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Travel I want …

Travel I want

Travel I want …

Travel I want through time with no one but mine.
Look behind not but hug them; moments I never find.
To sit a little bit and go inside …
Happy it seems … not I bet!
Tried to tell him but always I smile.
Believe me not, oh my mind!
Inside you, only “the eye”
I forget …

“My first attempt at writing poetry!”
Azhar Youssef

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WANT, but I have NOT

Sometimes, I feel I strongly want to write a story, but no words come out as powerful as my feelings and desire to express my inside. I am quite good at writing instructions and explanations to my students and colleagues, posts about my teaching experiences, or debates to explain my viewpoints with others. My problem arises when it comes to writing stories and descriptions.  

I know I have a great desire to start writing creatively. 

Many questions come to my mind when deeply thinking about this issue as a learner and writer:

  1. Is it a problem of lacking a huge list of poetic vocabulary to choose from? 
  2. Is it  a lack of background about other styles of writing to learn from? 
  3. Is it a matter of time and persistence to achieve a level of mastery in this kind of art?
  4. Is it a talent or gift from God that some people have?
  5. Is it possible to write creatively and play with words although I don’t have a narrative writing style? 
  6. Can I learn the tools of being a successful novelist?

Please, don’t say it is so easy to do this. Just go and start writing and writing and writing. I’m a very passionate learner who loves pursuing challenges and achieving difficult goals. I tried to improve my creative potential through attending some writing courses and getting engaged in many tasks. This blog was my e-portfolio for a five-week “Crafting An Effective Writer (CEW)” course last year. I created it to track my progress and improvement during that experience. I admit I loved my pieces of writing, but they weren’t what I love to read. Although I spent much time doing the required tasks, I was not satisfied with the final products. Discussing the main question about writing styles with my peers in the forums, I found that I have a Teacher (i.e., expository) and Activist (i.e., persuasive) writing styles. This explains why my descriptive and narrative writings are not creative and rich. 

Here is a piece of my CEW writings that asks for describing a natural object or scene in nature:

Leaning on the trunk of an old fallen tree in my grandmother’s lifeless garden, my eyes quickly went into a deep slumber after a long day of work. I woke up to the lovely sounds of birds singing and spinning over my head. Rubbing my sleepy eyes, I saw an incredibly charming scene with no human touch: crystal sea water, bright blue sky, colorful birds and a large grassy meadow all around. The waves lapped the seashore gently sending a cool breeze towards me to smell. I kept breathing deeply filling my lungs before it blew away with the wind. Looking around, I found them, blushing red flowers proudly stood, and gently swayed to the sea song. If I were a bee, I would spend the whole day buzzing around, just smelling their sweet fragrance, heavy in the air. The first rays of the sun, which were so white, slowly shone down upon the crystal-clear sea water creating a breathtaking landscape with delightful colors of the rainbow. Two dolphins graciously jumped out of the water making a big splash to say hello and celebrate my arrival. My eyes deeply closed, I tried to lustily hug this magnificent scene, when my 80-year-old grandma’s croaky deep voice sent me back to where I was on the other side of the sight. Although it lasted a few moments, this dream stuck in my mind simply because it carried unforgettable memories in my life.

I am not a person who gives up so easily. That’s why I decided to start a new e-dventure of writing. It is a free online course hosted by FutureLearn about “Writing Fiction“. If you are interested, please join me. I hope I would find what I’m searching for; tools of crafting my own style of narrative writing.

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I’m starting a new e-dventure of writing!

 https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/start-writing-fiction

I’m starting a new online course Start Writing Fiction on the FutureLearn platform from April 28, 2014 for 8 weeks. This hands-on course helps you to get started with your own fiction writing, focusing on the central skill of creating characters.

https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/start-writing-fictionIn this course, we will listen to established writers talk about how they started writing and consider the rituals of writing and the importance of keeping a journal. We will learn how to develop our ideas and the importance of reflecting on writing and editing, and we will hear other writers talking about their approaches to research and consider ways of turning events into a plot.

