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!

BRILLIANT IDEAS ON WRITING An ARGUMENTATIVE ESSAY For AP ENGLISH LANGUAGE COMPOSITION PAPER

The ADVANCED PLACEMENT ENGLISH LANGUAGE & COMPOSITION paper requires the candidate to write three types of essays. This paper tests the candidate’s reading and writing skills; and as such, examiners and teachers agree that top scores are awarded to those students who can confidently analyse how authors of non-fiction prose use various techniques to convey meaning and create effects. In addition, the students have to write three well organized and insightful essays, each with a different purpose.

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These THREE types of essays fall under:

  • Synthesis Essay
  • Argumentative Essay
  • Analytical Essay

ARGUMENTATIVE ESSAY

The AP English Language & Composition argument essay question can ask you to do any of the following:

  1. Defend, challenge, or qualify a quotation about, or particular take on, a specific topic
  2. Evaluate the pros and cons of an argument and then indicate why you find one position more persuasive than another
  3. Take a position of whatever debatable statement is provided in the prompt

If you choose to defend what the text argues, you will give reasons that support the argument given. If you choose to challenge what the text argues, your reasoning will contradict the argument. If you choose to qualify what the text argues, you will agree with parts of the statement and disagree with others. Or, you might agree with the statement, but only under certain circumstances.

The “pros and cons” essay is similar to the “qualify” essay in that you must give reasons both supporting and contradicting the statement. You must then evaluate why one side is more convincing. The “position” essay requires that you establish a specific position in response to the statement in your thesis and support it.

What is an argument?

  • Simply put, an argument is an opinion (claim) supported by evidence.

Evidence can take on different forms depending on the nature of the argument, the purpose of the argument, and the needs of the audience.

  • Something that is argumentative is not and does not necessarily have to attempt to persuade. An argument is simply an opinion supported by evidence; persuasion involves moving people to act.

Although an argument doesn’t have to persuade people, an argument can implicitly be persuasive.

Unlike the other two essays you will be asked to write, this essay does not provide any text other than the prompt. Instead, your thesis is supported by your own reading, observations, and experiences. In other words, this essay’s only support is you; what you “know” is the textual support. This essay can be difficult, as the question, regardless of what it is, presupposes that you have knowledge about the topic under discussion. The more you’ve learned about the world around you, and the more opinions you have formulated about it, the better.

An argument is composed of three different elements:

  • The Speaker: the person/persona delivering the message
  • The Purpose: the topic + the reason for delivering the argument
  • The Audience: both specific (the specific group that is listening to/reading the argument) and general (the more generalized group of people the speaker is trying to reach)

The analysis of the relationship(s) between the three elements of an argument is called RHETORICAL ANALYSIS. Rhetoric, simply, is “the art of arguing effectively”.

Arguments can be found in different forms: written texts, spoken orations, visual media. In one way or another, EVERYTHING is an argument.

The Rhetorical Triangle

Logos (evidence based on logic, facts, and truths; the truths can be universally accepted or proven facts or can be based on ideas or concept true for a specific group of people):

  • Note the claims the author makes, the exigence (‘a gap, a need, a lack, something that needs doing’; why the argument exists)
  • Note the data (evidence) the author provides in support of the claims
  • Note the conclusions an author draws

Ethos (believability of the speaker; credibility and trustworthiness, both according to the speaker himself and the qualifications to deliver the argument):

  • Note how the author establishes a persona (the adopted perspective/character a speaker or author uses to deliver an argument)
  • Note how the author establishes credibility (not only in what he/she says, but also how he/she says it, and also nonverbally)
  • Note any revelation of the author’s credentials or personal history

Pathos (evidence designed to stir the emotions of the audience; language or syntax designed to make the audience more receptive to or engaged in the speaker/writer’s message):

  • Note the primary audience of the text
    • Note the emotional appeals the author makes
    • Note the author’s expectations of the audience

Argument and the Appeals

A successful argument will use all three of the rhetorical appeals and use them appropriately for the subject/purpose of the argument and the audience.

