ESSENTIAL STRATEGIES ON IMPROVING READING COMPREHENSION

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Sadly enough, MOST HIGH SCHOOLS no longer have students taking reading tests. However, when students are identified as not meeting adequate yearly progress in their reading, it is certain that there is a deficit in their reading foundational skills. Often-times, when students struggle in reading, educators mistakenly concentrate all of their efforts on improving comprehension. But in many cases, it is a lack of foundational reading skills— phonemic awareness and phonics, which lead to poor decoding skills—which result in students’ poor understanding.

In this post, I am exploring how High School teachers and students can approach Reading And Directed Writing in the classroom as well as essential strategies on how to tackle exam questions with aplomb and flair, that is, answering the questions precisely and accurately.

However, . . .

At High School, reading comprehension is essential.

READING COMPREHENSION is the ability to understand, remember, and communicate meaning from what has been read.

READING STRATEGIES are crucial for any reader. Once students have adequate decoding and vocabulary skills to allow for fluent reading, their understanding can be improved by instructing students to develop a routine for reading which includes specific strategies that can be employed throughout the reading process (before, during, and after) that increase their awareness and understanding of a text.

These strategies include the following:

BEFORE READING 

Preview the text on how the writer’s background and purpose influence what they write. In a way reading a text critically requires you to ask questions about the writer’s authority and agenda. You may need to put yourself in the author’s shoes and recognize how those shoes fit a certain way of thinking.

DURING READING

Monitor their own reading, generate questions about the text; and identify and organize ideas based on a text’s structure.

Engaging and Connecting with the Text – Once students have addressed unfamiliar words through previewing, they can really engage with the text as they read it by visualizing, focusing on the content, generating questions, and identifying and organizing text structure to improve understanding of the material.

The following are effective strategies that help students engage with a text:

Annotating Text – Marking important text or taking notes about information that is important will help students remember the essentials of a reading passage.

Using Questioning Strategies – Questioning strategies help the reader to clarify and comprehend what he/she is reading. Direct students to develop these as they read and to use cue words, such as who, what, where, when, and why, to guide them in order to make effective questions.

Identifying and Organizing Text Structure – The way an author organizes information in a passage can help the reader increase their understanding of the text.

AFTER READING 

Answer high-level questions and summarize the text.

Having students review and summarize material after reading gives you a simple way to ensure that they understood what they read. Retelling challenges them to retain what they read. Summarization allows them to discriminate between main ideas and minor details.

Rereading is the most effective strategy to increase one’s knowledge of the text. Students should be encouraged to do this especially when they encounter a difficult and challenging piece of text.

As most answers come directly from the passage or text being read, students should always be able to support their answer choices with specific quotations from the text. They must not answer the questions by memory alone nor rely on their own knowledge or opinion of the subject but must answer with particular reference to the text read.

17 Ideas On Teaching Students’ Reading Comprehension

Comprehension strategies are conscious plans — sets of steps that good readers use to make sense of a text. The ideas suggested here help students become purposeful, active readers who are in control of their own reading comprehension: C.R. Adler has identified strategies to teach text comprehension which include:

  1. Activating – This is “priming the cognitive pump” in order to recall relevant prior knowledge and experiences from long-term memory in order to extract and construct meaning from text.
  2. Monitoring Comprehension – Students who are good at monitoring their comprehension know when they understand what they read and when they do not. They have strategies to “fix” problems in their understanding as the problems arise. Research shows that instruction, even in the early grades, can help students become better at monitoring their comprehension. Comprehension monitoring instruction teaches students to:
    1. Be aware of what they do understand
    2. Identify what they do not understand
    3. Use appropriate strategies to resolve problems in comprehension
  3. Establish The Main Idea: Check the first and last sentences of every paragraph, or the first and last paragraphs in the passage. As you read, continually ask yourself what the main idea of the paragraph is, how that idea is explained or illustrated, and how that paragraph connects with the rest of the passage.
  4. Metacognition – It can be defined as “thinking about thinking.” Good readers use metacognitive strategies to think about and have control over their reading. Before reading, they might clarify their purpose for reading and preview the text. During reading, they might monitor their understanding, adjusting their reading speed to fit the difficulty of the text and “fixing” any comprehension problems they have. After reading, they check their understanding of what they read.
  5. Inferring – Bringing together what is spoken (written) in the text, what is unspoken (unwritten) in the text, and what is already known by the reader in order to extract and construct meaning from the text.
  6. Specific Details – Use line references when they are given. Make sure you are circling/underlining efficiently as you read so you can locate information quickly. Circle key words in the question and then scan the passage to find them or their synonyms.
  7. Tone/Attitude – How is the author emotionally engaged with the subject? Know the following words: aloof, ambivalent, apathetic, callous, candid, caustic, cautionary, condescending, contemplative, contemptuous, cynical, derisive, detached, didactic, disparaging, dispassionate, erudite, flippant, forthright, grudging, incredulous, indignant, indifferent, ironic, jaded, judicious, laudatory, malicious, naïve, nostalgic, patronizing, pedantic, pompous, pragmatic, prosaic, resigned, reverent, sardonic, satirical, skeptical, trite, vindictive, whimsical.
  8. Vocabulary In Context – Many of the words have multiple possible meanings, so you must always look back to the passage to decide how the author is using the word in context. Substitute each answer choice for the word in the sentence and see if it makes sense, even the tense choice. For unfamiliar words, look for clues nearby in the passage.
  9. Backward and Forward Monitoring – Students may use several comprehension monitoring strategies:
  • Identify where the difficulty occurs, eg: “I don’t understand the second paragraph on page 76.”
  • Identify what the difficulty is, eg: “I don’t get what the author means when she says . . . “
  • Restate the difficult sentence or passage in their own words
  • Look back through the text
  • Look forward in the text for information that might help them to resolve the difficulty
  1. Graphic and Semantic Organizers – Graphic organizers illustrate concepts and relationships between concepts in a text or using diagrams. Graphic organizers are known by different names, such as maps, webs, graphs, charts, frames, or clusters.

These are also seen as visualizing, organizing and constructing a mental image or graphic organizer for the purpose of extracting and constructing meaning from the text. Graphic organizers (venn-diagrams, storyboard/chain of events, story map or cause/effect) can:

  • Help students focus on text structure “differences between fiction and nonfiction” as they read
  • Provide students with tools they can use to examine and show relationships in a text
  • Help students write well-organized summaries of a text
  1. Answering Questions – Questions can be effective because they:
  • Give students a purpose for reading
  • Focus students’ attention on what they are to learn
  • Help students to think actively as they read
  • Encourage students to monitor their comprehension
  • Help students to review content and relate what they have learned to what they already know

The Question-Answer Relationship strategy (QAR) encourages students to learn how to answer questions better. Students are asked to indicate whether the information they used to answer questions about the text was textually explicit information (information that was directly stated in the text), textually implicit information (information that was implied in the text), or information entirely from the student’s own background knowledge.

There are four different types of questions:

  • “Right There” – Questions found right in the text that ask students to find the one right answer located in one place as a word or a sentence in the passage. Example: Who is Frog’s friend? Answer: Toad
  • “Think and Search” – Questions based on the recall of facts that can be found directly in the text. Answers are typically found in more than one place, thus requiring students to “think” and “search” through the passage to find the answer. Example: Why was Frog sad? Answer: His friend was leaving.
  • “Author and You” Questions require students to use what they already know, with what they have learned from reading the text. Student’s must understand the text and relate it to their prior knowledge before answering the question. Example: How do think Frog felt when he found Toad? Answer: I think that Frog felt happy because he had not seen Toad in a long time. I feel happy when I get to see my friend who lives far away.
  • “On Your Own” Questions are answered based on a students prior knowledge and experiences. Reading the text may not be helpful to them when answering this type of question. Example: How would you feel if your best friend moved away? Answer: I would feel very sad if my best friend moved away because I would miss her.

12. Generating Questions – By generating questions, students become aware of whether they can answer the questions and if they understand what they are reading. Students learn to ask themselves questions that require them to combine information from different segments of text. For example, students can be taught to ask main idea questions that relate to important information in a text.

13. Monitoring and Clarifying – Thinking about how and what one is reading, both during and after the act of reading, for purposes of determining if one is comprehending the text combined with the ability to clarify and fix up any mix-ups.

