Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Writing and reading in China with "Weird Al" Yankovic

Today at Jiangxi University, I was observed by a retired teacher who works in curriculum. And I'm one of the curriculum design instructors (thank you, Dean Chen). This was a writing class--but I try and work in a variety of ideas into my lessons. And this was my writing class--and one of my efforts to get them to learn about it.

First, I handed out a sheet with the lyrics, and then I read through MOST of it, highlighting key words and phrases and ideas. (Students dutifully followed. Not much enthusiasm. Not expected by me either.) Observing teacher looked on, making notes: this is typical "Eastern world" style: memorization and presentation.

And THEN I stopped--and said to the class that I knew they must not find it exciting--so I had ANOTHER way for them to learn it. And I cued up the mp3. (This is one help by my years as a music journalist and writer: I have editing software for videos and music downloads.) And the kids loved it! They were moving in their seats and even the observing teacher was bobbing her head along to the beat! The kids were reading and singing along.

And THEN I shifted gears again and put on the mp4 so they could watch the video. I could point out more ideas (quickly) to keep up with the frantic pace of Al and his song.

At the end of the class, the observer spoke with some of the kids in Chinese--and then she came up to me and we spoke about the vast array of ideas she had seen on the overhead screen on my USB drive. "They LOVE your class," she said. I acknowledged it--and it's only week 4 in the semester. "They are LEARNING to THINK!" 
Yes, they sure are: and that's what I do. Whatever it takes, I'll find a way to make it work for them because it's their future. I'm happy to help shape it.

Because there's a learning style for everyone (and some folks get their knowledge and education via kinetic movement and through auditory and visual effects)--PLUS there's a whole new world of animation out there for anyone who loves design and graphics--I present the following video with a smile and a glare.

This also goes out to all my students (and those who were not) who don't like to read, follow instructions, or just slacked off in school because they weren't interested--it shows. And it's not kewl like you think.
"Word Crimes"
Everybody shut up, WOO!
Everyone listen up!
Hey, hey, hey, uh
Hey, hey, hey
Hey, hey, hey
If you can't write in the proper way
If you don't know how to conjugate
Maybe you flunked that class
And maybe now you find
That people mock you online
Okay, now here's the deal
I'll try to educate ya
Gonna familiarize
You with the nomenclature
You'll learn the definitions
Of nouns and prepositions
Literacy's your mission
And that's why I think it's a
Good time
To learn some grammar
Now, did I stammer
Work on that grammar
You should know when
It's "less" or it's "fewer"
Like people who were
Never raised in a sewer
I hate these word crimes
Like I could care less
That means you do care
At least a little
Don't be a moron
You'd better slow down
And use the right pronoun
Show the world you're no clown
Everybody wise up!
Say you got an "I","t"
Followed by apostrophe, "s"
Now what does that mean?
You would not use "it's" in this case
As a possessive
It's a contraction
What's a contraction?
Well, it's the shortening of a word, or a group of words
By the omission of a sound or letter
Okay, now here's some notes
Syntax you're always mangling
No "x" in "espresso"
Your participle's danglin'
But I don't want your drama
If you really wanna
Leave out that Oxford comma
Just keep in mind
That "be", "see", "are", "you"
Are words, not letters
Get it together
Use your spellchecker
You should never
Write words using numbers
Unless you're seven
Or your name is Prince
I hate these word crimes
You really need a
Full time proofreader
You dumb mouth-breather
Well, you should hire
Some cunning linguist
To help you distinguish
What is proper English
One thing I ask of you
Time to learn your homophones is past due
Learn to diagram a sentence too
Always say "to whom"
Don't ever say "to who"
And listen up when I tell you this
I hope you never use quotation marks for emphasis
You finished second grade
I hope you can tell
If you're doing good or doing well
About better figure out the difference
Irony is not coincidence
And I thought that you'd gotten it through your skull
What's figurative and what's literal
Oh but, just now, you said
You literally couldn't get out of bed
That really makes me want to literally
Smack a crowbar upside your stupid head
I read your e-mail
It's quite apparent
Your grammar's errant
You're incoherent
Saw your blog post
It's really fantastic
That was sarcastic (Oh, psych!)
'Cause you write like a spastic
I hate these Word Crimes
Your prose is dopey
Think you should only
Write in emoji
Oh, you're a lost cause
Go back to pre-school
Get out of the gene pool
Try your best to not drool
Never mind I give up
Really now I give up
Hey, hey, hey
Hey, hey, hey

Go Away!

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

How to write an outline

Oh, no, it's "the dreaded 'Outline' assignment time"!  

Okay, just because this idea gets a lot of grief (and hits) on this site by desperate students (I was once a D.S.), here's a sample.  I ALSO recommend you look at my post on thesis statements and also topic sentences.

That's all an outline REALLY is: a thesis statement plus the breakdown of each paragraph's topic sentence background.
Oh. Why didn't they tell us (me) that when I was younger?
(It was too easy to explain it that way, I think.)

Note:  for a GOOD outline to work, THINK (and write down) WHY/WHAT makes the idea important--why the idea of the thesis is unique; why it matters; how it has value, importance, or SOME other special quality--then GENERALIZE those ideas as the thesis. DON'T use them in the thesis--SAVE them to chop apart in each topic sentence! THAT alone will help you broaden out the sub-paragraphing needed to create the rest of the outline format.  (That means "You use the topic sentences to expand the paragraph...."). "Gee, Mr. Lopate...this works."  (Yep.)


