Tuesday, December 29, 2015


San Diego Scribblers is pleased to announce their new partnership with the IEM Charter Schools of California. As an approved vendor, students registered with an IEM Charter School can now take our online classes with the approval of their Education Specialist.

The following IEM schools have approved our online classes:

Serving San Bernardino, Inyo, Kern, Los Angeles, Orange and Riverside counties

Serving Santa Cruz, Monterey, San Benito, Santa Clara, and San Mateo counties        

Serving Butte, Colusa, Placer, Sacramento, Sutter, Yolo, and Yuba counties
As a student registered with one of these IEM schools, we welcome you our online community of learners!

To register for a class, fill out the online registration form and write “IEM funds” in the How Did You Hear About Us box. Then contact your Education Specialist and put in a funds request. You will be notified once the Purchase Order paperwork is completed and received.

Paperwork must be complete prior to the first day of class to receive student login details.     
If you are registered with a different Charter School and would like to recommend us to your vendor department, we are happy to work with them to make our classes easily accessible to your family! 

Monday, December 28, 2015

SAT Word of the Week: EMANCIPATE

The word emancipate means to set free. Children can be emancipated from their families which means they are set free from their rules and financial burdens. Hostages can be emancipated from captivity or set free.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Robot Writers?

     It is no surprise that the advent of technology has transformed our world into a fast
paced, information based society. And with each technological advance, we’ve seen jobs slowly replaced by robots and automation. Jobs such as phone operators and toll booth collectors scarcely exist while even farming and factory industries are replacing human laborers with mechanical ones.

     But did you ever think you’d see the day when even writers would be replaced by a robot? Well, the time has come!

     According to an article in The Atlantic published in June (and written by an actual, live person), the Associated Press has announced that they will begin to use an algorithm  based company to write the bulk of its financial and corporate earning stories.

     Apparently, algorithms have been responsible for content on sites such as MSN and Yahoo as well. Even the NFL has signed on as a client.

     Developers of the writing algorithm state that computers can replace human writers in both accuracy and depth. Al- though the algorithms are informationally and grammatically precise, they admittedly do not have the stylistic flair of human authorship.

     Aside from the obvious objection of replacing the jobs of working professional writers across the globe with robots, I find the trend toward algorithmic journalism disturbing on other fronts as well.

     In a technology based world where people are replacing human contact with iPhones and video games, reading news and columns by other people is a last point of human contact or interaction. We are able to read someone’s opinion, laugh at their humor, or ire at their position. We are able to connect.

     On an academic front, this acceptance of robotic writing tells a tale of our weakened educational achievement and priority. In the pursuit of teaching to tests at all costs, we’ve also lost sight of teaching the fine points of reading. We’ve neglected to expose our students to the pleasures of symbolic poetry or the complexity of stylistic prose. In diminishing the joy of reading in our students, we are creating a generation of readers who don’t value excellence in writing. We are creating a generation of people who only care about the speed of information.

     If an article can be written in one minute by a robot when it takes a professional writer ten minutes, of course we want the information faster. Right?  Or do we want the insights and perspectives that only a person can generate...the humor and irony that only a human can portray?         This latest example of robotic writing is just another way that society is telling our youth that writing isn’t a priority, that it isn’t a skill worth learning. It is Another way that our education system is devaluing the arts and creativity in our students.

     As citizens and a public readership, we need to insist that our news agencies support human writers and respect the education and skill required to do the work in the best way possible—even if it takes a few minutes longer.    

Monday, December 21, 2015

SAT Word of the Week: JAUNT

The word jaunt means a short trip for pleasure as in "I"m just going to take a quick jaunt to the mall." It could also be used as in, "Jen and I made a quick jaunt to Disneyland last weekend."

Friday, December 18, 2015

When do you place a comma between adjectives?