Consider how you could use the rhetorical appeals in the following situations:

  • You are trying to convince your school’s administration to increase funding for technology in the school.
    • Logos? Pathos? Ethos?
    • You are trying to convince a group of your peers not to smoke cigarettes.
      • Logos? Pathos? Ethos?
    • You are trying to convince a group of first-grade students not to smoke cigarettes.
      • Logos? Pathos? Ethos?

When you are reading a nonfiction text, note the language the author uses to appeal to logos, pathos, and ethos.

The rhetorical appeals will inform and influence every aspect of the text (organization, imagery, word choice, syntax, etc.)

Argument and the AP Test

On the AP test, you will be tasked with writing an argumentative essay. Typically, you will be given either a quotation or a short passage that presents a claim. You will be asked to do one of the following tasks:

  • Defend, challenge, or qualify (the assertion)
  • Take a position and support it with appropriate evidence
  • Discuss the pros and cons and then take a position
  • Discuss both sides of a controversy and then propose a resolution

No matter what the prompt for the AP test asks you to do, you must support your assertions with specific, relevant evidence:

  • Current Events/Politics
  • History
  • Personal Experience/Observations-Anecdotal Evidence
  • Science
  • Sports
  • Literature (but make sure that you ‘bridge the gap’ between the fictional nature of literature and the issues raised in your essay)
  • Pop Culture (but make sure that it’s relevant and profound)
  • Movies (but make sure that it’s relevant and profound and, if the movie is not a documentary, you ‘bridge the gap’ between the fictional nature of the movie and the issues raised in your essay)

As always, the thesis for these essay prompts must be specific and focused. Avoid merely restating what the prompt states. Instead, make the prompt your own by articulating a specific argument.

The order of the presentation can be varied, and any rhetorical strategies can be employed, but you must make certain that your support/evidence is appropriate and effective. Your support should be rational and logical, not emotional; it should be objective rather than biased

How do I argue a point or position?

  1. WORK THE PROMPT – Carefully read and deconstruct the prompt. A successful essay will depend on your thorough understanding of what is expected of you. Underline key ideas, concepts, etc. Pay attention to SOAPS where that information is provided.
  2. INTRODUCTION: Present the issue/situation/problem. State your assertion/claim/thesis.
  3. BODY PARAGRAPHS: Support your claim drawing on all that you know about the subject: What will you use as evidence to support your position? CONSIDER these: Facts/statistics, details, quotations, anecdotes, cause and effect, appeal to authority and Remember readings, entertainment/arts, history, universal truths, government, and observations are all forms of evidence. Your goal is to sound well read, educated, and reasoned.
  4. ACKNOWLEDGE and respond to REAL or POSSIBLE OPPOSING views.
  5. CONCLUSION: Make your final comment or summary of the evidence, extending it to the “real world.” What will my final remarks be? Leave the reader with a sense of completion, and reinforce your thesis.

Be EMPOWERED and EXCEL

BEST NETWORKING IDEAS IN THIS DAY AND AGE

Networking lets you put your best face forward. Just put yourself out there and good things happen.

What is Networking?

It is the action or process of interacting with others to exchange information and develop professional or social contacts.

It is creating a group of acquaintances and associates and keeping it active through regular communication for mutual benefit. Networking is based on the question “How can I help?” and not with “What can I get?”

Networking involves building and maintaining contacts and relationships with other people. The personal networks which you accumulate over time, both socially and professionally can be an invaluable resource. This applies whether you are an entrepreneur looking to start and grow your own new venture, whether you are looking for a job, or working on a project where external ideas and input can help. For entrepreneurs, a contact made at a purely social event may ultimately help to provide you with one of the key ingredients for the start of the business.

What Does Networking Mean In Business?

Networking is a socioeconomic business activity by which businesspeople and entrepreneurs meet to form business relationships and to recognize, create, or act upon business opportunities, share information and seek potential partners for ventures.

