Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Can U get me some time???

Time! That's what I need.... I'm working most of the time... have already started fearing I might have to submit my thesis in February 2006 :-(... Who can get me some time???

NOTE: this picture was painted by the Spanish artist Salvador DalĂ­ in 1931. It's known as Persistence of memory... You can learn more about it on Wikipedia. First picture I remember finding appealing, if that matters to anyone!

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Reading at a cafe

Yesterday a student who takes one-to-one lessons cancelled our appointment, so I had two "free" hours between taking the kids to school and starting teaching... Those who have ever been working mothers of young kids will probably understand how much that can mean!

So you know what I did? I took 70 pages of my thesis, printed them and sat at a cafe near school (something I'd not done for ages) and went over my final draft once again (though for some sections it was the first time I'd put it in black and white, used as I am to working on the screen by now...). It was a great feeling! Funny, but reading myself at the cafe I felt as though I was reading somebody else, some authority, one of the many authors whose publications I've been reading for years. I would say that is another step towards joining my "discourse community" of ELL academics... I could almost hear Sharon's voice by me "You're the expert, Gladys, you ARE the expert!"

The final editing was so minor that I've decided not to work on it today. Instead, I'll keep on working on the missing sections, to see if I can soon sit at a cafe again, reading the whole thesis!
note: The image in this entry is a Picasso, called Glass of Absinthe. Click here to read more about it.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Why friends make the difference

I don't have much time now, but have to share two experiences before they "vanish from my heart"...

1. Sharon skyped me last Sat morning, as I was working on the thesis (what else? Computing ). We spent about 90 minutes chatting on lots of things, not basically about the thesis... Finally, she said "you needed to work on your thesis, and I've made you waste a lot of time!". But you know how I felt? Full of energy, confident, ready to face new challenges... So that can't have been a waste of time at all!

Holding HandsThis is what I learnt: "whenever U need a push, meet your friends" Sometimes, as in the case of my research, friends are far and cannot be met f2f, but that's where the Internet does the magic!

2. For about 3 weeks, I'd been looking for some reference to back up a statement in my theory, an idea all my colleagues share... Yet, nobody was able to suggest an author for this... I'd just given up and decided to just state it myself, though I was aware it was "weakly" presented... Just on Mon morning, I got an email from my friend Angie... She'd been doing some reading for her "Licenciatura"... and yes! come across exactly what I needed. She took the trouble to send the quote and exact data for the reference.... Some minutes to her, a Earth to me! It's one of those favours you can only pay forward, isn't it?

So, in short, Thank You friends for being there and putting up with me through the whole process!

Thursday, September 29, 2005

A "tangible" product...

Yesterday I decided to follow my instinctive urge to go back to page 1 of my thesis... It was a great experience!!!

I started by going over the intro (yes, once again!) :-D! It felt so nice, every sentence anticipated what now I am certain is coming next... True, I edited some sentences and phrases once again, but now I feel ready to "abandon" the text, as White and Arndt would put it... Then, I created a cover and a first draft for the abstract , and then I read the first 25 pages and breathed in relief, confident now those are ready to be published.... For the first time I've felt I've produced something concrete... That's why today I clap for myself:
Bravo It's time I went over the following pages, these will be a bit tougher (I haven't redrafted them so many times yet), but I feel ready...

Monday, August 15, 2005

"Rather blue today..."

Not my morning for virtual communication, it seems...

1. I'm facilitating an online course of Argentinean teachers. 5 days after the first message has been emailed, 20 out of 46 have not replied. I take the trouble to send a personalised message to each, resending info so that they can get started and saying "I'm really looking forward to hearing from you", which of course I mean. This morning I get a reply... "I'd rather you didn't make use of irony". Grrrrr!

2. Sharon got my draft (after several failed attempts) last week. This morning, I get feedback from her ... "crying" 'cause I've failed to leave 2 spaces after periods or respect the alignment she prefers. When I tell her I was unaware of this question of the 2 spaces, she writes back "dgb, take a look some day at all the emails that we've exchanged"... Not really sympathetic, is it? She adds she's spent the whole night awake because of the heat in her area... Well, it only shows she's human, after all...

I wanted to document this feeling, but am not in the mood to hear other peope's voices on this right now, so that's why you'll notice you're unable to post comments to this entry. (Sorry everyone!)

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

I keep moving ahead...