14. Recognizing Story Structure – In story structure instruction, students learn to identify the categories of content (characters, setting, events, problem, resolution). Often, students learn to recognize story structure through the use of story maps. Instruction in story structure improves students’ comprehension.

15. Summarizing – Summarizing requires students to determine what is important in what they are reading and to put it into their own words. Instruction in summarizing helps students:

    • Identify or generate main ideas
    • Connect the main or central ideas
    • Eliminate unnecessary information
    • Remember what they read

16. Searching and Selecting – Searching a variety of sources in order to select appropriate information to answer questions, define words and terms, clarify misunderstandings, solve problems, or gather information.

17. Identifying Techniques – How does the author structure his/her argument? Is the passage meant to teach, persuade, or describe? Is the argument objective or subjective? What is the author’s thesis? What type of evidence is used? Does the author quote his sources, or simply cite their names or titles? Are the ideas concrete or abstract? Does the author give specific details or rely on generalizations?

pexels-photo-261895.jpegEffective Comprehension Instruction

Research shows that explicit teaching techniques are particularly effective for comprehension strategy instruction. In explicit instruction, teachers tell readers why and when they should use strategies, what strategies to use, and how to apply them. The steps of explicit instruction typically include direct explanation, teacher modeling (“thinking aloud”), guided practice, and application.

  • Direct explanation – The teacher explains to students why the strategy helps comprehension and when to apply the strategy.
  • Modeling – The teacher models, or demonstrates, how to apply the strategy, usually by “thinking aloud” while reading the text that the students are using.
  • Guided practice – The teacher guides and assists students as they learn how and when to apply the strategy.
  • Application – The teacher helps students practice the strategy until they can apply it independently.

Work To Understand Your Own Strategies And To Improve Them

  • Ask yourself questions about how you read: Do you read too quickly or slowly? Do you tend to lose your focus? Can you scan for key information or ideas?
  • Consider the characteristics of effective reading above, in relation to those practices and strategies you already employ, to get a sense of your current reading strategies and how they might be improved.

Just as having more than one conversation with another person leads to closer understanding; conducting a number of readings lead to a richer and more meaningful relationship with, and understanding of a text.

This, essentially, requires a lot of practice.

Good luck in all your endeavours.

As of old: Be EMPOWERED and EXCEL!

FUN AND EFFECTIVE WAYS OF TEACHING VOCABULARY @ HIGH SCHOOL 2

The importance of vocabulary knowledge to school success, in general, and reading comprehension, in particular, is widely documented. Becker, 1977; Anderson & Nagy, 1991

This is the last of three related posts on this interesting topic on vocabulary @High School. The other two posts can be accessed here are entitled:

The acquisition of vocabulary is one of the most important tasks in language learning. If you have enough words, you can make sense of what you are reading or listening to and you can somehow express yourself.

In short, vocabulary acquisition is much more important than grammar. The grammar we have is acquired gradually as we become familiar with the language, with the words, but first of all, we need words.

Explore Learn Grow

A. How Do We TEACH Vocabulary?

Vocabulary knowledge is not something that can ever be fully mastered; it is something that expands and deepens over the course of a lifetime. Instruction in vocabulary involves far more than looking up words in a dictionary and using the words in a sentence.

RESEARCH has brutally exposed a long held belief on . . .

Least Effective Strategies On Teaching Vocabulary through . . .

  • copying definitions
  • writing sentences
  • memorizing definitions from a vocabulary study sheet
  • asking students to use context for unknown words when there is little contextual support.

Most Effective Strategies On Teaching Vocabulary are through . . .

  • direct, explicit instruction of words in context
  • using simple conceptual maps
  • teaching specific context clues
  • selecting meaningful words to teach
  • increasing independent reading
  • directly teaching word learning strategies connecting new concepts/meanings to existing knowledge base.

Just as increasing vocabulary knowledge should occur on a continuous basis, so should vocabulary instruction. The following  four steps in teaching new vocabulary words have been used extensively.

It is important that teachers make sure that their students use:

  1. Explicit Instruction of Using the Vocabulary Word Correctly: [I do it] – Students hear their teacher explicitly give a student-friendly definition and then see her or him model how the vocabulary term is used.
  2. Guided Instruction: [We do it] – Students have opportunities to use new vocabulary while the teacher is there to “help with the tricky parts” and is circulating around the classroom to make sure that students are using the word correctly and giving corrective feedback when needed.
  3.  Collaborative Learning: [You do it together] – Students are given lots of opportunities to clarify and refine meaning and usage in the company of peers. Students teach other students how to use the word correctly/verifying the correct definition. An extended version would be using oral language to communicate the meaning in different contexts and having groups of students complete assignments involving semantic mapping or other graphic organizers.
  4. Independent: [You do it alone] – Students practice use of the term in independent reading, writing, discussion, and assessment.

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B. Six Step Process For Teaching Vocabulary

Marzano (2004) has developed a six step process for teaching vocabulary to students of all ages. While the vocabulary needs of students increase over time, these same procedures can be used on a frequent basis with all students of varying abilities across all content areas. The effective techniques on how to use these six steps follow the description of Marzano’s Six Step Process for Teaching Vocabulary.

Marzano’s six steps for teaching new words can be used with all students (K-12), including those with learning disabilities.

  • Use the first three steps to introduce new words to students.
  • The next three steps give students multiple exposures of the new word for review and retention.

The six steps are as follows:

Step 1: EXPLAIN— The teacher provides a student-friendly description, explanation or an example of the new term. (This is where the teacher explicitly states the definition that will make sense to the students.)

Step 2: RESTATE— Teacher asks students to restate the description, explanation or example in their own words. (Students could add the term to their notebooks or to a chart in the classroom, followed by the following step.)

Step 3: SHOW— The teacher asks students to construct a picture, symbol, or graphic representation of the term. (If possible, ask students to come up with an antonym or synonym to the new word.)

Step 4: DISCUSS—The teacher engages students periodically in structured vocabulary discussions that help them add to their knowledge of the terms in their vocabulary notebooks. (Have students use new words in oral sentences or use the new words in questions you ask your students.)

Step 5: REFINE AND REFLECT—Periodically, the teacher asks students to return to their notebooks to discuss and refine entries. (When another new word comes up, try to mention previously learned words as similar or different.)

Step 6: APPLY IN LEARNING GAMES— The teacher involves students periodically in games that allow them to play with new terms. (Examples to try: Jeopardy, Name that Word, Bingo, and Concentration.)

C. The Four P’s of Vocabulary Acquisition

PROVIDE opportunities for reading wide and reading volume with accountability.

PRE-VIEW the text to determine which words to teach.

PRE-TEACH meaningful words and phrases.

PROVIDE direct instruction and multiple exposures of the vocabulary in reading, writing, listening and speaking.

D. Importance of Vocabulary to Reading

Some conclusions which research has established include that  . . .

  • There is a strong relationship between vocabulary and reading comprehension.
  • Vocabulary knowledge is linked to overall academic success.

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Vocabulary Strategies: Before, During And After Reading

Before Reading Vocabulary Strategies

  • Use explicit instruction to pre-teach unfamiliar important words from the text that will help build background knowledge, and those words that are critical for students’ understanding of what they are reading.
  • Help students relate new vocabulary to their prior knowledge and experiences, as well as to previously read text.
  • In longer, multisyllabic words, teach meanings of root words, prefixes and suffixes so that students can recognize these morphographs in unknown words to help them determine their meanings. Review these morphographs in new words that may be unfamiliar to students as needed.
  • Have students use mapping techniques, such as Semantic Mapping and other graphic organizers to help them think about other words that share the same meanings or that have the same roots. For example, teaching the root ‘tele’ which means from afar, can be used to teach telescope, telephone, telepathic, television, and telegraph.

During Reading Vocabulary Strategies

  • Teach students to use prefixes, suffixes, and familiar word parts to decode new words and determine their meanings.
  • Teach students how to use the structure of both narrative and expository text to figure out word meanings. Although this strategy does not always help with determining an unknown word’s meaning, it is one that students should try to use while reading, especially on assignments done independently.
  • Expand on word meanings that were defined in the textbook in context to ensure students’ understanding of these new words.
  • Have students add new words and concepts to their semantic maps and graphic organizers they began prior to reading.
  • Use content-area word walls as a resource for students to use when they need help remembering a word’s meaning.

