Category Archives: > Teacher Interest

Review: David Crystal’s Book on Grammar

MAKING SENSE: The Glamorous Story of English Grammar, by David Crystal
281 pp. Oxford University, $24.95.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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 aedwardstutor@columbus.rr.com
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Library of Congress Summer Teacher Institutes

[O-G tutoring; in NW Columbus OH : 614-579-6021 ; see more below] 

2016 Summer Teacher Institutes

Teaching with Primary Sources

The Library of Congress is now accepting applications for its week-long summer institutes for K-12 educators. Held at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., this professional development opportunity provides educators with tools and resources to effectively integrate primary sources into K-12 classroom teaching, with an emphasis on student engagement, critical thinking, and construction of knowledge.

The Library is offering five programs this summer. Four of the programs are open to teachers and librarians across all content areas. One focuses on primary sources in science, technology and engineering. During each five-day institute, participants work with Library education specialists and subject-matter experts to learn effective practices for using primary sources in the classroom, while exploring some of the millions of digitized historical artifacts and documents available on the Library’s website.

General Institutes – open to K-12 educators across all content areas:

June 27-July 1
July 11-15
July 18-22
July 25-29

Science, Technology, and Engineering Institute 

recommended for K-12 educators who teach science, technology, or engineering, or collaborate with those who do

June 20-24

Tuition and materials are provided at no cost. Participants will be responsible for transportation to and from Washington, D.C., and any required overnight accommodations.

Applications are due February 29 and require a letter of recommendation. Read more: http://www.loc.gov/teachers/professionaldevelopment/teacherinstitute/?rssloc=eanft

Orton-Gillingham tutoring in Columbus OH: Adrienne Edwards 614-579-6021 or email aedwardstutor@columbus.rr.com

+ Summer School Tips from eNotes.com

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Here is a Web site — eNotes — for students and teachers: www.enotes.com.

eNotes offers study guides, discussion rooms and tutoring help.  If you sign up, they will send you useful emails. You can also follow eNotes on Facebook.

A recent email newsletter offers tips for surviving summer school.

  • Attend class — well, obviously.  But it’s especially important in the context of summer school, since classes progress much faster than during the regular school year.  Missing just one lesson can leave you substantially behind.
  • Read a little more each day — since these classes whiz by, the amount you have to learn is condensed into a shorter time frame.  So spend a little extra time studying every day.
  • Think positive — especially if you’re repeating a class, don’t be dejected.  You’re at an advantage, since you’ve got old class notes to review as well.  Info will sink in faster.  If you’re not repeating a class, remind yourself that you’ll be a step ahead when school begins in the fall.
  • Stay energized — summer can sap your energy, as will late nights.  Three hour classes are common.  So it’s very important to keep decent hours, eat right, get some exercise.
  • Don’t suffer in silence — voice your questions to the instructor, confirm information with your peers.  Go to eNotes as well for help.  If you’re writing an essay, eNotes offers an Essay Lab.

Check out eNotes.  Lots of material is freely available.  For a six month or a year’s subscription you will find  a depth of resource material at your fingertips.  Cool benefit —  every month in 2012 eNotes is giving away a Kindle Fire.

Find eNotes on Facebook to enter: http://www.facebook.com/enotes .  Just “like” them and then answer this question:  “In the spirit of July 4th, what book embodies the “great American novel” in your opinion, and why?

Orton-Gillingham tutoring in Columbus OH:  Adrienne Edwards 614-579-6021 or email aedwardstutor@columbus.rr.com 

+ Screen-Free Week: April 30 – May 6

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Once again, it’s time to celebrate “Screen-Free Week” and challenge our families and students to just do it!

This is the annual week where children, families, schools and communities turn off screens and turn on life.

We know that nationally, children spend far too much time with screens: an astonishing average of 32 hours a week for pre-schoolers and even more for older children.

Excessive screen-time is harmful: it’s linked to poor school performance, childhood obesity, attention problems, and loss of creativity.

The week was formerly dubbed “TV-Turnoff.”  But kids (and all of us) are tethered to multiple life-screens by now.

This is a wonderful way to help children lead a healthier, happier live by reducing dependence on entertainment screen media — including television, video games, computers and tend-held devices.

By encouraging children and families to unplug, Screen-Free week provides time for them to play, plant things, draw a picture, talk to each other, read a book, dream, create, explore — and spend more time with family and friends.

Orton-Gillingham tutoring in Columbus OH:  Adrienne Edwards  614-579-6021  or email aedwardstutor@columbus.rr.com

+ eNotes Quick Study Tip: Solving Chemistry Equations

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From eNotes, which provides study guides for students (and resources for teachers as well) here are some tips for solving chemistry equations.

Solving chemistry equations isn’t easy for most students.  But practice and determination will give you confidence.  eNotes asks you to keep these three tips in mind as you do your chemistry homework.

  1. Take a moment to organize the equation before you pull out your calculator to do the math.
  2. Pay close attention to the units to make sure they are canceling correctly.  If units aren’t canceling correctly, then your answer won’t be correct.
  3. If you do a question multiple times before getting it right, make sure you look at the incorrect attempts to see where you went wrong.  Did you invert a conversion factor?  Forget to convert from kJ to J?  Miscalculate a molar mass?  This will help you make a mental checklist of potential problems in other equations.

eNotes want you to know that if you get really stuck, Editors are standing by and ready to help.  You have options for access to this help, you can choose monthly or yearly subscriptions.

eNotes is giving away an Amazon Kindle Fire every month in 2012.

Like them on Facebook as well!

