Journal for Cyber English

Cyber English

An Internet Project


Ted Nellen

I hear and I forget
I see and I remember
I do and I understand

Ancient Chinese Proverb
An Educational Aphorism

Sept 13, 1995

jacking in from my office, exhausted, scared, and overwhelmed...

The summer was spent setting up the site. Rather than go into the technical aspect I will reflect upon the action in the class. I have prepared by reviewing the syllabi of others as seen in our own Cyber Library under Resources. Our first venture onto the web was through Netscape. I have two classes of 34 11th grade students each. The initial problems lay in the fact that some students were weak in Windows operations and mouse functioning. Hence, mechanical chores will be necessary. Wishing to let them go is premature because some instruction is necessary. I can say one thing, my attendance is 100%. We explored our school web site and the Cyber English Log file in particular. In answering the question of name and the Internet, I hope to have the students use the resources I have and then to explore the search engines in Find It.

I get much of my information from listservs. The following are five of my favorite lists and a link to a listserv search engine.

  • EDNET is out of UMass. email to
    write in body: subscribe ednet first last name
  • ACW-L is a great list for English teachers esp. email
    write in body: subscribe acw-l first last name
  • Bestweb provides good sites. email
    write in body: subscribe bestweb first last name
  • WWWEDU is a list devoted to teachers on Web. **** email
    write in body: subscribe wwwedu first last name
  • EDUPage is a digest of education news. email
    write in body: subscribe edupage first last name
  • If you need more lists try our lists of list search engines.

    Go back to the beginning

    Sept 24, 1995

    jacking in from home early Sunday morning with thoughts that keep me from sleeping

    Now that I have gotten to know the classes let me speak of them. I have two classes of 34 students. They are of mixed abilities. They are juniors in high school. We have two junior honors classes so I do not have honors students. They class is made up of bilingual students, special ed, hearing impaired and students from the mainstream. This mix was important to me to demonstrate the usefulness and eventual success at all levels. They come with mixed computer skills and Internet skills. The class is like an eighteen wheeler. It is taking a lot of time to pull away from the toll booth.

    The students have been given email accounts. We have successfully telneted to our accounts. We will be using them soon.
    The students have explored the MBHS home page and the Cyber Library using the search engines in Find It.
    The students have been doing limiting surfing.

    The slowness with which we are moving is easily explained:
    1. The current politics in NYC has forced my administration to ask us to maintain generic lessons until the end of Sept. Students are still being admitted to school, schedule changes, and students without programs are finally being assigned classes. What this means is that I have not had a day when a student has not either entered my class as a new admit or left or both. It is chaos. So before we get too far we are in a holding pattern. Very frustrating.
    2. The students still seem dependent upon me to approve their chose of things to do. This is as new to them as it is to me. We have to jointly develop that constructivist mentallity. I am not worried though. I have taught English in a computer room for the past ten years and know that once the students understand the realm they will have no problem navigating successfully.
    3. The teacher is charting new territory and I need to do it with purpose and care for the sake of my students and to guarantee success for the constructivist theory. We are a pilot for this school and its success will determine our future plans.

    Go back to the beginning

    October 4, 1995

    jacking in on Yom Kippur in New York City while the Pope is celebrating Mass in Newark and the juice is loose in LA

    The classes have successfully used email to read, reply, save and other functions. The difficulty in the classes was seen in responding to some of the Pine commands such as "What does expunge mean?", "cc", "attachments", and the Control key commands. A successful round of email tennis occurred between the instructor and the students. Next we will have the students email each other on a selected topic.

    The classes have successfully setup their Home Pages. Each student has established a page with: Head and Title, a Headline welcome which is centered, a horizontal line, and a mailto command. They used pico and understood the logic of its commands.

    Now the classes shall prepare their first book report in WPWIN and then FTP in to their home pages.

    I'm still getting new students entering the classes: 1 in my first class and 2 in my second class. The students have worked well to help the new students.

    The students are slowly getting the hang of the facets and helping each other.

