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Blog Excerpts

A Curse-Free Valentine's Day

For Valentine's Day, middle-school students in Mobile, Alabama have banded together to declare a daylong ban on curse words. "Getting schoolchildren to stop using profanity seems a Sisyphean task," reports The New York Times, but the anti-cursing movement is seen as an antidote to bullying. Read the article here.
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Last week, we published the first part of our interview with Anne H. Charity Hudley and Christine Mallinson about their new book, Understanding English Language Variation in U.S. Schools. We also presented an excerpt describing a student's approach to learning vocabulary through rap. Now we hear more from Anne and Christine about their experiences working with teachers and students on issues of linguistic diversity.  Continue reading...
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Earlier this week, we interviewed Anne H. Charity Hudley and Christine Mallinson about their new book, Understanding English Language Variation in U.S. Schools. One intriguing section of the book discusses how students from culturally diverse backgrounds can be assisted in developing academic vocabulary. Here we present an excerpt describing how one creative student approached learning SAT vocabulary via rap.  Continue reading...
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(Read part one of "The Nitty-Gritty Essay" here.)

I'm not sure what the deal is, but people have a fixation with five-paragraph essays. It's as if five is some magical number that a good essay must have. However, that couldn't be further from the truth. Some essays simply aren't worth five paragraphs, and can suffice with three or even four paragraphs. Some need ten or more. For those writers who struggle with composition, it's what's in the paragraphs that counts, and how long the paragraphs are.  Continue reading...
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Okay, let's be honest. I'll go on record and say it. Some students are naturally more gifted at writing essays than others. Oftentimes these are the students to whom writing simply springs forth. It doesn't matter if it's narrative, persuasive, expository or descriptive, these students' paragraphs simply flow and their choice of words seems innate. These students naturally gravitate to the honors level classes, expanding their essays in ways that make teachers' eyes tear up with joy.  Continue reading...
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Teacher/novelist Michele Dunaway has some provocative thoughts on how essay-writing is traditionally taught to students.

For a site that thrives on vocabulary and words, the idea that the essay must die may be akin to blasphemy. We writers often cite the essay as our first foray into discovering our individual voice; it's our first official step towards being able to express ourselves through prose.  Continue reading...
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Teachers, are you wary of using social media and other online tools to foster student communication? Follow these tips from Michele Dunaway, who teaches English and journalism at Francis Howell High School in St. Charles, Missouri (when she's not writing best-selling romance novels).  Continue reading...
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