After Reading Vocabulary Strategies

  • Have students use their own words to explain the meaning of new words in the way it was used in the text, as well as using it in other contexts.
  • Play vocabulary games (e.g., using synonyms, antonyms, roots, concepts) to provide enrichment of new word meanings.
  • Have students copy their word wall vocabulary  in any order that they wish. Play a game like Bingo, but instead of just calling out the word, say a short definition and then the students will cover the vocabulary word that matches the definition.

E. Words are learned indirectly as research concludes . . .

  • Rarity and variety of words found in children’s books is greater than that found in adult conversation!
  • More words are learned through reading than from spoken language.
  • So read, read, read!!!

Good luck in all your endeavours

As of old: Be EMPOWERED and EXCEL

LEARNING THROUGH MNEMONICS – WRITING AN ARGUMENTATIVE OR DISCURSIVE ESSAY

I taught a group of students mainly from UAE at one summer camp in the UK and Miss Rana, an excellent student, messaged sometime later on saying:

“I’d like to tell you that RACPERSEE has taken me a long way in AP English and I owe it all to you!

How sweet, dear folks! All this was in appreciation of a simple trick in a mnemonic: RACPPERSEE. I had applied it during that month-long stay with the group and it did change their writing style. It opened her, like the hundreds of students whom I have taught, to a new and innovative way of approaching her essay writing.

What is in RACPPERSEE?

This mnemonic works well with Discursive, or Argumentative (Persuasive) compositions. This is a transferable mnemonic which when correctly mastered opens doors to a whole lot of other skills in composition and essay writing.

– R –

REPETITION: Repetition is also often used in speech, as a rhetorical device to bring attention to an idea, eg:

  • The team captain reiterated his resolve to win the match, win the tournament, and win the hearts of his people.
  • The general said to his army, “Men — You must fight for the life of your people, your family and your country.”

RHETORICAL QUESTION: Reinforces words and ideas, makes them memorable and leaves a lasting impression, eg:

  • Emphasizing a point: Do you want to be a big failure for the rest of your life?
  • A student fails to bring in his homework assignment. The teacher keeps him after class and says “Can we do better next time?”

– A  – 

ASSERTIVENESS AND IMPERATIVES: These will be using words like, ‘think about the plight of…’ or ‘forget your previous ideas about…’. These are used to push a reader into thinking that the need to agree or is urgent. It suggests that this is something that the reader must act upon.

  • It was surely/certainly/absolutely/thoroughly . . . .
  • In a survey carried out by the SLO in April 2016, it was seen that . . .
  • The Chief Executive Officer of Vodafone, Mr George Soares disputes this . . . .

ANECDOTES: Short accounts of a real event told in the form of a very brief story. Their effect is often to create an emotional or sympathetic response often proposed to support or demonstrate some point, eg:

  • In his book, “Fast Foods Today”, the renowned author and dietician, Ronald Green, argues that . . . .
  • You know, when I was a kid, my dog was my best friend. My childhood was better because of him.

– C –                               

CONNECTIVES: Words that link or ‘connect’ ideas within your writing. They can be used within sentences to link two or more points together, eg but, when, because however, then, therefore, etc.

– Pp –                           

PERSONAL Pronoun: Each of the pronouns in English (I, you, he, she, it, we, they, me, him, her, us, and them) comprising a set that shows contrasts of person, gender, number, and case. They are used for emphasis by the writer to talk directly to the reader.

– E –                                 

EXAGGERATION/HYPERBOLE: This is where a writer will be really over the top, in order to make it seem as if an issue is massive, eg:

  • I had a ton of chores to do.
  • How will you ever live with yourself if you ignore this?
  • He is drowning in his tears.
  • Millions of us need this . . .

– R –                                

RULE OF THREE/TRIPLES: Three related words or points are presented in quick succession for literary effect, eg:

  • In his famous Pulitzer prize winner book, “The Winners”, Dr John Jones demonstrates that . . . .
  • It’s great; it’s brilliant; it’s amazing to find everyone prepared for this trip.

– S –                                 

STATISTICS: Statistics are numbers or facts that are used to provide convincing information. A writer will use these as a tool to convince the reader, eg:

  • An online survey by the UK-based Survey Solutions of December 2015, highlights that . . . .
  • According to the President of the Egyptian Association of Abandoned Children/UNICEF/UNESCO . . . .

– E –                                 

EXAMPLES: Wherever necessary examples make your answer solid and believable. Look at how I am introducing an example . . .

  • An article entitled, “Gender and Its Implications “in Egypt Today, purports that . . .
  • A UK newspaper, The Daily Mail, succinctly argues that . . . .

– E –                                 

EXPERT OPINION AND QUOTATIONS: Quotations are used when a writer brings in some information from another person, sometimes an expert, or from another article and ’quotes’ what is said by someone else. By using quotations from other people to back up what is being said or promoted, it will make the argument seem much more appealing. If other people, particularly experts, believe in something, this is used to convince the reader that it must be right. For example,

  • Dr Aya Tamer from the Faculty of Education, at American University in Cairo, alleges that . . . .
  • The prominent educationist and researcher, Dr Michael Giddings, refutes this stating . . . .

By following and implementing the RACPpERSEE technique, you will be surprised by the world of good it can create for you. Try it and work along these sentences:

17 Sentences Which Can Change Your Writing

  1. Professor John Hawkins from the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Manchester confirms that . . . .
  2. Dr Aya Tamer from the Faculty of Education, at American University in Cairo, alleges that . . . .
  3. In his book, “Fast Foods Today”, the renowned author and dietician, Ronald Green, argues that . . . .
  4. In his famous Pulitzer Prize winner book, “The Winners”, Dr John Jones demonstrates that . . . .
  5. An online survey by the UK-based Survey Solutions of December 2015, highlights that . . . .
  6. The prominent educationist and researcher, Dr Michael Giddings, refutes this stating . . . .
  7. The Ministry of Education and Children’s Permanent-Secretary, Dr Sarah Refaay, once said . . . .
  8. A prominent psychologist, Mrs Nermeen at ISC challenged this by arguing . .
  9. The Times magazine of 26 May 2016, illustrates this clearly by . . . .
  10. The 2007 Nobel Peace Prize winner, Dr Boutros Ghali, . . . .
  11. An article entitled, “Gender and Its Implications “in Egypt Today, purports that .
  12. A UK newspaper, The Daily Mail, succinctly argues that . . . .
  13. According to the President of the Egyptian Association of Abandoned Children/UNICEF/UNESCO . . . .
  14. The Advertising Agency based in the USA states that . . . . .
  15. The Chief Executive Officer of Vodafone, Mr George Soares disputes this . . . . .
  16. The UK government’s blueprint, Every Child Matters, clearly states that . . .
  17. In a survey carried out by the SLO in April 2016, it was seen that . . .

You are on your way to success in writing an excellent argumentative or discursive essay as well as in approaching your SAT or Advanced Placement English essay questions.

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The Proof Of The Eating Is In Doing

Good luck in your endeavours.

As of old: Be EMPOWERED and EXCEL.

HOMOPHONES: MOST COMMONLY CONFUSED WORDS @ HIGH SCHOOL (7)

Please note the difference between HOMOPHONES and HOMOGRAPHS:

HOMOPHONES are words that sound the same but have different meanings. Fo example, . . .

  • wait (the verb) and weight (how heavy something is)
  • they’re (they are) and their (belonging to them) and there (adverb of place)

HOMOGRAPHS are words that are written the same way, but pronounced differently.

Examples of HOMOGRAPHS include:

  • to wind a clock but blowing wind.
  • rose, the flower and rose, past tense of the verb to rise.
  • book – something we read and book – to schedule something.

Included here are sets of commonly used and sometimes confused sets of homophones. To help you improve spelling skills, for each word listed, I have included the most common meanings focusing on:

  • part of speech (sometimes)
  • a very brief definition
  • a sentence to further your understanding of the homophone word/s.

pexels-photo.jpgPlease note that the following scenarios are the most commonly used cases; but as is quite common in our language, there are always exceptions!

1. write/right/rite

  • right (adj.) means correct: The student gave the right answer to the math question.
  • write (v.) is to make letters: Please write you name at the top of the page.
  • rite (n) means a religious social custom or solemn ceremony or act: The religious rites were strictly followed.

