Composition I, Editing, Education, Random Rants

English Public Service Announcement: The “an” epidemic

According to Dictionary.com, “and” is a conjunction (used to connect grammatically coordinate words, phrases, or clauses) along or together with; as well as; in addition to; besides; also.

“And” ends with the letter “d” and is NOT spelled “an.” That is a COMPLETELY different word.

English: Grammatically incorrect sign
No one will ever take you seriously when you write like this. | English: Grammatically incorrect sign (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I.e. “pens AND pencils,” NOT “pens AN pencils.”

This was your English PSA for the day.

Continue reading “English Public Service Announcement: The “an” epidemic”

Composition I, Education, Writers on Writing

What’s your writing style? Do you have one?

Timberlake performing at St. Paul, Minnesota, ...
Are you the Justin Timberlake of writing? | Timberlake performing at St. Paul, Minnesota, one of the venues of his first worldwide tour, FutureSex/LoveShow (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Style is an essential element of writing that can take decades to master. Writing students are often confused about what constitutes their style. Sometimes it is helpful to discuss style in an alternate medium, such as fashion, to draw an analogy that students can understand.

Consider this. I have two sons, aged 7 and 14. They are both sloppy dressers. My 7-year-old doesn’t really think about his “style.” Sure, he has a couple of favorite shirts that he would wear every single day if I would allow it. He prefers elastic-waist athletic pants over denim jeans because they are more comfortable. However, his clothing choices consist mostly of wearing the first item of clothing he can get his hands on when he reaches into his closet. The only reason he wears matching socks is because I match them up for him when I do the laundry. The result is often sloppy, but he doesn’t look sloppy on purpose. He just doesn’t know any better.

At this point, I am not too concerned with my younger son’s wardrobe choices as long as I can get him to dress appropriately for the weather. We live in Wisconsin, and we’re heading into the final days of October. The time for wearing shorts has passed. Now, my main concern regarding his daily dress is that he makes it out of the house each morning wearing long pants, socks, appropriate footwear, a sweatshirt, and a jacket. He is still learning the basic rules of dressing himself. There’s no room for worrying about style at this point. Continue reading “What’s your writing style? Do you have one?”

Composition I, Essays

Tuesday writing prompt: An illustrative essay

family christmas present opening
My childhood was full of family. That’s me in the middle with the candy cane hanging out of my mouth.

Today, my English Composition I class is learning about the Illustration pattern of essay development. According to aa-essays.com, “An illustrative essay (or exemplification essay) uses examples to show, explain, or prove a point or argument (the essay thesis). The key to a good illustrative essay is to use enough detailed and specific examples to get the point across.”

Writing Prompt

What was your childhood like? Write one explicit thesis statement that sums up your childhood. Then write an illustrative essay that includes either one long illustrative example or three to five shorter illustrative examples to support your claim. Continue reading “Tuesday writing prompt: An illustrative essay”

Composition I, Writing Prompts

Tuesday Writing Prompt: A personal narrative

Shooting an Elephant
Today’s writing prompt was inspired by George Orwell’s personal narrative, “Shooting an Elephant.” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today I will be teaching my English Composition I students about the Narrative Essay. For this one, I decided to use a prompt from our textbook, The Longman Writer (8th ed.)

Writing Prompt

“In “Shooting an Elephant,” George Orwell tells about an incident that forced him to act in a manner contrary to his better instincts. Write a narrative about a time you faced a disturbing conflict and ended up doing something you later regretted” (p. 172).

Care to join us? Freewrite on the above topic for a minimum of 10 minutes, then share your freewrite in the comments below. Or, you may decide to use the material you generate to write a narrative essay. If so, you may post your essay on your own blog or website and share a link to your essay in the comments below.

–OR– Why not publish your personal essay? Continue reading “Tuesday Writing Prompt: A personal narrative”

Composition I, Education, Essays, Writing Prompts

Tuesday Writing Prompt: School Lunches

Cover of "Bird by Bird: Some Instructions...
Today’s writing prompt was inspired by Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird. | Cover via Amazon

Today my English Composition I class is learning about description in preparation for the descriptive essay they will write for next week. Descriptive writing incorporates all five senses:

  1. Sight
  2. Sound
  3. Smell
  4. Taste
  5. Touch/feelings

I like to include “feelings” with number five, as it is often important to describe how something makes you “feel” in addition to how certain elements might “feel” to the touch. Just remember, it is equally essential to “show” how something makes you feel rather than “telling” your reader about it. So, try to avoid using the word, “feel” in your writing.

For today’s activities, I am borrowing a writing prompt from Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird: Continue reading “Tuesday Writing Prompt: School Lunches”

Composition I, Essays, Writing Prompts

Tuesday writing prompt: Your proudest moment

Educational Resource:  "Writing process"
Educational Resource: “Writing process” (Photo credit: Ken Whytock)

This week in my Composition I class, we are continuing our journey through the steps of the writing process. Last week, we discussed prewriting and choosing a thesis. I asked my students to do a freewrite in which they considered whether pride is a virtue or a vice. Then we worked together to come up with a thesis statement for an essay they will write on the topic of pride.

Today we are moving on to the next two steps in the writing process, which are (according to our textbook) “Supporting the thesis with evidence” and “Organizing the evidence.” We will continue to generate raw material for our pride essay as we work through each step. So, this week’s (and probably next week’s as well) writing prompt will be a continuation of the prompt I gave you last week. Continue reading “Tuesday writing prompt: Your proudest moment”

Composition I, Essays

Tuesday writing prompt: Pride

Day 34 - Essay and Notes
It’s time to write an essay! And no, that’s not me in the picture. It’s just a generic Zemanta image of someone I don’t know. | Day 34 – Essay and Notes (Photo credit: Auntie P)

Hello, all. It’s week two of my Tuesday afternoon English Composition I course. I have promised my students that we would be doing a lot of writing in class this semester, which in turn means I need to come up with some writing prompts for them. Since I’ll be generating writing prompts each week anyway, I figured I may as well share these prompts with you!

Today we begin our discussion on the steps of the writing process by covering prewriting and thesis statements. The plan is to have my students write one essay, step-by-step, over the next couple of weeks while we learn about the steps of the writing process.

With that in mind, today’s writing prompt is designed to get them (and you!) to think about and generate raw material for an essay on the topic of pride. Continue reading “Tuesday writing prompt: Pride”