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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).
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Week 4 JW One: Use Clauses and Phrases … To Elaborate

Clauses and Phrases Although clauses and phrases are just a group of related words, they add more to one’s writings. As it was mentioned somewhere in the reading materials, using such clauses and phrases constitute one’s writing style. Before this course, I thought that being clear and short makes a successful writer. This can be a criterion for best writings; however, elaboration is also needed. The first journal writing in week 4 helps me extend and enrich my sentences using adjective and adverbial clauses.

In your writing journal, begin to practice building sentences with adjective and adverbial clauses. As in Unit 3, you may find it helpful to be observing a scene in nature while you compose sentences. Using the lists associated with each of these types of clauses, write at least three (3) sentences including adjective clauses and three (3) sentences including adverbial clauses. Underline the adjective and adverbial clauses. Consider their function in both as a modifier and an aspect of your writing style.

Selected Scene:

  • No particular scenes!

Sentences including Adjective Clauses:

  1. Debbie, who is my best friend from Argentina, needs my help to create a wiki.
  2. Google+, which is like Facebook, has become a powerful tool for connecting.
  3. I’m thinking of an island where I can find no human touches.
  4. I never forget the day when I received my first prize.

Sentences including Adverbial Clauses:

  1. Although I don’t like my writings, I never give up.
  2. Unless I keep posting, I won’t be a good writer.
  3. I prefer to listen to a podcast rather than reading instructions.
  4. I can’t stop once I start writing.

As you see in the sentences above, using these clauses can add more to a piece of writing. Instead of expressing ideas so shortly, we can add more details to make them clearer and better for understanding, or complete the whole picture. Let’s see what can phrases also do?

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What is your Writing Style?

Pencil MascotWriting style, according to Mayberry, means “the way you put sentences together and the way you construct a sentence”. The definition seems so simple. But, when you are asked about it, it is not an easy question to be answered. To be frank, I didn’t ask this question to myself before. I just write when I feel I want to write. I think it doesn’t matter which writing style I have since I’m clear to the audience. I always try to be clear and understandable. I use simple sentences, and active voice. My paragraphs are not so long. I don’t include many ideas in the same paragraph. I revise my writings many times to correct misspellings and grammatical errors to avoid my audience distraction.

Instead of this question, we can ask about who will read my writings and why. This means that my writing style is no static since I have many audiences to write for. For example, writing for educators is different from writing for my students. Another question is what purpose I write for. If I want to explain something, I will use the expository writing style. If I want  to tell a story about an event or any experience I have, I will use the narrative writing style. I also use the persuasive writing style when I argue or convince my audience with an idea or claim. Another writing style is the descriptive by which I can describe scenes, persons, objects, animals and processes. Thus, my writing style depends on what and who; what purpose I want to achieve and for whom this writing will be.

To conclude, we have many writing styles but when, what and who are important questions we should ask ourselves before starting writing.

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Week 3 Writing Assignment: Describing a Scene

PaletteWeek 3 writing assignment is a little bit challenging. We are going to use what we have learned until now to write a descriptive paragraph putting in mind some criteria that are shown below:

Drawing from your observation notes and sentences from Journal Writing Assignments 1 and 2, write a description of the scene you have observed. Use action verbs and active voice in your sentences. Also, keep your verbs in the same tense and maintain correct subject-verb agreement. Your description should consist of 8 or more sentences.

The Assignment Rubric:

Heidi Goodrich defines the rubric as “a scoring tool that lists the criteria for a piece of work or what counts”. Rubrics help learners figure out how their work will be evaluated and what can be put in mind when working on their assignments. Click the link below to view this assignment rubric:

Here is my Paragraph:

Holding HandsShe, a teacher of English in a high school, quickly walks down a long way to arrive her work so early. Unfortunately, the road seems so busy this morning. Oh! It is the market’s day of her village. While trying to find her way, two kids briskly squeeze between people waving to her to follow their steps. They suddenly disappear in the crowd, however, she still hears their beautiful voices singing a beautiful chant. Bitterly loud cries coming from the other side of the road break these sweet moments. It is a little girl trying to cross the road, but those drivers who set a competition ignore all her shouts. When the eyes meet, the little girl quickly wipes her tears and draws a lovely smile on her weepy face. Holding their hands together, they go on walking and talking when suddenly she slips away her little soft fingers saying, “Good Bye”. Looking deeply at her baby face, the teacher whispers, “Happy moments don’t last so long”.

Reflections:

I don’t give up easily, but what I noticed is that I can write academically very well. I mean a research paper, a journal article or a blog post. Writing creatively seems not my style of writing. It really needs some gifted skills that not all people have. I always keep saying to my students that creative writing can be taught. Following this course, I find it difficult to develop or improve this creativity. To be an effective writer needs more efforts and time. At the same time, I feel I have a great desire to write and write. So, what is wrong with my writing these days? I think that’s because I focus more on accuracy rather than content. I prefer to use the Process Approach to teach writing in my classes. Students start with ideas and ends with a close study of grammar and punctuation mechanics. Studying the rubric carefully, I noticed that it follows that Product Approach where students concern with the final product of writing, and what that product should “look” like. Creativity needs more processes of brainstorming, drafting, revising and at last editing. This rubric should include something about ideas as well.