New Turnitin Feature to Help Students Improve Writing

I imagine most of you are familiar with Turnitin. I know I am. Most of my professors required students to submit papers via Turnitin before handing it in in class. The service is used to see if papers are original or plagiarized.

Now they’ve added Revision Assistant. It gives students feedback on several different aspects of their papers and encourages multiple revisions. I remember most professors didn’t even allow students to see their own originality report, so this is a great step forward. But I’m not sure how it’ll work. I mean, it’s obviously automated in some way, which does make me a bit nervous about it. But even automated feedback (if it’s done properly) is better than no feedback. So long as everyone isn’t getting the same feedback on every paper.

Have you used Turnitin in the past? Do you think this new tool will help students improve their writing?

Advertisements

That Pesky Oxford Comma

The Oxford Comma

Photo Credit

First off, I’m not going to explain what the Oxford comma is. You should know. But honestly, it’s because I’m writing this post immediately after getting off work and I have a limited amount of time before my usual posting time. So…I’m rushing.

Anyway, when I was in school (I’m talking during the elementary years) I remember specifically being taught to use the Oxford comma. Always. And during middle and high school, and also in college I used it in every essay I ever wrote. Never once was I corrected. But if you just read enough blog posts you’ll find that a lot of people don’t use it. From every part of the world.

I’ve read that it is used much less in the UK than it is in America. And I really have no idea why that is. All I know is that I’ve always and will continue to use it. Until I’m given a very credible source telling me not to.

Do you have any secret knowledge about it? Do share.

What’s Your Take on Writing Prompts?

writing prompts

Photo Credit: Writing Prompts For Kids

I can honestly say that I’ve never once used a writing prompt to write something. I just don’t see how they can help. Even though I know there are SO many people who use them every week when trying to decide what to blog about. No. If I don’t have a decent topic to write about, then I won’t be writing anything. I’m not going to come up with something I don’t find interesting just for the sake of posting. That’s stupid.

And I definitely wouldn’t use a prompt to write any fiction. If you can’t come up with the basis for your fiction story…then what the heck are you doing trying to write? The only environment I’d ever encountered writing prompts before I ventured into WordPress was in a few of my English classes in high school. I think one of my teachers had one of those little books with really random writing prompts that were supposed to help you get SOMETHING down on paper. Or when the prompt would be written on the board before you get to class. And the first five or ten minutes would be spent writing. Pretty sure those teachers stole those prompts from those little books. Come on, they could have at least been original. Sheesh.

I really have no idea how often or how many people actually use these on a regular basis outside of blogging. And I don’t see the point of them at all. But what’s your take on writing prompts? And don’t tell me they enable you to write something when you don’t know what to write about. Because how hard is it to Google something or just steal an idea that someone else already wrote about? Not very hard.

Take me to the Library

mrr

Photo Credit: Library of Congress

I may or may not have not told you guys about my experience with libraries. So let’s talk about it.

I’d hope you know by now that I love books. You have to know this. Well my elementary school was pretty old and its library was far from great. And there were only two computers. The fifth grade had its own mini computer lab and there were multiple computer labs in the school, but the library for some reason didn’t get in on the technology.

Suffice it to say that my very first library I spent some time in did not do anything for my love of books. And maybe I hadn’t even realized it yet.

My middle school library was something else. It was about four times the size of the elementary school library and had what I thought was a gazillion books. BUT as you all know, middle school is seven classes a day with very little time in between. I rarely had time to go to the library even though it was so nice.

My high school even added to what my middle school had in its library. More computers and more shelves of books than I could count. But I was a bad student in high school. My GPA and class rank were laughable. I never went to the library unless it was with my class.

BUT during my early high school years I found out that the county in which I live has a pretty sizeable library system. I got my library card and would do some really random Google searching to find my next book to check out almost weekly. Then I’d force my mom to drive me to the library so I could get my books.This lasted a couple of years because once I started working part-time I decided to desert the library for the bookstore.

My experience with libraries enabled and maintained my interest in reading. Sure I couldn’t always get the book I wanted because 100 other people wanted it before me, but that was okay. Because a few years of borrowing books has evolved into a few years of buying books and a love like no other. What’s your experience with libraries?

