Who’s Your Copy Editor?

This whole thinking started innocently enough.  During my morning read, I ran across this article.  9 Word Cloud Generators That Aren’t Wordle.

I had three immediate thoughts…

  • I bet this once was a post itemizing 10 Word Cloud Generators and #1 had actually been Wordle;
  • You can never have too many links to a particular genre of web software for “Plan Bs” when “Plan As” fail for whatever reason;
  • Creating Word Clouds would be a terrific first few days of school activity to see where the students’ priorities might be for expectations for the upcoming year.  You could test prior knowledge, set class rules, check understanding, …

Now, my friend @LindaAragoni (who I’ve never met but I hope to some day) shot back with a reference to Tagxedo.  My initial thought was “Huh?  I’m sure it was in there.”  So, I rush back to the original article and, sure enough, she was correct.

This excellent utlity, which I’ve used many times, was missing.  Son of a gun.

I think that’s why I avoid writing blog posts about “Top 10 Ways to Do This” or “10 Best Utilities for” or …, because there’s always a #11 that really should be on the list.  And, perhaps a #12.

Quickly, my oversight turned into a discussion about writing and editing which is an area that I hack at.  I don’t pretend to be a writer of any sort.  I just have a blog and share my thoughts as they happen.  But, in the real world, there are editors that may well have caught that oversight.  Right?

As usual, she was deeply insightful.  It’s not like I’m some great language genius.  In Grade 13, I took 3 Maths, 3 Sciences, and grudgingly 1 English.  Although I only felt like I needed the first six courses, I did think that more English couldn’t hurt.  Throughout university, I wrote my share of papers – you know “these are smarter people than me and they say that” so it supports my thesis.  I’ll confess I got a great deal more from solving a mathematics problems or writing a computer program to solve a problem.
However, I’m a big supporter of blogging.  I try to do it for myself just to prove that it can be done.  It is, for me, a different type of activity and I do enjoy it.  I certainly never took a course on “how to” blog.  Like most I suspect, I learned it on the streets.
But I recognize that there are great examples that take the practice and put it into action.
  • I read various blogs and look for a style that I find comfortable.  Probably the style that I’d like to use as a guide are David Pogue‘s posts;
  • The technical end for the formal language is well supported by Linda’s “You Can Teach Writing;”
  • But I also recognize that blog writing is something new and somewhat different than traditional composition.  To that end, Ronnie Burt and Sue Waters at TheEdublogger write in the new way and I think model how to use the blogging platform at its best;
  • Danika Barker’s professional Barker Blog combines career professionalism and a delightful sense of humour that makes you hang onto every post to the very end;
  • and what would a computer mediated medium be without software.  I do rely on the WordPress proofreader to help out before I go to press.  I am also frustrated by the number of times that it complains that I’m passive in my writing.

In fact, I could go on and on with the people who impact my writing – I learn something from virtually every blog that I read.

When blogging is introduced into the classroom, I hope that it’s not “just another form of writing”.  It is something different.  It really is an amalgam of style, impact, humour, communication, and writing effectiveness.  There are people who make a living doing this.

And yet, just when I think I understand, a moment comes along like this morning.

Who’s Your Copy Editor?

Who’s that extra set of eyes that checks your content for accuracy and completeness?  I think that perhaps the list of skills needs to have another attribute.  As a blogger, you become immersed with your present project and it’s entirely possible to miss one or more key points.  Is the missing component the ability to have an out of body experience and content check with a fresh set of eyes?  What did you miss?  What did you overlook?  What did you not treat fairly?

I know that my work flow which I’ve described many times involves all the good stuff I learned in school.  Brainstorming, mindmapping, outlining, writing, reviewing, previewing, etc.  I think I’ve got better as a writer now that I schedule for posting rather than just posting when it’s ready.  It gives me an extra chance or two to proofread before it goes live.  Is that enough?  Is there another step that needs to be done so that I become my own copy editor?

