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

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

Can you spot the homophones in the sentence below?

I herd the reign ruined there picnic.

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

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

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

 I heard the rain ruined their picnic.

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

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

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

blur book close up data

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

1. buy/by/bye

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

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

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

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 after Tad had withdrawn from the competition.

 2. bear/bare

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

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

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

3. brake/break

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

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

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

 4. breath/breathe

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

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

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

5. balmy/barmy

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

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

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

6. bated/baited

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

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

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

7. bazaar/bizarre

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

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

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

8. berth/birth

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

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

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

9. breach/breech

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

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

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

 10. broach/brooch

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

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

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

11. beside/besides

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

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

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

12. capital/capitol

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

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

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

13. coarse/course

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

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

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

14. choose/chose

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

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

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

15. conscience/conscious

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

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

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

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

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

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

As of old: Be EMPOWERED and EXCEL!



IN MY TWENTY-FIVE YEARS in the teaching profession, there have been moments where I felt parents to be overbearing, and working with them caused the most dedicated teacher to burn with frustration.

But from the parents’ perspective, dealing with teachers can be an anxiety-ridden and an exasperating ordeal. The biggest problem stemming from this disconnection between parents and teachers is that students are caught in the middle, and at times, if not handled well, their potential to advance, is hindered.

pexels-photo-256548.jpegThe relationship between teachers and parents is an extremely powerful component in a student’s success story. Yet, so many parents go through the school year without communicating with the teacher or understanding what to do (or avoid) to make the most of the year. But while most of us would hope to behave rather better when it comes to dealings with our children’s teachers, there are many among us, who are found wanting in many aspects. In short, are we really giving the profession our full respect?

Just consider this . . .

  • Top American teaching guru, Ron Clark points out: “Today, new teachers remain in our profession for an average of just four and a half years, and many of them list ‘issues with parents’ as one of their reasons for throwing in the towel.”
  • Kevin Rooney, Head of Social Science at a school in the UK insisted: “We need to let parents be parents and let teachers teach. A pressing issue is the loss of teacher autonomy in the classroom.”

Whether it’s outright hostility or a loss of respect, many teachers would say it’s not just the students who need lessons in how to behave – but that parents too, might benefit from a few do’s and don’ts.

So, being more proactive means going inside the mind of a teacher to discover what parents should and shouldn’t do to make the most of the school year.

17 Things English Teachers Want Parents To Know @ High School

Teachers carry a lot of responsibility when it comes to the classroom. Not only are they in charge of the learning experience for each student, but they’re also in charge of the well-being of each student in their care. The load is heavy but could be lightened with some help and understanding from parents.

Here are 17 things English Teachers @ High School really want parents to know to help make the educational experience run a little smoother.

1. BE INVOLVEDYes, teachers do want parents to get actively involved. But that doesn’t mean thinking you know better when it comes to the English curriculum decisions, or what marks to give your oh-so gifted offspring.

What it does mean is more than just turning up to parents’ evenings but that a parent’s involvement helps students learn, improve schools and helps teachers work with you to help your children succeed.

So, keep communication lines open, checking in every so often to raise any questions you may have. If possible, volunteer to help occasionally – or ask the teachers if there is anything you can do at home.

2. CHECK UP ON YOUR CHILDRENPlease do look at their timetables and go through their folders with them regularly – so they know you’re on top of what they should be doing. You will be surprised that even those in senior year have some deficiencies. Check on them, please.

And read every letter and report that’s sent home with your child.

3. BE ORGANIZED – You can’t be expected to know about the letter you need to sign if it’s crumpled in the bottom of the bag. Establish a routine where your child clears out their bag nightly so you get any important letters and homework doesn’t disappear into the black hole.

4. HOMEWORK IS FOR STUDENTS – There’s a fine line between helping and taking over. It’s important to review your little one’s English homework, but if he or she gets an answer wrong don’t just tell them the right answer – help them understand why.

“Homework is for children not parents – if it’s really beyond their capabilities, let the teacher know.”

5. LET YOUR CHILD MAKE MISTAKES – We, English teachers don’t want perfect students only; we want students who try hard. Don’t get caught up in thinking every assignment has to be perfect. It’s important for teachers to see where a child is going wrong, so they can go over the material again.

6. DON’T LEAP ON THE DEFENSIVE – Remember, teachers are usually in the job because they want to teach – not because they’re out to get you/your child.

So, if you’re told there is a problem with your child’s behaviour, don’t jump to their defence – LISTEN to what the teacher has to say. As one quips: “Don’t automatically believe everything your child tells you and, in turn, we won’t believe everything they say about you!”

Tiffany Jean Williams-Solod said: “As a teacher (oh yes, I am both) I want parents to stop blaming teachers and start working with us. We can’t fix everything, but remember we are humans and we aren’t perfect. Also, teach your kids to respect us.”

7. TRUST IN THE TEACHER’S FEEDBACK  Just because a child doesn’t exhibit a particular behavior at home doesn’t mean s/he doesn’t exhibit that behavior in the classroom. So, if a teacher reports a particular behavior that you haven’t seen before, don’t rush to say, “Well, I’ve never seen my child do that.” The classroom and home environments are quite different, and often times, children behave differently when forced to follow rules and work with peers. LISTEN to what the teacher has to say and work with him/her to find a solution.

Ron Clark wrote: “We are educators, not nannies. We are educated professionals who work with kids every day and often see your child in a different light than you do. If we give you advice, don’t fight it.”

8. RESPECT THE TEACHER – Remember that the teacher is on your side. Teachers truly care about your children and want them to be successful.

Nelson explains: “The child’s success is our success. If your child’s teacher contacts you about a problem or something that happened at school, understand that the teacher is trying to work with you to resolve any conflicts that may be getting in the way of your child’s success. We’re all on the same team.”

Similarly, don’t talk negatively about a teacher in front of your child as Ron Clark points out: “If your child knows you don’t respect their teachers they won’t either, and that will lead to a whole host of new problems.”

