Archive for the ‘Lesson Plans’ Category

First Day of College Composition Class—Syllabus, Tone, and Thesis Statement

February 19, 2017

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I do more talking on the first day than I usually do. (Reminder: A teacher should always keep a lozenge in her briefcase. Better to have it and not need than to need and not have it.)

I spend the first day of English Composition class teaching about thesis statement and tone.

Of course, I go over the syllabus first. I always hated it when one of my instructors spent the entire first session covering every word of the syllabus, giving us a preview of each upcoming lecture, so I tell the students that they made it this far and they should be able to read a syllabus on their own. Instead, I focus on the required texts for the class, my grading policies, due dates for assignments, and my expectations for appropriate classroom comportment.

I stress the following sentence from my syllabus:

It is important to maintain a cordial demeanor which facilitates free and open discourse.”

In other words, in this classroom we need to be able to disagree with one another without being disagreeable.

I tell my students that it’s perfectly acceptable to say, “Professor Bray, I disagree with everything you just said for the following reasons….”

However, it is not acceptable to say, “Professor Bray, you are stupid and your mother dresses you funny.”

I beg my students to disagree. Please, I tell them, disagree with me, the authors we are covering, and anyone else in the class. That’s what we are here for, the free and open exchange of ideas. My students will receive no brownie points for agreeing with the instructor. This is true for the classroom discussions and also for their essays. Students are not graded on the positions they choose to take; they are evaluated based upon the quality and structure of their arguments and the style of their prose.

In order to teach students about thesis statements and tone, I select two short essays that vary in style and substance; usually I read them a serious article first (for example, Katha Pollitt on reproductive rights or Pat Buchanan on trade policy) and then I read them something lighter (a silly article by Jon Carroll about his cat, perhaps). Before I read the articles, I ask who can tell me what a thesis statement is, and then I type their answers into a machine which magically projects words onto a large screen for all to see.

Their answers will include:

An essay’s argument, an essay’s main point, an essay’s main point distilled into one sentence.

I tell them these answers are correct, but in my class it’s okay to state a thesis in two or even three consecutive sentences rather than trying to jam it all into one very long and awkward sentence with too many clauses and too many commas.

When I ask them where the best place to put their thesis is, they tell me it belongs at the end of their introductory paragraph. I say, “Correct.” (Good job, high school English teachers!)

This is the point where I tell them that different types of writing are bound by different types of conventions and expectations. For student essays (but not for other types of student writing such as journals) I expect them to follow specific conventions, such as placing the thesis statement at the end of the first paragraph and supporting their arguments with “evidence” (the quoted opinions of people who are assumed to know what they are talking about for one reason or another.) I tell them that the two essays we are covering today are written by professional writers for popular consumption. Such authors are under no obligation to follow any of Mr. Bray’s rules for academic writing. For example, fragments and one-sentences paragraphs can be very effective tools, but they are not generally acceptable in academic writing.  Furthermore, many professional writers believe that a thesis statement placed at the end of the introductory paragraph is a clunky device.  And I agree with them, but you will nevertheless be marked down substantially if you do not have a clear thesis statement in any paper you submit to me. However, in the essays we are about to consider, the thesis statement might be at the beginning of the essay, it might be at the end of the essay, it might be broken up and scattered throughout the essay, or it might not exist at all.

Next, I ask my students what the word tone means in relation to writing.

Probable answers include: mood, attitude, voice

I tell them that these are all good answers. I also suggest that they think of tone in relation to a person’s actual speaking voice. Many of the authors I teach are people I have seen on television so I can imagine how they would sound reading a particular essay. For example, in my head I hear how Pat Buchanan stresses and elongates the second syllable of “bamboozled,” one of his favorite verbs.

Then I ask my students for adjectives that could describe the tone of a particular piece of nonfiction prose.

I get answers such as: sad, angry, sarcastic, light, witty.

I tell them these are all good answers.

I inform them that my rule about tone is that is must be appropriate in relation to the chosen subject matter of and essay and also appropriate for the anticipated audience for an essay.

For example, if one is writing about 9/11 in a mainstream American news magazine such as Time, a witty tone would not be appropriate. Also, if one were writing an essay for young children about the adorableness of puppies, a sarcastic tone would not be appropriate.

(I briefly explain the distinction between sarcasm and verbal irony, something we will go into in detail at a later time.)

Lesson Plans

#1 Distribute first article.

#2 Instruct students to get out their writing utensils and number the paragraphs.

