Don’t let the bullies win! Give ‘Bully’ a PG-13 instead of an R rating! (by Katy Butler)

Why This Is Important ( From

I’m speaking out for all those students who suffer every day at school.

When I was in 7th grade, a few guys came up behind me while putting my books in my locker. They called me names and asked me why I even bothered to show my face at school because no one liked me. I ignored them because I was scared of what else they might say and who else they might tell if I stood up to them. When I went to shut my locker, they pushed me against the wall. Then they slammed my locker shut on my hand, breaking my fourth finger. I held back tears while I watched them run away laughing. I didn’t know what to do so I stood there, alone and afraid.

I just heard that the Motion Picture Association of America has given an “R” rating to “Bully” — a new film coming out soon that documents the epidemic of bullying in American schools. Because of the R rating, most kids won’t get to see this film. No one under 17 will be allowed to see the movie, and the film won’t be allowed to be screened in American middle schools or high schools.

I can’t believe the MPAA is blocking millions of teenagers from seeing a movie that could change — and, in some cases, save — their lives. According to the film’s website, over 13 million kids will be bullied this year alone. Think of how many of these kids could benefit from seeing this film, especially if it is shown in schools?

If enough people speak out and ask the MPAA to give Bully a PG-13 rating, maybe we can get them to change their minds. Will you sign my petition to the MPAA asking for a PG-13 rating instead of an R?

From what I understand, the MPAA ruled by ONE vote that Bully deserves an R-rating because of “language,” robbing many teenagers of the chance to view a film that could change their lives, and help reduce violence in schools. This makes me really mad. It means that a film documenting the abuse that millions of kids experience through bullying won’t be seen by the audience that needs to see it the most: middle school students and high school students.

Please sign my petition and demand that the MPAA give “Bully” a PG-13 so this important film can be seen by as many kids and adults as possible.

Katy Butler, Michigan high school student

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Ten Eclectic China Blogs you should follow

From: (

  2. Stylites in Beijing
  3. RedBox Review
  5. Expatriate Games
  6. China Youth Watch
  7. chinaSMACK
  8. 88 Bar (八八吧)
  9. 6
  10. 56minus1 (伍拾陸 minus 壹)

1.  Wangjianshuo

Wangjianshuo’s blog, one of the first and most consistently posting English blogs written by a native Chinese citizen,  is a personal journal that provides insight into Chinese society through the eyes of a Chinese engineer who has progressed in his career to become the head of, a classifieds Website owned by eBay.  He provides helpful insights to English-language people traveling to or living in Shanghai.  What is great about Wangjianshuo’s blog is that it is written by an English-as-a-Second-Language writer, which results in prose that is more accessible to other non-native English speakers.  As a result, he gets English readers from across the world:  Africa, India, Middle East, Russia, Philippines, etc.  Read Wangjianshuo (rss) if you want to read a personal journal that also adds useful travel and relocation information for foreigners. Twitter: @jianshuo.

2.  Stylites in Beijing (

Stylites in Beijing is apparently part of a fashion blog genre called the “street blog”, and was recognized by H&M Magazine as one of the top 5 street blogs in the world. Nels Fryes, photographer and author of Stylites in Beijing, started capturing distinctive street fashion 2 years ago.  Fryes also provides interesting little vignettes that showcase the diversity of experiences among Chinese people today.  This blog is an excellent antidote to ignorant Westerners who think of Chinese as brainwashed, collectivist and oppressed people under the thumb of a totalitarian state.  (You don’t have to tell them that people walking around Nanluoguxiang or Sanlitun Village is not the “real” China). Follow Stylites in Beijing if you are interested in issues of culture, taste, and fashion, as a reflection of change in China’s society.

