Writing Points presents: teaching
The real reason teachers must be learners
If you read the education blogs, you know teachers need to be lifelong
learners. Bloggers talk about the joy and excitement of learning.
Most English teachers enjoyed school and did well in it, often
by avoiding subjects they didn't like or that were hard for them.
As a result, they don't understand that someone can be bright, apply
themselves, do everything right, and still not be able to learn
in a certain situation.
Although I was a psychology major, the course in which I learned
about the psychology of learning was in a math I chose as an elective.
Put your Tweet-length ad here to reach a niche education audience.
I worked hard, I got help from my roommate, and I got a C- on the
I worked harder, got more tutoring, and got a D on the second test.
With a whole lot more work, tutoring by my roommate, and help
from the professor, I didn't score well enough on the final exam
to get into the class I had just completed.
This summer, try learning something for which you have no aptitude.
It might give you a totally new perspective on teaching.
Writing Points presents: free
Slideshow on the making of new words
Jeffrey Hill's 27-slide presentation
on how new words are made has good information you can use.
I don't recommend you show it to students in one sitting: the slides
are word-heavy. Other options that would be easier on students and
better for learning are:
Take one of the ways new words are made, such as blends. Show
and discuss the two or three slides related to that topic. Then
have students collaboratively come up with more examples.
Have students build a visual slideshow illustrating
one of the ways new words are made. If you were using the blend
example, students might make a slideshow of pictures illustrating
the examples Hill gives and additional ones they come up with.
Give students a writing prompt about how new words are
made and provide the slideshow link as a resource for
them to use.
If you are planning to give students a summer reading list, use
to help you. Create a free WorldCat account, if you don't have one
already. (Use WorldCat to gauge how common a title is in public
libraries near you.) Then create a reading list for students.
When you finish, you can share your list online with students
simply by giving students the link from your school website.
As they read, students can rate the books on your reading
list and write a quick review at WorldCat. They can share
links to their reviews in Facebook, Twitter or other social
media. Social media provide motivation to read and post throughout
One neat feature of the WorldCat lists is that the lists show
book covers, not just book titles.
Need books at a particular reading level? You can use Lexile.com
to find books at a level similar to that at which students were
reading at the end of the school year.
These days, almost every student needs to be taught time management.
One that's both simple and powerful is the Pomodoro Technique,
which uses a kitchen timer, lined paper, and a pencil with an eraser.
(Don't use a pen. You'll need the eraser.)
Here's how it works: Pick a task. Set a timer for 25 minutes. Work
at the task until the timer rings. Stop work. Take a 3-5 minute
break. Every four Pomodoros, take a longer break.
You could teach the Pomodoro Technique as a way for students to
schedule their study or their writing time.
It would even work as a way to structure classroom time. One of
its virtues is that it gives users a way to track how long it takes
to do something, even if several people are working at the task
collaboratively, without having to track precise start and finish
Download a free
pdf that elaborates on the basic methodology, explaining such
things as how to handle interruptions and off-track ideas. Try
the technique this summer as you prepare for
fall classes. Look for ways you can adapt some
of the techniques to help your students learn to manage
FYI, the Italian originator of the technique used a timer shaped
like a tomato, hence the name Pomodoro, which is Italian
I've posted a miscellaneous collection of new pages since last
I contrasted creative
nonfiction with what employers mean by creativity in nonfiction
and explained why you should care.
I summarized what three influential research studies reveal about
students should avoid but often do not.
Learn why, according to two researchers, English
word usage errors in college students' writing are on the rise.
Learn a slick trick for helping students prepare for research papers
by identifying topic
A title is a tiny part of a paper, but students get bent out of
shape about it without help
in writing a title.
I neglected to note last month the addition of Six Grammar Terms
You Should Not Use to the Writing Points subscribers'
resources file. The 4-page PDF explains terms that confuse today's
students and gives you alternative language that presents fewer
problems for students.
Writing Points presents a note
Grammar Abusers Anonymous on sale now
Last month 40 people took advantage of the offer to get a free,
special teachers' edition of Grammar Abusers Anonymous. Since
then, the student edition has been scrubbed of the errors that crept
in as the editor's corrections were transferred from notes on the
PDF version to my desktop publishing program. Grammar
Abusers Anonymous is
on sale at a special introductory price through Sept. 15.
My next book will also be a book for writing teachers on just-in-time
grammar. I'm hoping to have it done before school starts in the
After that, I'm going to write on topics that interest me. I've had
just about all the grammar I can tolerate for a while.
The next issue of Writing Points will come out June 15,
no providence preventing.
Until then, keep your pencil sharp.