Isn't the way our brain works awesome?
After days (nearly weeks) of being unable to sit at my PC and work on my thesis, blaming my husband for selfishness, sharing sorrows with friends facing the same challenges (Silvana and I had some "mates" yesterday morning) and once again begin Mother to look after my younger so that I can have some hours for myself (What? Am I my thesis?!?), I've sat and worked on my ever-growing draft for nearly four hours...
Have I finished my review of the literature? No, not yet! But all of the sudden I grasped a concept that had been troubling me for years (honestly!), and I was able to round off a very important section in the chapter (history of CALL). Now only one section is to be written, and then off to the conclusion of this huge task!
BTW, it is clear now that my thesis has grown out of proportions if all I had as an aim was to get my diploma for my specialization as a Methods teacher (85 pages by now, 7 listing the references and the list is not complete!) . There are, however, 2 "doors" on the horizon that keep me smiling: the possibility of getting it published (Sharon says that's not just a dream, let's believe her!) and my determination to make this my starting point to establish myself as an "expert" in this area (Sharon: you should be proud of yourself, you've drilled this into my brainand soul, now it's my belief!). Whatever path I take after submitting this, I'll benefit for having gone through this, I'm sure!

Best news of all: I still have two hours to keep working on all this. :-) I'd better have some snack and try to get a bit further!

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Life is full of challenges, but clouds can have silver linings!

As you can see from the picture, Carolyn doesn't have much hair now, but she's come up from the back of the formation to fly in front while I go on to fly with Gladys.

Chemo has similarities to thesis writing. Once you get used to the routine, you can handle it better.

BTW, GB....Carolyn has sent a message to you.
"Never give up." She's not planning to at any time. We discussed it and it's just not an option.

Carolyn and Sharon picture taken July 29, 2005

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Flying Solo - Sometimes it's harder

Geese flying in V-shaped patterns are saving energy. Each bird takes advantage of the uplifting air coming off the bird in front of it. This makes flying easier. When the bird in front gets tired, it moves to the back of the formation. The next bird in line takes the lead.

DGB, I'll be flying with you again very soon!


Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Sharon, I miss you...

For the first time since last February, when I came across Sharon and she agreed to help me through this process, Sharon and I have been unable to make contact for more than a couple of days... I realize now how important immediate feedback is in online facilitation! Nertheless, I also recognize a new stage in my development towards autonomy as a researcher/writer:I keep writing, knowing I can do quite a lot on my own, confident, reassured.... When Sharon comes back, I may have to undo a bit, but who cares???


Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Writing interview findings...

Selected from an email to Sharon:
It's a good morning for writing, I can feel the "flow" actually "flowing" through my brain... 2 pages edited and 3 created in just two hours! Of course, I have plenty of questions, and this seems to be one of the easiest parts (I bet I'll get stuck again when I get into the "analysis"), but it feels great for a change... If you still can afford the time (before your trip, I mean), I'd need you to have a look at the edited version of the Interview Process and my first report on an interview (I'm also attaching the questionnaires, for you to refer to if necessary). You'll find plenty of questions inserted as footnotes and comments.

As I can go on working on for other 3 hours, I'll try and report on XX next, I'll send it to you before logging off, but don't worry about me if you cannot reply to me...

All my love,


PS: I'll also post the relevant sections of this email in the blog in a minute, to record my reflection... yesterday I heard teaching is one of the most cyclothymic professions... I guess my blog reflects just that!

Monday, June 27, 2005

Chatting with the experts

Wow! I've just finished "interviewing" (chatting on Yahoo messenger, bah!) Martin Holmes, a leading figure in computer-assisted writing. For half an hour, I totally forgot I was (I am?) a non-native speaker of English (I mean, I "forgot" what it is like to feel foreign), and I also forgot I'm "humbly" trying to make my world into the academic community... and jut enjoyed discussing a topic of common interest with "another expert"... he with the perspective of a programmer and ex-university professor in a highly developed country, I with the view of a teacher (and "just-turned researcher"?) in Argentina...

Well done, Sharon! Once again, you've helped me "use my wings"! (We should let our visitors know you've been insisting I should do this for nearly two months, right?)

A thesis's question is to be answered and...

Once again, a most "intensive" morning Skyping with Sharon... 2 hours chatting... she helps me gain so much insight!!! Just two lines I do NOT want to forget from everything she "gave" me today:

A really well written thesis not only answers the question posed, but also leaves the reader with "food for thought", sets new questions for further research, opens new paths...

Back to writing!

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Happy Birthday!

Dear Gladys,

Have a wonderful birthday and take a break from the "thesis stuff." It will be waiting for you tomorrow!



Thursday, June 23, 2005

The snail up the wall

About 24 years ago, when I sat for my entrance examination to high school, I was asked to work out the following problem:

"A snail crawls 2 metres up a 5-metre-high wall during the day, but at night, while sleeping, falls 1 metre down. On what day will the snail reach the top of the wall?"

