Teflpedia:Teachers' room/Archive/2012

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'sh ... This is an archive

For current discussion, see Teflpedia:Teachers' room


Uncategorized pages[edit]

Greetings All. Just popped into the above page to see if the was any cleaning up to be done. There are still a couple of things that I'd get rid of, but don't want to step on too many corns, so won't be bold. However, I noticed that both Teflpedia:Main Page and Teflpedia:Teachers' room (this one) are uncategorized. Am at two minds as to whether they "need" to be categorized, but unless there are overwhelming technical reasons for doing so, such as them being excluded from the "Random page" function, don't see any real need for it. Cheers! --Technopat 05:32, 18 February 2012 (CST)

Not to worry. I note that Teflpedia:Teachers' room is our virtual teachers room where the coffee is always fresh, while Teachers' room is an encyclopedic article. Also, there is no Teflpedia:Main Page while Main Page is our site "home" page. Help:Namespaces explains the various namespaces, the part of a page name before the colon, we use on Teflpedia. --Roger 18:13, 18 February 2012 (CST)
Categories just help people look for things in a certain category so not everything has to be categorized.--Bob M 02:00, 19 February 2012 (CST)

Want an article name[edit]

There are a number of sites on the web where freelance teachers can advertise themselves - frequently gratis. I'd like to mention their existence and link to various ones but don't want to put the information on the freelance teachers' page as it's already big enough. But I can't think of a snappy page title. Any ideas?--Bob M 04:26, 21 February 2012 (CST)

Freelance links any good? --Technopat 06:04, 21 February 2012 (CST)
Thanks but not really. These are specific links which take you to pages which you can use to advertise your business. I think I'll create it on a userpage while we think of a title. But not today.--Bob M 06:57, 21 February 2012 (CST)

Wrong template?[edit]

Greetings All. Have just come across the template {{wrong|xxx}} over at the article on Contraction. While I think it's great to have a specific template to highlight typical mistakes, I reckon it might be better to substutute this one (which highlights stuff in red) for one along the lines of (NOT ... xxx) or, to use a more standard form (*xxx). The trouble with the latter version is that while most teachers will know what that asterisk stands for, many students probably won't. I'd rule out the other possiblity which is also seen sometimes, (blah, blah) as it may not be clear to non-native users. How go we? --Technopat 08:24, 25 February 2012 (CST)

To be honest, I'd be more keen on the strikeout.--Bob M 13:59, 29 February 2012 (CST)
The strikeout is certainly clearer and more categorical from an aesthetic point of view, but to non-native "users", i.e. people who are likely to be unfamiliar with the construction of certain words in English, being unable to see the letters clearly might affect their perception of the actual problem being pointed out. It's a bit like the captchas - is that an "a" or an "e" or an "o" with a line through the centre, or to put it another way, does it say band, bend or bond? --Technopat 23:58, 29 February 2012 (CST)
Obviously I'm a native speaker, but I can see them pretty clearly as band, bend and bond.--Bob M 00:51, 1 March 2012 (CST)
How 'bout bland, blend or blond :) ? --Technopat 02:23, 1 March 2012 (CST)
I'm still reading them without any real difficulty. On the other hand I've got a very big monitor with font sizes set to be quite large for my old eyes so perhaps I'm not the best test subject. --Bob M 05:00, 1 March 2012 (CST)
I've just noticed that the Spanish-language language wiki I collaborate with has two templates: {{sí}} (a bold green tick) and {{no}} (a bold red cross) to show the difference 'tween right an' wrong. The alternative text would have to something clear, such as {{right}} and {{wrong}} to make it easier for people using screen readers, people with low vision, folks who are colour blind, etc. Which reminds me: how accessible is teflpedia? Someone who knows 'bout such stuff told me way back that websites using accessibility criteria were ensured higher placings in Google searches. --Technopat 11:45, 5 March 2012 (CST)
That sounds like a very good solution. On you other point this post from blind wiki seems to suggest there is room for improvement.--Bob M 04:25, 6 March 2012 (CST)
See #Wrong template wrong, below. --Roger 15:56, 11 October 2012 (CDT)

Anonymous editing[edit]

I favor turning anonymous editing off again, to stem the flow of bot net garbage edits. Anonymous editing was off for a year or more before our recent experiment with turning it back on. It is not hard for humans to log in; requiring it is understandable and normal these days. What say you all? --98.207.154.233 11:32, 29 February 2012 (CST)

I agree. It was interesting to see what would happen but for the time being we are better off without it.--Bob M 13:56, 29 February 2012 (CST)
Go for it, I say. I been happily editing away these days, smugly popping in knowing that I wouldn't have to waste me time an' energy blocking and deleting before I could get down to more constructive stuff. Be seein' ya, 98.207.154.233. Thank you for your contributions... --Technopat 02:28, 1 March 2012 (CST)
Okay, I have turned anonymous editing off. --Roger 12:00, 1 March 2012 (CST)

Lesson materials on subpages[edit]

Materials to be printed out and used as part of a lesson may best be placed on subpages of the lesson they are part of. This makes it both clear what lesson they are part of and makes it easy to print the materials out when necessary instead of the whole lesson. Lesson:Postcard home is an example of this. --Roger 13:02, 1 March 2012 (CST)

New category[edit]

