Category Archives: 2009 IW

Interactive Writing Session #5: October 23rd, 2009

  1. Plagiarism handout.
    1. Plagiarism is a serious offence in Western countries.
    2. How to avoid plagiarism?
      1. Summarise (key points only)
      2. Paraphrase (use different words to say the same thing)
      3. Report  (e.g. use quotation marks “…..”; Widdowson writes that “…..”; According to Widdowson (1983), …. ; etc.)
      4. ALWAYS give credit when you use someone else’s words, ideas, photos, etc: say where (and when) you got the information.
      5. Make a clear distinction between YOUR words and ideas and those of other people. 自分の考えや言葉と他人の考えと事がをはっきり区別しましょう。方法は今日配ったプリントに書いてあります。ご参考まで。
  2. We continued reading “Little Plum“, chapter 2 (p. 11 – p. 18 “how very, very sad.”)


  1. I gave each student a word or phrase. Look up the meaning in Japanese and find 2 or 3 pictures that illustrate the word or phrase. Print out and bring to class next week.
  2. Nona, Belinda, Anne, Tom, Mother, Father, Agnes, Mrs. Bodger, Mr. Tiffany Jones. Who are these people and what is their relationship to each other? Draw a diagram.
  3. What is Belinda’s character? And Nona’s? Use words and phrases from the text in your answer.
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Interactive Writing Session #4: October 16th, 2009

The writer, the written and the writing tool
Image by Ravages via Flickr

UPDATE: Test yourself! Try this vocabulary quiz about chapter 1 of Little Plum.

Test yourself! Try this quiz on some of the words we read today in chapter 2.

  1. Review of basic rules of English writing:
    1. 5 conditions for a simple sentence
    2. complex sentences + common errors (fragments, run-ons, and comma splices)
    3. the paragraph – unity, grouping of sentences, topic sentence, major supports, transitions.
    4. the essay (according to Andy Gillett) –made up of several paragraphs; introduction, main body, conclusion; all written about one main topic; needs to have a clear purpose; “you should present ideas you have learned but in your own words, and say something for yourself about the subject; the ideas and people you refer to must be made explicit by a system of referencing.”  (c.f. Using English for Academic Purposes: A Guide for Students in Higher Education )
  2. Show me your notebooks for “Little Plum
  3. Today, we will read the rest of Chapter 1 and Chapter 2.
  4. Take notes (in Japanese OK) about today’s mini lecture on British children’s author Enid Blyton.
  5. We will begin to think about research projects.
    1. Rumer Godden’s life
    2. Rumer Godden’s books for children
    3. Rumer Godden’s books
    4. Famous British children’s authors and books
    5. Compare 1 British children’s book with 1 famous Japanese children’s book
    6. Compare Rumer Godden with a famous Japanese writer for children
    7. Compare British books for children with Japanese books for children.
  6. We will learn about how to write a summary. From Andy Gillett’s page:

One of the most important aspects of academic writing is making use of the ideas of other people. This is important as you need to show that you have understood the materials and that you can use their ideas and findings in your own way. In fact, this is an essential skill for every student.

It is very important when you do this to make sure you use your own words, unless you are quoting. You must make it clear when the words or ideas that you are using are your own and when they are taken from another writer. You must not use another person’s words or ideas as if they were your own: this is Plagiarism and plagiarism is regarded as a very serious offence.

The object of academic writing is …  for you to present ideas you have learned in your own way. You can do this by reporting the works of others in your own words. You can either paraphrase if you want to keep the length the same, summarise if you want to make the text shorter or synthesise if you need to use information from several sources. In all cases you need to acknowledge other people’s work.


