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.

group hand fist bump

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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.

FUN AND EFFECTIVE WAYS OF LEARNING VOCABULARY @ HIGH SCHOOL 1

I have three related posts on this interesting topic:

SOME researched comments on how VOCABULARY affects comprehension include:

  • Vocabulary knowledge is directly related to comprehension.
  • Increased vocabulary instruction increases comprehension more than any other intervention.
  • Fluent word recognition affects comprehension.

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.

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Gathering Words – Tried and Tested Method

When I was growing up I expanded my vocabulary through collecting relevant and useful words. Here are some ways that have worked for me:

  • First, find ways to expose yourself to new words: read and listen to a variety of books, articles, television programs, and videos (see if you can find the spelling of the new word from the subtitles, if need be).
  • Next, you will record the new words that you discover. Write down new words as you hear or read them — use a notebook or flash cards to collect vocabulary.
  • Later, when you have time, look up your new words in a dictionary.
  • Write the definition and an example sentence in your notebook or flash cards. Also, as you read textbooks and class materials, pay attention to words that are used often or that are important for understanding concepts in your program.
  • You will want to take time to learn these words.

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.

How Do We Learn Vocabulary?

The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it. – Michelangelo

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.

Moving Words From Short-Term To Long-Term Memory

When you first hear or read a new word, it enters your short-term memory. Short-term memory can only hold new words for a brief period, usually seconds. To move the new word to long-term memory, you will need to ENCODE, STORE, and RETRIEVE the word.

1) When you ENCODE, you give meaning to the information. As you study vocabulary, you will learn the different meanings the word can have. You may also compare the English word to similar words in other languages you know.

2) To STORE the material, you will use strategies to review the word’s meaning. Regular review and repetition is important for learning new words.

3) When you use a new vocabulary word when speaking or writing, you RETRIEVE it. This creates strong knowledge of the word in your long-term memory.

Kuverenga

19 EASY WAYS TO INCREASE YOUR VOCABULARY

Set A Specific Goal

Learning new words requires a commitment. Since you’re less likely to hear sophisticated vocabulary in daily conversation, take matters into your own hands and teach yourself new words. Set a goal such as, “I’ll learn one new word each day” or “I’ll try one suggestion on this handout every day during semester break or summer.”

Spend 15 Minutes Every day Reading

As you read a novel, newspaper or a weekly newsmagazine, circle unfamiliar words. When you finish the article, return to these words and use context clues to try to determine meaning. Then look the words up in a dictionary, comparing your definition with the actual definition. Add each word, its definition, and its sentence in a vocabulary notebook or onto a web site like http://www.quizlet.com for later review.

 Use Quizlet To Review The New Words You Learn

Go to http://www.quizlet.com and enter your words. The program will generate quizzes and games custom-made for your word list.

Do Crossword Puzzles And Other Word Puzzles

Although some crossword-puzzle words are obscure or seldom used, some words will increase your vocabulary. And the information in crossword puzzles may increase your background knowledge.

Write, Look, Cover, Repeat (WLCR)

This is the ultimate classic. For me, vocabulary learning has always been a notebook and a pen. The physical motion of writing something down is very useful as it satisfies the needs of haptic learners. Take a pad, draw a vertical line in the middle and write the word on one side in your native/source language and on the other side in your target language. Memorise the list, then cover one side and tick off all that you remember. Then repeat.

“Use A Word 3 Times And It’s Yours!”

It’s that simple. If you don’t make an effort to use new words you learn, you’re likely to forget them.

Using words make them a permanent part of your vocabulary. You know common words like “cow,” “walk” and “pleasant” because you have been doing FOUR things:

  1. You’ve heard them frequently.
  2. You’ve read them frequently.
  3. They may have been taught to you.
  4. You’ve used them many times in your speech and your writing.

If you don’t routinely hear or read words like “catalyst,” “disparage” or “aberration,” use them at least three times in your writing or your speech. Gradually they will become a part of your vocabulary and ultimately you will surprise yourself and many others within your circle.

Study Linguistics

Many words are made up of parts of other words. So this one requires a bit of study, but it will make your vocabulary learning the smartest it has ever been. Become familiar with prefixes and suffixes, word roots and common sources of target language words.

In short, this means BREAK LONG WORDS INTO PARTS. If you can remember the meaning of prefixes (e.g. con-, anti-, pre-) and suffixes (e.g. -ly, -able), it will be easier to predict the meaning of new words you encounter.

Use Index Cards (4 X 6) To Make Vocabulary Flash Cards.

As you try the suggestions here, don’t just read about a new word or look it up in a dictionary. Make a vocabulary flash card. On one side of an index card, write the new word, its part of speech, and its phonetic spelling including Greek or Latin word parts and on the other side, write its definition and any related word parts.

Carry these cards with you to review. Before you write papers, flip through your cards. This increases your chance of being able to use one or two of these words in your writing.

Read, Read and More Reading

The more you read, the more you learn. You will pick up new words without even realizing it when you read. Reading lets you see how words are used in sentences, and lets you understand them through context clues.

  • SAT Word List: There are even some books that are meant to teach vocabulary. These are usually written for students studying for the SATs, but they make a great tool for anyone who wants to learn English because they have definitions of many of the words right there in the book.
  • COMICS: If the SAT text is too difficult for your English level, you can try reading comic books instead. Comics have a lot of dialogue, and their text is in smaller, easier to understand parts. Superman, Batman, and the other well-known heroes are full of words for you to learn. If you don’t like superheroes, there are many other options out there, like Calvin and Hobbes or even Garfield.

Thus, it’s important to read a variety of materials. The more you expose yourself to new words, the more words you will learn.

Use Your Senses As You Learn

Associate vocabulary with pictures or gestures. This will help you recall the new words better than writing or speaking alone. Using more than one of your senses as you learn new words promotes the development of a strong word network in the brain. This helps you retrieve new words when you write or speak.

Learn New Words In Context

Use example sentences as you gather words. Try making up a funny story with new vocabulary.

As you create and use a vocabulary learning system, you will grow in your ability to understand what you hear and read. You will be able to communicate your thoughts clearly and precisely.

Related Words

If you just learned the word “care”, don’t stop there! Use a dictionary or the internet to find derivatives of that word, and expressions that use it.

For example: careful, carefree, careless, take care! See? You started with one word but quickly learned four more, and because their meaning is related, it is easier to understand and remember what each one means.

Use Context Clues

ALWAYS try to determine the meanings of words and don’t skip over unfamiliar words. Try to determine meaning by analyzing unfamiliar words and the sentences surrounding them. Careful analysis can often give you a pretty good idea of what the word means. Mark the word with a pencil.

When you finish reading, look up the word in a dictionary to see if you were close. Although context clues may not always be present, looking for them can sharpen your comprehension.

Mnemonics

These are ways to help us remember things better.

A great online resource for mnemonics is the mnemonicdictionary.com; you can type in the words you want to remember and you will see many different ways to help you memorize.

Use Vocabulary Web Sites

There are some websites with a “Word of the Day,” which may be useful for increasing your vocabulary:

These web sites have a “Word of the Day” feature. Subscribe and a new word will be sent to your e-mail address every day. This is an easy way to build your vocabulary:

Make Sentences

Making sentences helps us put everything we have learned into action: so you have learned a new word and you understand when to use it. But for the brain to remember this word in the future, the best way to memorize is by using it. Try to make sentences that use different meanings of the word you want to learn or, if it is a verb, with different tenses.

Use Specific Vocabulary Lists

Instead of studying a long list of unrelated words, use specific vocabulary lists that will help you learn the kind of vocabulary you need for your work or school.

Record Yourself

By hearing your own voice say the words out loud and feeling your mouth move, you are making even more connections in your brain.

So, use a camera, your phone or your webcam to record yourself practicing your new vocabulary words and using them in the sentences you made.

LASTLY, Dear Reader . . .

Repeat, REPEAT and REPEAT yourself 

An old English saying: “repetition is the key to success” is applicable here. To learn anything you must repeat, repeat, repeat. So every day, set aside some time to study vocabulary. It doesn’t matter how you do it, but it is important that you practice a little daily. This will create a good habit.

Good luck in all your endeavours.

As of old: Be EMPOWERED and EXCEL

Thanks for reading this article on English@HighSchool, the English Learning Blog. If you are feeling stuck right now, why not subscribe to English@HighSchool, and send me an email.

MYSTERY SHORT STORIES – WRITING ACTIVITIES FOR HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS – 2

HIGH SCHOOL is a key point in a student’s education because of the importance it carries in terms of writing skills. Writing is a big part of every High School student’s life. In fact, students write more than ever before – from school research papers to essays on standardized tests to texting their friends. Yet, writing problems abound.

In my second instalment on Writing Activities For High School Students, I am going to explore the Mystery/Detective Writing. My first instalment was on REALISTIC FICTIONWriting Activities For High School Students – 1

girl writing on a black keyboard

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This mystery genre is a type of fiction in which a detective, or other professional, solves a crime or series of crimes. It can take the form of a novel or short story. The purpose of a mystery novel is to solve a puzzle and to create a feeling of resolution with the audience.

The Sherlock Holmes and Agatha Christie novels and many other short stories/novels are excellent examples of mystery genres.

Genre: Mystery Short Stories

Task: Read and annotate three or four short mysteries.

Directions: Read 3-4 short story mysteries from one or more of the following:

While you read and annotate:

  • Identify the mystery to be solved. What could be possible motives or opportunities for the incident to have occurred?
  • How does the setting affect the story? Does it add to the suspense or create opportunities for multiple locations for events to happen?
  • Watch for clues –which can be something that a character does, says, or an object that is found. Some authors use foreshadowing or flashback techniques to provide clues. When you think something may be a clue, ask yourself if it gives information about a suspicious character, or answers “why” something would happen.
  • What perspective is the author writing from? Does it have multiple perspectives?
  • Consider the purpose of the story: To engage in and enjoy solving a puzzle.
  • Explore moral satisfaction (or dissatisfaction) at resolution. Consider human condition and how to solve or avoid human problems.

What Are The Key Elements Of A Mystery?

There are five components to explore: the characters, the setting, the plot, the problem, and the solution. These essential elements keep the story running smoothly and allow the clues to the solution of the mystery to be revealed in a logical way that the reader can follow.

In 1928, the novelist S.S. Van Dine, wrote a much-acclaimed article called Twenty Rules for Writing Detective Stories. Among the lot, Van Dine outlined the key issues which must be apparent in any short story mystery:

  1. The detective story is a sporting event and the author must play fair with the reader.
  2. The reader must have equal opportunity with the detective for solving the mystery. All clues must be plainly stated and described.
  3. The detective should never turn out to be the culprit.
  4. The culprit must be discovered by logical deduction, not by accident or coincidence or unmotivated confession.
  5. The detective story should never contain no long descriptive passages.

I am going to explore some of these in some detail.

guy fawkes mask

Ingredients For A Mystery

When cooking up a mystery, authors use this tasty recipe.

 CHARACTERS: Detective or mystery fiction follows the solving of a crime, so we usually see the story through the eyes of the detective. This means that the writer has to make the detective’s character interesting and appealing to the reader. Other characters include:

  • Suspects: Characters believed to have possibly committed the crime
  • Witnesses: Characters who saw the crime being committed

SETTING: This is the location where the mystery takes place. Decide where your story will take place. A mystery can take place anywhere, but here are some ideas: a school, an amusement park, a field, your house, an airport, the mall, or the library. Don’t forget to include the time the crime was committed in the setting of your story.

PLOT: When reading a mystery, the story is usually linear including one of the following:

  • A problem that needs to be solved.
  • An event that cannot be explained.
  • A secret.
  • Something that is lost or missing.
  • A crime that has been committed.

CLUES: Clues are hints that can help the reader and the detective solve the mystery. They can be things people say or do, or objects that are found that provide important information. (Go back to your mystery readings and check if the mystery you read had clues.)

RED HERRINGS: These are distractions or false clues that may lead the reader or the detective off track. Red herrings often make it more difficult to solve a mystery. (Go back to your mystery readings and check if the mystery you read had a red herring.)

 BUILDING DESCRIPTIONSAccording to Van Dine’s rules, detective fiction “should contain no long descriptive passages.” Although description is not as important as plot in this genre, it is still needed to build a picture, to build tension and to engage the reader in the story.