9. DON’T SHOW UP FOR A MEETING UNANNOUNCED It’s great if you want to meet with the English teacher to discuss an issue or chat about your child, but don’t show up at school without any warning. Instead, schedule a time to meet—not only does this show that you respect the teacher’s time, but it also gives him/her time to prepare for the meeting and provide you with everything you want to know. Always give an agenda for your meeting.

10. MANNERS ARE IMPORTANT – Good manners go a long way in a student’s life as one teacher pointed out: “As much as I treat all students equally, the child who remembers to say ‘thank you’, ‘please’, ‘excuse me’ is thought of more fondly.” This also means parents must always address behavior issues at home. The English saying, “the apple does not fall very far from the tree” is quite apt. It is a strong reminder for us as parents!

“Children don’t enjoy getting in trouble, so when they come home and tell you about how mean the teacher is, keep in mind they may be telling the story in a way that they won’t get punished.”

If this happens, try to get to the heart of the issue and uncover the facts so you can address it.

11. IF THE TEACHER IS DOING SOMETHING RIGHT, LET THEM KNOW – Buck the trend and send an email or call when your child enjoys a class event, or says something nice about their English Teacher. It can make all the difference. And if you’re really pleased, why not let the head know? Surely, who doesn’t need praise and recognition?

Cindy Hoffman. “We’re in a partnership, trying to do the best for the children as possible. Please don’t treat us as adversaries.”

12. IF THEY ARE DOING SOMETHING WRONG, DON’T OVERREACT – If there’s something you’re not happy about, speak to the teacher first rather than going straight to the head/head of year.

As one teacher wryly says: “If you’ve got a problem, come and see me first, going straight to the head is just rude. Next time I have a problem with little Jamie and your parenting style, I’ll ring your boss and see how you like it.”

This also means . . .

13. GIVE TEACHERS TIME TO RESPOND – Communication between teachers and parents is a positive thing especially when it helps keep both sides on top of the student’s work and performance levels. However, teachers would like parents to remember that they are not the teacher of just one child, but of many and this means giving the teacher time to respond.

Communicate with the teacher and then wait. Give the teacher a few days to respond before sending a second note or calling and accusing the teacher of not paying attention to the note. You’ll be amazed how much better the response will be when an appropriate amount of response time is given.

Tiffany Jean Williams-Solod, can relate to both worlds – “As a parent, I want my child challenged every single day, and if she doesn’t get it, please tell me so I can assist you. Don’t be afraid to tell me if my child disrespects you.”

14. PARENT PRAISE IS IMPORTANT for Students – Teachers have a way of knowing which student is receiving positive feedback and encouragement from parents at home and which student isn’t. It shows in how the student performs in the classroom.

Students who are praised for their hard work at home tend to strive even more to continue performing well at school. However, students who don’t receive praise in any form from their parents often take on a nonchalant attitude at school. For instance, if no one really cares how well or how bad the student does in school, then the student may assume there’s no point in trying.

Parents need to cheer for their children and take an active role in praising them for a job well done.

15. THE HOME IS A CLASSROOM TOO – While teachers are responsible for educating students in a broad variety of subjects, they can’t be responsible for teaching students everything. Basic life lessons in how to treat others, knowing right from wrong, learning how to cook, etc need to be taught at home by the parents.

Life skills can help students prepare for situations at school and in life. Parents can help increase their student’s knowledge by using the home as a learning environment as well.

16. PARENTS, BE A PARTNER INSTEAD OF A PROSECUTOR – Parents need to know that it’s OK for your child to get in trouble sometimes. It builds character and teaches life lessons. As teachers, we are vexed by those parents who stand in the way of those lessons; we call them helicopter parents because they want to swoop in and save their child every time something goes wrong.

This equally means . . .

17. PLEASE, QUIT WITH ALL THE EXCUSES –  This is similar to #6 but here teachers really want to help your children be successful, so stop making excuses for them. Thus, some parents will make excuses regardless of the situation, and they are raising children who will grow into adults who turn towards excuses and do not create a strong work ethic.

If you don’t want your child to end up at 25 and jobless, sitting on your couch eating potato chips, then stop making excuses for why they aren’t succeeding. Instead, focus on finding solutions by involving their teachers.

On a final note, please remember that teachers are not perfect humans and you are not a perfect parent, but we are working together for the best of this child. Let us keep it that way.

I am a Teacher and a Parent myself, so, the above issues are a general overview of what I have experienced over the years.

There are many excellent parents out there who want the best and work well with their children’s teachers. Please keep it up! If you have fallen short in some areas, it is never too late to make amends. Go for it!

Exper Experience

Good luck in all your endeavours.

As of old: Be EMPOWERED and EXCEL!


This post is divided into three distinct parts:


Dear Reader: This post is slightly longer than usual – my apologies.

As a High School student you will write at least 20 to 50 essays by the time you graduate. This could be in the form of a class task, a homework exercise or timed-essay in the exam. Essay writing can be quite a demanding and daunting task and, as a result, many students go through High School without having grasped the essentials of a good essay.

Ever TriedTo avert such a catastrophe befalling on you, here are useful ways on how to successfully write a brilliant essay. Following the hints suggested here, step by step, is crucially beneficial in the short and long run.

You will definitely ace it if you follow these time-proven ideas! Good luck in all your endeavours.

Dispel Some Misconceptions

An essay should be written in a formal and impersonal way. This means it must be objective in its expression of ideas. Furthermore, it also means that specific reference to your personal opinion or to yourself as a performer of actions is usually avoided.

Personal Writing (To be avoided) Objective Writing (Instead, try this)
In my opinion .  . . It has been argued that . . . .
I believe that . . . Some writers claim . . . ./It is proposed that . . . .
In my view . . . . Clearly, . . . / It is clear that  . . .
I undertook the survey/study . . . . There is little that . . . .
I propose to . . . The survey/study was undertaken . . . .
In this essay I will examine . . . . This essay examines . . . .
In this report I will show… This report presents…
 I noticed… Analysis of the raw data indicated…

A note on paragraphing is also essential here:

Parts of a Paragraph

A paragraph is a group of sentences that communicates one main idea. Most paragraphs have three parts: a topic sentence, several supporting sentences, and a concluding sentence.