It is important to be good at networking if you really want to move ahead in today’s competitive business world

Different Types Of Networks

There are a range of different types of networks from which you can draw:

The social network – Your own personal network of contacts made informally through social or non-business activities. These contacts may comprise family, friends, former work colleagues, contacts made through university, etc.

The professional network – Contacts made through business activities including accountants, lawyers and so on.

Artificial networks – The networks set up within business communities which are open to new members, trade associations, professional institutions, etc. Here some examples of general sites where you can network with other people: LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter

Top Networking Skills You Should Have (And How to Improve Them)

Networking skills—like communication, active listening and social skills—are extremely valuable to have in both professional and personal environments and are particularly coveted by employers, as all successful businesses depend on networking. This said, it is not enough to simply have great networking skills. You also need to know how to market them in a resume.

In this article, we discuss what networking skills are, share examples of networking skills and offer advice for how you can improve your networking skills. We also offer recommendations for how you can highlight these skills during the interviewing process.

Is Networking A Skill?

Networking is possibly one of the most important skills for entrepreneurs and is one which you have the opportunity to practice on.

Networking involves building and maintaining contacts and relationships with other people.

What Are Networking Skills?

Networking skills are the competencies you need to have to maintain professional or social contacts. Networking is a critical skill in sales, business development and a number of other industries. Networking skills are necessary to make and develop relationships with new contacts and promote something of value.

Important Networking Skills To Have

No matter what profession you’re in, networking is the fuel that accelerates success. Not only is it useful for learning directly from individuals you meet, but the benefits of association and growing your own authority are just as powerful. Whilst many of us aren’t sure where to start, what to say when we connect with someone or how to maintain that relationship; what is important is .

There are different skills that you can practice to become more effective at networking. They include:

Communication, Active Listening, Social Skills, Public Speaking Skills, Nonverbal Communication, Interpersonal Skills, Empathy, Positivity, Humor, and Focus.

COMMUNICATION is the act of exchanging information from one person to another. It involves speaking and empathizing with others to correctly receive the message that the other person is sending and responding accordingly. When networking, communication is essential in order to develop and maintain relationships with others.

ACTIVE LISTENING – Another important networking skill is active listening. To get people excited about your business and what you’re sharing with them, you need to listen to and understand their needs. Active listening involves maintaining eye contact, nodding your head to show you understand what they’re saying and responding appropriately. Active listening also ensures you’re able to ask the right questions to keep a conversation moving forward.

SOCIAL SKILLS – These are the verbal and nonverbal skills that you use to interact with others. They include not only words but also gestures, body language and your personal appearance. It also includes friendliness, which conveys honesty and kindness. That, in turn, can create trust and understanding, which can build a strong foundation for a new relationship when you’re networking.

PUBLIC SPEAKING SKILLS – Public speaking skills can help you be more comfortable if you find yourself talking to a group of people, particularly at a networking event. Even when you’re just speaking with another person, one-on-one, public speaking skills can help you improve the way you articulate, helping the person you’re speaking with better understand you.

NONVERBAL COMMUNICATION – Nonverbal communication is extremely important when networking. It’s important to be aware of your own body language and any messages you may be sending the person with whom you’re speaking. It’s also beneficial to be able to read the body language of the person with whom you’re speaking. This can tell you if you need to change the way you’re expressing your message or alter something else in your communication style.

INTERPERSONAL SKILLS – These are often referred to as “people skills” and they impact the way you communicate and interact with others. They include a variety of skills, but particularly skills like communicating, attitude and listening.

EMPATHY – Empathy refers to the ability to feel what another person is feeling. Empathy skills are important for networking, as they make others feel that you understand and can relate to their emotions and experiences.

POSITIVITY – A positive attitude is another important networking skill, as others are drawn to those with a friendly, positive demeanor. Positivity can help you develop a strong rapport with others quickly and, in general, help you to be more instantly likable and memorable.