    Go back to the beginning

    October 13, 1995

    jacking in with crossed fingers and trikaisdektaphobia

    Editing, editing, editing...the book report is requiring lots of editing. HTML will be applied to some Book Reports soon. I have found that one class is very good while the other class is very weak. The quality of the student's writing is less than desirable for publishing. I'm on a list WWWEDU which is currently debating the subject of publishing students' work. I am totally in favor of it. The process is taking longer than I had expected. Getting through the initial stages is time consuming. I k now, from past experience, however, that once the students know how to do the mechanical stuff, WP, FTP, HTML then the pace will pick up. They are still dependent upon me but not for long.

    Go back to the beginning

    October 18, 1995

    jacking in during a lull in the action

    The plan was to convert their first book report into html and place it on the web. The best laid plans of mice and men... Once the book report was reedited, two days, we began the html process. 34 students at one time. It took three days.

    The home page initial work involved: I'm using ( ) instead of brackets
    (head)(title)The Home page of (their name)(/title)(/head)
    (h1)Their name Home page(/h1)

    (a href="mailto:(login)")(i)email(/a): Thier name(/i)(p)

    To do this and test it one and a half days.
    Now with the book report, we took the final draft, renamed it to orgbr1.htm and htmed it. Then we copied it to revbr1.htm and added revision info to it. FTPed it to their public_html directory, adjusted their index.html file to show addition and link to their book report. The purpose of an orginal and a revised is to allow viewers to observe the revision process. What did it look like at first and then what happens to it over time in the portfolio process/concept. This is living text because it will be worked on over time.

    The time element involved in this is phenomenal. It has to get better.

    On to the poem: What is the Internet?

    I think I'll have them begin the cyber biographies too so they will have something to read for their next book report.

    the comes one of the Cyber English classes now..tata

    Go back to the beginning

    October 20, 1995

    jacking in after another hectic week

    The process has taken a long time to perfect, but I think I've got it. With absences, fire drills, and other interuptions like holidays and admin chores we are almost there. The process follows:

    1. Open WpWIN


    3. START FTP

    4. Start TELNET

    Go back to the beginning

    October 31, 1995

    jacking in from the great beyond....Boo to you too

    The kids have their work up, they then spent some time reading other student's work and emailing their comments. Mail was read and papers revised. All in all a smooth operation.
    Now we are working on mini autobiographies for posting to homepage. This should be a smoother operation since I have worked out bugs and the kids have gone through the process once and know what to expect. They certainly are malable. They have had fun with the Halloween links today and we seem to be in calm waters right now. We shall see what the next couple of days bring as I try to get them through the autobiography part quickly.

    Go back to the beginning

    November 6, 1995

    jacking in on the day they bury another slain leader

    When so many of us see the potential of Global communications and world order in the Internet, we have to witness another senseless, selfish, violent, ignorant act of outrageous behavior in the assassination of a world leader by one of his opponents. The violence will not deter a determined people, it only solidifies their resolve. RIP Yitzak. May God have mercy on us.

    My kids are now setting upon the course of beautifying their homes. I am showing them some HTML tricks to do this. They use VIEW SOURCE to see code in other places. They use the gifs in our library of GIFS. They write the code. They can refer to the guide to HTML design to help them in their task.

    We shall move on to violence, which seems appropriate as we watch the world kill itself.

    Go back to the beginning

    November 16, 1995

    jacking in after noreaster downed the telephone lines

    The classes are finally juggling the email projects, of which they have four plus extras that come in. See Project 12 for email projects. They include a fashion project from Washington State, email to Eskimos in Alaska, pet stories to Nantucket, and Xmas celebrations to Denmark. In addition, students from Galway, NY have been writing to some students. We are hoping to hear from students in NZ. I have answered people on listservs by instructing them to have their students look at my kids work and then respond to those who look interesting. The kids are loving the email projects.

    They are also working on the violence project with great success in searching for other sources.

    One last project is their next book report. They are successfully finding the books from the booklist.

