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

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

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

How?
Angrily, maybe, absolutely
When?
Recently, suddenly, seldom
Where?
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
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 
     sentences.
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

Follow me on Twitter: @CRDowningAuthor
My website is: www.crdowning.com

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: EIT.DrD@gmail.com 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.

Follow me on Twitter: @CRDowningAuthor and Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CRDowningAuthor
My website is: www.crdowning.com

I'd appreciate your feedback!

Sunday, July 22, 2018

#Teaching Tips #4. Grading assignments on advanced concepts

This is the fourth 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.


This blog addresses a situation that is common to all teachers whose curriculum includes advanced topics. The process I’ll describe will work with any level of content. I used this method most often in AP Biology because I used other methods described in these blogs in all my classes

It is difficult to know how well students understand advanced concepts. Many students in AP and similar courses are excellent test takers. An “A” on an exam on a topic demonstrates a high level of “book knowledge,” in all cases. The level of understanding is more difficult to measure by traditional testing methodology.

To address the “understanding” component, I have students do a variety of creative activities. I use analogies and have students generate their own. They solve a mystery when discussing DNA. They draw “portraits” of family members after a genetics simulation. I addition, are various times my students have, among other things,
    
     ·      Written letters to the developer of the microscope and 
     ·      Written letters from their brain to their lungs attempting to get the human to stop smoking.
     ·      Written dialogs between them and a deceased friend who died of drug use where the deceased friend warns them of the dangers of drug usage. 
     ·      Written journal entries chronicling the development of a bird embryo.
     ·      Written poetry to highlight environmental issues.
     ·      Drawn comic strips illustrating different invertebrates.
     ·      Drawn/Digitally produced comic books and graphic novels on how rocks form.

     ·      Drawn or painted original art highlighting endangered species.


The assignment highlighted in this blog is The Voyage of Uli Urea. Students describe filtration and urine production in the kidney in a story.

The Voyage of Uli Urea
Your excretory system does a magnificent job of removing some very nasty waste materials from your bodies. You hardly ever think about this system. BUT, you might if you had finished a L-A-R-G-E soft drink about an hour ago and you were sitting on the wonderful seat of a yellow school bus and you were bouncing along on a rough stretch of roadway and the mean, rotten bus driver would not stop and take a "potty break."
Anyway, you are to pretend to be "Uli Urea," a molecule of nitrogen waste in the blood of your body. Use the words listed below in a cute story that describes the excretory process.
To come anywhere close to full credit on this assignment, you will have to use information from your Campbell text. Other sources are, of course, okay, but if you use anything but Campbell, you must reference your information. In addition, you have to explain what happens in the Loop of Henle (both down and up)—you’ll need to use terms like hypertonic, hypotonic, permeable, impermeable for any hope at full credit.
 The first time you write one of the words from this list in your story it must be in ALL CAPITAL LETTERS and UNDERLINED. Example: KIDNEY. The words must be used in cor­rect order that they occur in the excretory process or you will lose points.
WORD LIST:
AQUAPORIN
PROXIMAL TUBULE*
ACTIVE TRANSPORT
RENAL ARTERY*
BOWMAN'S CAPSULE*
RENAL ARTERIOLE*
COLLECTING TUBULE (DUCT)*
SALTS
DISTAL TUBULE*
TOILET
FILTRATION
UREA
GLOMERULUS*
URETER*
HOMEOSTASIS
URETHRA*
KIDNEY
URINARY BLADDER*
KIDNEY PELVIS*
URINATION
LOOP OF HENLE*
URINE
NEPHRON
WATER
The terms marked with asterisks (*), must be in the correct anatomical order.

Your final draft should be word-processed using as many pages as necessary. You will be allowed one error in spelling or grammar per page of text you write. After that first error, points will be deducted for each additional mistake.

Once the stories are complete, students “trade and grade” papers using the PPT slides shown below.


The graders use pens or pencils I provide. Three times during the process—after slide 5, after slide 6, and at the end, they record partial scores in the margin. They total those scores. See the sample below.

Go back and check the grading slides. Note how the marks on this paper correspond to the directions. Because of that, I know which items are correctly sequenced. My job is to determine the correctness of their usage.

After this process, I had only to read the papers for coherence/content, adjust an occasional grading error by the student grader, and deduct points for grammar if there is more than one mistake per page. More often than not, any grade adjustment ends up in favor of the author of the paper. It takes relatively little time for me to do my part of the grading. All the grunt work was done during the peer grading session.
Students like knowing how they did on what was graded before class ends. Because my time commitment is reduced, they get their final grades quickly as well.
In addition, I have a clearer picture of the level of understanding of students on this concept, which will be on their unit exam, than if I asked them to "draw and label a nephron and describe each label in one sentence."