2. road/rode/rod

  • road (n.) is a driving surface: She had difficulties keeping her car on the slippery road.
  • rode (v.) is past tense of ride: We rode the bus for thirty minutes to get across town.
  • rod (n) is a thin straight bar of wood or metal: The walls were reinforced with steel rods.

 3. sail/sale

  • sail (v.) is to travel in a boat: We plan to sail across the bay.
  • sale (n.) is a deal or transaction: The store had a special sale on blue jeans.

 4. scene/seen

  • scene (n.) is the place where an event occurs: A criminal sometimes returns to the scene of the crime.
  • seen (v.) is past participle of see: I’ve never seen so many flowers!

 5. soar/sore

  • soar (v.) is to fly: An eagle can soar higher than many other birds.
  • sore (adj.) means painful: My sprained knee is very sore.

 6. sole/soul

  • sole (adj.) means only: My dad was the sole survivor of the crash.
  • sole (n.) is the bottom part of a foot or shoe: There’s a hole in the sole of my old boot.
  • soul (n.) is the spiritual part, or character, of a person: Those old hymns always comfort my soul.

7. tail/tale

  • tail (n.) is the rear part of an animal’s body: My dog wags its tail when he’s happy.
  • tale (n.) is a story: One popular fairy tale is about a giant, a beanstalk and a boy named Jack.

8. threw/through

  • threw (v.) is the past tense of throw: The kids threw the stones into the stream.
  • through (prep.) means movement from one side to, or past, the other side: Let’s walk all the way through the dark tunnel together.

9. to/too/two

  • to (prep.) means toward: We drove to the theatre.
  • too (adv.) means also: Jimmy likes pizza, too.
  • two (n.) is a symbol for 1 plus 1: Susan spun a two in the board game.

10. waist/waste

  • waist (n.) is the middle of the body: The belt was too large for her small waist.
  • waste (n.) is the discarded material: The factory’s waste products were dumped in the landfill.

11. weak/week/wick

  • weak (adj.) means not strong: The young boy was too weak to lift the box of books.
  • week (n.) is a seven-day period: The worker went on vacation for one week.
  • wick (n) is a piece of string in the centre of a candle.

 12. who’s/whose

  • who’s (contr.) is short for who is or who has: Who’s been drinking my soda?
  • whose (pron.) is the possessive form of who: Does anyone know whose coat is this one?

13. your/your’re

  • your (pron.) is the possessive form of you: It’s your turn to go first.
  • you’re (contr.) is the short form of you are: You’re the person I want to hire.

14. faint/feint

  • faint means temporarily losing consciousness and the adjective . . .
  • faint (adj) means lacking in brightness: Tad’s writing is too faint.
  • A feint is a false attack made to distract the opponent from an even more fatal blow: It was just a brief feint on the opponent’s face.

15. hole/whole/hall

  • A hole is an empty place or opening: A hole opened up in the backyard.
  • Whole means complete or entire: I ate the whole pie.
  • hall (n) is the room or space used for meetings, concerts or other events.

ALWAYS make it a habit to edit your work to avoid committing the HOMOPHONES mistakes.

writing-notes-idea-conference.jpgGood luck in all your endeavours.

As of old: Be EMPOWERED and EXCEL!!

HOMOPHONES: MOST COMMONLY CONFUSED WORDS @ HIGH SCHOOL (6)

Please note the difference between HOMOPHONES and HOMONYMS:

HOMOPHONES are words that sound the same but have different meanings.

  • wait (the verb) and weight (how heavy something is)
  • they’re (they are) and their (belonging to them) and there (adverb of place)

HOMONYMS are a kind of homophone, words that are written and said the same way but have different meanings.

Examples of HOMONYMS are:

  • book           – something we read and . . .
  • book           – to schedule something.
  • Spring        – the season and . . .
  • spring         – to jump up.

pexels-photo-416322.jpegTo help you improve spelling skills, for each word listed, I have included the most common meanings focusing on:

  • part of speech (sometimes)
  • a very brief definition
  • a sentence to test your understanding of the homophone word/s.

Please note that the following scenarios are the most commonly used cases; but as is quite common in our language, there are always exceptions!

1. than/then

  • Use than for comparisons; eg: Tad is much taller than his brother.
  • Use then to indicate passage of time, or when; eg: We went to the park in the morning, and then we left to pick up lunch.

2. to/too/two

  • To can be a preposition; eg: We are going to the park.
  • Too is an adverb that can mean excessively (too much) when it precedes an adjective or adverb; eg: I ate too much ice cream for dessert.
  • Too is a synonym for also; eg: I ate too much ice cream for dessert, too.
  • Two is a number; eg: Shona ate two pieces of pie.

3. you’re/ your

  • You’re is a contraction for you are; eg: You’re going to absolutely love this new recipe.
  • Your is a pronoun; eg: Please bring your books to class with you tomorrow.

4. fair/fare

  • fair (adj.) means just, proper under the rules, or ample; eg: The judge made a fair decision.
  • fare (n.) means money paid to ride in a bus, taxi or other vehicle; eg: He paid his fare when he got on the bus. OR
  • Used as a verb, fare means to get by, perform; eg: She fared well on the job interview.

5. flew/flu/flue

  • flew (v.) past tense of fly; eg: The bird flew past my window.
  • flu (n.) short for influenza; eg: Sam missed three days of work because he had the flu.
  • flue (n.) passage for smoke in a chimney; eg: The chimney flue needs to be cleaned regularly.

6. heal/heel/he’ll

  • heal means to make healthy; eg: Extra rest and fluids will help to heal your sickness.
  • heel is the back part of the foot; eg. Place your heel firmly into the boot.
  • he’ll (contr.) he will; eg: He’ll be happy when he comes.

 7. lone/loan

  • A loan is money lent; eg: The car loan was for $5,000.
  • Used as a verb, loan means to lend something; eg: Can you please loan me enough money for lunch?
  • lone means single, only; eg: The truck driver was the lone customer at the all-night diner.

8. male/mail

  • mail are items sent in the postal system; eg: I received six letters today in the mail.

Used as a verb, mail means to send something by mail or e-mail; eg: She will mail her car payment today.

  • male (n.) a boy or man; eg: There were ten male passengers on the train.

Used as an adjective, male means related to a man or boy; eg: I heard a male voice on the telephone.

 9. main/mane

  • main (adj.) means most important; eg:The speaker’s main point was that we can all fight poverty.
  • mane (n.) is the long hair on the neck of an animal; eg: Shona hung on to the horse’s mane when it started galloping.

10. meat/meet

  • meat is edible flesh from an animal; eg: We eat meat nearly every night for dinner.
  • meet is to get together; eg: Let’s meet for coffee tomorrow morning.

Used as a noun, meet is a sports competition; eg: Athletes from ten schools will compete at the track meet.

 11. pail/pale

  • A pail is a bucket; eg: That pail holds five gallons of paint.
  • Being pale means lacking color; eg: The sick child’s face was very pale.

 12. pain/pane

  • pain is physical distress; eg: Her back pain prevented her from bending over.
  • pane is section of a window; eg: The window pane was covered with frost.

13. passed/past

  • passed is the past tense of pass; eg: The teenager finally passed his driving test.
  • past means later, or in a time gone by; eg: Her financial worries are now all in the past.

14. patience/patients

  •  patience is the ability to wait; eg: The kindergarten teacher’s patience is remarkable.
  • patients are people under the care of a doctor; eg: Five patients were waiting to see the doctor.

 15. raise/raze

  • To raise is to build up; eg: Let’s raise the sign a bit higher so it can be read more easily.
  • To raze is to tear down; eg: The city plans to raze the vacant building.

ALWAYS make it a habit to edit your work to avoid committing the HOMOPHONES mistakes.

Good luck in all your endeavours.

As of old: Be EMPOWERED and EXCEL!!

HOMOPHONES: MOST COMMONLY CONFUSED WORDS @ HIGH SCHOOL (5)

Please note the difference:

HOMOPHONES are words that sound the same but have different meanings, eg:

  • wait (the verb) and weight (how heavy something is)

HOMONYMS are a kind of homophone words that are written and said the same way but have different meanings.

