24 September 2010

We started with vocabulary:

  • gam – marriage – as in monogamy, to be married to only one person
  • grad, gress – step – as in graduate, to step up
  • gym – naked – as in gymnasium, a place in ancient Rome were people did physical training in the nude
  • hemo, hema, hem – blood – as in hemophilia, a blood disease

Today we ended up spending the whole time working on writing.  I felt like you needed some more direct instruction–and many of you seemed to agree.  We concentrated on these four things:

Making Transitions in Short Essays, and here is the promised list of Transition Words.

Staying in the academic register (no I/you/we, no slang/abbreviations, no contractions,  and grammar/spelling/punctuation matter–a lot).

Beefing up analysis in your papers. Many of you expressed that seeing a sample would be helpful, so here is the sample literary analysis paper that Ms. Fettweis and I wrote together a few years ago for ninth grade–but the same principles apply! Every body paragraph in a short literary analysis needs these things:

  • Topic sentence
  • Sentence introducing the quote/passage
  • The quote/passage
  • Explanation of how the quote/passage proves the “what” of your thesis
  • Explanation of how the quote/passage proves the “so what” of your thesis.

The last two pieces are the “analysis” in a literary analysis paper.  And lots of you are getting stuck summarizing the story or telling me what you think is going on in the quote instead of explaining how the quote proves your thesis.

Eliminating passive voice (see below).

Passive voice = when you move the subject to the end of the sentence (or eliminate it entirely) and replace a good strong verb with a version of “to be” (is, am, are, was, were, being, been, etc).

Active sentences:

  • Both poets create the image of flying in their sonnets.
  • Mark Twain wrote Huckleberry Finn in 1883*

Passive sentences:

  • In both sonnets, the image of flying is created. [eliminates the subject entirely]
  • Huckleberry Finn was written by Mark Twain in 1883. [moves subject to end of sentence]

To fix passive voice, you must ask yourself, “by whom?”  And then move that “whom” up front in the sentence. Usually this automatically eliminates the need for the “to be” verb.

*Fun side note.  Mark Twain did, in fact, write Huck Finn in 1883.  I was just flying with random guesses this afternoon when we did our sample sentences, but it’s for real.


2 thoughts on “24 September 2010

  1. Yes, OR I looked it up like five years ago and forgot that I knew it until it just came sailing out of my mouth.

    Extroverts are like that. We hardly know we’ve thought until we hear what we say. 🙂

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