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.