Examples of HOMONYMS are:

  • club            – somewhere to dance and . . .
  • club            – large, heavy object that people get hit with.
  • rock           – a type of music and . . .
  • rock            – made of stone.

HOMOGRAPHS are words that are written the same way, but pronounced differently.

Examples of HOMOGRAPHS include:

  • to wind a clock but blowing wind.
  • rose, the flower and rose, past tense of the verb to rise.
  • book is something we read and book is to schedule something.

pexels-photo.jpgTo help you improve spelling skills for each word listed below, I have included the most homophone common meanings focusing on:

  • part of speech (sometimes)
  • a very brief definition
  • a sentence to test your understanding of the homophone word/s.

Please note that the following scenarios are the most commonly used cases; but as is quite common in our language, there are always exceptions!

  1. which/witch/wich

  • Use which as a pronoun when referring to things or animals.
  • Use witch to mean a scary or nasty person.
  • Wich is to do with minerals, salt works; a salt producing town.

Using the correct use of which/witch/wich, fill in the sentences:

  1. Tad wore his favorite brown shoes, . . . he received as a birthday gift.
  2. The Halloween . . . decorations must finally come down off of the wall!

2. principle/principal

  • Use principle as a noun meaning a basic truth or law.
  • Use principal as a noun meaning the head of a school or organization, or a sum of money.

 Using the correct use of principle/principal, fill in the sentences:

  1. Many important life . . . are learned in kindergarten.
  2. The . . . is a well-respected member of the community.

3. stationary/stationery

  • Stationary means unmoving.
  • Stationery refers to writing materials, eg: pens, books, pencils, etc

Using the correct use of stationary/stationery, fill in the sentences:

  1. The revolving door remained . . . because Shona was pushing on it the wrong way.
  2. Tad printed his résumé on his best . . . .

4. rain/reign/rein

  • rain (n.) precipitation; (v.) drizzle, shower.
  • reign (n.) time in power; (v.) to rule.
  • rein (n.) a strap to control an animal.

 Using the correct use of rain/reign/rein, fill in the sentences:

  1. The . . . poured down all day.
  2. The king’s . . . was very brief.
  3. Pull on the . . . when you want the horse to stop.

5. stair/stare

  • stair (n.) step.
  • stare (v.) to look intently in one place.

Using the correct use of stair/stare, fill in the sentences:

  1. The bottom . . . is broken, so please be careful when you go down.
  2. I couldn’t help but . . . at the man as he came down to us.

6. main/mane

  • main (adj.) most important.
  • mane (n.) long hair on the neck of an animal.

 Using the correct use of main/mane, fill in the sentences:

  1. The speaker’s . . . point was that we can all fight poverty.
  2. The little girl hung on to the horse’s . . . when it started galloping.

7. stake/steak

  • stake (n.) a thin pointed stick or post that is driven into the ground; mark off.
  • steak (n.) a piece of meat or fish.

 Using the correct use of stake/steak, fill in the sentences:

  1. Since we were missing a . . . , we couldn’t finish putting up the tent.
  2. He ordered a sirloin . . . and baked potato.

8. steal/steel

  • steal (v.) to take something without permission.
  • steel (n.) a strong metal made of iron and carbon.

 Using the correct use of steal/steel, fill in the sentences:

  1. It is not good to . . . money from anyone.
  2. Many buildings are constructed with . . . frames.

 9. imminent/eminent/immanent

  • imminent is something likely to happen.
  • Eminent can refer to a person of high rank or repute or anything that noticeably pokes out like “an eminent nose.”
  • immanent is an inherent or inborn; ingrained, built-in.

 Using the correct use of imminent/eminent/immanent, fill in the sentences:

  1. The rainy season is . . .
  2. Kofi Annan was an . . . person in resolving many conflicts.
  3. The protection of human rights is . . . to many governments around the world.

10. exercise/exorcise

  • Exercise is a physical activity; to do physical activity.
  • Exorcise is to drive out an evil spirit

 Using the correct use of exercise/exorcise, fill in the sentences:

  1. They . . . the troublesome spirit.
  2. Ted took the . . . seriously.

11. insolate/insulate

  • Insolate refers to an exposure to the sun’s rays.
  • Insulate involves using various materials to prevent the leakage of heat.
  • NOTICE: Insolate to get warm and insulate to stay warm!

Using the correct use of insolate/insulate, fill in the sentences:

  1. The . . . paper may turn red when exposed to the sun.
  2. We always . . . and draught proof our caravan before winter begins.

 12. tortuous/torturous

  • tortuous comes from the Latin tortu meaning full of twists and turns.
  • torturous pertaining to the cause or experience of extreme pain.

 Using the correct use of tortuous/torture, fill in the sentences:

  1. Peal found the route remote and . . . .
  2. We had a . . . five days of boot camp.

13. foreword/forward

  • Foreword is an introduction to a book.
  • Forward is onwards, ahead.

 Using the correct use of foreword/forward, fill in the sentences:

  1. Dr Giddings gave a . . to my book.
  2. It’s will be raining next week, so the baseball game will be moved . . .

14. flaunt/flout

  • Flaunt is to display ostentatiously; show off.
  • Flout is to disregard a rule.

 Using the correct use of flaunt/flout, fill in the sentences:

    1. The young man constantly . . . his riches.
    2. The advertising code is being openly . . ..

15. flounder/founder

  • Flounder is to move clumsily; to have difficulty doing something.
  • Founder is to fail; a person who establishes.

Using the correct use of flounder/founder, fill in the sentences:

  1. The soldiers . . .  about in the mud.
  2. He is the . . . of a popular website.

So, how did you fair?

ANSWERS: #1. a) which b) witch #2. a) principles b) principal #3. a) stationary   b) stationery #4. a) rain b) reign c) reins; #5 a) stair b) stare; #6 a) main b) mane; #7 a)stake b) steak #8 a) steal b) steel #9 a) imminent   b) eminent c) immament  #10 a) exorcise b) exercise  #11 a) insolate(d) b) insulate  #12 a) tortuous  b) torturous  #13 a) foreword b) forward   #14 a) flaunted  b) flouted  #15 a) floundered b) founder

ALWAYS make it a habit to edit your work to avoid committing the HOMOPHONES mistakes.

As of old: Be EMPOWERED and EXCEL!!

HOMOPHONES: MOST COMMONLY CONFUSED WORDS @ HIGH SCHOOL (4)

HOMOPHONES are two or more words that sound alike, but have different meanings or spellings.

In the sentence below, for example, every word is spelled correctly but three words are the wrong words, and even spellchecker will not flag even one of them.

Can you spot the homophones in the sentence below?

I herd the reign ruined there picnic.

 One great way to improve spelling skills is to learn the correct spellings and meanings of common sets of homophones.

A large percentage of spelling errors at High School are actually homophone usage errors.

Written correctly, the sentence should, of course, read:

 I heard the rain ruined their picnic.

Included here are sets of commonly used and sometimes confused sets of homophones. To help you improve spelling skills, for each word listed, I have included the most common meanings focusing on:

  • part of speech (sometimes)
  • a very brief definition
  • a sentence to test your understanding of the homophone word/s. 

pexels-photo-416322.jpegPlease note that the following scenarios are the most commonly used cases; but as is quite common in our language, there are always exceptions!

1. defuse/diffuse

  • Diffuse is to spread over a wide area; lacking clarity
  • Defuse is to make a situation less tense

Using the correct use of defuse/diffuse, fill in the sentences:

  1. Mr Jones . . . the prevailing tension among the villagers.
  2. The . . . community centred around the church.

2. desert/dessert

  • Desert is a waterless, empty area; to abandon someone.
  • Dessert is the sweet course of a meal.

 Using the correct use of desert/dessert, fill in the sentences:

  1. How did that car get over the Egyptian . . . .
  2. They enjoyed their . . .  after the main meal.

3. discreet/discrete

  • Discreet means being careful not to attract attention.
  • Discrete means separate and distinct.

Using the correct use of discreet/discrete, fill in the sentences:

  1. We made some . . . inquiries about the issue.
  2. Speech sounds are produced as a continuous sound signal rather than . . . units.

 4. disinterested/uninterested

  • Disinterested means impartial; unbiased, uninvolved.
  • Uninterested means bored or not wanting to be involved with something:

Using the correct use of disinterested/uninterested, fill in the sentences:

  1. A panel of . . . judges who had never met the contestants before judged the singing contest.
  2. Marwa was . . . in attending Hilda’s singing class.

