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Posts Tagged ‘Teaching Essay Strategies’

Rhetorical Questions in Essays

Essay Rhetorical Questions

Rhetorical Questions

“Mr. Smith says that I shouldn’t use thought-provoking questions in my thesis statements,” said Issa. “May I read you my thesis?”

“Sure. Let’s hear it,” responds Mandy.

“My thesis is ‘Do people really want to be successful and happy?’”

“Well, it is called a thesis statement, not a thesis question, ” Mandy replied. “Plus, doesn’t the  answer appear in the question itself?”

“Oh, I get it. It’s one of those rhetorical questions,” says Issa.

“But, do you really get it?” asks Mandy.

“Ah… A rhetorical question. Very funny.”

“Apparently not so funny to Mr. Smith,” says Mandy.

Definition and Examples

A rhetorical question is a statement formed as a question. Rhetorical questions can be manipulative because they are designed to appear objective and open-ended, but may actually lead the reader to a foregone conclusion.

The rhetorical question takes several forms:

  • It may answer itself and require no response. Example: Do people want to be successful?
  • It may be used to provoke thought. Example: What if this generation could solve hunger?
  • It may be used to state the obvious. Example: Can students try a bit harder next time?
  • It may have no possible answer. Example: What if there is no answer to this problem?

Read the rules.

Don’t use rhetorical questions as thesis statements. Conclusion paragraphs may include rhetorical questions to provide questions for further study beyond the essay itself.

In the following sentences, [bracket] the rhetorical questions.

  1. How could they know? Why are the couples traveling to Europe for business?
  2. Without the tools the project was impossible to complete. Why bother? Does this project have a purpose?
  3. What is the message within that painting? What if all works of art meant something?
  4. If love is the answer, what is the question? Why do people fall in love? Does everyone do so?
  5. What happens when dreams are delayed? Can dreams be real? Or are dreams simply dreams?

Revise the rhetorical question into a statement.

Of what use are rhetorical questions?

Answers

  1. [How could they know?] Why are the couples traveling to Europe for business?
  2. Without the tools the project was impossible to complete. [Why bother?] [Does this project have a purpose?]
  3. What is the message within that painting? [What if all works of art meant something?]
  4. [If love is the answer, what is the question?] [Why do people fall in love?] [Does everyone do so?]
  5. [What happens when dreams are delayed?] [Can dreams be real?] [Or are dreams simply dreams?]

*****

For more essay rules and practice, check out the author’s Teaching Essay Strategies. This curriculum includes 42 essay strategy worksheets corresponding to teach the Common Core State Writing Standards, 8 on-demand writing fluencies, 8 writing process essays (4 argumentative and 4 informative/explanatory), 64  sentence revision and 64 rhetorical stance “openers,” writing posters, and helpful editing resources. 

Differentiate your essay instruction in this comprehensive writing curriculum with remedial writing worksheets, including sentence structure, grammar, thesis statements, errors in reasoning, and transitions.

Plus, get an e-comment bank of 438 prescriptive writing responses with an link to insert into Microsoft Word® for easy e-grading (works great with Google Docs),

Download the following 24 FREE Writing Style Posters to help your students learn the essay rules. Each has a funny or ironic statement (akin to “Let’s eat Grandma) to teach the memorable rule. 

Get the Writing Style Posters FREE Resource:

Writing , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

How to Eliminate Passive Voice

How to Eliminate Passive Voice

Eliminate Passive Voice

“What does Ms. Stark’s comment mean here on my essay?” asked Bella. “It says, ‘Make  your subjects do something.’”

“She’s telling you to use the active voice in your essays,” I explained.

“Can’t my subjects take a rest and let the verbs do something for them once in a while?”

“Very funny, but I’d take her advice.”

Definition and Examples

Verbs have two voices: active and passive:

  • In the active voice the subject of the sentence acts upon the verb. For example, in “The students noticed her mistake,” the “students” (the subject) acts upon the verb, “noticed.”
  • In the passive voice the subject of the sentence is acted upon by the verb. For example, in “Her mistake was noticed by the students,” the “students” (the subject) receive the action of the verb.

Read the rule and revision strategies.