  1. Write a summary of Chapter 1 and 2
  2. Write your notes (in Japanese) to today’s talk, and post them to your blog by Wednesday Oct. 21, 18:00
  3. Visit Andy Gillett’s website Using English for Academic Purposes: A guide for students of higher education. Especially look at the sections on “Paragraph”
  4. Watch theses slideshows on paragraph writing and on summarising.
    1. slideshow #1
    2. slideshow #2
    3. Slideshow #3
  5. Prepare chapter 3 of “Little Plum”.
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Interactive Writing session #9: June 19th, 2009

  1. To study English at university, you need
    1. a note-taking system
      1. e.g. mind maps, developed by a British man, Tony Buzan.
      2. here is a Japanese system which I like and use, developed by “Hawk Express” (for photos, click here)
    2. a vocabulary-learning system (e.g. word-cards)
      1. a way to record new words (spelling, pronunciation, meaning, at least; example sentence is a bonus, but it takes space)
      2. a way to review new words quickly and easily (if it’s not quick or easy, you won’t review them!)
  2. Class reading of chapter 2 of Diddakoi (up to p. 24)
    1. note new words, expressions, grammar,
    2. note how the gypsies speak
    3. note the gypsies’ ways of thinking (“Are you going to let your woman talk to me like that?”, “we don’t want no snoopers”, “’tisn’t children as are the bother… it’s the things they have to have”, “When you had one wagon there was plenty of room; in a fine house with three bedrooms there’s no room at all”.
    4. The Gypsies prefer a travelling life: they prefer the wagon to a house. They prefer their freedom, even if it means they cannot afford many “fine things”.
    5. They look after each other, and each other’s children.
    6. They have lots of old traditions which are different from those of non-gypsies (e.g. burning the home of a dead person).
    7. Not all gypsies respect the old traditions: some of them think that is “old thinking” and they want to change (or maybe they just want some of the dead person’s belongings?)
    8. The admiral knows the gypsies traditions and he respects them. He also trusts the gypsies (even though there is a fire in his orchard, he is not worried).
  3. Homework: prepare the rest of chapter 2 (at least up to page 30) before next class:
    1. look up new words, check the pronunciation, not just the meaning.
    2. I expect you to read and prepare before the class, not during the class.
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Interactive Writing session #8: June 12th, 2009

  1. Review: what are the main themes of “Diddakoi“?
  2. A theme is a big idea. There are many smaller ideas in each chapter of the book. For example:
    1. Why is Kizzy’s Gran found dead outside the wagon, not inside it? Because gypsies want to die outside under the open sky.
    2. Why do the other gypsies burn the wagon? Because gypsy tradition says that nothing that belonged to the dead should be used or touched.
  3. Assignment:
    1. Re-read chapters 2 and 3 and pick out 10 new ideas or concepts
    2. Find an article, essay or interview in Japanese about
      1. either gypsies,
      2. or Rumer Godden.
      3. summarize the article or essay in 2-3 sentences, and provide the reference to it using the MLA style.
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Australian movie reports

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MAY 08:  Actor and singer ...
Image by Getty Images via Daylife

Here are the reports on Australian movies that students have emailed me. In future, perhaps students can make their own blogs and put their reports on their own blogs. Would you like that? All the movie reports make this blog entry very long, so I have cut it short. To read all the movie reports, click here.

  1. Japanese Story
    Australian film 2003       director; Sue Brooks
    actor; Gotaro Tsunashima    actress; Toni Collette
    Sandy, played by Toni Collette is a director in Western Australia.  One day she has to guide a Japanese businessman Hiromitsu, played by Gotaro. At first, because of the culture differences, they can not understand each other. Sandy is angry about his behavior. Then they drive into desert and their car breaks down. They are lost in desert , but this difficulty makes their friendship deep. Gradually they understand and love each other. A few days later, Sandy and Hiromitsu go swimming and Hiromitsu dives into shallow water and…
Cover of
Cover of The Piano
New Zealand actress Anna Paquin.
Image via Wikipedia
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More than 1,200 people have contracted swine flu in Australia

More than 1,200 people have contracted swine flu in Australia – although no-one has died from it yet.

Read the whole report from the BBC.

The large numbers of people infected with the virus may mean the WHO will label the infection a pandemic.

What does pandemic mean? It means “global”. The origin of the word is

pándēmos common, public (pan- pan- meaning everything+ dêm(os) the people.

I don’t understand why it will suddenly become a pandemic, just because a lot of people in Australia get sick with the virus.