5. die/dye

  • Die means to pass away; dying could also mean you are eager for something.
  • Dye (n.) coloring.

 Using the correct use of die/dye, fill in the sentences:

  1. The animal will . . . without proper nourishment.
  2. We used four kinds of . . . to color our Easter eggs.

6. does/dose

  • Does is a form of do.
  • Dose is quantity of medicine.

Using the correct use of does/dose, fill in the sentences:

  1. It . .  no good to complain.
  2. Take a . . . of aspirin for your headache.

7. here/hear

  • Use here as an adverb to indicate location.
  • Use hear as a verb to indicate listening.

 Using the correct use of hear/here, fill in the sentences:

  1. Please come back . . . and put your shoes away!
  2. Can you . . . the birds’ beautiful singing outside?

8. lie/lay

  • Use lie to indicate the act of reclining:
  • Use lay to indicate the placement of something:

Lay is a transitive verb, which means it always needs an object! Something is always being put down; lie, on the other hand, will never have an object because it is an intransitive verb.

Hint:

  • to lie: lie(s), lay, lain, lying
  • to lay: lay(s), laid, laid, laying

Using the correct use of lie/lay, fill in the sentences:

  1. I am tired just watching the dog . .  in the warm sunlight.
  2. Please . . . the paper on the table.

9. emigrate/immigrate

  • Emigrate means to move away from a city or country to live somewhere else.
  • Immigrate means to move into a country from somewhere else.

Using the correct use of emigrate/immigrate, fill in the sentences:

  1. Pearl’s grandfather . . .  from Canada sixty years ago.
  2. Tad’s sister . . . to Ireland in 2004.

 10. e.g./i.e.

These two Latin abbreviations are often mixed up, but e.g. means “for example,” while i.e. means “that is.”

11. empathy/sympathy

  • Empathy is the ability to understand another person’s perspective or feelings.
  • Sympathy is a feeling of sorrow for someone else’s suffering.
  • A sympathizer is someone who agrees with a particular ideal or cause.

 Using the correct use of empathy/sympathy, fill in the sentences:

  1. My . . . for Liz is fairly limited.
  2. She has a higher level of . . . in helping others.

 12. loose/lose/lost

  • Loose is usually an adjective:
  • Lose is always a verb. It means to misplace something or to be unvictorious in a game or contest.
  • Lost is the past tense of lose.

Using the correct use of loose/lose/lost, fill in the sentences:

  1. Nancy was careful not to . . . her ticket.
  2. Peter discovered that the cows were . . . .

13. it’s/its

  • It’s is the contraction for it is.
  • Its is the possessive form (“possessive” means belongs to) of it.

 Using the correct use of it’s/its, fill in the sentences:

  1. The cat is licking . . . paws.
  2. . . . raining today, so the baseball game will be cancelled.

14. weather/whether

  • Use weather when referring to the state of the atmosphere:
  • Use whether as a conjunction to introduce choices:

 Using the correct use of weather/whether fill in the sentences:

  1. The constantly changing springtime . . . is driving us crazy.
  2. Please tell us . . . you would prefer steak or salmon for dinner.

NB: There is no such word as wheather!

15. there/their/they’re

  • their (pron.) belong to them;
  • there (adv.) at that place;
  • they’re is the contraction for they are.

 Using the correct use of there/their/they’re, fill in the sentences:

  1. . . . house is always clean and tidy.
  2. Please put the groceries over . . . .
  3. . . . going to Paris for vacation.

So, how did you fair?

ANSWERS: #1. a) defused b) diffuse; #2. a) desert b) dessert #3. a) discreet b) discrete #4. a) disinterested b) uninterested; #5 a) die b) dye; #6 a) does b) dose  #7 a) here b) hear   #8 a) lie b) lay   #9 a) emigrated  b) immigrated   #11 a) sympathy b) empathy  #12 a) lose   b) lose/lost  #13 a) its   b) It’s   #14 a) weather   b) whether   #15 a) Their b) there c) They’re

ALWAYS make it a habit to edit your work to avoid committing the above mistakes.

As of old: Be EMPOWERED and EXCEL!!

HOMOPHONES: MOST COMMONLY CONFUSED WORDS @ HIGH SCHOOL (3)

Please note the difference:

HOMOPHONES are words that sound the same but have different meanings. For example,

  • wait (the verb) and weight (how heavy something is)
  • they’re (they are) and their (belonging to them) and there (adverb of place)

HOMONYMS are a kind of homophone, words that are written and said the same way but have different meanings.

Examples of HOMONYMS are:

  • book           – something we read and . . .
  • book           – to schedule something.
  • Spring        – the season and . . .
  • spring         – to jump up.
  • club            – somewhere to dance and . . .
  • club            – large, heavy object that people get hit with.
  • fine             – money you owe for bring things back late and . . .
  • fine             – feeling okay.
  • rock           – a type of music and . . .
  • rock            – made of stone.

HOMOGRAPHS are words that are written the same way, but pronounced differently.

Examples of HOMOGRAPHS include:

  • to wind a clock but blowing wind.
  • rose, the flower and rose, past tense of the verb to rise.
  • book – something we read and book – to schedule something

To help you improve spelling skills for each word listed below, I have included the most Homophone common meanings focusing on:

  • part of speech (sometimes)
  • a very brief definition
  • a sentence to test your understanding of the homophone word/s.

pexels-photo.jpgPlease note that the following scenarios are the most commonly used cases; but as is quite common in our language, there are always exceptions!

1. cite/sight/site

  • Sight is one of your five senses. As a noun, it is “the ability to see.” It is also someone or something that is seen.
  • Site means “a place where something has happened.” It can also be “a place where something is, was, or will be located.”
  • Site is also short for website.
  • Cite is a verb. It can mean “to write or say the words” of a person, book or another source. It can also mean “to mention something,” usually to support an idea or opinion.

 Using the correct use of cite/sight/site, fill in the sentences:

  1. The sunset last night was a beautiful . . . .
  2. There are some important battle . . . near Washington, DC.
  3. When you write research papers in school, for example, you . . . other sources to support your argument.

2. canvas/canvass

  • Canvas is a type of strong cloth.
  • Canvass is to seek people’s votes.

 Using the correct use of canvas/canvass, fill in the sentences:

  1. His . . . -made trainers did not last long.
  2. The MP has tried to . . . for re-election for a third term.

3. censure/censor

  • Censure is to criticize strongly.
  • Censor is to ban parts of a book or film; a person who does this.

Using the correct use of censure/censor, fill in the sentences:

  1. He was . . . (ed) for his remarks over the incident.
  2. My book was heavily . . . (ed) before its publication.

 4. climactic/climatic

  • Climactic is forming a climax.
  • Climatic is relating to climate.

 Using the correct use of climactic/climatic, fill in the sentences:

  • The film’s . . .  scenes were traumatic for the kids.
  • Under certain . . . conditions, desert locusts increase in number.

5. complacent/complaisant

  • Complacent is proud of oneself and self-satisfied.
  • Complaisant is willing to please.

 Using the correct use of complacent/complaisant, fill in the sentences:

  1. In all of this praise, however, there is a severe danger that we might become . . . .
  2. There are too many . . .  doctors signing sick notes.

6. council/counsel

  • Council is a group of people who manage or advise.
  • Counsel is to seek advice; to advise.

 Using the correct use of council/counsel, fill in the sentences:

  1. The . . .  has unanimously endorsed the agreement with the government.
  2. He had to go for . . . (ing) after the tragic incident.

7. cue/queue

  • Cue is a signal for action.
  • Queue is a line of people or vehicles.

 Using the correct use of cue/queue, fill in the sentences:

  1. Pearl  hasn’t yet been given the . . .to come on stage.
  2. We found ourselves in a . . .  for petrol.

8. complement/compliment

  • Use complement when referring to something that enhances or completes.
  • Use compliment as an expression of praise.

 Using the correct use of complement/compliment, fill in the sentences:

  1. The cranberry sauce is a perfect . . . to the turkey dinner.
  2. I was pleased to have received so many . . . on my new dress.

9. curb/kerb

  • Curb is to keep something in check; a control or limit.
  • Kerb (in British English) is the stone edge of a pavement.