HUMOR – Humor is humanizing and helps people come together on common ground. When used appropriately, humor can draw people to you and eliminate tension, putting people immediately at ease. People with humor also tend to be more approachable.

FOCUS – Focus is also an important networking skill, as it enables you to give the person with whom you’re speaking your full attention. It will help you be an active listener and allow you to better establish a genuine connection.

How To Improve Your Networking Skills

Here are some steps you can take to improve your networking skills:

1. Look Inside You – Take a close look at the network and resources that you already have in place. Don’t overlook the hidden potential that is all around you. Creating new opportunities from pre-existing ones is the most elemental of networking skills.

2. Practice improving communication habits – Improve your networking skills by practicing good communication habits. Maintain eye contact when you’re speaking with someone and nod your head in understanding or agreement. Use simple, straightforward language, ask questions and invite opinions. Pay attention to the body language of the person with whom you’re speaking to ensure they understand and confirm whether they agree or disagree.

3. Ask friends for constructive feedback – Consider asking friends how you’re coming across in conversation. Understanding where you can improve can help you improve your communication style, which can have a big impact on your networking skills.

4. Attend networking events – One of the best ways you can improve your networking skills is to practice them regularly. Attend networking events and focus on building a genuine human connection with the people you meet. Ask questions that show you’re genuinely interested in getting to know the person you’re speaking with and listen closely to the answer while maintaining eye contact. Respond with relevant questions to show you were listening. Focus on the quality of the relationships you’re having rather than the quantity.

5. Communicating Your Message is a means of gaining credibility that is best accomplished through substance, not style. Listening and asking questions helps you build rapport and trust. Practice your communications until you feel confident that your message will come across as genuine and unscripted.

6. Make A Follow-Up – No matter which method you choose, follow up is crucial to your networking effort. Follow up turns a casual contact made at a meeting, party, or event into a potential long-term relationship.

In the end, networking is all about building relationships that are honest, sincere, and of value to both parties. As you work to stay in touch, try to develop relationships that benefit the other party as much as they do you. Build relationships for the long term.

7. Be Nice to Everyone You Meet – I had a boss once who used to say “the very same person that you develop conflict with may be the one you need for support later on down the line.” You never know? Don’t burn any bridges and do your best to find a happy medium when faced with a difficult situation. Look for the win-win. You may not necessarily agree with everyone but you can agree to disagree and move on.

8. Appearance and Grooming – “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” How well you maintain your personal hygiene and how you dress for the occasion speaks volumes without saying one word. You don’t want to be the one that feels out of place. Inquire

9. Introducing Yourself & Your Elevator Speech – Create a working Bio of yourself and memorize it. Who knows you better than you. Be prepared to tell your story on short notice. Your introduction should include your full name. Your elevator speech should include concise information that can be shared in roughly forty-five seconds to one minute. Thank the person for their time when the discussion ends.

10. Be Nice to Everyone You Meet – I had a boss once who used to say “the very same person that you develop conflict with may be the one you need for support later on down the line.” You never know? Don’t burn any bridges and do your best to find a happy medium when faced with a difficult situation. Look for the win-win. You may not necessarily agree with everyone but you can agree to disagree and move on.

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Practical Approach To Attending Business Meetings

It is important that you broaden your range to build new contacts and for this you will need to develop and hone some good networking skills. You may have attended events in the past and wondered how some individuals seem to effectively ‘work the room’ and talk to large numbers of people and swap business cards – with practice this is not so difficult to achieve!

Top tips To Broaden Your Contacts

One of the most important tip is having a one-minute ‘elevator pitch’ about your business idea or a tag line about yourself (a few words you can say after your name by way of introduction). Being able to articulate your business opportunity in a short space of time is essential and many of our programmes involve sessions on pitching your ideas.

