Word Processor Search

I recently continued my ongoing search for the ultimate word processor for mac. Before I get to much further into this post, I must say that I am very content with Office 2007 on PCs. I think it is great. Since I’ve been using macs rather exclusively for the last 3 or 4 years, I have not been impressed by the word processors for mac. Here’s what I have learned.

Lightweight word processors. Let me say that I love these little programs. I’m talking about TextEdit that comes with OS X and others like Bean. In my speed tests (which weren’t done really scientifically) these were obviously the winners. They can do everything they do lightning fast. I wish that the the other word processors were like this. Obviously, they aren’t near as powerful as their big brothers, but they ar great for jotting down some text. I use TextEdit all the time. I think bean is real great too. The only real problem I have with these is that I can’t implement all the features that I need in order to produce an APA paper.

Openoffice.org and NeoOffice. I love these two suites. They are nice, but unfortunatly they are are also slow. They are memory hogs. There are occasional bugs. I’m really impressed with the work that has been done. Now, the whole idea of using open-source software really gives you warm fuzzies. Those, however are canceled out by the bickering and bad talk going between the two companies. It’s a long story but you can search for stuff about it online. NeoOffice looks and works a lot better with OS X. OpenOffice.org now has a native app which allows it to compete with NeoOffice. The former now has to wait to include the updated code from OpenOffice.org which puts it a little behind OO.o.

Word 2008. Some people might complain about using a microsoft program on their mac. I’m not a fanboy. I’m fine using it. It was much quicker than OpenOffice.org and NeoOffice. I liked that. Office 2008 has about every feature you need. It’s bloated. It’s expensive. It works. As I was looking around all these programs, I found a hidden menu item: Style Gallery. This allows you to sort of apply style sets, but isn’t really the best solution. You just create templates with the styles you want and then you can apply them to any document. I don’t like how confusing the formatting palette can get though.

Pages ‘09. I like pages. It’s quicker than all but the lightweights. It isn’t as expensive as Office 2008. It has the ease of use of a typical mac program. It’s rather feature complete and let’s you do everything that you need.

Mellel and others. I didn’t look at these too much. I found that they simply didn’t look nice and I didn’t want to spend money on program that didn’t seem to look nice or offer frequent updates.

So, here’s a brief run down of some categories and the winners.

Macness: Pages
Features: Word
Price: OpenOffice.org
Warm Fuzzies: OpenOffice.org
Speed: TextEdit
Style sets: Mellel
Comments interoperable with others: Word

So, it looks like I’m stuf with word. What I want is a quick, free, open source word processor that has style sets and works well with Microsoft Words reviewing features (comments, track changes, etc.) If anyone out there knows of one, post a comment.

Personal Development: Computer Style

Whoa! Two posts in one day! Hold on! As part of my own personal development, I’d like to blog more. It helps me share ideas.
Dragos Roua has an interesting post on being your best self. It compares us to computers. I think that there are some good points here, especially the unexpected shutdown.

  • Balance your core features
  • Defrag your mind
  • Update your drivers
  • Stay virus free
  • Enjoy an unexpected shutdown every now and then

iLife, ESL, and the Past Tense

I recently did a Poster Session at an Apple Education Conference: AcademiX. It was a lot of fun. I thought that I would share what what I did. For more information you can look at the Poster Session PDF.


For starters, this is something that I did with my intermediate ESL students.  In order to help them with them learn the past tense, I gave them an assignment.

The student videos were comprised of two parts. First, the students drew their story as if it were a comic. Second, the students narrated the story.


1. The students were divided into groups of four or five.
2. Each group was assigned one of the four topics:
•    Frightening Experience – Fire
•    Frightening Experience – Car accident
•    Frightening Experience – Getting Lost
•    Most Embarrassing Moment
3. Each group brainstormed to find a good story to tell for their assigned topic.
4. The students then began to take turns drawing pictures to go with their stories.
5. While not drawing, the other students would review and practice their portion of the speaking part.

During this portion the students had great authentic language use.

Brainstorming – The students told personal stories about their past while thinking of good topics. The students negotiated ideas as they decided on a story whether fictional or real.
Practicing – The students were able to use more language as they practiced their presentation. They helped one another and corrected each other.

I should note that this was done over the course of a week. For each class period, they were given 30 minutes to work on the project.

Day 1 – Brainstorming
Day 2 – Creating a Story
Day 3 – Drawing the Pictures
Day 4 – Recording their stories

Putting it all together

1. The students pictures were scanned and imported into iPhoto where they were edited.
2. Students recorded their dialogs using GarageBand, Sound Studio or WireTap Studio Pro. The students used iMacs with their built in microphones.
3. The audio and pictures were imported into iMovie where it was all put together.


It was a fun activity for everyone. It did put a lot of the burden on me to put it all together, but it was worth it.