#3 Instruct students to look for and mark possible examples of tone and thesis statement as I read the essay aloud.

#4 Instructor reads the essays aloud.

#5 Allow students an additional seven minutes to look for examples of tone and thesis statement.

#6 Pair and share (if time permits and if you’re into that sort of thing).

#7 Review as whole class discussion.

An appropriate answer for an example of tone in the essay would be: “The author is using a verbally ironic tone in paragraph six when she says, “I just love it when my boyfriend leaves me dirty laundry to pick up.”

#8 Repeat steps 1-7 with second article.

#9 Instruct students to save the articles for later use with this exercise on strong verbs.

#10 Remind students that it’s going to be a long semester and send them on their merry little way.

by Richard W. Bray

A Few Notes on Teaching Logical Fallacies

July 3, 2016
Ted Haggard

Ted Haggard

 

Have you ever been arguing with someone and you felt that there was something wrong with her argument, but you couldn’t figure out what it was? Perhaps she was utilizing some form of logical fallacy. A fallacy is an unsound argument based on faulty reasoning. Logicians have identified scores of fallacies.

Here are some examples of common logical fallicies:

Appeal to fear

Are you sure you want to give me a ticket, officer? I play golf with the chief of police.”

Things could get pretty ugly around here if I don’t get what I want.

Appeal to pity

You should go out with me because forty-three women have already turned me down and I can’t take much more rejection.

Circular Reasoning (A=B because B=A)

Lebron James is the greatest basketball player of his generation because nobody else is as good as he is.

My mom is terrific because she is wonderful.

Appeal to Common Practice

It’s no big deal to leave trash on the ground in a parking lot. A lot of people do it.

But Mom, all the other parents let their kids stay out until dawn, so you should too.

Post hoc (causal) fallacy

When the rooster crows, the sun rises. Therefore, the rooster causes the sun to rise.

The Lakers won last night because I wore my lucky sweater.

False Dilemma (or False Alternatives)

It will either be hot or cold tomorrow.

You must be a Lakers fan or a Clippers fan.

Slippery Slope

If we allow gay marriage, people will start marrying their dogs.

If we ban Hummers because they are bad for the environment, eventually the government will ban all cars.

Non Sequitur (“It does not follow”)

That man is an awful person because he is wearing a blue sweater.

I cannot eat a cupcake because it is Tuesday.

Loaded question

Have you stopped wetting your bed yet?

Do you still have a Spongebob lunch pail?

Distinction without a Difference

I’m against capital punishment, but I believe we should execute serial killers.

I don’t have a sweet tooth; I just love to eat candy.

One of the most common fallacies is ad hominem, which means attacking a person instead of addressing her arguments.

Here are two examples of irrelevant ad hominem argument which have nothing to do with the legitimacy of a person’s arguments:

1)

Dave: I think the death penalty is a good idea.
Larry: Who cares what you think? You are a stupid, pathetic loser and your mother dresses you funny.

2)

I’m not going to listen to any of your arguments because you wear Member’s Only jackets and you sleep with a Teddy Bear.

An Ad hominem argument is a great way to avoid the merits of another person’s arguments? Many English teachers say that it is never appropriate to engage in ad hominem arguments.  But is it legitimate to attack a person for being hypocritical? My answer is: Sometimes.

Here is an example of a situation where an ad hominem argument is clearly inappropriate:

Let’s say my doctor tells me after a checkup that my blood pressure is too high and I need to lose weight and I should quit drinking and smoking.   I respond: “What are you talking about, Dude? I see you drinking and smoking at my bar every night and you are seriously overweight.

My ad hominem is illegitimate in this case because my doctor is giving me medically viable advice even though he doesn’t practice what he preaches. He went to medical school and he knows what he’s talking about.

Here is an example of a situation where an ad hominem argument is appropriate:

Speaking of practicing what we preach, what about someone like megachurch preacher Ted Haggard who righteously espouses clean living and family values—until he gets caught in a hotel room with a male masseur and a bunch of meth? Does Haggard’s behavior render his message any less legitimate?  Yes, because he is bolstering his argument by holding himself up of as a paragon of someone who is living a righteous lifestyle.

by Richard W. Bray

Resources for a Lesson Plan on Tautologies and Circular Reasoning

January 9, 2015

A tautology is a grammatical construct; circular reasoning is a logical fallacy. The two phenomena are related but not identical.

A tautology is a sentence in which the conclusion is equivalent to its premise. In other words, in a tautology, the predicate can be surmised by reading the subject.