Greetings All, Have just created a new category, Category:Confusing stuff which I reckon could be very useful to highlight those typically confusing aspects - other than mere, common-or-garden difficulties students may come across. However, ain't so happy about the name. Can anyone come up with a better suggestion? Cheers! --Technopat 05:22, 5 April 2012 (CDT)

S'pose it would help if I linked the actual cat. in question: Category:Difference_between.... Sorry! --Technopat 04:17, 7 June 2012 (CDT)
I like the name "Confusing stuff"! But maybe students might prefer something easier, maybe "That Was Easy!" Wiki note: I added a colon (:) to the front of your category link (wiki markup: [[:Category:Confusing stuff]]; produces in line link: Category:Confusing stuff) because that is how you do an in line text link to a category with wiki text. Without the leading colon the link to a category just categorizes the page and puts the link at page bottom which is not what you want when you want an in line text link. --Roger 13:31, 2 July 2012 (CDT)

Are Category:Difference between... and Category:Confusing stuff similar? The descriptions at top of these two categories are similar. Should these two categories be merged into one, or link to each other in their descriptions? --Roger 13:40, 2 July 2012 (CDT)

An award![edit]

We've won an award! Site of the month at Teflnet.--Bob M 02:07, 3 June 2012 (CDT)

An award from Teflnet!
Yay! Tea and biscuits all round! SophieWilder 08:24, 3 June 2012 (CDT)
Let's not get carried away! One biscuit each.--Bob M 08:30, 3 June 2012 (CDT)
Cool write-up! That'll boost those great-looking stats and get the odd person bookmarking the site. Congrats to Bob & All! --Technopat 00:22, 7 June 2012 (CDT)
Our recent new sign-ups seem to have come from there - but they don't seen very active.  :-( --Bob M 04:47, 7 June 2012 (CDT)
"Award-winning site" - I like it!--Bob M 04:50, 7 June 2012 (CDT)
 :) --Technopat 06:19, 7 June 2012 (CDT)

Main Page Cleanup[edit]

I propose we clean up the wiki markup of Main Page so that it may be worked with more easily. Please examine the markup of this prototype Main Page --> Main Page Redo <-- and comment about it at Talk:Main_Page#Main_Page_markup. I reckon I will wait to hear from Bob before I replace the current Main Page with this new one.

Also, I propose we clean up Talk:Main Page as follows:

  • Put a note at top that, "Talk:Main Page is for discussing the Main Page itself. To discuss Teflpedia or ask questions, please use the Teflpedia:Teachers' room. Thanks!"
  • Delete all the old comments from Talk:Main Page that do not discuss the page itself.

May I? --Roger 13:58, 2 July 2012 (CDT)

I agree completely. :-)--Bob M 15:52, 2 July 2012 (CDT)

Done -- Main Page markup redone. Putting Main Page on a diet to follow in days to come, time permitting. --Roger 17:28, 2 July 2012 (CDT)

Interesting link[edit]

Interesting link on effective practice in the ESOL classroom.--Bob M 14:26, 25 September 2012 (CDT)

Some tweaking required[edit]

Can someone take a look at the syntax here (When you are logged in, your "username" at page top always links to your Userpage. It is for your own use and you can always easily find. So you could use it to link to pages of interest you want to visit again. When you are logged in, your "username" at page top always links to your user page. It is for your on use. It as a good place to introduce yourself to other Teflpedians. Some userpage guidelines) as I'm not quite sure what's going on... Cheers! --Technopat 18:30, 28 September 2012 (CDT)

Done (Help:User page). --Roger 15:11, 30 September 2012 (CDT)

Citation needed[edit]

Greetings All, didn't we have a Template:Citation needed hanging around somewhere? I need it, or summat similar, over at hard-hat I'm "working" on (Debate:American English v. British English), but can't find it (the template)... Cheers! --Technopat 11:50, 6 October 2012 (CDT)

Can't remember. If I had created one I would probably have used {{fact}}, but that doesn't seem to work.--Bob M 16:11, 6 October 2012 (CDT)

External links disclaimer[edit]

Do we really need an External links disclaimer? What potential problem is it avoiding?--Bob M 13:14, 7 October 2012 (CDT)

Printing[edit]

I touched up MediaWiki:Print.css, which controls how Teflpedia pages look when printed, so that pages like Lesson:Bill's crazy spree/Joe's day off, Lesson:Bill's crazy spree/Gina and the girls, and Lesson:Bill's crazy spree/Map will print on one page. Basically I reduced the top margin slightly and eliminated unnecessary footer stuff. Works nice—to see for yourself, visit one of above lessons and in your browser's File menu choose Print Preview. Let me know if anything looks strange in your browser's print preview, please. --Roger 22:49, 8 October 2012 (CDT)

Prints fine for me. :-) --Bob M 06:45, 11 October 2012 (CDT)

Never the twain shall meet...[edit]

Greetings All, Re. external links, just popped in to see if the following was of interest (if technically possible, and only to stick it on over at the Oxford Dictionaries article): [1]. However, on popping in for this little chat, I notice that most of the stuff going down here is more related to technical or maintenance issues than to those nice delicate cultural subjects that one associates with having a nice chat over a nice cup of tea and might be a bit off-putting to those among our faculty who are more delicately minded and wouldn't want to be seen dead mixing with the mops, squeegees and whatchamacallems. So, how 'bout separating the two and opening up a broom cupboard/caretaker's room/janitor's office, call it what ye will? --Technopat 14:44, 10 October 2012 (CDT)

