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Jan's Poetry Class--MERRY CHRISTMAS!

These lessons, by one of our most consistent FaithWriters' Challenge Champions, should not be missed. So we're making a permanent home for them here.

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glorybee
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Jan's Poetry Class--MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Postby glorybee » Thu Dec 10, 2009 9:58 pm

Folks, I should have posted this earlier. I've been remiss in responding to your posts on the poetry threads, and I never got around to posting one for this week...too many Christmas-y things to do!

I guess I'll take off until next year, at this point. I'm mostly through my list, anyway, with just a few trickier and longer forms left: sestina, sonnet, ballad...maybe a few more.

So, have a very merry and blessed Christmas--see you here in 2010!
Last edited by glorybee on Mon May 17, 2010 7:02 am, edited 1 time in total.
Jan Ackerson

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Postby pheeweed » Fri Dec 11, 2009 7:56 am

You haves a merry Christmas too. And thank you for all you've taught me.

Phee
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"And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise." Philippians 4:8 NLT

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Postby yvonne » Mon Jan 04, 2010 10:59 pm

I was looking for a new poetry challenge this week, Jan.

Are you going to do anymore?

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Postby glorybee » Tue Jan 05, 2010 10:36 am

Yvonne, truthfully, I'd forgotten all about it!

I think I'm done, though. Frankly, I was treading water frantically the whole time I did the poetry class...there were any number of contributors who knew a whole lot more about poetry than I do. I felt like a fraud!

I only had a few types of poetry left that I felt even slightly qualified to "teach" anyway--and the class wasn't really drawing the participants I'd hoped for. Much as I loved the contributions from FaithWriters' gifted poets, I'd hoped to reach the beginning poets more. (I did have a few of those, but its a LOT of work for me if there are only going to be a few who really need it.)

I'm kicking around an idea for a new class that'd be aimed specifically at Beginners and Intermediates. I'd love suggestions on how to bring them in, though. I'll definitely change the name; I think "Masters" in the title intimidates some.

Any other ideas on how to bring in younger or less experienced writers?
Jan Ackerson

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Postby yvonne » Tue Jan 05, 2010 10:52 am

How about working on the different aspects of the Weekly Challenge?

Title
Interesting beginning
Different endings
Dialogue
Names and types of characters
Continuity of thought
etc.

I think I would have enjoyed help with these things when I started. I learned by reading yours and other winning entries, to see what made them "work."

BTW...you did a GREAT job teaching the poetry stuff. I loved it!

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Postby glorybee » Tue Jan 05, 2010 10:58 am

Yvonne, that's very close to what my idea is.

What I REALLY need is ideas on how to get Beginners and Intermediates TO the class. Much as I love the conversation I got in the poetry thread and the first Master Class, I was frustrated a bit by the fact that most of the contributors were people who really knew all that stuff already. I was preaching to the choir, so to speak.

I'd really like to do a "freshman level" class--but how to get the students HERE?
Jan Ackerson

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Postby yvonne » Tue Jan 05, 2010 11:09 am

Hmmm... changing the name would help.

How about...

Simple Steps to Good Writing
Building Better Writers
Easy Ways to Improve Your Writing


I'll have to think about it more.

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Postby glorybee » Tue Jan 05, 2010 11:14 am

I love that you're helping with titles for the class! That'll definitely help...but only if those Beginners and Intermediates actually visit the forums.

So...how to get them HERE?
Jan Ackerson

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Postby pheeweed » Tue Jan 05, 2010 11:30 am

yvonne wrote:How about working on the different aspects of the Weekly Challenge?

Title
Interesting beginning
Different endings
Dialogue
Names and types of characters
Continuity of thought
etc.

I think I would have enjoyed help with these things when I started. I learned by reading yours and other winning entries, to see what made them "work."

BTW...you did a GREAT job teaching the poetry stuff. I loved it!


I love this idea too. I don't enter the challenge often and part of the reason is that I don't always feel like I've learned from the experience. The yellow boxes are wonderful, but don't very often give constructive feedback. I think you could attract people by posting something on the challenge forum. Let them know this is where they can learn specific things to improve their entries.

I'm lazy and find it hard to analyze winning entries. Or maybe I just need really specific, detailed things to look at.

As a non-poet (not really a beginner since I doubt I'll ever be a poet), I learned a lot from your class. Especially how to be more careful about word choices.

One more comment. When I first joined FW, I read all your past classes. I saw that many times people linked to past challenge entries to show how they had used whatever the lesson was that week. I felt out of my league because I didn't have many challenge entries. Maybe, for beginners, you shouldn't put so much emphasis on actual challenge entries. Or maybe you could encourage them to use the lesson in current or future entries. Does that make sense?