Here are some examples of tautologies:

My mother’s brother is my uncle.

Father Brown is a priest.

It is what it is.

A circular argument occurs when someone affirms her position simply by restating it in different terms. In other words, circular reasoning is an argument where the conclusion depends upon or is equivalent to its premise.

In a circular argument:

X is true because of Y.

and

Y is true because of X.

A circular argument is similar in structure to a tautology, but a circular argument includes causal reasoning (because, therefore, for this reason, etc.).

Here are some examples of circular reasoning:

My mom is terrific because she is wonderful.

People do what Dave tells; therefore, he is a great leader.

I slumbered beyond my assigned wakeup time; that’s why I overslept.

Lesson Evaluation: Explain why the following examples are tautologies, circular arguments, or neither.

Chris Rock is a hilarious comedian because he makes people laugh.

A bartender is a guy who listens to people talk all day.

Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.

Anthony is extremely strong due to his ability to bench press three hundred pounds.

If aliens didn’t create the pyramids then how come pyramids are the product of technology that didn’t exist on earth at that time?

Allen hasn’t had a drink in twenty-three years, but he isn’t really sober because he doesn’t go to AA meetings and he isn’t working the steps.

A man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do.

They are who we thought they were.

If I could tell you, I would let you know.

I stopped eating meat in 1987; that’s what makes me a vegetarian.

by Richard W. Bray

An Activity for Assessing Characters from a Novel (Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich)

November 23, 2014

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Here’s an activity for assessing characters in a novel. (We’ll be using Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich for this example.)

#1 Class reads a novel with several characters. This activity won’t work with The Old Man and the Sea, for example.

#2 Review nouns and adjectives.

Noun Test

My_______
His______
Her_______
Some_______
A________
An_______
These_______
Those______
This_______
That_______

Adjective Test

My __________ house is __________

My __________ sister is __________

#3 Number off students in to groups of three. (Larger groups will encourage social loafing. It’s better to have two pairs than one group of four.)

#4 Assign a character to each group. It’s ok for more than one group to do the same character.

Group 1
—Marie Lazarre Kashpaw
Group 2—Nector Kashpaw
Group 3—Lulu Nanapush Lamartine
Group 4—June Morrissey
Group 5—Lipsha Morrissey
Group 6—Albertine Johnson
Group 7—Eli Kashpaw
Group 8—Lyman Lamartine
Group 9—Henry Lamartine Jr
Group 10—Gerry Nanapush

#5 Each group uses the novel to generate answers to the following questions:

a) What are four nouns that describe your character?

Example: Nector Kashpaw–Leader, Philanderer, Father, Indian

(Discourage students from going for the easiest, least revealing answers, like man, person, citizen, mammal.)

b) What are four adjectives that describe your character?

Example: Lulu Nanapush Lamartine—Unapologetic, Brave, Concupiscent, Rebellious

c) Explain how two passages (include page numbers) reveal something about your character.

Example—Albertine Johnson

Passage: After two months were gone and my classes were done, and although I still had not forgiven my mother, I decided to go home. I wasn’t crazy about the thought of seeing her, but our relationship was like a file we both sharpened on, and necessary in that way (P 11).

Explanation: This passage demonstrates the tension in the relationship between Albertine, a strong-willed young woman, and her mother Zelda. Albertine is upset because her mother did not immediately inform her about the passing of her Aunt June.

d) What are two things your character wants? (Kurt Vonnegut informs the aspiring novelist to make sure your characters want something, even if it is just a glass of water.)

Example—Gerry Nanapush

1. Freedom
2. To see Shawn, his newborn son

by Richard W. Bray

Don’t Send a Conjunctive Adverb To Do a FANBOYS’ Job

September 5, 2014

Conjunctive Adverbs

I am begging you, in the name of all that is good and beautiful in this world, don’t send a conjunctive adverb to do a FANBOYS’ job.

A clause is a group of words which contains a subject and a predicate. In other words, a clause can function as a simple sentence all by itself. A simple sentence, as I told you before, is a group of words that tells us what someone or something is or a group of words that tells us what someone or something does. Here are two simple sentences (clauses):

I would love to give you a ride to Phoenix.

My car just had a nervous breakdown.

You might choose to join these clauses together in one complex sentence using the subordinator although:

Although
I would love to give you a ride to Phoenix, my car just had a nervous breakdown.

You could also join them together using the word but, which is one of the FANBOYS:

I would love to give you a ride to Phoenix, but my car just had a nervous breakdown.

