Category Archives: Academic Skills

AS1: WEEK 4, MAY 10TH, 2019


Using the notes you took in class today, write a paragraph in English about each of these two topics and upload to Manaba:

  • the Celts
  • the Roman invasion of Britain

Use your own English. The purpose is not to write perfect English but to use your own mind.

Today’s class

  1. Examples of student writing with comments
  2. Format and guidelines for submission of assignments
  3. Deadline is Wednesday midnight before class.
  4. We read about the Celts and the Roman invasion of Britain. Students took notes while reading and listening.

AS1: WEEK 3, APRIL 26TH, 2019


  1. Write a paragraph about Stonehenge in England.
  2. Fill in the Brit movie List
    1. Write the Japanese title of the movies
    2. Check the box if the movie is in the DWC library.
    3. Bring your list to class May 10th.

Today’s class

Thinking academically:
  1. Ask questions to get correct and accurate information
  2. New question: cui bono?
  3. Definitions
    1. Categorize. E.g. England is a country in the southern part of the island of Great Britain and if is one of the four countries in the United Kingdom.
  4. We re-wrote definitions of Great Britain, the British Isles, the U.K. and England.
We read about Stonehenge and the prehistory of Britain.

AS1: Week 2, April 19TH, 2019


Send me an email using correct email format as shown in the image here:

  • Your name
  • your class
  • comments about today’s class

Today’s class

  1. Draw a map of Britain WITHOUT looking at last week’s map or using the Internet. Use your own head.
  2. Principles of academic writing (thinking academically)
    1. Ask questions BEFORE judging, deciding, writing or speaking
      1. what?
      2. when?
      3. where?
      4. why?
      5. how?
      6. who?
    2. Define your terms.
    3. Write a definition for each of the following:
      1. What is “Britain”?
      2. What is the United Kingdom?
      3. What is England?
      4. What are the British Isles?
    4. Why do you study? Watch the video below .
    5. Meaning of “liberal arts education”.
    6.   Education for free people (not for slaves)
      1. Education to train people to think for themselves and make their own judgements without relying on others (see #1 above – drawing a map of Britain)
      2. Education for self-defence, so as not to be tricked by others

Welcome to Sheffner’s Academic Skills I

Welcome to Sheffner’s Academic Skills I class. The topic is British history. I have uploaded today’s (Friday April 12th) presentation to the resources folder on Manaba. You can also download it here: AS1, 2019- course intro

Homework: send me an email.

  • Introduce yourself briefly,
  • tell me what class of mine you are in and why you are taking this class
  • make a short comment about today’s class (April 12th).
  • Use a current email address that you check regularly. I will use this to contact you from time to time during the semester.

Check out the email format image if you’re not sure of the format.

I’m looking forward to this semester. See you next Friday, April 19th.

Today’s class

  • What is academic writing?
  • What is the origin of the word “academic”?
  • Who started it?
  • What are the characteristics of academic writing?
  • Key points of today’s class:
    • What? When? Where? Who? How? Why?
    • Defininitions / define your terms
  • What is Britain?
  • Draw a map of Britain
  • The Hometown game

AS2: WEEK 15, JANUARY 25TH, 2019

Today’s class

  • hand in hard copy of draft #2
  • 1-to-1 conferencing to discuss draft #2
  • hand in AND email your final version.
  • write a comment about your experience of this class:
    • the good points
    • the “could-be-better” points

AS2: WEEK 14, JANUARY 18TH, 2019


Re-write your draft 1.

Today’s class

Review of essay outline:

  1. Introduction: movie and book titles and dates, + why you chose them.
  2. Movie:
    1. genre of movie.
    2. Story summary – main characters and main events
    3. Director, main actors (if famous),
    4. Main ideas
    5. (Original story / writer)
  3. Book:
    1. Same as movie
  4. Historical background
    1. Make it clear whether you are writing about the history that is seen IN the movie or what happened when the movie was made.
    2. Give dates for events and people, and any other important information, e.g. President Kennedy, 35th president of the USA from 1961-63, was assassinated in Dallas, Texas on November 22nd, 1963.
  5. Conclusion: summary of what you learned, and your personal opinion.
  6. Bibliography in APA style

AS2: WEEK 13, January 11th, 2019


Re-write your final “book-and-movie” essay: draft 2, using the advice and model paragraphs suggested in class today. Print it out and bring to class next week.

