Archive for the ‘Grammar & Style’ Category

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Verb: That’s What’s Happening

posted: 12.4.06 by Barclay Barrios

Have students review the section on verbs in the handbook. In class, identify a key passage of the reading, and then have the students work in groups to identify the verbs in every sentence of the passage. Use this to prompt a discussion: What are the key verbs? What is the action of these sentences? Are more verbs used in clauses? What are the implications of where the verb is for the author of the essay and for the students’ own writing?

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Categories: Collaboration, Grammar & Style
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K.I.S.S.

posted: 12.4.06 by Barclay Barrios

Have students review the section of the handbook on simple sentences before class. In class, ask the students to choose one of the key sentences of the reading. Then, in groups, have them transform the sentence into a simple sentence or into a series of simple sentences. Use this to have a discussion about

  1. the concept of the sentence/essay
    • Does breaking it down into simple sentences make it easier to understand?
    • Is this a tool they can use when reading?
  2. sentence style in general
    • When are simple sentences useful?
    • Why didn’t the author of the essay use only simple sentences?
  3. their own writing
    • When should they use simple sentences?
    • What makes them useful in writing?

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Categories: Collaboration, Grammar & Style
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Method Acting and the Sentence

posted: 12.4.06 by Barclay Barrios

Have students review material on sentence types in the handbook. Put a simple sentence on the board, such as “The student asked a question.” Have the class identify the subject, verb, and object, and then ask students to come in front of the class and stand next to each other in poses that represent these parts of speech. Then, in groups of three to five, students should select a sentence from the essay or their drafts, identify its main parts of speech, and as a team work on representing the structure (NOT meaning) of the sentence just by standing in front of the class. How does one visually/physically represent a verb? What happens if the person representing the subject moves to the end of the line? What would a sentence look like if the students stood in a circle and not in a left-to-right line?

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Categories: Collaboration, Grammar & Style, Learning Styles
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Grammar Hunt

posted: 12.4.06 by Barclay Barrios

Bring in sentences from drafts that have errors or are syntactically strained. Put the class into groups and have each group work on first identifying the error, then finding the section of the handbook that addresses it, then correcting it. The group with the most correct answers (and corrections) gets a prize (chocolate is a good motivator).

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Categories: Collaboration, Grammar & Style, Learning Styles, Punctuation & Mechanics
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Cut and Tape

posted: 11.20.06 by Barclay Barrios

Ask students to take a copy of their current draft, cut it up into individual paragraphs, place the paragraph slips in an envelope, and bring it into class. Bring a roll of tape to class and then, in groups, have students trade envelopes. Each peer reviewer needs to read all the individual paragraphs, determine what their order should be, and tape them back together. When students get their taped-together papers back, ask if the drafts came back in the right order. Use this as an opportunity to discuss organization and transitions, turning to the section on transitions in the handbook to help students review tools they can use to make sure the order of their paragraphs is always perfectly clear.

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Categories: Assignment Idea, Drafting, Grammar & Style, Learning Styles, Peer Review
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Thesaurus Distortion

posted: 11.6.06 by Barclay Barrios

Have students review the section of the handbook on choosing words and/or tone. Then, either in a computer classroom or at home, have them choose a key sentence from their drafts and use a thesaurus (book or electronic form) to replace every significant word in the sentence (perhaps even multiple times). Bring these altered sentences in for a discussion of how/if they still work. Use the handbook to begin a discussion on how word choice impacts tone and meaning, and then continue that discussion by looking at the word choices in the current reading.

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Categories: Assignment Idea, Critical Reading, Grammar & Style, Revising, Teaching with Technology
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Argument Haiku

posted: 11.6.06 by Barclay Barrios

Have students review the sections of the handbook on developing and revising a thesis and on wordiness or conciseness. Then have each student express her or his thesis as a haiku (5 syllables / 7 syllables / 5 syllables). For example:

Balinese cockfight
And American football.
Texts of culture both.

This is not an easy exercise, but it’s a great way to have students focus on the core of what they want their papers to say, in its most condensed form.

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Categories: Assignment Idea, Grammar & Style, Revising, Thesis Statement
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The Never-Ending Sentence

posted: 11.6.06 by Barclay Barrios

Ask students to use their word processor to first convert all text to lowercase and then to replace all periods with a space. Have them review the section on fused sentences in the handbook. In class, have them work in groups on one of the “period-less” drafts to restore the proper punctuation.

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Categories: Collaboration, Grammar & Style, Punctuation & Mechanics, Teaching with Technology
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Topology of Topic Sentences

posted: 11.6.06 by Barclay Barrios

Have students review the section of the handbook on topic sentences before class. Ask them to bring in a copy of their current draft with all of the topic sentences removed. In peer revision groups, share these drafts and have the peers craft topic sentences that would work in the paragraphs. The student should then compare these to her or his original sentences. This exercise has a number of advantages: students get practice identifying the topic sentences of their own paragraphs (or learn to recognize when their paragraphs do not have them), they get practice writing these sentences for peers, and finally they get a sense of whether or not their paragraphs are clearly focused, based on whether or not the topic sentences they get back accurately reflect what they feel is the content of the paragraphs.

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Categories: Drafting, Grammar & Style, Peer Review, Revising
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Customizing the Grammar Checker

posted: 10.23.06 by Barclay Barrios

Have your students use Microsoft Word (in the computer classroom, at home, or in one of the campus labs on their own). Tell them to open one of their drafts and then click Tools » Options » Spelling & Grammar tab » Settings. Word can check for a variety of grammatical and stylistic errors, though we may not want Word checking for everything it can check for. Each student should choose one of the many unchecked options. Use the handbook to research that “error” and then offer advice to the class on whether or not they should have Word look for that error: Is it a serious error? Is it easier to find on your own? Is it a question of preference and not an error at all?

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Categories: Assignment Idea, Grammar & Style, Learning Styles, Teaching with Technology
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