    All in all all is going well, knock on wood.

    Go back to the beginning

    November 25, 1995

    jacking in after devouring Tom Turkey

    The kids are doing well. They are very independent now. They help each other and they are in a more relaxed mood. The telnet, browse and search with the best of them. The juggle the projects well. They move easily from telnet ot netscape to ftp. They understand the logic of it all nad can explain it to others well.
    Some exciting things are occuring. We are part of an Adopt-a-Student program started by the owner of InfoQuest Business Services a Special Project. This service serves the business world. The aim is to have those on the Web in business to partner up with our school and with our students in particular. She initiated it and I am excited about it.
    Our kids are connecting up with many kids from other areas via email. The research project on Violence has gone well and the kids will begin writing soon. Book reports from the booklist has also been going well.
    All in all I am pleased with the progress and the pace.

    December 9, 1995

    jacking in after knocking on wood

    Well, last time I spoke I mentioned how well all was going. Well, I didn't knock on wood. Technology problems abounded for two weeks. Weather, Dorsai refit IP's, and phone company snafu. The violence esaays and poems are being posted this week. Second Book report next project and then Holidays project before Xmas break. The last two will be done entirely at the student's pace. I do not plan to be there to assist so they, this, me are all being tested for true validity. the kids are doing well and are either independent or able to depend on others.

    Trying to get a Japanese link going with Emi from TC. Some links include Makota, Haiku, and one other, name escapes me.

    knocking on wood, spitting three times, collecting rabbit's feet...

    January 5, 1996

    jacking in hung over

    Happy New Year. It has been awhile. The students have become very independent which is good. They are navigating quite well, which leaves me to do the producing, which is horrendous. Keeping the links with other schools and with other projects is a full time job. They work on schedules which think that we all wait for them.

    The students are working more in collaboration. They are solving their own problems. They understand an explanation from me without having to show or even do for them. Their writing is showing fewer flaws and more concern for the "English things".

    My thoughts are now going to have them not only consider their own home page, but to now work in groups on projects like ThinkQuest, CityKids, and CyberFair96. This semester ends Jan 22. We will make the run by finishing up another Book Report and the Short Story assignment. Also more attention will be paid to beautifing the HomePage.


    jacking in between semesters

    Upon reflection I find that the work we have done to be remarkable. The students have grown in independence from me, have become aware of the outside world, have educated themselves with my guidance. Decision making on their parts has been positive. They are becoming aware of their voice in writing, their authority, their power. The greatest single aspect has been their email correspondence with others around the world. This correspondence has been based on their work and how others view their work. I am the teahcer and I am expected to read and comment on their stuff. But when others do this they find something valuable in my lessons. Seeing kids come in to room at non class times and sit down and do work is gratifying. After school the seats are full, during test time the seats are full. The kids are interested in the work and their space in cyberspace. They are pursuing their own interests which makes their search for my assignments that much easier to accomplish.

    However, the most important project to date has been the Adopt-A-Student program started and maintained by Kathy Casper. When some are worried that the net will have one teacher reaching out to 100's of students to defray costs, we have many mentors working with one student. It is innovative, far reaching, and the future. The program has the potential of truly changing education. Problem is the skeptics will run it aground. We are continuing with this project because we know it is valuable and is the answer to many questions in terms of effective use of the net in educaiton. I believe this is going to be a project which will be a very important step for us in dramatizing the power of the net in education.

    I am proud of what the kids have done and the web pages they are making. More to come when we start again on Feb 2.

    april 20, 1996

    jacking in as the smoke clears

    it has been a whirl wind of excitement.