 RECIPE FOR A MYSTERY: How to write a mystery

Most mysteries are set up the same way. The structure of a mystery usually looks like this:

BEGINNING: Characters are introduced and the reader learns about the problem. In detective stories, openings are quite interesting and should contain two keys elements. Firstly, you must introduce a character or situation which the reader wants to find out more about; and secondly, include details to intrigue the reader and make them want to find out what happens next.

REMEMBER: The more questions you make your reader want to ask, the more you will intrigue them.

Some Story Starters may include . . . .

  1. My hair stood on end, a shiver raced down my spine and a lump came to my throat. It was him…
  2. The gravestones stood silently, row upon row like soldiers long forgotten, a scream shattered the silence…
  3. It was there and then it had gone, why would a rabbit be on my bathroom floor?
  4. Bleary-eyed, I went downstairs for breakfast, the house was empty, even the furniture had gone…
  5. The lights flickered and then went off, then the sirens started, it was coming, and we knew it wouldn’t be the last time…
  6. The date was 13th July, my 45th birthday… it would be my last…
  7. Three of us.  We were the only ones left, the only ones to make it to the island.

MIDDLE: Detectives work to solve the mystery by interviewing suspects and gathering clues. Tension is created through the situations in which the writer places the characters, and the dialogue they are given.

END: The mystery is solved

WatchPlanning A Story

Planning is the most important stage in any piece of writing. With planning you will produce a text that will hold a reader’s attention and interest. Without planning, you will produce a text that starts, goes on for a while and then stops.

LASTLY, just remember to have a checklist of some sort: The ingredients for the detective genre must include

  • A setting: time and place
  • Some suspects
  • A murder and a victim
  • Some witnesses
  • A detective
  • Some clues and some red herrings
  • A resolution

Good luck in your endeavours.

Be EMPOWERED and EXCEL

WRITING YOUR CV: THE COMMON MISTAKES, BLOOPERS & HOWLERS WE MAKE

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Life will never ever be the same again after this lockdown. As a result . . .

High school students will soon be on the job market. Some, after work experience in the summer, will get a weekend job while others will have to spruce up their curriculum vitaes (CVs) waiting for the next job opportunity.

However, many jobseekers are ruling themselves out before they even get called for an interview with a string of mistakes, bloopers and howlers on their CVs, which can easily be avoided.

So don’t be found wanting when you do your CV no matter what type of opportunity you are seeking.

Here are some of the common mistakes, bloopers and howlers you need to avoid on your CV:

1. INCLUDING IRRELEVANT PERSONAL INFORMATIONRecruiters are inundated with CVs for every job available so it is normal for them to spend just ten seconds looking at CVs. So don’t clog up your CV with irrelevant information that’s not going to help your application – and may cause recruiters to miss the really juicy contents. This means unless it’s directly relevant to the position you’re applying for, leave out details like your religion, political preferences, height, weight and the story about the time you met one of the celebrities.

2. POOR SPELLING And GRAMMARThere are no excuses for spelling mistakes – even if English isn’t your forte. An error-free CV is vital in showcasing your precision and attention to detail, so check everything – even your contact details. Spellcheck and proofread your CV yourself before asking others to cast their critical eye checking it over for you.

Consider these sentences – Can you identify where the errors are?

  • I am a prooficient typist.
  • Socially I like to dine out with different backgrounds.
  • I left last four jobs only because the managers were completely unreasonable.
  • I have excellent typong skills.
  • While working in this role, I had intercourse with a variety of people.

Thus, it is essential to minimise the risk of making mistakes by taking your time – never leave writing your CV to the last minute. Rushed examples are easily spotted and quickly dismissed.

‘Careless errors are rarely tolerated. So, avoid needless rejection by slowly and meticulously checking over your CV.’

Having good written English is a skill that most employers look for, so make sure that you don’t do what one candidate did and write your entire CV in abbreviated text language throughout.

3. USING ONE VERSION Of YOUR CVIf you have just one version of your CV that you are using to make multiple applications, the chances are that this is not working for you. Every job description is different – address the person specification succinctly – so you need to focus and target your CV each time you make an application.

Some recruitment experts believe that spending quality time on fewer applications is generally more effective that the scatter-gun approach. This also means . . .

4. FAILING TO TAILOR Your APPLICATIONWhen it comes to CVs, one size doesn’t fit all. Everything that you include must be completely tailored to the company and role that you’re applying for. This actually makes it easy for the recruiter to see that you’re the perfect candidate for the job.

By looking closely at the job description or person specification helps you in sensing whether you’ve sufficiently assessed the job requirements. Through evaluating which of your skills match the job specification most effectively will give you the best chance of success.

‘Don’t be afraid to remove irrelevant experiences, even if you’re applying for similar roles with different organisations, check their specific requirements and tweak your CV accordingly.’

5. Info Graphics And Overly Designed CVsKeep your CV format clean and clutter free. Use a sensible amount of white space and don’t cram too much into a small space.

Your CV will not get noticed more because you’ve coloured it purple and made the headings exceptionally large. Don’t use graphics to self-certify your skills, employers don’t buy that. Also, graphics aren’t easy to read so they are likely to be entirely missed by initial filters.

6. POOR FORMATTING And UNNECESSARILY ELABORATE DESIGNCVs that aren’t clear and easy to read are a huge turn-off for employers. Research shows that recruiters spend an average of just about ten seconds reviewing each CV that they receive – which leaves you precious little time to make a good first impression.

These days, the chances are your CV is going to be judged on a screen. So don’t take the opportunity to play with fancy fonts and colours – stick to typefaces that are screen friendly (like Ariel, Times New Roman or Verdana) and use a font size of 10 or 12 for body copy, and slightly larger for subheadings. If you’re sending it as an attachment, use Word and avoid backgrounds and ornate borders. Let your experiences and achievements be the star.

Before printing or submitting your CV, save it and spend some time away from it. Going back to it for a second time to scrutinise how everything looks on your computer screen is a good advice.

 Thus, cluttered, disorganised and messy are three characteristics that your CV shouldn’t possess.

7. LYING Or MANIPULATION Of The TruthWhen you’re trying to get a foot in the door and impress potential employers, it’s tempting to be economical with the truth, because who’s going to check, right?

Wrong! The facts on your CV are easy to corroborate so never assume that recruiters won’t make enquiries to do so.

Giving yourself a grade boost, fibbing about your current job title or embellishing a period of work experience won’t do you any favours in the long run. At best, your lies will be obvious and your CV will be rejected out of hand. At worst, you may be invited for an interview where you’ll either trip yourself up or be asked questions that you’re unable to answer.

While your CV should absolutely be the best, shiny version of you and your experiences, making up qualifications, experiences or achievements will invalidate any of your real, hard won successes. Recruiters are on the lookout for anything that seems out of place, including salaries and job titles (and are often expert at spotting them), so be honest and ensure that you give your real attributes a fair chance of getting you the job you want.

Instead of using your time and energy to concoct half-truths and complete fabrications, use it instead to really sell the qualifications, skills and experience you do have.

8. Lack Of EvidenceIt’s easy to make generic, empty statements on your CV when you’re trying to meet a tight application deadline. However, failing to effectively evidence your skills, achievements and experiences can be a fatal mistake.

Always try to quantify your successes whenever possible – but never at the expense of the CV’s readability. Recruiters will be assessing not just what you’ve done, but also your written communication skills so writing concisely but meaningfully is crucial, as this is a central element of many jobs.

9. Not Explaining ‘Why’It isn’t enough to just state your credentials; you need to prove them by justifying why you’ve chosen to undertake certain activities in terms of your personal and professional development. You should then elaborate even further on the resulting skills you’ve gained.

As for High School students, discussing your extra-curricular activities is very important providing you pay particular attention to any positions of responsibility you’ve held and outline what you’ve taken from the experience.Ever Tried

As a general rule, okay CVs give you the ‘what’ – for example, the degrees or jobs that person has held. However, great CVs also give you the ‘why’ – for example, why that person has chosen that degree or society.

10. Copied And Pasted Job DescriptionsThis is a big no, no! A CV is a personal document and should provide evidence of what you have done, your own individual achievements. It’s not simply about reciting a list of job responsibilities. Think about it, if every ‘customer service assistant’ copied and pasted their job description into their CV how would an employer ever choose whom to interview?

11. Ignoring Gaps In Your Work HistoryGaps in employment history are fairly common and rarely a problem as long as they’re explained.

You don’t need to worry about gaps of a couple of weeks but if you’ve been out of work for months (or even years) you need to clearly and concisely explain why. Any unexplained absences of this length will be looked upon with suspicion by potential employers and will give the impression that you’ve been idle during this time.

Don’t be afraid to let recruiters know that you took some time out to volunteer, look after a sick relative or travel the world. There’s also no shame in informing employers of a period spent away from work due to illness or redundancy or . . .

12. Mysterious Gaps In EmploymentIf for any reason you’ve taken a break for employment – whether it’s for travel, study, volunteering, redundancy or simply to care for your child – explain it. If you don’t, recruiter may jump to their own, less flattering conclusions and pass your CV over without a second thought.

13. A Meaningless IntroductionIf you include an introduction in your CV, make sure it’s to the point, and accurately sums up the key qualities the recruiter is looking for. Avoid meaningless phrases like ‘dynamic, results-oriented, driven, personable team player’ and instead clearly outline your key qualification for the role. For example, ‘Part time sales manager with 16 years’ experience in the commercial sector’. If a recruiter looks at one thing on your CV, it could well be your introduction so ensure it tells them as much as possible.

14. Being Too VagueUsing phrases like ‘several’, ‘a few’ and ‘numerous’ can come across as too vague on a CV. So if you spent three years working on a project, say so. Or if you exceeded a sales target, include how much it was by. And if you say you delivered more than a client was expecting, briefly explain how. If you’re too vague it can seem like at best you’re exaggerating, at worst, making something up completely.writing-notes-idea-conference.jpg

15. Including ReferencesYou’ve little enough space on your CV to ensure you are able to portray yourself as the full package, so don’t waste any with lengthy references. Most recruiters don’t expect them, and a simple note saying ‘References available on request’ is enough. If a job advert specifically requests references, you can include them on a separate sheet.

16. Hiding Important InformationJust as you need to declutter your CV by leaving out anything irrelevant, it’s vital to highlight the key points that may help swing an interview for a particular job. So think about the design of your CV and ways you can bring important details to the fore, for example by putting key achievements in bullet points or bolding your previous job titles.

Finally note that . . .

We all make mistakes. That’s just part of being human. The important thing is that we learn from them. If you have been firing off your CV and getting no response, it may be time to reflect and ask yourself why? Just go through the list of common mistakes, bloopers and howlers on CVs, which you can easily avoid. Correct yourself and see what you can achieve.

In one of my forthcoming instalments, I am going to look at the format of a good CV. In other words, what do I have to include in my CV, or what topics or sub-topics do I have to address?

Until then, good luck in all your endeavours.

As of old: Be EMPOWERED and EXCEL.

 

 

REALISTIC FICTION – WRITING ACTIVITIES @ HOME DURING ISOLATION FOR HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS 1

HIGH SCHOOL is a key point in a student’s education because of the importance it carries in terms of writing skills. Writing is a big part of every High School student’s life. In fact, students write more than ever before – from school research papers to essays on standardized tests to texting their friends. Yet, writing problems abound.

IN the next few weeks, I am going to be exploring different writing genres of interest at High School. First, establish your areas of weakness here so that you work on improving yourself and your writing repertoire. The direction-tasks are on a day to day basis so don’t tire yourself but take it in small chunks.

The first genre to start me off is Realistic Fiction/Non-Fiction.

Realistic Fiction/Non-Fiction writing is a type of narrative that engages the reader and tells a story. It has believable and interesting characters.

A good story should hook the reader from the beginning to the end and leave them feeling like they have been on a journey. Thus, in a narrative the key ingredients are WORDS and the recipe is STRUCTURE.

pexels-photo-256417.jpegNarrative Perspective (Point Of View)

The narrative perspective is concerned with the relationship between the person telling the story (the narrator) and the agents referred to by the story teller (the characters).

There are six types of narrative perspectives with each mode of narration defined by two things: the distance of the narrator from the story (the pronoun case) and how much the narrator reveals about the thoughts and feelings of the characters (narrative access). These are:

First-person – the narrator is usually the protagonist or central character in the story who will be telling the story from “I’s” perspective.

Second-person – “you” are the agent, such as in this example: you walked down the stairs.

Third-person objective – the narrator tells the story of another person or group of people with frequent use of “he, she, them, they, him, her, his, her, and their.” The narrator may be far removed from or not involved in the story, or he or she may be a supporting character supplying narration for a hero.