It can be tricky to know when commas should be placed between adjectives. Learn this simple rule and you will never wonder again!
Use a comma between adjectives which both independently describe the noun (these are called coordinate adjectives) as in the example: the tall, green tree. In this case, tall and green both describe the tree. 
However, if the adjective right before the noun is paired with the noun as a unit (a cumulative adjective), then no comma is used as in the example: the bright blue water.  In this case, the water is bright blue, it is being used together as a descriptive color.
Look at another example:
the tall canopy bed
In this example, canopy bed is a unit that tells the type of bed, and tall is an adjective used to describe the canopy bed.
One hint: if you can say the word “and” between the adjectives and the sentence still makes sense, then place a comma there.
wearing her characteristic, white t-shirt,
In this case, the two adjectives are characteristic and white. Since you placed a comma between them, read it again using the word and.
wearing her characteristic and white t-shirt,

This doesn’t sound right. Therefore don’t use a comma between these adjectives. 

Monday, December 14, 2015

SAT Word of the Week: EMACIATED

The word emaciated is defined as thin or withered. People and animals are often described as emaciated which holds a negative connotation as skinny and unhealthy from malnutrition.

The little girl brought the emaciated dog home and begged to keep it.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Capitalization: Mom or mom?

One of the most common errors I see with students is the inconsistent capitalization of the word mom and dad. This tells me that there is a fundamental misunderstanding of the rules surrounding capitalization.
The words of relations such as mom, dad, grandma, aunt, and so on do not get capitalized when used to talk about the person as in “my mom” or “my grandpa.” They do get capitalized when they are being used in place of the person’s full name.
I like to bake with Grandma.
Capitalize Grandma because you could replace it with her name: Mary. I like to bake with Mary.
I like to bake with my grandma.

Do not capitalize because you cannot replace it with her name: Mary. I like to bake with my Mary.
The sentence is not correct when you replace the word grandma with the proper name Mary. Therefore, do not capitalize grandma.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Write More?

We’ve heard time and again how important it is for students to read frequently if they wish to become proficient readers. Over summer vacations, teachers assign summer reading  and agonize over which great literary novel their students will consume during the school year. Many teachers advocate reading ANYTHING…read the newspaper, a book, a magazine, or even a cereal box. Just read, read, read.

This makes perfect sense. After all, if you wanted to learn to play piano, you would practice, practice, practice. If you wanted to become a basketball sensation, you would spend hours working on your jump shot. So why, then, do we not ask our students to write daily? Write ANYTHING…essays, journals, short answers, stories, articles, advertisements, or even lists. Just write, write, write!

But teachers rarely give this advice to students. In fact, what do teachers couple with their summer reading assignments? Too often, students spend a week creating dioramas, posters, scene reenactments, and other creative outlets to prove that they did in fact read the book.

The problem is that dioramas and posters are not real life. Few employers will ask for a “creative” report. College professors, graduate school applications, and future employers will require insightful written work in which useful conclusions have been drawn.

Steve Graham is a professor of education at Arizona State University who has spent much of his career researching the best ways to

teach writing. His findings are both obvious yet surprising to many.

According to the Hechinger Report, Professor Graham found that students simply aren’t writing enough as part of their daily studies. Middle and high school students are writing for an average of 25 minutes per day while the recommended daily writing should be more in the neighborhood of 1 hour per day. So why aren’t educators adopting a more quantitative approach to teaching writing to their students? The resounding answer: it simply takes too much time to grade all that writing. (But nothing worthwhile comes easily, does it?)

Secondly, Professor Graham discovered that students who compose on the computer attain a higher writing proficiency over time. It is suggested that the ease of editing on a computer with cutting and pasting and the simplicity of correcting spelling encourages students to write freely without the time consuming rewrite. Since editing is a key factor in writing success, it makes sense that computer composers are more likely to edit and therefore more likely to turn in high quality work.     
What does Professor Graham’s study mean for your students? Namely that online learning is a logical fit for writing students and that the more writing your student attempts, the more improvement you will see over time. There simply is not a substitute for putting in the time to achieve success.

Monday, December 7, 2015

SAT Word of the Week: SURLY

The word surly means grumpy or rude. It generally refers to a person behaving in a disagreeable way or perhaps in a bad mood.

The surly man berated the children for drawing on the sidewalk outside his door with chalk. 

Friday, December 4, 2015

Pronouns NEED Antecedents

A pronoun is a word that takes the place of a noun. Some common nouns are he, she, it, their, this, and you. The important thing is that pronouns must refer to a specific noun in the same passage. This specific noun is called the antecedent.

