Thanks to Ben Jones for alerting me to David Crystal’s recent talk. Like you, I have many of his books on my shelf and find his insights into language, especially the English language, sage.
Readability is a simple tool that ‘makes reading on the Web more enjoyable by removing the clutter around’ what you’re reading.
Check out how it works:
Great, definitely a useful tool but what interests me is the opportunity it offers English teachers to explore how ‘Readability’ (and similar technologies) change the nature of the meaning of the text. I am sure Marshall McLuhan would have enjoyed this tool. We have been teaching students to analyse the structure of a text for a long time in classrooms; now we can play around with this idea online.
What examples can you find that illustrate this point?
Hat tip: Bud the Teacher
Quite simply, Twitter lets you microblog pithy 140 characters posts, known as ‘tweets’, to your friends or followers. This often seems inane to the uninitiated but the growing number of influential educators and teacher leaders, as evidenced in this Directory of Learning Professionals on Twitter provides quite a wonderful professional resource. Using Twitter as an Education Tool has potential but more importantly, microblogging is a great way for educators to build Personal Learning Networks to stimulate professional learning.
The English Teachers Association has recently opened a Twitter accountand hopefully teachers will choose to use this tool to expand their professional networks. Every English teacher who ‘follows’ the ETA can then be easily discoverable by new members, as they in turn follow their colleagues. A growing timeline of links and contacts will expand rapidly.
There are a surprisingly large number of ‘toys’, apps, websites and Twitter oriented tools available for the enthusiast. Twhirl is an essential client, if you choose to always have Twitter easily accessible from your toolbar. Tweet Map allows you to see where abouts in the world ‘tweets’ are emanating and Betwittered is an essential iGoogle Twitter client (that will allow you to ‘tweet’ even if there is a filter at your place of employment). Increasingly, I am using Twinkle or Twitterific iPhone apps to access the service when away from my computer. Twitter Grader allows you to check out the power of your network and lists the Twitterati or Top Users.
I would highly recommend Clive Thompson on How Twitter Creates a Social Sixth Sense.
Hope to see you ‘tweeting’ soon and consider ‘following’ and more importantly from my POV, being ‘followed’ by Darcy1968.
The nation’s newspapers reported on the release of the National English Curriculum: Initial Advice paper with the following opening lines:
Reading the document does not make it clear exactly how English in NSW classrooms would be different but certainly leads to a number of worrying questions for students who could be consigned to the completely inappropriate, de-contextualised, stand-alone grammar lessons from a bygone era, if the newspapers are to be believed.
The suggestion in one of the above articles that the NC is a return to ‘Shakespeare, Dickens and Austen’ is laughable – they never left.
After reading the doco one is left having more questions than answers.
In a time where we should be seeking to provide a relevant, progressive and 21st education, it seems that a very uninspiring view of English Education is being presented. It has been commented that the “banal and turgid prose of this document does nothing to inspire us as English educators that English is dynamic, creative and inspiring.”
Formal consultation will continue until the end of Term 4 2008 and I encourage you to submit a personal response or participate in assisting your professional association to respond.
My travels in India gave me an appreciation of ‘Hinglish’ and I wasn’t in Singapore long enough to experience much ‘Singlish’ but hopefully, with Chinglish on the rise, opportunities will present themselves to enjoy the richness of this derivation in the not too distant future.
How English Is Evolving Into a Language We May Not Even Understand is a recent WIRED article that explores the notion that English is “happily leading an alternative lifestyle without us”.