Third-person limited –  the narrator’s perspective is limited to the internal workings of one character.  In other words, the narrator reveals the thoughts and feelings of one character through explicit narration.

The Omniscient – this is the narrator written in third person, knows the feelings and thoughts of every character in the story.

Third-person omniscient – the narrator grants readers the most access to characters’ thoughts and feelings revealing more than one character’s internal workings.

Working on the two stories below, establish the narrative perspective of each by answering these two questions:

  • What is the narrative perspective?
  • How do you know?
  1. To Kill a Mocking Bird by Harper Lee

We lived on the main residential street in town—Atticus, Jem and I, plus Calpurnia our cook.  Jem and I found our father satisfactory: he played with us, read to us, and treated us with courteous detachment… Our mother died when I was two, so I never felt her absence.  She was a Graham from Montgomery; Atticus met her when he was first elected to the state legislature.

  1. Alice’s adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, John Tenniel

Alice was beginning to get very tired of sitting by her sister on the bank, and of having nothing to do: once or twice she had peeped into the book her sister was reading, but it had no pictures or conversations in it, “and what is the use of a book,” thought Alice, “without pictures or conversations?”  So she was considering, in her own mind whether the pleasure of making a daisy-chain would be worth the trouble of getting up and picking the daisies, when suddenly a White Rabbit with pink eyes ran close by her. 

The Five Part Plan is essential in writing a narrative. It begins with an exciting opening; before the main character is faced with a major problem made worse by further complications. Then action builds to a crisis nearing the end of the story before the events are resolved. So, a short story must have a . . .

    1. Gripping opening [describe a powerful setting; introduce the protagonist; grab the reader’s attention; build mood/atmosphere]
    2. Introduce a problem – [start in medias res; realistic/intriguing story; establish a context]
    3. Complication – the series of struggles (conflicts and complications) that builds a story towards its climax.
    4. Crisis – [climax; must be exciting, thrilling and enthralling]
    5. Resolution – [happy, tragic, an unexpected twist]

20190802_121452Genre: Realistic Fiction

REMEMBER that realistic fiction stories are imagined experiences, but they could happen in the real world.

Task: Reading Realistic Fiction

Day 1 Directions: Two Texts To Read

Choose at least two texts to read from the following short stories:

  • “Let it Go” by Ebony Harry (student author)

http://www.merlynspen.org/stuff/contentmgr/files/88003b704cbacc11ca8ebb0f68d3d87e/read/let_go.pdf

  • “Patella” by Joe Hasley (student author)

http://www.merlynspen.org/stuff/contentmgr/files/af65ac2d4d2e07246ea41b0e3b3cd4de/read/6.3.ss.5.pdf

After you have finished each story, write a short response that assesses how well the author crafted the story following these:

  • How the plot is developed. Plot is the action or sequence of events in a literary work. It is a series of related events that build upon one another.
  • How well the author develops the characters?
  • Is there any exposition provided? This is the introduction that presents the background information to help readers understand the situation of the story.
  • how the author uses language to engage the reader, or represents characters in a realistic way.
  • Cite evidence from the text to support your assessment.

 Day 2 Directions: Read Additional Stories

Choose an additional text to read from the following short stories:

“Charlie” by Shirley Jackson

“Fish Summer” by Michael Lim (student author)

For an audio recording of this story:

WHILE YOU READ:

  • Pay close attention to the characters’ words, thoughts, and actions.
  • Think about how particular details reveal important information about the characters, such as their traits, beliefs, and perspectives as well as how characters change throughout a story.
  • Take closer look at the author’s specific word choice and think about how it influences the tone of the story. For example, is the tone humorous, sarcastic, serious, etc.?
  • From each story establish the rising action in the series of struggles (conflicts and complications) that builds it towards its climax. The conflicts and complications within a story are what creates the rising action.
  • Think about the range of conflicts pursued. A conflict is the struggle between two opposing forces or characters in a story that triggers action. Conflict can be internal – one that takes place within an individual (an inner battle of conscience, eg: Man vs. Self) or external – an individual’s struggle against something outside of themselves, eg: man vs. man (or group of people); man vs. society; man vs. nature/animal.
  • For each story you read, be sure you can identify its theme. Think about how the author develops this theme through the characters, setting, plot and other story elements.

Day 3 Directions: Writing Your Short Story

Write a short story about a character close to your age. Today, brainstorm, make a plot diagram, and draft your story.

In short, a narrative composition does these:

  • Tells a story.
  • Uses specific details.
  • Is not a mere listing of events- it has characters, setting, conflict, and resolution.
  • Time and place are usually established.
  • Is usually chronologically organized.
  • It can have dialogue.

Beginning a story “In Medias Res”

In Medias Res is Latin and means “in the middle of things.” It is a widely used literary term for a novel or story that cuts out that quiet initial period when nothing much is happening and begins when the action is already underway.

Often, exposition is bypassed and filled in gradually, either through dialogue, flashbacks or description of past events.

Beginning in medias res effectively flips the steps around…

  1. You begin with the “something happening”
  2. Next, you backtrack to show how things were.
  3. Finally, you pick up the chronology again as the central character decides to act on their goal.

OTHER WAYS of starting your story can be through . . .

  1. Starting with action or dialogue.
  2. Asking a question or set of questions.
  3. Describing the setting so readers can imagine it.
  4. Giving background information that will interest readers.
  5. Introducing yourself to readers in a surprising way.

WHILE YOU WRITE, remember:

  • Realistic fiction stories are imagined experiences, but they could happen in the real world.
  • To generate ideas for your piece, brainstorm a list of challenges or conflicts someone your age might face. You might consider focusing on challenges related to school.
  • Choose one conflict and create a plan for your story. Be sure your conflict is manageable for a short text.
  • You may choose to organize the events by using a story map or storyboard.

You can also refer to the stories provided for Day 1 as models for how to structure your short story.

As you plan, think about how you will create scenes that build tension in your story, including:

  • Introducing your main character and what he/she wants.
  • Revealing the conflict by having the character face a bit of trouble.
  • Building the tension as the character encounters a little more trouble.
  • Writing a climax where the character faces really big trouble and either gets his/her wants fulfilled or not.
  • Ending the story with a resolution that explains how the events impact the character’s life/ Ending the story with a twist – an unexpected outcome.
  • As you write, be sure to use dialogue, description, reflection and action to develop the story.

Day 4 Directions: Revise & Finalize

In editing your story, I want you to focus on these three key issues:

  1. EDIT SPaG – Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar.
  2. Look at how you constructed sentences and your word choice.
  3. Is there organization or supporting ideas?

Once again, Dear Student, practice will always make it better.

Be EMPOWERED and EXCEL

COMMON WRITING MISTAKES MADE BY STUDENTS @ HIGH SCHOOL & HOW TO OVERCOME THEM

HIGH SCHOOL is a key point in a student’s education because of the importance it carries in terms of writing skills. Writing is a big part of every High School student’s life. In fact, students write more than ever before – from school research papers to essays on standardized tests to texting their friends. Yet, writing problems abound.

According to the latest US-based results of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), only 24% of twelfth-graders are at or above the proficient level in writing and only 3% write at an advanced level.

While these results are disappointing, the overall effect on student achievement is a larger concern: writing problems can greatly hinder college and career success. The good news is that with hard work, patience, and targeted help, High School writing problems can be overcome.

It is crucial to develop competent writing skills for the future, but students often encounter challenges in terms of writing. In order to help them, parents need to understand these challenges and learn the best way to face them in order to help their children.

IMPROVING students’ writing skills help them succeed inside and outside the classroom. Effective writing is a vital component of students’ literacy achievement, and writing is a critical communication tool for students to convey thoughts and opinions, describe ideas and events, and analyze information. Indeed, writing is a life-long skill that plays a key role in post-secondary success across academic and vocational disciplines. So, firstly …

HS Teacher and StudentWhat is Proficient High School Writing?

By understanding High School writing proficiency standards, parents can be more effective in helping their children meet grade-level expectations. At the proficient level or above, High School students are able to plan, draft, and complete error-free essays.

High School students should know how to select the appropriate form of writing for various audiences and purposes, including narrative, expository, persuasive, descriptive, business, and literary forms. Any type of essay writing!

Students in all grades should exhibit an increasing facility with . . .

  • complex sentence structures,
  • more sophisticated vocabulary,
  • and an evolving individual writing style.

When revising selected drafts, students are expected to improve the development of a central theme, the logical organization of content, and the creation of meaningful relationships among ideas.

In addition, students must edit their essays for the correct use of Standard English.

What Does Your Writing Look Like?

How much do you relate to these three questions:

  1. Do you make errors in SPaG – Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar?
  2. Do you have poorly constructed sentences and unsuitable word choices?
  3. Is there a lack of organization or supporting ideas in your essays?

These three questions are relatable. Writing at High School is a complex intellectual task involving many component skills, some of which students may lack completely, or others may have only partially mastered by the time they leave High School. The few good to excellent ones do so by harnessing various skills chief among which, are overcoming certain challenges.

These certain writing mechanics which High School students need to master before moving on to paragraphs and then essays include:

  • Correctly identifying the parts of a sentence.
  • Understanding complex sentences.
  • Learning subject-verb agreement.
  • Differentiating between plural and possessive nouns.
  • Using pronouns, adjectives and adverbs in sentences.
  • Identifying and spelling words that often confuse writers.
  • Correctly using commas, semicolons, and other punctuation.
  • Proofreading their writing for errors.

Writing has now become a huge part of every student’s life, starting with the simplest content to the most complex writing pieces. At this point, students are asked to craft different types of essays, research papers and other kinds of creative writing tasks.

The reason for this increase in variety of papers lies in the importance writing carries in students’ lives during and after their education. Writing is a skill students will need for the future, which is why it is crucial to develop it to the proper level.

HS Two Girls22 Common Writing Mistakes & Overcoming Them

It’s not a secret that errors in Grammar and Punctuation are one of the main reasons why people lose their marks in academic papers. This is a great problem for many High School students who may use wrong words, confuse prepositions and conjunctions, miss auxiliary verb or simply are not familiar with punctuation rules.

A number of High School students need to master skills involving, among other things:

1. READING COMPREHENSION AND ANALYTICAL SKILLS

Reading comprehension is not an innate and largely fixed mental ability related to levels of intelligence, but a series of skills that have to be mastered for effective understanding and analysis to take place.

To improve your COMPREHENSIVE SKILLS you should:

  • Understand the author’s thoughts
  • Understand diction, mood and tone.
  • Reflect on the meaning of the words and sentences.
  • Read and reread.

Complicating matters is the fact that many students’ reading skills are also poor. For example, if they cannot recognize the main point of an argument in their reading, they obviously cannot respond to this point in their writing. In addition, students often lack the meta-cognitive skills (planning, monitoring, and assessing one’s understanding and performance) to recognize the areas in which their prior knowledge and skills are insufficient – and thus, which skills they need to work to improve on.

To improve your ANALYTICAL SKILLS you should . . .

  • Identify a topic, problem or issue.
  • Gather information.
  • Play complicated brain games.
  • Join a book or debate club.
  • Think multiple sides to a problem.
  • Read extensively.

A key element to analytical thinking is the ability to quickly identify cause and effect relationships. This means understanding what might happen during the problem-solving process, for example, and examining how new ideas relate to the original topic.

Most analytical thinking requires trial and error. Students with strong analytical thinking skills are often capable of quickly analyzing a situation, topic or problem, and often work well in a team setting to accomplish goals.

2. ERRORS IN WRITING SKILLS

There are many mistakes that students are faced with, chief among which, include:

    • Writing mechanics: grammar, sentence structure, spelling.
    • Planning a writing strategy.
    • Communicating ideas clearly and concisely.
    • Constructing a reasoned, demonstrable argument.
    • Effectively marshaling evidence and using sources appropriately.
    • Organizing ideas effectively.

When students lack skills in these areas, their writing may be unsatisfactory in multiple ways – from poor grammar and syntax to unclear organization to weak reasoning and arguments.

Unfortunately, the majority of students still fail to develop their writing skills even after finishing High School. The reasons for this are numerous, including insufficient word stock and writing mechanics. Even the most talented students need to learn how to understand complex sentences, differentiate between different nouns, use proper punctuation and proofread their writing for errors.

3. SENTENCE FRAGMENTS

A sentence fragment is a sentence that’s missing a subject (the thing doing the action) or a verb (the action). Watch out for this in your writing!

