Thursday, July 3, 2014

emailed my book today and conserving energy

First, it was a textbook of sorts for a biology class I'll be teaching this summer.  The book came to sixteen pages including a lot of blanks for students to fill in.  Not a novel or extended work by any stretch.

About those blanks to fill in.  I don't exclusively mean blanks for the addition of one word here and there although such blanks are also there.  No, I left half pages, thirds of pages and even full blanks at the end for notes and diagrams.  This is following Jason Renshaw's example - he left more and more blanks in his texts that coworkers teased him that his next book would be the equivalent of Cages 4'22".

Anyway, it is done.

I am not done with teaching right now, though.  I have a summer class going until July 14, have a few days off then I'm to the camp where I'll use the above book.  I'm enjoying teaching a single class, even if the class is larger than I like. The class is first year, second semester English and my students are taking it for a variety of reasons.  Some had military service interrupt their classes, others might have failed it earlier and others are lightening their course load for the fall semester.  As for me, I am unable to travel far because of my wife and son's schedules so a few hours a day give me some structure.

And, I am testing out a few things for the next semester.  Socrative App is an interesting free app that lets me ask students questions they individually answer.  I'm mostly using it for anonymous evaluation - was I teaching for the last forty minutes or just talking?  Should I review or repeat material?

I am also having students perform an audio relay every other unit.  In the hallway, an MP3 player and battery-powered speakers repeat a few sentences.  In teams, students go out and listen to it, then run inside to record what they heard.  This links in with the speaking and listening exam I am also working on.
Before I go on about the test, I have to tell you about the prizes.  Before the game starts, I tell students that I lived in Yangyang Gun, South Korea and that region is famous for Song-i mushrooms that sell for 300,000won per kilogram (about $300/ kg) and that the prize is song-i.  All that is true.  However, the prize is not song-i mushrooms but choco-song-i, a candy pack that my son likes and cost under a dollar.

As for the exam, it consisted of two parts.  First, students listened to a description of a person while looking at a group of ten people, all with a letter beside them.  They choose the person and write down the letter.  Then they hear a dictation that uses sentences from the textbook - two sentences - and write it down.  In the second, less novel part, they answer questions I ask them.  What I like about the arrangement is that I can ask one student questions while another is also involved in the test, doubling my efficiency.  This is a big deal on a busy day where I might need to interview 50 students and stay alert for their oh-so-repetitive answers.

Nanowrimo has some kind of event in July that I have received emails for but haven't read.  I will not participate in Nano this summer but am trying to make July a big month for personal creativity.  I just finished writing a (tiny) book, will also write two short stories and add 10,000 words to The Distancing Engine - my 2013 Nanowrimo entry - and work on two carving projects.  Also, I will make my classes as memorable as possible.
Writing a book doesn't take much energy.  Well, the act of raising and dropping fingers on the keyboard doesn't.
It turns out not to make a big difference which kind of writer you are. If you write straight through without editing, you'd expend about a kilojoule. With a lot of rewrites, you might expend several kilojoules—but you'd need to rewrite every word 10 times to match the energy stored in a single AA battery.
Content v technology
When it comes to storytelling, where are design and technology taking us? “Whatever is next in storytelling, design, and technology, it will always be about rendering emotional transportation—capturing attention and converting it into intention,” says Hollywood producer Peter Guber, CEO of Mandalay Entertainment. “Every story has a call to action.”

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