02, 2006
Cleaning my garage was the biggest task this weekend. There were so many old cardboard boxes in there. You see, there are three apartments in my house, and everytime someone moves in or out, they leave a whole bunch of old boxes in the garage. I kept meaning to recycle all of the boxes, but I just never got around to it. Finally, Sunday was the day I had to do it. There was absolutely no way I could do homework with all those boxes in the garage. It took me and my friend (the poor sucker, I roped him in) HOURS. We had to crush and fold over a hundred empty cardboard boxes. They I stuffed them all into my car (after all, I wouldn't want to take two trips). I couldn't even close my trunk, I had so many boxes in my car. I drove to the recycling depot at about 15 kms an hour. Luckily, it is in my neighbourhood, so I didn't have to go to far. Then I had to unload my car and put all of those boxes into the appropriate green recycle bin. I got a bit carried away though. I was throwing the boxes to myt friend who was helping me like frisbees. Anyway, I threw one just a bit too hard and it slammed him in the face. I felt awful. Expecially since he was volunteering to help me with my boxes. However, there was no harm done (well, a huge bruise, but no need for the hospital), and my boxes were recycled. I bought him a cheese cake to say sorry for the facial disfiguration . . . but then I ate half of it.
The things we do to avoid homework.
I wonder how my students did with THEIR papers this weekend, and I wonder what kinds of procrastination they get up to.
Thursday, September 28, 2006
We are getting another MT student in class today. She is from Nova Scotia, and she seems raring to go. I'm glad we can have the MT student's helping us out!
I don't really have all that much exciting to blog about today. One cool thing is that I have moved my desk! I am now in the corner of EdT 1430. It's kind of funny because I have moved all of the shelves and filing cabinets to make it look like I have a proper office. I can now hide away in the corner and nobody can see me :-) I wish I had my own private office. I am feeling more and more anti-social these days, and I think it would be so great to have a private office with a view of the campus. I guess if I want that private office, I 'm going to have to hurry up and finish my PhD. It's no good wishing for things if I don't do anything about it!
Anyway, this weekend, I am going to do something great and exciting (I don't know what yet) so that I can have a more interesting blog!
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
Oh, by the way, I really wanted to blog about how expensive the education cafeteria is . . . it cost me $8 for lunch today. All I had was a coffee and a sandwich. I need to start making my own lunch.
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
Before I was born, Scott had been born.
Since I was born, the economy of China has been developing very fast.
Before I die, at least one moonman will have travelled around the Earth.
Thanks to the people that sent me good sentences! Remember, if anyone needs help, please come and see me!
Sunday, September 17, 2006
It was so cold this morning. I guess winter is starting to arrive. It was 1 degree when I woke up. I can tell you that I was sorely tempted to just go back to bed, but this morning was the Terry Fox Run, and I have been in the Terry Fox Run almost every year since I was a kid, so I had to get up. Usually it is much warmer than this. In fact, I am sure that this is the coldest it has ever been for me during a Terry Fox Run. Anyway, I managed to get myself up and out of the house and to Eau Claire Market,where the run was being held. I totally didn't feel motivated at all this morning. I wonder if Terry ever felt like that. It must have been cold and miserable on many of the mornings when he had to get up and run. Anyway, I made it down to Eau Claire and I registered and donated $20 for cancer research, but then I guess I sort of gave up. I am really dissapointed in myself. Usually I run 5 kms every year, but this year after I started the run I just couldn't do it. Instead I walked most of the way. Now I could make excuses, and I could say that at least I walked 5 kms, but I am really dissapointed because I didn't run. Especially as I used to see myself as "running" kind of guy. I used to run 5 kms every day! My new students may be surprised to hear this, but I have gained almost 20 lbs since I arrived back in Canada one year ago (and I stopped running). However, this is kind of a wake up call for me. Next year, not only will I run, but I will run the 10 km race! There was one problem though. Right after I had made my resolution to run 10 kms next year and to get into better shape, I ate 2 of the free hotdogs they were giving out to all of the runners. s i g h. I'll keep you all posted on my battle with getting in shape . . . in the meantime, if you are interested, check out more information about the Terry Fox Run here: www.terryfoxrun.org.
Wednesday, September 06, 2006
This is my first posting in my new blog. This is the place to find links to all of my past blogs, and well as links to my current EAP students at the University of Calgary. Please feel free to comment, explore the student blogs, and enjoy!