Thursday, October 12, 2017

Writing 2 Class Notes -- Week 8 (October 12)


Fall is here in full force.  Weather maps show that we are nearing peak colors, making this one of my most favorite weeks of year.

Our Quick Write came from a list of college application essay prompts that I had gathered over the years.   Many colleges use the Common Application and its prompts and don't have their own specific application essays.  For today, students could choose from these three:
1.  what can you do that no one else can do?
2.  List your topic 10 favorite places.
3.  Name a family tradition and explain why it is significant to you.

Our Words of the Day came from my book of foreign words and phrases:
chapeau -- fr. French chapeau, "hat" -- fr. Latin cappellum, "cap" -- a hat or cap
charade -- fr. French charra, "chatter" -- an absurd pretense intended to create a pleasant or respectable appearance.
charisma -- fr. Greek kharis, gift, favor, grace -- NOTE:  For extra credit, students are to bring a definition and a sentence using the word to show its meaning.

While students were writing their Quick Writes, I handed back their homework, which also included a missing homework report.  I intend to hand these out every few weeks so that students know what homework, if any, has not been turned in.  I don't want anyone to get too far behind and not feel that they can catch up. Our fall break is a great time to get caught up.  Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

I also handed back the final drafts of their Process Essays.  These were very enjoyable to read, and the students did very well.  I graded the papers in four areas:  the Focus, which includes the introduction, thesis, and conclusion, the Content, the Organization, and the Mechanics.  In our next essays we will work on these areas, especially the introductions and conclusions.  Our next writing assignment is an Extended Definition Essay or a Classification Essay, and the pre-write was to be done for this week. However, students don't hand in these this week but in two weeks when they hand in their rough drafts.  

The Proposals for the the class's final projects for our book My Antonia were due today.  They can still be handed in, and I want them to be working on their projects over the next couple of weeks.  We are nearing the end of the book, and we had a short conversation about which characters we would like to have lunch with and what questions we would ask.  After break, we will break into our Literature Circles again.  Students should come prepared to present themselves in their roles.

A few weeks ago, the students wrote short pieces titled "Penguins as Pets," which my students in Northfield used for editing practice.  Today my  Writing 2 students used some of the essays from my Northfield students for their own editing practice.  In small groups of 4, they worked sentence by sentence fixing mistakes.  I have found that learning to edit is an essential practice in becoming a strong writer.  I heard great discussions all around.  Their next short assignment is to write 1 - 2 paragraphs titled "Music & Me;" make sure it has at least 5 mistakes.

Our final moments in class focused on Subject/Verb Agreement.  We talked through some of the rules, and the students have some exercises to do as homework.

Note:  Please remind your students to come to class on time.  A number of students came in late today, and when this happens, the whole class either has to wait to start or has to re-start.  Possibly, adjustments need to be made to their lunch routines.    


Assignments for October 26:
-- Finish My Antonia -- Final chapters
-- 3 Reader Responses
-- 5 Vocabulary Words
-- Subject/Verb Agreement Worksheets
-- Work on Final Book Projects
-- Write 1 - 2 paragraphs titled "Music & Me;" including at least 5 errors
-- Write Extended Definition or Classification Rough Draft
-- Extra Credit Word of the Day definition

Links for This Week
Class Notes

Have a great weekend!  Enjoy your Fall Break!
Mrs. Prichard

Rules for Subject/Verb Agreement & Exercises


RULE 1 – A verb agrees with its subject in number.   Singular subjects take singular verbs:

·         The car stays in the garage.
·         The flower smells good.
·         There is an old saying: “Opposites attract.”

The rule for singular and plural verbs is just the opposite of the rule for singular and plural nouns. Remember this when you match subjects and verbs. You might guess that stays and smells are plural verbs because they end in s. They aren’t. Both stays and smells are singular verbs.

RULE 2 – The number of the subject (singular or plural) is not changed by words that come between the subject and the verb.

·         One of the eggs is broken.

Of the eggs is a prepositional phrase. The subject one and the verb is are both singular. Mentally omit the prepositional phrase to make the subject verb-agreement easier to make.

Direction: Circle the correct verb in each of the sentences below.
1. Your friend (talk-talks) too much.
2. The man with the roses (look-looks) like your brother.
3. The women in the pool (swim-swims) well.
4. Bill (drive-drives) a cab.
5. The football players (run-runs) five miles every day.

RULE 3 – Some subjects always take a singular verb even though the meaning may seem plural.
These subjects always take singular verbs:

No one

·         Someone in the game was (not were) hurt.
·         Neither of the men is (not are) working.