I agree that a technical/mintenance issues area would be a good idea. What shall we call it? --Bob M 06:38, 11 October 2012 (CDT)
Torn between AmE and BrE, would that "broom cupboard" make a good compromise? --Technopat 06:40, 11 October 2012 (CDT)
I quite like the idea of making it mildly humorous - but it should be pretty meaningful as well. Would a new user immediately grasp that "broom cupboard" was for technical issues?--Bob M 06:47, 11 October 2012 (CDT)
Technical broom cupboard? Broom cupboard (technical matters)? Technology workshop? --Technopat 10:14, 11 October 2012 (CDT)
I'd rather not discuss technical matters in a broom closet. If technical matters are intimidating teachers, we might consider discussing them in, for example, Teflpedia.com/teflpedia:Dev. "Dev" is parlance for "Development." --Roger 12:33, 11 October 2012 (CDT)
OK, so you say closet and I say tomato, but not too sure that "dev" is sufficiently clear to us non-techies... I did a double take on that one. So how 'bout a straightforward "Technical matters"? Although it doesn't quite make the grade for Bob's "mildly humorous" remit, it does have the advantage of not beating prevaricating about the bush.--Technopat 13:08, 11 October 2012 (CDT)
I'd be alright with discussing matters so technically intimidating as to be disruptive to the Teachers' room ambiance in Teflpedia:Dev whether or not newbies know yet what that means (newbies do learn, after all). I appose calling it "Technical Matters" or "Tomato" however, the one an invitation to help questions better appended to Help:FAQ (which might be a useful page to have) and the other the fruits of bad acting. Hm, I'm not sure where we would link into a "Dev" (non-help page about technical matters), perhaps from the Teflpedia:About page? Somewhere else? Well, any suggestions thus far appeal to you two? Got others? Something cleaver and funny might not advance technical discussion, quite, you know. Now that we all know what "Dev" means, I'm going to create "Dev" right now. If we get a better name we can move it of course. :>) --Roger 16:37, 11 October 2012 (CDT)
Cleavers against tomatoes does seem a bit over the top, old chap. Thinking kitchen utensils or gadgets, maybe one of those apple corer thingies would be more appropriate? That Help:FAQ looks cool, to substitute "For those new to wikis" aka "Newcomer's guide" aka "frequently asked questions". OK, so "Technical matters" is very much a "passive", FAQ-type concept that doesn't really invite users to be proactive & come up with challenging tech/IT solutions, so how 'bout summat along the lines of "Tech requests", aka "TechQuests"©... as in "the page for requesting templates and other useful techie things". BTW, I'd go for the "techie" spelling to avoid the "techy" version 'cos the latter looks like it should be pronounced "tetchy"... --Technopat 17:26, 11 October 2012 (CDT)
<-------------------------------------------------------------

I went ahead and created Teflpedia:Dev which will work for me as a place to discuss technical development of Teflpedia. If something gets covered there that all should know about, I will put a notice in the Teachers' room with a link to it. By the way, technical Help requests are welcome in Help:Support, which I believe will appeal to folks needing support and I have added to the bottom of the list of items under Help in left sidebar for a trial run. We can remove it or move it easily of course; it's just a trial run--use it or lose it. --Roger 17:57, 11 October 2012 (CDT)

Wrong template wrong[edit]

Regarding the little repartee we had above, is there any chance of getting round to modifying that wrong template? As I mentioned, while most experienced teachers will know that an * in front of a word or sentence means "what follows is wrong", I don't think we should assume that everyone will. I'd do it meself, but it's very much beyond my ken. For the sake of simplicity, maybe we should just settle for "Wrong:...". Cheers! --Technopat 14:07, 11 October 2012 (CDT)

Right. Added the conventional asterisk to Template:Wrong. Looks right to me. --Roger 15:54, 11 October 2012 (CDT)
Great, much better! I just tried an experiment, enlarging the "original" * to *, and I reckon might be a bit more effective. Cheers! --Technopat 17:37, 11 October 2012 (CDT)
Trying it out. Ah. That's how it works. *We was robbed! Nice!--Bob M 05:22, 12 October 2012 (CDT)
At Template:Wrong/Dev I'm showcasing nine experimental variations of the Wrong template. Please everybody, check them out and leave a Like or Suggestion on one or another. --Roger 22:08, 14 October 2012 (CDT)
Great work on those Roger. Chat-smiley.gif--Bob M 03:28, 15 October 2012 (CDT)
Kind of you to say so. I'm suppposed to be the volunteer book repair elf at my son's school down the street but have been unable to tear myself away from Teflpedia for so much as a quick glue attack at that. Can you imagine me gluing torn pages at an elementary school library? That's where I'm going now. Thanks for the smilies! --Roger 12:47, 15 October 2012 (CDT)
Guess that it's a different type of cut and paste to the one we do here!  :-) --Bob M 12:51, 15 October 2012 (CDT)

New! Support[edit]