  • Example: Going to the football game this afternoon.
  • Solution: I am going to the football game this afternoon.

4. OMITTING THE ARTICLE

Many languages do not use articles (a, an, the), so, some students tend to miss them in their writing. Articles (a, an, the) are determiners or noun markers that function to specify if the noun is general or specific in its reference.

  • The articles a and an are indefinite articles. They are used with a singular countable noun when the noun referred to is nonspecific or generic.
  • The article the is a definite article. It is used to show specific reference and can be used with both singular and plural nouns and with both countable and uncountable nouns.

5. RUN-ON SENTENCES

A coordinating conjunction connects two clauses that could be sentences on their own.

You can use the acronym FANBOYS to remember the most common coordinating conjunctions: for, and, nor, but, or, yet, and so. Unless the clauses are very short and closely related, you need a comma before the conjunction. If you forget to put a comma before the conjunction, it becomes a run-on sentence. What is wrong with these sentences?

  • My dog barks at the mailman but she’s too lazy to chase him.
  • I enjoy going to the movies first I have to finish my homework.

Solution: Check to see if the clauses before and after the conjunction could be sentences on their own. If so, insert a comma before the conjunction. Now, notice where the comma has been placed:

  • My dog barks at the mailman, but she’s too lazy to chase him.
  • I enjoy going to the movies, but first, I have to finish my homework.

6. LACK OF SUBJECT-VERB AGREEMENT

Singular subjects take singular verbs and plural subjects take plural verbs. Identify the mistakes in these sentences:

  • Michael study at the library every day.
  • She drive every day.

Here is the correct way to write these sentences:

  • Michael studies at the library every day.
  • She drives every day.

7. SQUINTING MODIFIERS

Modifiers are words, phrases, or clauses that add description to sentences. A squinting modifier is a word, phrase, or clause that could modify the word before it or the word after it; however, making unclear which one. Identify the error below:

  • Students who study rarely get bad grades.

A squinting modifier can usually be corrected by changing its position in the sentence. The solution is to put the modifier next to the word it should modify. For example:

  • Students who rarely study get bad grades. OR: Students who study get bad grades rarely.

Other common errors within the class of modifiers include:  dangling modifiers, which describe something that is not in the sentence, and misplaced modifier which describes something in your sentence that is not what you intended it to.

Modifiers tend to be descriptive words, such as adjectives and adverbs and must clearly show the word, usually noun being modified. Always watch for their correct use!

8. NO COMMAS AROUND INTERRUPTERS

Interrupters are little thoughts in the middle of a thought, added to show emotion, tone or emphasis providing additional detail.. Thus, when we use an interrupter in the middle of a sentence, it should be emphasized with commas. Always remember to put commas around interrupters.

  • WRONG: It was unfortunately the end of winter vacation.
  • CORRECT: It was, unfortunately, the end of winter vacation.

9. SPELLING MISTAKES

Many spelling mistakes occur when incorrect homophones (words with the same pronunciation, such as “right,” “rite,” and “write”) are used in a sentence. I have a whole lot of homophones here:

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

Correct these sentences:

  • Watch you’re words!
  • Spell-check may not sea words that are miss used because they are spelled rite!

The correct way for these sentences are:

  • Watch your words!
  • Spell check may not see words that are misused because they are spelled right!

10. WORDINESS

This occurs when a writer, either intentionally or unintentionally, uses far too many words or unnecessarily complex or abstract words. Wordiness can seriously detract from the coherency and quality of your writing and will likely frustrate your readers.

Good writing is simple and direct; it uses the simplest word possible that conveys the same meaning. Wordiness takes away from this clarity.

A sentence is wordy if it uses more words than necessary to convey meaning. Wordiness often makes writing unclear.

  • Shona ended up having to walk all the way home due to the fact that she missed the last train leaving Central Station.

SOLUTION: Identify long phrases that can be replaced with a single word. Try to . . .

  • Eliminate words that have the same meaning.
  • Eliminate weak words, such as “basically” and “sort of.”
  • Eliminate nonessential information.

The above sentence, can, thus be corrected as . . .

  • Shona walked home because she missed the last train.

11. LEXICAL DIFFICULTIES

This is closely related to WORDINESS but here the problem is with the use of conjunctions/transitions or simply using words as sign-posts.. Proper linking words and phrases is actually not that simple for many people, but quite essential for High School students who have to write essays, reports, articles, etc. Each of these papers requires linking one idea/argument to another and developing coherence within a paragraph.

Here is a comprehensive list of transitions for you to apply to your writing:

HINTS ON WRITING A GOOD TO EXCELLENT ESSAY IN ENGLISH @ HIGH SCHOOL

12. INCORRECT NOUN PLURALS

The vast majority of nouns in the English language are made plural by adding an “s” or “es” to the end of the word. For example, book, apple, house, table, cat, and boss are just some of the many words that become plural with the simple addition of an “s” or “es” – books, apples, houses, tables, cats, and bosses, respectively.

However, certain nouns have irregular plurals that do not behave in this standard way. And, even though most irregular plural nouns follow a pattern, there are several different patterns to watch out for:

Noncount nouns (also called collective nouns) have no plural form because they are assumed to be plural. Most abstract nouns are noncount nouns. Some examples are: hair, grass , or mud.

  • There are many different styles of hair.
  • There are several varieties of grass.
  • There are three different kinds of mud.

Unchanging Nouns – Certain other nouns have the same singular and plural form. A large number of animals happen to follow this rule. These examples will be spelled the same: deer, fish, bison, moose, shrimp, or elk.

13. UNABLE TO WRITE A THESIS STATEMENT

One of the core problems students have with writing is that they are not able to write a clear, understandable and strong thesis statement.

AWESOME WAYS TO RAISE YOUR GRADE IN ENGLISH @ HIGH SCHOOL – 3

You may come across a similar problem while writing the essay. However, if you do some practice and check ideas of thesis statements on the web, then it will be easy for you to come up with a well-defined and quality thesis statement.

14. PARAGRAPH FOCUS

A paragraph is a collection of related sentences dealing with a single topic. Learning to write good paragraphs will help you as a writer stay on track during your drafting and revision stages. Good paragraphing also greatly assists your readers in following a piece of writing.

You can have fantastic ideas, but if those ideas aren’t presented in an organized fashion, you will lose your readers (and fail to achieve your goals in writing).

The basic rule of thumb with paragraphing is to keep one idea to one paragraph. If you begin to transition into a new idea, it belongs in a new paragraph.

15. TEXT STRUCTURE

Very closely related to the thesis statement is text structure. All High School essays/compositions have a certain structure which every student must master. Typically, they all are based on three main components: introduction, main body and conclusion.

You may be surprised, but many students have problems with structuring their work for a variety of reasons, the main one   of which is the inability to draw up every single part considering the singularity of all other. The only way out is improving the knowledge, supplementing the vocabulary and practicing essay/composition writing. The second is reading how good students overcome this through peer editing/reading exemplar work.

Consequently, exemplar texts, whether published or created by teachers or peers, can clearly illustrate specific features of effective writing. As practice shows, both of them can lead to the desired result.

16. LACK OF EVIDENCE

If you are having a hard time writing an essay, then you should write enough examples to support your arguments. Another major mistake students make is that they do not provide enough proof or evidence to clarify their viewpoints.

When in High School, students must learn how to argument their thoughts and ideas in order to be able to write important pieces of content later on, such as an admission letter or even their resume.

To overcome this, I have looked at argumentative/discursive essays and come up with the acronym: RACPpER SEE to aid High School students in their writing. The link below will help you:

HOW TO WRITE AN EXCELLENT DISCURSIVE ESSAY @ HighSchool

17. SENTENCE VARIETY

It refers to the practice of varying the length and structure of sentences to avoid monotony and provide appropriate emphasis.

“Sentence variety is a means by which the writer helps the reader to understand which ideas are most important, which ideas support or explain other ideas, etc. Variety of sentence structures is also a part of style and voice.”

To add variety, mix up your sentence structure. Some ways to do this include:

Starting with an adverb:

  1. Suddenly, she jumped to her feet and ran to the door.
  2. Unfailingly, he arrives at work at 6 AM every morning.

Beginning the sentence with a prepositional phrase (a phrase that modifies a noun or verb):

  1. In the garden, she worked to clear out the weeds and deadhead the flowers.
  2. Before purchasing a new couch, it’s important to measure your doorway.

Inverting the subject and verb in the sentence:

  • Sprinting to the train, she made it just before the doors closed.
  • Using baking soda and vinegar, you can unclog your shower drain.

18. FORGETTING THE CONCLUSION

Writing the introduction is as important as writing the conclusion in an essay. Basically, your essay should consist of three main parts: the introduction, the body section, and the conclusion.

The conclusion is often missed or ignored by students, and it can lead them to leave a bad impression on the marker.

19. UNNECESSARY QUOTATION MARKS

Quotation marks are an essential punctuation which serve to set off text (as in a quote, a phrase, or a dialogue). However, they are often appropriated for purposes the punctuation was not meant to handle.

Thus, used in the wrong place, these little punctuation marks can really “change the meaning” of a sign or words.

  • –  APOSTROPHE:  It is used in contractions and to indicate a possessive. No space before or after.  Eg.
    • That cat’s cute.
    • Mike’s cat is ugly. It’s not its fault.
  • ‘ ’INVERTED COMMAS:  It is used for short quotes, answers and media titles. Thus, wrap words at the beginning and the end of the quote, eg:
    • The answer is ‘A’
    • He said ‘OK’ and went on captioning ‘The Young and the Restless’.
  •  “ ”DOUBLE QUOTATION MARKS:  It is used for long and direct quotes.Wrap words at beginning and end of the quote. Eg:
    • She said, “Use double quotes when quoting poems, prose or conversation.”
    • Example to avoid: We offer the ‘best price in town’!
  • How to Avoid: If you’re not quoting something, don’t use single or double quotation marks. If you want to emphasize a specific part of your message, use a bold or italicized font.

20. WRONG END PUNCTUATION

You have three options for punctuating the end of a sentence: a period/full stop, an exclamation mark, or a question mark.

Each one sets a different tone for the whole sentence: that of a statement, an outcry, or a question, respectively. Always remember to end your sentences correctly – with the correct end punctuation.

21. FORMATTING AND RESOURCE ORGANIZATION

This is a recurring problem among High School students where a typed project/research paper is not properly formatted. All sources used must have good organization and be cited in a way suitable for the type of paper: font type and size; referencing style; etc.

Make sure that your child has this clear and formats all papers in the way requested by their teachers. Simply checking their papers before the delivery date is enough to help them understand what they did wrong.

22. PLAGIARISM

Plagiarism is not only frowned upon, but forbidden too. It is simply, trying to do the assignment, through borrowing passages from articles, books and even websites without identifying or acknowledging their sources.

With today’s technology advancing this rapidly, detecting plagiarism is now easier than ever. Teachers will surely try to explain this to your child, but you must make sure that they understand how important unique content is, if they want to succeed.

20190802_152616WRITING @ HIGH SCHOOL is not a walk in the park. It needs practice and by integrating writing and reading to emphasize key writing features help students learn about important text features. For example, asking students to summarize a text they just read signals that well-written texts have a set of main points, that students should understand main points while they read, and that when students write certain types of compositions they should focus on main points.

Reading exemplar texts familiarizes students with important features of writing, which they can then emulate.

Dear Student – Please identify where you see yourself falling short and work towards improving your writing repertoire.

Good luck in your endeavours 

Be EMPOWERED and EXCEL

READING – THE ULTIMATE ENTERTAINMENT GUIDE TO HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS DURING ISOLATION

ALL THROUGH MY HIGH SCHOOL years, I was an avid reader of books: fiction and non-fiction, comics, magazines and so forth. I still recall that well after I had graduated from High School and university, there was a year that I read 121 novels, 79 magazines and 85 short stories.

READING books gives us an opportunity to be informed, entertained or escape as we comprehend fiction and non-fiction texts against their understanding of the world, their personal insights, opinions and finally comparing those texts to others.

I have managed to do this and even taught my children the elements of independent reading. Learning to read is challenging for many High School students and is even more so when the process is unclear. Without effective reading strategies, many students struggle and a large percentage will be left behind in High School lessons, when they are unable to acquire the skills necessary to read grade level materials.

