Category Archives: 2009 IW

Interactive Writing II Session #13: January 8th, 2010

The Greengage Summer (1958), 1962 Pan paperbac...
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  1. Important announcement: the makeup class on January 19th has been canceled. Instead there will be class as usual on Friday, January 15th.
  2. Returned reports (“Comparison between ‘Little Plum‘ and (your chosen Japanese story)
  3. What does “compare” mean?  Compare – requires an answer that sets items side by side and shows their similarities and differences. A balanced (fair, objective) answer is expected.
  4. A fair comparison. Is comparing a novel with a picture book a fair comparison? Is comparing a novel with a movie a fair comparison? Is comparing a novel with a cartoon or manga a fair comparison?
    1. If you make an unfair comparison, you will draw false conclusions (as some of you did).
  5. Review of the criteria I use to evaluate your writing
    1. conventions of writing: sentence and paragraph structurepunctuation, etc.
    2. Vocabulary: rich, precise, correctly used.
    3. Grammar: basic and advanced structures, word order
    4. Organization: logically organized, correct use of paragraphs
    5. Originality: have you used your own words? Do you have interesting ideas or approaches?
    6. Academic writing:
      1. formal register:
        1. avoid “I”; your writing should be impersonal and objective;
        2. avoid contractions like “don’t”;
        3. instead of “And”, use “Moreover” or “In addition”.
        4. instead of “But”, use “However,”
        5. instead of “So”, use “Therefore,”
        6. be precise in your use of words
      2. citations (“according to ….”, (Krashen, 2003), etc.
      3. references / bibliography, including websites (give the name of the website as well as the URL, e.g. “Research, Reading & Writing and the date visited
      4. opposing arguments (both sides of an issue)
      5. logical thinking
  6. Quiz on Little Plum (we will finish this next class).
    1. Why did Belinda climb the ilex tree?
    2. Who saw “Little Plum” first?
    3. Who does Little Plum belong to?
    4. Who named Little Plum?
    5. What was the first “present” that Belinda asked Nona to make for Little Plum?
    6. What did Belinda use to get across to Gem’s window?
    7. What was written in the first letter Belinda wrote to Gem (not the one where she said sorry for crashing into Gem while roller-skating, but the one she wrote when she gave Gem her first “present”)?
    8. What did Gem write in reply?
    9. What did Gem do with Belinda’s first “present”?
    10. What was Belinda’s second “present”?
    11. What was Belinda’s message with her second present?
    12. What did Gem do with the second present, and what message did she write?
    13. What was Belinda’s third present to Gem, and what message did she send with it?
    14. What was Gem’s response? (What was her message and what did she do?)
    15. What was Belinda’s fourth present, and what message did she send with it?
    16. What was Gem’s response? (What did she do and what was her message?)
    17. What was Belinda’s fifth present and message?
    18. What was Gem’s response?
    19. What did Belinda do next?
    20. Who won the fight?
    21. Who helped Belinda safely off the ladder and how?
    22. Was Belinda punished? How? Why?
    23. Do you think Belinda should have been punished? How would you punish Belinda?
    24. Why did Belinda ask Mr. Twilfit for advice?
    25. What was Mr. Twilfit’s advice?
    26. When is the Japanese Festival of Dolls?
    27. Who was the surprise guest at the Doll’s Festival?
    28. What did Gem think of Belinda’s messages?
    29. What will Belinda teach Gem
    30. What will Gem let Belinda do?
  7. Details of the final exam:
    1. There will be 2 questions:
      1. a choice of 1 of 3 topics for a paper
      2. some questions about the story of “Little Plum”.
      3. You can bring anything into the exam room.
      4. You will need to prepare your paper before the day of the exam, and bring suitable materials.
  8. Homework:
    • Re-write your essay comparing Rumer Godden‘s novel for children Little Plum with a Japanese children’s story. You must
      1. write the full references for the two books you use (using the MLA style)
      2. make a fair comparison (i.e. compare a novel with a novel, not with a movie or a cartoon)
      3. use a formal, academic register (do not use slang, do not use contractions like “don’t”, etc)
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Interactive Writing II Session #12: December 18th, 2009

Cover of "Little Plum"
Cover of Little Plum

Report #1: comparing Little Plum with a Japanese children’s story (500 words).

Please introduce your report to the rest of the class, in English and Japanese.

If you did not give me your report today, please email it to me as soon as possible.

Afterwards we listened to a well-known winter song called Baby, It’s Cold Outside.

Make-up day #2: Tuesday, Jan. 19th, 2010, 5th period (same room).

FINAL EXAM: Friday, Jan. 22nd. More details next class, Friday, Jan. 8th, 2010 (also watch this blog). I will give you a choice of topics to write about, and ask you to choose 2. You will need to have finished reading the complete story of Little Plum by then.

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Interactive Writing Makeup session 1: Tuesday, December 8th, 2009

This class was to make up for session #7, Nov. 6th, which I had to cancel because I was busy with entrance exams at my home university.

