Friday, December 15, 2017

Writing 2 -- Grades are Coming!

Dear Parents & Students,

I've just about finished calculating the grades for the first semester and am getting ready to send out an e-mail with a breakdown of grades for Writing 2.  Please remember that I am a “tutor,” and these are suggested grades for you as homeschooling families to consider.

Before I send them out, let me share my thoughts about grades.  As I homeschooled, I didn't give my children grades because I felt that grades were far too subjective.  Learning to write well is a process, and I am more concerned that my students stay engaged in the process than I am in the final products.  As I regularly tell the class, each paper is the “rough draft” for the next paper.  When teaching students to be good writers, I give a lot of consideration for growth and improvement. Each student has a starting place; over time I look for him or her to learn the mechanics of grammar, good writing techniques, and analytical thinking skills; they then move on from that original starting place.

Letter grades are a funny thing.  For some students, it becomes the only motivation for doing well.  For some, it becomes a measure of worth as a person or an academic learner.  I personally don't like these "side effects" of the grading system.  On the other hand, grades can be a valid reward for working hard, being diligent, and understanding the materials.  Incentives and consequences are a part of life; God uses them, too.  I tend to be an "easy grader" and like to see my students encouraged to do their best.  Becoming a good writer is hard work, and too often students are discouraged before they’ve given themselves a chance to succeed.

For this class, I gave points for attendance, participation, short assignments and longer papers.   For those who are putting together transcripts, this semester would be considered .50 English (or Language Arts) credits.  The grades are divided into the following categories:  
  • Assignments (Quick Writes, misc. Extra Credit, Words of the Day Test)
  • Grammar (Worksheets, presentations, Parts of Speech Post Test)
  • Literature (Study Guide responses, Vocabulary, Quizzes, Tests)
  • Writing (Pre-Writes, Rough Drafts, Final Drafts)
  • Composite Grade (an overall grade that also takes into consideration class participation/behavior and timeliness of homework.)
The first four categories are not evenly weighted.  For example, the points for the Quick Writes are not as important as the points for the essays.  The percentages per category are specific to the number of points possible for that category and the number of points earned.

Each student (and their parents) will get an e-mail with percentages and suggested grades for this semester.

Tammy Prichard

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Writing 2 Class Notes -- Week 15 (December 14)


We had a fun final week of the class.  I intentionally had my tests for the class the week before the last week so that the pressure is off and we can have do fun writing/grammar/word/Christmas related activities.  

Our Quick Write this week was participation in and Ugly Christmas Sweater Contest.  Instead of writing, I had the students doing some drawing.  Those who were interested submitted their pictures and we voted on our favorites.  Everyone did a great job.

While they were doing their artwork, I passed back homework, including their tests, and I also taped the title of a Christmas song on their backs, which I will explain later.  After our Ugly Christmas Sweater Contest, I reminded them that all homework needs to be handed in today, and I also talked a little bit about grades.  (My thoughts and practices about how I grade and how students and parents should view them will be the subject of a later e-mail.)  I will take any work until midnight tonight, after that I will be compiling grades, not grading homework.  Best case scenario -- I will have grades out in the next week, but since I got essays in from all of my classes, the grades may not get done until after Christmas.

After we took care of that business, we played our Christmas Jeopardy game.  This game combined information about our book, My Antonia, some Christmas Trivia, and some Christmas movie trivia.  Here's where the song titles on their backs come in.  They could not talk but could only hum the songs in order to find out or let others know what titles they had.  The teams for the game were "Jingle Bells," "O Christmas Tree," "Deck the Halls," and "The Twelve Days of Christmas."  The version of Jeopardy that I used subtracted points for wrong answers, so the scores for the game went up and down.  It was a good review and they did a great job.

At the end of class, we played a Mad Libs game with the poem, "Twas the Night Before Christmas."  We had bowls full of noses and Santa's greasy little belly. 

I've really enjoyed this class; we have a good rapport and the students produced some good work.  I'm looking forward to next semester!

Assignments for Next Week

Links for this week:
Class Notes

Have a blessed Christmas!
See you next year!
Mrs. Prichard

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Writing 2 Class Notes -- Week 14 (December 7)


We had a great class today.  Well, at least I thought so.  I gave the students a test today, so they might not have thought so.