God knows why this morning I woke up and remembered that snail, and thought "no matter how frustrating it may feel to get stuck (and even "fall backwards") so often, the snail is bound to reach the top sooner or later... So... I am certain to get to the "top of my thesis-wall" one day too. Maybe the snail couldn't see the top of the wall from his position, probably it'd never reached the top before and then had no idea of what it would take... but it persisted...

Back to working on the "Scope and Focus of Study" section... Up like the snail!!!!

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

The role of the teacher in process writing.......


An interesting point of discussion indeed. I too would like to have an active discussion about this. Perhaps our readers can ask you for privileges so that they can post also. How do you feel about this? I know that it will make for a lively and varied experience. Ummm....the traditionalists vs the constructivists.

Another note for our readers:

Please feel free to ask questions and make comments. If Gladys is in agreement, then you can create your own posts regarding our ongoing conversation.


A new day starts...

Last night I went to bed feeling really down... after doing my best during the whole afternoon (yesterday it was a bank holiday, so the girls and I were both at home), I realised I'd only managed to produce 2 new pages... TWO? TWO!!! And double-spaced!!!
It was yesterday that I started writing the "Scope and Focus of the Study" section, something I've never read before in my life. As a reader, I find that the least interesting section in any work I've come across... Though I'm working using a model, I keep fishing for words and "mentally stammering"...

Overwhelmed, I emailed what I'd produced to Sharon and went to bed, and even cried a few tears for the feeling of "being at a loss"... My last thought was (as far as I remember) "Do I really have a good reason for getting through all this?"

But this morning I find Sharon has taken the trouble to reply before going to bed (her time), and her feedback helps me see my two pages are sound, the many questions I'd asked now have answers, and this helps me move "forward and faster", and that there is at least one reader (whom I really care about) eagerly waiting to see how my text goes on... The sun has not come up yet, but I think I can feel it in my heart!

How lucky I am to have met you, Sharon! (BTW, this would make an interesting point for a discussion of the role of the teacher in process writing... ;-)!)

Monday, June 20, 2005

Sometimes we change the way we think during the thesis creation process

Transformational/transformative learning is basically about change. Mezirow believes that an adult will rely upon understanding their experiences with a particular manner of thinking until that manner is no longer effective. At that point if the adult is willing to look critically at the assumptions and beliefs and question how these things have affected his thinking, he then becomes open to changing and transforming these beliefs.

Mezirow also believes that it is the role of the adult educator to promote critical reflection in the adult learner, thereby enabling him to evaluate his and others’ assumptions and ultimately make the best (rational) choices (as cited in Merriam and Caffarella, p.320). In reference to transformational learning Mezirow states:

We transform our frames of reference by becoming critically reflective of assumptions and aware of the context of our way of thinking – the source, nature and consequences of our take for granted belief. Transformative learning refers to transforming a problematic reference to make it more functional in our adult life (Mezirow, J. (1998). Holdner, 1998

Okay, so what is a thesis...anyway?

From the perspective of academics in native English speaking cultures we know that:

The distinguishing mark of graduate research is an original contribution to knowledge. The thesis is a formal document whose sole purpose is to prove that you have made an original contribution to knowledge (Prof. John W. Chinneck, from Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada.) The previous link takes you to the Spanish version of JC's paper.

  • you have identified a worthwhile problem or question which has not been previously answered or answered in the manner in which you intend to answer it
  • you have solved the problem or answered the question

Your contribution to knowledge generally lies in your solution or answer.

Well, that was easy enough...wasn't it? :-) So this takes us to step 1 in thesis writing.

  • What is the question or problem that we are going to address?

Once you have identified your question or problem, then you create the thesis around the research that provides the answer. Feel free to ask questions about the this process.


After "the light"... lots of doubts!!!

I've just sat down to write the "scope and focus of study"section... Feels like a new language, and not a transparent one!!!!

I wonder:
  1. should I report my questionnaires (part one and two) as two diferent interview instruments, or just one? What's worse, are they "instrument interviews"??? If not, what can I call them? And is it appropriate to write "utilized in the process of purposeful interviews" when most of the exchanges took place via email?
  2. Since my thesis needs to be printed to be submitted, is it Ok to alter the format of the questionnaires I've actually used (I'd used forms with drop boxes) when including them in the appendix?
  3. When reporting the number of people interviewed, should I include those who said they'd take part, but never got to even signing the "Human Subjects form"?

Oh! Every step is a new world!

(I'd like to include a picture here that helps me express my
mixed feelings... Don't know how to insert a picture yet! :-(!)

3 steps in thesis writing

1. Discover how bright you are and how important your voice is (your words are).
2. Have an experience in an English-speaking culture, feel comfortable.
3. Work for the “aha-moment”…