The topic sentence is the most important sentence in the paragraph. It is often the first sentence in a paragraph. It tells the reader what the paragraph is about.

Next comes the supporting sentences. These sentences give details, examples and reasons to explain the topic sentence. All of the supporting sentences must relate to the topic of the paragraph.

Some paragraphs end with a concluding sentence. The concluding sentence restates the main idea in different words. Here are some common ways to begin a concluding sentence: All in all …, As one can see …, Accordingly… .

Writing An Essay Plan


The Question: This starts with the question you are going to respond to. Read it carefully. Then UNDERLINE THE KEY WORDS that will tell you what sort of approach to take (Analyse, Explore, Discuss, etc).

Lastly, HIGHLIGHT key words relating to the question.

The planning gives a basic outline of your essay. Try using a “Spider diagram” or a “Pattern plan”- listing your points down – or “Mind-mapping” to brainstorm relevant ideas. In some circles, this means, make an outline!

Why should you plan?

  • To ensure that you include all the information you will need.
  • It sets out your main ideas clearly.
  • To make sure that your essay has got structure by taking the reader through your answer in a logical and progressive way.
  • So that you answer the question fully.
  • So that you don’t run out of time in an examination.
  • You can also select your connecting words and phrases, as well as quotes (if any) to each point/idea to earlier and later points.

The Introduction

Writing an effective introduction is one of the most important skills you must learn. A good introduction should:

  • give your reader a taste of what your essay is about
  • lead your reader into the rest of the essay
  • encourage them to continue reading, because what you are writing seems clear and interesting.

Another important sentence is your Thesis Statement – usually, the last sentence of the introductory paragraph. It must present the TOPIC of your essay and also make a comment about your POSITION in relation to the topic. It must tell the reader what your essay is about. It is very important!

Take Note: An introduction must connect back to the question being asked. A simple way to gauge how good or bad your introduction is, is to try this simple technique: “Remove the introductory paragraph and show it to another student and have them tell you what the essay question is. If the answer is NOT quite what the actual question is, then something isn’t right.” REVISE IT!

Usually, you will not use any quotes in your essay’s introduction. An introduction should be entirely in your own words.

The Body/Supporting Paragraphs – Follow the PEEE Technique!

This is the main body of your essay which should:

  • be clearly structured into well-organized paragraphs. A general rule is “one point = one paragraph”.
  • start with a topic sentence (POINT) making it clear what the paragraph is about.
  • have EVIDENCE to support your point. You do this through selecting a well-chosen quote; the quote should demonstrate the point you have made. It could be a sentence; phrase or a word.
  • EXPLAIN the link between your point and the evidence – how does the evidence support the point you have made?
  • What EFFECT does this have? How would the audience feel about this? Look at the author’s choice of language – what words does s/he use? What effect do these words have? Is what the author has done effective? What’s your personal response?

Here too, you may need to consult transitions (connectives) and phrases to spruce up your essay and become more scholarly. A whole list of them is available BELOW.

The Conclusion

A conclusion should not be a reworking of everything you have previously stated in your essay.  It is, instead, as crucial to the overall success of your essay as the other sections.  The conclusion needs to be a carefully constructed paragraph that ‘completes’ your argument.  It is an opportunity to leave the reader with a set of final, original ideas about the text that you have created yourself.  You should try to make a lasting impact in your conclusion, creating a paragraph that your reader remembers and show your own individual, intellectual and emotional engagement with the text that you are writing about.

Writing a good conclusion is important because it will:

  • round off your essay well, perhaps echoing your introduction to do so, usually in about 3-5 sentences in length.
  • leave your reader with a clear sense of what the essay was all about.
  • summarize all the points you have made clearly and concisely.

The format in writing a conclusion can be seen in three stages as:

  • A ‘general’ comment summarising the content of your essay.
  • A brief reference to one of the major points made in your essay.
  • A final summing up, perhaps including a specific, interesting detail.

You may find that you need more than one sentence to cover each point. As a rule of thumb having 3-5 sentences is fine.

Thus, a conclusion should contain NO new points and, so, no reference, as well.


Quotes are useful in writing because they serve to validate your point. Choose your quotes carefully, however; the best quotes are the ones that if you tried to paraphrase them, they would lose some of their power.

There are several ways to quote:

  • Quote a word/s
  • Quote phrases
  • Quote sentence(s)
  • Embed quotes into your sentences

ALWAYS explain the effect(s) of words; phrases or sentences to the question asked.

When using quotes, it is important to incorporate, or “blend” them seamlessly into your own words within a sentence. Do NOT put quotes alone in a sentence. Instead, introduce them in a way that they are part of your own sentence.

Remember, a quote should never appear in a sentence by itself, because then there is no context for the quote.

Use Signal Phrases

A quote can be smoothly integrated into the sentence by using a signal phrase.

The signal phrase can be a phrase, clause, or even sentence which leads into a quotation or statistic.  These generally include the speaker/author’s name and some justification for using him or her as an expert in this context; it may also help establish the context for the quotation.

Verbs in Signal Phrases

X states, “….” or According to X, “….”

X himself writes, “….”

In her book… X maintains that “….”

In the article… X claims that “….” In X’s view, “….”

X agrees/disagrees when she writes, “….”

X complicates matters further when she writes, “….”

According to…/ In her article…

In the opinion of (author’s name)…

(Author’s name) suggests/ argues that…

adds admits agrees argues asserts believes criticizes proclaims

claims comments compares demonstrates denies emphasizes

illustrates implies insists notes observes points out complains

reasons says states suggests thinks proposes comments

announces concludes predicts declares claims replies responds

remarks estimates presents observes exclaims writes acknowledges

grants  refutes illustrates

Never insert a quote or a paraphrase abruptly into your writing without first introducing the quote (or paraphrase), citing it, and explaining it.

