Posts tagged FORUM

Changed my prejudice against Wikipedia (part II)

Following are two more candidates’ submissions for potentially being published in Wikipedia. Certainly a very beginning stage but has lots of potential because there are many foreigners who ARE interested in Kazakhstan.  The first is by Ainagul:

After reading this article [by Christine M. Tardy in the English Teaching FORUM, 2010], “What if I put my own contribution to this site, too?” This is a good opportunity for us 1) to learn writing an article Wikipedia style 2) as there is very little information about Kazakh famous people, some historical places, events written in the English language, our articles will be useful for either our native students or for students abroad who want to learn more about our country.

So, I’ve decided to write about a famous Kuishi (a man who plays a dombyra) Nurpeis Bayganin, if I ever have a chance to write for Wikipedia.  Because he is from my village.  His grandchildren still live in our village near our house.  This year we celebrated his 120th anniversary.  A great day took place in the center of our region, so many guest were called.  But, unfortunately, there is nothing about his life, his great work, though his contribution put to our native art is priceless.

The second possible submission is by Aliya, I hope she can succeed in writing and eventually publishing in Wikipedia:

I’d like to write about Kazakh national wedding and/or Kazakh national wedding dress.  I don’t like the mixed sorts of weddings that are carried out nowadays.  I think we should differentiate/choose what kind of wedding we want to have.  Nowadays not everybody knows about original Kazakh wedding.  Even I myself do not know much about it because today when carrying out a wedding we do not know whether these or those traditions are our own or they are from other nationalities.  Only “Betashar” is widely known but I’m sure that there are many other traditions.


As for a wedding dress, I do love European and modern dresses.  But, on the other hand, our Kazakh national wedding dress is wonderful too!  It is symbolic, each item on the dress means something.  As for a modern dress, there is only white colour that is left symbolic. 


In my opinion, when writing an article you learn much and that’s why I choose the theme that I’m not an expert in but which I’m much interested in.  Because as a result of the research work, I will know more about the subject that is interesting for me.

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Changed my prejudice against Wikipedia

I’ll admit that I can be changed by what I say, think or write if given enough compelling reasons to do so.  I have long held a prejudice against Wikipedia because of its misuse or overuse by American and EFL students wherever I’ve taught.  When I have taught academic writing, I try to steer my Kazakh students to academic journals that have a reputation in the publishing field.  The authors of these academic articles that my students look up for their research projects have had their words peer reviewed and the authors have supposedly contributed something new in their field of expertise.

After assigning an article for my students to read and then reading “Writing for the World: Wikipedia as an Introduction to Academic Writing” for myself, I’ve been swayed to agree with the author Christine M. Tardy. Article was taken out of “English Teaching FORUM” #1, 2010.  As if Ms. Tardy could read my mind, she wrote the following that would apply to my prejudice against Wikipedia: “Despite Wikipedia’s popularity with the general public, the site has received a somewhat negative reputation in certain academic circles, where instructors often criticize students who use Wikipedia as a primary research source or even incorporate large amounts of Wikipedia text into their own writing.”

After seeing what this seasoned teacher, who is an Assistant Professor in Chicago, did to encourage students to write on something in their expertise, I see this as a very good assignment for my own students to follow.  Here are the steps that Ms. Tardy outlined, it follows a rigorous editing process from the Wikipedia administrators:

  1. Examine Wikipedia (look for similar articles on your topic)
  2. Gather information (find other links in Wikipedia that relate to your topic)
  3. Outline and paraphrase 
  4. Draft
  5. Revise
  6. Format sources
  7. Polish
  8. Publish

I think the following piece that Bota wrote is a good example of something that could be inserted into Wikipedia.   For those interested in Kazakhstan, they would happen to read about a little known musical instrument.  The following is a first draft, stay tuned to see if this piece will actually be published in Wikipedia once all the above steps are followed.  I certainly hope so.  Maybe I should try this assignment myself but I’d have to figure out what I know a LOT about and prove my expertise by getting my own words published.  I don’t want to steal Bota’s Wikipedia thunder but enjoy the following:

Kazakh National Musical instrument – Zhetigen (7 strings)

Zhetigen is an old Kazakh national musical instrument.  The history of zhetigen began many centuries ago. It takes its roots deep from the 16th17th century.  The instrument itself presents a square box with 7 strings and 7 bones (“askyks” in Kazakh) up on the surface.  Kazakh people created the music just moving the bones (“akyks”) and playing on the strings.  Different positions of the bones make different sounds from low ones up to heavy ones.

