There has been a lot of hubbub over the last few months about states defecting from the original group of 45 states that had adopted the Common Core State Standards. But how different are the state standards that have diverged from the Common Core when it comes to the teaching of vocabulary?  Continue reading...
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One of the students in my Fiction Writing Workshop told a classmate to take a red pen and cross out the multitude of adverbs he had strewn throughout his story. The rest of the class nodded their heads in agreement. But just before I could move us on to the next item on the agenda, the author asked the young woman who'd spoken up, "But why? Why can't I use adverbs?"  Continue reading...
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To encourage summer reading, the school librarians went around to the English classes and talked up reading. For the first hour, they pushed around a cart filled with popular books, including current favorites Divergent and The Fault in Our Stars. They checked out a total of three books.  Continue reading...
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Ever since College Board President David Coleman announced that the redesigned SAT would replace its testing of more obscure words such as mendacious or treacly with the analysis of more frequent, multiple-meaning words in context, educators have been fretting about what this may mean for the study of vocabulary and for the precision of the next generation of American students' English in general.  Continue reading...
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In a previous column, "The Problem with Punctuation," I told you I'd report back my findings on teaching grammar and punctuation a little differently. Now I have some findings and thoughts I can share.  Continue reading...
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Jim Burke's The English Teacher's Companion includes a list of 358 academic vocabulary words culled from a survey of textbooks, assignments, standards, and examinations. Although the term academic vocabulary means different things to different educators, I like to think of Burke's use of the term as representing the vocabulary of directions.  Continue reading...
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Every day, teachers make a difference. In this time when teachers are seen as incompetent and lazy, and when we are being blamed for societal ills and failing students and schools, I wanted to provide some positive affirmation, something beyond that bumper sticker cliché of "If You Can Read This, Thank a Teacher." After all, teaching goes beyond the classroom, beyond our instruction, and beyond the love of words.  Continue reading...
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