Essay outline:

  1. Introduction
  2. Body paragraph 1 – movie
  3. Body paragraph 2 – book
  4. Body paragraph 3 – what I learned about US history
  5. Conclusion
  6. Bibliography (using APA style)
  1. Introduction: Tell the names of the movie and book you will write about, and the topics of each of your 3 body paragraphs.
  2. Body paragraph 1: “The movie Xxxxx was directed by Xxxxx, stars Xxxxx and Xxxxx, (was written by Xxxx) and was released by (studio name) in (year). It is about a (main character 1) and a (main character 2) who ……(summarize the story in 3-4 sentences). (Tell the main ideas of the story and relate them to US history and culture, e.g.
    1. “‘The Fountainhead’ is about talented young architect who refuses to compromise his ideals. He falls in love with a beautiful and idealistic young journalist, but she marries first his rival, then his best friend. Roark must fight against various enemies, including Ellsworth Toohey who does not want talented individuals to succeed. Roark eventually succeeds, but only after being arrested, spending some time in jail and losing his best friend.
    2. “The main themes (ideas) of the story are individualism and collectivism, showing how individualism is the basis for a healthy society and the way to the future. The story shows how all the good things of modern life are thanks to the creativity and intelligence of a few brave individuals, most of whom were laughed at or attacked, as Roark is. The story is based in New York, and the famous skyscrapers of that city are an important background to the story, as they represent hard work, intelligence, creativity and success against huge difficulties. (The Japanese title is actually “Skyscraper”). The main character, Roark, may have been based on a real American architect genius called Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959) who designed the 2nd Imperial Hotel in Tokyo, parts of which can be seen in Meiji Mura near Nagoya.
If you did not give me your homework (see here) on Friday Jan. 11th, please email it to me as soon as possible.

Today’s class

  1. We watched the first few scenes of “The Fountainhead” (1949), and researched some information about the director, main actors and writer.
  2. We wrote a sample outline and some sample sentences for each paragraph.

AS2: week 12, December 21st, 2018


Write the first draft of your final essay – your “book and movie” presentation –> essay. Print it out and bring to class on January 11th.

  1. Introduction
    1. Give the titles of the movie and book you will write about
      1. “I will write about the story, give some historical background and finally say what I learned about US history from this book and movie.”
    2. Movie. Some basic information (title, release date, period of history, director (if famous), actors (if famous). A brief summary of the story (in 2~3 sentences. You may use Wikipedia or Goodreads or Amazon to help you but do not copy and paste – use your own words.
    3. Discuss the history in the movie; e.g. the movie “Forrest Gump” mentions Elvis Presley, President Kennedy, Vietnam War, Nixon and Watergate, etc. Explain these people and events.
    4. Say what you learned particularly about US history from watching this movie. Be specific.
    5. Book. Some basic information (title, original publication date, period of history in the story, author (if famous). A brief summary of the story (in 2~3 sentences; use Wikipedia or Goodreads or Amazon to help you but do not copy and paste – use your own words)
    6. Discuss the history in the movie (e.g. in “Forrest Gump”, explain about Elvis Presley, President Kennedy, Vietnam War, Nixon and Watergate, etc.)
      1. Say what you learned particularly about US history from reading this book.
      2. Good examples:
        1. “I learned that the Vietnam War lasted from 1955 to 1975 and included not only Vietnam but also Laos and Cambodia.”
        2. Or “I learned that President Kennedy was president from 1961-63, that he was president while the Vietnam War happened, that his ancestors were from Ireland, and that he was assassinated in Dallas, Texas on Nov. 22nd, 1963.”
      3. Bad example: “I learned about American history from this movie/novel.”
    7. Conclusion. (Repeat the introduction.) Add a short summary of what you learned, and whether you enjoyed the book or movie.

Today’s class

  • Explanation of APA style with examples for a book, movie and Internet article. See the resource page for details and more resources.

AS2: week 11, December 14th, 2018


I want to have a copy of your recent Powerpoint presentation. Will those students who did not attend Saturday’s class please bring their USB with their “book and movie” presentation to class next Friday (Dec. 21st), please? Thank you. 


Redo your book and movie presentation. Makeup class will be on Saturday Dec. 15th  (not Dec. 8th as I announced in class.) For presentation guidelines, see last week’s blog post here.

Everyone must do their book and movie presentation twice. If you did your book-and-movie presentation Nov 30th or earlier, please do it again on Dec. 14th or 15th (Saturday, makeup class).

  • You must
    • include historical background and
    • say what readers can learn about American history from the movie or the book (or both).
    • Give the key points.
      • A point is “the important or essential thing”.
      • A key point is “the most important or essential thing” about the movie and the book.

Today’s class

Student “movie and book” presentations.