3.  RedBox Review

RedBox Review is run by Katherine Don, co-founder and Director of Red Box Studio, a Beijing-based contemporary art advisory firm.  The blog features original articles, events listings, gallery reviews, and commentary on and links to other coverage on Chinese contemporary art.  The blog is aimed at people who are either insiders already or interested in contemporary art.  However, it provides an interesting view into what has been one of the hottest areas of contemporary art today, and an area that will undoubtedly face big changes as a result of the global economic meltdown.   FollowRedBox Review (rss) to add the development of Chinese contemporary art to your view of China’s changes. Twitter: @redboxbeijing


IfGoGo is a group blog run by Aw Guo (Guo Qirui), who also runs a big Chinese-language blog, featuring Adobe Flash and other Web technologies.  Entitled  “Chinese in English,” the blog provides a mix of personal stories, social commentary, and current events from the perspective of Chinese citizens, mostly of the generations born in the 1980s or 1990s. My favorite writers are Aw Guo, Cat Chen, and Lisa Lee, all of whom I’ve met in person.  Side note: it has been shockingly hard to find Chinese who blog in English.  I expected to find one “Wang Jianshuo” after another once I started digging, but after 16 months of looking, the only bloggers I found were the group on IfGoGo. If you know of any other native Chinese who blog consistently in English, please let me know. I wish they would blog more frequently.  Follow (rss) if you want to hear Chinese voices, reflecting on the changes going on in China. Twitter: @awflasher @CatChen

5.  Expatriate Games

Michael, the author of Expatriate Games, is a self-described “American experiencing mid-life” in China, with a focus on developing his photography skills and Photoshop skills.  The result is a collection of portraits and photos that are evocative of China’s diverse society.  He seems to focus on portraits, seeking to connect with the essence of China’s culture through its people.  I think he goes a bit overboard with Photoshop, but his work provides an interesting window into contemporary China. Follow Expatriate Games (rss)to get a photographic exploration of China, from a newcomer to China that transparently expresses his experience. Twitter: @ExpatriateGames

6.  China Youth Watch (

Zafka Zhang (张安定) heads up a marketing consulting firm focused on Chinese youth marketing.  This blog reflects that focus, observing brands, trends, creative culture, and Internet behavior of Chinese youth.  The blog is not updated as frequently as many other China blogs, but has a nice “coolhunting” feel to it.  Adam Schokora at has a nice interview of Zafka Zhang.  Expert on virtual worlds, involved in the Creative Commons movement, background as an experimental musician…Zafka seems impossibly…cool.  Follow China Youth Watch (rss) to get a taste of youth culture…and Zafka’s impossibly cool life! Follow Twitter: @chinayouthology @zafka

7.  chinaSMACK

We’ve blogged about repeatedly since we started following Fauna and chinaSMACK in August 2008.  I consider it the most successful China blog launch of 2008.  Tight concept.  Good execution in virtually all aspects.  Good selection of coverage.  Hot and viral, and potentially GFWbait.  Kai wrote extensively about chinaSMACK as the leader in the translation wave of China English blogs.  FollowchinaSMACK (rss) to read about hot and viral internet stories and the reactions they engender in the Chinese internet.

8.  88 Bar (八八吧)

Run by Lyn Jeffery, Director at Palo Alto’s Institute For The Future, and by Jason Li, designer at Node in Barcelona, 88 Bar has a focus on technology and its impact on society.  They are less frequent posters than some of the other bloggers, and are in the same blog “neighborhood” as Adam Schokora’s 56 minus 1.  Nevertheless, Jason and Lyn have the nose for the interesting, especially where technology and culture intersect.  Follow 88 Bar (rss) if you want to catch interesting stories about values, technology, trends, and society. Twitter: @LynJ @JasonLi @IFTF

9. 6 (

I hesitated to include 6 because its so new, but hey, we were new once too.  Blogger Adam Ashstarted the blog right after the Olympics, and has settled into an intriguing format–to follow the lives of 6 people (including himself).  He is studying Mandarin at Beida so the people he encounters are from that milieu.  Maybe its the “Real World” voyeurism.  Maybe its the cool blog name.  Maybe the promise to bring to life the thoughts and feelings of a few Chinese people that has appeal to me.  Anyway, I’ll follow this blog and I hope those 6 people turn out to be pretty interesting! Follow 6(rss) if you’re interested in reading in-depth biographies of diverse young people in China today.Twitter: @AdamAsh

10. 56minus1 (伍拾陸 minus 壹)

In just about 6 months, Adam Schokora has launched one of the most intentionally eclectic, and unintentionally important, English China blogs in the blogosphere.  It delivers authenticity and personal expression, the core of what makes a great blog.  It also has sufficient cohesive focus to become a niche publication on creative culture, design, social media, youth, music, and “things well done” as observed from his Shanghai vantage point where he can survey the “cool” landscape with kids like Zafka Zhang (see above).  Why 56 minus 1?  Adam explains in a CityWeekend interview here.  Follow 56minus1 (rss) if you want to add creativity, music, and light to your blogroll.Twitter: @ajschokora@56minus1

What blogs do you think belong on this list?

