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MAKING SENSE: The Glamorous Story of English Grammar, by David Crystal
281 pp. Oxford University, $24.95.
Peter Sokolowski, NY Times: “The indefatigable linguist Crystal’s latest book, “Making Sense,” is a surprisingly entertaining historical and scholarly tour of the mechanics of English.
Grammar can seem as technical and off-putting as math or physics to many people who nevertheless can speak, read and write very well, and while some books on language prey on readers’ insecurity with lists of word-choice peeves and classist language shibboleths, Crystal efficiently punctures such snobbery.
His approach is to explain the points of grammar and their natural acquisition in the order in which a toddler develops language skills, a brilliant strategy that allows him to begin with the most basic concepts and build upon them while simultaneously exemplifying the descriptive nature of his work.
He illustrates the lingering “pernicious” effects of trying to fit the square peg of English into the round hole of Latin grammar, responsible for centuries of confusing information about how English works.
Discussions of semantics (what we are trying to say) and pragmatics (how we are trying to say it) give a more concrete nature to grammar, and are used effectively here to explain away the silly admonition against the passive voice in writing.
A primer on corpus linguistics and a short explanation of how our language evolved from Old English help complete Crystal’s masterly telling of why a living language’s grammar, like its vocabulary, is not only unfinished, it is unfinishable. One could not have a more genial guide for such a tour.”
Reading/Spelling tutor in Columbus OH: Adrienne Edwards 614-579-6021, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
by Liz Evans, Huffington Post
This year, Simon is in fourth grade and Grace is in first grade, and I find myself asking them every day after school, “So how was school today?”
And every day I get an answer like “fine” or “good,” which doesn’t tell me a whole lot.
AND I WANT TO KNOW A WHOLE LOT!!!!
Or at least get a full sentence. So the other night, I sat down and made a list of more engaging questions to ask about school. They aren’t perfect, but I do at least get complete sentences, and some have led to some interesting conversations… and hilarious answers… and some insights into how my kids think and feel about school.
1. What was the best thing that happened at school today? (What was the worst thing that happened at school today?)
2. Tell me something that made you laugh today.
3. If you could choose, who would you like to sit by in class? (Who would you NOT want to sit by in class? Why?)
4. Where is the coolest place at the school?
5. Tell me a weird word that you heard today. (Or something weird that someone said.)
6. If I called your teacher tonight, what would she tell me about you?
7. How did you help somebody today?
8. How did somebody help you today?
9. Tell me one thing that you learned today.
10. When were you the happiest today?
11. When were you bored today?
12. If an alien spaceship came to your class and beamed someone up, who would you want them to take?
13. Who would you like to play with at recess that you’ve never played with before?
14. Tell me something good that happened today.
15. What word did your teacher say most today?
16. What do you think you should do/learn more of at school?
17. What do you think you should do/learn less of at school?
18. Who in your class do you think you could be nicer to?
19. Where do you play the most at recess?
20. Who is the funniest person in your class? Why is he/she so funny?
21. What was your favorite part of lunch?
22. If you got to be the teacher tomorrow, what would you do?
23. Is there anyone in your class who needs a time-out?
24. If you could switch seats with anyone in the class, who would you trade with? Why?
25. Tell me about three different times you used your pencil today at school.
So far, my favorite answers have come from questions 12, 15 and 21. Questions like the “alien” one give kids a non-threatening way to say who they would rather not have in their class, and open the door for you to have a discussion to ask why, potentially uncovering issues you didn’t know about before.
And the answers we get are sometimes really surprising. When I asked question 3, I discovered that one of my children didn’t want to sit by a best friend in class anymore — not out of a desire to be mean or bully, but in the hope they’d get the chance to work with other people.
As my kids get older, I know I am going to have to work harder and harder to stay engaged with them — but I know it’s going to be worth the work.
Reading/Spelling Tutor in Columbus OH: Adrienne Edwards, O-G Tutor 614-579-6021 or email email@example.com
By Marilyn Zecher, M.A., CALT
Students with learning challenges begin to fall behind in math quite early, often before third grade. We know that learning to recognize and use quantity patterns is a core deficit in math. Students must learn the composition and decomposition of basic quantities such as what makes seven and what makes nine. They also need to understand how our place value system is organized and then to apply those early patterns across place value. If two plus three equals five, then twenty plus thirty equals fifty. By the time our students with dyslexia are in eighth grade, many are not proficient in math. Yet, they are expected to attempt algebra, a crucial course, armed with little reasoning ability and a calculator accommodation.
Parents and teachers worry about their ability to access grade-level content with below grade-level skills. And, with new approaches, students are introduced to multiple models when they do not fully comprehend one.