This means that you will never begin or end a paragraph with a quote.

This method is often referred to as the ICE method of integrating quotes: Introduce, Cite, and then Explain.

ICE: Introduce, Cite, and Explain Your Evidence

Body paragraphs in academic essays contain evidence that supports debatable main ideas that appear in topic sentences, and responsible writers make sure to introduce, cite, and explain quotes and paraphrases used as evidence.

INTRODUCE: Introduce all your quotes using introductory phrases.  Here are some examples:

  • According to Michael Smith, “you should use the author’s first and last name when you cite that author for the first time in your paper” .
  • As Smith explains, “you can introduce your quotes with a number of different phrases” . 
  • Smith suggests that “if the introduction to your quote isn’t a dependent clause, it doesn’t need to be followed by a comma”.
  • Smith observes the following in his article: “When you use a colon to introduce a quote, you need a complete sentence preceding the colon”.

CITE: Provide appropriate parenthetical citations for all quotes and paraphrases (but not summaries).  Check the appropriate style guide for guidelines, e.g. MLA, APA, and Chicago.  Here are some guidelines for MLA style citation:

  • If the author’s name appears in the introduction to the quote or in the paraphrase, it doesn’t have to appear in the parenthetical reference, as the citations above illustrate.
  • If the author’s name does not appear in the introduction to the quote, the name must appear in the parenthetical reference.  See the following example of a cited paraphrase:

EXPLAIN: Make sure to explain your quotes.  Provide analysis that ties them back to your main idea / topic sentence.  In other words, comment on the evidence in order to incorporate it into the argument you’re making.

Never leave any room for interpretation. It is your responsibility as the writer to interpret the quote for your reader and provide the significance.


Ellipsis Points

If you want to make a long quote shorter in order to present the reader with a more concise quotation, do so using an ellipsis, which is three periods, each period having a space before and after it (example: “ . . . ”).

Example: When Fuller (2005) returns home, she explained, “…I was dislocated and depressed” (p. 72).

However, be careful not to cut words that change the tone or meaning of a quote.

Adding Text to Quotes

The quote you use should make grammatical sense with the rest of your sentence. Therefore, you may sometimes have to add words to a quote, or modify the verb form in the quoted text.

You do this by enclosing the added material in square brackets (like this: [ ] ).

Example: “I will love the light for it shows me the way. Yet I will endure the darkness because it shows me the stars.”  Og Mandino

 Blended:  Even though times may be difficult, it is important to be positive and “love the light for it shows me the way [while] endur[ing] the darkness because it shows me the stars” (Mandino).

Notice that brackets [    ]   were used to show that words were added or changed. You would do this when the quote as written does not flow well with your sentence. Use brackets if needed to change or add words and make the sentence flow!

Block Quotes

If you are quoting four or more lines of text, indent the quoted lines ten spaces from the left margin. Double-space the quote as you do the rest of your essay, and do not use quotation marks.

Quoting Poetry

Use the poem’s line number instead of page numbers to identify the quote. If you are quoting three lines or less of poetry, put a slash (/) between the lines to mark the line break

If you are quoting more than three lines, you must block quote them. However, do not double-space a block quote from a poem. Rather, you must attempt to recreate the line spacing and indenting of each line as it is in the original.

 Integrating Quotes Into Your Writing

 Quote the Good Stuff

Beware of using quotations that do not mean anything or add substance to your essay.

If a source says something so well that you couldn’t possibly change it, use it! If a source backs up a point you made, use it!

If you understand what a source is saying, use it! You will have to analyze it later, so understanding it will help you.

Avoid Over-Quoting

Remember “less is more.” Do not pad your essay with other people’s ideas.

Keep Quotations Short

Keep your quotations 1–2 sentences long or use a few key words/phrases. If you need it all, turn the quotation into a “block quotation,” but use them sparingly! “Block” the quotation if it’s more than 40 words long.

Block the quotation by having it start on a new line and in the same position as a new paragraph.

Copy Quotations Correctly

Misspellings and use of incorrect grammar when it’s obvious that the source couldn’t have made those mistakes affects your own credibility as a writer. Accuracy indicates care for one’s work.

Use brackets when you alter a word or phrase from the quotation. Use an ellipsis when you omit words or phrases from the quotation.

Use an ellipsis with brackets […] when you omit words in a sentence.

Do Not Start a Paragraph with a Quotation

A paragraph should begin with your ideas. The first sentence of a paragraph is known as the topic sentence or assertion, both of which support the focus of the essay. In turn, the quotation supports the topic sentence.

Do Not End a Paragraph with a Quotation

Always conclude the paragraph with your ideas. The last sentence should be part of your analysis of the quotation.

As you choose quotations for a literary analysis, remember the purpose of quoting. Your essay develops an argument about what the author of the text is doing – how the text “works.”

You use quotations to support this argument; that is, you SELECT, PRESENT, and DISCUSS material from the text specifically to “PROVE” your point – to make your case – in much the same way a lawyer brings evidence before a jury.


Connectives connect and relate sentences and paragraphs. They assist in the logical flow of ideas as they signal the relationship between sentences and paragraphs.

In essay writing, the material is supported and conditioned not only by the ordering of the material (its position) but by connectives which signal order, relationship and movement.

Some of the more commonly used connectives are listed below.
Note especially how these connections function to develop, relate, connect and move ideas.

Introducing an Additional Point

These connectives are used to add further information/ideas.

  • in addition to
  • moreover
  • of equal importance
  • also
  • again
  • then
  • as well as
  • furthermore
  • the following
  • what is more
  • to complement

To Contrast or Balance

We use these connectives to compare two different ideas with each other to show that they are different.