I think Linda identified an important point in our back and forth yesterday morning.  With the disappearance of copy editors professionally and the growth of the home writer, is the ability to be your own copy editor a skill that needs to be learned?


OTR Links 08/31/2013

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

I can’t believe how quickly the summer has passed.  Here in the SouthWest, we get to enjoy the Tall Ships (and the delayed fireworks show) in Amherstburg and the Harrow Fair this weekend.  Both are terrific events.

There’s been no shortage of great things coming from the keyboards of Ontario Edubloggers either.

What’s interesting to me is that I found three new (to me anyway) blogs to add to my list this week.

Here’s a bit of what I had the pleasure to read this week.


(New to me anyway)

Why I Like gMail’s New Tabbed Inbox

I’m glad that I’m not alone in liking the new tabbed approach to mail with Gmail.  There’s been very little talk about it among my circles.  For me, it’s been a tremendous utility for managing the amount of email that comes this way.  No other service handles it so elegantly.  Joan Vinall Cox wrote explaining her reasons for liking it and it’s difficult to argue with any of her points.

In fact, she goes beyond that and demonstrates her entire workflow as to how she manages the incoming.  I think it’s a great post to share with your colleagues who want to get up to speed with the best web based email solution there is.


(New to me anyway)

Seeing Mandarin taught AIM-style for the first time

I know that Sylvia Duckworth is a big fan of using the AIM approach in her FSL classroom.  She shared with us this week the first post to a new blog – Using AIM to teach Mandarin.  Currently at one post, it will be interesting to see what happens with this.


Mowing the Lawn – Three-Act Math Task

Apparently, to get good marks in Kyle Pearce’s mathematics class, you have to do more than just cut his grass.  You have to also prove how you’re going to accomplish this task — mathematically.

The latest in his series of Three Act Math activities talks about mowing the lawn.  As I type this, I look at my own lawn which clearly needs cutting.  I can’t help but think there’s a great deal of efficiencies that I could learn from this.


(New to me anyway)

Educational Value of Math Puzzles

I love good math puzzles.  I used to subscribe to “Games” magazine when it was in existence and my bookshelves have a collection of mathematical puzzles.  I think my wife thinks I’m nuts but I’m a sucker for a good mind teaser.  This post, on the Six Nations Numeracy blog, talks about the value of puzzles and gives a nice history of them.  It’s a good read and thought generator for ways to shake up mathematics classes.

Thanks to the authors for providing such great reading.

Please take the time to visit their blogs and check out the entire posts.

You can visit these and all of the Ontario Edublogs at this link.

If you’d like to add your own Ontario blog, there’s a form there to do the task.


OTR Links 08/30/2013

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Terms of Service

I really enjoy engaging with others online.  There’s so much that need to be learned.

Yesterday, I had one of those moments.  I had written a post about justdelete.me and my thoughts about how it could be used for more than the purpose that you might first think.  Doug Belshaw from the Badges branch of the Mozilla Foundation left a recommendation that I take a look at the Terms of Service; Didn’t Read website.

As it would happen, I had written on a similar topic earlier this month.  “The Most Ignored Click“.

The site is full of fascinating reads.  The project’s goal is to rank web services from A-E (or very good to very bad) based upon the details in the terms of service.

As I noted in my post, and it’s the gist of this site, who reads these terms of service?  Even more, at home the installer of the software should know the legal details (yeah, right) but do the kids who use the same computer and the same software even have an inkling?  How about at schools?  If your IT Department images your computer, in theory one technician reads and understands the legal parts and assumes that for everyone that uses it!

So, I can see some real value in a project like this for those of us who aren’t legal scholars and just want to use the software.

Take a look through the site and see the highlights of your favourite software vendor or online service.  It really is an interesting read.

I think that the biggest issue that pops out at me is the ability to change the terms and conditions at any time.  It seems to me that it makes agreeing to that particular condition is a futile exercise.

Thanks, Doug, for sharing this site.  It really got me thinking today.