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Gord's Classes https://classes.gordsellar.com Resources, homework, announcements, and more! Welcome, all my students! Mon, 13 Mar 2017 01:58:33 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.1 96692227 All Grades Are Now Final https://classes.gordsellar.com/2016/01/22/all-grades-are-now-final/ Fri, 22 Jan 2016 08:21:35 +0000 http://classes.gordsellar.com/?p=2760 Hi everyone,

Just a last update: all grades for the Winter 2016 Semester courses are now final. I only received one inquiry, and that grade was not changed (since there was no error in the grades).

I’m just announcing this for those who were a little worried about their grades. I hope you have an excellent winter break, and one last time, thanks for making my Winter Semester enjoyable and rewarding to teach.

Gord Sellar

Reminder https://classes.gordsellar.com/2016/01/21/reminder/ Thu, 21 Jan 2016 08:18:41 +0000 http://classes.gordsellar.com/?p=2757 Hi everyone,

This is just a reminder: the grades should be “live” on the Korea University Portal system. Please check your grade as soon as possible.

You should do it as soon as possible because in less than 24 hours, the grades will be permanently locked, and it will be almost impossible for anything to get changed. Therefore, if you think there’s an error, please let me know right away. (See my last email for tips on how to politely inquire about possible grade errors.)

Note: I’m 99.99999% sure there are no errors, as I’ve double-checked the results. But I’m letting you know because the grade inquiry period is so very short for Winter semester. (It ends on Friday 22 January, at 12:00 noon—tomorrow at lunch time, in other words—and I’m busy with our baby so it takes me a little longer to get anything done. Your best bet, if you’re going to make an inquiry, is to send it to me by this evening, or, at the very latest, by midnight tonight.

Also, as I mentioned, the grading curve is in effect for our class—and the grading curve was completely filled, meaning I couldn’t give any more A/A+ grades even if more students had earned them… so I’m hoping the high grades were a happy surprise for many of you, and again, I’d like to thank you for being a great class. (And yes, even many of the people who didn’t get A/A+ were great students. Thank you everyone.)

Anyway, I hope you’re enjoying your freedom from classes. Have a great 2016 if I don’t see you again!


Prof. Sellar

Grades Entered https://classes.gordsellar.com/2016/01/20/day-15/ Wed, 20 Jan 2016 08:14:45 +0000 http://classes.gordsellar.com/?p=2755 Hi there!

Well, I’ve finished calculating all the grades for our course, and they’re entered into the Korea University computer system. I don’t know when they become visible to students, but I do know that the grade inquiry period begins tomorrow, so I imagine you’ll be able to check your final grade by then, if not sooner.

A couple of things to note about grades, and inquiries:

1. All courses at Korea University taught in English are subject to relative evaluation. That means grades must follow the grading curve. Usually, I don’t need to worry about that, but in the case of this class, there were so many good students that the grading curve is maxed out. That means I’ve given the maximum number of A/A+ and B/B+ grades for the class.

(Nice work! That almost never happens!)

2. Please note, the grade you have received is not absolutely final. Students are still able to inquire and point out any mistake they think was made. While I can say I’ve double-checked everything, I am only human, and mistakes do happen. Because the grading curve is full, if one student’s grade goes up, another student’s grade may have to go down. Don’t panic, that’s not likely to happen, since I was very careful in my calculations and double-checked everything.

However, if you believe I’ve made a mistake, you should please contact me immediately. The official inquiry period is until 12:00 noon (lunchtime) on Friday (22 January), and I cannot change grades after that. (Or, rather, adjusting a grade after Friday will require a ridiculous amount of paperwork and hassle, so I’m not going to do it unless I’ve made a serious mistake. In other words, if you think there’s a problem with your grade, you need to contact me immediately.)