  1. Check the delegate/attendees list beforehand and decide who you particularly want to speak to and what you want to talk to them about.
  2. Have a one-minute ‘elevator pitch’ ready to describe your distinctive competence. Practice doing this well before the event – you will avoid hiccups on the day. If you feel awkward, go with someone who is not and ask them to help you.
  3. Arrive early and check the name tags to see who else has arrived.
  4. Avoid spending too much time at the bar or in dead areas where it is hard to move onto another person you want to talk to if you get bored.
  5. If you do feel trapped, find someone else that the person you are with might enjoy speaking to.
  6. Ask others to introduce you to the people you want to meet.
  7. Get drinks for people who are having a good conversation.

REMEMBER . . . Quality Over Quantity

Many people think that networking means meeting as many people as possible. That’s not so. Making a few meaningful connections is often better than working an entire room. If you can have three or four deeper conversations, then you and the people you meet will be more likely to remember the interaction.

So, to conclude . . .

Cultivate Your “Power” Contacts

As much as many people may not like to hear it, “All contacts are equal, but some are more equal than others.”

You’re going to come across people who become power contacts as you become more connected with those in your industry. These people will be the ones who are constantly introducing you to new/interesting contacts, referring you to others for more work, and just generally pushing your business forward.

You don’t need to know the most people, just the right people.

Be EMPOWERED and EXCEL!

EFFORTLESS WAYS ON HOW PRAISE AND RECOGNITION CAN CHANGE ATTITUDE @ Home, Work and School

“A brave man acknowledges the strength of others.” ― Veronica Roth

“Beware of those who criticize you when you deserve some praise for an achievement, for it is they who secretly desire to be worshiped.” ― Suzy Kassem,

“You can always tell when someone deserves the praise and recognition they receive, because it humbles them rather than inflating their ego.”Ashly Lorenzana

“Always treat your employees exactly as you want them to treat your best customers.” – Stephen R. Covey

“In the arena of human life, the honors and rewards fall to those who show their good qualities in action.”– Aristotle

The above quotes are illustrative of how we realise the power and influence of praise and recognition in our day to day living. Through motivating others, be it individuals or team members, offering praise and recognition for a job well done can be an extremely powerful tool in changing dynamics at work, school or home.

Network Monitoring AccountFIRST, here’s a fun exercise:

  • Think of your current line manager – On a scale of one to ten (one being the worst) rate their skills of recognizing, praising and rewarding hard work and achievement.
  • Now rate yourself: How well do you recognize and praise your students; employees, colleagues or your own children?

Certainly, that exercise might not have been quite as fun.

Why do we need praise?

There is no secret on how being praised often makes people feel good. Human aspects of pride, pleasure and increased feelings of self-esteem are all common reactions to being paid a compliment or receiving positive feedback, be it from colleagues, senior management OR even from our students!

It seems praise aims at fulfilling two important functions:

  1. Praise is the number one tool available to you to release energy and motivation in your people.
  2. Praise educates the people around you regarding what you like about their approach and encourages them to do more of it.

This is because being praised triggers the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that mediates pleasure in the brain. It is released during pleasurable situations and stimulates one to seek out the pleasurable activity or occupation. It helps in controlling the reward and pleasure centres of the brain. As well as making us feel good, dopamine can also contribute to innovative thinking and creative problem-solving at work.

Time To Grow UpThese positive effects, however, are relatively short-lived, and for praise to have an enduring impact on employees, students or children’s engagement, it needs to be offered regularly. A senior employee at famous performance management consultancy, the Gallup Organisation hinted that “recognition is a short-term need that has to be satisfied on an ongoing basis”. Furthermore, in another Gallup research, it reported that employees who report that they are not adequately recognised at work are three times more likely to say they will leave in the following year.

The impact of praise

Psychologists and researchers have long been fascinated by the effects of praise on workplace performance and behaviour, and what this means for organisations. In a survey of more than four million employees about the importance of praise and recognition conducted by Gallup Organisation the results were fascinating:

  • employees who receive regular praise are more productive, engaged and more likely to stay with their organisation than those who do not.
  • employees who are praised receive higher loyalty and satisfaction scores from customers.
  • employees who are recognized for their efforts even enjoy better health than employees who are not.