There are, however, some strategies that can help students with dyslexia understand core concepts and make sense of their pre-algebra and algebra content.
Let’s begin with the language. Students need to understand the meaning of key terms such as variable, equation, expression, and square. Don’t head for http://www.dictionary.com since most formal definitions are not
student friendly. Offer your student some non-math examples that will help him or her link to the math meaning.
Example 1: “The weather is variable at this time of year.” A variable is a letter representing a quantity that can change. Sometimes it is an unknown that we can discover, but it can also be something that can change. We use variables to create expressions and equations for making predictions and modeling. “Wow” and “oops” are expressions in English. They convey meaning but they are not complete thoughts. The math expression 2n+7 is not a complete equation. It lacks an equal sign and therefore can only be used to “evaluate” different choices or options.
Example 2: Now, let’s make a word web of all the ways we can think of to say “plus” or “add”: plus, increased by, added to, 7 greater than, 7 more than. We can also say multiplication many ways. Think of two times a number, the product of two and a number, twice a number. Now let’s construct all the ways we can say 2n + 7.
Most teachers begin with the math and expect students to comprehend the words. With students who have language challenges, begin with the words. The numbers are often easier.
The same is true for linear functions. Begin by helping your student build a model for a real life situation. Use linking cubes or even different colors of construction paper squares.
Example: If Tim pays a $10 fee to enter the climbing gym and then $2 per hour, how could we model that? Let’s build the ten as our starting value and then use different colors of paper squares to model that constant rate of change.
Using simple manipulatives, you and your student can build linear functions in slope intercept form without ever using resorting to equations. Meaningful math begins with real life applications. Reasoning mathematically is at the heart of becoming fluent in math.
My favorite models for linear functions involve high priced athletes with signing bonuses and per game salaries or depreciation of VERY expensive luxury cars. Make up some wonderful examples for working with your child and then have some fun with math.
Marilyn Zecher is a nationally certified Academic Language Therapist and former classroom/demonstration teacher, Ms. Zecher is a specialist in applying multisensory, Orton-Gillingham-based strategies to a variety of content areas. She trains nationally for The Multisensory Training Institute of the nonprofit Atlantic Seaboard Dyslexia Education Center in Rockville MD and is a part time instructor at Loyola University, Baltimore.
Orton-Gillingham literacy tutoring in Columbus OH: Adrienne Edwards, 614-579-6021, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
EXECUTIVE FUNCTION suggestions:
* ask teachers to check if child wrote assignments in agenda
* post schedules and directions and SAY THEM OUT LOUD
* give step by step directions and HAVE CHILD REPEAT THEM
* use checklist and color-coded supplies
* break projects into smaller pieces with OWN DEADLINES
* use graphic organizers or mind-mapping software
* follow daily schedules with built-in times for breaks
* with your doctor, consider ADHD medication
source: http:www.understood.org, adapted from Thomas E Brown PhD
Reading / writing tutor in Columbus OH: Adrienne Edwards 614-579-6021 or email email@example.com
IDA FACT SHEET (International Dyslexia Association)
The application process for individuals planning to enter college can be a daunting experience. For individuals with disabilities who are requesting testing accommodations, this can be even more challenging, as it often requires assembling necessary documentation, completing additional paperwork, and anticipating deadlines. This IDA Fact Sheet gives a broad overview of the process in order to assist individuals who are requesting test accommodations on high stakes tests such as the SAT and ACT. It provides guidance about what forms to submit, how to provide sufficient disability documentation, and how to gather supplemental information if needed to support accommodation requests. Keep in mind that each testing agency sets its own requirements for requesting accommodations.
The Application Process
- Test takers should read the test information on the program’s website. Many tests are administered on computer and incorporate functions such as a built-in calculator, clock, etc. Additionally, most testing agencies provide supplemental information or a handbook for test takers with disabilities.
- The testing agency website will give specific information about how to apply for accommodations. This should be read carefully to determine which accommodations are necessary (e.g., additional testing time, or breaks, separate room, a reader, etc.).
- Special Services and/or counseling staff in the student’s high school or district may be able to assist in completing the application and acquiring the required documentation.
- Early submission of applications is important, as it’s not unusual for testing agencies to request additional scores, updated testing, or clarification, which can cause delays. This is particularly true during peak application periods.
- Once the agency receives an application for accommodations, it may be two months before the applicant is notified. If additional testing or an appeal is needed, all this must be accomplished and submitted at least 60 days in advance of the test date.
- Since most testing agencies no longer “flag” scores obtained under non-standard conditions, it is important to request accommodations that are needed.