An outline breaks down the parts of your thesis in a clear, hierarchical manner. Most students find that writing an outline before beginning the paper is most helpful in organizing one's thoughts. If your outline is good, your paper should be easy to write.

The basic format for an outline uses an alternating series of numbers and letters, indented accordingly, to indicate levels of importance. Here is an example of an outline on a paper about the development of Japanese theater.  (Yes, I modified this from the original; the thesis was too bland. I underlined my inclusion of three unique concepts to add some more "power" to the outline itself.) 

I. Thesis: Japanese theater rose from a popular to elite form based on social and cultural, historical, and religious influences (some unique to Japan) and then returned to a popular art form.

The thesis is stated in the first section, which is the introduction.

II. Early theatrical forms
A. Bugaku
B. Sarugaku
C. Primitive Noh
D. Authors and Audience
III. Noh theater
A. Authors
B. Props
1. Masks
a. women
b. demons
c. old men
2. Structure of Stage
C. Themes
1. Buddhist influence
2. The supernatural
D. Kyogen interludes
E. Audience
IV. Kabuki
A. Authors
B. Props
1. make-up
2. special effects
C. Themes
1. Love stories
2. Revenge
D. Audience
V. Bunraku (puppet) theater
A. Authors
B. Props
C. Themes
1. Love stories
2. Historical romances
D. Audience

The body follows the introduction, and breaks down the points the author wishes to make.
Note that some section have subdivisions, others do not, depending on the demands of the paper.
In this outline, II, III, & IV all have similar structure, but this will not necessarily be true for all papers. Some may only have three major sections, others more than the five given here.

VI. Conclusion
Your conclusion should restate your thesis, and never introduce new material.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

GrammarZilla will take the bite out of grammar!

What do you get when you mix Godzilla with
King Kong?
Why, of course!  
"GrammarZilla!"  Go ahead and take a bite out of grammar!   http://www.chompchomp.com 

GrammarZilla says, "Are these errors on your paper? Don't take a bite out of your grade."

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle (video & music)

Dedicated to ALL the hungry little caterpillar boys and girls who grow into wonderful amazing butterflies.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Ping the Duck: A children's story of China

A classic children's story dedicated with love to Jerry and Sunny, two children whom I tutor on Saturday morning, and their parents. "La-la-la-la-lei!"

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Creative Business English marketing concepts for Asian students

My Jiangxi University Chinese students are great at math problems and economics concepts--but for their Business English midterm group presentation, they have to conjure up a marketing scheme for a product. THIS is something they're not familiar with: how to brainstorm something and put it into a format (Powerpoint) whereby they can show the concept/idea and then put together a "let's sell it" plan. For one thing, they need to learn how to FIND an idea and how to see its potential. This is where I come in with Western thinking--and years of experience in marketing and sales--and what I call "Fluid Learning teaching strategies."

I found this video--and previewed it with them. It has five terrific ideas. They liked four of them, but didn't know how to see the "futuristic potential" of where they could take them as a marketing plan or direction. Again, this is where my Fluid Thinking style of teaching comes into play:

  • The first idea is like Ironman's Jarvis personal electronic assistant. That was easy enough for them to grasp its potential.
  • The second idea is a mini projector. They understood that easily enough too.
  • The 3D holographic phone really startled them, especially with its potential for viewing items to buy online and for playing games. (But I wasn't finished with that--and saved my ideas about 3D technology.)
  • The tablet-bracelet made them sit up in their chairs. THIS was the first one I viewed with them--and I noted, "It's WATERPROOF." They ALL wanted this one--but I added this idea to the "do later" list that I was building.
  • The ultrasonic cleaner also met interest by the girls, especially because they have no dryers in their dorm rooms (or my apartment!). 
And here's where I went with MORE ideas aside from these (I offered these as possibilities: THEY have to develop the marketing PPTs for the midterm). First: take the tablet-bracelet and make it 3D. That is a separate idea in itself. Next: take the tablet-bracelet in 3D and integrate it WITH THE mini-projector. My questions to them: "Where could you go with THIS IDEA?"

My responses: a 3D wearable tablet that can project onto a screen 100cm x 100cm. It's got potential for gaming, online viewing of merchandise--and even better, for simulated lessons for sports (soccer, ping pong, tennis, golf, basketball), and driving or even piloting lessons ON A LARGE SCREEN or wall. So with Fluid Learning, I showed them ideas, then expanded those ideas into new directions, and then showed them how to brainstorm these into possible further Powerpoint presentations for a marketing strategy for a new invention. 
And welcome to the Creative Classroom with Mr. Lopate!

Oh. The idea about the hydrosonic washer? I said, "How about a portable hair dryer just like the ones you girls are using: that uses the same technology--to dry your clothes instantly and without wrinkles?" Sign me up for one! Just let "Jarvis" remind me when I need to take my clothes out of the washing machine.

Monday, March 21, 2016

CFA Level I Study Session

CFA Level I Study Session: (open this link)

... III. Study Session #15. Topic: Portfolio Management - Risk Considerations. Instructor: Prof. John M. Veitch, CFA. Notes: Mark Ferrari, CFA