Monday, July 30, 2018

#amwriting #Grammar 3. Glimpses. Adjectives, Adverbs, and Interjections

This is the third of four posts on common grammar errors, omissions, and misunderstandings. 

Most writers have grammar issues. The issues chosen for this blog series are some that I experience in my writing.  The issue with each issue in the series ranges from significant to bothersome in my writing.

I teach a technical writing class to nurses in the BS-Nursing program at Point Loma Nazarene University. Early versions of the course focused on rules of English grammar. I've shifted the focus to the importance of editing. If you search my past blogs, you'll find LOTS of instruction, information, and insistence on the importance of editing.

The above paragraph does not mean good grammar is not important in your writing. The four blogs in this series present information that I’ve gleaned, remembered or learned about grammar while in the role of a writing teacher. I know that teaching this class helped my writing. I’m running this series--and following it was a series on adverb use/abuse--with high hopes that both series will help your writing, too.

If you don’t experience any of these issues in your writing, I hope you realize how fortunate you are!

This glimpse begins with

Bonus Tip

The verb form you choose is powerful! It should tell your reader something about the action.
      ·      Is it happening right now?
      ·      Did it already happen?
      ·      Is it happening on an ongoing basis?
      ·      Did it happen over the course of time in the past?

The verb form also tells your reader something about the subject of the sentence.
      ·      Is the subject singular or plural?

As long as the subject of the sentence and the nature of the action are consistent throughout an entire piece of writing, the verb forms should be consistent.

Not only is it correct to use parallel verb forms, it also helps your sentences flow smoothly and eliminates confusion.


Adjectives modify nouns and pronouns.

·      Describe (what kind)

The green car has the best price.

·      Identify (which one)

That guy was a little weird.

·      Quantify (how many)

Jake ate four burgers during last night’s contest.


Adverbs can modify verbs, adjectives, other adverbs, or entire clauses.

Angrily, maybe, absolutely
Recently, suddenly, seldom
Nearby, there, downstairs
To what extent?
Very, slightly, exceptionally, quite

 It’s tempting to use adverbs when they 
are not needed. 

“It’s my favorite type of chocolate,” she whispered softly in her lover’s ear.

Four weeks from today, I'm starting a three blog series
ADverbs Often SUBTRACT from Your Writing. 
Each post presents five examples similar to the one example above.

Bottom line on adverbs is this:

If your scene is well described and your characters are well developed, you won’t need many adverbs. If fact, your readers will find themselves distracted by the presence of too many adverbs.

For me, adverbs are examples of 
"When in doubt, leave it out."

Interjections express surprise or emotion

·      Interjections are lonely words. They aren’t grammatically connected to the rest of the sentence.
    Example: “Hey, can I go to the movies with you guys?”
   · They can also stand alone.
   · Interjections include words like Ouch! Help! Hey!
   · They tend to show up at the beginning of 
o  “My, that was a mouthful,” she said.

o   “Oh, I don’t know about that,” he replied.

Next #Grammar. Glimpses into Clauses, Conjunctions, and Closing Comments on Commas

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Study Questions from Acts Ch 2 and 3 from 7/29

My Sunday school class/Life Group is studying the book of Acts. Every Monday, I’ll post the questions we discussed the day before. I encourage you to jot your thoughts down.

On Wednesdays, I’ll post some of the comments from the class discussion.

If you’d like a PDF file of the questions, email me at

Chapter 2

Which characteristics [of the church immediately after Pentecost] would be easiest for the church of today to attain? which the hardest? Why?

How do we know this church was evangelistic?

Discussion was quite lengthy on the first question. Don't worry. You'll get your money's worth of comments on Wednesday.

We got this far this week. 

Chapter 3


What is meant by “the hour of prayer”?

Where is the “Beautiful Gate”?

How much did Peter change his habits after Pentecost?

What is most interesting to you about the description of the crippled man?

If you were the cripple, how would you react to Peter’s response to the cripple’s request? Why?

Describe the sequence of the cripple's expectations, emotions, and understanding.

What does the former cripple do?

Who was "amazed" and "astonished" by the healing of the cripple?

How does the reaction of those in the previous question to the “cripple” differ from that of the people in the crowd?

