Monthly Archives: July 2008

Keyboard kids losing art of handwriting

This article by a journalist whose work I respect, having once been involved in one of his stories, highlights a real if not entirely new issue. It is not entirely new because there have always been students for whom handwriting is a problem, especially handwriting under pressure in exam conditions. What is new, of course, is the rapid spread of new technologies for writing.

MORE than 150,000 students in years 11 and 12 at schools across NSW have a problem. Almost all are skilled users of computer keyboards. Most can easily outperform their elders when it comes to text messaging on their mobile phones.

But within the next year or so all of them will have to sit 15 to 20 hours of examinations for the Higher School Certificate, and the exams will be almost entirely handwritten. Unless they have a proven disability and cannot write on the day of the exam, the only acceptable exam paper is one handed up in an individual’s handwriting.

The disjunction between the acquired skill of keyboarding and the need to handwrite exams has led some schools to incorporate handwriting lessons in years 11 and 12 as students find they have to relearn the art of using a pen and paper quickly – lost after years of using computers, laptops and mobiles…

The article goes on to tell what some schools have been doing about the issue. Read the whole story (PDF).

I have had things to say about handwriting before. See search results for “handwriting.”


Check the VodPod; do the poll

Go down the side bar to find the Pod. Then —


My own views

I wasn’t going to say anything, but on reflection decided I would.

The three videos interpret and recreate something of William Golding’s much-studied novel Lord of the Flies. Each was done by students working in different contexts and for different purposes. Two of them take the “facts” of the novel and seek to present them in cinematic terms; one is the result of an alternative ending exercise, a “what if?” question. Two of them are highly imaginative; one is not. In fact one is everything I was afraid a YouTube video might be and is, from an English teaching perspective, a total waste of space. Two I would give “A”; one I would give “F”. In one case I would also want to send the students to some kind of course in water safety or surf life saving!

Now you decide. 🙂


World Wide Words

World Wide Words by Michael Quinion is a most interesting site for anyone interested in the English language, or wanting to develop their understanding and vocabulary in depth. It is on my links page here, and I have occasionally referred to it on this blog, but I have never featured it before.


Do look.

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Posted by on July 4, 2008 in English language


Catching up on maintenance

Some stats first, as of today:

Total views: 119,689

Busiest day: 924 visits — Thursday, October 18, 2007

Posts: 183

Comments: 195

Categories: 51

Tags: 101*

And the top posts for all time so far, or at least since December 2006 when this blog began? ===>

Posts and pages with 1,000+ views to 2 July 2008

Physical journeys and Peter Skrzynecki’s poems 10,682 views
Studying the Gothic, or Emily Bronte? 9,995
Workshop 02 — NSW HSC: Area Study: Imaginative Journeys 5,790
How should I write up a Science experiment? 5,346
ESL+ 2,134
Workshop 01 — a theme unit in four different text types 1,926
Literacy 1,898
Scaffolding 1,774
Physical journeys and Peter Skrzynecki’s poems updated 1,556
How can I improve my essay grades… without learning model essays off by heart? 1,489
Workshop 010: HSC Advanced English — “Brave New World” and “Blade Runner” 1,488
Links 1,448
In the Wild: Brave New World and Blade Runner 1,429
How can I write better short stories? 1,359
The mysteries and injustices (?) of the NSW UAI ranking  1,258
Six suggestions for Imaginative Journeys 1,251
Studying comic strips? Really! 1,149
Workshop 03 — Creative Writing (Year 12 1,079
01b: The Essays 1,003

What I’m doing now

I am tidying the post tags, which had become a bit chaotic. I am making sure each POST on the blog — but not the WEB PAGES on the site — has a set of appropriate tags. I have so far reached back to the end of November 2007.

When that is finished, I will start checking and updating links on key pages and posts; it is impossible to go back over everything, so apologies in advance for any links I miss. Well, not impossible… But I won’t be doing this the every post or page.

How you can help

  1. Report through comment, or the Contact Page, any dead links you find.
  2. Make suggestions, using the same methods as in #1.
  3. Take my poll.


* “You have 184 posts, 28 pages, contained within 51 categories and 98 tags. You have 195 total comments.” Yes, I have been tidying…

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Posted by on July 2, 2008 in site news


How to Study English 7 Tips and Ideas | UK Student News and Events

How to Study English 7 Tips and Ideas | UK Student News and Events is a new UK blog from an education consultancy firm. The post linked here does give good advice to the overseas students among us, whether here in Australia or in the UK. It is advice you will find in many places, but that doesn’t make it less worth having. 🙂

Here are the first two tips. Go to the link above for the rest.

1. Learn slowly

You are like a new born baby. You will learn a new language slowly and through careful steps. So, adopt the steps a baby would and you’ll develop in no time. First learn to listen and then learn to talk and then learn to read and write.

2. Listen everyday

Make sure that you are always listening to English. Listen to the radio. Watch English movies and regular TV. Enjoy a day out at the cinema and watch English movies and make use of any English audio you find online. There will be loads and it doesn’t cost you a thing!

And just one more, because I approve of this so much:

4. Read, read and read some more

You want to be reading as much English as possible. Not only to help your reading skills but in order to expand your vocabulary too. A great place to start is children’s books and stories and these can be picked up for next to nothing from charity shops all over London. Read many of the UK’s free newspapers, the backs of packets whilst shopping, adverts on the Tube and trains. When you think about, there is English you can read everywhere. So make sure you do every single day.

You’ll have to adapt that a little for Sydney: ads (not adverts in Aussie English) on bus stops maybe… And make sure you pay for those “children’s books and stories”… 😉

We do have good public libraries in Sydney too. The one in Chinatown is excellent; of course it does have a big collection of material in Chinese, but an even bigger collection in English. They have DVDs too; you can try watching a movie in English with the English subtitles on — getting both reading and listening.


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