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I was fortunate to teach my senior high school class of young high school boys how to write an Expository Essay. Since a couple of the boys were sick, I did a Facebook live so that those students could watch it at home and go through their book as I taught. So… I thought I would share it on here and give you some essay teaching tips for young high school students.
By Donna Reish & Zac Keiser
Oh, proper nouns and quotations. Where do I start to explain the myriad of difficulties that students (and adults!) have with these. Am I starting to sound more like Lamenting Lady than Language Lady in the openings to these Punctuation Puzzles? If so, I am sorry! When you have taught fifty to one hundred students (in second through twelfth grades) English/language arts every semester for nearly twenty years (and you write books and products for them literally every year for nearly two decades as well), you just start to really feel sorry for these precious people who have to navigate the grammar waters with all of its exceptions and varying rules. (Sympathetic, she is!?)
The semicolon gets a bad rap. Either people despise it—saying that it is not needed in writing at all. (George Orwell was once quoted as saying “I had decided about this time that the semicolon is an unnecessary stop and that I would write my next book without one.”) OR….possibly even worse, people use it incorrectly over and over and over and over and over (you get the idea!). The worst misuse (in my humble opinion) is when people use it as a comma—joining two parts of a sentence, rather than two complete sentence. Just random semicolon insertion here and there—whenever they believe that one of the sentence parts is too lengthy to use a comma there. (Sigh…)
The Checklist Challenge (CC), a challenging checklist of editing tasks, is included in ninety percent of the assignments in all one hundred of my books. It is taught extensively in the first couple lessons in each first semester Meaningful Composition book for grades 4 through 9 (and books 2 and 3 have lessons scattered throughout them). There are even downloads teaching nothing but how to complete this amazing editing tool (I really love the CC!).
“Conjunction Junction—what’s your function?”
Did you start to sing along? Can you picture the images?
How old are you????? Lol
Most kids today are not raised on “School House Rock,” which is such a shame! Because you really can’t forget the songs, jingles, rhymes—and dare I say—rules learned from those little ditties. (You can still find them on YouTube!)
By Zac Kieser and Donna Reish
Two of my least favorite things to teach: direct/indirect objects (and predicate nominatives) AND degrees of comparison. (Okay, maybe that is like my four least favorite things to teach!) The first ones (direct/indirect/pn) are just soooo complicated (and they can’t just be skipped or I end up with students who write She gave Sara, Joe, and he a letter….agghh…..). And the latter—degrees of comparison—soooo subjective and vague! Poor students!
Whenever I start out with new students in a class (Character Quality Language Arts or Meaningful Composition), I always spend the a little time each week for the first few class sessions learning how to complete my Checklist Challenge (CC). Over ninety percent of the papers in all of my books utilize this editing tool, so I spend a great deal of time teaching it and helping students learn how to complete the CC tasks. It is worth it to really dig in and teach students the fundamentals of the CC—including strong verbs and describers, sentence structure and rhythm, word choice, and much more.
I thought you might enjoy another peek into my Live Online Writing class to see what week three of the CC instruction looks like—and I don’t like for people to watch the video without the document in front of them, so you can print that below also!
“[A]lways get to the dialogue as soon as possible. I always feel the thing to go for is speed. Nothing puts the reader off more than a big slab of prose at the start,” nineteenth-century writer P.G. Wodehouse commented. He is not alone among authors in emphasizing dialogue in writing, but teaching students how to use quotations can be so difficult.
So, I’d like to give you some tips on teaching basic quotation use and punctuation to your students. Also, check out the Tricky Tricks Sheet at the end of this post. It gives a concise summary of basic quotation rules. Additionally, Character Ink Press’s Meaningful Composition 5 I includes more info on using quotes, along with a number of other writing lessons.
To recite or not to recite? Most of us grew up with recitations, rhymes, jingles, songs, and mnemonics to learn the planets, math facts, presidents of the US, and more. But what about language arts and grammar? Do these “tricks” work well for a subject that needs APPLIED once it is memorized? I mean, once you learn the presidents, you can easily figure out where to fit in history. Math is all about facts and figures. But language arts/English/grammar recitations are different. Memorizing and reciting are not enough when it comes to parts of speech, punctuation, and more.
So how DOES recitation fit into language arts concepts? read more…
Teaching MLA Research Reports is not for the faint of heart. After ten years of writing books with this method, I have worked and reworked the systems until I have some that students truly understand and can follow. They are interactive. They are visual. And they work.