Friday, November 18, 2005

I LOVE the Smell of Books

There is nothing, to me, so wonderful as the smell of an old book. Its pages open, the bindary cracking as I thumb through, looking for pictures and interesting stories. I feel like I am taken back in time and I would much rather read a very old copy than A new one; of anything.

When I was a little girl, I loved the atmosphere of the city library. Once in a while my mom would take me to there where I was free to browse. I wandered through all the isles looking for old books to take down just to smell them. I would open the book somewhere in the middle, blow all the air out of my lungs, stick my nose inside, and inhale all that wonderful old-book smell. The pages of the 1940's and 50's publications were the best. I liked to look at the old type and wonder about the people who put the books together.

The art was interesting too. I looked at the pen-and-ink drawings or black and white photographs and think about why a person would use only green or red with black. "Probably because it was hard to do more than one color", I thought. It didn't matter what kind of pictures a book had, they all smelled good to me.

Today I own a lot of books. Some very old ones (1919) and some very new (2005). And some inbetween. I like to smell them all. The texture of the paper and the type of ink used makes a difference, some smell better than others, but I enjoy them just the same. Of course I still like to take a walk through the library and sneak a few sniffs every once in a while.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Once upon a time...

I love hearing stories; I love telling stories. I don't know why it is, but stories make things more personal and memorable...

So... ONCE UPON A TIME... I was having a hard time deciding what I wanted to do my bibliographic essay on. I kept changing what I wanted to research. It was kind of like when I started choosing my major. It depended on when or whom I was talking with how I would answer what my major was going to be. My answer varied from day to day. I finally decided on a major and I have a consistent answer now: "I am going to be an English major with an emphasis on professional and technical writing; and a communications minor."

Anyway, my choosing of my topic for my bibliographic essay was like that--- I couldn't decide. But I finally went to the library and did some research on, basically, my top three standing ideas for what I wanted to do my essay on. It was a lot of fun. I love getting lost in a library with millions of books all around me. (Is it funny, by the way, that I like the smell of books?--shrug--) I was also thumbing through our textbook and came across the article/chapter titled "telling tutor tales." Has anyone read it? It is really fun. It is set up like one of those choose-your-own adventure books where you choose the ending of the story.

I think that I'd like to do more research on telling stories in tutoring sessions. How do you know when it is appropriate or applicable to tell a story? How long or how short should the story be? What do other writing centers say about tutors telling stories in sessions? What advantages to telling stories have? What disadvantages? etc... It hasn't been a huge epiphany for me, like the one Katie had, but it makes sense for me to do research on telling stories. I am such a big reader, and I love hearing stories. I had a friend in high school that would tell the best stories. She'd collect funny stories and share them with me in either a note or in person and make me laugh.

The stories that I am suggesting to tell in tutoring sessions aren't just random ones though, like the ones my friend would tell me. Tell stories that are applicable and helpful; use them to create a connection with the student; use them to explain a concept…"I had your teacher and he likes it when you..." or "I took a class similar to yours and I did this…" ---use these kinds of phrases to begin your story, whether it is fiction or true, instead of saying "Once upon a time." I guess you can start your story with once upon a time, especially if it was a while ago, but it might sound funny.

Monday, November 14, 2005

I love tutoring ESL students, so I'm going to write 8-10 pages about it

I’ve decided to do my bibliographic essay on tutoring ESL students because I absolutely LOVE to tutor them. My first few ESL sessions were frustrating, but I got used to the differences in tutoring methods after a while, and now these are my favorite sessions. I think I enjoy them so much partly because I think I like to explain English in the particular ways required for an ESL student, and partly because I like seeing how they put things together differently than native speakers.

In class last week, it was interesting to hear about the various ways of expressing ideas through writing in different cultures. Today I was tutoring an ESL student who wanted to make sure that the cultural writing influences of her country did not interfere with the paper she was writing, which happened to be an academic argument. Before class last week, I hadn’t put much thought into other cultures’ style of writing. I probably figured that there were different ideas about writing, but I never really thought about how this might affect the English writing of ESL students. I know I’d have a really hard time organizing my ideas in vastly different ways from what I’ve been exposed to in this country on top of paying attention to spelling, grammar, punctuation, and making sure I was using the correct words. I probably wouldn’t do a good job of giving all the details first, and then getting to the main point close to the end.

