Subscribe and download my Kid’s Faves list and get access to my language arts freebies!

Punctuation Puzzle: Appositives and Subject-Verb Agreement

Punctuation Puzzle: Appositives and Subject-Verb Agreement

My writing assistant, Zachary Kieser, and I are having so much fun coming up with these Punctuation Puzzles! They are interesting ways to brush up on grammar and usage skills that you might be rusty on—and great for junior high and high school students to do with you since the answers are explained thoroughly. Add this to your school day for more learning fun with your kids!

read more…

Proofreaders’ Marks: Comical Ones and Accurate Ones! (Printable Included!)


Proofreaders’ Marks Comical Ones and Accurate Ones! (Printable Included!)

With school just around the corner (don’t you love the smell of those new binders???), I thought I would offer some printables that can help you in your school prep. One of the things I have each of my writing students be sure they have in their binders is a copy of my Proofreaders’ Marks page. I edit their papers with these proofreaders’ marks, and I want them to have the “cheat sheet” to refer to and learn from right at their fingertips. Students as young as third grade can learn the first few/basic ones. They will learn more and more of them as they write and as you edit their papers using these simple marks.


Before I show you the basic proofreaders’ marks that I use in my books and classes (and give you the printable version to print off for your school), I want to share a funny version of proofreaders’ marks that are floating around the internet. It is attributed to Tom Weller in 1987. It is said to have hung in many print houses in the eighties and nineties—sometimes with certain parts circled and emphasized when editors had, had it with certain errors! It’s a comical look at proofreaders’ marks—and I’m super thankful that we don’t have such extensive lists for students today! 🙂


Proofreaders' Marks


No, our marks are much simpler. Here are the ones we use:

Proofreaders' Marks



And….here is the printable version of the Proofreaders’ Marks for you to use with your students, on your class bulletin board, your teacher binder, etc. Happy proofreading! 🙂


Love and hope,

P.S. What common errors do your students make that you would like help in teaching? Homophones? Commas? Paragraph breaks? I’d love to help you!

Learn When to Use Who/Whom With Language Lady!


Learn When To Use Who or Whom with Language Lady


The who/whom question is a tricky one. Out of all “pronouns” (some grammarians call who/whom pronouns; some call them subordinators; some call them…who knows…grammar is so subjective!)…anyway, out of all pronouns, who/whom is the trickiest to use correctly because it simply doesn’t sound as “wrong.” (We all know that you don’t say “Her is coming over later!”) Stick with Language Lady—and I’ll give you a tip for every usage problem you encounter (okay, maybe not every one…but I’ll sure try!)

Part of it sounds easy:

read more…

Character Ink Cottage Classes Fall 2017-Winter 2018!

2017 Character Ink Cottage Classes


Most local students have heard the sad news that Joshua is no longer teaching with us at Character Ink. He stewed about the decision for weeks, but he has decided to take on more responsibilities and year-round work with the paint company that he has been working for twenty years at least part time/summers, etc. (since he was fourteen!). We are so sad that we will not be teaching together, but we are happily spending more family time with him than ever before with his extra free time. (He used to be tied up most evenings preparing for classes—he was truly the most dedicated teacher I have ever seen!)


And while we’re on sad/happy announcements, Jonathan will also be leaving our cottage classes as he has just accepted his first pastorate in Fort Wayne, Indiana. These two teacher losses have resulted in no social sciences (except for Economics by Ray), literature, Greek, and some specialty writing classes. Donna continues to teach many CQLA and writing classes (including a few online live ones!) and will keep her private students going full force. Kayla (lead nurse, former missionary, M-Div student) will keep teaching our sciences/labs and Spanish. Your students will still be in great hands! 🙂

read more…

Punctuation Puzzle: Periods and Commas Inside Ending Quotation Marks

Punctuation Puzzle: Periods and Commas Inside Ending Quotation Marks

He said words that would be remembered forever One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind


Here is a possible answer with the reasons below. He said words that would be remembered forever: “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”


1. The first half of the sentence is a complete sentence speech tag.

That is, it is a complete sentence that could stand alone, but it could also be considered the speech tag for the quoted words. When a speech tag could stand alone, it is one of the few times that a colon is appropriate following a speech tag. (Note: You could also just consider it a stand-alone sentence and follow it with a period and have no “speech tag.”)

