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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. 

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Week 3 JW Two: Adding More to the Scene

Finishing the reading material about verbs, it is time to write another post:

Continue your observation list of the scene you observed for Unit 3, Journal Assignment 1 by noting several vivid action verbs. Revise some of your sentences using action verbs and/or write 2-3 new sentences with action verbs. Try not to use any of the forms of “to be” (is, are, was, etc.).  Underline the action verbs in your sentences. Again, you will want to keep all of these sentences at hand as you do the peer reviewed writing at the end of the unit.

I try to look at my previous list, and underline the action verbs:

  1. Mom is waving out of the balcony wishing me a good day.
  2. The two kids are holding their little hands together and signing a sweet song.
  3. A little girl, carrying a heavy bag on her back, is bitterly crying.
  4. I think she wants to cross the road.
  5. Workers gather in groups to take a taxi.
  6. Drivers set a competition ignoring all the screams and shouts of people around.
  7. Everyone in the street seems so busy.
  8. Those two high school boys are crazily riding their bicycles.
  9. Her lovely smile is still stuck in my mind.

Some new sentences with more action verbs:

  1. The little kids stopped singing and chased a small dog trying to pull its tail.
  2. Workers waited long for this day.
  3. The little girl loudly laughed when the two boys fell off their bicycles.

Although this activity is valuable because it raises my awareness to a certain part of speech (e.g., action verbs … ), writing the whole description of the scene previously selected needs more verbs and other vocabulary. If I stick to these actions, it impedes my creativity. I spent much time to write these simple sentences. I don’t know why? On the other hand, I find it so easy when I respond to the forum threads and discuss topics with my colleagues. I guess thinking too much about what I’m going to write stifles my fluency of writing as my friend Debbie said in one of her comments here.

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Week 3 JW One: A Scene to Observe!

I started week 3 a little bit late because I had another final assignment in another online course about Statistics. I have just finished the peer review process and waiting for my peers’ score. Although the course was challenging, I enjoyed it so much and that final assignment helped me a lot to apply all what I have learned during the past eight weeks.

Shifting to Crafting an Effective Writer: Tools of the Trade, I’m trying to catch up all what is required; discussing the question about peer learning, watching videos, reading materials bout subjects, verbs and punctuation, and posting writing activities here in my blog. The first writing journal of week 3 seems so enjoyable. It is about observing a scene and listing the activities that are happening and the doers who are doing them:

Observe a scene, preferably in a crowded, busy, or public place. List the activities that you see occurring and the actors (those doing the activity). Write 5-6 sentences that use your observation list and underline the subjects of your sentences. Write a few sentences experimenting with using different types of pronouns from the tables in Unit 3.  You will want to keep all of these sentences at hand as you do the writing activities for this unit.

The Scene Selected:

People going to work!The first crazy hour when people go to their work between 7:30 – 8: 30 A.M.

(My Village “Edfa” in Sohag City, Egypt)

Activities that are occurring in the scene selected above:

  • walking, running, calling out, talking, yawing, carrying, waving, shouting, waiting, driving, singing, looking, holding, riding, standing, crossing, crying, smiling, giving … many more.

Doers who are doing the activities above: 

  • Mom, two kids, little girl, I, she, high school boys, my friend, workers in groups, my colleagues, drivers, and others whom I don’t know, but involve in the scene.

Here are my sentences using the observation list above:

  1. Mom is waving out of the balcony wishing me a good day.
  2. The two kids are holding their little hands together and singing a sweet song.
  3. A little girl, carrying a heavy bag on her back, is bitterly crying.
  4. I think she wants to cross the road.
  5. Workers gather in groups to take a taxi.
  6. Drivers set a competition ignoring all the screams and shouts of people around.

More sentences using other different types of pronouns:

  1. Everyone in the street seems so busy.
  2. Those two high school boys are crazily riding their bicycles.
  3. Her smile is still stuck in my mind.
  4. They are in a hurry.
  5. [You] “Take care of yourself”, I shouted.
  6. What will happen if I arrive my school so late?

I hope I am on the right track. I tried so hard to do what is required correctly. However, I’m not satisfied with my answers. Imagining a scene and talking about what is happening is really enjoyable activity, but it needs more talents. From my point of view, it is a creative piece of writing. In the forums’ discussion, there are some people who object to the title of the course. They prefer “Basic Grammar” to “Basic Writing” Course. The course activities may seem a little bit grammar-based, but the unit of any paragraph is simply the sentence. How I can write a very good paragraph if I don’t know what the sentence is. I think that knowing the sentence and its parts very well definitely leads to a good piece of writing. I’m still excited about this course and where it will take us.