Choosing a pronoun can be difficult because there are several rules to pronoun - antecedent agreement. The pronoun will always refer back to the last noun of the same number (singular/plural) and gender. If the last noun with the same number and gender is not the antecedent, then the wrong pronoun  has been used. 

A pronoun must also refer to a noun antecedent in the same paragraph. You should avoid using a pronoun in the first sentence of any paragraph. It is also a good practice to use a pronoun no more than two or three times before restating the antecedent noun. Too many pronouns make for boring and repetitive writing. 

Monday, November 30, 2015

SAT Word of the Week

The word amalgamation means a mixture or unification of two things. The color green is an amalgamation of yellow and blue. It is a mixture of the two. The answer is A. 

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Tone: Something You Just Can't Teach

The tone of a book can make the difference between a best seller and a flop. After all, the same story told in two different tones can become completely different experiences for a reader.  Tone is  often that missing puzzle piece when you just can’t put your finger on what is wrong.
So what is tone?
When people refer to the tone of a piece of writing, they are talking about a writer’s attitude toward a subject...the way an author makes you feel while you are reading.
Tone is primarily conveyed through the author’s word choice (diction), point of view, syntax, and the level of formality in the writing.
So how do we teach tone to our
Relax into writing to acquire your true, natural 
writing tone!

This is where things get complicated, because much of an author’s tone is natural. Just as comedians are born funny, authors generally have a natural tone that just oozes from their pens!
The best advice we can give our children is to relax into their writing. Writing performed under stress and fear never exudes a natural and appealing tone. Instead, it evolves into a harsh, formal tone that alienates the reader. Once a student relaxes and enjoys the process of putting his words on the page, his natural tone will emerge.
Happy writer = happy tone!
Encourage children to write anything and everything. Write lists, write thank you’s, write poems and notes! It is the frequency and familiarity with writing and seeing the effect that it has on other people that will eventually free your student to develop and discover his own unique tone.

Monday, November 23, 2015

SAT Word of the Week

The word esoteric is an adjective that means obscure or understood by only a few people. A book can be esoteric if only very few people have even heard of it. Or a lawyer could use a seldom heard of precedent to prove his case. It would be an esoteric argument. The answer is D. 

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Paint a Picture with Words

Does your child write well already? Do they consistently write without spelling or grammar and punctuation errors? Then it is time to look at other ways to deepen the content and style of their writing!

Excellent writing provides colorful language and detail to really brings ideas to life. When writing, you want to arouse an emotion in your reader whether it be joy, excitement, anger, or disappointment. First determine  what the emotion is that you are trying to arouse?  Then paint a picture with your words top portray this emotion. if the mood or emotion is enthusiastic, use adjectives and imagery that conjures this image.

I like to tell my students that it is their job as a writer to paint a picture with their words. Their job is to bring the image to life for the reader. Don't tell the reader that the story takes place in a crowded restaurant. Instead, put the image of this crowded restaurant in the reader's mind by telling of the sea of people laughing and raising glasses in a toast. Tell of the cacophony of voices, some laughing and some in whispers of intimacy. Without saying the words "crowded restaurant," the reader now has the image clear in his or her mind.

To raise the quality of your child's writing, encourage him/her to add adjectives and imagery to everything he/she writes - not just creative pieces of fiction!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

You and Me or You and I?

Remember that when writing a list of people including yourself in a sentence, you must first ask yourself if the group of people is serving as the subject of the sentence or the object. It is not always "you and I". 

If the group of people serves as the subject in the sentence, place yourself last and use the pronoun I. Think of it this way: it is polite to let others go before you. Also, if you are putting yourself as the subject of a sentence, you would say I not me.
I like to eat pizza.
Me like to eat pizza.

If the group of people serves as the object or object of a preposition, use the pronoun me. As in the previous example, you would say "to me" not "to I."

Give that book to me.
Give that book to I.

If you are confused as to whether to use I or me in a sentence, always take out the other people in the list and use I or me and it should become instantly clear which pronoun is correct.

Group as a subject:
My brother and I enjoy riding bikes after school.
Group as an object:

My mother enjoys the holidays so much that she makes cookies for my brother and me every day during December.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Top 10 Quotes from works of Literary Fiction

10. Catcher in the Rye: JD Salinger

 “Ask her if she keeps all her kings in the back row.”   