New!—Support—in the left sidebar under Help—bottom of Help items. Feel free to ask any questions you may have there, simple or technical! We're all eager to help. Surely someone will within a day or so, if you ask! ;-) --Roger 00:55, 12 October 2012 (CDT)

Category clean up[edit]

In response to Jameson's frustration with our creaky organization of material at Teflpedia, I have put a pot of poison brew aboil to see if I can magic this problem away. Please bear with me while I adjust our categories towards a usable system. You may see some category links in red this week, till I get them sorted. Patience please. I will get all those links as blue as the sky, eventually. Some things I am doing:

  • Changing category tags from plural to singular form. We need to cleave to one form or the other and I've decided to do it this way, in keeping with our existing naming conventions such as they are.
  • Appending "sites" to any category that is used to categorize articles about sites so that, eg Category:Games only links to actual games here at Teflpedia and Category:ELT game sites links to Teflpedia articles about ELT game sites.
  • Creating Help:Categories--how to use Categories.

Comments and suggestions welcome at Help talk:Categories. Sorry for the inconvenience this work may cause. --Roger 16:46, 18 October 2012 (CDT)

Category naming conventions[edit]

Dear Bob, Pat, James, please help me with this Category naming convention issue. Ever since I changed all plural form Category names to singular form (removing plural s basically) without so much as asking anyone, two days ago in an effort to find a norm for our many Category names on Teflpedia, I have been troubled by this. I have come to feel, after examining Wikipedia, Wikiversity, Rationalwiki, and the boxes in my own garage, that singular form for Category names just isn't normal. While singular form works for article names (which is where I got the idea), it does not seem to be normal for bunches of things. Plural is. I seem to learn by doing; by putting all Teflpedia category names into singular form I have learned that plural form is really more normal after all (I think). It took me a marathon manual editing effort to learn this humbling lesson. So, before I send a robot to change all those category names back to plural form (with s, and ies as appropriate) I'm seeking your input, which I should have sought in the first place two days ago! Which way should we go, plural form Category names (...s and ...ies as appropriate) or singular Category names? (This is not about article names, just Category names.) THanks for your patience and participation forming a consensus on this! --Roger 10:57, 21 October 2012 (CDT)

Well, plurals do seem more logical. However, something that may be more important is the results display that comes up from a search. I propose that if a user searches "game", then under the message "There is a page named "Games" on this wiki"., the category index should be dispayed automatically as well (either a highlighted link or a compact form of the list itself). That way, a teacher looking for a game will be given the whole list immediately rather than having to navigate to the game mainpage and then to the category page, which is not very easy for a new user. Can that change be made too? But yes, back to plurals makes sense and anything that makes searching/navigating more user friendly will help! --Jameson2000ad 11:29, 21 October 2012 (CDT)
James, If you type "game" into the Search box and click the Search button instead of hitting your Return key (Return key is same as clicking the Go button which skips Search results page and takes you straight to a page if it exists), then I believe you will get the relevant list of pages you want. --Roger 13:43, 21 October 2012 (CDT)
My understanding is that plurals for categories are both more usual and more logical. So I'd vote for them.--Bob M 11:32, 21 October 2012 (CDT)
Okay, thanks for these replies. I'm confident Pat wont object to me putting Category names back to the way they were two days ago--plural form ...s and ...ies as appropriate. So now Category-bot and I will take care of this. Sorry for the disruption. --Roger 15:15, 21 October 2012 (CDT)
Greetings All. Must admit I was a bit nonplussed (traditional meaning, not modern, AmE twist) by the sudden change to singular for cats, but decided not to raise any objection. My default setting opts for plurals for cats and sing. for arts. Regs., --Technopat 15:18, 22 October 2012 (CDT)

Protestations and outrage! (what give? "Lesson:"????)[edit]

Um, I need to <rant class=! user=Roger>

Outrage! Protest! The full screen of uselessly confusing explanatory text at the top of Category:Lessons (which ought to be a list of useful pages, not a screen of confusion--"Please don't edit?"--What! On a Wiki!) suggests to me that we should nix "Lesson:" namespace and simply have all articles about teaching English, articles about games, activities, "lessons", or whatever, with all the _other_ articles about teaching English in Main namespace which is the only thing that makes any sense at all here. Bob, truly anyone who wants purely an encyclopedic take on English language teaching will find more encyclopedic material on that topic at Wikipedia than here anyway. Trying to duplicate that here? Good heavens! To keep our Main namespace partitioned off from everything useful we are actually collecting here for the sake of maintaining a pure repository of what is already at Wikipedia, and not here, is futile and is simply driving me bonkers. It is just to complicated for my simple noggin. (Not to mention other teacher's who may or may not be simple but who don't come to a site like Teflpedia looking for complexity. The simplicity of easy to find material about, and primarily yes for, teaching English is what people come for.)

</rant>

Simple is better than unhelpfully complicated mess, yes. Can we clean up the mess and move things from "Lesson:" back to their own name in Main namespace now?

Idea: put a link to our relevant canonical article in the (short please) Category description of the relevant Category page.