  • but
  • actually
  • alternatively
  • despite this
  • the opposite
  • on the other hand
  • although
  • to balance this
  • however
  • in fact
  • to turn to
  • on the contrary
  • disproving
  • whereas
  • apart from
  • disputing this
  • nevertheless
  • nonetheless
  • yet
  • as for
  • instead
  • otherwise
  • equally
  • though

Indicating Sequence

  • These help to develop the logical sequence of your ideas.
  • They enable you to show chronological order.
  • initially
  • so far
  • finally
  • subsequently
  • in the end
  • succeeding
  • prior to
  • firstly
  • afterwards
  • secondly
  • meanwhile
  • eventually
  • following
  • previously
  • then
  • at last
  • next
  • at length
  • since
  • later
  • to begin with

 Making a Comparison

We use these connectives to compare two different ideas with each other to show that they are similar.

  • equally
  • in comparison
  • likewise
  • in juxtaposition
  • in contrast
  • similarly
  • comparatively
  • as with
  • by way of contrast
  • compared with
  • an equivalent
  • to balance this

 Introducing an Illustration

These connectives are used when we want to give an example of something.

  • for example
  • as revealed by
  • to take the case of
  • in other words
  • above all
  • specifically
  • in fact
  • for instance
  • to show that
  • to elucidate
  • a case in point
  • in particular
  • especially
  • that is to say
  • such as
  • thus
  • notably
  • significantly
  •  an instance
  •  explicitly

 Introducing Details or Examples

These connectives are used when we want to give an example of something.

  • For example
  • In fact
  • For instance
  • In any event
  • As evidence
  • In support of
  • Such as
  • To illustrate
  • In this case
  • As stated in / by
  • According to
  • As a result
  • In any case

In Persuading

These connectives are used when we want to give detail to our examples/explanations.

  •  of course
  • clearly
  • decidedly
  • no wonder
  • luckily
  • admittedly
  • naturally
  • surely
  • indeed
  • strangely enough
  • fortunately
  • undoubtedly
  • obviously
  • certainly
  • virtually
  • oddly enough
  • unfortunately

Indicating Time

These connectives are used to express time and are usually used to explain when something happens/has happened in relation to something else.

  • finally
  • later
  • last, lastly, at last, now,
  • then
  • when
  • soon
  • next
  • afterward
  • Thereafter
  • after a short time
  • the next week
  • A minute later
  • in the meantime
  • meanwhile,
  • on the following day
  • at length
  • ultimately
  • presently
  • subsequently

Indicating an Opinion/Interpretation/Qualification

These connectives help to explain why something may change because of something else.

  • it would seem
  • on the strength of
  • improbably
  • incredibly
  • imagine
  • presumably
  • one might consider
  • suggest
  • propose
  • suppose
  • deduce
  • conclude
  • theoretically
  • literally
  • obviously
  • possibly
  • maybe
  • contrary to

Indicating Cause and Effect

These connectives help to explain why something happens.

  • consequently
  • thus
  • so
  • hence
  • as a result
  • because
  • Therefore
  • Accordingly
  • since
  • whenever
  • until
  • as long as
  • effectively
  • of course
  • depending upon necessarily
  • eventually
  • inevitably
  • it may happen


In Conclusion or Summary

These connectives help to show that you have come to the end of an idea/sums up your essay.

  • to conclude
  • finally
  • on the whole
  • summarizing
  • throughout
  • undoubtedly
  • In any case
  • obviously
  • in conclusion
  • in the end ultimately
  • overall
  • to recapitulate
  • briefly
  • as noted above
  • In any event
  • after all
  • in brief
  • to sum up
  • in a nutshell
  • in summary
  • unquestionably

Connectives make your writing more powerful and help the reader move smoothly from one point to the next.

Always REMEMBER  to use connectives to make your ideas flow and to improve the structure of your writing.

Good luck in all your endeavours.

As of old: Be EMPOWERED and EXCEL!!



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.




The hardest job kids face today is learning good manners without seeing any ~ Fred Astaire.

Whilst preparing this post, I kept on thinking about questions which would start me off. I finally settled on four important ones:

  • Is society better when people treat each other with respect? If so, why?
  • Is a classroom better when both students and teacher show mutual respect?
  • What does the saying: “Good manners are one of the most important keys to success in life” mean?
  • Which impresses people more — being “COOL” or being “COURTEOUS”?

High School students are no exception when it comes to manners. My watchwords to my students are always:

  • To boys – Manners will make you a GENTLEMAN. Rudeness is never manly.
  • To girls – Manners will make you a LADY.

No one ever went wrong by being polite – Hal Urban

Children are a reflection of where they are coming from. Thus, helping your children master the simple rules of etiquette will get them noticed — for all the right reasons.

In most cases some of our High School students’ rude attitude isn’t always intentional. Sometimes our students just don’t realize it’s impolite to interrupt, or pick their nose. Our teens are consequently affected negatively in the hustle and bustle of daily life, where busy parents don’t always have the time to focus on etiquette.

Friends and good manners will carry you where money won’t go ~Margaret Walker.

But if we – I mean both mum and dad or guardian – reinforce some must-do manners, we are bound to raise polite, kind and well-liked students who will have a great time in High School. I teach manners to my High School students and being a well-travelled teacher as well as teaching in diversified classrooms, I find that teaching and modeling certain mannerisms and behavioural ettiquecy help a lot.

Manners are minor morals. They are the everyday ways we respect other people and facilitate social relations. They make up the moral fabric of our shared lives. They need to be taught – Thomas Lickona.