The history of zhetigen is closely connected with the Kazakh legend about a man, who lost all his seven sons.  When a man lost his very first and the eldest son, he grieved a lot and wanted to put his grief into music.  So he constructed an instrument with one string.  Later, his second son died.  The second string was added.  The death of the rest of his sons one by one nearly broke the man.  That’s why today’s zhetigen consists of seven strings. 

Nowadays the musical instrument is played in many national musical groups of Kazakhstan.

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All About Blogging (Part II)

This is a continuation of yesterday where I summed up what I heard my students (who are really teachers) relate about the articles I assigned them to read on blogging.  One wrote the following from an article titled “Educational Blogging.” “Blog now refers to a web journal that comments on the news – often by criticizing the media and usually in rudely clever tones.” She then listed the five major uses of blogging in the classroom which seems odd given her above definition that it is criticized as being clever but rude.  But to continue with her thoughts, she wrote:  “Now blogging resembles more and more of a conversation. That’s why it must be given a purpose and it must remain unconstrained.”

One very astute student had read an article that dealt with teaching first year composition students how to blog.  She wrote:  “I have found out that blogging plays an important part in encouraging students to write…being passive observers, from the very beginning, students became active participants.  They got involved in a larger conversation.” She also added: “Many people criticize blogging saying that it is ephemeral, that it focuses on the everyday.” However, she wrote “blogging gave me a new sense that writing matters.”

Coincidentally she noted the same thing in our Kazakh teacher’s classroom.  I’ll let her explain: “There is an interesting poster in the classroom where we have lessons, it has the following inscription: “Learn something new today.”  A dog is searching on the Internet. So looking at the poster and spending my time with my classmates and my teacher, I really “learn something new every day!”

I loved the following that was written by another bright student of mine:  “Today I’ve read two articles about blogs as learning tools and problems that our teachers have in Kazakhstan.  Reading about the problems I thought to myself, “hmmm…that’s true, the author knows so much about our country” and I felt pity for my colleagues who have no opportunity to cope with them.  Because, really, we are to re-educate our policymakers.  So that’s a big problem.”

From the other article I’ve learned so many interesting things about blogging.  To tell the truth, I’ve never thought that a blog could be used for educational purposes.  As for me, I used blogging just for sharing ideas with my friends on MySpace.  But, really, why don’t we use blogging as learning tools?”

The following is from another student, I liked her salient point about voice and audience though she didn’t use those words, but I’ll talk about that later in our reading and writing classes:

“In my opinion, the main point is that communication in written form among blog participants gives participants more time to reflect on and to better articulate their ideas.  Also, knowing that their writing is available to the public, students might have a stronger motivation to write well so that the quality of their writing might shine, as the author says.”

Finally, I will end with this “shiny” testimonial from one of my more active writers, it made my day:

“On the second day of our studies, we talked a lot about blogging, using technologies in EFL classes. It was pretty much like yesterday when we did talking from the FORUM [magazine].  As I listened to other teachers, I was thinking what was the point of our studies if all we did for two days was talking.  But then I got it!  You learn while you listen to the people who are just like you are and all of them are walking in your shoes:  teach English, know the weak points and problems of our English classes.  The difference they have from us,[newly graduated from pedagogical university] is that they deal with teaching for a longer time. It means that their reflection on what they read will be based on their experience with our local students.  They’ll receive bigger amount of feedback and respond with useful ideas and thoughts, though it does not mean we do not (;-)

So the theme was blogging.  That is the thing which has been attracting my attention and interest for a rather long time. That is my nature to try everything I think interesting, but it’s been a long time I could not sit and learn fully what it is.  On my last year at school, I dreamed to find some time and get one blog but alas!  And then I came to Astana and one of the three things I’d be studying here is guess what? Blogging!

Sounds like I’m lucky!  The point that it is a part of my course means that doing blogging does not mean wasting my time but combine my self-development and my work as a TEFL (T means teacher)

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