Use verbs in the active voice to emphasize the importance of the action, rather than that of the subject, or when the passive voice is required to show scientific objectivity. To change the passive voice into active voice, try these 3 strategies:

  • Place the subject of the sentence before its predicate (unless the sentence is a question).
  • Eliminate the helping verbs and change the verb form if necessary.
  • Eliminate the prepositional phrase beginning with the by

Write these sentences and [bracket] the passive voice verbs.

  1. I’m afraid that your phone has been damaged by that spilled drink.
  2. Ms. Slavin’s test was failed by the majority of the students who failed to study.
  3. The purpose of the assembly is still being evaluated by Student Council, but most students support anything that will get them out of class.
  4. By the time they arrive, the choices will already have been made.
  5. If the decision is left to her, she will choose what has been done countless times before.

Change the passive voice verb to active voice.

The passive voice is to be avoided by you if it can be helped.

*****

For more essay rules and practice, check out the author’s Teaching Essay Strategies. This curriculum includes 42 essay strategy worksheets corresponding to teach the Common Core State Writing Standards, 8 on-demand writing fluencies, 8 writing process essays (4 argumentative and 4 informative/explanatory), 64  sentence revision and 64 rhetorical stance “openers,” writing posters, and helpful editing resources. 

Differentiate your essay instruction in this comprehensive writing curriculum with remedial writing worksheets, including sentence structure, grammar, thesis statements, errors in reasoning, and transitions.

Plus, get an e-comment bank of 438 prescriptive writing responses with an link to insert into Microsoft Word® for easy e-grading (works great with Google Docs),

Download the following 24 FREE Writing Style Posters to help your students learn the essay rules. Each has a funny or ironic statement (akin to “Let’s eat Grandma) to teach the memorable rule. 

Get the Writing Style Posters FREE Resource:

Grammar/Mechanics, Literacy Centers, Study Skills, Writing , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Don’t Use Metaphors in Essays

Essays May Not Include Metaphors

Don’t Use Metaphors in Essays

“My life is a tree. It has deep roots, but it needs to be watered so that it can branch out and touch the sky,” Pablo wrote in his essay introduction.

“Wow! That tree needs to be pruned a bit; I would leaf the extended metaphors to your poetry,” I suggested.

“Oh, I get it. Only formal, literal writing for essays,” sighs Pablo.

Definitions and Examples

A metaphor is an implied (suggested) comparison of two unlike things. Example: Love is a rose

An extended metaphor continues the comparison through several sentences in a story or through several lines in a poem. Example: “Love is a rose, but you better not pick it. It only grows when it’s on the vine. A handful of thorns and you’ll know you’ve missed it. You lose your love when you say the word mine.” (Neil Young)

Read the rule.

Don’t use metaphors or other figures of speech in essays.

Practice

Write the sentences and [bracket] the metaphors.

  1. My heart is broken. I feel so blue, but I know that time will heal all wounds.
  2. That student is always fishing for compliments. She has absolutely no self-confidence.
  3. Life is a journey, but the first step is often the scariest.
  4. Working with her study group was worse than swimming in a sea of sharks.
  5. She is walking a tightrope with her boss on making a profit and cutting costs.

Revise the sentence by eliminating the metaphors.

Even if a metaphor hits a home run, it can be over-played.

Answers

  1. My [heart is broken]. I [feel so blue], but I know that [time will heal all wounds].
  2. That student is always [fishing for compliments]. She has absolutely no self-confidence.
  3. [Life is a journey], but the [first step] is often the scariest.
  4. Working with her study group was worse than [swimming in a sea of sharks].
  5. She is [walking a tightrope] with her boss on making a profit and cutting costs.

For more essay rules and practice, check out the author’s Teaching Essay Strategies. This curriculum includes 42 essay strategy worksheets corresponding to teach the Common Core State Writing Standards, 8 on-demand writing fluencies, 8 writing process essays (4 argumentative and 4 informative/explanatory), 64  sentence revision and 64 rhetorical stance “openers,” writing posters, and helpful editing resources. 

Differentiate your essay instruction in this comprehensive writing curriculum with remedial writing worksheets, including sentence structure, grammar, thesis statements, errors in reasoning, and transitions.