  9. Pride and Prejudice: Jane Austen

 It is a truth universally that a single man in possession of good fortune must be in want of a wife.”

 8. Tale of Two Cities: Charles Dickens

 “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”

7. Gone with the Wind: Margaret Mitchell

 “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.”

6. Hamlet: William Shakespeare

 “To be or not to be, that is the question.”

 5. To Kill a Mockingbird: Harper Lee

 “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view; until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”

4. The Outsiders: SE Hinton 

 “Maybe the two worlds we lived in weren’t so different. We saw the same sunset.”

3. Little Women: Louisa May Alcott

 “I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship.”

 2. Horton Hatches the Egg: Dr. Seuss

 “I meant what I said and I said what I meant. An elephant’s faithful one hundred percent.”

 1. The Wizard of Oz: L. Frank Baum

 “A heart is not judged by how much you love but by how much you are loved by others.” 

Monday, November 16, 2015

SAT Word of the Week

The word belie is a verb that means to contradict or give a false impression. A person's happy face can belie his true anger at a situation. He is putting on a false impression of happiness. The answer is C. 

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Help Your Teen Become a Critical Thinker!

With college essays and SAT’s on the horizon, how can you help your teen prepare for writing timed persuasive essays?

A big part of timed essays relies on quickly interpreting questions and developing well substantiated opinions. For example, if a student is asked to write about whether school uniforms should be required in high school, he must be able to form an opinion and support it before any type of writing skills even come into play.
  Persuasive writing begins with strong
critical thinking. Use everyday
  activities to talk to your teen and
stretch their reasoning skills. 

Sadly, it is in this critical thinking step that many teens fall short.

Practice critical thinking skills on a regular basis and share your own process of discernment with your child. There are many sides to every argument: help him to see all sides and then choose one that most aligns with his views and that he can adequately support with logic and reason.

Dinner time or a quick car ride to the store are perfect times to practice critical thinking skills. Simply bring up a casual topic for debate -  controversial topics are all around us in the news, in the office, or at the playground.

“I met Mary at the bank today and she said that the city is debating whether to close the library or the rec center due to budget cuts. Which one would you close?”                                                        

Try to do as little of the talking as possible. This can be hard, but it is essential! Instead, listen and repeat back what you hear. Ask questions:

“Why do you think that?” 

Remember that with critical thinking the answer or opinion isn’t the important part - it’s arriving at a conclusion and having strong reasons to support it. Avoid topics which are not open for debate in your home!

Practice critical thinking skills and then when it comes time for your student to write a timed persuasive essay, he will be prepared, confident, and ready to impress!

Monday, November 9, 2015

SAT Word of the Week

The word callous is an adjective that means cruel and unfeeling. People can act callous when they disregard the possiblity of hurt feelings or don't think before they act. The answer is B.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Strategies for Students with Spelling Struggles

Many children have difficulty spelling. But did you know that this spelling weakness can affect both the writers they are today as well as the writers they will eventually become?

While spelling correctly is important, it can also be the source of disorganized and poor writing skills: especially in young children.

So what can you do?

Teach your child not to get hung up on spelling. This sounds like counter intuitive advice, right?

But it makes sense: you want your child to have a robust vocabulary and not shy away from using a great word simply because they cannot spell it.

Instead, teach your child to write freely and circle the words she doesn’t know how to spell.

Then, as part of  her proofreading, encourage her to look up the circled words and correct them. With this technique, you teach her not only to write freely and uninhibited, but also how to be accountable for finding and making her own corrections.

This technique fosters better writing and doesn’t distract from her train of thought during the first draft. In time, you will have a writer who uses both a vast lexicon of words and has the tools to edit properly.

And you just might be surprised to see your child’s spelling skills improve along the way!

Monday, October 26, 2015

SAT Word of the Week

The word gregarious is an adjective that means social, extraverted, or talkative. Children in a classroom are often gregarious and disrupt the teacher. In addition, animals are said to be gregarious when they live in flocks or herds: thy are social creatures.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

My Favorite Mark of Punctuation: The Colon

Yes, I know it is probably a bit odd to have a favorite punctuation mark. It's probably even stranger not to choose an illustrious piece of end punctuation. Nope. My favorite appears in the middle of a sentence - or perhaps a bit toward the latter half. 