 Using the correct use of curb/kerb, fill in the sentences:

  1. The parents had to . . . his wayward behaviour.
  2. She fell of the . . . on her to ASDA market.

 10. currant/current

  • Currant is a dried grape.
  • Current is happening now; a flow of water, air, or electricity.

Using the correct use of currant/current, fill in the sentences:

  1. He .enjoys eating . . . fruits.
  2. Ted enjoys listening to . . . . news about the economy.

11.  cast, caste

  • cast – throw, toss or cause (light or shadow) to appear on a surface.
  • caste – social class (with some privileges).

Using the correct use of cast/caste, fill in the sentences:

  1. He . . . the book down onto the floor angrily.
  2. Those educated at private schools belong to a privileged . . . .

 12. capital/capitol

  • Capital has several meanings. It can refer to an uppercase letter, money, or a city where a seat of government is located.
  • Capitol means the building where lawmakers meet.

 Using the correct use of capital/capitol, fill in the sentences:

  1. Peter visited the cafe in the basement of the . . .  after watching a bill become a law.
  2. Basel visited Brasίlia, the . . . of Brazil.

13.  coarse/course

  • Coarse means rough, crude or harsh.
  • Course (n.) is a path or route to be taken.

 Using the correct use of coarse/course, fill in the sentences:

  1. His . . . manners were very irritating.
  2. Now that you’ve lost your job, what is the first . . . of action to be taken?

 14. choose/chose

  • Choose means to select.
  • Chose is the past tense of choose.

 Using the correct use of choose/chose, fill in the sentences:

  1. I . . . my puppy last week.
  2. I . . . that puppy in the window.

15. conscience/conscious

  • Conscience is your inner, moral guide.
  • Conscious is being aware of; alive; being alert

 Using the correct use of conscience/conscious, fill in the sentences:

  1. He had a guilty . . . about his desires.
  2. Tad became . . . . of people talking in the hall.

So, how did you fair?

ANSWERS: #1. a) sight b) site   c) cite; #2. a) canvas b) canvass #3. a) censured   b) censored #4. a) climactic  b) climatic; #5. a) complacent  b) complaisant; #6. a) council   b) counseling; #7. a) cue b) queue   #8. a) complement b) compliments   #9. a) curb   b)kerb #10. a) currant b) current   #11. a) cast b) caste  #12. a) capitol   b) capital   #13. a) coarse   b) course   #14. a) chose   b) choose   #15. a) conscience b) conscious

ALWAYS make it a habit to edit your work to avoid committing the above mistakes.

As of old: Be EMPOWERED and EXCEL!!

HOMOPHONES: MOST COMMONLY CONFUSED WORDS @ HIGH SCHOOL (2)

HOMOPHONES are two or more words that sound alike, but have different meanings or spellings.

In the sentence below, for example, every word is spelled correctly but three words are the wrong words, and even a spellchecker will not flag one of them.

Can you spot the homophones in the sentence below?

I herd the reign ruined there picnic.

 One great way to improve spelling skills is to learn the correct spellings and meanings of common sets of homophones.

A large percentage of spelling errors at High School are actually homophone usage errors.

Written correctly, the sentence should, of course, read:

 I heard the rain ruined their picnic.

Included here are sets of commonly used and sometimes confused sets of homophones. To help you improve spelling skills, for each word listed, I have included the most common meanings focusing on:

  • part of speech (sometimes)
  • a very brief definition
  • a sentence to test your understanding of the homophone word/s.

Please note that the following scenarios are the most commonly used cases; but as is quite common in our language, there are always exceptions!

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1. buy/by/bye

  • Use buy when purchasing an item.
  • Use by as a preposition to indicate location.

Use bye in saying “goodbye” or when an athlete moves directly to the next round of a competition without playing.

 Using the correct use of buy/by/bye, fill in the sentences:

  1. I do need to . . . new shoes for the kids.
  2. John was given a . . . after Tad had withdrawn from the competition.

 2. bear/bare

  • Use bear when referring to the large mammal or to indicate the act of holding or supporting.
  • Use bare as an adjective indicating lack of clothing; uncovered.

 Using the correct use of bear/bare, fill in the sentences:

  1. How did that brown . . . open the security gate at the campsite?
  2. The wagon can hardly . . . the weight of the load.
  3. His . . . neck burned in the direct sunlight.

3. brake/break

  • Use brake as a verb meaning to stop or as a noun when referring to a device used to stop or slow motion:
  • Use break to indicate smashing or shattering or to take a recess OR
  • Use break as a noun to indicate a rest or pause.

 Using the correct use of brake/break, fill in the sentences:

  1. We took a water . . . after our first set of drills.
  2. The bike’s . . . failed, which is why he toppled town the hill.
  3. My back will . . . if we put one more thing in this backpack.

 4. breath/breathe

  • Breath is a noun; it’s the air that goes in and out of your lungs:
  • Breathe is a verb; it means to exhale or inhale:

 Using the correct use of breath/breathe, fill in the sentences:

  1. Chad held his . . . while Larry skateboarded down the stairs.
  2. After Shona’s spectacular landing, Holy had to remind herself to . . . again.

5. balmy/barmy

  • Balmy means pleasantly warm; soothing.
  • Barmy is being foolish, crazy.

 Using the correct use of balmy/barmy, fill in the sentences:

  1. I thought I was going . . . at first.
  2. We always enjoy the . . . days of late summer in Heysham.

6. bated/baited

  • Bated means in great suspense, very anxiously or excitedly
  • A bait is food attached or inserted as a decoy to lure

Using the correct use of bated/baited, fill in the sentences:

  1. The fish let go of the . . . .
  2. He waited for a reply to his offer with . . . breath.

7. bazaar/bizarre

  • Bazzar is a Middle Eastern market; a fundraising sale of goods
  • Bizarre means strange or unusual

 Using the correct use of bazaar/bizarre, fill in the sentences:

  1. They went to the Turkish bazaar to buy items.
  2. We found ourselves in a . . . situation.

8. berth/birth

  • Berth is a bunk in a ship, train, etc.
  • Birth is the emergence of a baby from the womb.

 Using the correct use of berth/birth, fill in the sentences:

  1. I will sleep in the upper . . . .
  2. The . . . of his son was a turning point.

9. breach/breech

  • Breach is to break through, or break a rule; a gap
  • Breech is the back part of a gun barrel; in birth, feet coming out first

 Using the correct use of breach/breech, fill in the sentences:

  1. The way he acted was a . . . of confidence on Sarah’s trust.
  2. She has had a . . . birth of her first born son.

 10. broach/brooch

  • Broach to raise a difficult subject for discussion; pierce
  • Brooch is a piece of jewellery

 Using the correct use of broach/brooch, fill in the sentences:

  1. He . . . the topic he had been avoiding all evening.
  2. Ted enjoys wearing an emerald . . . .

11. beside/besides

  • Beside means next to.
  • Besides means in addition.

Using the correct use of beside/besides, fill in the sentences:

  1. He sat . . . me.
  2. I love ice cream . . . chocolate.

12. capital/capitol

  • Capital has several meanings. It can refer to an uppercase letter, money, or a city where a seat of government is located.
  • Capitol means the building where lawmakers meet.

 Using the correct use of capital/capitol, fill in the sentences:

  1. Peter visited the cafe in the basement of the . . . after watching a bill become a law.
  2. Basel visited Brasίlia, the . . . of Brazil.

13. coarse/course

  • Coarse means rough, crude or harsh;
  • Course (n.) a path or route to be taken;

 Using the correct use of coarse/course, fill in the sentences:

  1. His . . . manners were very irritating.
  2. Now that you’ve lost your job, what is the first . . . of action to be taken?

14. choose/chose

  • Choose means to select.
  • Chose is the past tense of choose.

 Using the correct use of choose/chose, fill in the sentences:

  1. I . . . my puppy last week.
  2. I . . . that puppy in the window.

15. conscience/conscious

  • Conscience is your inner, moral guide.
  • Conscious is being aware of; alive; being alert.

 Using the correct use of conscience/conscious, fill in the sentences:

  1. He had a guilty . . . about his desires.
  2. Tad became . . . . of people talking in the hall.

pexels-photo-416322.jpegSo, how did you fair?

