By Zac Kieser and Donna Reish
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 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!).
Merry Christmas from Language Lady and Character Ink Press! It is the time of good cheer, festivities, magical moments with children, celebrating the Nativity–AND grammar errors galore! Usage errors are to be expected since many of the things we are writing this time of year are things we only write once a year. It’s hard to remember grammar and usage protocols that we use daily, much less ones that we only use yearly. I hope this post will clear many of your Christmas grammar issues up!
It has been said that when a banker or a counterfeit money “agent” learns about counterfeit money, he or she begins by learning what the real thing looks like.
I use this same approach to teach about sentences, clauses, and phrases in my language arts and writing books (Character Quality Language Arts and Meaningful Composition): teach the students what a real sentence looks like—and then teach what are not real sentences.
I teach what a sentence contains using a simple acronym: CAVES
An Introduction to Readability Levels
I began homeschooling over thirty years ago when Ray and I taught my younger sister (who was in eighth grade at the time) in our home. During my first several years of homeschooling, I used early readers when my children were first learning to read, but I did not care for “readers” for older children. I always felt that abridged or excerpted stories were inferior—and that children should read whole books.
Once I talked on the Language Lady Facebook page about how many times I had said “A paragraph is a unit of thought” in three days of teaching. (Too many to count!) And promised a post about designing paragraphs, paragraph breaks, and general paragraph help. Here you go!
Dividing paragraphs is one of the most challenging aspects of writing for young writers and adults alike (along with many other challenging aspects!). That is why when people who do not write a lot write a full page with no paragraph breaks. That is also why middle school writers start writing and have no idea when to indent–so they randomly pick a spot (“Hmmm….looks like I’ve written enough to change paragraphs now…”) and indent.