    1. NYTimes article
    2. ABC on AOL story
    3. NCTE in Boston
    4. Bd of Ed in NYC taking notice
    5. Mentoring projects
    6. Work at Teachers College
    In no particular order the events of the past month have been exhausting. The kids in all four classes have become very independent and have shown good work ethics. They have taken charge of their own education which makes my job relatively easy. Stoll of course would cringe at this event. To watch the kids work on the biography, short story, or opinion elements of the class would stun the greatest of nay sayers. These kids are engaged in the business of writing and reading. They do more writing and reading in this English class they they did, do, or will do in any conventional, traditional English class. They work with me, peers, mentors, and other adults. I have changed the ratio of 1(me) : 34 (them) to at least 1:1 or better. 2:1, 3:1 or better. Stoll doesn't get it. But then who is Stoll. It rhymes with a stinky part.

    I like the webfolios and their pride. They are getting stronger and stronger. This work we are doing is getting seen, copied, and believed. Sustaining it is key. Evolution is work. I spend 3-4 hours every day, every day maintaining, sustaining, adapting, and creating. I love this tension. But when I sleep, I sleep very soundly.

    We now have a major stretch without obnoxious breaks to finish the year with a bang.

    July 12, 1996

    jacking with my head still attached.

    I have been very neglegent with this journal. i have been writing like a madman. CMC, Seth Katz, Short Story, Listserve review, IBM summit review, 2 more in the hopper for Leslie and Horizon. Book review of Carbone and Crump soon. Went to Salem State College for conference.

    I was very happy with how the kids finished their Work.

    Making contacts in Spain, Buffalo (glenn), and Israel.

    Soon I will reflect properly.

    Sept 22, 1996

    jacking in on ny wired day

    We have begun a new year in a much more organized manner. Templates. Home page setup is first and easier. Then we did a paper template for all papers. We put links to important spots instead of bookmark. But the most important aspect in the English class is that we are no longer using Word Processors. The kids write on the server using pico. It is very efficient this year. Losing the linear has been so enjoyable. The class is becoming hypertextual.

    June 19, 1997

    jacking in after the second year, and for the last time..

    I have not been here for a year, a school year. My journal has evolved into articles, presentations, and workshops. Journals are neat private little ruminations that one keeps of private thoughts. Well, one of the thngs about the net and teaching is that private thoughts becoem very public very soon. Or at least they should IMHO. In my attempt to help this new paradigm shift along and herald the next, private thoughts have ceased to exist. They are public thoughts. And my public thoughts can be found in my public_html directory.

    So I bid adieu to this journal and hereby transfer my future writings to the above area for the goings on in my travels in cyberspace.

    jacking out!

    October 4, 1997

    jacking back in after the first month of the third year

    Very smooth start. The class spent the first three days creating their home page and the paper file. The next five days were spent on the iam, br1, and poem files. I got two student teachers, Tracy Higashi and Lee Spilberg, early. They got right into it. We spent the next couple of days fine tuning and fixing files mechanics, especially the paper file. A day was spent on Teen-violence. We spent a couple of days on beautifying their home pages. Email was introduced and the mentoring program was initiated. I started a list for the mentors and announced our kids pages were ready. The influx of mentors was great. I will update the mentors as to our progress. Peer review was introduced using the Internet poem. The booklist was given out with the br2 assignment. Two days were spent reading the articles on teen-violence. All in all the first month saw them introduced to the major parts of the year's work.

    This year I'm much more organized and calm. The lessons are finetuned and I have a plan. Poetry is going to play a bigger part. Hypertext Haiku and the poetry lesson will help build strong writing skills. The short stories will be done in the spring. I also plan to do The Tempest. More projects with other schools have been planned. A collaboration with a school in England and Italy is already under way. Plans to work with a school in Ohio and Bob Walls is about to start, on fear. Other collaborations are planned.

    We've already had some film crews from MSNBC and NETECH. I've done a conference at CUNY, and had the principals of Manhattan at school. I've had visitors from Sweden's Sputnik. Conferences are planned and 2 book proposals are in the works. 2 interviews have resulted in an Internet highlight and a chapter in a book. CyberEnglish is getting lots of good play.

    Other things include a new program, Virtual Enterprise, Inquiry Program at TC, and The Digital Clubhouse. Things are rolling along quite smoothly.

    Go back to the beginning