No need to try to segregate our _topical_ material via namespaces. Activities, games, lessons, are all very topical and what people come to Teflpedia for. This is why you have been reluctant to move Conversation questions (and many other pages listing games and activities) out of Main namespace, and rightly! A canonical article link in the relevant category's description will do the trick more flexibly and simply, and most importantly, it will do it without screens of needless instruction and explanation which people just wont read. --Roger 14:44, 22 October 2012 (CDT)

Bit over my head, this one. I'll come back to it on the morrow. Regs., --Technopat 15:23, 22 October 2012 (CDT)
Hi Roger. I'll try to take your points one by one.
My objective in starting teflpeia was to create a wiki about English language teaching - not a repository of lessons. As you will be aware there are many wikis in the world about al manner of things from astronomy to zoology. (Well, OK, I haven't actually checked those two but I imagine thy exist.) When any wiki starts out it will have less information about that subject than than WP. The good ones eventually surpass WP - othes don't. Additionally many WP articles are written at a pretty high level - probably at a higher level then is necessary for many English teachers - especially those starting out on their careers.
Over the last few weeks there has been a lot of the activity here creating lessons. In the past it was more about creating encyclopaedic content. In the future we may obtain more editors who are interested in encyclopaedic content again. Although a repositary of lessons wasn't my original objective I am very happy to see them.
When I created lesson space and the templates to which you object, it was with the intention that teachers could showcase lessons which they had themselves created. See here. It seemed to me that some teachers might wish to be able to say "Look at the lesson which I alone have created! Isn't it great?" If this is unnecessary we can easily remove it.
As far as conversation questions are concerned it had been my wish to move them out for consistency's sake - I was persuaded by others to leave them in mainspace.
My last post on the subject of namespaces was here where I wrote: I'm still bit conflicted about the mainspace/lessonspace thing. If we move things from lessonspace to mainspace then we would have to ensure that every "lesson" type article were headed "lesson" or "activity" or something so as to ensure that they were not confused with an article about that subject - as opposed to a lesson which just happened to have that name. That would be messy. I have previously indicated that my mind is not shut on the matter.
I would be interested to hear Technopat's view on merging lessonspace with mainspace.--Bob M 04:15, 23 October 2012 (CDT)
This is a bit over my head as well, but as I understand it a namespace is a tag which an article is attributed to and which has an individual index page of its own. If that definition is correct, then it seems logical to have a lesson namespace available for users who use teflpedia to get activity ideas. However, perhaps another option is available: list lessons on the main namespace and on the lesson namespace. Would that be possible? Then when browsing the main index a user will have all pages displayed, yet can also narrow their search down to lessons by going to the lesson namespace. If at the moment there are a lot of lessons being uploaded, that may only be a temporary trend, and there may be plenty of encyclopeadic articles to come in future. As a wiki, teflpedia`s content really will depend on the donations of its contributors and even if, as Bob M pòints out, it was designed as a pedagogic encylcopedia, it may end up being a little different. The important thing now is to structure the site in such a way that it can grow in whichever way its contributors encourage it to grow, so whichever namespace system fosters that growth the best is the one to use. Later down the line when the site is more developed, the indexing system can be revised according to the type of material it ends up having. Does that make sense...??
--Jameson2000ad 10:00, 23 October 2012 (CDT)
Greetings All. Having popped in above and sworn faithfully to come back to y'all on this one, I promptly forgot all about it and went out and had a bit of social life. Back on topic, however, and basically just thinking out loud (which brings to mind Neil Diamond's immortal lyrics "I said, To no one there, And no one heard at all, Not even the chair", lyrics which are probably the main, subconscious, reason for me deciding to become an English teacher...), I can't seem to work up any passions either way. That is to say, I can "see" advantages to both "systems". That said, Bob makes a pretty important point with his "ensure that they were not confused with an article about that subject - as opposed to a lesson which just happened to have that name. That would be messy." a situation which has actually arisen on at least one occasion - I forget which.