Peter's 2nd recorded sermon. What is similar to the first?

According to Peter, how is the authority of Christ demonstrated in this miracle?

How does Peter's tone change in v17?

What is the OT context of the quote from Moses?

What "big three" OT characters does Peter refer to in his sermon? Why is each chosen?

How does Peter end this sermon?

Can you think of an example of God's power at work today/in your lifetime like it was in this chapter?

This Friday, my Expression of Faith is Fellowship (With Believers?)

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Sunday, July 29, 2018

#Teaching Tip #5. Group work and grading it

This is the fifth of a series of 10 posts.
I'm running all 10 posts on consecutive Mondays starting today. 
As of Labor Day, 2018, all ten of these #Teaching Tip posts are searchable on my blog.

If you're not a teacher and you're reading this,
let a teacher know they are available.

I've been in enough in-service/professional-development sessions to guarantee that the information in this series is better than most of the information you’ll get while sitting through all your teacher workshops this coming school year.

You might be asking yourself,
What gives this guy the nerve to offer ideas about teaching AND commentary on professional development to anyone?

That's a legitimate question.
I invite you to follow this link and check my credentials.

Almost every teacher uses student groups at some time. Many teachers do a great job explaining the expectations for the group dynamics. At least that many do not explain those expectations. Another group, which might be the intersect in a Venn diagram of the teachers above, misuses group terminology.

Let’s start with some background.

 When I started teaching, groups were usually random assemblages of students. Often self-selected, equally as often teacher-selected, the directive was, “Work together to finish this assignment.” Most nightmares involving group work are the result of the above situation.

In the 1980s, Cooperative Learning Groups became popular. Hosts of teachers were trained in cooperative learning methodology. Regardless of the extent of a teacher’s training, too often, what was advertised as “a cooperative group activity” wasn’t one. What follows are the definitions used in this post.
Cooperative Learning
One of the most popular pedagogical strategies in the last decades of the 20th Century is cooperative learning. Much research has been directed at the effectiveness of students learning in groups vs. students learning in individual situations. The vast majority of data collected by these studies support group experiences as the most effective learning modality, particularly for students from underrepresented groups.
Group/Team/Cooperative Group
Many teachers use the word “group” any time they have more than one student working on a common assignment. For purposes of this class the following definitions will be used:
Group                         a loose, frequently randomly assigned, collection of students whose task is to generate some form of product. Roles within the group are not defined prior to group formation. The group itself determines resources and access to those resources. The most important outcome is producing the product. The size of the group and the length of time the group is together as a group is highly variable.
Team                          a loose, frequently randomly assigned, collection of students with a goal. While the goal may be academic, it is more likely to be physical (e.g., “to win”). Achievement of the goal is the primary reason for the team’s existence. Size tends to be more than 6 team members. Teams function for single contests through entire seasons.
In Teams and Groups, little attempt is made to be certain that all individuals on the team or group contribute equally to the task at hand. In fact, in the case of a team, lesser skilled members are often excluded from much/all the group activity.
Cooperative Group   a tight-knit collection of students with pre-defined roles working together to produce a consensus product. Contributions from each cooperative group member are expected to be both equal and appropriate. In addition to academic processes, learning and demonstrating appropriate social skills are frequently goals of this type of classroom organization. Working together in a tolerant and supportive atmosphere is a crucial component of a cooperative group. Resources (or access to resources) is limited to specific cooperative group members to assist in the cooperative nature of the venture. Size is usually 3-4 students. The length of time a cooperative group functions varies.

Without a doubt, the most common student complaint about group work is . . .
. . . The Group Grade.

Far too many teachers give everyone in a group the same grade without considering the quality of the contribution to the product by individual group members.
I’m not saying that a teacher should never give everyone in a group the same grade. There are plenty of times when I did that. However, those times were always when the grade was minimal and/or the entire group activity was clearly visible to me.
Example. Quizzes in groups using whiteboards to display answers. When I used this strategy, it was obvious if all students were participating “equally,” or at least equally enough to all receive the same grade.