An Aside:
Kids tend to be brutal sticklers to what I say or show when grading. For example, if I say, “there should be twelve items in these two paragraphs,” it’s not uncommon for a hand to shoot up. “This paper has eleven in two paragraphs and one in another. I gave them eleven.”

When that happens, or if I adjust while reading the paper, I—the teacher—come across as a helper, not an executioner. “Thank you for the extra point,” is common. For an example of how little most students understand how their grade in the class is calculated, keep coming back to this blog.


Next Blog: Grading-Part 

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

#TipsForTeachers. Thoughts on Grading delves into group work and study guides.

Follow me on Twitter: @CRDowningAuthor and Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CRDowningAuthor
My website is: www.crdowning.com

I'd appreciate your feedback!

Monday, July 16, 2018

#amwriting #Grammar 2. Glimpses into Nouns, Pronouns, and Prepositional Phrases. Oh, my!


This is the second 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 #1

Accept – to allow into a group or be satisfied with a situation

Except – to exclude something

 

Nouns
Almost all of us learned that a noun is “the name of a person, place or thing.” Ideas are nouns, too. Here are the rules for making nouns plural:

·    The general rule is to add an “s” (cat à cats)

·    If the noun ends in –s, -ch, -x, or –z, add “es” (churches, buses)

·    If the noun ends in –y, and the “y” follows a consonant drop the “y” and add “ies” (Bunny = Bunnies, Berry = Berries)

·    If the noun ends in –y, and the final “y” follows a vowel just add “s” (Monkey à Monkeys)

 

Know your pronouns!

·      Indefinite—many, anybody, all

·      Reflexive—myself

·      Possessive—theirs, ours, its

·      Demonstrative—this/that/those/these

·      Interrogative—who/which

·      Personal—I, me, she, he

·      Intensive—myself

·      Relative—who, whatever

·      Reciprocal—each other

 Bonus Tip!

·      That

·      Which 

 Both are relative pronouns, but…

That is restrictive:

It identifies, narrows or specifies. The information is required for the meaning of the sentence to be clear to the reader.

“The house that we toured yesterday was tiny.”

That is restrictive and needs no commas

 

Which is non-restrictive:

Gives more info about what’s already identified. The information is not required for the meaning of the sentence to be clear to the reader.

“The kitchen floor, which is filthy, needs to be mopped.”

Which is non-restrictive and needs commas.

Memory tool: 

Commas, which cut out the fat, go with  “which” and never “that.”


Prepositional Phrases

2 essential parts: preposition and a noun or pronoun

possible functionsadjective, adverb, noun

The NOUN or PRONOUN is known as the object of the preposition. 

What are the prepositional phrases? 

<Answers at the end of this post.>

AdjectiveThe satchel in the hallway was Cameron’s.

AdverbJen and Kara went to the Coffee Bean late last night.

NounThe noise originated outside my house.


Find & Correct Errors

Correct the grammar and punctuation errors in this mixed up paragraph from Tune Up Your Teaching & Turn on Student Learning by Dr. JoAnn Jurchan and Dr. Chuck Downing:

Challenges is a part of a teachers’ life. Situations arise that are perplexing, or frankly just, frustrating. You “cup” at times may be overflowing, and not in a good way. Other times, your “cup” at times may be overflowing with exciting about something new you have learned or a classroom’s successes that you wants to share with others. A new policy or directive may just be the straws that breaks the camels back and you are looking for strategies or methods to help it all make since. Maybe, you want to communicate and collaborate with others that will stretch and assist you move successfully along the novice to expert/master continuum from you’re current location to where you will be most affective. Reading our book was a step in helping you solve any of this situations.


The corrected paragraph is shown after the "signature" of this blog. Compare your “fixes” to what you find there.

Next #amwriting #Grammar 3. Glimpses into Adjectives, and Conjunctions

Follow me on Twitter: @CRDowningAuthor
My website is: www.crdowning.com


E-mail: crd.author@gmail.com


AdjectiveThe satchel in the hallway was Cameron’s.

AdverbJen and Kara went to the Coffee Bean late last night.


NounThe noise originated outside my house.


Challenge is [Note: Challenges are is an acceptable change as well.] a part of a teacher’s life. Situations arise that are perplexing or frankly just frustrating. Your “cup” at times may be overflowing and not in a good way. Other times, your “cup” may be overflowing with excitement about something new you have learned or a classroom success that you want to share with others. A new policy or directive may be the straw that breaks the camel’s back, and you are looking for strategies or methods to help it all make sense. Maybe you want to communicate and collaborate with others who will stretch and assist you move successfully along the novice to expert/master continuum from your current location to where you will be most effective. Reading our book was a step in helping you resolve any of these situations.

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