I just love a well placed colon.

The colon is like a red flag for the reader to pay close attention to the information coming. A colon is used for two purposes.

1.       It can be used before presenting a list in a sentence.
I like all Italian food: pasta, lasagna, and bruschetta.
2.       It can also be used after an independent clause to draw attention to information that comes after it and further explains it.
I like all Italian food: it reminds me of my grandmother.

A well placed colon packs a punch mid sentence and makes the reader stop and take notice. After all, isn't it the writer's job to make an impact on the reader? 

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Whose job is it to Proofead?

It’s an age old problem. It’s something that teachers and parents talk about until they are blue in the face. It’s the one thing that can make the difference between adequate and excellent. It’s proofreading.

All too often, I read papers that are well organized, full of descriptive language, and clearly focused, yet they are riddled with spelling and punctuation errors. Many students do not realize that a simple once over in the proofreading department can improve their work a full letter grade!

One thing we can all do as educators and parents is to stop enabling this bad habit in our students. In my house, we have a strict policy: if my son brings me a paper to read, I hand it back as soon as the second proofreading error is found.  I am happy to take a look for style and content, but proofreading is not my job. It’s his.  

It can be helpful to sit with your student and make a proofreading checklist. Include the following things on the list: commas, incomplete sentences, spelling, missing words, and anything else where your student demonstrates a weakness. With beginning proofreaders, it may be helpful to read the work several time, once with each item on the checklist specifically in mind. Over time, proofreading will become a fluid endeavor completed in just one or two readings.

Secondly, even though spell/ grammar check is available on computers and processing programs, we should discourage our students from using them in place of their own proofreading. We don’t want our children dependent on spell check for proficiency any more than we want them dependent on calculators for addition. The skills need to be learned if we want to have successful writers.

So avoid the urge to proofread for your children. Hand it back after the second error. Teach them to use a dictionary. Let them proofread with you first and move toward independence. But remember: it is their job not yours!

Monday, October 19, 2015

SAT Word of the Week: NETTLE

The word nettle is a verb that means to annoy or harrass. It almost sounds like "needle" and when you needle someone, you keep poking and bothering them.

I was nettled by the girl's air of superiority. 

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Affect vs. Effect

Does Hemmingway's writing affect you or does it effect you? Not sure? Let's solve the problem once and for all.


The word affect is a verb. It is an action meaning to cause an emotional response or make a difference to the outcome of something. The word affect is something being done to you.

A movie affects you deeply if it makes you cry.
The weather affects you if it causes you to change your vacation plans. 


The word effect is a noun. As a noun, an effect is the change or consequence of an action. You can list effects.

The effect of the snow storm is that school is closed. 
The effects of the snow storm are closed schools, cold weather, and slippery roads.

Effect can also be a verb in some cases if it means to bring about change. You might join a protest to effect change in government. Effect as a verb is something that is being done by you.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Grammar Testing as Part of a Job Application?

It is universally understood that mathematics skills are necessary in life regardless of the career path a student chooses. After all, taxes and tips need to be figured. Budgets need to be calculated and checkbooks balanced.

But it is becoming more and more understood that competent writing skills will be needed in the not so distant future as well. With the internet becoming a greater life presence in both home and work, communication skills are appearing more and more in the forefront of business.

It is becoming apparent that writing matters.

An article in the Berkley, University of California Career Center shows us just how important writing skills are to businesses—and
how essential they are to student success.

In a study of 120 American corporations hiring for professional jobs, CEO’s disclosed that over 80% of salaried employees have some degree of writing responsibility. These CEO’s said that “good writing equals good thinking.”

An even more important finding in this corporate study is the fact that when it comes to promotion within a company, writing skills are often a determining factor. One CEO stated the reason for this in simple terms: “If an employee is careless with his writing, then he’s likely to be careless with important company documents.”

Kyle Weins, CEO of iFixit and founder of Dozuki Software, goes
one step further. In his article in the Harvard Business Review, Weins says, “I won’t hire people who use poor grammar.” Both of his companies have a zero tolerance for grammar and writing errors that make a person appear sloppy and intellectually unprepared for the workplace.

