Tag Archives: grammar and style

The Weekly Text, January 19, 2018

OK, it’s Friday again, and like everybody else, I guess, I anticipate the weekend with relief.

This week’s Text is a complete lesson plan on using coordinating conjunctions. I begin this lesson with this homophone worksheet on the the noun council and counsel used as both noun and a verb. If this lesson runs into a second day (I always plan for a variety of contingencies in a class period), here is–courtesy of the generous folks at Education World, where you can get a year-long supply of these exercises–an Everyday Edit exercise on Banned Books Week. The mainstay of this lesson is this scaffolded worksheet that guides students through the use of coordinating conjunctions. Finally, you’ll probably find helpful the teacher’s copy of the worksheet.

If you find typos in these documents, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

Privative (n)

“Privative: Indicating lack of loss of, absence of, or negation, e.g., the prefixes ‘un-, ‘a-,’ ‘non-,’ and the suffix ‘-less.'”

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

The Weekly Text, January 5, 2018

The New Year blew in to New York City with a “cyclone bomb” yesterday, whatever that is. For my part, I went out to lunch about three blocks from my apartment building in The Bronx. Imagine, if you can, a violent midsummer thunderstorm; instead of warm temperatures and rain, however, it was twenty-two degrees with relatively wet (especially considering the temperature) and heavy snow driven by strong winds.

Anyway, Happy New Year!

This week’s Text is a complete lesson plan on adverbs modifying sentences. To begin this lesson, I use this Cultural Literacy worksheet on dogma. If the lesson runs into a second day, and you wish to use a short do-now exercise to get it started, here is a parsing sentences worksheet on adjectives. The mainstay of this lesson is this structured exercise on using adverbs to modify entire sentences. When teaching this lesson, I find students more often than not require (or at least benefit from) this word-bank learning support. Finally, for your convenience, here is the teacher’s copy of the worksheet.

If you find typos in these documents, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

 

The Weekly Text, December 8, 2017

For the past couple of years, I’ve strived to conceive of a unit or two on argumentation. It has turned out to be a complicated and tricky endeavor, and I remain in struggle with several issues in its conception and execution: first and foremost, for whom am I writing this? Argumentation involves a high degree of abstraction, which is hard to adapt and differentiate, yet I have a duty to my students who struggle. Is this philosophical work in logic and epistemology, or an English Language Arts unit on rhetoric? What is the difference between a thesis and an argument? How does one postulate a thesis? How does the process of argumentation proceed? What logical progression should the lessons in a unit on argumentation follow?

This year, I am finally writing this unit. I wish I could tell you it is going smoothly, but I continue to wrestle with a lot of the issues set out above. Furthermore, despite an extensive search for books on teaching argumentation to high school students, I’ve tended to turn up either highly technical books (Stephen Toulmin’s The Uses of Argument) or relatively tedious and superficial manuals like George Hillocks’ Teaching Argument Writing, Grades 6-12, which I found a complete waste of my time.

My fingers began typing the cliche “In the end” to begin this paragraph. However, I instantly realized that I am nowhere near the end of thinking about the issues involved in planning this kind of instruction. In fact, I expect that I’ll continue to work at these materials, either revising them, or adapting and differentiating them, for years to come.

For the moment, however, I have decided that the first unit (of two planned) will be on the rhetoric of argumentation. Fortunately, there is an excellent book to inform the materials I’m developing, namely Gerald Graff and Cathy Birkenstein’s They Say/I Say: The Moves that Matter in Academic Writing. The authors supply an assortment of rhetorical templates that students may use–either directly in their own writing, or as guides to developing their own rhetorical moves in the kinds of papers high school and college classes require them to write.

In any case, one of the first things I noticed as I began teaching argumentation was–and is, alas–that students didn’t understand the difference between an argument and a quarrel. I knew I needed to begin by resolving that confusion.

That said, the first lesson in Unit 1 of Arguing Your Case (as I am calling these two units) is designed simply to help students differentiate between arguments and quarrels. Here is the lesson plan for differentiating between quarrels and arguments. I begin all my lessons, to ease the transition between classes, with a do-now exercise. For this lesson, you might want to use (since with any work on argumentation, we endeavor to endow our students with the skills to participate in academic discourse–which is what they do in most if not all of the papers they write) this context clues worksheet on the noun discourse. The mainstay of the lesson is this worksheet on distinguishing between quarrels and arguments. Finally, you might find useful the teacher’s copy of the worksheet.

If you find typos in these documents, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

The Weekly Text, November 17, 2017

This week’s Text continues with the parts of speech, to wit a complete lesson plan introducing students to the use of conjunctions. To begin this lesson, I use this homophone worksheet on the adjective bare, along with bear as both a noun and a verb. The mainstay of this lesson is a scaffolded worksheet on coordinating conjunctions. Your students might benefit from the use of this learning support on the use of conjunctions. Finally, here is the teacher’s copy of the worksheet.

If you find typos in these documents, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

The Weekly Text, November 10, 2017

Last Wednesday, I fell down with a fever that persisted for three days. This prevented me from posting a Weekly Text on Friday; I’m pleased to return this week with a complete lesson plan on using nouns as subjective complements. When I teach this lesson I begin with this short exercise on the homophones compliment and complement. The mainstay of this lesson is this scaffolded worksheet on using nouns as complements. Here is a learning support to aid students in the labors on this lesson. Finally, you might find useful the teachers’ copy of the worksheet.

That’s it. Now I must return to cleaning up the mess that accumulated in my absence. I hope you have much-deserved, relaxing weekend.

If you find typos in these documents, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

The Weekly Text, September 1, 2017

Of the seven units on the parts of speech I’ve built, the one on prepositions is the shortest. As I start writing this week’s Text, I realize that with this post I’ve already published three of the seven lessons in the unit–and one of them just last week.

This is the third lesson in the unit, on working with commonly used prepositions. There are, as with most of the lessons I post here, two do-now, Everyday Edit exercises to start the lesson, the first on the “Miracle Worker,” Anne Sullivan and the second on James Forten, a free Black man in Philadelphia. The center of this lesson is this scaffolded worksheet on working with commonly used prepositions. To complete it, students will benefit from access to this learning support on using prepositions, prepositional phrases, and compound prepositions. Finally, while delivering this lesson, I’m confident that you’ll find the teacher’s copy and answer key helpful.

That’s it. School starts on Tuesday! I hope the school year starts well for you.

If you find typos in these documents, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.