I’ve been teaching Major and Minor Works in every class and every private writing student meeting for two weeks now–and I feel like a broken record!
(Since I was teaching so much about it, I have provided teaching for my blog readers too—did you see these:
1) Color Essay Video Teaching (lots of detailed instruction on Major and Minor Works in the video AND the free lesson)
2) 5 Tips for Major and Minor Works From Language Lady (Yes, I got carried away and made a slideshow about it too!)
3) Tricky Tricks Download–print these off for your students!)
In my experience, students either love story writing or hate it. They either have ideas floating around in their heads, waiting for the next story writing unit–or they feel that they have no ideas and hope for a stomach bug that week! This is one reason I use the Directed Writing Approach in my books–so that each step of each type of paper is laid out incrementally.
One common problem that students have when story writing is telling “first this happened; then this happened; after this, that happened; later on, this happened” by students. What could be an exciting, action-packed story becomes a narrative/retelling–or worse yet, an essay. Have you ever wondered how to help students from the start with this rambling problem?
One of the first things that we teach students who are learning to write sentences is that every sentence must have two things: a subject and a verb. (Technically, I teach that a sentence must have FIVE things—CAVES: Capital, All Makes Sense, Verb, End Mark, Subject.) Verbs are important! Action verbs are the forward motion of sentences. They persuade in persuasive writing; inform in research-based writing; and entertain in story writing. They do all of this in spite of one man, Michel Thaler, writing a 233-page French novel in 2004 that did not contain a single verb. (And I would say it also did not contain a single sentence! 😉 ).
I love mnemonics–tricks, songs, jingles, rhymes….anything that helps students learn! I love them even more when they have something to do with the purpose for learning that topic or the topic itself. Like in the case of prepositions–songs can help you learn about three dozen of the over 200 prepositions–but Check Sentences can help you learn 150 or more because Check Sentence have to do with the function of prepositions. (Learn more here)
I remember writing reports in middle school. I remember enjoying the writing process—but I also remember turning in papers that were two pages long—but all one paragraph. Anybody else out there remember that?
I also remember the teacher giving my paper back to me and telling me to divide it into paragraphs. What I don’t remember is any lessons on paragraphs. I think those would have come in handy! 🙂
When new students come to my writing classes, the first “writing” problem they encounter is that of paragraph breaks. And I would expect no less. Paragraph breaking is difficult. We tell them that when they change topics, they should change paragraphs—but the entire paper is about the same topic! We tell them that each paragraph should be a unit of thought—but the whole paper feels like a unit of thought to them!
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!