Phee
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http://www.delightedmeditations.blogspot.com

"And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise." Philippians 4:8 NLT

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Postby Ms. Barbie » Tue Jan 05, 2010 11:53 am

Jan, I am one of those beginners you desire to draw in. I am here, and those poem types were way out of my comprehension. The forum listed below you of "Ann's Jots and Tittles" would have been great for where I am at, but there are no posts!!! :( Perhaps you could do something similar to that, and simply title the class BASICS 101. Topics could be:

Show/tell,
Point of view
Eye-catching titles
Difference between a story and an essay
Use of tenses
Humor

These are topics I personally would love to study more!
To bring in more people, perhaps this forum could be recommended when critiqing their articles.
Barb Culler

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Postby swfdoc1 » Tue Jan 05, 2010 2:44 pm

Jan, I was one of the people that made a comment during the poetry lessons about the low number of entries one week. However, I would not jump to the conclusion that the poetry lessons drove folks away. I know you are a statistic person. Here are some stats from your lessons (from before I started looking at things to produce these stats—for some reason every time I looked at a lesson the “views” counter increased by two):

Avg. # of views for the poetry lessons (the recent ones, not the others that were scattered throughout the other lessons, e.g., Rhyme): 1,399
Avg. 3 of views for all other lessons: 1,956.
Avg. # of posts for poetry lessons: 60
Avg. # of posts for all other lessons: 53

Thus, the poetry lessons had 28% fewer views, but 13% more posts

However, it seems to me that the numbers were skewed because so many of the poetry lessons were in Nov.—NaNo month. So here are some more stats:

Avg. # of views for Poetry lessons from Nov. 2009: 1,146
Avg. # of views for lessons from Nov. 2008: 908
Avg. # of posts for Poetry lessons from Nov. 2009: 49
Avg. # of posts for lessons from Nov. 2008: 42

Thus the Nov. Poetry lessons had 26% more views and 17% more posts than the Nov. 2008 lessons.

Finally, we can look at the non-Nov. Poetry lessons vs. the non-Nov. other lessons:

Avg. # of views for Poetry lessons not from Nov. 2009: 1,738
Avg. # of views for lessons from not Nov. 2008: 2,072
Avg. # of posts for Poetry lessons not from Nov. 2009: 76
Avg. # of posts for lessons not from Nov. 2008: 55

So the non-Nov Poetry lessons had 16% fewer views, but 38% more posts than the non-Nov. other lessons.

So the Poetry lessons “win” in 4 out of 6 stats. AND that is with the other lessons having been available for so much longer. It’s hard to say how the melt down impacted things, but I think the Poetry lessons hold up pretty well.

By the way, I think these raw numbers are pretty amazing—your lessons are REALLY popular. And VALUABLE, I might add. I feel quite certain there are many beginners and intermediates in the view stats, even if not in the post stats. So you may be trying to solve a problem that doesn’t exist. As further possible evidence, I saw Ms. Barbie’s post—she found and read the lesson. Her point was not about looking at the lesson but about the content. If you want to change the content, there are 2 things to consider: what you post and what the rest of us post. Obviously, you can direct your content towards beginners/intermediates, both in terms of the lesson topic and in terms of how you present it. I’ve always thought that you have done a great job of both and that the poetry lessons were no exception. If however, others feel that the poetry lessons were an exception to the content side (i.e., they were too hard), just avoid such topics in the future.

As far as controlling what the rest of us post, you could just add a boilerplate sentence or two at the beginning of each lesson stating that it is geared towards beginners and intermediates and asking people not to take it any deeper. Hopefully, people would honor that. As you know, I have offered several times, both on the boards and in private emails to you to stop posting any of my comments that were problematic in this regard. I can tell you that I would honor any such boilerplate request and can’t imagine that others would not. If you do take the lessons deliberately in the beginner/intermediate direction, I can imagine there would still be weeks when I could benefit by doing the homework without adding anything else. After all, the homework has been very helpful to me up to now. I assume that has be true of everyone else, too.

Nonetheless, if you are still worried about the name issue (which to repeat, I don’t think you need to be), just go for the obvious: Jan’s Lessons for Beginners and Intermediates. I don’t think there’s an egotistical bone in your body, but I’m telling you: keep “Jan’s” in the title. The only down side to such a title is it might keep away more advanced folks, which would be unfortunate. I don’t think this would be true of advanced folks that have already enjoyed the lessons, but it might be true of advanced folks who have yet to check it out. There are several people whose homework is always fantastic and which I think would greatly benefit the beginning and intermediate students. Again, I think these folks could contribute homework while honoring the request not to take things deeper.

