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Posts Tagged ‘Teaching Essay Strategies’

Meaningless Sentence Starters

Avoid There and Here

There and Here

“Why do we have to avoid using too many There and Here words at the beginning of sentences?” Peja asked.

There are reasons for that. Here they are,” Chiang said.

“I’m waiting. What’s the problem with using those sentence starters?”

“Avoid using meaningless words as sentence starters.”

“You didn’t answer my question.”

“I did. I told you why and showed you how.”

Definition and Examples

Using There or Here + a “helping verb” (has been, had been, will be, shall be, should be, would be, can be, could be, may be, might be, must be) or a “linking verb” (is, are, was, were) is rarely necessary and provides no additional meaning to a sentence. Example: There are the three students waiting over there. This sentence can be changed to… The three students wait over there. Example: Here is the blue pen to use to write your grandmother. This sentence can be changed to… Use the blue pen to write your grandmother.

Read the rule.

Avoid beginning sentences with There or Here + a “helping verb” or a “linking verb.” Revise to eliminate these words. To delete the unnecessary There or Here word, place the subject of the sentence at the beginning with or without its article (a, an, or the) and change the verb form as needed.

Re-write these sentences and [bracket] the meaningless words used as sentence starters.

  1. Here are plenty of samples to try.
  2. There is evidence to suggest that the owner knew that the painting was worthless.
  3. There were reasons for his actions, but we were never told what they were.
  4. Here is the envelope you were looking for in my desk.
  5. There will be consequences to your failures to act on his advice.

Eliminate the meaningless sentence starter in this sentence.

There are good reasons to avoid starting sentences with There and Here.

Answers

  1. [Here are] plenty of samples to try.
  2. [There is] evidence to suggest that the owner knew that the painting was worthless.
  3. [There were] reasons for his actions, but we were never told what they were.
  4. [Here is] the envelope you were looking for in my desk.
  5. [There will be] consequences to your failures to act on his advice.

*****

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, Spelling/Vocabulary, Study Skills, Writing , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Wordiness

Revising Wordiness

Wordiness

“Mr. Parkins, I don’t understand your comment on my essay. It says, ‘Wordy.’”

Wordiness means using too many words to say too little, Elton.”

“Mr. Parkins, you said our essay had to be 700 words. I’ve got 702. How can it be ‘wordy’ when it only has two extra?”

“Elton, this essay has more padding than my overstuffed pillows. You turned a 500-word essay into 702 words. Better to be too short than too long.”

Definition and Examples

Learning how to write concisely (briefly) and efficiently is important. When wording is added which does not contribute meaning, teachers call this padding. Padding includes needless or repetitive information included in order to fill up a page. When too many words are used to communicate that which could be said more concisely, teachers call this wordiness. Often, a wordy writer uses noun constructions, rather than simple verbs. Examples: Instead of for the production of, the writer might say produce.

Read the rule.

Avoid using useless noun phrases, especially ones which begin with prepositions. Instead, use specific nouns and verbs to write concisely (briefly).

Read the following sentences and [bracket] the wordiness.

  1. For the purposes of this writing, I will share these very interesting documents.
  2. The majority of most of my friends urged me not to speak at this point in time.
  3. I told them of each and every circumstance with the exception of five instances.
  4. During the course of the investigation, in an effort to tell the truth, he did an interview.
  5. The audience could not hear at all what the speaker said.

Revise the sentence to eliminate wordiness.

Cease, desist, and stop wordiness.

Answers

  1. For [the purposes of] this writing, I will share these [very interesting] documents.
  2. [The majority of] most of my friends urged me not to speak at this point [in time].
  3. I told them of [each and] every circumstance [with the] excep[tion of] five instances.
  4. During [the course of] the investigation, [in an effort to] tell the truth, he did an interview.
  5. The audience could not hear [at all] what the speaker said.

*****

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:

Reading, Spelling/Vocabulary, Study Skills, Writing , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Hyperbole

“My teacher wrote, ‘Hyperbole’ in the margin of my essay. I’m not sure what she meant,” said Marci.

Tom asked, “Are you referring to your one-of-a-kind, magnificent essay, which was vastly superior to that of every other student in this class?”

“That’s the hardest question anyone has ever had to answer!” exclaimed Marci. “Hmm… Maybe I do tend to make things bigger than they need to be.”

Tom smiled and said, “That is not an overstatement.”

Avoid Hyperbole

Hyperbole

Definition and Examples

Hyperbole is an intended or unintended exaggeration used to make a point. It is not a literal statement, nor a slight exaggeration; it is an over-exaggeration. In fact, hyper is a Greek root, meaning over. Example: In sunny California, it rains only once in a million years.

Read the rule.

While hyperbole is used often in everyday speech, in literary dialogue and description, and in poems and songs, it may not be used in formal essays or reports.

Formal essays and reports depend upon objectivity and evidence. If a writer stretches some facts or makes unwarranted generalizations with hyperbole, the reader may question other facts or analysis which are presented as is, without exaggeration. Additionally, when a writer uses hyperbole, the reader may doubt whether the author is being fair and even-handed. Or the reader may assume that the writer is being manipulative.

Write the following sentences and [bracket] the hyperbole.

  1. That Mr. Hodgkins thinks his is the only class at this school. He gives a ton of homework.
  2. I’m dying to get into that university. There’s no place I’d rather be.
  3. That complete snob expects everyone to worship at his feet!
  4. I’d walk a thousand miles to see that once-in-a-lifetime lunar eclipse.
  5. The world champion Golden State Warriors seemed to have unlimited talent.

Re-write the following sentence, eliminating the hyperbole.

Avoid exaggeration; it only works once in a million years.

Answers

  1. That Mr. Hodgkins thinks his is [the only class] at this school. He gives [a ton] of homework.
  2. [I’m dying] to get into that university. There’s [no place] I’d rather be.
  3. That [complete] snob expects [everyone] [to worship] at his feet!
  4. I’d walk [a thousand miles] to see that [once-in-a-lifetime] lunar eclipse.
  5. The [world champion] Golden State Warriors seemed to have [unlimited] talent.

*****

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:

Reading, Study Skills, Writing , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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 , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,