As part of the hiring process, applicants of iFixit and Dozuki are required to take a grammar test. It doesn’t matter if the application is for stocking shelves or writing programming code...a grammar test must be passed.

When confronted by those who say that grammar is not an indicator of performance or intelligence, Weins vehemently disagrees. If a person goes to 12 years of schooling (at a minimum) and still can’t properly use commas or choose the correct variation of there and their, then they are not a quick enough study to work for him. Carelessness with writing and grammar shows a carelessness in the way other matters are approached, Weins maintains.

Furthermore, in this world of internet communication where face to face contact and relationship building is not a factor, a person’s word is all he has to make a sale. Your written word is your reputation. Good grammar is your credibility.

Whether it is right or wrong, people will judge you based on your ability to write clearly and properly.  Weins unapologetically defends his practice of testing employees for grammar proficiency. “All applicants say that they’re detail oriented; I just make my employees prove it.”

While some of his fellow CEO’s  are critical of Weins, others are   beginning to consider similar steps. It appears to be inevitable that the future of employment and promotion will require a higher standard of writing and grammar proficiency no matter what the profession. It makes sense, then, that writing education needs to take a greater precedence in schools and curriculums nation wide. But until standards change, it may just be that the proficient writers among the current college graduates will be the ones that rise to the top most quickly.

Monday, October 12, 2015

SAT Word of the Week: SUPERLATIVE

The word superlative means of highest quality or degree. You may be familiar with superlative adjectives which is the highest degree of an adjective such as big, bigger, biggest. Biggest is the superlative form...the highest quality or degree.

In the question above, the answer is A. extremely good.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Proper Article Usage: A or An?

So many students don't seem to have a concrete plan for when to use the article a and when to use the article an. They are NOT interchangeable and learning one quick rule will fix the dilemma forever!


Use the pronoun an before a word that begins with a vowel or the sound of a vowel. (Remember that the vowels are a, e, i, o, and u.)

It is essential not to miss the key word in the rule: the SOUND of a vowel.

an apple
an octopus
an hour

In these examples, apple and octopus begin with vowels. The word hour, however, begins with the consonant H, but it sounds like the vowel O. Since we pronounce the H in hour like a vowel, use the article an. 


Use the pronoun a before a word that begins with a consonant letter or has the SOUND of a consonant.

a ball
a towel
a university

In these examples, beach and towel begin with consonants. The word university begins with a vowel, but it has the sound of a consonant. The U in university sounds like a y in you-niversity. Therefore, use the article a. 

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Online Learning: The Great Equalizer

With Online Scribblers immersed in its 4th year, it is only natural to reflect upon its continued development and growth. In doing so, one question continues to present itself: What are the advantages of online learning?    

The answer appears evident. Online learning affords students a unique educational experience emphasizing superior accessibility, individualized pacing, and custom feedback.    

First, online learning allows every student access to experts in their field no matter where they live. Previously, students in metropolitan areas had greater access to higher education and renowned professional experts. Now even students in rural, less inhabited areas can learn from the best. Even more importantly, these students can collaborate and learn together. Their diversity lends a greater depth to the learning process. Online learning equalizes opportunity among all students.

Secondly, online learning allows students to progress at their own pace and around their schedules. No longer must one student spend an hour on a lesson that made sense to them in 20 minutes. Similarly, a student who struggles with a concept has the chance to repeat and review it as many times as needed to fully grasp it.

Online learning also allows students and families to forge their own academic experience. It is flexible.  A family might travel frequently: no problem. A student might deal with intermittent health concerns: no problem.  A student might be pursuing a competitive talent: no problem.  These students don’t need to choose between their specific interests or circumstances and a quality education. Online learning makes everything possible.    

Finally, online learning allows teachers to provide individual and customized feedback to each student. The teacher can push an excelling student a bit harder while praising and encouraging the smaller accomplishments of a struggling student to affecting greater confidence. It eliminates the competition in education and focuses on the outcome. No two students are the same and neither should be their education.