ANSWERS: #1. a) buy   b) bye; #2. a) bear b) bear c) bare #3. a) break   b) brake c) break #4. a) breath     b) breathe; #5 a) barmy   b) balmy; #6 a) bait   b) bated; #7 a) bazaar b) bizarre   #8 a) berth b) birth   #9 a) breach   b) breech addition   #10 a) broached b) brooch   #11 a) complement b) compliments  #12 a) capitol   b) capital   #13 a) coarse   b) course   #14 a) chose   b) choose   #15 a) conscience b) conscious

ALWAYS make it a habit to edit your work to avoid committing the above mistakes.

As of old: Be EMPOWERED and EXCEL!

EXCELLENT IDEAS ON DEALING & HANDLING POOR PERFORMANCE AT WORK

Let the remainder of 2020 be months to look forward to with love, honesty and promise. Thus, take the initiative to making it better . . .

Assuming that you are a leader/manager/coordinator or have responsibility in some capacity, when a team member’s performance, conduct or attendance falls short of expectation, it has to be addressed.

HOWEVER, before you speak to the employee in question, you must prepare yourself by gathering evidence of the problem.

Addressing poor performance is never easy, but having evidence at hand to help you to explain the problems will make the process far easier and will allow you to counter any opposition from the employee.

When addressing problems with performance, it is important not to prejudge the situation. Presenting evidence as factually based examples will help you to avoid placing your own interpretation on the issue, which in turn will help you to approach the meeting objectively, dispassionately and professionally.

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Managing Poor Performance In The Workplace

Performance management makes up a significant part of every manager’s job, and this means managers must deal with poor performance. Managers often view this as one of the less desirable responsibilities that come with the job because too often our perception of managing poor performance is clouded by thoughts of tense, uncomfortable situations that may result in finger pointing, anger and denial.

A simple guideline for managing poor performance with your staff can be summarised in three basic steps:

  • IDENTIFY what behaviour is causing the employee to underperform
  • CONFRONT their poor performance
  • REDIRECT their behaviour to improve performance

Types Of Evidence On Poor Performance

Evidence can take many forms, but not all forms of evidence have equal value:

  • Documentary evidence consists of paperwork or electronic recordings such as video or audio, for example, a timesheet or CCTV footage.
  • Physical evidence consists of actual objects or things – for example, if the employee had incorrectly assembled a set of components, this might be shown as physical evidence.
  • Testimony takes the form of statements from witnesses who have observed what the employee has done or failed to do.
  • Hearsay evidence is information that has been reported to you by a third party.

If possible, try to find documentary or physical evidence, as this is much harder to dispute. Testimony is personal, it is more likely to be subjective or open to interpretation and therefore can be more easily challenged. Use of hearsay evidence should be avoided. If a third party’s evidence cannot be presented as testimony by a witness, you must observe the employee whose behaviour is causing concern and gather additional documentary, physical or testimonial evidence.

Uses Of Evidence

If you believe that you have to put yourself and your employee through an awkward and stressful event to effectively confront poor performance, you should tear down that perception of the process and reimagine it. The simple fact is that managing poor employee performance should not be a huge event; it should be quick and relatively pain free, for both the manager and the employee, and something that’s done incrementally at the first sign of any deviation in ‘expected’ behaviour. When poor performance goes unaddressed for long periods of time, as too often it does, it can become a major problem and manifest itself into a situation that can blow out of control.

Here are some of the ways evidence can be collected against a non-performer:

1. Performance Problems

Performance problems are normally manifested by errors, and can usually be proven by producing documentary or physical evidence. Before meeting the employee, gather copies of:

  • paperwork or records illustrating what the employee did wrongly or failed to do
  • productivity or accuracy targets or standards that the employee is expected to achieve
  • any relevant performance agreements reached previously with the employee
  • records relating to the impact of the error, for example, customer complaints or evidence of additional costs incurred as a result of the error
  • details of dates, times, places and other people involved

2. Evidence of Misconduct

Evidence relating to misconduct such as bullying or theft can be more difficult to collect, since the spectrum of behaviours that could constitute misconduct is so wide. Furthermore, people often fall into the trap of disregarding minor misdemeanours in the hope that they will not be repeated. Often, however, they do recur, frequently with greater intensity than before since they were left unchallenged in the first place.

It is far easier and more effective to address problem behaviour sooner rather than later. The evidence you gather will clearly depend on the nature of the misconduct, but might take the form of:

  • documentary evidence of errors (at this stage, it may not be apparent whether an error is the result of a performance or a conduct problem) or falsified records, for example timesheets, expense forms or target achievement records
  • testimony, or witnesses’ observations, but you must remain cautious that such observations are personal and therefore may be subjective, so you should back them up wherever possible with documentary evidence as detailed above

3. Attendance Records

Attendance records are normally easily collected; the challenge in dealing with poor attendance lies in interpreting the records. Where an employee displays a pattern of unauthorised absence (for example, sick days that always precede or follow other scheduled time off such as weekends or holidays) you should be alerted to this as a possible problem. Keep a diary of employees’ absence periods; including sickness and holidays. Attendance problems may also take the form of poor timekeeping. As with absence problems, it is good practice to maintain a diary; then, when discussing the problem with the employee, you will be able to be precise about dates and times.

pexels-photo.jpgThe Poor Performance Meeting

Depending on the severity of the problem, you may choose to hold an informal meeting, or a formal meeting. The quality of evidence that you collect should be just as strong for informal meetings as for formal ones. However, under statutory requirements, please note that written copies of any evidence should be given to the employee before any formal meeting.

Confronting Poor Performance

The Fortune Group identifies six rules a manager should observe when confronting a poor performing employee:

  1. NEVER CONFRONT IN ANGER: do not let this become an emotional situation. Do whatever you need to do to get your emotions in check before confronting; maybe walk around the block, count to ten or have a coffee.
  2. DO IT IMMEDIATELY: take however long you need to get your emotions together, but as soon as you’ve done that, confront the poor performing employee without delay. Failure to confront immediately is what causes so much angst around the idea of confronting poor performance. When you let inappropriate actions continue unaddressed for too long before confronting them, the situation can get out of control. When managers consistently confront immediately, at the first sign of a deviation in behaviour, the process of managing poor performance becomes painless – and potentially even gratifying!
  3. DO IT IN PRIVATE: this doesn’t automatically mean going into your office and shutting the door, just don’t do it within earshot of other staff. You don’t need to turn it into a big event. In fact, confronting poor performance can be done quite casually, for example, at the water cooler or while getting a coffee or even walking down the corridor. Many times, taking the employee into your office and closing the door can create a tense atmosphere – the same tension that has given such a stigma to the process of managing poor performance – before saying a word.
  4. BE SPECIFIC: use evidence and factual information to state your case and focus on behaviour. When you bring hearsay or impressions into the conversation, you can find yourself squabbling over details, no matter how big or small.
  5. USE DATA: just as you should be specific with factual information, support your assertions with data whenever possible. In the process of confronting, tell them what they have done, how you feel about their actions (concerned, disappointed, angry) and why you feel that way. It’s not unusual to feel anger, you can be human! If you’re emotionally invested in your business you’ll feel angry, and you have a right to feel angry….you just don’t have the right to act out that anger!
  6. BE CLEAR: do not confuse people by watering down the fact that this is a reprimand. Because they feel uncomfortable, managers will often end a confrontation with something like, “….but overall, you’ve really been doing a great job.” The problem is people choose to hear what they want to hear, so employees latch onto such comments and leave the meeting thinking they just got praised. So don’t confront and praise in the same interaction.

Collecting evidence is a vital part of addressing performance, conduct or attendance problems. Without evidence, any attempt to tackle problem behaviour will be based on allegations and opinion and could, therefore, be too easily disputed by the employee in question. While the nature, amount and quality of the evidence needed will depend on the problem and its extent, the data that you collect will help you to illustrate the problem to the employee and will provide you with a platform from which to plan and execute an appropriate performance improvement programme.

I hate being found wanting in the way I work and conduct myself. I honestly pride myself in having a track record of achieving objectives through high level interpersonal skills, outstanding organizational skills, meticulous planning and effective delivery of tasks. Are you?

So folks, DON’T EVER be found falling short of expectation.

As of old: Be EMPOWERED and EXCEL.