RULE 4 – The following words may be singular or plural, depending upon their use in a sentence.


·         Most of the news is good. (singular)
·         Most of the flowers were yellow. (plural)
·         All of the pizza was gone. (singular) All of the children were late. (plural)

Directions: Circle the correct verb in the sentences below.
1. Each of the girls (look-looks) good on skis.
2. Everybody (was-were) asked to remain quiet.
3. Neither of the men (is-are) here yet.
4. (Is-Are) each of the girls ready to leave?
5. Several of the sheep (is-are) sick.

RULE 5 – Subjects joined by and are plural. Subjects joined by or or nor take a verb that agrees with the last subject.
·         Bob and George are leaving.
·         Neither Bob nor George is leaving.
·         Neither Bob nor his friends are leaving.

RULE 6 – There and here are never subjects. In sentences that begin with these words, the subject is usually found later on in the sentence.
·         There were five books on the shelf. (were, agrees with the subject book)
·         Here is the report you wanted. (Is agrees with subject report)

RULE 7 – Collective nouns may be singular or plural, depending on their use in the sentence.
A collective noun is a noun used to name a whole group. Following are some common examples:

United States

·         The orchestra is playing a hit song. (Orchestra is considered as one unit—singular.)
·         The orchestra were asked to give their musical backgrounds. (Orchestra is considered as separate individuals—plural)

Directions: Circle the correct verb in each of the sentences below
1. Margo and her parents (visit-visits) each other often.
2. Either the cups or the glasses (are-is) in the dishwasher.
3. Vern and Fred (need-needs) a ride to work.
4. There (is-are) a dog, a cat, and a bird in the garage.
5. Neither Matt nor his brothers (was-were) at the party.
6. Here into the main ring of the circus (come-comes) the trained elephants.
7. Either the workers or the boss (deliver-delivers) the merchandise.
8. The committee (work-works) hard for better schools.

RULE 8 – Expressions of time, money, measurement, and weight are usually singular when the amount is considered one unit.
·         Five dollars is (not are) too much to ask.
·         Ten days is (not are) not nearly enough time.

On occasion, however these terms are used in the plural sense:
·         There were thirty minutes to countdown.

RULE 9 – Some nouns, while plural in form, are actually singular in meaning.
·         Mathematics is (not are) an easy subject for some people.
·         Physics is (not are) taught by Prof, Baldwin.


home economics
social studies

RULE 10 – Don’t and Doesn’t must agree with the subject. Use doesn’t after he, she, it.
·         Doesn’t he (not don’t) know how to sail?
·         They don’t (not doesn’t) make movies like that anymore.

Directions: Circle the correct verb in each of the sentences below.
1. Mumps (is-are) one of the most uncomfortable diseases.
2. One hundred dollars (is-are) not a lot of money to some people.
3. She (doesn’t-don’t) look very well today.
4. Twenty minutes (is-are) the amount of time it takes me to get home from work.
5. It (doesn’t-don’t) seem so cold today.


The rules for agreement are simple, but need emphasizing because breaking them often goes unnoticed.  Simply, every verb must agree with its subject in number (singular or plural); every pronoun must agree with its antecedent in number (singular or plural).

With ordinary nouns and verbs, most writers are aware of their status as singular or plural.  Problems arise in complex sentences with multiple phrases and/or clauses that confuse the matter.  Also, some words seem to defy logic and are “special problems.”

Special Problems of Subject-Verb Agreement
1.  Using “either … or” and “neither … nor.”
If these correlatives join singular subjects, the verb must be singular.
Example:  Either my sister or my brother visits China every year.
If these correlatives join plural subjects, the verb must be plural. 
Example:  In the Olympics, neither the Chinese nor the Americans compete well against the Russians.
If these correlatives join a singular noun with a plural noun, the verb agrees with the noun closest to it.
Neither Jake nor his brothers play the violin.
Either the 6000 fans or the announcer misunderstands the official’s ruling.

2.  Nouns joined by “and” govern a plural verb.
            Respectability and contentment accompany old age.
            Blocking for the quarterback and carrying the ball are two requirements of fullbacks.

3.  The verb should not be affected by a phrase between the subject and verb.
The faculty, as well as many of the students, does not understand the new policy. (subj. and verb are both singular)
The space between the two cars allows no room for opening the doors.

4.  Using “a number of” or “the number of”
As a subject, “a number” followed by “of” takes a plural verb.
Example:  A number of travelers in the Southwest have witnessed meteor showers.
As a subject, “the number” followed by “of” takes a singular verb.
Example:  The number of different ideas students can generate astounds me.

