Tuesday, February 27, 2007

English Update February 27, 2007

Why do teachers give the grades in writing that they do? The most significant influence proved to be the strength of the content of the essay. The second most important influence proved to be the strength of the organization of that content. The third significant influence was the strength of the mechanics. SW Freedman. CCC (May 79), 163.

How help students interpret figurative language? Helping students systematically to interpret figurative language: 1) recognize nonliteral language; 2) seeing comparisons; 3) defining confusing words; 4) understanding the author’s purpose of the comparison. PA Sherer. JR (Apr. 77), 559-562.

How teach formal expression to students? Give students exercises to help them translate spoken dialect into formal writing. P Silber. CCC (Oct. 79), 294-300.

Where does one begin when thinking critically? If you see a generalization, question it. Generalizations are often half-truths.

How teach students to write letters of application? Letters of application are often written for jobs that do not clearly match the educational background of the student. Students must be shown how to relate the job to the educational background and personal experience of the applicant. EM Walsh. CCC (Dec. 77), 375.

What is the difference between a synopsis and an abstract? Synopsis defined: chronologically ordered summary of the main events of a novel, short story or play. DM Guinn. CCC (Dec. 79), 380. Abstract defined: Summarizing a sequence of ideas. Two types: descriptive and informative. Descriptive concentrates on topics covered by the writer. Informative concentrates on what the original says. DM Guinn. CCC (Dec. 79), 380-381.

How help students develop sentence variety? Have students select individual sentences from their writing and try to reorder the words in them in a more interesting way. R deBeaugrande. CCC (Oct. 77), 240-246.

Why teach grammar? The goal then of learning the rules is to render them invisible. A reader does not see correct punctuation; only mistakes show. Correct spelling is an invisible conduit through which the writer’s point of view flows to the reader…. A misspelled word, rendered visible, draws attention to itself, invites a judgment and distracts the reader from the writer’s point of view…. I tell my students…I want you to know that I lost sight of your point of view because what I was seeing were (sic.) the errors in spelling. If it’s OK with you that your point of view goes down the drain…. If it’s not all right with you, then in your next paper do whatever you have to do in order to make your spelling invisible and thereby supportive of what you wish to communicate. BJ Mandel. CCC (Dec. 78), 368.

What does research tell us about teaching grammar? Reports of grammar’s uselessness in improving writing are based on research that is neither thorough nor completely convincing, with generalizations usually drawn from one study—the Harris study in 1962. The Elly study (1976) draws the conclusion that the study of grammar does not help students in editing, an interpretation that goes beyond the data. Suggests that maybe one valid conclusion from the Elly study might be that grammar should be introduced at the later junior and high school levels. J Neuleib. CCC (Oct. 77), 247-250.

How use sentence combining? Students “deconstruct” professionally written sentences as they would for sentence combining, then reconstruct them. J W Ney, 1976. CCC (May 77), 189.

JR = Journal of Reading. CCC = College Composition and Communication.

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