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!

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