With all the interesting blogs about there, it was hard to come up with a top 10 list.  What do you think belongs on this list?

Update 4/22: Far West China

Josh at Xinjiang: Far West China deserves for his recent post on his favorite China blogs.  In all my tizzy of trying to work in the “white-dude” comments, I forgot to mention his inspirational post.  He included CNReviews on this list and thus caused us to want to “pay forward” the love to some other, smaller, but deserving blogs.  He’s got a concise blog list that includes the “right” major blogs as well as an interesting little blog called Hanzi Smatter that Josh characterizes as his Favorite Guilty Pleasure.  Go check his post and Hanzi Smatter while you’re at it.

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Designing a Learning-Centered Syllabus

Designing a Learning-Centered Syllabus

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Diversity in Learning: A Vision for the New Millennium, Part 1 & Part 2

Diversity in Learning: A Vision for the New Millennium, Part 1

Diversity in Learning: A Vision for the New Millennium, Part 2

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45,000 caught cheating at Britain’s universities


Tens of thousands of students in universities across Britain have been caught cheating in exams and coursework – and the trend is on the rise, according to a investigation by The Independent on Sunday.

Over the past three years, more than 45,000 students at 80 institutions have been hauled before college authorities and found guilty of “academic misconduct” ranging from bringing crib-sheets or mobile phones into exams to paying private firms to write essays for them.

Some 16,000 cases were recorded in the past year alone, as university chiefs spent millions on software to identify work reproduced from published material, or simply cut and pasted from the internet.

But officials last night warned they were fighting a losing battle against hi-tech advances – which means it is becoming increasingly difficult to detect the cheats.

Tessa Byars, an advice services manager at Anglia Ruskin University Students’ Union, warned that advances in technology had made it “nearly impossible” for universities to keep up.

“It’s only going to get worse,” she said. “From next September we expect to see cheating incidents rise. The introduction of tuition fees will increase pressure and anxiety to get a good degree. They’re all worried about their employment prospects.”

University bosses blame the financial crisis for raising the stakes in higher education, making many students willing to do anything to secure good grades – or just to stay on their degree courses. A number of experts claim that Tony Blair’s flagship policy of increasing access to higher education has left thousands of young people starting university without all the practical and intellectual skills required.

Ministers have now been urged to step in to help institutions defend standards against increasingly sophisticated methods, particularly agencies that produce customised essays for students – often for fees of hundreds of pounds.

The Liberal Democrat peer Lord Willis, who led an inquiry into the state of Britain’s universities three years ago, said ministers must gain control over the essay-writing companies whose products are almost impossible to detect. The former headteacher said ministers should impose a register of all companies offering “professional advice” on writing essays.

Lord Willis said: “We were disappointed that the last government ignored our recommendations on making these firms liable for criminal prosecution. Something needs to be done to bring them into line.”

Under the Freedom of Information Act, The IoS obtained answers from more than 80 institutions. The responses revealed a catalogue of offences, including individuals caught taking exams for someone else, using concealed notes or taking mobile phones into examination halls and “colluding” with fellow students to produce identical coursework.

Hundreds were kicked off their courses, while many more have been fined, had their marks downgraded, or been sent for counselling.

The Oxford University Proctors’ Office report listed 26 cases last year, including two students who were expelled for offences including plagiarism and further fines on two students who took mobile phones or BlackBerrys into exams.

The IoS has established that at least 45,000 students at more than 80 UK institutions have been hauled before the authorities and found guilty of misconduct in their exams or coursework over the past three years. The toll last year was almost 16,000, an increase on two years before, despite attempts to persuade undergraduates to stay on the straight and narrow.

Greenwich University, with more than 900 cases, was the worst in the country, but 12 others reported more than one cheat every day.

The high rate of cheating has also been blamed in part on the tens of thousands of international students who, Ms Byars said, “come from countries with different practices and cultures”. Others said the recent huge increase in undergraduates meant there were many students at “new universities” who were not adequately prepared to complete degrees.