3. Please remember that your grade already includes my generosity. If you scored a point or less shorter of a higher letter grade, I usually give you the letter grade if I can. I prefer generosity when it is possible. Therefore please do not ask me for a higher grade just because you want (or feel that you “need”) one. Do not ask me to be generous: I already have been. The grade you received includes my generosity, and my generosity—like anyone’s—has limits.

4. Please remember that your grade is, in effect, the sum of all the work you did in this class. Aside from (literally) a mere 2% of subjective difference in terms of participation marks, everything is an objective measure of your performance in your homework, exams, the number of posts you made on the course blog, and so on. Your grade is only partly a reflection of the quality of your work, in fact: in large part, as long as you did all the work, you should have received at least a B. I have designed the course that way on purpose. To get an A, you need to excel in multiple areas, and to excel more than others in those multiple areas.

5. My policy is never to change grades unless I’ve made a mistake. I’m pretty sure I haven’t, but you have the right to ask me to check, and as a professional, I will check. However, you should know what grade you received on all your homework submitted to me, and on your midterm, and you know how many blog posts you did. The only real mystery is your final exam grade, which is worth 10% of your mark. In other words, nobody should be too surprised by his or her final mark.

6. If you are considering inquiring with me about your grade, please first read the following:

  • How Grades Work in my Classes (So you understand how grading actually works. I explained this at the beginning of semester, but it’s good to remind yourself.)
  • Emailing Your Professors (How to send a polite, professional email to a professor in English. I expect you to use this format if you email me.)
  • Homework and Responsibility (About taking responsibility for your course work and the deadlines that are part of a course.)

7. Please also remember I spend a LOT of time on your grades, and ensuring they are accurate and fair. And finally, please also remember that our class was very competitive, with many great students.

Alright, that’s all I have to say. Thanks for an excellent Winter Semester, and I hope you all have a wonderful holiday break!


Prof. Sellar

Day 14 https://classes.gordsellar.com/2016/01/12/day-14/ Tue, 12 Jan 2016 08:12:20 +0000 http://classes.gordsellar.com/?p=2753 Hi everyone,

We’re almost finished with the class! Today we reviewed the difference between Fact and Opinion, and how to tell them apart. You worked with a partner to create some supporting arguments for an opinion that is the opposite of your real opinion (based on a subject from the paper you got from another student).

Here’s an explanation of the homework and our plans for the rest of the course:


  • Read Topic Sentences for Opinion Paragraphs on page 189: it’s pretty simple, and just about good and bad topic sentences.
  • Complete Activities 4 & 5 on page 190, which are practice in recognizing good topic sentences and putting supporting sentences in the right order in a paragraph.
  • Read the Grammar for Writing material on Recognizing Word Forms and Common Suffixes on page 192, but please don’t memorize it. Just pay attention to the suffixes and see how many you recognize.
  • Complete Activities 7 & 8 on page 193, and Activities 9 & 10 on page 194-95.

That’s your last textbook homework for this class! Congratulations!


Remember that exercise we did where you and your partner developed three supporting arguments for an opinion opposite your real opinion? You should use those supporting arguments to write a paragraph supporting the opinion opposite your real opinion. Make sure you include a refutation of a popular supporting argument for your real opinion. (Review page 186-187 for more on refutations, and some goiod examples of how to write them.)


Don’t forget, your group Process Paragraph assignment (about how to do a specific impossible thing) is due on Thursday, at the beginning of the exam. It should be typed, using the template I uploaded earlier, and should have the names of all students who helped write it at the top of the page.


Tomorrow (on Wednesday, 13 January), we’ll review Choosing a Topic for an Opinion Paragraph.

On Thursday, 14 January, you will start class by handing in your group paragraph (the Process Paragraph explaining how to do an impossible thing) and then you will write your final exam. Like the midterm, the final exam will have two parts: Part 1 will be closed-book, and Part 2 will be open-book. You will have two (2) hours to complete the exam.

See you tomorrow!

Day 13 https://classes.gordsellar.com/2016/01/11/day-13/ Mon, 11 Jan 2016 08:08:59 +0000 http://classes.gordsellar.com/?p=2751 Hi everyone!