Plus, get an e-comment bank of 438 prescriptive writing responses with an link to insert into Microsoft Word® for easy e-grading (works great with Google Docs),

Download the following 24 FREE Writing Style Posters to help your students learn the essay rules. Each has a funny or ironic statement (akin to “Let’s eat Grandma) to teach the memorable rule. 

Get the Writing Style Posters FREE Resource:

Literacy Centers, Writing , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Avoiding Repetitious Writing

How to Avoid Repetitious Writing

Repetitious Writing

“All students should always include citations for their textual evidence, and every pupil must always include whom and where the fact or idea was found, and everyone in our editing group ought to do that as well,” advised Melanie. “Each writer need to always include these proper credits in their essays,” she advised.

“Good reminders, Melanie, but we students will have to always exclude you from our peer editing group unless you get rid of your repetitious writing.”

Definition and Examples

Repetitious writing involves repeating the same ideas, words or synonyms of those words, and sentence structure. Refer to the dialogue above for the following examples:

  • Ideas‒Examples: “citations for their textual evidence,” “whom and where the fact or idea was found,” “proper credits”
  • Words or Phrases‒Examples: “always include”
  • Subjects‒Examples: “students,” “pupil,” “our editing group,” and “writer”
  • Predicates and Verb Forms‒Examples: “should,” “must,” “ought to,” need to”, “have to”
  • Modifiers‒Examples: “All,” “every,” “everyone,” “each”

Read the rules.

  • Don’t repeat ideas.
  • Don’t overuse the same or synonymous words and phrases.
  • Vary sentence structure in terms of subject-verb-object pattern; types of sentences (simple, complex, compound, compound-complex) or (declarative, imperative, interrogative, exclamatory); and sentence length.

Practice

Write the sentences and [bracket] the repetitious writing.

  1. I like that idea because the concept is a brilliant thought.
  2. None of the athletes were ready, and not one of them had prepared.
  3. That’s a crazy thing to say, and that certainly requires an apology.
  4. I went shopping. I left. I came home. It had been an exhausting day.
  5. Don’t go there. Leave her alone, and stop pestering her. She will come back when she can.

Revise the repetitious writing in this sentence.

Every student should always avoid repetitious writing and each pupil must refrain in all cases.

Answers

  1. I like that [idea] because the [concept] is a brilliant [thought].
  2. [None] of the athletes were [ready], and [not one] of them had [prepared].
  3. [That’s] a crazy thing to say, and [that] certainly requires an apology.
  4. [I went shopping.] [I left.] [I came home.] It had been an exhausting day.
  5. [Don’t go there.] [Leave her alone,] and [stop pestering her.] She will come back when she can.

Pennington Publishing's Teaching Essay Strategies

Teaching Essay Strategies

For more essay rules and practice, check out the author’s Teaching Essay Strategies. This curriculum includes 42 essay strategy worksheets corresponding to teach the Common Core State Writing Standards, 8 on-demand writing fluencies, 8 writing process essays (4 argumentative and 4 informative/explanatory), 64  sentence revision and 64 rhetorical stance “openers,” writing posters, and helpful editing resources. 

Differentiate your essay instruction in this comprehensive writing curriculum with remedial writing worksheets, including sentence structure, grammar, thesis statements, errors in reasoning, and transitions.

Plus, get an e-comment bank of 438 prescriptive writing responses with an link to insert into Microsoft Word® for easy e-grading (works great with Google Docs),

Download the following 24 FREE Writing Style Posters to help your students learn the essay rules. Each has a funny or ironic statement (akin to “Let’s eat Grandma) to teach the memorable rule. 

Get the Writing Style Posters FREE Resource:

Literacy Centers, Study Skills, Writing , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Avoiding Parentheses

Avoid Using Parentheses

Avoiding Parentheses

Jesse complained, “Ms. Sherril banned me from using parentheses in my essays.”

“They can get annoying,” said Ryan.

“Okay, I’ll just use dashes or brackets instead.”

“Uh, no. Pretty soon you’ll be banned from writing anything.”