5.  The following pronouns are singular, and therefore take a singular verb:

no one

Each of the books is over a thousand pages long.
Anything my brother paints amazes me.
Nobody has the right to steal from another.

6.  The following pronouns are plural:  several, few, many, others, both.
Several of the participants knew the answers.
A few of the students were enthusiastic.
Many of the papers were torn.
Both of the brothers played baseball.

7.  The following pronouns are singular or plural, depending on what follows them:  some, none, most, all.
Some of the movies were funny.
Some of the cake was left over.
None of my students like me.
None of the field was plowed.
Most of my students are brilliant.
Most of the food is awful.
All of the books in the library are damaged.
All of the time was spent in mourning.

8.  Collective nouns are singular in form and usually take a singular verb.
The pod of whales clusters around the biggest male for protection.
That choir sings beautifully.
The flock of geese travels south.

Note:  Exceptions to this rule occur when the writer thinks of the elements of the collective noun as individuals rather than as a groupl
The Board of Education flounder during budget considerations.
As the gaggle of geese on the ground waddle here and there, they make a mess.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Writing 2 Class Notes -- Week 7 (October 5)


We had a good class this week, as always!  It's a good, engaging group of students, and we always seem to accomplish a lot.

Our Quick Write, which was to write something car-related, was inspired by the fact that October 5 is the anniversary of Enzo Ferrari's first race.  Ferrari worked and raced for Alfa Romeo until he left and started his own company.  When I was 20 I worked as a nanny for a family that had 5 vintage Ferraris, so I was especially interested in this little bit of trivia.

Our Words of the Day:
c'est la vie -- French "that is life" -- an expression that refers to the fact that all kinds of stuff happens in life.  Some students once suggested that "Whatever" might be a comparable English expression
bona fide -- Latin "in good faith" -- refers to something that is true or verifiable
savior faire -- French "know how to do" -- a quality of accomplishment, polish, tact, or sophistication
enfant terrible -- French "a terrible child" -- can refer to a misbehaving child or to a person who intentionally tries to shock others
je ne sais quoi -- French "I do not know what" -- a quality that can not be easily described, something inexpressible

I usually take the time that students are writing their quick writes to hand back homework, so discussing the homework often comes after these two beginning activities.  This week they had more to hand in than I had to hand back.  The Final Drafts of their Process Essays were due this week, along with literature and grammar homework.  When students hand in their final drafts, I also require them to hand in their rough drafts so that I can see the corrections that they make.

We are starting our third essay, and students can choose between an Extended Definition Essay or a Classification Essay.  Our two previous essays were done with a two-step process: a rough draft and a final draft.  As the essays get more complicated, a third step, a Pre-Write, is incorporated.  For this step that precedes the rough draft, students are to brainstorm ideas, conduct any needed research, and organize their thoughts before writing the rough draft.  The Pre-Write should be done for next week, BUT they are not to hand it in until the following week when they hand in their rough draft.

We broke into our Literature Circles, and I think these were only partially successful since a number of students had not prepared for their roles.  Next week we will talk through some of the key aspects of these groups and will discuss what works and what doesn't.  I'll also have a checklist to keep track of who prepares and who doesn't.  The next time they meet in their circles will be in three weeks on October 26.

The Groups and Roles:

Circle #1
Circle #2
Circle #3
Kai Rose
Word Nerd


For the final 20 minutes of class we worked on sentence patterns, including complex sentences with subordinate clauses.  They have a worksheet due next week, and we worked in class on the third exercise in class.  

I've included a link to the online resources that I use for this class.  A couple of students have mentioned that they don't remember how to get to my online grade book.  It is a Google doc in the shared folder for this class.  If you are not able to access the folder, please let me know.

Assignments for Next Week:
-- Read pages 141 - 153
-- 3 Reader Responses
-- 5 Vocabulary Words
-- Final Project Proposals
-- Extended Definition or Classification Pre-Write
-- Sentence Structures (Exercises 1, 2, 3)

Links for this week:
Class Notes
Technology Update, 2017/2018

Have a great weekend!
Mrs. Prichard

Extended Definition Essay

            In an essay of definition, you clarify a complex concept, an abstract idea, or a complicated ideal. (Ex.:  inflation, hope, democracy) As a writer, you will put boundaries around a term, concept, or idea.  To develop and extend a definition, you can give a dictionary definition, make a comparison, provide a fitting quotation, offer a negative definition (tell what it is not), and so on.  The effectiveness of your essay depends upon your ability to understand your subject, to know what really sets it apart from all other members (related ideas) in its class.  In an extended definition, your explanation will limit, distinguish, or clarify a topic.