In passing, I'd just like to point out that, contrary to its declared aims, many of WP's articles are now excessively erudite, i.e. are only understandable to someone who is an expert on the subject, and in many cases, given the very nature of the wiki format, i.e. everyone just adding things willy-nilly, they end up being, at least on the many subjects on which I consider myself an "expert", totally unreadable. This is decidedly NOT the aim of an encyclopedia, and teflpedia offers - and I believe that a conscious effort should made to keep it that way - a welcome alternative to WP. There's no doubt whatsoever that the vast majority of English teachers out there are not native English speakers and I'm willing to bet that the vast majority have not had the benefit of studying Tefl/Tesol-related stuff, ergo many of 'em will/do benefit greatly from the experiences of their colleagues on whatever subject, be it practical, as in class material (potentially unlimited offer), or theoretical, as in, admittedly, but also intentionally (at least on my part), pretty basic grammar (actually quite limited in scope). I have also pointed out elsewhere that many of my students now pop in to teflpedia to check things out regarding the occasional language doubt and find useful links (which was one o' the points I wanted to make about disclaimers on external links the other day).
'Nuff waffling on my part. So how 'bout those of you who feel pretty het up 'bout this issue setting out your pros & cons over at a dedicated page (preferably in words of one syllable) to help the rest o' us reach a clearer conclusion... in the event that any actual decision has to be taken either way. Regs., --Technopat 12:13, 24 October 2012 (CDT)
Teflpedia:Lesson namespace/Pros and cons --Roger 14:06, 24 October 2012 (CDT)
In reply to Technopat on keeping language in the wiki simple, that really is up to the contributors. The complexity of language necessary to explain something is proportional to the depth at which the topic concerned is dealt with. So, for a topic such as Conversation class the page doesn´t require any jargon because it´s a simple to explain. However, if teflpedia is to develop, then more complex articles are going to show up but this should be welcomed because when complex terms emerge, they will need a page of their own which defines and explains them i.e. the more jargon there is, the more explanatory the wiki will be. This is the chain reaction that should happen as a wiki becomes more popular/attracts more contributors, even though it may seem overbearing initially. Moreover, it might attract some contributors who are academic who will shed light on certain pages which are currently unclear, and so I realy do believe that the emergence of jargon is positive and a sign that the site is developing. --Jameson2000ad 13:29, 25 October 2012 (CDT)
Yours truly has nowt against the use of jargon... precisely one of the things teflpedia does pretty well is explain jargon to teachers and students alike. Likewise, I have nothing against erudition per se in itself, and several of my friends and colleagues are actually pretty erudite, highbrow or whatever. My dig at WP referred to that thin line separating erudition and unreadability, a very real "danger" of unregulated editing. One of the increasingly apparent drawbacks of the wiki structure is that, while piecemeal tweaking is effective in short texts and in the short term, as I mentioned above, things eventually reach the point at which the text becomes totally unmanageable and, as a result, I insist, unreadable. I know I've mentioned it before, but KISS is very much what it's at.
Regarding the point I was making about "basic grammar", what I was referring to was the need to keep it related to the practical aspects of second/foreign language teaching, which necessarily includes a certain amount of theoretical input, but avoiding going into the ins and outs of linguistics and other, related fields. I have, on occasion, been tempted to start articles on subjects such as parsing, working memory capacity, cognitive processes in comprehension, the motor theory of speech perception or, how's 'bout this one for a sexy subject: "The illusion of knowing: Failure in the self-assessment of comprehension" by Glenberg, Wilkinson & Epstein (1982) in Memory and Cognition, 6. These all have a direct or indirect bearing on language teaching, but other than serving as references and/or external links for further reading, I reckon they go beyond teflpedia's remit. In that regard, I fully agree with Roger's rant against trying to duplicate WP content here.
That said, and trying desperately to get back on-topic here, Roger's point about "Please don't edit" is clear, and that request could, possibly, be removed, but I reckon it's beside the point. I've now given some thought to the dilemma we face regarding the lesson space, etc., and am convinced of the need to keep 'em all separate. Take the page I've just edited, Spelling. Let's say I've thought up a series of games related to spelling. I'd probably stick 'em on page called Spelling games, which would simply be a list of similar activities, some of which might even, depending on their complexity, require their own dedicated page. But let's say I prepare an actual lesson - not a game or articles on Spelling or Homophones - to get the students to realise the importance of spelling and homophones, as in so, sew or sow and sight, site or cite. My instinct tells me to post it as Lesson:Spelling and homophones. As such, it would be formally laid out with its aim, method, supplementary materials and whatnots rather than an encyclopaedic article on the matter or a game/activity which practices the point. The page would have its corresponding blinks (tefpledia jargon for blue links = internal links) and its categories, some of which might coincide. I really don't see that it could be any easier than that. If I'm reading the article on Spelling and see a blink to Lesson:Spelling and homophones, it's there for me to follow up, or not, but at least I know in advance what kind of page is in store for me. Regs., --Technopat 10:51, 2 November 2012 (CDT)

