Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Typhoon Season

There have been quite a few typhoons in Taiwan this year, including one just two days before I returned to Taiwan. This past week has kind of felt like a waiting game, since we had slow moving Typhoon Tembin moving past, and then looping around for another pass. We got almost no rain in Yilan, but people in the south as usual were hit pretty hard. People were really preparing for this one in a way I don't usually see though, literally battening down the hatches, taking down signs, taping up windows and so on. But fortunately, this one was a near miss. Still a couple of months left in typhoon season, especially if this ends up being like my first year in Taiwan, 2004, when we had a typhoon as late as December. Anyways, all that to say, I found this fascinating blog/site with visualizations of tropical storms on a world map. It's definitely worth checking out!

IDV User Experience: Hurricanes Flip-Book Style: Here are 33 years of hurricane seasons lobbed into a bloated and clunky animation (it may take a few moments to fully paint in).  I've retai...

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Jesus Light

 (I took this picture!!!)
I took this picture on a little photography trip, and my friend told me that in Chinese, these sunbeams are called "Jesus Light." I thought it was very appropriate! Last night at bible study, we were talking about who God is and different names for God. I asked my students why God has so many different names. Some websites list over 700!  We teased out the idea that God is everything to everyone. He has different names because he comes through for us in different ways and in different circumstances. Sometimes we need him to be our refuge or healer, other times we need the master and shepherd, and still other times we need the lover of our souls.
God has been doing a new work in my life in this past year, and it has been hard at times. But last night when I got home, a paper literally fell out of my bag and onto my lap. It was some verses our professor had given to us on the last day of class back in July. But they were exactly what I needed to see last night.

"The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, and the LORD tests hearts." Prov. 17:3
Oh Love Beyond Compare,
Thou art good when thou givest,
  when thou takest away,
  when the sun shines upon me,

  when the night gathers over me.

Thou has loved me before the foundation of the world,

  and in love didst redeem my soul;
Thou dost love me still, in spite of my hard heart, ingratitude, distrust.
Thy goodness has been with me during another year,
  leading me through a twisting wilderness, 
  in retreat, helping me to advance,
  when beaten back, making sure headway.
Thy goodness will be with me in the year ahead;
I hoist sail and draw up anchor,
With thee as the blessed Pilot of my future as of my past.
I bless thee that thou has veiled my eyes to the waters ahead.
If thou has appointed storms of tribulation, thou wilt be with me in them;
If I have to pass through tempests of persecution and temptation, 
   I shall not down;
If I am to die, I shall see thy face sooner;
If a painful end is to be my lot, grant me grace that my faith fail not;
If I am to be cast aside from the service I love, I can make no stipulation;
Only glorify thyself in me whether in comfort or trial,
  as a chosen vessel meet always for thy use. 
~The Valley of Vision

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

On the academic side...

As you saw in the previous post, I got to attend commencement when I was at home, and a lot of people have been asking me "What next?"
The answer is a little complicated, but the simple answer is: hopefully the same thing I've been doing for awhile, just better.
That being said, I'm actually not quite done with my coursework, nor do I hold that piece of paper that gives me a new set of qualifications.
Since this past summer was the last time we would all meet together, we got to join the graduation ceremony, but we actually still have a semester's worth of coursework still left to do, so I'll be working on assignments until the end of the year. But, I'm already done the big one as we finished our grad research last semester.

It was tough. It was long. I often felt like I didn't really know what I was doing. But now it's done! At the end of this entry, I will post my abstract for those of you who want to know more about what I researched.
For those who want the lighter version, check out this wordle:

Was it worth it? Well last week I received my grade and comments from the professor, and let's just say I was very pleased. The professor asked to use my paper as an example for future students, and told me that she'd saved mine for last because she knew it would be the best, and it was! I'm glad I didn't disappoint! So am I ready for my PhD? Well, not now, but maybe someday!

This action research (AR) was conducted with 30 female Taiwanese high school students to explore effective means to use and recycle words recorded in weekly vocabulary journals (VJ). In response to the problem of students memorizing new words but being unable to use them communicatively, I designed six activities over three cycles to test out methods of using VJ in a way which (1) was viewed as useful and not overly time consuming to students, (2) provided opportunities to produce target language items, and (3) could be evaluated or assessed. Cycles utilized lesson integration of VJ, peer teaching, and self-assessment. Words were assigned to be gathered from different sources, including the textbook, news, and the Academic Word List (AWL). Data was triangulated through examination of productive vocabulary use by number of instances (increased) and rate of accuracy (relatively stable) in conjunction with feedback from students after each cycle. Pre- and post-surveys compared changes in self-perception and attitudes toward the VJ and activities. Results illustrated an increased usefulness rating (though not an increase in enjoyment) and a higher estimation of word recall from 43% to 57%. The free talk and headline writing tasks were given the most positive overall evaluations, opening up two possible avenues of future inquiry. After observing the increased confidence and improved vocabulary recall among my students, I concluded that VJ can and should be moved from the realm of a homework assignment and integrated into my classroom with a variety of activities.