Sorry for the late update: I usually post an announcement after class, but I had a LONG visit from a couple of students who waned to discuss their midterm exams, and then I had to get home and help with the baby. I’m posting this the first chance I got…

Today was the last Monday for the Winter semester. We have only three more afternoons together. I’m sure you’re happy, but let’s try stay on task for the week.

In class today, we did a small peer editing/feedback session, and I returned the paragraph portion of your midterm exam, as well as giving you your last Paragraph assignment. (See below for more about that.) We also discussed opinions and how to write about them, and looked at pages 182-83 in the textbook.

There were two kinds of homework I gave you today:

1. Textbook Homework (to be completed for Tuesday, 12 January 2016)

I only gave a little textbook homework:

  • Reread Example Paragraph 66 (page 182-83) and look for any material you can use in your own Opinion Paragraphs.
  • Study Opinion Paragraph 3 and answer the questions (from the bottom of page 185-top of page 187).
  • Read the Writer’s Note on page 187, and note how in both ExampleParagraph 3, and in the example paragraph at the end of the Writer’s Note, the counterargument and refutation are located in different parts of the paragraph. (One has it near the beginning of the body, with the first “argument.” The other contains the counterargument and refutation near the end, with the last argument.)
  • Study both paragraphs (on pages 186-87) for any phrases, expressions, tags, or structurs you can use in your own Opinion Paragraphs.
  • Read about Facts & Opinions on page 188 and complete Activities 2 & 3 (on pages 188-89).

This homework should be done before the beginning of class on Tuesday, 12 January.

2. Group Writing Project (to hand in one copy on the day of our Final Exam, on Thursday 14 January 2016)

You were assigned a group and chose a topic. The topics were suggested by students, and are all “impossible” or “imaginary” things. For that topic, your group must write a Process Paragraph explainig how to do something related to the topic. You need to be creative in your approach to the process, and don’t just copy some movie or TV show. For example, don’t use films like these as your model:

Instead of copying those (and believe me, I’ve seen plenty of movies on all the topics chosen by our class’s groups), make sure you create your own interesting and unusual idea!

For example, if your topic was “ghosts” then you could write a paragraph explaining any of the following processes:

  • How to enslave a ghost to work for you.
  • How to use magic to see the ghosts that are all around us.
  • How to catch and eat a ghost, in order to lengthen your own lifespan by five years.
  • How to ensure you will be a ghost when you die, instead of simply disappearing completely from existence.
  • How to check whether there are ghosts in an apartment before you move in.
  • How to safely and correctly summon the ghosts of people you love who have died, so you can talk with them.

Any of those ideas are unique and unusual. Of course, they’re all impossible, since ghosts don’t exist, but the good news is that you can therefore make up whatever process you want. Use your imagination and have fun with it.

Please review Chapter 7 for examples of Process Paragraphs. Remember: great writers steal! Find whatever you can that is useful. Also, remember: I strongly recommend that you work together in person to make your paragraph as good as possible. There’s something special about working together in the same room that is much better for collaborative writing than emailing a draft back and forth, or chatting online, or any other way of doing it.

In any case, you must hand in the group paragraph at the beginning of the exam. I will ask the first person to finish the exam to go make copies of your paragraphs so that they can be returned you you when you complete you exam.

Note: make sure that the name of every participating group member is on the top of the page, where the Student Name goes. This is important for two reasons: so I can give everyone a copy, and so that I know who participated. If a group member does not participate or contribute at all to the project, his or her name should not be included on the page. (But please let me know if you’ve left someone out, so I’m aware of the situation.)

3. Don’t Forget!

One last thing: don’t forget that the Descriptive Paragraph that you peer edited today (Monday, 11 January) should be edited and handed in (using the template I uploaded last week) at the beginning of tomorrow’s class. (On Tuesday, 12 January.)