17 Classroom Manners & Etiquette

IN MY CLASSROOM I insist and demand from my young ladies and gentlemen that:

Love Sign

  1. When asking for something, say “Please.”
  2. When receiving something, say “Thank you.”
  3. Do not interrupt grown-ups who are speaking with each other unless there is an emergency. They will notice you and respond when they are finished talking.
  4. If you do need to get somebody’s attention right away, the phrase “excuse me” is the most polite way for you to enter the conversation.
  5. When people ask you how you are, tell them and then ask them how they are.
  6. Knock on closed doors — and wait to see if there’s a response — before entering.
  7. When you make a phone call, introduce yourself first and then ask if you can speak with the person you are calling.
  8. Never use foul language in front of adults.
  9. Do not make fun of anyone for any reason. Teasing shows others you are weak, and ganging up on someone else is cruel.
  10. Even if a play or an assembly is boring, sit through it quietly and pretend that you are interested. The performers and presenters are doing their best.
  11. If you bump into somebody, immediately say “Excuse me” or “Sorry.”
  12. Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze, and don’t pick your nose in public.
  13. As you walk through a door, look to see if you can hold it open for someone else.
  14. If you come across an adult working on something, ask if you can help. If they say “yes,” do so — you may learn something new.
  15. When an adult at school asks you for a favour, do it without grumbling and with a smile.
  16. When someone helps you, say “thank you.” That person will likely want to help you again. This is especially true with teachers!
  17. Teach the hello-goodbye rule -When you enter somebody’s space, it’s common courtesy to greet them. You should do the same thing with your parents whenever you come into your house.

My other rule is my Hello-Goodbye Rule. When students come into the classroom, I’d like them to say, “Hello/Good morning/afternoon, Mr. Chimbizi.” I will, of course, return their greeting and say hello back to them. And when they leave the classroom, I like them to say, “Goodbye, Mr. Chimbizi.” I may follow it with a good-bye handshake.

At Home: Respecting You and Other Adults

It is essential to remember that parenting doesn’t come with an instruction manual.

At home things may be slightly different as our teenagers of High School going-age’s respect towards us and other adults might waiver but we must never let them get away with being rude or blowing us off. Maintaining good manners at this age will set them up for more successes in adult life.

Family Education places a high priority on teenagers’ behaviour and set aside time to teach them about the importance of good manners and proper social conduct.

 Without good manners, human society becomes intolerable – George Bernard Shaw.

  • Listen to your teen and expect them to listen to you in return. Mutual respect is more important than ever during your child’s teen years.
  • Tell them that being on time for appointments and other plans is a sign of respect, so don’t be late.
  • Encourage them to help older people when they need a hand. Volunteering is a great way to practice good manners and interacting with different kinds of people.
  • Give your teen time for privacy and using new media, like mobile phones and music players. But ask for them full attention when you’re talking or eating with them. Most teens are obsessed with media, so setting rules for appropriate use will help them learn good etiquette.
  • Teach them the three R’s before they get to school: Respect for self; Respect for others and to accept Responsibility for all their actions.

A – Z Guide to Manners and Etiquette

Grow Learn Explore

The A – Z Guide to Manners and Etiquette looks at the new forces shaping the way we live, as well as some old ones, and suggests the best ways to behave. It’s not about pointing the finger at people and calling out bad behaviour; it’s about using common sense and thinking about how your actions might make other people feel in that situation.

Teens’ Manners – Show everyone how grown up you are by demonstrating good manners.

That’s just good manners which, alphabetically are:

  1. A       — ACCEPT a compliment graciously.
  2. B       — BE on time.
  3. C       — CLEAN your hands.
  4. D      — DO chew with your mouth closed.
  5. E       — ELBOWS off the table.
  6. F       — FRIENDLINESS to others.
  7. G     — GOOD grooming shows self-respect.
  8. H      — HAVE a go with humility.
  9. I       — INTERRUPT only for a very important reason.
  10. J       — JOIN in and include everybody.
  11. K       — KINDNESS to all living things.
  12. L       — LEND a helping hand.
  13. M      — MAGIC words: “Please” and “Thank you.”
  14. N       — NEVER point or laugh at others.
  15.       — OBEY the rules.
  16. P       — PLEASANT tone of voice is a plus.
  17. Q       — QUIET when others are working or sleeping.
  18. R       — REMEMBER others on special occasions.
  19. S       — SIT up straight.
  20. T       — THANK the host or hostess.
  21. U       — USE your beautiful smile.
  22. V       — VISIT a friend who is lonely or sick.
  23. W     — WATCH out for little ones.
  24. X      — “X” out bad habits.
  25. Y      — YAWN if you must but cover your mouth.
  26. Z     — ZIP your zipper.

There is no right or wrong way to walk and text simultaneously. There is, however, a way to do it that will cause the least inconvenience for everyone else using the footpath. You can work out what form that takes by having a little empathy for your fellow humans.

Some people will have bad manners, no matter what. That doesn’t mean you have to respond to bad manners with more bad manners. When someone else is being rude, avoid lowering yourself to their level.

By sending home a copy of the A – Z Guide to Manners and Etiquette the students are being taught, gives parents an unspoken invitation to do the same at home.

HS Teacher and Student

Being polite, respectful, and pleasant is essential in all social and professional situations. Thus, it is never too late to teach good manners to our High School students. After all they are still children, and need guidance from us to prosper in life.

On a final note, please remember that  . . .

Etiquette is all human social behavior. If you’re a hermit on a mountain, you don’t have to worry about etiquette; if somebody comes up the mountain, then you’ve got a problem. It matters because we want to live in reasonably harmonious communities. – Judith Martin

Good luck in your endevaours.

My next post on this exciting topic is entitled:

How To Make Our Students & Children Do Anything We Ask Of Them.

Until then, . . .

As of old: Be EMPOWERED and EXCEL.



I have had two posts on the subject of Critical Thinking entitled:

True courage is a result of reasoning. A brave mind is always impregnable. – Jeremy Collier

Being willing and able to think well, engaging important issues and resolving key problems, is vital for a student’s academic success. This means both parents and teachers need to reinforce a positive critical thinking mindset from an early age.