We talked about the book “Little Plum”, for example:

  • What is this story called?
  • Who are the main characters?
  • When does it take place?
  • Where does it take place?
  • What are the dolls called?
  • Whose dolls are they?
  • Who knows much about Japan and why?
  • Does Gem have a pony?

Then we watched the beginning of a 1987 movie called Empire of the Sun, 太陽の帝国 , directed by Steven Spielberg and starring a very young Christian Bale. We watched the beginning up to where Jamie (Christian Bale) goes back to his empty home and finds his “ama” stealing furniture.  His parents are not there.

Empire of the Sun is based on a novel by a British writer, J.G. Ballard. The story is fiction, but is based on the author’s personal childhood experiences.

After watching the beginning of the movie, we discussed similarities and differences between Empire of the Sun and Little Plum.


  1. Gem is rich, and so is Jamie.
  2. Gem has no brothers or sisters; nor does Jamie.
  3. Gem has a chauffeur and a governess to take care of her; so does Jamie.
  4. Both stories have some connection between Britain and Japan.


  1. Jamie is a British boy living in a foreign country (Shanghai in China)
  2. Empire of the Sun takes place before the Second World War (1939-1945). Little Plum takes place after the War, in 1960’s Britain.
  3. Empire of the Sun is based on the author’s own personal experiences. Little Plum is not based so much on personal experiences.

Interactive Writing II Session #10: December 4th, 2009

  1. Assigned 1 paragraph of chapter 4 per student to translate into Japanese.
  2. Conferenced with each student to confirm outstanding assignments.
  3. When to do the make-up classes? I cancelled Nov. 6th class due to entrance exams at my home university. I will also cancel January 15th class in order to attend a conference. Official make-up days are Saturday Jan. 9th and 16th, however, many students said they were unavailable on those days. I asked all students to mark on their paper when and what days they would be available for a makeup class. Unfortunately, not all students can make any one day or time. However, most students are free on Tuesday 5th period. Therefore the first make-up class will be December 8th, Tuesday, 2009, 5th period (16:45-18:15).

Interactive Writing II Session #9: November 27th, 2009

  1. Mini-lecture on “Changing attitudes to children and the police in the U.K.”
    1. Write your notes in Japanese on your blog in 200 characters
  2. We read more of chapter 3 with individual students translating paragraphs. We read up to page the bottom of page 37.
  3. Homework: Write a summary of chapter 3 in Japanese in 200 characters, and post it to your blog by Wednesday December 2nd.

Interactive Writing II Session #8: November 13th, 2009

  1. Students translated paragraphs from chapter 3, from p. 24-32.
  2. Some questions to think about:
    1. Many young girls in England and Europe want to have a horse or pony. Did you want to have a pony when you were a little girl?
    2. Why does Mother feel sorry for Gem? Do you (feel sorry for Gem)?
  3. Homework:
    1. translate the next section of chapter 3
    2. write 1 paragraph in English (50-70 words) introducing a famous Japanese writer of children’s stories. The writer can be living or dead.
    3. Next class will be November 27th, in 2 weeks’ time.

Interactive Writing II Session #6: October 30th, 2009

  1. Listen to my summary of chapter 1. Answer my questions.
  2. Write down/note these 7 questions, and answer them in English for homework. Post the answers to your blog AND give them to me next class (November 6th):
    1. What happened in your life when you were 7-10 years old? (E.g., when I was 7, my family moved to Algeria in North Africa. We lived in Algiers for 9 months. I did not play with the neighbours, unfortunately.)
    2. When you were a child, what kind of home did you live in?
    3. Did you have neighbours? Did the neighbours have children?  Did you play with them?
    4. Nona moved from India to England when she was 8. Did you move somewhere far away when you were growing up?
    5. Did you ever live next door to an empty house or flat? How did you feel?
    6. The house next door in the story “Little Plum” is made new, it is renovated. Has your home or a room in your home ever been renovated? Have you lived in a renovated house? How does it feel?
    7. In “Little Plum”, the girl next door has many toys and much furniture. How about you? Did you have many toys when you were growing up? Did you have a favourite toy? What was it?
  3. Read along with me as I read the rest of chapter 2. Be ready to answer my questions about the meaning of words and phrases.
  4. Homework exchange: show the picture and meaning that you looked up for homework.
  5. Collected:
    1. what kind of girl is Nona? What kind of girl is Belinda? (What are their characters like?)
    2. Diagram showing the relationships between the people in the story.
  6. Homework:
    1. translate into Japanese the section of chapter 3 I assigned to you.
    2. post on your blog the picture and the meaning of the word you looked up for last week’s homework. Do this by Wednesday Nov. 4th, 23:59. (Bring your paper to class next week Nov. 6th)
    3. post on your blog your answers to the 7 questions above.  Do this by Wednesday Nov. 4th, 23:59. (Bring your paper to class next week Nov. 6th)