I think by doing my bibliographic essay on tutoring ESL students, I might get a better idea of how to help them. I know I’m not doing everything right during these types of sessions, but I like the challenge they present. For me, they can be some of the most complex sessions I experience because I have to stretch myself to think about concepts of English in ways, as a native speaker, I would never have considered. I’m having a great time tutoring ESL students, and I’d like to know ways to better help them and more about the issues surrounding this type of tutoring.

Kissing goes up 30% within the last weekend

A blog for Gloria Estefan? I just killed a man? Child's play! We can turn this tango dance into 3!
I'm sorry, but Greg, Mario, I thought I knew you two better.
I read the abridged scripts that Greg suggested, and the man is indeed funny! not for the faint of heart with profanity, however. For those with prudish facilities. Like me.
I also enjoyed Kassie's blog on "losing the groove" because that's me too! I just can't stop losing stuff and knowing that my mind's been in a void this month. That's just too much for me! "Don't tell me, we're about to go over a huge waterfall. Yep. Sharp rocks at the bottom? Most likely. Bring it on. boooo ya ha ha!" Anybody excited for Kronk's New Groove?

Okay, what to write about the bibliographic essay. When we talked about organization in class, it really threw me for a loop. I think I can find a lot to say about that, and my weird Albert Einstein analogies. It could work! I like finding new ways to talk to students about organization. Using colors, post its, highlighting, it's strange how society has so many reasons to use materials to organize. Like you need to buy more stuff to organize your stuff. And society nowadays as a whole needs organization for everything. Office cubicles, folders, folders within folders, hotels in Japan where people sleep in cubicles stacked one on top of each other....I've always thought that was odd, that there's not only a need for "personal space" but a need to claim territory as your own, to claim houses and cars, and most of all, to claim our writing. So we organize and push our writing into nice cubicles of thought, and even though other people stash their writing on top of ours, we consider it "organized". More epiphanies to come...

And another thing....I was watching "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" last Saturday, and there was a remarkable preview, about a little TV show called Lost on DVD. And I got little glimpses of it...just the usual split second "trailer" like footage, and I was completely baffled. People screaming, people hurting, a woman running on the beach looking scared, a bald man and a scruffy "I'm dirty, and I look hot" man staring at something metal in the dirt..."What is this metal thing? Well, why don't we find out..." More people running. I ask, I plead, what is this? I will get to the bottom of this....running and screaming. Katie, you know my dilemma.

I hope this blog was somewhat entertaining. "Kuzcotopia, complete with waterslide!"

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Making anthills out of, uh, smaller anthills.

I don’t know why, but for some reason I just can’t seem to get past this whole he/she debate. I don’t know if there will be enough literature about this topic (though Dr. Rogers has assured me there is, I remain skeptical), and I don’t even know if I can write a 500 word blog about it, so I’m a little nervous about doing it. I think it might interest me because I’m hoping that the various arguments reflect the English/American cultural attitudes toward women during the period that they were written in.

Also, I might be able to find some information about the nature of any debates about the subject. It would be kind of funny to come across examples of really heated arguments about this between the old, reluctant linguistic conservatives who want to keep everything the same and the emerging women’s rights activists. Maybe they got loud. Maybe there were protests. Maybe there were fist fights. Ok, the last one probably didn’t ever happen, but still, something interesting might have happened when this whole thing was a bigger issue than it is today.

Then there are all those weird compromises that I can look at, like “hir” and “s/he.” Were there other attempts at compromising besides these two? Heim? Herm? Himher?

Perhaps the essay could extend to cover not only this single issue but other gender related topics as well such as how writers have portrayed, or should depict, women and men in literature. For example, women have traditionally been cast as weak, stupid characters and men as intelligent and strong. Have there been specific movements to turn away from this practice, or has just happened sort of naturally as women gained more rights?

All of this so far has added up to a very “politically correct” atmosphere in writing that has a lot of people frustrated with how awkward language is becoming when it is burdened with all of these considerations. Have there been any counter-movements to return the language to the simple, old days of just calling everything “he” and “his?”

Another path that I might have to take could be examining any different cultural perspectives on including women in speech and, if these cultures are inclusive, how they do it as well. The little I know about Spanish might in might help in this area.

So there I have it, for now. I guess instead of just covering the he/she topic I can expand it to cover a few gender issues that have been debated in English and other cultures’ writing as well. I still don’t think that I have enough to go on here, but I hope that in researching this topic, more material will become available.