In order to engage students in successful critical thinking skills development and to reinforce a positive critical thinking mindset, there are a few basics to keep in mind as Dr Carol Gittens suggests. Dr Gittens came up with a list of suggestions that are useful techniques to promoting strong critical thinking and reasoning skills among students:

Effective Techniques for Building Reasoning Skills

  • Use silence to allow everyone time to think through the question before the conversation begins.
  • Pose thoughtful or insightful questions and intentionally allow 10–15 seconds of silence to elapse before calling on students to respond.
  • Work from example to theory – Discuss the examples in the text first, and then draw out the concepts they teach. This technique practices students’ inductive reasoning skills and promotes active engagement and inquisitiveness.
  • Make the language of thinking a familiar vocabulary – Use critical thinking vocabulary when posing questions to students to reinforce conceptual understanding and promote recognition of reasoning. Use the names of the skills and the habits of mind that are found in the textbook. For example, use phrases such as: “What is your reason for that claim?” or “Let’s interpret this statement . . .” or “What inferences can we reasonably draw from these facts?” or “Let’s be systematic in our analysis of . . . ”
  • Engage students in dynamic learning activities that promote independent thinking or exposure to the thinking of others. This may include maintaining a reflective journal, conversing with a partner, small groups, or the whole class; investigations, inquiries, and informed conversations; debates, simulations, role playing, fishbowl activities, panel discussions, brainstorming exercises, case studies, individual or group argument mapping or social networking features.
  • Expect students to provide reasons or explanations for all of their claims, interpretations, analyses, evaluations and decisions. Ask why and expect a good, well-reasoned answer. Don’t let students get by with shut-down clichés such as, “That’s just how I feel about . . . ” or “I was brought up to think that . . .” “My parents always said that . . . ” or “It’s common sense that . . .”
  • Model strong critical thinking for your students – Your students watch you to see if you believe in the value of critical thinking, so what you say and what you do might be more powerful in motivating them to build their critical thinking skills than anything they read or hear in a lesson. If you show that you practice the positive critical thinking habits of mind and that you engage in problems and decisions by applying critical thinking skills, that message comes through to them. If you do not, you reflect a negative message.

Thus, once the parameters have been set up for developing critical thinking among students, it is equally important to instill in students the reasoning behind certain assumptions.

8 Reasoning Capacities For Students To Observe

Observing the following suggestions will enhance students’ reasoning capacities beyond the classroom:

1) All reasoning has a PURPOSE. For example,

  • Can you state your purpose clearly?
  • What is the objective of your reasoning?
  • Is your goal realistic?

2) All reasoning is an attempt to figure something out, to settle some QUESTION, to solve some PROBLEM. For example,

  • What questions are you trying to answer?
  • Are there other ways to think about the question?
  • Can you divide the question into sub-questions?
  • Is this a question that has one right answer or can there be more than one reasonable answer?
  • Does this question require judgment rather than facts alone?

3) All reasoning is based on ASSUMPTIONS. For example,

  • What assumptions are you making? Are they justified?
  • How are your assumptions shaping your point of view?
  • Which of your assumptions might reasonably be questioned?

4) All reasoning is done from some POINT OF VIEW. For example,

  • What is your point of view?/What insights is it based on?
  • What are its weaknesses?/What are its strengths?
  • What other points of view should be considered in reasoning through this problem?

5) All reasoning is based on DATA, INFORMATION and EVIDENCE. For example,

  • To what extent is your reasoning supported by relevant data?
  • How clear, accurate, and relevant are the data to the question at issue?
  • Have you gathered sufficient data to reaching a reasonable conclusion?

6) All reasoning is expressed through, and shaped by CONCEPTS and THEORIES. For example,

  • What key concepts and theories are guiding your reasoning?
  • What alternative explanations might be possible, given these concepts and theories?
  • Are you clear and precise in using concepts and theories in your reasoning?
  • Are you distorting ideas to fit your agenda?

7) All reasoning contains INFERENCES or INTERPRETATIONS by which we draw CONCLUSIONS and give meaning to data. For example,

  • To what extent does the data we have support your conclusions?
  • Are your inferences consistent with each other?
  • Are there other reasonable inferences that should be considered?

8) All reasoning leads somewhere or has IMPLICATIONS and CONSEQUENCES. For example,

  • What implications and consequences follow from your reasoning?
  • If we accept your line of reasoning, what implications or consequences are likely . . .?

Having high reasoning skills for High School students can help them in their working situations be it at school or home as well as in their interpersonal relationships. Of course, the above points offer a variety of ways to change your reasoning skills for the better. By engaging in activities that encourage critical thought, working on altering your thought patterns, and learning to recognize irrational thoughts will certainly see a change in you. Try it today and see the differences.

Good luck in all your endeavours.

As of old: Be EMPOWERED and EXCEL!


In my first post on Critical Thinking, my focus was on:

  • Defining it.
  • The benefit of foresight
  • Critical thinking skills
  • Critical thinking at home

In this second post, my focus is on:

  • Asking questions – Reasoning and Problem-solving
  • Developing Critical Thinking Skills
  • Bloom’s Taxonomy and Critical Thinking
  • Questioning To Develop Critical Thinking
  • 18 Ways To Develop Critical Thinking Among Students

Do not indoctrinate your children. Teach them how to think for themselves, how to evaluate evidence, and how to disagree with you ― Richard Dawkins

Asking Questions To Model The Critical Thinking Skills

Critical thinking is a self-guided, self-disciplined thinking which attempts to reason at the highest level of quality in a fair-minded way. People who think critically, consistently attempt to live rationally, reasonably and empathically.

Teachers model critical thinking by the type of questions they ask. By framing questions that explore each of the critical thinking skills, one at a time and by referring to Bloom’s taxonomy to help them set the correct level of challenge through reasoning and problem solving that will make students thrive in this challenging world.

Use Bloom’s Taxonomy and Critical Thinking

Benjamin Bloom’s Taxonomy of educational objectives (1956) provides a useful way to think about when and how to use questions in teaching. As the following shows, Bloom identified six types of cognitive processes and ordered these according to the level of complexity involved. Ideally, teachers should combine questions that require “lower-order thinking” (often “closed” questions) to assess students’ knowledge and comprehension with questions that require “higher-order thinking” (often “open” questions) to assess students’ abilities to apply, analyze, synthesize and evaluate.


REMEMBERING  – This means memorizing and recalling facts by recognizing, listing, describing, identifying, retrieving or naming, eg:

  • What do we already know about . . . ?
  • What are the principles of . . . ?
  • How does . . . tie in with what we learned before?