They must be handed in at the beginning of class or they will be considered late submissions. (And suffer a grade penalty.)

See you tomorrow!

Day 12 https://classes.gordsellar.com/2016/01/07/day-12/ Thu, 07 Jan 2016 08:06:50 +0000 http://classes.gordsellar.com/?p=2747 Hi everyone,

Today, we discussed most of the important points in Unit 7—about Process Paragraphs—on Thursday, and I assigned the following for homework:

  • Page 142-43 (Process Paragraph 53).
  • Refresh your memory about sequence words & chronological order “tags”: see the note on page 145.
  • Complete Activity 2 on page 146, and Activity 5 on page 148.
  • Finally, finish off with Activities 7 & 8 on pages 150-151.

That’s it!

Next week, we’ll do a writing exercise (involving Process Paragraphs) on Monday and I’ll return your Paragraphs from the midterm exam. We’ll also start work on Opinion Paragraphs (Unit 9), which will be the last Unit we’ll complete for the course. Opinion Paragraphs are tricky, so we’ll spend some time on getting them right.

We’re almost finished, so hang in there and try to keep your attendance solid. Remember, anyone who misses more than four classes without an excused absence (doctor’s note, photo in the newspaper saving Jochiwon from alien attack, etc.) won’t be able to pass the course! We only have four classes left, so hang in there!

And sorry again for the late update.

See you Monday!

Day 11 https://classes.gordsellar.com/2016/01/06/day-11/ Wed, 06 Jan 2016 08:03:26 +0000 http://classes.gordsellar.com/?p=2743 Hi everyone!

Today we looked at your homework paragraphs from Monday. I explained proper formatting for homework assignments, and answered questions about the feedback notes on your individual paragraphs, as well as how to use the feedback to make your future homework results better. I also discussed the importance of clarity (as opposed to “smartness”) in your writing, and why “advanced” vocabulary is more dangerous than specialist vocabulary for writing in a second language. Finally, I discussed the problem of positive and negative nuances for adjectives, and how they change in specific contexts in English. Finally, I talked about issues in using Korean words in English, and the necessity of explaining unfamiliar concepts (especially in a cross-cultural situation) for international readers. (For example, explaining what a hakwon (학원) is for someone who has no idea about Korean society.)

Today was a big day for homework! I’ll explain it in three sections.

1. Textbook Homework:

I asked you to do the following for tomorrow:

  • On page 169, read the Writer’s Note and complete Activity 9.
  • On page 170, read the Grammar note on Prepositions of Location, and complete Activity 11 on page171. (Use places and landmarks in your neighborhood.)
  • Finally, for Activity 12, complete Example Paragraph 63, including the Post-Reading questions on page 173.

Tomorrow we’ll finish this Unit and move on to Process Paragraphs (Unit 7).

2. Paragraph Blog Homework: 

For the next two days, you will be using Activity 8 (on page 167) as your model for the paragraph blog. You will write one paragraph today, and one tomorrow, which describe the same thing, and which are mostly the same (like Example Paragraphs 61 & 62 are almost the same). The main difference will be that one paragraph has adjectives with a positive meaning, and convey a positive feeling; the other will create a negative feeling by describing the same thing using adjectives with a negative nuance.

You may start either with the positive paragraph, or the negative: it’s up to you, just write the opposite paragraph for your next one.

3. Hand-In Paragraph Homework:

Your second typed, hand-in paragraph is due next Monday (11 January 2016). You will hand it in at the beginning of class.

For this assignment, please write a Descriptive Paragraph: use at least three of the five senses, as well as using some adjectives and a simile and/or a metaphor.

The topic of the paragraph is something specific to your culture (i.e. Korean culture, or in Saadi’s case, Saudi Arabian culture) that a person from somewhere else might not know about or understand unless you explain it. Your joi\b is to describe the thing, so that a reader from another culture on the other side of the Earth will have some idea about it after reading your paragraph. You may choose any topic except kimchi.

