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.