- Typically, all documentation should be sent in one complete packet. This pertains to supporting documentation (IEP, transcripts, letters re: past accommodations).
- Testing agencies often require current documentation according to their individual “recency” criteria. For example, many testing agencies request documentation for learning disabilities to be dated within the last three to five years to reflect the test taker’s need for specific accommodations. Test takers should review the documentation guidelines posted on the website.
- Often, a current, comprehensive evaluation is needed, as an adult version of some tests may be required. For example, most testing agencies will not accept a handwritten prescription-pad note from a doctor. Documentation should be complete, dated, signed, in English, and on official letterhead. Disability documentation should address all of the following:
- The existence of an impairment that substantially limits a major life activity, as compared to most people in the general population
- A diagnosis of the disability and the current impact of impairment and how it limits the student’s ability to take the test under standard conditions
- A rationale for why the requested accommodations are necessary and appropriate. For example, if extra time is requested, the evaluation must say how much extended time should be provided and on what basis.
- The accommodations that are requested should generally match those provided in the past.
- Some accommodations may not require prior approval, such as braces or crutches, eyeglasses, insulin pump, etc. Lockers that can be accessed during breaks are typically provided for storage of food, water, and/or medication, if applicable.
- If sufficient disability documentation is unavailable or outdated, it may take up to nine months in advance to find a qualified professional with a qualified professional with experience and expertise in diagnosing and documenting the disability in question. That evaluator will need relevant historical information, including:
- Letters documenting a history of accommodations in school, such as IEPs or 504 plans, or proof of accommodations on statewide assessments.
- A description of tutoring or coaching services provided in the past.
- A comprehensive evaluation report for diagnosis of the disability and accommodation determination.
- Additionally, school records from elementary and high school as well as teacher comments will help support a history of a disability. High school transcripts may provide good evidence if they showed the impact of the disability on grades (e.g., dropped classes, withdrawals, incompletes, or failing grades). It is not always the case that accommodations in the past will automatically continue. An ongoing need for accommodations can be described in a personal statement.
- Many colleges and universities with strong school psychology programs perform evaluations at a reduced fee if a private evaluation is not feasible.
Types of Decision Letters
There are three basic types of decision letters that the testing agency sends:
- Approval—This type of letter will list the accommodations that have been approved.
- Once accommodations have been approved, directions on the approval letter regarding how to schedule the test and other pertinent information.
- Be aware that extra time may be needed to schedule the test after approval for accommodations. For example, extra time may be needed to secure a reader or scribe.
- Request for Additional Information—This type of letter is not a denial of the request. It specifies that the agency needs more information to complete the review.
- Denial—If the testing agency finds the documentation insufficient to support the accommodation request, this letter will explain the decision and will include options for requesting further review.
- Appeal Process: Each testing agency has established a procedure to allow an appeal of its decision. The information on how to appeal a decision is typically stated in the denial letter or on the agency’s website. When the requested information is submitted, the request will be reconsidered.
Preparing for the Test
Whether or not an accommodation request is approved, it is important for the student to become familiar with the upcoming test.
- Most testing agencies have a wide range of practice materials at no or low cost available to test takers.
- Areas of particular focus are the test format, the types of questions used, and the test directions for each type of question. This can reduce the amount of time spent familiarizing oneself with instructions on the test day. Alternate-format practice materials can be requested if this is one of the desired accommodations.
- The sample test questions can be practiced with and without the requested accommodations. The goal is to increase the number of questions correctly completed within the time limit. As you practice, try to increase the number of questions you can complete correctly within the time limit.
- Test sites differ, so it is a good idea to check out the location in advance.
- AHEAD (Association on Higher Education and Disability) This is a professional association committed to full participation of persons with disabilities in postsecondary education. www.ahead.org
- Students with Disabilities Preparing for Postsecondary Education: Know Your Rights and Responsibilities www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/transition.html
- Rights and Responsibilities of College Students with LD (Learning Disabilities Association of America) https://ldaamerica.org/rights-and-responsibilities-of-college-students-with-learning-disabilities-ld/
- Educational Testing Service http://www.ets.org/disabilities
- ACT Test website http://www.act.org/content/act/en/products-and-services/the-act/registration/accommodations.html
The International Dyslexia Association (IDA) thanks Loring Brinkerhoff, Ph.D., Nancy Cushen White, Ed.D., BCET, CALT-QI, and Diana Sauter, Ph.D., for their assistance in the preparation of this fact sheet.
Reading / writing tutoring in Columbus OH: Adrienne Edwards 614-579-6021 or email firstname.lastname@example.org