Some example topics I mentioned in class:

  • a hakwon classroom
  • hanbok
  • dalk dori tang or some other specific Korean food

These are only examples. As I said in class, be creative and try to choose something unique and interesting, especially from the point of view of writing a descriptive paragraph.

This will be your last solo typed paragraph for the class, though I am planning to give you one group project to submit in our last week of class. Since it’s your last solo homework project, try to spend some time making it as good a paragraph as you can!

Here are a few templates you can use:

The first two are for the most recent version of MS Word, and the last is for older versions of Word. They should work with MS Word and Open Office alike, but it’s specifically designed for MS Word. If anyone would liek a template for Open Office, just email me by Thursday at 5pm and I’ll get one posted sometime over the weekend. Alternately, have a look at William Shunn’s Short Story manuscript formatting guidelines. Shunn does a good job of explaining everything, and though the top of the first page is a little different from what I showed you, it would be acceptable as long as you replace the address and phone number with your student number, and the course name and section number and professor’s name.

That’s it! See you tomorrow!

Day 10 https://classes.gordsellar.com/2016/01/05/day-10/ Tue, 05 Jan 2016 08:01:53 +0000 http://classes.gordsellar.com/?p=2741 Hi everyone! Well, as you know, yesterday you did your midterm exam. I am hoping to finish grading those by the end of the week. I’ll be returning the paragraph assignments you handed in on Monday tomorrow.

As for today’s class, we discussed Descriptive Paragraphs, specifically using adjectives, similes, and metaphors to convey emotional effects, and using the five senses to create a vivid “picture” in the reader’s mind. We also talked a little bit about rules and exceptions for the possessive in English (his, her, its—not it’s—and theirs, mine, etc.) I also talked about using appropriate metaphors, not mixing metaphors, and general techniques for writing good descriptive paragraphs.

Students wrote a paragraph using at least 3 senses to describe something on campus (or off campus) and are expected to edit it and use it for one of their Paragraph Blog posts today or tomorrow.

As for homework, here it is:

Start working through Unit 8: Descriptive Paragraphs, and complete the following:

  • Read page 156
  • Read & analyze Example Paragraph 57, but you don’t need to write anything in the pre- and post-reading questions. Just study the paragraph as an example and see if there’s anything useful to steal and use in your own Descriptive Paragraphs.
  • On page 158-59 (Describing with the Five Senses) complete Activities 2-4
  • On page 161, read Example Paragraph 59: answer the post-reading questions in the book, but more importantly, analyze the paragraph and, once again, see if there’s anything useful to steal and use in your own writing.
  • Finally, read page 164, and complete Activities 5-6 on page 165-66. (Activity 6 continues onto 166!)

That’s it!

Day 6 https://classes.gordsellar.com/2015/12/29/day-6/ Tue, 29 Dec 2015 07:59:10 +0000 http://classes.gordsellar.com/?p=2739 Hi everyone,

Sorry for the late announcement. I was busy after class, and kept on being busy until right now. (And I’m sneezing.) And this little boy has been keeping me busy, too:

So, anyway…

Today, we reviewed yesterday’s homework and then mostly discussed the two types of Supporting Sentences, how they connect to one another, and how they relate to the Topic Sentence. (Respectively, how to build Flow and Unity through your Supporting Sentences, that is.) The important pages in the textbook for reviewing Supporting Sentences (so far) are pages 72 (at the top of the page) and 76 (also at the top), but I talked about aspects of the subject not in the book. (If you missed today’s class, you definitely should ask a classmate for more information about that.)

I also discussed the Question & Answer approach to paragraph writing, and how it’s different from the familiar “three reasons” method (Topic Sentence + Three Supporting Points and whatever sentences needed to support them + Concluding Sentence). There are hints about the Question & Answer method in the textbook, but it’s not clearly discussed in the part of the book we’ve studied so far, so again, make sure to talk to a classmate about it if you missed class.