As such, it is never too late to formulate a strategy and incorporate reading into our children’s lives. Reading enriches not only your vocabulary and writing skills, but also keeps High School students active, entertained and curious while at home during this self-isolation.

pexels-photo.jpg INDEPENDENT READING CHALLENGE

Independent reading is students’ reading of text — such as books, magazines, and newspapers — on their own, with minimal to no assistance from adults. It can consist of reading done in or out of school, including purely voluntary reading for enjoyment or assigned reading for homework.

During this period of isolation, we can actually take advantage of this predicament and implement some reading strategies for our children to pick on, by letting our home students read a book of their choosing.

Two Reading Methods Suitable @ Home

There are many reading strategies but, from the lot, I have picked on two that I have found to be most effective. This is what effective high-flying students at High School implement in their reading:

SQ3R METHOD

SQRRR or SQ3R is a comprehension strategy that helps students think about the text they are reading while they’re reading. Often categorized as a study strategy, SQ3R helps students “get it” the first time they read a text by teaching them how to read and think like an effective reader.

This strategy includes the following five steps:

  1. SURVEY: Students review the text to gain initial meaning from the headings, bolded or italicised text, footnotes and charts. Thus, scan the piece of writing to establish its purpose and get the main ideas.
  2. QUESTION: Students begin to generate questions giving purpose to improve concentration about their reading from previewing it. This aids comprehension.
  3. READ: As students read, they need to look for answers to the questions they formulated during their preview of the text. These questions, based on the structure of the text, help focus students’ reading. In other words, make notes and highlight main ideas that support the concept.
  4. RECITE: As students move through the text they should recite or rehearse the answers to their questions and make notes about their answer for later studying. Reciting helps to put the information into your long-term memory as well as putting what you have learned into your own words.
  5. REVIEW: After reading, students should review the text to answer lingering questions and recite the questions they previously answered. Reviewing each time you study will eliminate the need to “cram” for a test.

NB: There is another version of this method called the SQ4R. In this method the additional R can mean several things that you can do to add more power to your study method:

R = RELATE – It is easier to remember ideas that are personally meaningful. When you study a chapter, try to link new facts, terms, and concepts with information you already know. It could also mean wRite. This is making “maps” for yourself; reducing the information and rereading or skimming to locate and prove your points, as well as writing down the key terms and ideas in outline form. Lastly, the R also means RECORD. This is marking the textbook increases understanding of the material for the present and for future reference. The process of selecting and marking requires you to find the main ideas. Later, when you review the text for exam purposes, you will find that the textbook markings and highlights enable you to grasp the essential points without having to read entire paragraphs and chapters again.

THE KWL READING STRATEGY

This is an instructional technique used to improve reading comprehension. It also improves a student’s ability to remember the material. KWL is most often used with expository reading materials such as classroom textbooks, research articles, and journalistic pieces.

KWL is a research strategy. The approximate acronym stands for

  • What I KNOW
  • What I WANT to Know, and
  • What I LEARNED.”

Many students and teachers also use it as a reading comprehension aid: The KWL is a BEFORE, DURING and AFTER reading and learning strategy.

It is used to connect a student’s prior knowledge to what they are actively learning using three key techniques in that:

  • The student begins by thinking about what they already know about the topic.
  • Next, they think about what they want to know or find out.
  • Finally, they actively learn something new about the topic.

This method explicitly teaches key reading comprehension and learning skills through making connections, self-questioning, visualising, inferring, determining importance, summarising, synthesising and self-monitoring. Consequently, it helps students become more purposeful, active readers, thinkers and learners.

Library Reading

25 READING STRATEGIES YOU CAN DO @ HOME

These strategies enhance students’ comprehensive reading skills. By using some of these techniques, parents can help High School students, to able to understand the material and direct their attention to the details. Subsequently, these strategies enhance students’ learning and help them prepare for an essay or report submission or even for a test.

  1. ACTIVATING BACKGROUND KNOWLEDGE – It is an undisputable fact that better comprehension occurs when students are engaged in activities that bridge their old knowledge with the new. For example, a simple question like “what do you know about … (a particular topic)” will stimulate students’ previous knowledge of that topic. This will help them connect the current reading to their already existing knowledge and make the new reading more stimulating and engaging. The strategy allows students to work their way up from an already existing schema, instead of starting a new one.
  2. QUESTIONING – This encourages students to frame questions before and after reading to increase their comprehension. There are three main questions to reflect on:
    1. A ‘right now question’ focuses on the material presented. What is the essence of the material read? What are the facts that are being mentioned?
    2. An ‘analytical question’ requires students to ponder over what they have learnt. What does the author want me to understand from this material?
    3. A ‘research question’ encourages the students to look for information beyond what is in the text. This allows for more comprehensive active learning to occur.
  3. COLLAGEThis is a collection or combination of various themes/ideas/images/techniques in a text being read. This could be creating an individual collage around themes/symbolism/ characters in the book/magazine/short stories.
  4. ANALYZING TEXT STRUCTURE – This requires students to learn how to analyze or comprehend the structure of a text: The five key techniques are Exposition/Introduction; Rising Action; Conflict; Falling Action and Resolution/Denouement. It can also be in the form of cause-effect pattern, problem-solution pattern, or a descriptive pattern like a list, web or a matrix pattern. They should also be taught to make use of subheadings, labels, captions, tables, graphs, etc. as these help students to understand the material better.
  5. READER RESPONSE – Pick the most important word/line/image/object/event in the chapter and explain why you chose it. Be sure to support all analysis with examples.
  6. NOTES AND QUOTES – This applies more to a prescribed text, be it at GCSE/AP English/IB. Draw a line down the middle of the page. On one side write down important quotes, on the other comment on and analyze the quotes.
  7. TEXT TO SELF – Based upon a book you have just read, share a story about yourself that is related to an event or character that was in the book. It is probably best done in the form of a written  recount. Link your experience to no more than four situations that occurred within the text. Thus, text to self is  a great opportunity for students to become introspective about the content they read and make comparisons to their own experiences in life.
  8. VISUALIZATION – Students should be encouraged to form visual images in their head as they read the text, which will help in better comprehension. Research suggests that students should visualize them as structural images or diagrams instead of mere pictures, as pictures have a tendency to fade.
  9. ROUND TABLE – This is an opportunity to give students a chance to talk about what intrigues, bothers, confuses them about the book/story they are reading. Just be a good listener and a keen participant.
  10. DEAR DIARY – Let the High School student place oneself in the shoes of one of the characters they have just read about and write a diary entry of a key moment from the story. Try to choose a moment in the story in which the character has  plenty of interaction and emotion to share in a diary entry. It is usually written from a first person perspective not always written  in present tense.
  11. INSPIRATIONS – Watch a film inspired by a story and then compare and contrast: eg – The Imitation Game tells the story of computer scientist Alan Turing, who tries to crack the Enigma code that the Nazis used to provide security for their radio messages during WWII. American Sniper is a dramatic adaptation by Clint Eastwood, who is a visceral account of Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle, whose pinpoint accuracy saved countless lives and turned him into a legend during the war in Iraq.
  12. YOU HAVE THREE WISHES – Imagine a genie lands in the midpoint of the story you have just read and grants the protagonists/antagonists three wishes. Formulate those wishes.
  13. FISHBOWL – This is an impromptu or scheduled task with two to four family members sitting in the middle of a circle and talking about the text. The others make observations about the conversation then rotate into the circle.
  14. MOVIE REVIEW – This is a follow up of #14. The student writes a review of (or discuss) a movie based on a story they have read. Compare and contrast the text to the movie adaptation
  15. DEAR AUTHOR – After reading a book encourage the student to write a letter  or send an email to the author. You may be surprised by the response. Letters via the publisher are always forwarded to the author.
  16. DIG DEEPER ON THE WEB – This applies to prescribed texts or if you are just doing it out of interest. Prior to, while, or after reading a book, research the book, its author, or its subject online.
  17. TIME MACHINE – Instead of traveling into the book, write a scene or story in which the character(s) travel out of the book into today.
  18. BIOGRAPHY – Write a biography of one of the characters who most interests you.
  19. AUTOBIOGRAPHY – Have the character that most interests you write their autobiography of the time before, during, or after the story occurs.
  20. DEAR CLASSMATE – Using email or some other means of corresponding, write each other about the book as you read it, having a written conversation about the book.
  21. WHAT DO THEY WISH FOR AND WHY? – Consider this – the protagonists/antagonists would their wishes have changed anything about the story?  How so? Again think about the cause and effect relationship and how this may have altered the path of the book you have been reading.
  22. AFTER READING: After reading several of the next chapters in your book…
    1. For Fiction: write a one page response analyzing the characters, and their motivations. Consider the conflict, setting, relationships of characters and any other significant details that you find important.
    2. For Non-Fiction: write a one page explaining what you learned and how it confirmed, challenged or changed your thinking today. Tell your reader how you became smarter about that topic.
  23. P.S. – The term comes from the Latin post scriptum, an expression meaning “written after” (which may be interpreted in the sense of “that which comes after the writing”). Thus, after you read the story, write an epilogue in which you explain – using whatever tense and tone the author does – what happened to the character(s) next.
  24. SUMMARIZING – The last technique is to summarize the material read. Research has indicated that the ability to summarize enhances comprehension. A summary is the ability to condense main ideas, and connect major themes into concise statements that capture the purpose of a reading for the reader.A student making use of the other four strategies will find it easier to summarize the material. They can summarize the material in the form of diagrams, either visually or in writing.
  25. Finally, complete the BOOK REVIEW CHALLENGE by taking a comprehensive task here using the Scott County word document.

Dear Parents and Guardians: Talk with your children about the books they are reading.

Reading a BookWHERE DO I GET THE BOOKS?

If you would like an e-book, go to https://www.nypl.org/books-music-movies/ebookcentral

I have also compiled two earlier posts on books to read for High School students. You can access a range of books on the link here:

50 MUST-READ NOVELS BEFORE LEAVING HIGH SCHOOL

You could be starting something new and exciting which would be a lifelong hobby. Take up the challenge and enjoy.

Good luck in all your endeavours.

As of old . . .

BE EMPOWERED AND EXCEL

36 PRODUCTIVE WAYS TO KILL THE TIME FOR OUR STUDENTS @ HIGH SCHOOL DURING ISOLATION

AS MILLIONS of parents around the world grapple with the school closures in the past weeks, and having no idea when they’ll be opened, something has to be done to occupy the young minds. Many schools have been hastily scrabbling together remote learning plans, but things are going to be chaotic and unstructured and that’s something we’ll all have to learn to deal with.

The bottom line is, we, as parents, have to find productive ways to engage the restless young people at home 24/7. The key is not to panic, but also not to bury our head in the sand. These are tough times, but there are many things we can do to ease the pain of the current situation and move on with life. It is a phase which we will fight and overcome.

AS A RESULT, I have compiled a list of handy and productive things to do during this turbulence. Please scroll down the list of sub-headings below and pick on what interests you and get engaged:

  1. Reflections & Reading
  2. Television At Work
  3. Grammar, Vocabulary & Spelling
  4. Entering The Working World At Home
  5. Dear Parents . . .
  6. Out & About In The Community
  7. What More & Others
  8. Finally, Be Grateful . . .

So, don’t feel overwhelmed.

INSTEAD, develop a realistic plan and engage the children in your planning. As you follow your plan, I’m confident that you’ll have a meaningful, productive, and fun-filled set of things to do during this unprecedented isolation.  

REFLECTIONS & READING

1. Reflect On The Semester/Term Gone By

DEAR Student – This is a moment to take out your journal or a sheet of paper and answer these three questions as honestly and candidly as possible. You are taking stock of your performance in a self-regulatory manner.

  • What did I do well in the past semester/term?
  • What did I not do so well in the past semester/term?
  • What will I do differently in the coming semester/term?

2. Set Process Goals For The Coming Semester/Term

This is a follow-up to the above point, even if we are not sure as to when we shall be going back to school or work.

SURELY, by setting process goals for the coming semester/term instead of performance goals, becomes a priority. I am saying process goals first as process goals are what you intend to do, while performance goals are what you intend to achieve. As a result, process goals are far more effective.

Here is an example.

  • PERFORMANCE GOAL: Improve my essay writing skills.
  • PROCESS GOAL: Do two extra essay questions every day after dinner.

This actually means by setting process goals, you’re more likely to take action than if you only set performance goals.

3. Create Checklists

For tasks you perform repeatedly, create checklists so that you’ll save time in the long run.