Definition and Examples

An appositive is a noun, pronoun, or noun phrase that identifies or explains another noun or pronoun before or after it. If the appositive is nonessential to the meaning of the sentence, parentheses (or commas) are used to signal and separate this identification or explanation. The appositive could be removed without changing the basic meaning of the sentence. Examples: An actress, Marta, knew how to project. Jane (the girl with red hair) acted childishly. If the appositive is essential to the meaning of the sentence, no punctuation is used. Example: The U.S. president Ronald Reagan was known as “The Great Communicator.”

Read the rule.

Avoid using unnecessary appositives. When you must use an appositive in an essay, use commas, rather than parentheses, to set apart the appositive from the noun or pronoun it modifies.

Practice

Write the following sentences and [bracket] the appositives and their punctuation.

  1. Nancy (the pharmacist) advised my mom to buy the over-the-counter brand.
  2. Mitchell was talking to Wanda, Lisa’s little sister.
  3. By 1786, ten years after the writing of the Declaration of Independence, England was once again our largest trading partner including exports (chiefly cotton) and imports (mainly textiles).
  4. My sister’s bicycle (a bright green BMX) was stolen off the porch (where she left it).
  5. The women, Ms. Mears, paid for our trip (the flight, car rental, and hotel).

Revise the sentence, eliminating the appositive.

Parenthetical remarks should (usually) be avoided.

Answers

  1. Nancy [(the pharmacist)] advised my mom to buy the over-the-counter brand.
  2. Mitchell was talking to Wanda[, Lisa’s little sister].
  3. By 1786[, ten years after the writing of the Declaration of Independence,] England was once again our largest trading partner including exports [(chiefly cotton)] and imports [(mainly textiles)].
  4. My sister’s bicycle [(a bright green BMX)] was stolen off the porch [(where she left it)].
  5. The women[, Ms. Mears,] paid for our trip [(the flight, car rental, and hotel)].

Pennington Publishing's Teaching Essay Strategies

Teaching Essay Strategies

For more essay rules and practice, check out the author’s Teaching Essay Strategies. This curriculum includes 42 essay strategy worksheets corresponding to teach the Common Core State Writing Standards, 8 on-demand writing fluencies, 8 writing process essays (4 argumentative and 4 informative/explanatory), 64  sentence revision and 64 rhetorical stance “openers,” writing posters, and helpful editing resources. 

Differentiate your essay instruction in this comprehensive writing curriculum with remedial writing worksheets, including sentence structure, grammar, thesis statements, errors in reasoning, and transitions.

Plus, get an e-comment bank of 438 prescriptive writing responses with an link to insert into Microsoft Word® for easy e-grading (works great with Google Docs),

Download the following 24 FREE Writing Style Posters to help your students learn the essay rules. Each has a funny or ironic statement (akin to “Let’s eat Grandma) to teach the memorable rule. 

Get the Writing Style Posters FREE Resource:

Grammar/Mechanics, Literacy Centers, Study Skills, Writing , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Avoiding Clichés

Identify and Revise Clichés

Avoiding Clichés

“When an expression is overused to the point of becoming meaningless, it is known as a cliché,” Mr. Espinosa explained. “A cliché doesn’t show originality.”

“Why should we listen to Mr. Espinosa? Sam whispered. “He’s as old as the hills. It’s just a matter of time before he retires.”

“Maybe he’s still got something to teach you about clichés,” Arianna whispered back.

Definition and Examples

A cliché is an overused and worn-out word, phrase, or sentence, which has lost its original meaning or effect. A cliché can have a literal or a figurative meaning. Examples: awesome; plenty of fish in the sea; what goes around, comes around

Speakers often use clichés as conversational fillers to generalize or draw a conclusion.

Examples:

“Putting together that toy is challenging, but it’s not rocket science,” she said.

“Yes, but at the end of the day, those little challenges help us think outside the box,” he replied.

Read the rule.

Don’t use clichés in formal writing, such as essays. Instead of clichés, use original thoughts and more specific language. Some writers intentionally use a cliché, but revise the wording to provide an original idea.

Practice

Write these sentences and [bracket] the clichés.

  1. Those two a certainly a strange pair. Who knows what he sees in her. Love is blind.
  2. You’re never going to make them accept you. You can please some of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time.
  3. She’s a bad apple and the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Her parents have issues, as well.
  4. For Matt the grass is always greener on the other side, but experience is the best teacher.
  5. You can’t judge a book by its cover, but in this case, I’ll make an exception.