UNDERSTANDING  – This is interpreting meaning by describing, generalizing, explaining, estimating or predicting, eg:

  • Summarize . . . or Explain . . .
  • What will happen if . . . ?
  • What does . . . mean?

To develop critical thinking skills, teachers model the thinking processes necessary for the development of the skills. The thinking process is cyclical, containing several key steps, starting with an issue or focus, before then questioning and analysing the evidence, then empathising and defining possible hypothesise, before forming a view or reviewing the evidence.


APPLYINGThis means applying knowledge to new situations by implementing, carrying out, using, applying, showing, solving or hypothesizing, eg:

  • What would happen if…?
  • What is a new example of…?
  • How could … be used to…?
  • What is the counterargument for…?

ANALYZING – It is breaking down or examining information through comparing, organizing or deconstructing, eg:

  • What are the implications of . . .?
  • Explain why / Explain how . . . ?
  • What is … analogous to . . . ?
  • How are … and … similar?

EVALUATING – This is judging or deciding according to a set of criteria by checking, critiquing, concluding or explaining, eg:

  • Do you agree or disagree with the statement…?
  • What evidence is there to support your answer?
  • What are the strengths and weakness of . . .?
  • What is the nature of . . .?

CREATING/SYNTHESISING  – This is combining elements into a new pattern by designing, constructing, planning or producing, eg:

  • What is the solution to the problem of…?
  • What do you think causes…?  Why?
  • What is another way to look at…?

How Can Teachers Develop Students’ Critical Thinking Skills?

Critical thinking has been an important issue in education, and has become quite the buzzword around schools. Critical thinking is a skill that young minds will undeniably need and exercise well beyond their school years. Experts agree that in keeping up with the ever-changing technological advances, students will need to obtain, understand and analyze information on a much more efficient scale. It is our job as educators to equip our students with the strategies and skills they need to think critically in order to cope with these tech problems and obstacles they face elsewhere.

18 Ways To Develop Critical Thinking Among Students

These techniques can generate ideas to develop critical thinking in students:

  1. BRAINSTORMING before everything you do – One of the easiest and most effective ways to get students to think critically is to brainstorm. Regardless of subject, have students think about what they’ll be doing, learning or reading before actually starting each activity. Ask a lot of questions, like “What do you think this book will be about?” Or “Tell me three things you think you will be learning in this lesson about . . .” Give students every opportunity you can to be critical thinkers.
  2. GUIDING them as they gather and question as much relevant information as possible/sufficient to inform thinking, eg: mind map or visual organiser, pair-share or collective memory.
  3. USING SCAFFOLDS to organise their thinking, eg: listing evidence For and Against.
  4. BALANCING VIEWS and contradictory or opposing evidence, weighing one set against another, eg: ideas on post-it notes, info-graphs or role play.
  5. CONFERENCE STYLE LEARNING – Another strategy to develop critical thinking in students is for the teacher to avoid “teaching” in class, but play the role of a facilitator in a conference, where you guide the class along even as students are the ones who do the reading and explaining. It is important that teachers’ do not misinterpret their role to be passive but remain in control of the lesson while letting the students do the thinking.
  6. WRITING ASSIGNMENTS – By giving students broad writing assignments allows them to think through an issue. Teachers should encourage students to reason and argue both sides of the issue as well as subjecting thinking to challenges and hypothesis forming.
  7. EXPLORING ideas from different perspectives and empathise, eg: imagine a situation from the perspective of others or arrange a debate.
  8. Asking students to JUSTIFY THEIR REASONING and the views they arrive at, eg: hot-seating or debate.
  9. AVOIDING BEING JUDGMENTAL, eg: empathise and continually test their own perspective.
  10. AMBIGUITY – Being a little ambiguous forces students to think for themselves. Remember though that there is a difference between being ambiguous and simply confusing your students.
  11. MODELLING the use of good critical thinking questions, to find out more and think problems through.
  12. Providing GROUP OPPORTUNITIES – Group settings are the perfect way to get students thinking. When students are around their classmates working together, they get exposed to the thought processes of their peers. They learn how to understand how other people think and that their way is not the only route to explore.
  13. MAKING CONNECTIONS – Encourage students to make connections to a real-life situation and identify patterns is a great way to practice their critical thinking skills. Ask students to always be on the look out for these connections, and when they find one to make sure they tell you.
  14. Designing QUESTIONNAIRES by students for an interview that is part of a project based learning or for a guest speaker talking on a specific topic of interest followed by analyzing and interpreting their findings make the students active learners. This, in turn, would aid in making meaningful connections, proving and altering their hypothesis and drawing relevant conclusions.
  15. COMPARING and CONTRASTING – Much like classifying, students will need to look closely at each topic or object they are comparing and really think about the significance of each one.
  16. CLASSROOM ASSESSMENT TECHNIQUES – In this technique, the teacher lets the student assess the lessons on an ongoing basis. Posing questions like ‘What’s the most important you learnt from today’s lesson’ will get into thinking critically.
  17. CLASSIFYING and CATEGORIZING – Classification plays an important role in critical thinking because it requires students to understand and apply a set of rules. Give students a variety of objects/ideas and ask them to identify each one of them, then sort them into categories. This is a great activity to help students think and self-question what objects/ideas should go where and why.
  18. CASE STUDY/ DISCUSSION METHOD – This technique helps to foster a discussion or present a case study in the classroom. The teacher does not present a conclusion but would let the students wander through the discussion or case and think their way to a conclusion.

Surely, the development of critical thinking skills like any other skill needs adequate exposure and opportunities to apply them. All this demands teachers’ use of innovative and creative mode of teaching and learning in this ever-changing world of education.

 Do you have some strategies that you can use to encourage critical thinking in the classroom? Please share your ideas.

Closely related to the benefits of teaching Critical Thinking skills among OUR students and children at home is the issue of REASONING. Hence, my THIRD post is entitled:

Amazing Ideas On Training Reasoning Skills Among Students

As of old: Be EMPOWERED and EXCEL!