For example, you could create a checklist for the things you ought to do …

  • Every day when I get home from school/training/work, I …
  • When I start preparing for an exam, I …
  • Every weekend as I prepare for the upcoming week, I …
  • When I am packing my bag, I …
  • Before I take an exam, I …

By doing so, aim to reflect on your life periodically; and positively, you will enjoy more.

4. Start Your SAT Or ACT Test Prep – (I)GCSE/IB Program 

Strictly speaking no one calls these acronyms by their full names: SAT stands for Scholastic Assessment Test and ACT is the American College Test. Although they are very much American, universities around the world accept them for admission purposes just like the UK’s (I)GCSE – General Certificate of Secondary Education; and IB (International Baccalaureate) Diploma. Always do your research on what exactly you want to achieve.

This could be a great time to explore the ACT vs SAT , practice for the PSAT , or ramp up your study schedule. Pick up a prep book, take an online prep course , or find a test prep tutor to help you manage your time.

Test prep keeps your brain active so you are in tiptop shape to head back to school later when things get back to normal.

5. Take A Free Online College Course

There are some wonderful websites – like edX; Coursera, Khan Academy or Udemy – that offer courses that are taped or streamed from universities. With tons of subjects from robotics to poetry, you get to participate in real-time or watch videos with up to date information. It is a world of wonder out there. Just click on the link below and enjoy.

EdX is a global nonprofit learning community with over 20 million learners having access to over 2500+ online courses. EdX is fulfilling the demand for people to learn on their own terms delivering courses for curious minds on topics ranging from data and computer science to leadership and communications.

Coursera  is building skills with courses, certificates, and degrees online from world-class universities and companies. There are over 3 900 courses to choose from.

Khan Academy is a tried and tested institution offering personalized learning where students practice at their own pace, first filling in gaps in their understanding and then accelerating their learning.

Udemy wants you to explore possibilities with its wide selection of courses and thousands of online video courses. Courses range from business, design, photography, development, IT and Software, marketing as well as personal development.

6. Read, Read and More Reading

As an avid reader, I strongly recommend that you take to do some reading during this turbulent time. I have a list of books here from which you can choose from:

50 MUST-READ NOVELS BEFORE LEAVING HIGH SCHOOL

Besides, the above books, I would like to recommend you to read these FIVE books:

  • Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl

Psychiatrist Viktor Frankl’s memoir has riveted generations of readers with its descriptions of life in Nazi death camps and its lessons for spiritual survival. Frankl argues that we cannot avoid suffering but we can choose how to cope with it, finding meaning in it, and moving forward with renewed hope and purpose.

  • How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

This is one of the most famous confidence-boosting book ever published; with sales of over 16 million copies worldwide. The book offers practical advice and techniques, in an exuberant and conversational style, on how to get out of a mental rut and make life more rewarding.

  • The Success Principles by Jack Canfield

Get ready to transform yourself for success in this practical and inspiring guide that will help any aspiring person get from where they are to where they want to be. Thus, Canfield offers readers practical help and inspiration for getting from where they are, to where they want to be.

  • Feel the Fear … and Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers

Are you afraid of making decisions . . . leaving an unfulfilling relationship . . . facing the future? Whatever your fear, here is your chance to push through it once and for all. In this enduring guide to self-empowerment, Dr. Susan Jeffers inspires us with dynamic techniques and profound concepts that have helped countless people grab hold of their fears and move forward with their lives.

  • The Happy Student by Daniel Wong

Are you a happy, motivated student? Or do you drag yourself to class every morning? In The Happy Student, Daniel Wong describes the five key steps you need to take in order to become both a successful and happy student. Wong draws on his personal journey—from unhappy overachiever to a happy straight-A student, as a result, guiding you through your own transformational process.

pexels-photo-261895.jpegTELEVISION AT WORK

7. Watch Educational Youtube Videos

YouTube is full of educational stuff which is quite helpful during this upheaval. Here are a few of my favorite educational YouTube channels:

8. Watch Documentaries And Your Favourites

You can watch thousands of high-quality documentaries for free at Documentary Heaven besides browsing through your favourite television programmes and films.

If you are subscribed to Netflix, Amazon Prime and many others, this is an opportunity to watch some really great documentaries as well. Despite the abundance of entertainment, . .

REMEMBER to watch in moderation as there are other things to be performed, done and completed.

9. Play Video Games Too

The popularity of video, computer, online, and virtual reality games is great when done in moderation. This is to avoid the potential for negative health effects of gaming, including the potential for addiction.

The exhibition of superior visual, spatial and attention skills derived from video games is great and video games formats have been successfully used to deliver health interventions to children and adolescents. If interested in playing games, try the . . .

50 Educational Video Games That Homeschoolers Love

pexels-photo.jpgGRAMMAR, VOCABULARY & SPELLING

10. Sprucing Up Your Grammar

By the time students enter High School, they will have conquered and mastered the uses of a period/full stop, the comma, various uses of the capital letters, the question mark and the apostrophe BUT . . . many, and I mean the majority of students, would know what a colon or semi-colon looks like; ellipsis; brackets and dashes; but wouldn’t know when or how to use them.

This is what I want to share with you here: AWESOME WAYS TO RAISE YOUR GRADE IN ENGLISH @ HIGH SCHOOL 1 – 4 on where, how and when to use these punctuation marks. You will explore the uses in greater depth here.

Throughout my teaching career, as well as being a GCSE/IGCSE and GCE Examiner, I have noticed that these unusual punctuation marks are rarely used. Yet by using . . .

  • colons (:) and semi-colons (;)
  • the hyphen, dashes (-)
  • parenthesis/brackets ( ), [ ]
  • ellipsis (. . .) and . . .
  • using numbers in writing

enhances a student’s writing repertoire.

11. Practising Idioms

Brainstorm common idioms and practice new ones. Here I have got a list of idioms for you. Try writing a sentence using some of them.

You will love reading and practising endless hours of Common Idioms In Use 1 – 8 in one of my posts.

12. Where Is the Synonym?

This combines English vocabulary practice with the classic game of memory embedded in contextual meaning of words in sentences.

Again, I have got an array of exercises for you to pick on my highly regarded . . VOCABULARY WORKSHOP – THE KEY WORDS TO USE IN WRITING OR SPEAKING COMPETENTLY 1-7. Just follow the link.

13. What Are Homophones?

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 at . . .

HOMOPHONES: MOST COMMONLY CONFUSED WORDS @ HIGH SCHOOL 1 – 8

14. Learning The Root Of Words

A root word is the most basic form of a word. This is the basic word to which affixes (prefixes and suffixes) form the basis of a new word.

  • The root word can also be a word in its own right. For example, the word lovely consists of the word love and the suffix -ly.
  • In contrast, a root is the basis of a new word, but it does not typically form a stand-alone word on its own. For example, the word reject is made up of the prefix re- and the Latin root ject, which is not a stand-alone word.

Root words can help you to break down large, new words into smaller units to discover their meanings. Here are only ten common root words.

Please access the rest through here.

Common Latin Roots
Latin Root Definition Examples
ambi both ambiguous, ambidextrous
aqua water aquarium, aquamarine
aud to hear audience, audition
bene good benefactor, benevolent
cent one hundred century, percent
circum around circumference, circumstance
contra/counter against contradict, encounter
dict to say dictation, dictator
duc/duct to lead conduct, induce
mal bad malevolent, malefactor
Common Greek Roots
Greek Root Definition Examples
anthropo man; human; humanity anthropologist, philanthropy
auto self autobiography, automobile
bio life biology, biography
chron time chronological, chronic
dyna power dynamic, dynamite
dys bad; hard; unlucky dysfunctional, dyslexic
graph writing graphic, phonograph
hetero different heteronym, heterogeneous
homo same homonym, homogenous
phobia fear claustrophobia, phobic

15. Learn Prefixes and Suffixes To Expand Your Vocabulary

Learning the meanings of common prefixes and suffixes can help you understand unknown English words you come across everyday. It can also help you become better at spelling words too.

A PREFIX is a letter or a group of letters that we add to the beginning of a word. Prefixes change the meanings of words. For example, the prefix un- (or u-n) can mean “not,” “remove,” or “opposite.” Adding un- to the word “happy” gives you the word “unhappy,” which means not happy.

U-n and r-e (or re-) are the two most common prefixes in the English language. Re- means “again” or “back,” such as in the words “rethink” “redo” and “repay.”

Here are a few things to remember when learning prefixes:

  • Different prefixes in English can have similar meanings, such as un-, in- and non- all of which mean “not” or “opposite of.”
  • Also, the prefixes mis- and ir- mean “wrong,” “wrongly,” or “incorrectly.”
  • Notice that double letters are possible. For example, when you add the prefix im- to words that begin with the letter “m,” you get two “m”s as in “immeasurable.” That’s also true when you add un- to words that begin with the letter “n,” as in “unnoticeable.” The same is true for many other prefixes.
  • When adding a prefix to a word, the spelling of the base word never changes. For example, the prefix un- did not change the spelling of the word “happy.” And, the prefix re- would not change the spelling of the word “live” in “relive.”
  • Watch out for “lookalikes” – words that look like they contain prefixes but, in fact, do not. For example, the un- in the word “uncle” is not a prefix, nor is the re- in the words “reach” or “real.”

A SUFFIX is a letter or group of letters added to the end of a word. Suffixes are commonly used to show the part of speech of a word. For example, adding “ion” to the verb “act” gives us “action,” the noun form of the word. Suffixes also tell us the verb tense of words or whether the words are plural or singular.

​Some common suffixes are -er, -s, -es, -ed, -ing and -ly.

There are additional suffix rules, but they deal with spelling and can be learned with time and practice.

A thing to keep in mind about both prefixes and suffixes is that some are only used with some words. For example, we add the suffix -ful to some nouns to mean “full of,” such as in the words “beautiful” or “helpful.”

But, we cannot add -ful to just any noun. You could not, for example, say “loveful” to mean full of love.

So, what are some ways that you can practice common prefixes and suffixes?

One way is to use online flashcards from websites like Quizlet. You can choose sets of cards that are already made or create and use your own sets. Or, you can make your own flashcards with pieces of paper.

Please access the rest through this link:

 16. Spelling Generalizations

I boast to my students that I can spell any word in English because I mastered the spelling rules in primary school. I challenge you to emulate that.

The 5 Common English Spelling Rules to Improve Your Writing are . . .

  1. I before E: Write i before e when the sound is long e except after the letter c. – eg: relieve, relief, reprieve. When there is a c preceding, then it is ei : receipt, receive, deceive, conceive .
  2. Double consonants: When b, d, g, m, n, or p appear after a short vowel in a word with two syllables, double the consonant – eg: rabbit, manner, dagger or drummer.
  3. When to use -US and -OUS: eg – radius, previous
  4. Q is always followed by U: eg – Queen, quarrel
  5. The ch sound: At the beginning of a word, use ch. At the end of a word, use tch. When the ch sound is followed by ure or ion, use t – eg: choose, champ, watch, catch, picture, rapture

A comprehensive list of spelling rules can be accessed through here:

WatchENTERING THE WORKING WORLD AT HOME

17. Create Your Own Project

Turn your interests and talents into your own long-term project. A few ideas:

  • Form a garage band with some musically-inclined friends and practice.
  • Teach yourself how to program.
  • Practice your creative writing and submit your work to journals that publish high school students or to your school’s newsletter.

18. Get A job – “Take a job for what you will learn, not for what you will earn.”

Colleges are impressed when students have jobs, whether they are working for family income or just for fun. Your work history demonstrates your initiative and responsibility. Take note: you may need a permit, depending on your age.

Don’t worry too much about what the job will pay. As the saying goes, “Take a job for what you will learn, not for what you will earn.” This is especially true when it comes to school holiday jobs. The best learning experience might just come in the form of an unpaid job or internship

Colleges love to see collaboration, so try to spend some time working with others versus only on solo projects.

 19. Be An Entrepreneur

Start a business with friends that offers a service in your community. We’ve heard of students starting babysitters’ clubs, walking dogs for the neighborhood, or even teaching Skype/WhatsApp messaging to the elderly.

20. Apply For Internships

Even if we are in the middle of a crisis, be optimistic and set things in motion. Introduce yourself to the world of internships.

This is chance to spruce up your CV and resume, so before you start applying for roles, it’s important to make sure that your resume is up to date and includes your relevant skills and experience.

AN INTERNSHIP is a structured opportunity to work (usually unpaid) at a company, lab, or non-profit organization for a set amount of time. These can be very competitive for high school students, but opportunities are out there!