Finally, we briefly discussed a grammar point: Pronouns and how to use them correctly. This is (partly) covered on page 85. We also discussed titles, and other ways of avoiding repetition besides using Pronouns, as well as why it’s a good idea to avoid unnecessary repetition of words (aside from keywords). (Once more, ask a classmate for more information about this if you weren’t in class today.)


I assigned the following homework:

  1. Activities 3 & 4 (pages 76-77)
  2. Analyze Example Paragraphs 24-27 of Activity 7 (pages 79-82)
  3. Activity 9 (page 85)

As usual, if you have questions or problems with any of the homework, please mark it clearly: I’ll ask if there are any questions at the beginning of class, as always, and it’s your chance to let me help you.

Thursday Paragraph:

Finally, I announced that on Thursday we would be doing some peer editing. At the beginning of class, I had your partner give you a Topic, and then had you create a Topic Sentence about that topic, based on an opinion of yours—for example, “The movie Transformers was terrible.”—and make a list of three reasons for this opinion. My list of reasons for criticizing the movie was simple. I think the film was:

  1. sexist
  2. childish
  3. badly written

For homework, for Thursday, I asked you build a paragraph by creating Supporting Sentences that explain and support your opinion, providing Examples, Evidence, and Explanation. Work on it, revising it a few times, and bring four (4) copies to class on Thursday, so we can do some peer editing.

Paragraph Blog:

Finally, for today’s paragraph on the paragraph blog, you’re free to write about anything you want. Have fun!

Upcoming Classes:

Tomorrow (Wednesday, 30 December 2016), we’ll discuss Concluding Sentences and finish off Unit 4 of the textbook.

On Thursday, we’ll do a Peer Editing Workshop and I’ll discuss an important grammar point from Unit 5, along with a very brief review of what we’ve studied so far.

Next Monday (4 January 2016), we will have our Midterm Exam!

Day 5 https://classes.gordsellar.com/2015/12/28/day-5/ Mon, 28 Dec 2015 07:57:53 +0000 http://classes.gordsellar.com/?p=2737 Hi folks,

So, today we talked more about making effective Topic Sentences, as well as the Grammar Points dealing with Comma Use (textbook page 60) and Sentence Structure Problems (page 62).

Both of those grammar points are very important, but especially page 62 is worth marking and remembering, as sentence problems of that kind are common in student writing.

We finished Unit 3… or we will finish it, when you are done today’s homework. Speaking of which…


  • page 61 (Activity 8)
  • page 63 (Activity 9)
  • page 64-67 (Activities 10, 11, and 12)

Remember, if you have a problem, put a star in the book and ask a question in tomorrow’s class!


Also, I gave you a prompt for your Paragraph Blog post for today or tomorrow:

  • Write a Comparison paragraph, and keep it neutral: compare facts, no opinion. Use one of the following topics:
    • Ghosts
    • Geography
    • Music

Because someone asked, I will note: I’m not reading these paragraphs daily. I do stop by and look, but I’m not providing individual feedback. (I can’t, there’s too many paragraphs and that’s not the purpose of the blog. The purpose is just for you to get some daily practice. However, if you have a question you can print your paragraph and visit me after class for feedback.)


One more thing: I mentioned out Midterm Exam. I’ll let you know tomorrow whether we’ll have the exam on Thursday (31 December) or next Monday (4 January 2016!). I did mention  the content, though, so I’ll remind you in case someone wants to start studying now.

The exam will have three sections:

  1. Grammar: you will find some errors in sentences. The grammar will only be points covered in the book so far.
  2. Paragraph Structure: Multiple choice questions about paragraph structure, including things like how to make a good topic sentence, whether a topic sentence is focused enough, and so on. (This will include things we’ll study during this week, of course.)
  3. Write a Paragraph: I will give you a topic, and you must write a paragraph of a specific type about that topic. (You will be provided with a step-by-step worksheet to help you write a better paragraph.)