Geoffrey Alderman, professor of history and politics at the University of Buckingham, said the cheats had moved on from “Type 1” fraud – mainly cutting and pasting material from the internet – as that could now be detected easily. Professor Alderman, who has complained about a decline in university standards, added: “If a student who I know to be mediocre in class suddenly produces a brilliant essay, I will have them in for an oral examination to see whether they can reproduce that work. I’m not sure all universities do that. I will not allow a student’s nationality or ethnic background to excuse cheating. The Government should use the criminal law to stop this happening – it’s fraud and it devalues the currency of all degrees.”

Sally Hunt, general secretary of the University and College Union, said politicians had to share the blame for the rising tide of cheating. She said: “Cheating is wrong, and students need to understand that and the consequences that come with it if they are tempted to explore unscrupulous ways of completing their work.

“However, successive governments are also partly to blame. Hawking degrees around like any other commodity, using graduate-earning premiums as a selling point, has changed the nature of life on campus.”

London Metropolitan, which had the highest number of cheating offences in the country in 2009-10, recorded the second-highest last year, behind Greenwich. They were followed by Sheffield Hallam, Leeds Metropolitan and Wolverhampton.

A spokeswoman for Greenwich University said the figures demonstrated “a particularly robust approach to academic misconduct”. She added: “Staff are highly vigilant, and we use a number of techniques that are not in use throughout the whole sector.”

Increasingly, universities are taking a defensive stance – insisting it is complicated by a growing number of students who enter university unfamiliar with the correct procedures of citation or who do not have a good command of English.

Niall Hayes, a lecturer at Lancaster University Management School, said: “People come to us without experience of extended writing or formulating arguments and building on other’s ideas. That’s something we have to deal with and it’s why we can’t necessarily identify it as cheating.”

Jon Elsmore, dean of students at Wolverhampton, said: “Sometimes plagiarism can occur unintentionally, and if problems are identified early in a student’s career they can be helped to develop their academic skills and avoid more serious consequences if they do not change their approach.”

Essays to order: The IoS road test

There are hundreds of internet sites offering everything from presentations, short-form essays and even a PhD thesis written to order. Some are based in the UK while many exist only online.

Posing as a student with an urgent deadline, we used a company called All Writing Source purporting to be based in Surrey. Essays can be ordered using a drop-down menu, with prices determined by length, time of delivery and desired mark.

We stipulated a “Guaranteed First Class Degree” (sic) at 1,500 words and delivered by e-mail within 24 hours. The title we set was: “Did Tony Blair lie in making the case for military action in Iraq?”

The total cost came in at £143.70. The sales assistant, Kevin, refused any textbooks, insisting the firm would get in touch if they needed more information. “The reason is that we have our own in-house writers who do the job for us… free from all plagiarisms,” he wrote. He promised to deliver the essay in under 24 hours.

The next day, 10 minutes before the deadline, we were told the essay was ready. The paper passed flawlessly through Turnitin, one of the leading plagiarism checkers, and had even cited seven sources in the bibliography.

But was it really the “Guaranteed First Class” that we were promised?

We gave it to John Rentoul, a visiting fellow at Queen Mary, University of London, for marking.

Professor Rentoul’s verdict: “Some evidence of knowledge of the subject, but:

1. Very poor grammar and style, unintelligible in places (reads as if it has been translated by Google from another language);

2. Very poor sources and sourcing. All four books cited are polemical anti-war works. No primary material cited at all;

3. Argument, analysis and narrative weak and unsupported by evidence. Much too polemical rather than historical in style. The question needs to be defined and then the evidence for and against needs to be cited and weighed.

Please see me for further advice.” Mark: 42 (Third Class marks: 40-49)

We returned to the company the next day, explaining that we were from The Independent on Sunday. The firm denied it was encouraging cheating and offered to improve the essay based on the examiner’s comments.

The company’s website disclaimer reads: “ is a custom research/writing/rewriting service that provides proper references too for assistance purposes only. It is necessary to use every paper with appropriate reference. The papers provided serve as model papers for students and are not to be submitted as it is. These papers are intended to be used for research and reference purposes only.”

Case studies…

Regretful and reformed

Ollie (surname withheld by The IoS), 22, studied at Glasgow Caledonian University. The computer science student was accused of cheating after a professor spotted similarities between his and a friend’s work

“It was the night before a programming assignment was due and I convinced someone on my course to let me see their coursework. I tried to change some details and I thought it would be enough. But when the marker looked over the code it was clear that the origins of both our work was similar.