<--------------------ding------------------------

Remember that typewriter bell that used to remind us to Return before we typed off the edge of the page? I don't believe I've heard it in 20 years. :-) For a "Lesson:" namespace to be useful, it needs to be used consistently. For it to be used consistently it needs to be useful. Do game/activity ideas go in "Lesson:"? We could create a "Game:" namespace for games. What then of activities that are not games? We could create an "Activity:" namespace. What is (and isn't) an "activity"? Ah dear, my simple noggin leaks like a sieve. What are we talking about? Oh, is an activity a lesson, a lesson an activity? Where do games go? Is a test a lesson? A part of a lesson (the last part maybe)? So ideas for testing, maybe even actual tests, that do not conclude an actual Teflpedia "Lesson:" could go in Main namespace. Likewise, games/activities, if not woven into an actual Teflpedia "Lesson:" would go in Main. Aha! I'm getting it, right? Maybe this might even work! *<): --Roger 12:10, 2 November 2012 (CDT)

Roger, I do see your point, and when you first raised it, I was almost immediately convinced. But there was something in there nagging me. Taken to its extreme everything obviously becomes counterproductive. Main namespace is the default destination of anything not expressly labelled otherwise. Inconsistencies? In many cases, sure. Overlaps? Very likely. That's where the cats (teflpedia jargon for categories) really come into play, serving a useful purpose by linking separate but similar ideas/themes/articles. I reckon that in the scenario above ("...blink to Lesson:Spelling and homophones, it's there for me to follow up, or not, but at least I know in advance what kind of page is in store for me."), with a basic format of Main namespace + Other namespace, the possibility of distinguishing 'tween two or more thingies is useful, helpful and practical. Food for thought: blinks are not consistently used. Does it matter? Over at WP, there is a general tendency to overlink, and it irritates me somewhat to see every single noun, year, etc., linked - as if an article with a large number of links is automatically more encyclopaedic. But the basic principle of links is still, IMNSHO (seems like 20 years since I last used that one, but actually only a couple), one of the greatest things since sliced bread namespaces, as in useful, helpful and practical. Gotta rush off. Cheers! --Technopat 13:05, 2 November 2012 (CDT)
I find myself increasingly torn on this. There is certainly potential scope for confusion - which is why I originally created a "freestuff" for anything which was not encyclopaedic. (I was later persuaded to change "freestuff" to "lesson".) On the other hand potential confusion may not necessarily translate into actual confusion.
There is also the fact that blue-linking does not really apply to lesson type stuff - although it works great for encyclopaedias. Consequently, as "lesson" activities are not blue-linked - and they may also have non-obvious titles - they may lack discoverability.
On the other hand, Roger's ongoing "search on categories" project should make "lesson" pages discoverable via category search - a very sensible solution to the lack of blue-linking and non-obvious page titles.
But if we are going to search for "lessons" via category search then it doesn't really matter what namespace the things are in as categories are not governed by namespaces.--Bob M 14:01, 2 November 2012 (CDT)

Vocabulary games[edit]

One issue about the Vocabulary ELT games page: supposing sometone wants to revert a game to a version created some time ago? They would have to revert the entire page back to the version of that date, thus changing modifications to all the other games too, which means contributors have to copy and paste previous codes or rewrite them. So I suggest that, given the amount of games listed, they should have their own pages so they can be edited independently. Any thought? --Jameson2000ad 12:26, 28 October 2012 (CDT)

Vocabulary ELT games currently is rather more a list than an article. As a list its function is to help folks find or discover vocabulary game ideas. To that aim, the content of any one game's description should be kept quite short. Further details about an individual game can and should be on a page dedicated to that game. Just create a link, eg [[name of the game]], follow it, and create. Remember to put [[Category:Games]] [[Category:Vocabulary]] on the new page so folk will find it. I hope to work up a more usable interface to the Special:MultiCategorySearch tool so that lists like Vocabulary ELT games (albeit without descriptive summary texts) will be easy to create on the fly, using drop down lists of categories to focus search results with, for all manner of Teflpedia content. It will requires some study. --Roger 22:20, 29 October 2012 (CDT)

Wot? No Hallowe'en...?[edit]

We have Thanksgiving but nowt on Hallowe'en (3m Google results) or Halloween (927m) results. We now have the jack-o'-lantern (see top left), but no trick or treat. Surely someone out there has summat for classwork... Regs., --Technopat 05:54, 30 October 2012 (CDT)

We don't expect James to do ALL the writing around here, do we?
Happy Hallowe'en! Don't miss The Hallowe'en Google Doodle (yes, click all over it) before you go te bed! BOO! --Roger 13:50, 31 October 2012 (CDT)
This is the best I can do. Halloween conversation questions been talking about it all week but it doesn't go much further than this. Any more ideas?--Bob M 11:53, 1 November 2012 (CDT)
Nice effort Bob M but a little too late - your signature reads "1st of November"hehe --Jameson2000ad 14:48, 1 November 2012 (CDT)
Well, something to build on for next year.  :-)--Bob M 16:02, 1 November 2012 (CDT)
But still in time for... Bonfire Night. Wot? No Bonfire Night conversation questions? --Technopat 10:58, 2 November 2012 (CDT)

Use enhanced recent changes (requires JavaScript)[edit]

Is a helpful "Recent changes" preference setting that tames Recent changes for readability. Try it: click Preferences (top of any pages when you are logged in) which takes you to your Teflpedia Preferences page. Now at top of your Preferences page click the tab titled "Recent changes". Then check the "Group changes by page in recent changes and watchlist" check box and click Save. One helpful thing it does is fold consecutive edits to a page into one "Recent changes" line with a drop down triangle you can click on to see all the edits if you want to. --Roger 12:34, 2 November 2012 (CDT)

thanks. I'll run with that for while.--Bob M 13:47, 2 November 2012 (CDT)

Categories[edit]

I would love some feedback or suggestions regarding first level category names to use over on Contents (second link in left sidebar). I'm thinking these first level cats might do:

  • Language
  • Teaching English
  • English teaching community
  • Methodology
  • Help

I am pleased with the way I have got category tree working. Click on Contents and poke around a bit to see. The cats unfold when you click on their arrow icon ().

What do you think? Please comment here or over at Talk:Contents. Meow, --Roger 17:15, 7 November 2012 (CST)

Yer cats are cool and trees give 'em something to sharpen their claws on :) Regs., --Technopat 06:07, 2 December 2012 (CST)
Done. I merged category "Language stuff" into category category:Language and category "General stuff" into wherever depending on what the item was. I think this will work out fine. Cheers, --Roger 20:26, 2 December 2012 (CST)

Main page colors[edit]

I redid the Main Page Fall colors and merged the last sections, "How is Teflpedia structured," into the section above it, "How can I explore Teflpedia?" I'm thinking maybe do Winter colors in December, maybe snow whites, silvers and golds (maybe using gradients for those). Comments? Suggestions? --Roger 16:38, 15 November 2012 (CST)