At Amazon Jobs, besides providing graduate jobs, they also offer student internships with an in depth internship timeline profile providing the opportunity to accelerate your growth. They work on challenging projects which breed resourcefulness and invention with talented teams.

TeenLife is a the leading directory for High School students’ academic and enrichment opportunities for summer programs, volunteer opportunities, gap year programs and community service. The TeenLife website is dense with information which can help you in your future – start preparing now

21. Find a Job-Shadowing Opportunity

Job shadowing (or work shadowing) is an on-the-job learning, career development, and leadership development program. It is  a useful way to learn about a particular job of interest involving spending time following a professional in that job. Observing the life of the professional for anywhere from a few hours to as long as a week can help give you a sense of what that job really is like

Does your dad’s best friend work at an electrical engineering company? Ask if you can help with filing or sit in a planning meeting or two, all while soaking up the atmosphere.

In short, job shadowing helps you expand your network as well as making professional contacts in your career field of interest. When shadowing someone who is competent in his or her career field, you have the opportunity to gain a useful resource as you begin to seek and apply for jobs and internships.

NOW is the time to plan it!

22. Learn a New Skill

You could learn skills like Public Speaking; Cooking; Drawing through . . .

TakeLessons – Get live instruction in music, language, dance, computer skills and more one-on-one with an instructor. You can search by area or by subject.

Power Homeschool – Power Homeschool offers self-paced, interactive video lessons on topics such as foreign language, physical education, fine arts, and career and technical classes.

MasterClass – MasterClass offers self-paced courses taught by masters in their fields. You can take photography from Annie Leibovitz, cooking from Gordon Ramsey, or directing from Ron Howard.

Outschool Outschool offers over 4,000 classes taught live to small groups using video chat.

23. Learn A New Language

Visit these websites and learn a new language:

  • Duolingo is not a stand-alone language course, but it’s an excellent addition to a language learner’s toolbox. It’s easy to use, it’s fun and it works. If your aim is to achieve real fluency, remember to read, speak, and truly live the language that you’re learning!
  • Babbel is a German-based language learning app and e-learning platform, currently offering 14 different languages ranging from German, English (US + UK), French, to Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese and Italian, among many others.
  • BBC Languages is a free online language learning site which offer courses, audio, video and games, including the alphabet, phrases, vocabulary, pronunciation, grammar, activities and tests.

Just go to the site and follow the links.

24. Start A Family Or Neighborhood Book Club

A book club is a reading group, usually consisting of a number of people who read and talk about books based on a topic or an agreed-upon reading list. It’s common for book clubs to choose a specific book to read and discuss at the same time. Formal book clubs meet on a regular basis at a set location.

This sounds a bit daunting but with careful planning, you can get things going so easily.

Rather on a very small scale, a parent and child can form a book club, by reading the same book and chatting about it. What more, if you invite your cousins and friends? Just start small and grow

25. Try a Ballet, Dance Or Martial Arts Class – all for free

Lots of businesses running after-school and weekend clubs have been quick to adapt to the change and are offering online classes, with many being streamed for free. Good examples include:

The Facebook Group Online Classes For Kids is fast becoming a hub for virtual classes, with a number of different activities already on offer.

YouTube has endless classes are available for families to stream whenever they want – giving parents a much-needed immediate release for energetic children.

This has the benefit of giving structure to your day or weekend, you can make sure children get dressed and ready for the class as they would normally, only they are staying indoors for the session.

red heart on a old opened book

Photo by Kaboompics .com on Pexels.com

DEAR PARENTS . . .

26. Instill Organizational Skills – Establish ROUTINES

LEARNING AND MASTERING the skills of getting organized, staying focused, and seeing work through to the end will help High School students in just about everything they do. But this is not usually explicitly taught in High School, so our students can benefit from some parental guidance with organization and time-management skills.

Parents and guardians can help our High School students through a variety of ways by helping  them establish routines by . . .

  •  KEEPING  assignments and class information together in binders, notebooks, or folders that are organized by subject.
  • CREATING a calendar will help teens recognize upcoming deadlines and plan their time accordingly. Don’t forget to have your teen include non-academic commitments on the calendar, too.
  •  MAKING prioritized daily to-do lists, and to study and do homework in a well-lit, quiet, orderly workspace.
  • REMINDING your teen that when it comes to studying and homework, multitasking is a time-waster.
  • WORKING in an environment free of distractions like TV and mobile phones works best.

27. Make Time to Talk About School

Because many teens spend so much of the day outside the home — at school, extracurricular activities, jobs, or with peers — staying connected with them can be challenging for parents and guardians. While activities at school, new interests, and expanding social circles are central to the lives of High School students, parents and guardians are still their anchors for providing love, guidance, and support.

Make efforts to talk with your teen every day, so he or she knows that what goes on at school is important to you. When teens know their parents are interested in their academic lives, they’ll take school seriously as well.

Because communication is a two-way street, the way you talk and listen to your teen can influence how well he or she listens and responds. It’s important to listen carefully, make eye contact, and avoid multitasking while you chat.

Remember to talk with your teen, not at him or her.

Be sure to ask open-ended questions that go beyond “yes” or “no” answers.

28. Offer Help With Studying

Planning is key for helping your teen study while juggling assignments in multiple subjects. Since grades really count in high school, planning for studying is crucial for success, particularly when your teen’s time is taken up with extracurricular activities.

When there’s a lot to study, help your teen to break down tasks into smaller chunks and stick to the studying calendar schedule so he or she isn’t studying for multiple tests all in one night. Remind your teen to take notes in class, organize them by subject, and review them at home.

If grades are good, your teen may not need help studying. If grades begin to slip, however, it may be time to step in.

Most parents still need to help their teen with organization and studying — don’t think that teens can do this on their own just because they’re in High School!

29. Prepare a Meal or Special Dish

Food is one of our favorite ways to learn about any subject! This is an excellent time and way to learn about spices, foods, or cooking techniques that are popular in a specific location.

Food can also be a useful learning tool when studying history. Recipes and ingredients often change over time so preparing foods from a different time period can be a lot of fun.

BBC Good Food – It teaches kids to cook with the step-by-step lessons and recipes turning the little chefs with easy and fun cooking projects. They’ll love tasting their handiwork, too!

ground group growth hands

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

OUT & ABOUT IN THE COMMUNITY

30. Find A Cause You Care About

If you say that something is for a good cause, you mean that it is worth doing or giving to because it will help other people, for example by raising money for charity. The Raleigh International Bike Ride is open to anyone who wants to raise money for a good cause.

Find a cause you care about, and start thinking of ways to support that cause. Some of the good causes one can take part in include children and family services, youth development services, crisis services, shelter and homeless services, food banks, food pantries and food distribution; and caring for the elderly.

31. Volunteer In Your Community

Colleges would rather see continuity and commitment to a community service activity instead of a bunch of one-offs. Start now, and volunteer two hours a week through your senior year.

Volunteering doesn’t take any special skills or extensive experience – and there’s never a shortage of organizations looking for help.

Some local places which you can try include spending your Saturday mornings feeding animals at the animal shelter or national parks; food pantries and soup kitchens always use a helping hand organizing a local food drive, raising money, or simply handing out hot meals to those in need; and visiting  residents at nursing homes a few days a week. Red Cross offers an extensive list of positions that can help those in need and bolster your resume at the same time.

Thus, once you begin your volunteer position, don’t hesitate to offer help outside of your assigned job.

32. Improve Your Physical Health And Well-Being

You have more time at home  now, so introduce  yourself to some basic routines.

Start small and build up consistency by drinking more water and fewer sugary drinks; eating more fruits and vegetables and less fast food; exercising regularly: You don’t have to become a gym member to exercise.

Lastly, get a good night’s sleep.

33. Build Or Fix Something And Spruce Up Your Bedroom

Fix a broken fan, build a computer, or make a table. These are skills that will come in handy in the future. What more, make your room  look tidy too!

You’ll get an immediate dose of interest by simply bringing in a plant,  rearranging your furniture layout, adding a mirror, hanging your favorite painting, print, poster, quilt, or collection of family photos wall art

20190802_152255WHAT MORE & OTHERS

34. Explore Outer Space With NASA

The NASA website is packed full of free activities and worksheets for students interested in outer space.

The NASA website is utterly astounding! Curiosity and exploration are vital to the human spirit and accepting the challenge of going deeper into space is an interesting adventure one would explore to.

35. Use Your Imagination

The sky’s the limit! Start a summer art project with friends to beautify a rundown area of your community. Pick up trash in your local park every Sunday. Colleges love to see collaboration, so try to spend your summer working with others versus only on solo projects.

FINALLY, BE GRATEFUL . . .

36. Write Thank-You Notes

Many people say “thank you” via text message or email. But few people write actual thank-you notes. This school holiday, become one of those people.

Make a list of the people who have helped you in one way or another the past semester: friends, teachers, relatives, and family members.

Write each of those people a thank-you note. Then either mail the note to them or give it to them in person.

Dear Reader, This is by any chance an exhaustive list you can do during this unprecedented time we are living in. You can be creative – thinking outside the box and come up with a lot more others. This is only the start.

Good luck in your endeavours.

BE EMPOWERED AND EXCEL

 

 

BRILLIANT IDEAS ON WRITING A SYNTHESIS ESSAY

The ADVANCED PLACEMENT ENGLISH LANGUAGE & COMPOSITION 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 no-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.

These THREE types of essays fall under:

  • Synthesis Essay
  • Argumentative Essay
  • Analytical Essay

WatchSYNTHESIS ESSAY

The main purpose of a synthesis essay is to make insightful connections from several published documents – called sources – related to the issue at hand, each less than a page long. One source will be an image – a photo, a chart, map, cartoon, or other visual presentation also related to the issue.

FIFTEEN minutes are allotted to the reading of the sources.

A Typical Synthesis Essay Question

Directions: The following question is based on the accompanying seven sources.

This question requires you to synthesize a variety of sources into a coherent, well-written essay. When you synthesize sources you refer to them to develop your position and cite them accurately. Your argument should be central; the sources should support this argument. Avoid merely summarizing sources.

Remember to attribute both direct and indirect citations.

After this, you are expected to write an essay that takes a position on the issue and incorporates, or synthesizes at least three of the sources into your discussion. Thus, in order to write a successful synthesis essay, you must gather research on your chosen sources, discover meaningful connections through your chosen sources, and develop a unique and interesting argument or perspective.

A Synthesis Is Not a Summary

A synthesis is an opportunity to create new knowledge out of already existing knowledge, i.e., other sources. You combine, “synthesize,” the information in your sources to develop an argument or a unique perspective on a topic. Your thesis statement becomes a one-sentence claim that presents your perspective and identifies the new knowledge that you will create.

In short, a synthesis essay must do all the following:

  • It accurately reports information from the sources using different phrases and sentences.
  • It is organized in such a way that readers can immediately see where the information from the sources overlap.
  • It makes sense of the sources and helps the reader understand them in greater depth.
  • The writer clearly promotes an idea; understands how to use a variety of sources, including non-print text (pictures, graphs, etc.), using this “synthesis” to support that idea.
  • The writer uses quotes or phrases to extract key information as well as demonstrating understanding in using these quotes or phrases.

The essay must be thesis-driven, so form a thesis based on the prompt:

What you plan to argue + How you plan to argue it = Thesis

pexels-photo.jpgWhat Do I Need to Write One?

Writing a successful synthesis essay will require you to do four things:

  1. Read accurately and objectively;
  2. See relations among different viewpoints;
  3. Define a thesis based on these relations, and
  4. Support the thesis effectively.

You will not discuss all the points in every source; but you should use e some of the sources, and you should use points from each that are appropriate for the thesis of your own essay.

How Do I Write It?

A synthesis essay may be developed in several ways, including the following:

READ CAREFULLY First, skimming through the readings and look for similar issues in each essay. Reflect on those issues, and jot down your ideas. Reread and decide on one topic that will unify your essay. Note each essay’s thesis and main points.

Finally, take notes and write your . . .

THESIS SUPPORTED BY EXAMPLES. Develop a thesis based on common points among the works, and Support the thesis with appropriate examples from each work. This strategy works well with essays that approach a subject from highly diverse viewpoints.

COMPARISON AND CONTRAST. Discuss the similarities and differences in the writers’ viewpoints and draw whatever conclusions are possible from your comparison.