“We were called in on separate occasions to explain the code outline, how it worked, in order to try to work out which of us was cheating. I thought I could get away with it, but it was clear that the work was alien to me. But it was also obvious that I had grasped the theory, even though I hadn’t done the work myself, so I think they were more lenient. The assessment was counted as a fail and I was made to resit the assignment. In the end, I took the blame. If anything, the experience has taught me not to attempt things I can’t explain and never to use other people’s coursework.”

The accused

Clare Trayner, 23, was a geography student at Royal Holloway who was accused of cheating after anti-plagiarism software flagged up her essay

“Everyone was emailed to collect their essay, but mine was held back. I was then told to attend a formal meeting as I had been caught committing plagiarism. I knew I hadn’t cheated but I wasn’t clear on what the problem was.

“I was told one paragraph had been flagged up as resembling the content on an internet site. Eventually I was found guilty of plagiarism but as it was my first time I would be only marked down by 10 per cent on that module. My mark for the module went from a high 2:1 to a 2:2.”

Interviews by Tabby Kinder

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Welcome back from Spring Break

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History of Authentic Pedagogy:

Authentic learning/teaching/assessment is not a single educational theory. The theoretical approach of John Dewey (1859-1952), the founder of the philosophical school of pragmatism, grew into Inquiry-based education.

The 1994 School-to-Work Opportunities Act articulated an education reform strategy that included innovative approaches to classroom teaching, guided learning experiences outside of the classroom, usually at work, and increased career counseling and guidance. The impetus for this reform came from a growing anxiety during the 1980’s that America’s youth were not prepared for the rapidly changing world of work. Initially, this approach was seen as most appropriate for students not headed for college. But researchers are now praising its potential to serve as a model for all secondary school curricula.

Reformers are advocating a shift from a “teacher-centered” classroom, in which the teacher transmits information to the student, toward a “learner-centered” approach in which students are actively engaged in the discovery or “construction” of their own knowledge.

Students should not only learn basic skills, but incorporate those skills into tasks requiring complex thinking and in-depth knowledge which is then used to solve problems and create actual products. These products should have value in settings outside the classroom.Construction of knowledge is accomplished through task completion in which the learner has played an active and creative role. This type of engagement is particularly meaningful when the task is something which has personal meaning for the student. Disciplined inquiry occurs when students hypothesize by stating questions and determining resources necessary for task completion. Beyond formulating ideas, students explore and evaluate information, then synthesize to create examples, which illustrate their understanding of the problem.

Success of productive constructivism was limited because students often chose tasks that were inappropriate or far removed from traditional curriculum topics. This lead to the development of the idea of “guided discovery” or “goal-based scenarios”.

A Goal-Based Scenario is a learning activity in which the teacher identifies a set of target skills for students to which students can be held accountable. The teacher identifies a mission which will require utilization of the identified target skills and will choose a focus of the general task of the mission. The focus might be for a student to design something, or to diagnose a situation. The student might be given a mission to discover something or to control something. A cover story helps set the stage for the GBS as it envelopes the chosen mission.

Even if students are allowed to plan their own scenario, the teacher provides some guidance to insure the scenario has value and identify time restraints.

Finally, the teacher builds a learning environment which will support the target skills. This model transforms the teacher from the role of the selector, presenter, and evaluator to the role of brainstormer, manager, and leader.

What began as productive constructivism became guided discovery, and is now called authentic pedagogy – often involving long-term projects, usually done in groups, about difficult issues that require some complex written or oral final presentation.



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What is Authentic Pedagogy?

Authentic Pedagogy was first defined as instruction and assessment which promoted authentic student achievement.

Authentic student achievement refers to intellectual accomplishments that are worthwhile, significant, and meaningful – such as those produced by successful adults in today’s work force.

Authentic teaching occurs when the teacher utilizes information about how students learn and designs learning experiences or tasks based upon this knowledge.

Construction of knowledge is the active processing of experience, defined as the consolidation and internalization of information and procedures by the learner in a way that is both personally meaningful and conceptually coherent.

Questions play a central role as they provide the starting point for the processes through which new information is integrated into memory, old information is put together in new ways, and faulty generalizations are corrected.



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