Revise the the clichés in the following sentence.

In this day and age, using clichés is not a necessary evil.

Answers

  1. Those two a certainly a strange pair. Who knows [what he sees in her]. [Love is blind].
  2. You’re never going to make them accept you. [You can please some of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time].
  3. She’s [a bad apple] and [the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree]. Her parents have issues, as well.
  4. For Matt [the grass is always greener on the other side], but [experience is the best teacher].
  5. [You can’t judge a book by its cover], but in this case, I’ll make an exception.

Pennington Publishing's Teaching Essay Strategies

Teaching Essay Strategies

For more essay rules and practice, check out the author’s Teaching Essay Strategies. This curriculum includes 42 essay strategy worksheets corresponding to teach the Common Core State Writing Standards, 8 on-demand writing fluencies, 8 writing process essays (4 argumentative and 4 informative/explanatory), 64  sentence revision and 64 rhetorical stance “openers,” writing posters, and helpful editing resources. 

Differentiate your essay instruction in this comprehensive writing curriculum with remedial writing worksheets, including sentence structure, grammar, thesis statements, errors in reasoning, and transitions.

Plus, get an e-comment bank of 438 prescriptive writing responses with an link to insert into Microsoft Word® for easy e-grading (works great with Google Docs),

Download the following 24 FREE Writing Style Posters to help your students learn the essay rules. Each has a funny or ironic statement (akin to “Let’s eat Grandma) to teach the memorable rule. 

Get the Writing Style Posters FREE Resource:

Literacy Centers, Spelling/Vocabulary, Study Skills, Writing , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Unsupported Generalizations

Avoid Absolute Words

Unsupported Generalizations

“Check out my thesis statement: ‘Everyone agrees that the school day should be shortened.’”

“How were you able to survey everyone? You never asked me.”

“Okay, I’ll ask you now. What do you think?”

“I’d suggest you re-write your thesis and avoid using unsupported generalizations.”

Definition and Examples

A generalization is a statement which applies to most all cases and to most all times. When writers combine specific points of an essay into a broader focus, this is known as a making a generalization. An unsupported generalization is a broad statement, which cannot be concluded from the essay evidence or details. Unsupported Generalization Example: All Americans support a strong national defense. Supported Generalization Example: The plan provides three workable ideas to solve the problem of plastic waste.

Read the rules.

  • Don’t include generalizations in the essay thesis statement and body paragraphs.
  • Writers can develop generalizations and include these in the essay conclusion, but generalizations must be supported by specific evidence and details of the body paragraphs. Never include unsupported generalizations.
  • Avoid absolute words, such as nothing, everything, none, all, everyone, definite(ly), worst, best, never, always

Practice

Write the following sentences and [bracket] the generalizations.

  1. Over half of the boys left the assembly early, but the girls liked the presentation.
  2. Mexican food is so spicy, but not the way my father cooks.
  3. The problem is that young people just do not vote, and so seniors have more say in determining who gets elected. Only 28% of under age 30 Americans voted in the last election.
  4. The students all want more electives; however, the school does not have enough teachers.
  5. Boys tend to like video gaming more than girls, but the number of girls who play is increasing.

Revise the intentional fragment.

Writers should always avoid using unsupported generalizations.

Answers

  1. Over half of the boys left the assembly early, but [the girls liked the presentation.]
  2. [Mexican food is so spicy], but not the way my father cooks.
  3. The problem is that [young people just do not vote], and so [seniors have more say in determining who gets elected]. Only 28% of under age 30 Americans voted in the last election.
  4. [The students all want more electives]; however, the school does not have enough teachers.
  5. [Boys tend to like video gaming more than girls], but the number of girls who play is increasing.

Pennington Publishing's Teaching Essay Strategies

Teaching Essay Strategies

For more essay rules and practice, check out the author’s Teaching Essay Strategies. This curriculum includes 42 essay strategy worksheets corresponding to teach the Common Core State Writing Standards, 8 on-demand writing fluencies, 8 writing process essays (4 argumentative and 4 informative/explanatory), 64  sentence revision and 64 rhetorical stance “openers,” writing posters, and helpful editing resources. 