Thesis Development
            The thesis statement names the subject of the definition and makes it apparent that the term will be defined.  Sometimes a thesis names the class to which the subject belongs and gives the particular features or categories that sets it apart.  In addition, a thesis may reflect the writer’s purpose or attitude forward the term, concept, idea, or ideal.

            In your introduction, you will set up the order for your paper.  In your brainstorming and pre-writing, you should come up with distinguishing characteristics for your topic.  Do these fall neatly into categories?  Consider giving examples or opinions (quotes) by experts.  The extended definition essay does not require a specific organizational structure.  You may find yourself incorporating a variety of organizational patterns.

Tips on Writing
Consider giving examples, including those of what your subject is not.  Is it similar but different to something else?
Can your find concrete ways to explain abstract ideas?  Analogies or object lessons work well.

Pitfalls to Avoid
Avoid giving only the dictionary definition.  Consider including the denotations (objective perceptions) and the connotations (emotional associations) with your subject.  These can be both positive and negative.
Avoid circular definitions.  Don’t use the term to define it.  For example, you wouldn’t define a mystery novel as something mysterious.
Avoid oversimplification.  Dig deep into your topic.

Essay Guidelines
Due dates:  Pre-Write due October 12; Rough Draft due October 26; Final due November 9
Essay length:  700 – 900 words (about 2 – 3 pages)
Rough drafts can be typed or hand-written, but must be double-spaced.
Final draft format:
Typed (if this is not possible, please let me know)
1 inch margins
Name and date on the upper right hand corner
Number the pages on the lower right hand corner
Title centered above the text of the essay

Classification Essay

            Classification has to do with sorting things into groups.  When you classify, you generally break a subject down into the most meaningful parts.  Think categories or varieties.  You may also classify a subject by explaining how it fits into a larger category or grouping.  When writing an essay of classification, your goal is to help readers better understand the whole (your topic) by presenting the parts.  Your goal may also be to show how your subject fits into the larger scheme of things. 

Thesis Development
            The thesis statement should name the subject (what is being classified), the mode of classification (classify, group, kinds), and the categories.  The thesis often includes the differentiating characteristics.
Electricians are classified as foremen, journeymen, and apprentices based on their education experience, and salary.
Nurses can be classified as registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, or nurse assistants.  These nurses can be differentiated based on their education, salary, and duties.
Tennis enthusiasts are aware of the three types of racquets:  wood, graphite, and steel.  These racquets differ in price, flexibility, size, and durability.

            Classification is a rather easy pattern to use because it is so structured. Once you’ve decided on your topic, its categories, and their differentiating characteristics, it is a matter of plugging in the differentiating characteristics in the same order for each category.  You must be careful to keep everything in the same order that you listed in your thesis.  When you do this, the essay almost writes itself.
            Classification essays are structured first by category (classes or types you have divided your subject into), and then by differentiating characteristics (the ways your categories can be distinguished from one another).
I. Introduction with Topic Sentence or Thesis
II.  Category #1
            A.  Characteristic #1
            B.  Characteristic #2
            C.  Characteristic ##
            D.  Characteristic #4
III.  Category #2
            A.  Characteristic #1
            B.  Characteristic #2
            C.  Characteristic ##
            D.  Characteristic #4
IV.  Category #3
            A.  Characteristic #1
            B.  Characteristic #2
            C.  Characteristic ##
            D.  Characteristic #4
V.  Conclusion

Tips on Writing
Determine the purpose of your classification.  Are you intending to inform your reader about the differences or to persuade him that on category is superior to the rest?
Determine the categories of your classification, making sure that there is no overlap in the categories.
Determine the differentiating characteristics.
Outline your essay and make sure you present the characteristics in the same order.

Pitfalls to Avoid
Avoid oversimplification, stereotypes, or misrepresentation.
Avoid overlapping categories.  Make sure the categories are clearly different from each other and that your types fit into only one category.
Avoid missing categories.  Make sure your categories account for all the types in your subject.

Essay Guidelines
Due dates:  Pre-Write due October 12; Rough Draft due October 26; Final due November 9
Essay length:  700 – 900 words (about 2 – 3 pages)
Rough drafts can be typed or hand-written, but must be double-spaced.
Final draft format:
Typed (if this is not possible, please let me know)
1 inch margins
Name and date on the upper right hand corner
Number the pages on the lower right hand corner
Title centered above the text of the essay