By the way, if you do lose some advanced folks due to the name or content change, that’s OK given what you want to accomplish.
Steve
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things are gone." C.S. Lewis
“The chief purpose of life … is to increase according to our capacity our knowledge of God by all the means we have, and to be moved by it to praise and thanks. To do as we say in the Gloria in Excelsis ... We praise you, we call you holy, we worship you, we proclaim your glory, we thank you for the greatness of your splendor.” J.R.R. Tolkien

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Postby glorybee » Tue Jan 05, 2010 3:30 pm

Wow, Steve--those are some great stats! Thanks so much--looking at numbers makes me happy. It's wierd, because usually "word" people aren't "number" people, and vice versa...I guess I'm a multi-dimensional nerd.

I loved, loved, loved your contributions to both of my previous classes, Steve. Never worry about that. You and Vonnie and Carol and Cori and several others have taught me so much!

Thanks, too, for your input into the title of any future class I might lead. I will almost certainly leave my name in it--it's probably the only writing-related place I'll ever see my name!

I'm going to run my ideas by the rest of the moderators and by Deb and Scott, and make sure to get the go-ahead from them. Might take a week or so to get everything in order...stay tuned.
Jan Ackerson

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Postby Symphonic » Tue Jan 05, 2010 4:54 pm

Jan, I can't tell you how much I've enjoyed these lessons. I've learned a great deal about poetic forms (triolet and clerihew, for example, were definitely new to me!).

I especially enjoy the interaction here, with you and with other writers of various levels. Some of the other areas of the forum are not as interactive, at least for those of us who only post once in a while... if that makes sense.

To get others involved--especially beginning and intermediate writers--I'd recommend "advertising" (with a STICKY) on the Newbies page. Most people introduce themselves there when they arrive, and many are looking for ways to improve their writing.

However the class is structured in the future, I hope you won't mind if I jump in with a comment now and then!
Carol S.

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Postby swfdoc1 » Tue Jan 05, 2010 7:11 pm

glorybee wrote:I loved, loved, loved your contributions to both of my previous classes, Steve. Never worry about that. You and Vonnie and Carol and Cori and several others have taught me so much!


I knew that you felt that way about my comments and the comments of others in the PAST since you've said so before. I just meant that if it is counterproductive to what you want to do in the FUTURE, I think it's fine for you to say so. Of course, I don't want to put words in your mouth. Personally, I'd love to hear from all the folks you mentioned and others.

I'm just saying, it's your call, and you shouldn't have to worry about offending folks if you want the future to be different than the past.
Steve
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"When the Round Table is broken every man must follow Galahad or Mordred; middle
things are gone." C.S. Lewis
“The chief purpose of life … is to increase according to our capacity our knowledge of God by all the means we have, and to be moved by it to praise and thanks. To do as we say in the Gloria in Excelsis ... We praise you, we call you holy, we worship you, we proclaim your glory, we thank you for the greatness of your splendor.” J.R.R. Tolkien

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Postby violin4jesus » Thu Jan 07, 2010 3:33 am

If I can put my two cents in, I found it UBER helpful as a Newbie to come to your class and see a variety of skill levels posting. If people are to improve their writing, they need something to strive for. Seeing a multitude of approaches to the different lessons helps them to understand the different directions they can go with their writing.

I agree with bringing the topics down to simplicity, though. As fun as it is to try new things, my brain can only handle so much at a time. If you start with a basic topic, then those of us with maybe a bit more experience can explain how we personally approach the particular area in our writing.

To tack on to what Steve said, a note to the more advanced writers could advocate for them to veer more in the direction of teaching or explaining rather than blowing everyone out of the water with creative brilliance. In other words, use your topic as a discussion point.

Maybe you could have your forum moved to the Newbie Nook? Or at least a link to it. And since a lot of Beginners and Intermediates will receive posts from you in their Challenge pieces, perhaps you could put the link in your profile. Yours was the first one I read after I joined, and if you had the link right there, I wouldn't have just stumbled upon it while browsing the boards.

Titles? How about Stretching Your Writing Skills With Jan? Or The Write Improvement?

Okay, maybe I'm not so helpful with titles. You get lots of FB comments. Just tell people you want to change the name of your class on FW. I'm sure you'll get lots of random suggestions.

Slap me if I'm out of line, k? :lol:

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