(It is not proper to follow a non-sentence/short speech tag with a colon. A comma should be used in that case.)



2. The beginning quotation mark comes just before the quote begins–before One.



3. The ending quotation mark comes after mankind–

However, the period for the entire sentence goes INSIDE the closing quotation mark as all periods (and commas) go inside closing quotation marks in the US (but not in UK).


4. Internal Comma

As for the internal comma (one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind), that is how the quotation is written almost everywhere it is written; thus, whenever you write a quote, you should write it word-for-word as it was when you researched it/found it. Some would say that should be a semicolon. It is probably more accurate to consider it a comma before an “understood” and. Either way, it is a quote and will remain with its original punctuation.

Original Biographical Essay Live Lesson (Video and Download Included!)

Original Biographical Essay Live Lesson (Video and Download Included!)


Teaching writing is not for the faint of heart! It is the most subjective “subject” in school—and, consequently, can be one of the most challenging to teach. Oftentimes, materials designed to teach writing are more writing idea than writing instruction. They leave the student (and the teacher!) wondering exactly what to do to complete the writing prompt. This is one reason that after I write a book (one hundred in all!), test, test, and retest the book with real (or virtual starting this fall!) students to be sure that all of the steps are included and clear. Last week I shared a lesson from one of my books that I did with a mixed live/virtual class about writing from a given source. This week I’d love to give you another peek into my online writing classes for the fall with another cooperative “guinea pig” group!

read more…

Writing From a Given Source: Cyrus the Great (Live Video Lesson)

Writing From a Given Source Cyrus the Great (Live Video Lesson)


I had my first test run of an online video class with some amazing guinea pig students from Israel! We are offering a couple of select classes this fall as online live video classes—CQLA Level B, CQLA Level A, Research Reports. So when someone said they’d like to join me for a few weeks this summer online, I asked them to be my guinea pigs—and my first online class was born! This particular lesson was one from halfway through our new-this-fall (but tested eight semesters over the past few years!) Meaningful Composition: Jump Start (a remediation book). It is a lesson about writing from a given source.

read more…

Punctuation Puzzle: Led vs. Lead & Alot vs. A lot

Punctuation Puzzle: Led vs. Lead, Alot vs A Lot

Today we have a PUNCTUATION PUZZLE—plus a couple of other errors for you to find!


The shepherd lead them to the brook and they drank alot, because they were very, hot, and thirsty.


Here is the answer with an explanation for each aspect below:

The shepherd led them to the brook, and they drank a lot because they were very hot and thirsty.


read more…

Teaching Writing With a Thorough Checklist (Live Video Class Included!)

Teaching Writing With a Thorough Checklist  [with video!]

Writing class is often the most difficult class for teachers—homeschoolers and brick and mortar schoolers alike. Oftentimes, a teacher has not had much writing experience herself to draw from. (Perhaps her writing classes were lacking in school, and she hasn’t had reason to write much in her adulthood.) Many writing programs are vague and more idea-based than step-by-step-based. You have probably heard me talk on here about how I overcame these obstacles in my writing curricula by utilizing my Directed Writing Approach. This Directed Writing Approach has churned out several *perfect* scores on the verbal SAT/ACT! And…this approach carries over into my writing checklist for students, known as the Checklist Challenge.

read more…

Download my Kid's Faves list

plus get access to my language arts freebies when you sign up below!

‘Like’ Us On Facebook!

Click here for more information on our Cottage Classes!

Pin It on Pinterest