Nor do I understand why the WHO alert level is

currently at phase five of a six-level scale

when a) the virus is not getting stronger or more dangerous, and
b) more people are not dying of it.
The combined effect of using the word “pandemic” (which in English sounds like “panic”) together with the 6-level scale of “flu alert” is to frighten people and make it more likely that people will react in panic rather than rationally.
A BBC reporter points out:

BBC medical correspondent Fergus Walsh says
it is true that the word “pandemic” sounds scary. But it simply means a global epidemic of an infectious disease.  He says it is not a signal that the virus is getting more virulent – only a measure of its geographical spread…. The media must play a part here, emphasising the facts about this virus and not over-reacting

Yes, thank you, Mr. Walsh.

What do you think about the way the media have reacted to the swine flu?

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Interactive Writing session #7: June 5th, 2009

A Romany old woman from the Czech Republic
Image via Wikipedia
  1. Rules for email, blog entries, homework:
    1. name and date on everything
    2. spellcheck
    3. blog entries and email deadline – by Wednesday 13:00
    4. one blog entry for each assignment
  2. Discussion:
    1. what are the merits and demerits of a blog?
      1. can edit any time
      2. classmates can read each other’s work
      3. can leave comments and receive comments from visitors
      4. can add hyperlinks and so add educational value
    2. Homework questions (when and where was Rumer Godden born and where and when did she die? Where are “the South Downs” and “Rye, Sussex“?)
    3. What are the themes of “Diddakoi“?
      1. growing up
      2. opening up the heart
      3. learning to trust
      4. prejudice and discrimination
      5. ethnic minorities (gypsies) in Britain
  3. Homework.
    1. Who/what are the Gypsies or Romany people? Where did they come from? What language do they speak? What is the origin of their language? What is their history? Write on paper or by email in 60-100 words.
    2. Correct and spellcheck your summary of and reaction to the Diddakoi story. Post to your blog (by Wednesday, June 10th, 13:00)
    3. Post to your blog your answers to last week’s homework (when and where was Rumer Godden born and where and when did she die? Where are “the South Downs” and “Rye, Sussex”?)
Rye_-_East_Sussex_dot map
Image via Wikipedia
Image by StormyDog via Flickr
View from the tower of St Mary's church, Rye, ...
Image via Wikipedia
Location of United Kingdom
Image via Wikipedia
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Interactive Writing session #6: May 29th, 2009

Location map: United Kingdom (dark green) / Eu...
Image via Wikipedia
  1. Look at the MLA Guidebook on how to reference a book (page 1) and a movie (page 3).
  2. Go back to your blog entry where you wrote about a movie and a book
    1. Add a reference to the book and the movie USING THE MLA FORMAT (i.e. exactly the same as in the Guidebook).
    2. Print out your blog entry and show it to me.
  3. If you have not yet created your blog, create one and email me your blog address (URL): marc.sheffnerアットマーク INCLUDE YOUR NAME in your email.
    1. You can create a blog at Goo, Livedoor, or Blogger
    2. Do not use ameba because Ameba does not allow comments in Roman alphabet.
  4. Write a 50-word summary of Diddakoi AND a 50-word response. If you did not finish in class, email it to me before next Thursday, June 4th: marc.sheffnerアットマーク INCLUDE YOUR NAME in your email.
  5. Homework:
    1. Find a map of the UK and print it out or photocopy it.
    2. On the map mark the following:
      1. Where and when was Diddakoi author Rumer Godden born? Where and when did she die?
      2. The Downs
      3. Rye
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Thousands flee Australia floods

From the BBC news website:

Torrential rains and strong winds have left at
least two people dead and forced thousands from their homes on
Australia’s east coast, officials say.

Large areas of New
South Wales and Queensland have been declared disaster zones. As many
as 20,000 people have been cut off by the floodwaters. The flooding is the most extensive in the two states for 30 years.

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Friday May 15th, 2009

Image by sheffnermarc via Flickr

Today the Interactive Writing class created their blogs. You can see them listed in the sidebar.

If you were absent last Friday, please

  1. create a blog (I suggest using blogger, goo, Ameba, FC2,)
  2. make a note of your username and password (you will need this to write on your blog)
  3. make a note of your blog’s address (URL – “http://____”), and email it to me. DON’T FORGET TO WRITE YOUR NAME IN THE EMAIL.
  4. Login to your blog, and write/copy your movie + book report (the first one you wrote for homework April 24).
  5. Visit your classmates’ blogs. Leave a comment on at least one of them. (Remember to respect your own and your classmates’ privacy).
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