Before our test, we had our usual Quick Write.  The prompts for the day were related to December 7:
1941 -- The bombing of Pearl Harbor  (write about Hawaii, World War 2, etc.) 
1963 -- The first instant replay done for a televised for the Army-Navy game (write about favorite sport that you like to watch)
1969 -- Frosty the Snow Man is first televised (favorite Christmas movie)

Before the test, I went over the rough drafts of their Comparison/Contrast Essays.  I always take time after the rough drafts have been handed in to discuss common errors related to grammar and writing.  Today's topics included Introductions/conclusions/thesis statements, formatting, writing names, comma splice sentences, avoiding the word "things," and commas with compound sentences.

We then took our  Words of the Day Test.  The test was fairly easy with matching, multiple choice, true/false, and fill in the blank.  At the end of the class, we went over the answers, and I'm hoping they did well.  (Some of my PSEO students who had been in Writing 2 last year commented on the fact that they don't remember any of the words, but that they had fun learning them.)

Next on the agenda were the final projects for our book, My Antonia.  We had a Jeopardy game, a mock newspaper from the time, and an original song sung by a duet.  I think the class has mixed feelings about the book projects.  For my part, I was really pleased by the class's work and creativity.  Well done!!

In the first semester, I like to give my tests on the week before the last week of class so that we can have a party on the last day of class.  Students should bring the Christmas poems that we didn't get to this week.  I have plans for them!  We'll also play some Christmas & word-related games.  Students are welcome to bring snacks to share with the class.

Since next week is the last week of the semester, all homework needs to be handed in on that day.

Assignments for Next Week:
-- Final Draft of Comparison/Contrast Essay
-- Hand in any late/missing homework
-- Be ready for a Christmas Party!

Links for this week
Class Notes

Have a great weekend!
Mrs. Prichard

Word of the Day Test

Name:  _______________________________

Word of the Day -- Final Test

A.      Match the words from the Words of the Day list with its synonyms.

Bona fide
Faux pas

B.     Fill in the blank with the missing words of the sentence. 
1.      Pictures of the kitty’s ____________________ are all over the internet.
2.      The orchestra practiced the ____________________ for its evening concert.
3.      Correcting everyone’s grammar was an ____________________ for the grammar nerd.
4.      The tourists appreciated the significance of the ____________________ in the old monastery.
5.      The standing ovation prompted the band to play an ____________________.
6.      A reunion at my ___________________ means I will see many old friends.
7.      Ms. Lewis is rehearsing her part as a dangerous ____________________ in the new play.
8.      We each ordered a ____________________ from our barista.
9.      Jane used a ____________________ to hook her water bottle to her backpack.
alma mater
femme fatale
idee fixe

C.      Circle the correct answer to complete the sentence

1.      Soup du jour is soup
a.       made of  yogurt.
b.      served at a potluck.
c.       of the day.
d.      served to juries.

2.      A carafe is used for serving
a.       pizza.
b.      salads.
c.       soup du jour.
d.      beverages.

3.       A man known for savior faire is
a.       lazy.
b.      headstrong.
c.       sophisticated.
d.      dangerous..

4.      A situation that seems inexpressible has a quality of
a.       je ne sais quoi.
b.      idee fixe.
c.       carte blanche.
d.      exemplar gratia.

5.      You might say “C’est la vie,” but I say,
a.       “Bah humbug.”
b.      “Hallelujah.”
c.       “Whatever.”
d.      “Crud.”

6.      Mr. Jones held his umbrella and poked me with the
a.       ferrule
b.      lovone
c.       halo
d.      waffle

7.      My father fixed the hinge by putting the _______ in place.
a.       pintle
b.      plenty
c.       palladium
d.      plank

8.      “En garde” said the two
a.       bakers.
b.      zookeepers.
c.       fencers.
d.      pigeons.

D.      True or False
________  1.  An aglet is the plastic end of a shoe lace.
________  2.  A person with charisma is mean and arrogant.
________  3.  Enchiladas are best served with ice cream and sprinkles.
________  4.  Déjà vu describes the feeling that a situation has already occurred.
________  5.  People call out “bon voyage” when a cake comes out of the oven.
________  6.  A request for second helpings is signified by RSVP.
________  7.  The opisthenar  is a multi-colored cape worn by native Antarcticans.
________  8.  A poobah is a pompous, self-important person.
________  9.  “E pluribus unum” refers to the diversity that constitutes our country.

