Process Paragraphs for Publication: A Teacher's
Karet from California
you read the How
To Section in
do you think about the production process? The
finished product - the pictures, the text, the
students - all look so perfect up there on the WWW,
but, behind the scenes, the process was far from
Karet is Professor of ESL at the English
as a Second Language
started as a simple desire to make the process of
writing more meaningful for the student, by giving
them the chance to write for a real audience,
quickly turned into this teacher's personal
At our school using electronic technology in ESL
(English-as-a- Second Language) is in its infancy.
This was the first attempt to expose students to
email and Web-based instruction in a fledging
writing/CALL lab which is still being set-up.
with most new endeavors, NOTHING went the way I
Files didn't transfer; machines refused to read
disks. There were hardware, software, online, and
no line (total meltdown) glitches.
Yes! (After a particularly bad day when only 3 WWW
pages would load in one hour of instruction, I
shared with my students my decision to set it all
aside for the semester.
at the urging of the TOPICS editor, did we give it
one more try).
the director of our Technology Learning Center
offered to use a digital camera to take photos to
illustrate the process paragraphs. Not only was the
idea of seeing this new technology in action
exciting, but being able to cut out the steps of
printing, developing, and then scanning or
"snail-mailing" the pictures to Japan was
irresistible. The day he brought the digital camera
to class and helped the students set-up, take,
process and view the photos, new life was pumped
into the project.
the high was short-lived. It lasted until I got an
email the next day saying that ALL those carefully
transferred images arrived at TOPICS as blank
screens. Depressing? Yes! Time-consuming?
it worth it?
the WWW for instructional purposes changes the way
I teach. For one thing, I'm always learning when I
venture out of the classroom into the virtual world
with my students. It doesn't change the material to
be covered, but the process becomes less linear,
more interactive, and, in my opinion, more
stimulating for all.
a result, I like to think that the written work the
students produce in that environment shows a better
grasp of the key concepts of purpose, audience, and
voice. After all, if it's published on the Web
there's an audience (You, the READER), if your
picture is beside your text, there's a voice (the
WRITER's); and if there's a topic there's a reason
to write (explaining HOW TO do ____
more thing. Working with technology in the
classroom is always a collaborative effort. We
depend on others to maintain connectivity in ways
which are simply not needed in a traditional
classroom. As a result, when something is produced
it is not just through one person's efforts, but
everyone's. So, my special thanks to:
and Masako in Japan
Juan and Veronica for their hands-on classroom
most of all, to all my PATIENT, energetic,
creative and intellectually curious STUDENTS in
'how to' Section
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Sandy and Thomas