 Delivering praise

There is a great deal of empirical evidence suggesting how praising employees at work can be beneficial. However, the most important aspect in which the praise is delivered has a significant bearing on its effectiveness. Research points out that only genuine achievements should be praised, and that empty words have little or no value.

Indeed, it is alleged that ‘unearned praise can do more harm to an individual and a workgroup than none at all’. It not only prevents employees from knowing when they need to improve, but it can diminish the impact of the genuine praise that is offered at other times.

Similarly, students or children who are praised for being inherently ‘good’ at something are less likely to take on new challenges than those who are praised for their approach to the task. When it comes to praising students or children, Carol Dweck, a psycholgist’s advice is to ‘focus on the processes they used – their strategies, effort or choices’.

cropped-learning.pngResearch highlights the value of constructive feedback; where managers should be specific about which aspects of their team members’ performance have particularly impressed them and why.

There’s little doubt that praising and recognising the efforts and achievements of others can bring about some very positive results in the workplace. Being praised makes the recipient

  • feel good about themselves
  • help to boost their performance
  • experience an ‘uplift’ that can increase employee’s morale, motivation and engagement
  • renew their commitment to their manager and the organisation.

For praise to have this kind of impact, however, it needs to be delivered effectively.

Only genuine achievements should be praised, and managers should ensure their feedback is constructive and specific.

Seeking Recognition

Recognition is being seen to be good or bad in some act. It can be either positive or negative. Effective recognition has the following characteristics:

  • It is positive in nature
  • It is immediately connected to performance
  • It is specific about what is being praised
  • It is close to the action

We want and cherish praise and recognition in determining the values of our school or organization. Thus, in today’s world, praise and recognition are communication vehicles for that which is deemed important. The top tips below are tried and tested techniques to praise and recognition.

pexels-photo-886465.jpegTIPS IN GIVING PRAISE AND RECOGNITION

  1. Never WAIT!

The more time that passes between great performance and recognition, the lower the impact of that recognition. Immediately is never too soon.

  1. Credit where credit’s due

It’s no secret that both giving and receiving praise makes us feel good: we’re psychologically wired to function in a receive-give and give-receive kind of environment. When we feel a sense of pride and satisfaction in what we’ve achieved, our brain releases the hormone dopamine, immediately awakening the reward and pleasure areas of our brain

  1. Be specific

Generic praise is nice but specific praise is wonderful. Don’t just tell an employee you did a good job; tell them how they did a good job. Not only will they appreciate the gesture, but will also know you pay attention to what they do.

The added impetus is that they will know exactly what to do the next time in a similar situation.Never Stop

4. Be genuine

Never praise for the sake of praising. It will become obvious to everyone if it is “forced” and will lessen the impact when you really do mean what you say: the real praise and recognition.

5. Save constructive feedback for later

Many of our bosses, albeit inherently, toss in a little feedback while praising a colleague or employee. They will say “how great you did . . . but next time you might want to consider . . .” Oh! No! It just leaves a sour taste to the praise as “. . . all I hear is what I should do next time.”

Advice: Praise and recognize now! It is better to save performance improvement opportunities later.

6. Go hunting

Are you one of those bosses who are conditioned to spending time looking for issues or problems to correct and resolve? If so, it will do you a lot of good by just spending a little time trying to catch colleagues or employees doing good things, too.

7. Be surprising at some point

Birthday presents are nice, but unexpected gifts make an even bigger impact. Unexpected recognition is always more powerful, too. Winning “Employee of the Week” is nice, but receiving a surprise visit from the owner because you won back a lost client is awesome.

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8. Strike a balance

It is much easier to recognize some of your best employees because they are consistently doing great things. However, finding ways to spread the positive vibe around is golden.

Whilst it is going to be hard to find reasons to recognize some of the less than stellar employees, the fact that they are there means they are part of the team. By giving just a little encouragement may be all a poor or average performer needs to turn the productivity corner.

