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That sentence is a perfect opener
for a discussion about the logical function of the word
Struggling writers need someone to explain explicitly the logic
that underlies the connecting words and, but,
and or. Unless someone calls it to their attention, many
students (not just struggling writers) many not realize that and
should join ideas that are logically related.
There is no logical connection between how long Niles worked for
the district and where he lives. Niles would not work more or less
than nine years if he moved to another street.
You could get struggling writers to think about the logic-grammar
connection with an informal writing prompt asking
them to revise the original sentence to show that Niles' place
of residence has nothing to do with how long he worked for the
district. There are two easy ways to do it.
Students could solve the problem by putting the information about
where Niles lives in a separate sentence:
Niles has worked for the district for nine
years. He lives on Wightman Avenue.
They could also put the location of the residence in a nonessential
(nonrestrictive) clause, as shown here:
Niles, who lives on Wightman Avenue, has
worked for the district for nine years.
The commas around the clause who lives on Wightman Avenue show
that those words are not necessary to understanding the main part
of the sentence.
Many of the free graphic organizers available on the web are either
too simplistic or too complicated for secondary classroom use. Exploratree
is a notable exception. Although piloted with students 11-13, it
could be used with teens or adults.
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Can Teach Writing in the space of a Tweet.
Exploratree supports inquiry learning
in all disciplines and across disciplines
interactive "thinking guides." These are not just worksheets
in disguise. The guides can be edited by registered users. (Registration
Here are a few of the graphic organizers I spotted that have clear
relevance to the ELA curriculum:
- Question things you read, hear, see
- Compare and contrast
- Sort facts from opinions
- Analyze an issue from different perspectives
Teachers can set up Exploratree groups where students
can work together on projects. (Students can set up their own groups,
too.) If your English class and a colleague's history class want
to work collaboratively on an interdisciplinary project, they can
work through Exploratree for the planning since it's available 24/7.
For more about what can be done with Exploratree, see its detailed
Exploratree is from EnquiringMinds,
a research and development outfit in the UK that's attempting to
find ways of having students acquire subject knowledge while exploring
topics of personal interest. The project was funded by the Microsoft
Partners in Learning initiative. Research reports and an "EnquiringMinds"
guide are available for free download.
This article will wrap up the Writing Points series on
free online storage options. Previous issues explained how online
storage works and discussed two of better known programs: Dropbox
Windows Live Mesh
Live Mesh is an online storage option for Windows XP and later
Windows versions. It provides users of the popular Windows operating
system with 5 GB of storage (more than twice what most other free
storage programs offer). It will keep your files up to date on all
your computers whether PC or Mac, and on cell phones.
is an an excellent Dropbox alternative with mobile apps for all
major platforms. SugarSync offers 5GB for free. There's no limit
on the size of files that can be uploaded. SugarSync offers multiple
gives you 2GBs of storage free for life. Unlike most of its competitors,
it measures in compressed files, so may get more actual storage
with its 2GB than with a program that offers more storage measured
in uncompressed files. Spideroak is Mac, Windows, and Linux compatible.
is a Windows-only program. As its name suggests, Syncplicity can
keep your data in sync online and on multiple computers. Syncplicity
offers 2GB of free online storage. For each friend you refer for
a free account who signs up, the company gives you 1GB extra (up
to a total 3GB), which can increase your Syncplicity free storage
limit to 5GB.
Amid the other communications skills you teach students, teach
them the basics of writing a business email including using an
email signature. Students' sig should include:
- Their full name,
- Email address,
- Alternative email if their primary address is a school address,
- Phone number with area code,
- A physical mail address.
Is all that information necessary? It may not be. But several people
who answered ads I placed for people to help with English education
projects did not get a summer job because they provided no way to contact
them that was still in service after they graduated.
The next issue of Writing Points should
be released August 15, no providence preventing.
Until then, keep your pencil sharp.