Most of my group work was some level of cooperative grouping. It was uncommon for all students in one of those groups to receive the same grade. Some version of the formula below was used in that group grading.
[(Your question score) x 2] + [average of all individual questions in group] + [group score on the GC] = 120 pts possible.
As displayed above the formula was for an exam.
What? You gave group tests?!?
Yes, at least one—more on that a bit later.
Right now, let’s look at a “catalog” assignment. Here student groups research a single part of the whole topic. I taught science. Over the years, I assigned
“The Whole Cell Catalog”—each student researched a cellular organelle.
“The Invertebrate Catalog”—each student researched one or two invertebrate phyla.
“The Botany Catalog”—each student researched a structure found in a flowering plant. Shown below.

Notice on the three numbers on above page and the page below. Those are scores received from the rubric below. Notice on the TOC that there are three DIFFERENT scores for members of this group.

Ideas for other disciplines abound.
“In every disciplinethere are key concepts that are grouped together to form larger sets of information. Dictators, kings, and presidents are linked to various Forms of Government. Onomatopoeia and simile are two of many Literary Devices. Addition, subtraction, multiplication, etc., are grouped as Mathematical Functions. Cell Organelles make up cells. The list of such aggregations is very long.” (p 130*)
*For specifics see pages 129-140 in Chapter 5, You Can Do It! Implementing Success in Your Classroom in Tune Up Your Teaching & Turn on Student Learning by Dr. JoAnn Jurchan and me.
     Let’s take a look at the most complete version of the peer grading process I used for any group project. Clicking HERE for a link to a downloadable copy of all these as a .zip file. Also, the complete Whole Cell Catalog assignment and two other catalogs are in a FREE download at:  

 I also used the following.
When grading, each student gets his/her page plus an additional amount based on the entire catalog (the Group Grade).  I’ve even used this modified version of the Group Test formula.
[(Your page score) x 2] + [average of all individual pages in group] + 
[group score on the Cover/TOC] = 120 pts possible.
I know this formula ends with 120 points and the formula above is for 60 points. As the teacher, you are the keeper of all points in the universe. I discuss course grades in the last blog in this series.
When using the formula for a catalog, you only average the pages included in the final product. If a student doesn’t turn in a page, they get zero for their page, but that zero is not included in the [average of all individual pages in the group].
Regardless of the method used for scoring, you can see how grades of students in the group might/could/should vary depending on their contribution.

Email me: with questions/comments.
Or, if you'd like more information or samples of anything described in this series, send an email there!

#Teaching Tip #6 presents the use of study guides and their grading.

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Thursday, July 26, 2018

Expressions of Faith. Acts Ch 5. Angelic Irony

17 Then the high priest and all his associates, who were members of the party of the Sadducees, were filled with jealousy. 18 They arrested the apostles and put them in the public jail. 19 But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the jail and brought them out.
20 “Go, stand in the temple courts,” he said, “and tell the people all about this new life.”

21 At daybreak they entered the temple courts, as they had been told, and began to teach the people.

Acts 5:17-21a

Angelic Irony

It shouldn’t surprise you that the “new” religion preached by the disciples infuriated the Jewish religious leaders.

The Sadducees were a powerful priestly party.
  • They did not believe in the resurrection of the dead.
  • They did not believe in a personal Messiah.
  • They did not believe in angels or spirits.
  • The reigning High Priest was a Sadducee, so they were even more self-important than ever.

The apostles are arrested and jailed by the Sadducees in a public display of their power.

Dozens of people witnessed the arrests, but no mention is made of the apostles’ reaction. Verse 29b conveys their motivation.
“We must obey God rather than human beings!

Why did God send an angel to rescue them?

I suspect the apostles were praying.

But, why did God send an angel to rescue them?

I find it ironic that an angel, something Sadducees don’t believe exists, is sent by God for the task!

The angel talks to the apostles and escorts them out of prison.

The Sadducees send a messenger to the prison to bring the apostles to them, even though the apostles began preaching in the Temple before the Sadducees arrive there.

Temple guards plead ignorance.

Put yourself in the place of a Sadducee. How would you feel about the angel’s visit?

What do you believe that is not God’s truth or refuse to believe that is God’s truth?
Ask God to forgive you of those this week, then

allow God to use your new understanding for Him

My next Expressions of Faith is Acts Chapter 5. Rejoicing in...

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