ARGUMENT. If you have a clearly defined opinion about the subject, support that opinion by incorporating the valid viewpoints of the writers of the essays you have selected,. Still, try to analyze weaknesses of any ideas you feel are not valid; identifying conflicting ideas as well as overcoming opposing viewpoints!

In particular, your essay will show whether you can . . .

  • judge the best sources to back up your position.
  • incorporate other writers’ claims or explanations into your own argument.
  • draw on sources in the order that develops your argument in the most logical, persuasive way.

What Steps Should I Take In Writing This Essay?

REMEMBER: Keep in mind that your goal is to support and illustrate your own ideas with the ideas of others to make a point. Similarly, early in your paper, mention the titles and authors of the sources you will be discussing. Quote or paraphrase brief passages from the sources to show how the essay illustrate, agree with, or disagree with each point you make. Whenever you quote or paraphrase, cite the author properly.

INTRODUCTION: It helps your readers make a transition between their own world and the issues you will be writing about; it gives your readers the tools they need to get into your topic and care about what you are saying.

Usually one paragraph contains a one-sentence statement (thesis) that sums up the focus of the essay.

BODY PARAGRAPHS: These are organized by theme, point, similarity, or aspect of the topic.

  • Each paragraph deals with one specific point/idea that relates to the thesis.
  • Each paragraph begins with a topic sentence – letting the reader know what the paragraph is about and includes information from more than one source.
  • Indicates where information comes from with either lead in phrases and verbs of attribution: According to _______ states_______ affirms_______ explains OR with MLA citation (use parenthetical).
  • Shows the similarities or differences between the different sources in ways that make the paper informative.
  • Represents the texts fairly — even if that seems to weaken your paper! Try to avoid relying on one source and just filling in others to meet the required number of sources.
  • Direct quote vs. Paraphrase – When drawing a source to your argument, you have a choice of paraphrasing (summarizing in your own words and making it easier to incorporate someone else’s ideas smoothly into your own words) what the author says, or quoting some of his or her words directly (within quotation marks, of course). Several quotes may make your essay appear to be more of a copy and paste exercise than a synthesis. So, if an author uses a particularly striking phrase or unusual wording that would be difficult to paraphrase accurately, then an occasional direct quote would make your essay more vivid.

Refuting Opposing Viewpoints

There are moments you may want to include a counterargument or refutation pointing out weaknesses in the evidence likely to be used by someone who disagrees with you. Essentially, a counterargument is highly desirable because it weakens your opponent’s position while strengthening yours. It adds potency to an essay that cannot be achieved in any other way.

Please note that there is no rule that tells you where in your essay to put a counterargument. Sometimes it fits best near the end of an essay, just before the conclusion. At other times it should be stated early in the essay. It can also be discussed briefly in each paragraph. Just practise doing it!

CONCLUSION: Your conclusion may cover some of these . . .

  • Remind readers of the most significant themes and how they connect to the overall topic.
  • Go beyond a mere summary — offer the reader insight into the significance of the exploration of the topic.
  • Your conclusion provides a bridge to help your readers transition back to their daily lives. Ultimately, it helps them see why all your analysis and information should matter to them after they put the paper down.

Having a Conversation With Your Sources

Since your aim is synthesis, you need to weave the three sources into your own discussion of the prompt using them to support and develop the position you have chosen to take. The exam writers offer a helpful image of how to do that: they call it having a conversation with your sources. This means responding to each person’s comments, building on them, using them to enrich your own views about the topic as well as trying to understand the author’s position and adding your own ideas to the discussion. This becomes a fruitful conversation!

writing-notes-idea-conference.jpgA Word About Plagiarism

Be certain to properly cite your sources!

Go back over your paper and make certain you have properly cited all sources. You can use verbs of attribution or use parenthetical citations.

Accidental plagiarism most often occurs when writers are synthesizing sources and do not indicate where the synthesis ends and their own comments begin!

Good luck in all your endeavours.

As of old: Be EMPOWERED and EXCEL!!

 

HOW TO WRITE AN EXCELLENT ARGUMENTATIVE ESSAY

WRITING AN ARGUMENTATIVE ESSAY is a skill that anyone in school needs to know, though it can be useful outside of the classroom, as well. High school students must write argumentative essays. They are not difficult to do, as long as one keeps these simple ideas in mind. With today’s Common Core standards, learning to write an essay that intelligently proves your point is an essential part of your education.

Network Monitoring Account

Here are some of the basic elements of an argumentative essay:

What is a Claim? – The thesis of one’s argumentative essay is a debatable claim. An essay is not an argumentative essay if it does not have a debatable claim. A claim is an assertion of something, but it must also be debatable. A debatable claim is a topic that clearly has two sides. Each side can be debated, which is why the claim is debatable. For example, “English should be the official language of the United States” is a debatable claim, and there are two sides to the issue.

What is an Appeal? – The writer of an argumentative essay will make appeals to her/his audience. There are three types of appeals:

  • Appeal to reason. The writer, appealing to his/her reader’s sense of logic, tends to make her argument citing facts, statistics, and in general, tends to rely on the reader using his sense of reason when reading the essay.
  • Appeal to emotion. When using this approach, the writer will appeal to the audience’s emotional side. Are there things about the argument that could make the reader upset or angry, in a way that will make him understand the writer’s argument?
  • Appeal to character. The writer must convince the reader that s/he is reliable and trustworthy. If s/he wants the readers to believe the argument, s/he must make them understand, through the writing, why s/he is credible.

Writers can use one or all of these appeals, and usually the most effective essays will use all three, even if one is used more than the others.

The structure of the argumentative essay is held together by the following:

A clear, concise, and defined thesis statement that occurs in the first paragraph of the essay. In the introductory paragraph of an argument essay, you should set the context by reviewing the topic in a general way. Your introduction should introduce and set up your point, rather than lay out evidence to support it. Also, while your introduction is a road map for the rest of the essay, you shouldn’t explicitly announce what and how you will be arguing. Next, the author should explain why the topic is important (exigence) or why readers should care about the issue. Lastly, students should present the thesis statement. If you do not master this portion of the essay, it will be quite difficult to compose an effective essay.

INTRODUCTION IDEAS – which may be mixed and matched – may include:

  • Use a true story – an anecdote.
  • Startling quotation, fact or statistic.
  • Scenario: imaginary story which illustrates the problem.
  • Explain the problem.
  • Describe vividly.
  • Frame story or flashback.

IN SHORT an introduction must have a brief explanation of your topic, some background information, and a thesis statement. In this case, your thesis is a statement of your position on a specific controversial topic.

Clear and logical transitions between the introduction, body, and conclusion. Transitions are the mortar that holds the foundation of the essay together. Without logical progression of thought, the reader is unable to follow the essay’s argument, and the structure will collapse. Transitions should wrap up the idea from the previous section and introduce the idea that is to follow in the next section.

Body paragraphs that include evidential support. Each paragraph should be limited to the discussion of one general idea. Thus, it is important to note that each paragraph in the body of the essay must have some logical connection to the thesis statement in the opening paragraph.

Evidential support. You will need to include well-researched, accurate, detailed, and current information to support the thesis statement and consider other points of view. Some factual, logical, statistical, or anecdotal evidence should support the thesis.

A conclusion that does not simply restate the thesis, but readdresses it in light of the evidence provided. Do not introduce any new information into the conclusion; rather, synthesize the information presented in the body of the essay. Restate why the topic is important, review the main points, and review your thesis. You may also want to include a short discussion of more research that should be completed in light of your work.

IN THE CONCULSION, try to make a final point which tells the reader what to think or do through engaging one or more these:

  • If your introduction had used a true story THEN your conclusion must show what will happen if your solution is adopted or people accept your argument.
  • If your introduction had a startling quotation, fact or statistic THEN in your conclusion use a real-life example of how your idea works.
  • If your introduction had scenario: imaginary story which illustrates the problem THEN your conclusion must revise the scenario showing what will happen if the reader adopts your ideas.
  • If your introduction had explained the problem THEN in conclusion tell the reader what they need to think, do, feel or believe.
  • If your introduction had described vividly THEN in conclusion you will need to appeal to the reader’s emotions, character or reason.
  • If your introduction had framed a story or flashback THEN in your conclusion you can finish the frame story.

Who Cares What the Opposing Side Has to Say?

Some points to note include:

  • The writer should care what the opposition says (because the reader certainly will).
  • If the writer simply ignores the other side, his argument will be dismissed.
  • Often, the best way to put together one’s essay is to look at the pros (arguments for the topic) and the cons (arguments against).
  • No matter what the writer’s viewpoint, it’s best for him to understand both sides.
  • Then, as he begins to construct his own argument, he can be sure to argue for his side and against his opposition.
  • As he refutes the other side, his argument naturally grows stronger.

It’s also wise to address the opposition because it shows the credibility of the author. If the writer simply ignores the other side, readers will not take him seriously.

Structure of Argumentative Essays

THE FIVE-PARAGRAPH ESSAY of an argumentative composition follows two of these general formats:

The Pros-Cons Structure

For this type of an argumentative essay, a student must have an INTRODUCTION followed by THREE body paragraphs presenting the pros of the argument, then offer the cons and finally a CONCLUSION in which the author states the desired side.

  • The writer states an initial thesis that contains the point of view for which the author is arguing.
  • The body generally presents both sides of the argument, although each con is refuted in turn in each paragraph.
  • The author may first present the pros of the argument, then offer the cons and refutation later in one paragraph.
  • The author presents the desired conclusion in the final paragraph.

The Pros-Cons and Refutation Structure

This type differs slightly from the above pros-cons structure. It starts with an INTRODUCTION followed by THREE body paragraphs presenting the pros/cons of the argument which are either way refuted in each individual paragraph. Finally the author presents the desired CONCLUSION in the penultimate paragraph.

  • The writer states an initial thesis that contains the point of view for which the author is arguing.
  • The three body paragraphs present both sides of the argument with either each pro or con both being presented and refuted in an individual paragraph.
  • The author presents the desired conclusion in the final paragraph.

The 1-2-1-1 Structure

For a basic argumentative essay, a student should structure the essay so that there are five paragraphs: An INTRODUCTION is followed by TWO support body paragraphs with the fourth paragraph being COUNTER ARGUMENT WITH REBUTTAL and finally a CONCLUSION

  • The first paragraph will be the introduction – Start out with an attention-getter; which must be an interesting fact about the topic or a quote from an authoritative source about the topic. This will be followed by a general overview of the topic, generally spanning three to four sentences. The final sentence of the introduction will be the thesis statement. It is imperative that the writer must provide a stance in this statement along with unelaborated reasons that support this stance.
  • The second and third paragraphs will be the support paragraphs – These are the support body paragraphs. Each of these paragraphs will start with a topic sentence; the topic is taken from the thesis statement. Within the paragraph, the student must have two specific examples that will follow the reason of support for each paragraph. The specific examples must be accompanied by elaboration. Students must display the connection to the thesis and explain the importance of including the examples.
  • The fourth paragraph will be the counter argument with rebuttalIt is an important paragraph. The writer will state the opposing side of the argument in this particular paragraph, followed by an explanation of this opposing side. However, the writer should not stop there. The counter argument must be followed by a rebuttal, or a reason why the counter argument is ineffective or wrong. This will further strengthen the initial position of the writer and give more credibility to the stance that the writer has chosen.
  • Final paragraph will be the conclusion. Finally, the writer must provide a conclusion in the final paragraph. The conclusion will start with a restatement of the thesis statement. This will be followed by an explanation of the significance of the topic and how it affects, or can affect, the reader and/or society. The conclusion will end with a call to action. This call to action will hopefully inspire people to do something that shows support of the original stance of the writer. These tips will ensure efficiency when writing an argumentative essay.

YES, argumentative essays are more difficult to write than, say, personal essays. But being able to argue one’s side in this type of essay is a valuable skill to learn. Students will use this technique all through High School (and possibly on the job, in later life).

Once a student learns how to write this type of essay, future essays are not as difficult.

Practice Questions

Write a well-structured argumentative essay of 400-450 words on one the topics:

  • Classmates are a more important influence than parents on a child’s success in school. Write an argumentative essay that supports your point of view.
  • Destroy what is old, Bring in the new.” In a rapidly changing world, what do you think of this opinion? Support your opinion with reasons and examples.
  • ‘Environmental issues will be the most important issues of the decade.” Do you agree? Write a well-structured essay in which you agree, disagree or partly agree with this statement. Support your opinion with reasons and examples.

quote-chalk-think-words.jpgGood luck in your endeavours.

As of old: Be EMPOWERED and EXCEL.