9. Create a CULTURE

By making praise and recognition something you measure, may at first sound cheesy and forced, but the more it is done, the quicker it will be embraced.

The ripple effect to it is that peer pressure and natural competitiveness are promoted. Employees become happy to assist and accomplish things worthy of praise so as to report great stuff to the boss or fellow colleagues.

10. Treat employees like snowflakes

We all respond differently to praise and recognition. There are many of us who may appreciate public praise but, then equally so, there are those among us, who just want a quiet word. Some of us cringe when made the centre of attraction.

Surely, knowing your employees, students or children and tailoring your recognition so it produces the greatest impact for each individual is a bonus.

Exper ExperienceAnd remember:

Dear Boss, just remember that:

Recognizing our effort and achievement is self-reinforcing. When you do a better job of recognizing us, we tend to perform better. We will come to work happy, ready and eager to perform because we know we are a TEAM as Together Everyone Achieves More.

So dear folks, praise and recognition are essential building blocks of a great workplace. We all possess the need to be recognized as individuals and to feel a sense of accomplishment. There is nothing complicated about recognition, but it is one of the items that consistently receives the lowest ratings from our bosses.

Let me hope that, that room for improvement, is now. Let us start with our little ones and build it up from there.

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Good luck in all your endeavours.

BE EMPOWERED and EXCEL

INCREDIBLE WAYS TO HELP OUR STUDENTS & CHILDREN APPRECIATE THE VALUE OF WORK

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Are We Losing our Societal Norms About Work?

Work is something which is becoming less and less appreciated among our dear folks. Parents seem to think it is their duty to give their children everything they possibly can. Really, is that fine?

In this article, I am looking at:

  • Tips for Teaching About Work
  • Work Experience – A Case Study For Schools?

Some parents try to compensate for the time they spend at work rather than in the home by spoiling their children with material things. The effects of these actions on both parents and children are negative and are becoming a real problem.

If you have been handed everything all your life, consider some of the following points and maybe you can make some good changes in your life now which will affect the rest of your life.

I guess every parent has a good job teaching children the value of work and the value of their contribution. That being said, sometimes it is like pulling teeth to get our children to consistently do their weekly chores. So, lest you think our family is perfect, we struggle sometimes with getting them to complete their homework, or at times even finding their room in a mess.

Have we lost the opportunity to teach children in a real way, the value of working hard?

Tips for Teaching About Work

While we hope our children learn the intrinsic value of work, many of us struggle with that concept. What would we do with our time if we were independently wealthy? Many would not work much! So, we have to be creative and set an example for our children to follow as:

  • Work is honourable.
  • It is good therapy for most problems.
  • It is the antidote for worry.
  • It is the equalizer for deficiency of native endowment.
  • Work makes it possible for the average to approach genius. What we may lack in aptitude, we can make up for it in performance.

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Communicate About Work – Child psychologists recommend that parents share their experiences with work outside the home and talk about the personal benefits of working well. Parents would be well advised to talk about their successes at work and the personal satisfaction of performing well. When you get a raise or a bonus, talk about it with your children. Let them know there are internal and external rewards for a job well done.

Give Responsibility and Rewards – Teaching our students and our children to be successful in their delegated maintenance responsibilities is a bonus. When given duties and responsibilities over something, demonstrate it to them or even coach and clarify certain concepts to them on how to do it. Eventually, with some coaching and working side by side to allow a mentoring experience, OUR students and children will learn the value of responsibility and reward. Whether it is cutting the lawn, doing the dishes, the vacuuming or a cleaning their room, or cleaning their classroom, children need to learn responsibility and work first hand.

Teaching One on One – Most parents learn that the best way of teaching work is to work alongside our students and children. Too often, we put the chore chart up on the wall and move into our own projects without proper coaching and mentoring. Taking the time to work through projects and responsibilities together is the best teaching mode.