We will also have the opportunity to review and comment on the work of fellow writers, and receive peer feedback on our own story, learning the importance of reading as a writer and how to receive and respond to feedback. I will continue tweeting about what I learn from this course using this hashtag #FLfiction14. 

Resource:

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Last words …

Retrieved June 16, 2013 from here

Retrieved June 16, 2013 from here

Throughout the past five weeks, I don’t know how to tell you how much I learned, gained, shared, discussed, responded, created, and reviewed. Crafting an Effective Writer is not a course for teaching grammar only, but it also draws learners’ attention and raises their awareness of these structures to make use of them effectively in their paragraphs. In the first four weeks, we spent a lot of time analyzing and practicing all the parts of speech, clauses and phrases. In the last week, we used all what we learned earlier to compose a complete paragraph putting in mind some criteria, e.g., topic sentence, details, organization, transitions, variety of sentences, concluding sentence, punctuation, spelling, … etc. Working on my final paragraph, I found that it was not enough to study and try out the writing process stages in just a week. Expanding the course to another week or more would be great to cover all the skills needed before composing. The good news is that this course will be offered again in mid September. I hope they put all our suggestions into account.

By drawing its curtains, I would like to thank all my instructors, MSJC staff, and community TAs for their great efforts and valuable time.  Crafting an Effective Writer was one of the most well-organized courses I took on Coursera. Its well-designed format helped me a lot to save more time when doing the required tasks and assignments. Furthermore, their helping hand and scaffolding was another great feature and human touch we all felt. They were all the time in the discussion forums reading our questions, responding, and encouraging us to move forward. They succeeded in creating a very engaging atmosphere through which we learned in a more secure environment trying and correcting mistakes. To say hello to my instructors and MSJC staff, please watch the following video:

My deep and sincere gratitude also goes to all my peers who reviewed my assignments and left some feedback to correct my mistakes, and help to improve my writing skills. To all my colleagues in the course, thanks so much for sharing all this amount of information, knowledge, values, perspectives and cultures. I will never forget all the moments we spent together learning, sharing and creating new ideas. I wish you the best!

Farewell!

Retrieved June 14, 2013 from here

Retrieved June 14, 2013 from here

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Week 5 Final Piece: It is Process NOT Just Product

Process not ProductThe last week of CEW course was a little bit different and challenging. We were introduced to how to create a piece of writing. The first section was about the elements of good paragraph: topic sentence, details, and concluding sentence. The second section was about the writing process stages which the writer should go through when composing: inventing, organizing, drafting, revising, and editing. To be frank, these materials needed more than 5 days to digest and practice before writing a complete paragraph. However, my peers in the discussion forums helped me a lot to make many points more clearer. In this week, we were asked to compose a direct paragraph, one that had:

  • a title;
  • a clear topic sentence;
  • a fully developed body, which includes sufficient details and examples;
  • necessary and appropriate transitions;
  • a logical conclusion; and
  • a minimum of fifteen (15) sentences.

Topics to choose from:

  1. Topic #1 : Discuss at least four (4) short term and/or long term effects that finishing Crafting an Effective Writer: Tools of the Trade will have upon you personally, academically, and/or professionally.
  2. Topic #2 : Identify and describe a favorite activity or interest and provide at least four reasons why this activity or interest holds your attention and/or is enjoyable to you.
  3. Topic #3 : Identify and describe at least three (3) ways a person, male and/or female, is recognized as an adult in your culture.
  4. Topic #4: Identify and describe a traditional ethnic food from your culture. Provide at least four reasons why this food has remained an essential, primary food in your culture. While you may include the recipe, this topic asks you to discuss the importance of the food in your culture.