My Profession

I recently recieved and email from a former student. He is taking a class that is helping students explore various careers. One of the assignments is to interview someone in a profession you might be interested in. He asked me a few questions, and I thought it might make for an interesting post.

1. What do you do?
I teach English as a Second Language, develop ESL Curriculum, and train student teachers.

2. How did you get interested in this type of work? Get started in this job?
I have always been interested in language. I have always known that I wanted a job that would require langauge skills. When I came home from my mission, I took a Spanish class. The teacher was also and ESL teacher and told good stories. That got me interested. Later, I met my wife who was an ESL teacher. I observed her class, and I was hooked!

3. How long have you been doing this kind of work?
5+ years

4. What are 3-5 of the most common activities you do on a typical day?
teach, grade, write curriculum, email, talk to students

5. What is your ultimate career goal?
I always want to teach. In the long run, I want an administrative position that works with language teaching and instructional technology.

6. How did you prepare yourself? Any special schooling, classes, volunteer experience? How much did it cost?
I got an MA in TESOL from BYU. It took a little more than 1.5 years (past my BA) and cost me about $3000 after scholarships.

7. What classes or projects can I do to prepare myself for this career? What is the most valuable thing you learned in college that helped in this career?
Classes: Any TESOL classes. If you want to be involved in this career, you should get a graduate certificate(at least) in teaching ESL.
Projects: Observe ESL classes, volunteer as a teacher or TA
Most Valuable thing learned: not to procrastinate

8. Knowing what you know now, would you take this same career path? Why?
Yes. It is Rewarding! It is fun! It’s what I love to do!

9. What do you like the most about your job?
Helping students learn English, and helping teachers helps students learn English.

10. What are the least rewarding aspects of your job?
Grading long exams.

11. What skills or personal qualities are necessary in this career? • What type of people do you work with?
You should be outgoing, happy, punctual, responsible, understanding, intelligent, willing, and dilligent. You should have experience learning language. These are the type of people I work with.

12. What are other specialties in this career area?
Test Development, teacher training, materials development,
more specific focuses in grammar, reading, writing, vocabulary, listening, speaking, pronunciation, culture

13. Would you advise young people to enter this career area? Why/why not?
If you want to work in the US:
This is a tough question. If you are a woman and are interested in it AND planning on depending on your spouse for your main source of income, definitely. Due to the lack of full-time job opportunities, if you are a man, you need to think twice. Supporting a family may require private insurance and teaching part-time at multiple institutions. It can be tough. However, if you are devoted, go for it. It will take a lot of work to get a stable full-time job, but if it is what you want to do, do it!
If you want to work in other countries:

14. What is the job outlook? What will affect its growth or decline?
The job outlook is always good for part-time teaching. Full-time teaching is much more difficult to find. The number of visas given to applicants in programs and the exchange rate are the main things that affect job outlook. For example, the two countries that provide BYU with the most students, Mexico and Korean, are both having some exchange rate issues with the dollar. In Korea, their money just became half as valuable as it was a year ago. This can really affect the number of students and the number of jobs available.

15. What are the main challenges in this industry?
Visas issued and exchange rates.

16. What do you think one should expect as a starting salary?

17. What is the salary range for someone with 3 years experience? 7 years experience?
3 years: 36k – 50k
7 years: 36k-55k

18. How does your job affect your family and leisure life? How do you balance the many life roles you play (employee, spouse, parent, community volunteer, church worker, etc.)?
It works out really well. I am only obligated to be at the workplace when I am teaching. I am obligated to work 40-50 hours a week. Some weeks I spend 50 hours at work, others only 20 and I do the other 30 at home. I can also work at anytime (besides the classes I teach). I have often worked on curriculum development or grading late at night after family and church obligations are over or early in the morning. I can also use my off-time in the summer to spend with my family and go camping with youth groups in the summer.

19. Do you have any specific advice for someone who is considering entering into this particular profession?
Network. the best way to get a job is to know people, or better yet, for them to know you. Think carefully if you are going to be the sole income provider for a family. You will probably need to have some special skill to get a job that does not just involve teaching in order to have a stable job with stable income and healthcare benefits.

Video Feedback with Viddler

For the last three weeks I have been using Viddler in my Listening & Speaking classes. We went to our wonderful computer lab and I helped them all set up accounts. We made a group for the class and did some practice recordings. I have had them do three assignments so far.
Our current curriculum for Listening & Speaking has task-based objectives. The assignments so far have been to record an invitation to a party, talk about your future plans and goals, and talk about a past experience. After the students have recorded their video, they give themselves feedback by annotating the video. Some of the students really do a good job, but I obviously need to do some student training. To be honest, I don’t give the best feedback either right now. Giving feedback to 37 students can be taxing.

Overall, I am pleased with viddler. What do you use to give students feedback on speaking?

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