TITLES: we use them all the time, automatically addressing each other by first name or simply adding the title as a courtesy gesture. With Literature analysis I find so many students ignore the title of the piece of writing they have been asked to read and search, sometimes with a hint of desperation, for “clues” to the understanding of a “theme”. An Author’s choice of a Title is not only to grab readers through “curb appeal” (fancy cover, shocking picture- great title…etc.), it will also give insight into some major purpose behind the writing itself.
Take for example the Charles Dicken’s classic, “A Tale of two CIties”; the underlying comparison between the passionate French at the beginning of the French Revolution and the implied cooler British, the Lawyers and the Bankers, with the two principal characters lawyers, and a secondary character, the Banker, a Mr. Lorry, to change a system from within, without heads rolling – literally on the guillotine-
But heads do roll, as the drama unfolds. The Title takes on more meaning when the parallel legal courts try the same man- first in England then in France- for a form of treason, and the concept of identity and how it is imposed comes to the fore. With the very famous closing lines, Dickens as narrator gives to the concept of “Cities” further meaning- the city before the Revolution and the city that “hero” Carton envisions will rise up once the change is complete. Equally important is the change of name – three times for a main character, and with each name change though same person, a different obligation imposed. Titles – how someone or something is “called” – but I will save the multiple meanings in the use of the word “Calling” for another time.
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Yes, I have heard that there are people who find the number 13 scary- but I love the idea of the century moving into its teens- having worked with students through the middle years and been privy to the wonderful changes that occur as childhood becomes youth and movement towards independence grows – I have seen the maturing that the teen years do bring. Also the experimenting and the challenging, that we as adults come to recognize as part of this growing.
In my cultural background, 13 is a lucky number. It is a recognized time for children to begin the formal understanding of adult community and when many ceremonies publicly enhance this recognition. Perhaps on a global level, throughout this year, 2013, we adults can extend our understanding of how little we truly know, and encourage the youths around us to continue to strive for greater knowledge, to remain curious, to not be afraid to challenge “accepted” wisdoms and to respect themselves and their dreams – especially necessary as it is a “tough world out there” and being able to – here I will defer to a well-respected former public figure for a quote: “ Do what you feel in your heart to be right – for you’ll be criticized anyway” (Eleanor Roosevelt) can often be one of the more difficult things to accomplish.
Simple wishes then for the 2013 Academic Year: for everyone to keep growing.
Alison (Ali the English Tutor)
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Ever heard a young child sing the ABCs or blithely recite a nursery rhyme, or a set of multiplication tables? The child owns that knowledge, often way before knowing much more than the sounds. And adults encourage this repetition, what ever the language in the home. Whether at home or in a daycare setting, many pre-school activities involve this working toward mastery, from the initial push-ups a child will do to strengthen his/her arms before one day taking off in a crawl to the running back to climb up the slide – then, yet again, coasting to the bottom. And young children enjoy hearing a story over and over again until they too have memorized and are able to “read” it on their own.
Somewhere though, between 1st grade and graduation the possibility of “winging it” takes over and this is when the school assigned writing exercises become an activity that some students dread. True, writing can be a slow process, due to the need for reviewing and revising. But not everything needs to be redone. In fact, some of the most difficult writing exercises involve a form of automatic writing; most tests require this quick and clear response to some type of prompt.
How then, to be quick and clear? No getting around it- repetition and drill of basic skills for which there are so many templates that students need not even be aware they are repeating the same exercise, although in a slightly different form.
http://prek-8.com/english/writing/index.php a great resource – free and downloadable for classrooms or those being home schooled.
Posted in devil s advocate, different perspectives, educator, English academics, tutoring help, learning together, home schooling, test prep, experiential knowledge- practical experience, lessons, writing, practical writing help, note taking, grammar, ownership, practice, quality time
I recently stated that I was “enough of an extrovert to find the energy to share regardless of how tired I was, when students call with questions beyond class time”. Only recently have I realized what a clue to my own personality I was offering with the use of the word “enough” – it meant I had realized that I wasn’t a bona fide extrovert needing the limelight, however I’m not a shy recluse either. A new book describes the differences between the shy personality and the introvert, and calls for a reminder to teachers/schools to make space for the introvert when it comes to learning situations. I was surprised to think that we had in fact begun to ignore this need for private contemplation within a group/classroom setting.
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking, by Susan Cain suggests that the emphasis on group projects may be currently undervaluing the contributions of the less gregarious in the groups. Placed beside research done on group dynamics – http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/15/opinion/sunday/the-rise-of-the-new-groupthink.html?pagewanted=all is the need to demonstrate how to collaborate on a project.
What I do hear constantly from students (private tutoring allows for private venting) is how rarely do all contribute equally to what is meant to be a group project; someone inevitably becomes the main researcher/coordinator/ final producer and suggesting that this person has then acquired the most skills is far from satisfactory to an already overworked student. Why then do teachers continue to promote group project work? There are benefits to learning how to contribute to a project, to valuing being a part of a whole, and to practicing negotiation skills in what ought to be a relatively safe environment, a school setting. What seems to be needed though is greater involvement on the part of a teacher to help delegate and establish commitment from group project participants. It is not enough to assign groups and topics and walk away. Students through grade 12 need the encouragement of the teacher, and educators need to recognize the difference between a student’s organized (grassroots) participatory involvement in extra curricular activities at a school and a teacher organized group project/presentation. Joining an extra-curricular school based activity means finding a place to share one’s passion; participating in a teacher directed class small-group project means earning marks for work done. While the “gregarious students” might come through at final presentation time, I have seen the quieter students often doing the majority of the research; an ok balance if both sets of students have been taught to appreciate each other’s contributions, however from what I have heard, this has rarely been the case.
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Tagged group project work, negotiation skills, nytimes, project participants, shy personality