Final Paragraph Rubric:

My Final Paragraph:

Why I should …

BlogBlogging, a kind of e-writing, is a powerful activity that empowers and unleashes one’s full potential to become more engaged, active, and vigorous by providing a digital space to express, create, publish, connect, collaborate, and communicate. Writing is not my strong suit; however, I enjoy posting my thoughts, ideas, and feelings on my blog. Blogging is my favorite activity by which I express myself in different channels using words, images, sounds, or videos. It provides me with a special language for my inner self when it comes out to freely communicate desires, hopes, motivations, fears, or worries. It is not only a unique way for self-expression, but it also becomes a journey of self-discovery to dig in depth. When I blog about all situations and moments around, my brain comes up with creative ways to solve problems thinking out of the box. Furthermore, it frees up my straight thinking to become more creative and critical. Once I press the publish button, my posts spread everywhere on the Internet to happily announce the birth of a promising published author. Sharing what I blog with others, I feel that I have a voice in this world which may affect some people in the other corner of the globe. To build bridges between those readers’ countries and cultures, I create some sort of interaction by responding to their comments and discussing their opinions from different perspectives. Thus, blogging is considered as a two-way communication through which I can give and receive an immediate feedback to correct my own mistakes. Having another eye to read my posts also helps me draw connections between ideas and thoughts to develop them further. On the other hand, blogging for authentic audience makes me more responsible and accurate caring about both content and grammar. Although this requires more time and efforts, I feel so proud because my followers continuously increase and eagerly ask for more. In addition to all the reasons above, it enables me to connect with other bloggers to share information, collaborate with each other constructing new knowledge, and build a connected community to globally communicate making the world closer. In conclusion, keeping a blog is definitely one of the best ways that can provide a variety of opportunities and means to bring out the best in me.

Reflections:

Regarding the final paragraph, I took a lot of time practicing all the writing process stages and applying all what I learned throughout the past 5 weeks. I noticed that focusing more on rubrics impedes my ability to write a more creative piece. I really put more efforts on how to match all the required criteria neglecting my writing fluency. The main reason behind this problem was definitely my worries and fears of my peers’ assessments. There is a big difference when writing on my blog; I feel like a butterfly expressing my ideas and thoughts so freely and smoothly. Writing creatively needs more freedom, I think!

References:

  1. The first image is retrieved June 16, 2013 from here.
  2. The second image is retrieved June 16, 2013 from here.
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Week 4 Writing Assignment: Putting all Tricks Together!

Reverso

Week 4 writing assignment was about collecting all the parts of speech that we learned throughout the 3 past weeks and using them to construct a paragraph of 9-12 sentences describing a scene in nature. It was not an easy job to do. Really, it took a lot of time drafting, redrafting, revising and editing. The last step was to put aside this paragraph for a while and then read it again to catch mistakes. I also used the Reverso Speller and Grammar Checker to double check the final draft.

Drawing from your observation notes and sentences from Journal Writing Assignments 1 and 2 describe a natural object or scene in nature. Use at least one each of the clauses and phrases you studied in the unit. Also, be sure that you include one each of the four sentence types in your description. Using your knowledge from Unit 3, use action verbs and active voice, keep your verbs in the same tense, and maintain correct subject-verb agreement. Your description should consist of 9-12 sentences.

Week 4 Writing Assignment Rubric:

Here is my Assignment:

natural scene image (7)

Retrieved June 8, 2013 from here

Leaning on the trunk of an old fallen tree in my grandmother’s lifeless garden, my eyes quickly went into a deep slumber after a long day of work. I woke up to the lovely sounds of birds singing and spinning over my head. Rubbing my sleepy eyes, I saw an incredibly charming scene with no human touch: crystal sea water, bright blue sky, colorful birds and a large grassy meadow all around. The waves lapped the seashore gently sending a cool breeze towards me to smell. I kept breathing deeply filling my lungs before it blew away with the wind. Looking around, I found them, blushing red flowers proudly stood, and gently swayed to the sea song. If I were a bee, I would spend the whole day buzzing around, just smelling their sweet fragrance, heavy in the air. The first rays of the sun, which were so white, slowly shone down upon the crystal-clear sea water creating a breathtaking landscape with delightful colors of the rainbow. Two dolphins graciously jumped out of the water making a big splash to say hello and celebrate my arrival. My eyes deeply closed, I tried to lustily hug this magnificent scene, when my 80-year-old grandma’s croaky deep voice sent me back to where I was on the other side of the sight. Although it lasted a few moments, this dream stuck in my mind simply because it carried unforgettable memories in my life.