I've got no really strong feelings on this - I'm relaxed as long as it looks good. Furthermore my sense of colour coordination is, shall we say, very masculine. In other words non-existent
I've got to say that I'd be intrigued to see your "snow whites, silvers and golds" for Christmas though - sounds most festive!--Bob M 07:40, 2 December 2012 (CST)

Links that go bang[edit]

I feel we patronize our valued readers when we link words such as spelling, teacher, and language that our English teachering audience does not lack basic understanding of. I feel links say, "Dear reader, allow me to offer you this link to material that you may not be familiar with which may aid your understanding." Notwithstanding our desire to help folks discover Teflpedia articles, wont we come across as patronizing if we link for example the word spelling within our plagiarism article where it is unlikely such a link aids our audience's understanding of the plagiarism article? Today, while cleaning up a typo in the plagiarism article, I unlinked the word "spelling" there because I felt it patronized our audience. Whether done intentionally or unintentionally, patronizing our audience cannot be good. Maybe links are like exclamation points: use sparingly. I know there is someone here who feels links such as spelling and teacher are a good idea because they help our readers discover those pages. I feel these are overlinking. Wikipedia has a succinct policy on overlinking that may help us think about this. What are your thoughts about linking vs overlinking? Might we find common ground and come to a consensus on this? --Roger 16:53, 29 November 2012 (CST)

As one who devotes much time to de-linking over at WP, I must say that while I agree that your "Dear reader, allow me to offer you this link to material that you may not be familiar with which may aid your understanding." could be misconstrued as somewhat patronising, I get a different take on it and reckon that most people who visit teflpedia are interested in many/most/all aspects of teaching and when they come across a link to some common-or-garden word that would normally be understood in a general context, the fact that a link exists suggests that teflpedia has an interesting article on that very subject, i.e. "Dear reader, allow me to offer you this link to material that you may find of professional/cultural interest." A different matter, of course, is whether the quality of the material available is up-to-scratch and/or warrants an "encyclopaedic" article.
Whereas WP has a major problem in that it attracts a large number of people who have nothing specific to contribute encyclopaedia-wise and have nothing better to do than link and/or think that the page looks somehow prettier if dotted with the blues, teflpedia is aimed at a very specific readership (if not actual active contributors) and doesn't [yet] seem to suffer from WP's intrinsic woes. Personally, I'd take Bob's mindless stats as a sign that teflpedia isn't turning its readers away or off by being patronising. I have mentioned elsewhere that I'm convinced teflpedia would be making a big mistake if it catered only to experienced teachers and/or to native English-speaking English as a foreign/second language teachers, as I'm sure both categories are actually a minority out there in the real world. Not to mention the occasional self-study students who might be popping in at the recommendation of their teachers. By way of example of the first group, oh-so-many-years ago, I was a co-ordinator at a major language school which shall be nameless. Teaching staff consisted of six very experienced teachers and forty-two, mainly well-meaning, youngsters whose only "qualification" was that they were native speakers with a university degree in something, in no cases related to language teaching. I had 14 teachers under my wing, one of whom was an excellent (even better than yours truly) and highly experienced teacher but the others were only capable of going through the coursebook: Unit 1, Exercise 1... and please, dear Lord, don't let 'em ask me no grammar-related questions. I'm sure I'd like to think things have since evolved, but not so sure that I'd put me hand in the whachamacallit.
As for the specific case of links over at the plagiarism article, I really don't see any harm in re-directing folk from what is, in principle, a highly technical issue, to one that is of more general interest to practitioners. Especially one on spelling :) ... I'm outta here! Cheers! --Technopat 11:48, 30 November 2012 (CST)
My feelings are similar to TP's, but I'd like to make the following points - basically because I've been thinking about it all day but TP beat me to the punch.
WP is designed for English native speakers and it's policies are designed so that obvious linking is discouraged. Our readers may or may not be native speakers and may or may not be experienced teachers. In such a case obvious linking is clearly a good idea. (I think that "obvious linking" is probably a better team than the arguably loaded term "overlinking".)--Bob M 12:45, 30 November 2012 (CST)
Just want point out that this modern trend of beating about the bush and being politically correct rather than just getting down to the nitty-gritty does seem to lead to euphemistic and/or unnecessary complications: we's talkin' linking, pure an' simple. Neither "obvious linking" nor "overlinking" is/are necessary. My preferred teflpedia jargon is "blinking" (for any newcomers unfamiliar with the term, that's a portmanteau of "blue linking" / "blue link", as opposed to "redlink"). However, as the issue has been raised, I suggest setting up some sort of convention, i.e. teflpedia help page, where we can explain that although some folks may consider it patronising, that is obviously not the intention of linking blinking here at teflpedia. Will try to set the ball rolling, but everyone is welcome to add of their plenty. Hey! this is a wiki... --Technopat 04:50, 1 December 2012 (CST)
Aha! I knew you two were here somewhere. I was beginning to feel like wallpaper in the Teachers' room and ta coffee past stale. Thx for your fresh replies. The two sections directly above this one await your points of view. I already know Pat would prefer a fluffy cat named "Language stuff" rather than just "Language" and I might just defer to his preference if no one else speaks up, although I don't like the fluff myself anymore than I like overlinking. I don't write much content here so I don't want my opinions to take on guiding weight. Which cat would you prefer, Bob? (please reply in above section regarding cats rather than here) --Roger 20:26, 1 December 2012 (CST)