Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Give Me Clear Instructions

Have you ever purchased a piece of furniture you have had to put together? Maybe a child's bicycle or some other toy? You lay out all the pioeces, like with like, and turn to the instructions -- which are written in Chinese. Darn, if you could only read the instructions you might be able to put that thing together. Even translated, if those instructions are not well written, you might as well hang it up. Clear, explicit instructions. That's what a process essay is all about.

Blog AssignmentThis week you will write a paragraph that allows you to describe the steps needed to perform a specific task. You will respond to either topic #5 or #8  on page 230 of the textbook.

My ResponseWhen I asked my husband what he wanted for his birthday, he surprised me by saying "rice pudding." Well, the last time he had this obsession and I caved in, I used an Indian recipe that required rosewater. I made a huge pot and the rosewater was way too overpowering. I wound up throwing it away. Needless to say, I have been reluctant to try it again, but when it is your lover's birthday wish, you'll do anything to make him happy- including possibly embarrass yourself with less than perfect rice pudding.  As it turned out, it was totally amazing.  Here's how to emulate my success and win your husband's well-deserved attention.


7 c. water
1 1/4 c. Jasmine rice
1 cinnamon stick, about 4" long
1 - 14 oz. can condensed milk
1 - 14 oz. can coconut milk
1 c. fat free milk
ground Saigon cinnamon for dusting

Put the water, rice, and cinnamon stick in a heavy pot. Bring the water to a boil over medium-high heat and cook, uncovered, until tender (about 15 minutes). 

Drain the rice in a sieve, removing the cinnamon stick. Return the drained rice to the pan, add the coconut milk, the condensed milk, and the fat free milk. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, stirring regularly, until the mixture is thick (about 20 minutes). 

Transfer the rice pudding to serving dishes and dust with the Saigon cinnamon.
A sprinkling of crushed pistachios would transform this into a sublime birthday desert.

Your TurnSign in and post your assignment in the Comment box. Preview your response so you can see what you need to correct. Make your corrections and click the Post Comment button. Please be sure to post your response no later than midnight of September 29.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

My Side of the Story and Yours

Have you ever heard the expression that there are three sides to every story - yours, mine, and the truth? Well, I am goimg to propose that there is some truth to this saying because it is only when we look at two sides and see how those sides are the same and where they differ that we can begin to establish some grounds for understanding and truth. This is the beauty of writing that compares and contrasts. There's a trick to how this is accomplished, however, else great confusion ensues.

One way is to first compare apples to apples, and then contrast them - point by point. For instance, if we were to talk about twins, we might discuss how they are the same height and weight and have the same hair color and complexion. Next we might focus on differences - styles of music and genre of books or intended college majors and political views. The other way is to discuss one item completely, and then to discuss the other completely, also making sure the order of the points made remain the same in both discussions. That could translate into a discussion of Jake (height, weight, hair color, complexion, music and book preferences, college  major and political views). Then we would discuss his twin Drake (all items in exactly the same order). Frankly, whichever technique you use is totally arbitraty. Let your preference - or the topic - dictate the format.

Blog AssignmentThis week you will write a paragraph that allows you to compare and contrast two things. You will respond to either topic #1 or #8  on page 242 of the textbook.

My Response: Technology is a beautiful thing. In fact, I remember one summer a few years ago when the pastor of the church I was attending put out a challenge to refrain from prticipating in any form of technology for one week. I haughtily thought to myself, "I can do this" and raised my hand to be among the elite to participate in the experiment. I have to tell you it was one of the hardest sacrifices in which I have ever engaged. Now that I think of it, my experience must have been similar to that of students today who are told they cannot use their technology in the classroom. Ouch! As a teacher, I know the value of a learning environment free and clear of distraction. Which teacher can compete with the student who sends 84 texts (no, this is not a typo) to a single student in a 2 hour block of time? I have to say that I am proud of my student who refused to break the classroom rule and text back, though I am a bit perturbed by the fact that she knew how many texts had been sent during class. Certainly, I know that what I am teaching is less interesting than who is dating whom, the latest fight, or the cute new student; however, that information won't ensure you a job unless you want to be a talk show host. What I am teaching, on the other hand, is so important that it will assist you in developing the skills that will make your high school and college careers easy street. So, if I have to compete with the minute-by-minute parade of gossip, I will lose hands down. But technology does have a place in the classroom. And because of that, I teach my students to use the calendar and clock functions to schedule important assignments or testing locations. In addition, many of my students have their electronic novels on their smart phones. And what about that research I sometimes ask them to conduct? I only have four operable computers in a classroom that regularly seats 25 students. Doing research from the school computers will take all year at that rate! In my opinion, it is the role of the savvy teacher to instruct students on the boundaries that must come with the use of personal technology in the classroom. I don't want to catch you texting or posting on FaceBook. Nor do I want you to record my response to your inappropriate question so you can post it on YouTube. I do, however, want you to learn to use the functions that will help you become a fully functional member of a society whose residents must use technology to participate in work and school sanctioned activities. 

