Twice-Told Tale Reader in Print on Amazon (and as a Kindle/Ebook!)


After two years of creating, conspiring, and co-writing, my writing assistant (Zac Kieser) and I have finished our Twice-Told Tales–Classic Stories With Spin-Off Versions for Read Aloud or Read Alone Fun. Just in time for Christmas gift giving and second semester classroom use! So what exactly is a “Twice-Told Tale”? And what is a book containing twenty of them? Let’s start with the Classic Tale first…..



Teaching Students That “A Paragraph Is a Unit of Thought”


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.


Character Ink Private Tutoring–Writing, Math, Reading, Grammar, & Science

We are expanding our private tutoring and small summer classes at Character Ink! We have more availability now–and in five subject areas:

1) Writing–sentence, paragraph, report, essay, story writing; all levels; Directed Writing Approach to get non-writers writing immediately! Taught by a writing curriculum author of over 100 books totaling over 50,000 pages!
2) Math–from elementary through twelfth grade….your curriculum or one of our choice; remedial, brush up, SAT prep, and more. Taught by a math professional (former CPA and CMA).
3) Reading–from first grade and up; phonics, reading comprehension, reaching reading fluency, and more. Taught by curriculum author, elementary education degree and master’s work in Reading Specialist.
4) Grammar/Usage–taught in conjunction with writing or alone; parts of speech; punctuation; editing; spelling/structural analysis; and more. Taught by curriculum author and experienced teacher of over 100 students each year in grammar and writing for over 20 years.
5) Science–elementary through high school–basic science, earth science, physics, biology, advanced biology, chemistry; taught by experienced science teacher who has taught all of these subjects to many small groups for over 15 years and is a math professional.


Welcome to Summer School


I know that title is a lot cheerier than most people are when they think of Summer School. However, I want to help you look at Summer School in a little more positive light. It CAN be an opportunity to catch up on missed skills, reinforce what was just learned, or prep for the upcoming school year. It CAN be an opportunity to focus on one area of academics instead of several. It CAN be an opportunity to grow your student in an area of interest. It CAN be a great opportunity!


5 Tips for There, Their, and They’re From Language Lady

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5 Tips for There, Their, and They're From Language Lady



There, Their, and They’re Are Homophones

Homophones, homonyms, and homographs are commonly confused (as are the words that fall under each category!). When teaching new words to students, direct them to what they ALREADY know. I tell my students “You know more than you think you know!”

In the case of homophones, I remind students that HOMO means same and PHONE means hear (roughly). Thus, homophones are words that sound the same as each other (but are not spelled the same). With younger kids, I tell them that homoPHONES sound the same when you’re talking on the PHONE–that if you don’t see them written or hear them in a sentence, you don’t know what the speaker means. 



Teach There in Two Ways

First of all, I have students highlight the word HERE within tHERE. I remind them that THERE is the word we use when we want to say HERE and THERE. That works for a while; however, it still focuses on position. That is just one of many uses for there. 

Secondly, I tell students that THERE is used when we want to say THERE IS and THERE ARE. This is important to note with older kids especially because these present many challenges, starting with “Do I use THEIR or THERE this time?” and continuing with “Do I use there IS or there ARE?” (In other words, there (and here) presents many subject-verb issues for older students!



Their Has the Word HEIR in IT

In moving from there to THEIR, I do something similar in that I have students highlight the HEIR within the word THEIR. The word their is a possessive pronoun. An HEIR is someone who will take the reign. I remind students that someone will be HEIR to the THRONE. And just like a prince is the HEIR, THEIR shows possession. For younger kids, I tell them the HEIR owns the throne and THEIR shows that someone owns something. 

For older students, I remind them that their is a pronoun–and pronouns NEVER show ownership/possession with an apostrophe. (This is debatable for those who call words like other pronouns, but that doesn’t affect most pronouns.) In this regard, I tell them that you would never write their’s to show possession. 



They’re Is a Contraction

Since I consistently teach that you do not show possession to a pronoun with an apostrophe, students are used to not using an apostrophe with pronouns. So they’re would never be used to show possession. When an apostrophe is used with a pronoun, it always means a contraction (he’s, she’ll, they’re). 

Contraction means squeezed. I tell students that a contraction is made when you squeeze two words together so hard that some of the letters pop out, and you must put an apostrophe in place of some of the letters. Then I teach something every other class session: Say contractions UNcontracted when you are about to write them. You will know for sure that you want that contraction if you always say the two words (in your head): THEY’RE here–they are here…yes!



Bring Them All Together

When providing practice for these with young children, it is good to do the first two, then practice. Then add THEY’RE and practice. My favorite way to practice is to “choose the correct word” for youngers and have olders write the answers in the blank. Be sure the practice has the exact same types of uses as the lessons had. 

Homophone errors are common in writers from second grade through senior citizens! Thus, the real place to practice these words is in the students’ writing. Students need writing teachers who take the time to thoroughly edit their papers, so that the students can learn from their own errors. Rather than holding back on “correcting” their rough draft papers, I use these papers as opportunities to teach. Using proofreaders’ marks, I mark out the incorrect homophone and write the correct one above it. Use every encounter with students as an opportunity to teach!

Thanks for Joining Donna to Learn About Grammar and Writing!

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Live Online Writing Class Starting Soon!


When I post a live video of one of my writing classes on Facebook, I always get those same questions: When will you offer classes for people who don’t live near you? Are you going to be having online classes soon? And I keep saying “soon”! Well, soon is now here. We are officially having our very first LIVE online writing class (remedial writing, of sorts). I will enumerate the details below.


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