Category Archives: Essays/Readings

This category describes readings of any kind for either teachers or students.

Double Negative

“Double Negative: The use of two negatives in a sentence where one will suffice, e..g., ‘It doesn’t mean nothing’; reiterated denial that is tantamount to an affirmative of positive statement.

In substandard speech, however, double negatives often reinforce a strongly negative color in an assertion. ‘I don’t want nothing from nobody is a threefold declaration of independence, not a logical seesaw.” G.W. Turner, Stylistics

Excerpted from: Grambs, David. The Random House Dictionary for Writers and Readers. New York: Random House, 1990.


“(UR GO or AIR GO) Ergo is the Latin term for “therefore,” “hence,” “consequently,” “it follows that….” It is often used to give an air of formality to a presentation of the conclusion to an argument. Like the less frequently used Q.E.D., it implies that the person presenting the argument is “learned” or specifically trained in logic.”

Excerpted from: Trail, George Y. Rhetorical Terms and Concepts: A Contemporary Glossary. New York: Harcourt Brace, 2000.


synesthesia: A medical (or psychological) term describing the occurrence when stimulating one sense organ causes another to respond. It is as though in eating one were to receive strong visual sensations of color rather than, or along with, sensations of taste. As a literary device, synesthesia has been used in certain types of poetry of the 19th and 20th centuries, especially that of the Symbolists. Rimbaud’s “Sonnet des voyelles,” expressing the sounds of the common vowels in terms of colors, is an excellent use of this device.”

Excerpted from: Murphy, Bruce, ed. Benet’s Reader’s Encyclopedia, Fourth Edition. New York: Harper Collins, 1996.


“Allegory (noun) The use of metaphoric, often schematic storytelling and characters for two levels of meaning, with that beneath the surface narrative expressing deeper human truths, whether with a spiritual or moral message or as a form of satire; a literary work whose characters, settings, and incidents have their own verisimilitude but also mask hidden, parallel significations; symbolic narrative. Adj. allegorical; adv, allegorically; n. allegorization, allegorist; v. allegorize.

‘Tolstoy describes her as a creature so sensitive that we wonder she can’t speak. Now we see her lying at his feet, she bends her head back and gazes at him with her speaking eyes. The very suspicion of allegory destroys the validity of the scene.’ Joyce Cary, Art and Reality”

Excerpted from: Grambs, David. The Random House Dictionary for Writers and Readers. New York: Random House, 1990.


Term of Art: Action Reflection Process

“action reflection process: A structured discussion held during regular teacher meetings in which participants focus on a limited topic. Leaders of the discussion may begin with a provocative statement or video, which is called an action reflection tool. The action reflection process was created by the Education Development Center of Newton, Massachusetts.”

Excerpted from: Ravitch, Diane. EdSpeak: A Glossary of Education Terms, Phrases, Buzzwords, and Jargon. Alexandria, VA: ASCD, 2007.

Term of Art: Action Research

“action research: The systematic investigation by teachers of some aspect of their work to help them improve their effectiveness. Action research requires that the participants identify a question or problem and then collect and analyze relevant data. It differs from conventional research in that the participants study an aspect of their own work in the classroom and intend to use the results themselves. For example, a teacher might decide to give students different assignments according to their assessed learning styles. If the teacher maintained records comparing student work before and after the change, he or she would be doing action research. If several educators worked together on such a project, this would be considered collaborative action research. Because of the personal interest of those who carry out action research, the results do not necessarily have credibility and are seldom generalized to other classrooms and schools.”

Excerpted from: Ravitch, Diane. EdSpeak: A Glossary of Education Terms, Phrases, Buzzwords, and Jargon. Alexandria, VA: ASCD, 2007.

Daniel Willingham on Reading and Conscious Awareness

“Being able to hear the sounds associated with letters doesn’t seem like it ought to me all that hard. Isn’t it obvious that a child can do that if she can hear the difference between big and dig in everyday speech? But that’s not quite the same task because in order to learn to read and write, the child must be aware of what differentiates big and dig, so she can think Aha, there’s the letter “d,” and I know what sound that makes! Many mental processes lie outside of awareness, and some seem destined to remain so. For example, you obviously know how to shift your weight to stay upright on a bicycle, but that knowledge is accessible only to the parts of the brain that control movement. You can’t examine that knowledge or describe it. Other types of knowledge are unconscious, but can become conscious. For example, most people speak grammatically—even if they violate some rules taught in school, they speak in accordance with others in their linguistic community. People are unaware of these rules, but can consciously learn them. Hearing individual speech sounds is analogous. Any speaker can hear that big and dig differ and although people aren’t born with the ability to describe the difference, most can learn to do so.”

Excerpted from: Willingham, Daniel T. The Reading Mind: A Cognitive Approach to Understanding How the Mind Reads. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2017.