E.      Match the phrases with their meanings.
cum laude
French, “joy of life”
Latin, “Let the buyer beware”
esprit de corps
French, “a terrible child”
joie de vivre
Latin, “with praise”
exemplar gratia
Latin, “for the sake of example”
enfant terrible
French, “advanced guard”
caveat emptor
French, “the spirit of the body”

F.      Fill in the blank with the missing words of the sentence. 
         1.         The root of this word, ________________,  is French, and it meant a knight’s tournament. 
         2.         The writer of the paper quoted the scientist ________________.
         3.         The designer was given ____________________ to decorate the new home for the president.
         4.         Traditionalists do not like to have others mess with the ____________________.
         5.         “Son, if you don’t get a job,  you’ll end up as part of the ________________________.
         6.         We were adventurous and ordered the ____________________ at the new Indian deli.
         7.         Cinderella could no longer keep up the ___________________ that she was a princess.
         8.         A _______________________  is a temperamental and demanding celebrity.

status quo
prima donna

carte blanche

Explain what a “ghost word” is.  Circle the words below that qualify as a ghost word.


Thursday, November 30, 2017

Writing 2 Class Notes -- Week 13 (November 30)


We had a full day in class today.  We're nearing the end of the semester, so some of our units are wrapping up.  Just two more weeks and then Christmas break.

Our Quick Write prompt had three options.  Nov. 29, 1832 was Louisa May Alcott's birthday; Nov. 30, 1835 was Mark Twain's birthday, and Dec. 1, 1955 was the day Rosa Parks didn't give up her bus seat in Montgomery, Alabama.  Students could write about their favorite author, the funniest author, or something they would do as a statement in support of a cause.

Our final Words of the Day:
elan -- fr. French elan -- enthusiasm, zest, spirit
lumpenproletariot -- fr. German, "rags" and fr. French "working class" -- a term adopted by Karl Marx that refers to the poor, working class.
vindaloo -- Indo-Portuguese, vinha d'alho "wine of garlic" -- a spicy, Indian curry

I gave the students a handout with all of our Words of the Day and the definitions so that they can be prepared for our Words of the Day test next week.  The test will not be very hard, but they should review the words.  Quizzing one another or having someone to review with might help.  

They handed in their Comparison/Contrast Essays. I will get them back to them next week, and they are due the final week of class.  Any other missing homework is due on that last week.

We had some presentations of the final projects for My Antonia this week.  We heard a good sound track for the book, an activity bag with items relating to the book, some writing about alternate endings, some artwork, and a travel brochure.  I'm really enjoying these projects and the creativity that students have put into this.  

I noticed as I was correcting their worksheets about prepositions and prepositional phrases that they students could use some more work on these, so I divided the class into groups to compose sample sentences with a lot of phrases.  After the sample sentences were put on the board, we worked as a class to put all of the phrases between parentheses.

Students are to bring a Christmas poem to class next week.  It can be one that someone else wrote or an original one.

Assignments for Next Week:
-- Prepare for the Words of the Day Test
-- Bring a Christmas Poem to share with the class

Links for this Week:
Class Notes

Have a great weekend!
Mrs. Prichard

Words of the Day, Fall 2017

Week 1
These words were those "thingamajig" and "whatchamacallit" kinds of words.
ferrule:  the cap at the end of the staff of an umbrella
pintle:  the verticl pin inserted in a hinge
aglet:  the plastic end of a shoe lace
opisthenar:  the back of the hand

Week 2
RSVP – French, "Répondez s'il vous plaît" -- Please respond; a request for a response to an invitation
déjà vu – French, "already seen" -- the feeling that a situation has already occurred
du jour – French, "of the day" -- used to describe something that is being served on the day or of a current interest
faux pas – French, "false step" -- a slip or slight blunder
bon voyage – French, "good travels" -- an expression used to express good wishes on a journey

Week 3
alma mater -- Latin, "nourishing mother" -- refers to the high school or college from which you graduated
cum laude -- Latin, "with praise" -- a distinction when graduating that refers to a certain grade point average.  Similarly, magna cum laude means "with great praise" and summa cum laude means "with highest praise."
femme fatale -- French, "a dangerous woman" -- a stock character in film noir, in modern film or novels, this is an attractive woman who leads others into dangerous situations
esprit de corps -- French, "the spirit of the body" -- a feeling of pride or fellowship with a certain group of people.