And if you look at my Bookish Bucket List you’ll see that visiting the Library of Congress is on there. I’m sure there are plenty of incredible libraries in the world, but we have one right here and I absolutely must see it. I’ll be like a little kid in a candy store.

15 Reasons to Read This Post!

Photo Credit: Leah’s Thoughts

You guys know that I rarely deviate from my books/writing/reading posts. Well, I’m about to. But I promise it’ll be fun. And interesting. So, unless you’re really new around this side of the blogging neighborhood then you likely saw my Liebster Award post from this past Saturday. If not, you can read it here. Anyway, I felt that my readers/followers enjoyed learning a bit more about the guy behind the blog as I listed out 15 random facts about myself. Some having to do with writing and some not. Well since I like you guys so much I figured why not just go ahead and tell y’all even more about myself? Here come 15 more random facts about me. Hope you like.

1. I may have fallen in love yesterday. She took me by surprise and now I don’t know what’s going on! It’s scary. Love is scary.

2. I have a really obnoxious laugh. Like whenever it gets out in public someone always looks at me like…what the heck are you doing? But it’s me. 🙂

3. I want to be able to travel the world someday. The Sistine Chapel. Pyramids of Giza. Stonehenge. Anywhere in Rome. Statue of Liberty. And so many more places. Someone with a lot of frequent flyer miles should loan me a few. Or all of them.

4. I cried when I got the author proof of my first book last year.

5. I come from a rather large Mexican family. Four brothers and three sisters. John. Brandon. Marc. Michael. Christina. Adrianna. Brandi. I’ve also been led to believe that there are others out there, though I’ve never met any more. Eh. We’re Mexican after all.

6. I share the exact same name as one of my brothers and my dad. It’s funny because we all go by something different. Our full name is John Raymond Guillen. My dad is Ray. My brother is John. And I’m JohnRaymond. But only family calls me that, so you guys can’t. Unless you’re the person who I may have fallen in love with yesterday. Then you can call me anything you like.

7. I have a weird double standard that I didn’t realize existed until fairly recently. When I’m around any guy friends I speak pretty vulgarly. Is that a word? But when I’m around a girl friend I won’t even say damn. And I would NEVER EVER EVER cuss at a girl. Nope. I’d hit a guy who did that in front of me.

8. I hate wearing jeans. With a passion. I have to wear them for my job but I honestly couldn’t tell you the last time I wore them somewhere else. It’s cause I can’t find any that fit right. My brother and I seem to share the same problem. They’re just too tight. Probably why I never wear pants once I’m home. Or a shirt.

9. I had an iPhone 4 for more than two years and never had a single problem with it. I’ve since switched to a Samsung Galaxy S4 and the screen went out after about six months and I got a free replacement. And the replacement phone doesn’t lock when I’m not using it. But I’m not going back to Apple! I refuse.

10. I routinely cry while reading books. I’ve cried while reading my own and I always knew what was going to happen. Call me a baby.

11. I don’t talk to a single person from my high school graduating class from 2010. It’s sad. I met some great people in high school. Their loss.

12. I don’t dance. At all. My sister got married about a month ago and I didn’t dance. I wish I could. But I can’t. I have no rhythm. Or anything. I’ve vowed to make a fool of myself at my wedding and never again. You can’t change it!

13. Normal people my age (22) do what on the weekends? Party. Go out. Something other than sitting at home doing nothing. Well I sit at home and do nothing every weekend. Cause I sleep. And read. And occasionally I’ll actually get some writing done. Call me boring. I’ll call you an alcoholic. 🙂

14. I hate when people criticize me for not using my degree a year after graduating. Seriously, get out of my life. I’ll punch you.

15. I went to the gym on Halloween last year in a hot dog costume. Yes, pictures were taken. Yes, I’m more awesome than you.

Yay! So now you know even MORE about me! Are you ready to give me your flyer miles? Say yes. I’ll love you forever.

I usually end every post with a question of some kind. So, tell me what you thought of my randomness. Or tell me something random about yourself. Or hit Like and leave my blog. Whichever you prefer!