Analysis of the Assignment:

  1. Number of sentences: 11
  2. Adjective Clauses: which were so white; where I was.
  3. Adverb Clauses: If I were a bee, I would spend the whole day buzzing around, just smelling their sweet fragrance, heavy in the air; I kept breathing deeply filling my lungs before it blew away with the wind.
  4. Noun Phrases: over my head; with the wind; upon the crystal-clear sea water; on the other side of the sight (prepositional phrases), my eyes deeply closed (Absolute phrase).
  5. Verb Phrases: Leaning on the trunk of an old fallen tree in my grandmother’s lifeless garden; Rubbing my sleepy eyes (Adverbial present participle phrases), to say hello (Infinitive phrase)
  6. Active verbs: leaning on, went into, singing, spinning, rubbing, saw, lapped, sending, smell, kept, blew away, looking around, found, stood, swayed, spend, buzzing, smelling, shone down, creating, say, jumped out, closed, tried, hug, and sent back.
  7. Consistent tense: Simple past tense
  8. Types of sentences: I woke up to the lovely sounds of birds; I saw an incredibly charming scene with no human touch (Simple sentences), blushing red flowers proudly stood, and gently swayed to the sea song (Compound sentence), If I were a bee, I would spend the whole day buzzing around, just smelling their sweet fragrance, heavy in the air; I kept breathing deeply filling my lungs before it blew away with the wind (Complex sentences), Although it lasted a few moments, this dream stuck in my mind simply because it carried unforgettable memories in my life (compound-complex sentence).

Reflections:

To complete this assignment, it required me to deeply dig into my vocabulary in order to find suitable and proper words to describe the set scene. As I said before one of my poor points is the lack of a rich vocabulary base that enables me to find what I want easily to express my ideas more smoothly.  Although I spent much time doing it, I was not satisfied with the final product. This surprising week helped me a lot to identify the reason. Discussing the main question about writing styles with my peers in the forums, I found that I have a Teacher (i.e., expository) and Activist (i.e., persuasive) writing styles. Actually, I’m good at writing explanations for others. I also love to start arguments and try to persuade others with my ideas. This explains why my descriptive and narrative writings are not creative and rich. I feel so relieved now! However, this doesn’t mean I can’t write descriptions or stories. I only need to learn and practice more to improve these potential abilities.

I hope to be on the right track!

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Week 4 JW Two: Continue Adding More!

The second journal writing of week 4 encourages us to continue adding more to our sentences. After reading the materials required, it is easier to use different types of phrases.

In your journal, continue your sentence practice with noun and verb phrases. Write at least one of each of the noun phrases discussed in the unit (prepositional phrase, absolute phrase, and appositive phrase) and at least two of each of the verb phrases (infinitive phrase and participial phrase). You will, therefore, write at least seven sentences for this journal activity. As in the first assignment, underline the phrase in each sentence and consider its function in both as a modifier and an aspect of your writing style.

Sentences including different NOUN phrases:

  1. Colored face children crazily play and dance in the chilly lake down the hill (Prepositional Phrase).
  2. Her arms folded across her chest, the teacher warned the students about the noise they made (Absolute Phrase).
  3. Mahmoud, a fourteen-year-old genius Egyptian boy, wants to win a Noble Prize (Appositive Phrase).

Sentences including different VERB phrases:

  1. To remind myself of deadlines, I frequently check the announcements page for updates (Infinitive phrase functions as a modifier).
  2. To read short stories is my favorite hobby in my spare time (Infinitive phrase functions as a noun).
  3. Walking quickly down the road, she fell in a hole (Adverbial present participle phrase).
  4. Seen after a shower of rain, my garden has become a paradise (Adverbial past participle phrase).