In many ways, online learning is akin to having your own private tutor. And similar to the special relationship that develops between a student and their tutor, a unique relationship evolves between online students and their teachers. There is no hiding in the back row of the classroom or sinking low in a chair. There is no waiting for the outgoing student in the front row to answer all the questions. Online teachers get to know each student personally. Each student is held to a higher level of accountability and responsibility for their work.    

In a traditional classroom, a teacher has a finite amount of time to communicate a lesson, discipline, and develop a rapport among students. What a feat! However, online learning accelerates this one to one relationship between student and teacher. And once a level of comfort is achieved, the real nitty-gritty of learning can flourish.    

So, while knowledge is both power and the road to success, online learning just might be the modern face of education in today’s world: the great equalizer.  

Monday, October 5, 2015

SAT Word of the Week: WHET

The word whet is a verb meaning to sharpen or prepare. 

For example, you might say that the commercial whet your appetite for Italian food. The commercial advertising Italian food sharpened or made you salavate for the food. 

One might also whet or sharpen a knife before carving the Thanksgiving turkey. 

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The Student Scribbler Literary Magazine

What could be better than seeing your work in print?   


Now Online Scribblers gives students the opportunity to be published in our annual Literary Magazine designed to showcase student writing.

Writing will be accepted in the following categories:

  •  creative fiction (appropriate for short stories, creative journals)  
  • non-fiction (appropriate for journals)  
  • poetry  
  • journalism  
Who can submit work?
Any student who enrolls in at least one course during the 201516 academic year may submit up to 2 written works of no more than 350 words. The best piece will be chosen for publication.

When can I submit my work? 
Submissions will be accepted beginning on October 1, 2015 and end on May 1, 2016. Any submissions after the May 1, 2016 deadline will be held until the next edition of The Student Scribbler is published.

When will The Student Scribbler Literary Magazine be available?
The Student Scribbler will be available for purchase in the summer of 2016.  

Can I submit artwork?
The Student Scribbler Literary Magazine will accept pdf files of original hand sketched artwork to accompany any piece of writing with the understanding that this artwork will be included in the final publication as space permits. No color artwork will be accepted.

Monday, September 28, 2015

SAT Word of the Week: COLLOQUIAL

Colloquial means informal especially pertaining to language.

If your instructor recommends you stop using colloquial language, she means to avoid informal or conversational words. Instead of "yup" use "yes." Yes is the less colloquial term.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Do Modern Students Needs Traditional Writing Skills?

In an article entitled “How to Teach Kids to Write Effectively,” Penelope Trunk suggests that learning traditional writing skills is a waste of time for the modern student. In fact, she goes so far as to intimate that old fashioned skills such as 5 paragraph papers, stories, and letter writing are counter productive to a student’s future success in the work place.

According to the article, the modern student should instead be taught “work place writing”  - aka video making, email etiquette and instant messaging. Ms. Trunk maintains that any other writing skills will hurt ones chances of obtaining a job at all. Teachers should focus on typing, informational video making, and social media style communication.

Both the teacher in me as well a the parent within find it hard to stomach this short sighted view of writing as a life skill. I cannot imagine a world in which good writing constitutes a well constructed 100 character tweet. I refuse to believe that education geared toward impressing a future boss is any kind of education at all. After all, education should be a path toward becoming a well rounded individual who can communicate well and think critically. A proper and thorough education prepares a student for life long learning in any curriculum or field of his choice. If one follows Ms. Trunk’s logic of education, the modern student should also forgo reading the classics of literature giants such as Faulkner and Dickens. Why bother honing comprehension skills if only to read Facebook and emails?  Why read at all if the future of communication lies in video messaging? With this grim outlook of our future generation, I worry about their ability to contribute in the world marketplace and provide global  leadership.

Through learning traditional writing forms such as the 5 paragraph paper and journalism, students learn punctuation, sentence structure, and clarity of thought and organization. In a nutshell, students become proficient communicators which carries over into their speech and confidence.  Even in a job which requires little formal writing, communication will be key—and written and verbal communication go hand in hand.

I cringe at the thought of a world in which writing is so devalued that people cannot correctly place commas or construct a complete sentence. Whether it be taking cursive writing out of schools or rendering traditional writing skills defunct, today’s society needs to stake its claim on the value of a traditional curriculum. Otherwise, the “modern student” will likely be come synonymous with an incompetent one.