Your TurnSign in and post your assignment in the Comment box. Preview your response so you can see what you need to correct. Make your corrections and click the Post Comment button. Please be sure to post your response no later than midnight of September 22.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Give Me an Example to Make Your Point Clear

Learning is an interesting activity. Some concepts are easy to grasp, but others challenge your understanding. Have you ever come across a definition that was so intangible that it took examples in order for you to really grasp what the definition meant? It’s like that with a lot of science terms. Without those examples, sometimes that definition is just gibberish. Those examples are what illustration is all about. The information provided – sometimes in the form of a story, sometimes in the form of facts – are what makes your point, your definition, your statement understandable.

Blog Assignment: This week you will write a paragraph that illustrates your main idea through the use of examples. You will respond to either topic #4 or #10 on page 214 of the textbook.

My Response: I have been married to my husband for 13 years. It is our habit to go on a “date night” each week. After all these many weeks, our dates could be boring if we didn’t purposely seek out unusual places to go. I have a great suggestion for a fun night out – couples painting. Groupon sent me notification of a special deal for a Tuesday night couples painting event that included all materials and a free drink for each of us. My husband has some artistic talent; I, on the other hand, don’t. However, the older I have gotten, the more I am convinced that my way of looking at the world has changed.  I believe I could probably do something passable with paint and a brush. So, I bit. I bought the coupon, reasonable for a date night, and picked a canvas that we really liked – Splatter Tulips – and then scheduled our date. We dressed down – no paint splatters on nice clothing – and headed out. The studio where the art lesson was to take place was spacious and filled with couples of every age. The instructor was a young woman who gave us step-by-step instructions and before our eyes our canvases were transformed into works of art. We sipped on our complementary drinks and had the option to purchase additional glasses of wine or soda.  We left that evening with two works of art (which now hang side by side in the living room), new painting friends, and a renewed conviction that we were, indeed, budding artists. The evening was filled with creativity and laughter. What more could you want from a date night?

Your Turn: Sign in and post your assignment in the Comment box. Preview your response so you can see what you need to correct. Make your corrections and click the Post Comment button. Please be sure to post your response no later than midnight of September 15.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Description, the Prescription for Vibrant Writing

You might not know me well enough yet to know that I am a reader (as well as a writer). I am fascinated by the written word, the way authors purposefully select specific, vivid language to convey an impression or paint a picture. If the description is good, it's like magic - I am transported into the world the author wants me to imagine and the real world falls away, at least for a little while. This is the beauty of language. This is the reason I read and I write. 

Blog AssignmentPlease select either #6 or #8 from Practice 11 on page 225 of the textbook.  Your goal is to make me see what you see through your description. You can't do that with nickel words alone, so break out your thesaurus and hunt up some richly suggestive adjectives to make your description come alive. Don't forget to give me a clear topic sentence.

My Response: For years I have been telling my daughter I was the most sane member of our family. She would look at me with an expression that shouted "You? Not a chance!" But it just so happened that we had the opportunity to spend some time together recently and she confirmed that I was right. So, lest you think I am trying to fool you, too, let me set the scene for our family portrait. My parents, God rest their weary souls, were blessed with three daughters. My older sister is the drama queen. In fact, in high school she quite a career as a thespian and decided since it worked to attract attention then, it would continue to be a good tool in her future. Everything that happens revolves around the center of her universe - herself. Take, for example, my daughter's recent road trip to Orlando for a conference. Her car died as soon as she arrived at her hotel. She had made plans to visit my sister and her children who were all in town for a birthday celebration and now they have to chauffeur my daughter around in order to visit with her. I get a frantic call from my sister declaring we have to buy my daughter a new car as her vehicle is irreparably damaged. This purchase has to happen right away (even though no one has yet had this discussion with my daughter) because a transportation disaster will not impede any of the planned birthday celebration activities. Drama. I hate it. No good ever came of it and none ever will. As it turned out, my daughter successfully towed the car home and got it repaired for under $600.00 instead of incurring a monthly expense she hadn't planned. My younger sister, on the other hand, is Lucille Ball in the flesh (minus the red hair). If something is going to go wrong, it will. She has incurred damage to her body just by doing normal things like walking! She even has her very own Ricky, a crazy Latino to whom she has been connected for many years.  She recently purchased a new couch for her house. When it arrived, the delivery men had to remove the door frame to get it inside. That couch was going in the Living Room no matter the cost or effort! So, I can hear you saying that as the middle child there would be no way I could escape unscathed from this odd family portrait. And, as you can imagine, I have my own quirks. I was the rebellious one, the black duck of the family, misunderstood by all. I am the rough one who would "never become a lady." And, true to form, I guess that really has played out in the kinds of jobs I have managed to land - construction superintendent, lawn maintenance supervisor, plans estimator, and building maintenance person (to name a few). But I abhor drama of all sorts, and stay away from activities I know will be injurious to my body and the bodies of those around me. I am, actually, rather cautious and deliberate. The most sane member of my family. Don't you agree?

Your Turn: Sign in and post your assignment in the Comment box. Preview your response so you can see what you need to correct. Make your corrections and click the Post Comment button. Please be sure to post your response no later than midnight of September 8.