Differentiate your essay instruction in this comprehensive writing curriculum with remedial writing worksheets, including sentence structure, grammar, thesis statements, errors in reasoning, and transitions.

Plus, get an e-comment bank of 438 prescriptive writing responses with an link to insert into Microsoft Word® for easy e-grading (works great with Google Docs),

Download the following 24 FREE Writing Style Posters to help your students learn the essay rules. Each has a funny or ironic statement (akin to “Let’s eat Grandma) to teach the memorable rule. 

Get the Writing Style Posters FREE Resource:

Literacy Centers, Study Skills, Writing , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Wordiness | Eliminating Expletives

Eliminating Expletives

Eliminate Expletives

Manny said, “My teacher told me to stop saying ‘I think’ in my essays.”

“Anything you say or write is what you think or what you believe, isn’t it?” I asked.

“I believe that. At least I think so. In my opinion, you are correct.”

“Yikes! Listen to your teacher,” I advised.

Definition and Examples

An expletive is an unnecessary expression, which does not add meaning to a sentence. Yes, it can be a profanity, but it can also be a word like the “Yes” in this sentence. Often, expletives add emotion or emphasis to one’s speech or writing; however, well-chosen nouns and verbs can usually do the same job and do so with greater precision and brevity.

When speaking, we have quite a few expressions meant to fill space in conversations. Speakers may add, “um,” or “well,” or “you know,” or “uh” when talking to friends. However, in formal speeches, speakers try to eliminate these unnecessary expressions. While these speech fillers are generally not used in writing (except dialogue), writing does have its share of words and phrases inserted into sentences which do not contribute to the meaning.

Position Examples: I believe, I think, in my opinion

Grammatical Examples: There (here) are (were, is, will be)

Read the rules.

There, Their, They're Poster

There, Their, They’re

Avoid unnecessary expressions in formal writing, such as essays, which do not contribute meaning.

  • Do not refer to yourself as the writer in an essay with expressions which state your position or beliefs
  • Avoid using words or phrases at the beginning of sentences, which do not contribute meaning.

Practice

Write the following sentences and [bracket] the unnecessary expressions.

  1. I believe all citizens should vote. There are no excuses not to vote in a democracy.
  2. Here is an important item for the class to discuss. I think students might have strong opinions on this matter.
  3. In my opinion and in the opinion of my friends, we should have a pizza party next week.
  4. There were four contestants in the science fair, which had innovative projects, I think.
  5. Here will be the sign-up list on the table. I believe everyone should volunteer to do something.

Revise the sentence by eliminating unnecessary expressions.

In my opinion, using “I think” or “I believe” is unnecessary.

Answers

  1. [I believe] all citizens should vote. [There are] no excuses not to vote in a democracy.
  2. [Here is] an important item for the class to discuss. [I think] students might have strong opinions on this matter.
  3. [In my opinion] and [in the opinion] of my friends, we should have a pizza party next week.
  4. [There were] four contestants in the science fair, which had innovative projects, [I think.]
  5.  [Here will be] the sign-up list on the table. [I believe] everyone should volunteer to do something.

*****

  1. Pennington Publishing's Teaching Essay Strategies

    Teaching Essay Strategies

    For more essay rules and practice, check out the author’s Teaching Essay Strategies. This curriculum includes 42 essay strategy worksheets corresponding to teach the Common Core State Writing Standards, 8 on-demand writing fluencies, 8 writing process essays (4 argumentative and 4 informative/explanatory), 64  sentence revision and 64 rhetorical stance “openers,” writing posters, and helpful editing resources. Differentiate your essay instruction in this comprehensive writing curriculum with remedial writing worksheets, including sentence structure, grammar, thesis statements, errors in reasoning, and transitions.Plus, get an e-comment bank of 438 prescriptive writing responses with an link to insert into Microsoft Word® for easy e-grading (works great with Google Docs),

    Download the following 24 FREE Writing Style Posters to help your students learn the essay rules. Each has a funny or ironic statement (akin to “Let’s eat Grandma) to teach the memorable rule. Get the Writing Style Posters FREE Resource:

Grammar/Mechanics, Literacy Centers, Spelling/Vocabulary, Study Skills, Writing , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,