Visit eNotes at http://www.enotes.com/lit/study-guides?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=december

Orton-Gillingham tutoring in Columbus OH: Adrienne Edwards 614-579-6021 or email aedwardstutor@columbus.rr.com

+ Linguists Say Girls are Pioneering Vocal Trends

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Douglas Quenqua in the NY Times reports that linguists are far from calling the “Valley Girl” trend called uptalk and the use of “like” in sentences as markers of immaturity and stupidity.

They are now explaining that young women use these embellishments in much more sophisticated ways than people realize.

Says Penny Eckert, professor of linguisitcs at Stanford

A lot of these really flamboyant things you hear are cute, and girls are supposed to be cute.  But they’re not just using them because they’re girls.  They’re using them to achieve some kind of interactional and stylistic end.

In December, researchers from Long Island University published a paper in The Journal of Voice.  From an admittedly very small sample — recorded speech from 34 women ages 18 to 25 — they found evidence of a new trend among female college students: a gutteral fluttering of the vocal cords they have called “vocal fry.”

Vocal fry is best described as a raspy or croaking sound injected (usually) at the end of a stentence.  Says Quenqua, it can be heard when Mae West says “Why don’t you come up and see me sometime;” or when Maya Rudolph on Saturday Night Live imitates Maya Angelou.

Nassima Abdelli-Beruh, a speech scientist at Long Island University, says we shouldn’t scoff.  “They use this as a tool to convey something.  You quickly realize that for them it is as a cue.”

And another linguist, Carmen Fought, professor at Pitzer College, says “If women do something like uptalk or vocal fry, it’s immediately interpreted as insecure, emotional or even stupid.  The truth is this: Young women take linguistic features and use them as power tools for building relationships.”

“It’s generally pretty well known that if you identify a sound change in progress, then young people will be leading old people, and women tend to be maybe half a generation ahead of males on average,” according to Mark Liberman, linguist at the University of Pennsylvania.

Why Women?

Some linguists suggest that women are more sensitive to social interactions and hence more likely to adopt subtle social cues.  Others feel women use language to assert their power in a culture that has asked them — in days gone by — to be sedate and decorous.  A third theory is that young women are simply given more leeway by society to speak flamboyantly.

“Uptalk”

It is well established that female vocal fads eventually make their way into the general vernacular.  Starting in the 1980s in America (after possibly emigrating from Australia), “uptalk” was common among Valley Girls. 

In the past 20 years, uptalk has traveled up the age range and across the gender boundary, according to David Crystal, a longtime professor of linguistics at Bangor University in Wales.  “I’ve heard grandfathers and grandmothers use it.  I occasionally use it myself.” 

The same can be said for the word “like,” when used in a grammatically superfluous way, or to add cadence to a sentence.  It has found its way into Webster’s New World College Dictionary, Fourth Edition, which explains that people use ” like” in a sentence “apparently without meaning or sytactic function, but possibly as emphasis.”

“Like” and uptalk often go hand in hand. There are studies that show uptalk can be used for many purposes, and sometimes to dominate a listener.

Cynthia McLemore, linguist at Penn, found that senior members of a Texas sorority used uptalk to make junior members feel obligated to carry out new tasks. (“We have a rush event this Thursday?  And everyone needs to be there?”)

Vocal fry, also known as “creaky voice,” has some history.  Dr Crystal cited it as far back as 1964, when he noticed it was a way for British men to denote their superior social standing.

In the United States it has been gaining popularity since 2003, when Dr. Fought detected it among the female speakers of a Chicano dialect in California.

Actresses like Gwyneth Paltrow and Reese Witherspoon have used creaky voice when portraying contemporary American characters (“Shallow Hal,” “Legally Blonde”). 

What does it denote? Ikuko Patricia Yuasa, lecturer in linguistics at UC Berkeley, calls it a natural result of a woman lowering her voice to sound more authoritative.

But it can also be used to indicate disinterest, which teenage girls are fond of doing.

According to Dr. Liberman,

It’s a mode of vibration that happens when the vocal cords are relatively lax, when subvocal pressure is low.  So maybe some people use it when they’re relaxed and even bored, not especially aroused or invested in what they are saying.

Dr Eckert says that language changes very fast, however.  Most people — particularly adults — will almost surely make mistakes when they try to divine the meaning of new forms of language used by young women.

“What may sound excessively ‘girly’ to me may sound smart, authoritative and strong to my students.”

For Douglas Quenqua’s article: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/28/science/young-women-often-trendsetters-in-vocal-patterns.html?_r=1&ref=science

Note: Every Tuesday the NY Times has a Science Times insert, chock full of great reports from the world of research as well as little known facts to intrigue any student!

Orton-Gillingham tutoring in Columbus OH:  Adrienne Edwards 614-579-6021 or email aedwardstutor@columbus.rr.com.

+ Central Ohio Free Parent Seminar on Writing Problems

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Marburn Academy in Columbus is inviting parents to a free seminar on “Getting It Down On Paper: The Solutions to Student Writing Problems.”

  • Date: Tuesday March 6
  • Time: 7:00-9:00 pm
  • Marburn Academy: 1860 Walden Dr, Columbus OH 43229
  • Reservations required: bdavidson@marburnacademy.org
  • Or phone 614-433-0822

Often students with learning differences have no trouble coming up with creative ideas, but they may struggle with expressing those ideas in writing.

Parents of children who wrestle with writing will find that this seminar offers  insight into the reasons why some children learn to write easily and others don’t.  They will be hearing about practical answers for remediation.

Earl Oremus, Headmaster of Marburn Academy, is a nationally recognized speaker on education, learning and learning differences. 

Oremus will explain why some children learn differently, why it is so important for teaching methods to match each child’s learning needs, and what works best when writing is being taught.

Orton-Gillingham tutoring in Columbus OH:  Adrienne Edwards 614-579-6021 or email aedwardstutor@columbus.rr.com