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## English Blogs

In school, teachers will tell you the exact order in which they want you to write an essay. Often times they will want you to start with an outline, develop a thesis, gather evidence, and then write your essay. However, the more essays that you write, the more that you will realize that this sequence does not work for everyone. In college, I realized that I often did not develop a good thesis until after I already finished my essay. This is just fine; you can change your thesis after you finish your essay as long as you leave yourself adequate time for revision. You have to do what works best for you.

My approach to each Physics Chapter: As I read the chapter I look for definitions - many times the text is in italics I work with 3 by 5 index cards and note the chapter and the definition of a new concept I also look for identified equations and write them on equation cards by chapter describing what the equation represents and the units I make unit cards which include the Physics term and the units and their equivalent in each unit system As I work through the chapter I read each sample question and try to do it without looking for the answer Then I check the answers and the methods used - sometimes my methods are different but the answers are the same This shows there are sometimes more than one approach to a problem When I finish a chapter I try the odd problems since they have answers in the back When I can not solve it I check the answer and try to work backwards. Unit analysis helps. Although... read more

Statisticians say that the average person writes about 55,000 words per year. That's enough to fill a novel. This statistic measures everything from thank you notes to work emails. However, I'm sure the average college student far exceeds this number. Therefore, it's no wonder that most students I work with are seeking help with their writing. Needless to say, with such a word filled future on these students' horizon, I take this responsibility seriously.  Most students think they need to start with grammar in order to improve their writing. They are baffled by the pesky rules that spell check doesn't catch but that their teachers always find. They think that the key to their writing is unlocking the comma, semicolon, and split infinitive. However, I'd argue that unless you have the time and patience, and the student has the dedication, to teach him or her Latin (where many of these rules have been super imposed from), it will be hard for them to master grammar... read more

Faced with a blank page does your brain feel just as bare?  Writing has two different processes that at times seem to be in conflict.  There is the creative side and there is the analytical side.  While both are necessary it is important to be mindful of allowing a certain separateness.  Yes, structure is important, but your voice and creativity give your writing life. Freewriting is a great tool for releasing the creative side.    Before you begin that essay or paper give yourself 10 to 15 minutes to start a flow of ideas.  I like the idea of using a pen and paper, but this works with a keyboard too.  Set a timer for 10 minutes and just start writing.  There is only one rule: keep writing until the time is up.  Any subject, any thought, no grammar check, no spelling correction, fragments allowed. You do not need to stay on topic or have any order.  Just write.  If you do have a topic that you need to explore... read more

Writing seems to have originated in the Bronze Age, dating from 3300 B.C. to about 1200 B.C. During the Bronze Age, multiple forms of writing emerged. These included cuneiform, hieroglyphics, and multiple scripts originating in Greece. Writing began as a way to keep accounts of trade and slowly blossomed into literature. The people of the Bronze Age evolved the use of their writing from trade records, to medicinal records, to recipes, to prayer and song, to written law, and finally to stories. In today’s society, writing is seen in poems, songs, laws, books, video games, instructions, traffic signs, menus, nutrition information, and even on TV. Writing is so universal now that we don’t even think twice about all the things we read on a daily basis. All of these words that we are constantly reading are actually written by someone who put thought behind it. In ancient Egypt, only Scribes, one of the highest ranking classes of people, were allowed to learn how to write... read more

Hey everyone!     So I really wanted to talk about something I find very important, especially for those learning to master the English language. I realized that the minimal emphasis on spelling in public schools led to a major fault in the younger generation's writing skills. I found that unless a child reads often, it's hard  for them to determine what "there" one might be talking about. Often times, students may know the context of where to place the word in a spoken sentence, however not choose the correct spelling of the term in written sentences.  Being able to spell properly and maintain good grammar is something essential to children for the rest of their lives -- be it writing essays for school or applying for grants/scholarships, sending letters, filling out job applications, or even having to teach others. As parents, teachers, or educators I believe that spelling tests should still be in full effect to separate words with multiple... read more

Ragtime, by E.L. Doctorow, is a story about the American dream. Set in New York during the “period of Ragtime” between the turn of the 20th century and the beginning of World War I, Ragtime tells the story of three different families struggling to find their place in this new America. Doctorow makes use of an unusual writing style in Ragtime. He eschews the use of quotation marks and line breaks during dialogue, making the visual appearance of the novel one of long, blocky paragraphs. In addition, Doctorow writes the novel in third person from the perspective of not one but all of the main characters, allowing us to see the innermost thoughts and feelings of everyone in the story in turn. The characters have various degrees of name specificity, ranging from simply “Mother” and “Father” to “Sarah” (nobody knows her last name) to “Coalhouse Walker Jr.” All of these stylistic decisions come together to make a surprisingly fluid novel where actions speak much louder than... read more

Since I've been tutoring English literature students, I've noticed a pattern: every time we read a book that I remember reading in my high school classes, I enjoy it far more as an adult than I ever did as a teenager. Time and time again I pick up a book I remember hating in class, resigned to slog through it and discuss metaphor and symbolism with my student, only to find that I thoroughly enjoy it. Each time I come out of the unit with a fresh new appreciation for the work in question. As this happens more and more I've come to the conclusion that there are whole worlds of theme and subtext in many novels that are only apparent to a reader who has reached adulthood, because they require the reader to have experiences beyond those of an average high-school student. In today's Literature Spotlight I'd like to illustrate this point using a recently-transformed work for me, A Doll's House by Henrik Ibsen. One of the main themes in A Doll's House is the idea of Nora's reluctance... read more

Many students have a fear of learning a foreign language.  Instead of approaching acquiring a new tongue as an exciting challenge, many approach it with the question "Why do we have to learn this?"  Learning a foreign language can be a wonderful experience.  Here a few of my "Dos and Don'ts" when approaching foreign language learning.   DO keep an open mind and be positive about learning something new. DO recognize the similarities of your native language and the new language that you are learning. DO review your notes from class everyday and practice at home. DO find a language/study buddy in your language class. DO think about your future and how a new language is going to benefit you with your future goals. DON'T be negative. DON'T be prejudice about a foreign language and its culture based on stereotypes. DON'T stop trying even when there are words that you do not understand or there is a chapter that is... read more