Archive for September, 2009

Pedro for September 22:Blogging in the classroom

Blogging is more revolutionary then people think.  It’s one of the more popular activities on the web and if you’re not writing one, then you are certainly reading them. Blogging is a new platform for self-expression on the web. Websites such as Blogger and WordPress take all the technical difficulties out of the equation allowing people to focus more on primarily one thing; Content.

A blog is:

(a contraction of the term “weblog“)[1] is a type of website, usually maintained by an individual with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as graphics or video.


We can derive from the definition above that Blogging (verb) is the act of posting and maintaining a blog. Web 2.0 is a paradigm shift in the way the Internet is used and viewed. In web 1.0, most of the websites were static and only offered information. Forums were used to discuss such content.  Web 2.0 is all about user contributed content and collaboration thought the web. Blogs have really led the way and are the purest incarnation of web 2.0

Having students post on blogs has several implications.  Because blogs were made for sharing and public in nature, students are motivated to produce quality work. They know that anyone can bring up their page and read their writing.  In a traditional classroom, you can just hand in poor work and not care too much because only your professor will read and grade it. With a larger audience such as the web, students are hesitant to post work without thought. It can also scare students into not doing any work because they are afraid of having their worked scrutinized. If a student lacks confidence in their writing, they become paralyzed as a result.

Another aspect to consider is the permanency of the Internet. Once something is online, it’s there forever. Almost everything on the web is crawled by web engines and archived for research and other use. One example of this process is the waybackmachine website which makes complete copies of certain websites. People can jump online and look at older versions of certain websites. Things like the ‘waybackmachine’ may increase the anxiety of students who know their work is out there forever. I feel blogging is suited for more advance courses.

The immediacy of information at our fingertips makes the internet  a great resource. Students will look for their answers on the Internet regardless so why not bring it into the classroom.  I notice students have difficulty separating their online habits.  Personally, when I chat with friends,  I am using abbreviations and other jargon because I want to get my point across and I have another five blinking windows open. Students have to be careful and not allow their casual online presence to spill when they write academically. Hopefully, students can stay away from Facebook and other websites and get their work up.

Students are becoming part of the blogopshere, a community of contributors about various topics of the world. Students may not want to be in the public eye for various reasons.  Employers are known to search for your name and should some questionable content come up as a result of that search, you may not get a job. A person’s online presence is very important and people don’t understand how to manage it. I tell people to assume their is no privacy on the Internet. Anything you post is open to questions by various parties, even if you toggle the privacy button.

I follow many blogs myself and find them to be valuable resource of information. Blogging is the new way companies provide their customers with updates (I didn’t forget about Twitter but I will get to that one day). Students are learning how to contribute to the online community, thank goodness there is an edit button while they do it. Students get to state their opinions and become independent thinkers. When they leave class, they may start a blog of their own on a particular topic they have a passion for. More importantly, they are become independent publishers of their own work… like Whitman.

Serpent Drum Reference Image Gloss


Walt Whitman was well read, despite the fact he didn’t recieve any formal education beyond his youth. He had knowledge of medicine and religion among other things. I selected this because I didn’t understand the context.

Walking the teokallis, spotted with gore from the stone and knife-beating the serpent skin drum;

Teocallis is another word for Aztec temple.   (p80)

If the word is broken down then it’s [Nahuatl : tetlgodcallihouse.]

I didn’t understand the reference to the serpent-skin drum so I did a quick look up on Aztec culture and found information regarding the creation myth of the Aztecs. From that myth, the relevant portion is as follows:

Quetzalcoatl was one of the four gods created by  the great god Ometeotl.  Quetzalcoatl ricked the god of the underworld (Mictlantechutli) to bring back the bones of the dead into the rela world.  Quetzalcoatl gave his blood to the bones to create new life. In gratitude, people were sacraficed in the name of Quetzalcoatl (serpent skin beast).


Pedro for September 15

When I attended class on last Tuesday I did a bit of thinking and this post is what came from it:

Someone one once told me there is a difference between a scientific journal and a poem.  A scientific journal is meant to be interpreted in one way while a poem can be looked at from numerous angles.  Most of the readings I do as part of my academic requirements or even leisure are more along the technical or scientific domains, not poetry. Poetry has no rules or any conventions of sorts but it remains a highly respected and admired method of communication and art. I acknowledge that writing is an art form in itself but I didn’t treat the reading as such. I have to read Whitman differently.

When I read “Song of myself”, I wasn’t reading between the lines. I read it as a text book which basically meant I missed many of the things that we would discuss in class.

The context of Song of Myself was is also relevant, literature cannot be analyzed in a vacuum and the time period has significance for any piece of text or literature. When Whitman pokes at religion on p. 53, I didn’t realize the risk Whitman is taking.

“Divine am I inside and out, and I make holy whatever I touch or am touched from;

The scent of these arm-pits is aroma finer than prayer.”

In the 1850s, religion still played a dominant role in American society. His fearlessness in expressing his thoughts and sexuality is one of the reasons he is one of the most prominent poets of American History. This kind of writing is frowned upon by the church and he could have met many misfortunes if he published his work with his name on cover.

When a fellow student read a portion of the poem so passionately, Whitman’s words really came alive. I was able to interpret the message in the poem better and the whole class became excited Whitman’s work was meant written to be read aloud, not quietly hiding under the stars.

The final valuable thing I drew from the class discussion was the amount of nuance and word play in his writing. Only someone really analyzing the poem deeply could come to appreciate these things and would able to identify the hidden gems in his sentences. Being part of this course and its collaborative nature means no stone will be left un turned. Many parts of the poem make various references to French expressions and his personal life. I found an online version of the poem and ran many of the terms through search engines and comparing that with the footnotes.  The poem starts with I and ends with you, I wouldn’t have noticed unless Professor Gold pointed that out.

Many of the things in this post here were drawn from class discussion; in subsequent readings I should be able to draw some of these things on my own. This is part of the learning process and reflection helps facilitate it. Whitman’s writing is a different kind of puzzle, one I am not use to and while I am slightly frustrated a first, I can take a different hammer to it.


Song of Pedro


REALISM is mine, my miracles,
Take all of the rest — take freely — I keep
but my own — I give only of them,
I offer them without end — I offer them to you
wherever your feet can carry you, or your
eyes reach.

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