Week 4
verbatim – fr. Latin, verbum, "word" -- to repeat something word for word
E pluribus unum -- Latin, "out of many, one" -- the motto for the US, recognizing the melting pot and diversity that constitutes our country
prima donna -- Latin/Italian, "first lady" -- traditionally the leading female singer in an opera, but also a temperamental and demanding celebrity
avant-garde -- French, "advance guard" -- art, architecture, music, fashion that is cutting edge, experimental, or innovative

Week 5
status quo – Latin, "the state in which" -- refers to the existing state of affairs or condition
joie de vivre – French, "joy of life" -- an exuberant joyfulness in living
carte blanche – French, "blank check" -- complete freedom to act as one wishes, unrestrained power
caveat emptor – Latin, "Let the buyer beware" -- refers to the buyer's responsibility to check the quality of the goods before purchasing
tempus fugit -- Latin "time flies"
alpha and omega -- Greek "Beginning and end"

Week 6
Below are the Words of the Day, taken from my foreign words and phrases book:
cappuccino -- fr. Italian, Capuchin, an order of monks who wore light brown habits -- a coffee drink made from espresso, steamed milk, and foam
carabiner -- fr. German, Karabinerhaken, carbine hook -- a metal ring with a spring catch used by mountain climbers
carafe -- fr. Arabic, gharrafah, a drinking vessel -- a wide-mouthed glass or metal bottle for serving beverages
carousel -- fr. French, carrousel, a knight's tournament -- a rotating platform carnival ride with horses as seats.
    Note:  Some may be interested in this bit of trivia  -- a carousel can only have horses, while a merry-go-round can use other animals for the seats of the ride.

Week 7
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

Week 8
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

Week 9
idee fixe -- fr. French, "fixed idea" -- an obsession or set ideas
id est -- fr. Latin, “that is” – the abbreviation, i.e., means that a further explanation is following.
icon -- fr. Greek, eikon, "likeness" -- a pictorial representation of a religious image; a painting or statue evoking reverence
exemplar gratia – fr. Latin, “for the sake of example” – the abbreviation, e.g., means that an example to illustrate a point is following.

Week 10
Our Words of the Day were ghost words.  In 1886, a lexicographer named Walter Skeat first used the phrase "ghost words" to describe words that he said had "no real existence."  Ghost words are words that weren't real to begin with -- they came about because of an error or misunderstanding -- but they made it into the dictionary anyway.
gravy – fr. the French, "graine" -- became a word when a 14th century misread a French cookbook and substituted a "v" for an "n"
tweed – fr. the Scottish word "tweel," which is a type of wool and from which we got the word "twill."  Some think the word was misheard as the Tweed River.
Dord -- the original dictionary was supposed to be "D or d" (capital "d" or lowercase "d") as an abbreviation for density in physics or chemistry.  Whoever worked for the dictionary misread it as a word spelled d-o-r-d.  It entered the dictionary in 1934 and was taken out in 1947.
esquivalience -- This is not a real word at all but was invented by an editor at the New Oxford American Dictionary and was included in the 2001 edition to help the company track copyright violators who were lifting entries from the dictionary.

Week 11
enchilada -- fr. Spanish, enchilado, "seasoned with chili" -- a tortilla rolled and filled with a seasoned mixture and covered with a sauce flavored with chili. 
encore -- fr. French, encore, "once again" -- a repeat or extra performance in response to the demands of an audience
en garde -- fr. French, en garde, "watch out, beware" -- an interjection used by fencers at the beginning of a match
enigma -- fr Greek, ainigma, riddles or fable -- a puzzle or mystery
ennui -- French, enui, -- "annoyance, disturbance" -- a feeling of utter weariness, boredom, or tedium

Week 12
chaconne -- fr. French,  a dance -- a musical piece characterized by a continuous variation, a triple (waltz) meter, and a strong repeating bass line
blep -- origin unknown -- the act of a cat sticking its tongue out slightly without realizing it (not in any recognized dictionaries, but in Urban Dictionary)
poobah -- fr. Poo-Bah, a comic character in The Mikado -- a pompous, self-important person
lollygag – mid-19th century, unknown origin -- to dawdle or dilly dally

Week 13
elan -- fr. French elan -- enthusiasm, zest, spirit
lumpenproletariat --fr, German, "rags," fr. French "working class" -- a term adopted by Karl Marx, this refers to the poor, working class.
vindaloo -- Indo-Portuguese, vinha d'alho "wine of garlic" -- a spicy, Indian curry