Personal Satisfaction. When we teach our children to invest their time and energy into something that requires hard work, it offers them a personal satisfaction they can only gain from experiencing work first hand.

Focus on Balance – Parents who have indulged their children and not yet taught much about work need to be careful in changing that mode. Just as “all play” children are a challenge, so are “all work” kids. The key is striking balance. Don’t go overboard in either direction.

Parents certainly have the responsibility for providing the basic necessities of life for their children, and many would argue that parents also have a responsibility to provide what joy in life they can for their children, but our students or children will never be fully able to appreciate the sacrifices their teachers and parents have made for them until they learn to work themselves.

Self-Denial – Teaching hard work also helps teach our children to think outside themselves and their own personal comfort all the time. Life is not about constantly playing and living a comfortable, leisurely life. In fact, the rewards of rest and recreation are far greater when work is included in a child’s day to day life.

Helping Your Child Get The Best Out Of School – For any work or task done, try to give encouragement and show appreciation of your child’s achievements, whether great or small, as this can help boost their confidence. Teach them basic organisation and time management skills so they are not overwhelmed with projects or homework.

Please check out my article on realising the benefits of potential in our children entitled:

Realising Your Full Potential – Stephen Covey’s The Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People

Be realistic and avoid putting your child under pressure by having over-high expectations. Let your child develop at their own pace, but if you do have concerns, please speak to them or seek professional advice.

Feedback and Criticism – Try to give feedback rather than criticism, eg: saying ‘that didn’t seem to work’ rather than ‘you got it wrong’. This helps them think about where they went wrong and how they can improve in future, rather than just feeling like a failure.

Work Ethic When we start our children young, we instill in them a strong work ethic. When we teach our children to work hard and do their work well, it will carry over as they become adults and get a job. Unfortunately, excellent work ethic is something that is sorely lacking today. Teach your child how to stand out as “All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.” (Proverbs 14:23)

Benefits of work – Poverty is financial, but it’s also much more than that. A body that doesn’t work and exercise itself becomes unhealthy, unfit, and naturally bent towards laziness.

…a child left to himself shames his mother ~ (Proverbs 29:15)

As parents, when we think about responsibility and our roles as parents, there comes with it the reality of duty. Duty is not a dirty word. Duty is recognizing we have an obligation we are expected to uphold, whether we feel like it or not.

God has given us our children to care for, teach, nurture, discipline, and disciple. Are we all doing our duties?

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Work Experience – A Case Study For Schools?

Many schools across the globe are lacking in this development and concept about work experience. However, in UK schools, for instance, they have a statutory requirement and guidance for a period of work experience, or a more extended work placement for students. They have a core part of programmes for all post-16 students (from Grade 10/Year 10/Form 3) to Grade 13/Year 13/Form 6) whether following an academic or a technical curriculum to support them in developing their work readiness.

Alongside the guidance, the government also expects schools to offer high quality work experience as well as encouraging them to engage fully with their local employer and professional community. Schools have a Work Experience Coordinator, coordinating teams of students to help make arrangements for work.

The duration, timing and content of work experience placements always vary markedly between schools and by the student’s programme of study. Generally work placements range between 8 – 12 days with internships going for a month.

Work experience placements are understood to serve multiple purposes for our students, including:

  • experience of the world of work,
  • employability skills development and
  • experience in helping guide their future career decision-making.

The importance of experiencing the world of work and the need for students to develop and apply skills learnt during study programmes are essential. Once students have been placed with an employer, schools typically support students and monitor their progress through telephone calls and face-to-face visits.

Time To Grow Up

In my twelve years teaching in London, the impact of work-related activities were extremely beneficial to our students. We identified multiple benefits of work-related activities, with soft employability skills like communication and interpersonal skills; and increased confidence being the most beneficiaries among our students.

When our students and children are learning the values of work, both intrinsic and extrinsic, we will be instilling in them a life-long lesson. If you haven’t started yet, you need to start now.

Try it, dear folks, and the benefits will be astounding.

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!!