Another strategy for emphasizing the connection between these two clauses is to use a conjunctive adverb. The following words are conjunctive adverbs: accordingly, also, besides, consequently, conversely, finally, furthermore, hence, however, indeed, instead, likewise, meanwhile, moreover, nevertheless, next, nonetheless, otherwise, similarly, still, subsequently, then, therefore, and thus.

However, you must separate the two clauses utilizing a period or a semicolon. Then place the conjunctive adverb at the beginning of the second clause. Most conjunctive adverbs should be followed by a comma when they are placed at the beginning of a clause (but not then). (Don’t capitalize the conjunctive adverb if you choose to use a semicolon.) Here are some examples:

I would love to give you a ride to Phoenix; however, my car just had a nervous breakdown.

I would love to give you a ride to Phoenix. However, my car just had a nervous breakdown.

One reason this can be confusing is that many conjunctive adverbs can be placed at the beginning, in the middle, or at the end of a sentence, punctuated like the following examples:

However, we did not see any more yellow-bellied sapsuckers.

We did not, however, see any more yellow-bellied sapsuckers.

We did not see any more yellow-bellied sapsuckers, however.

Indeed, Donatello is the most valiant of all the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Donatello is, indeed, the most valiant of all the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Donatello is the most valiant of all the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, indeed.

What you must not do under any circumstances is connect two clauses together with a comma and a conjunctive adverb as though that conjunctive adverb were merely one of those common FANBOYS. (Conjunctive adverbs deserve more respect than that.)

If you are still confused, try this. First, memorize the above list of conjunctive adverbs. (Or, if that seems too daunting a task, simply have them tattooed to the underside of your left forearm.) If you want to know when you are abusing a conjunctive adverb by placing it between two clauses with nothing but a comma for protection, simply cross it out. If you discover clauses on both sides of the conjunctive adverb, do the right thing and provide it with a period or a semicolon.

Evaluation. Correctly punctuate the following sentences. (Warning: I sneaked in a few FANBOYS and/or subordinators.)

I need to comb my hair in front of my eyes then I will be as cool as Justin Bieber.

Sharon won’t mind that I borrowed her new dress without asking besides I’ll return it before she ever finds out.

I was a skaterboy therefore she said, “See you later, boy.”

It’s not my fault that your weeping willow died for I am merely a tree surgeon, not a miracle worker.

My homemade cinnamon buns moreover made me the most popular person in the William Hung Fan Club.

I want to be rich and famous so I am going to introduce myself to Rihanna.

I will show all my dance moves to Rihanna subsequently she will marry me.

Rihanna won’t respond to me on twitter even though I have downloaded all of her songs and memorized the lyrics.

Rihanna’s bodyguard told me to stay away then she got a restraining order.

by Richard W. Bray

A Lesson Plan Which Utilizes “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right” by Bob Dylan to Highlight the Distinction Between Sarcasm and Verbal Irony

March 1, 2014

casm

Americans frequently use the term sarcasm to describe verbal irony.  This needs to stop.

Verbal Irony Definition: A speaker means something different than, often the opposite of, what she says.

Thus, verbal irony occurs when a speaker says what she DOESN’T mean.

Examples of verbal irony:

“Oh, great! It’s raining and I forgot my umbrella.”

 “I can’t wait to start writing these forty-seven reports.”

“My walk home was only twenty-three blocks.”

Sarcasm definition: the implementation of contemptuous language or verbal irony in order to mock or insult.

Sarcasm is often a subset of verbal of verbal irony which occurs when a speaker says what he DOESN’T mean with malicious intent.

Examples of sarcasm:

“I just love working with incompetent people.”

“You call this a cup of coffee?”

“I was hoping to encounter a competent sales clerk today.”

 Lesson Plans:

Step #1Teach this life-altering lesson on the three types of irony.

Step #2. Ask class to reiterate the difference between verbal irony and sarcasm.

Step #3. Have each student read aloud a line of “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right” by Bob Dylan.  (If you have less than thirty-two students, some lucky students will get to read two lines.  If you have more than thirty-two students, your students’ parents should sue the local school board.)

Step #4. Listen to the actual song.  (I like this version, but If you want to rock, try Eric Clapton and Bob Dylan together.)

Step #5. Ask students if they have ever said mean and angry things to someone during a romantic breakup.  Ask them why anyone would ever want to hurt someone with whom he has shared a special part of his life.  (You will probably get some interesting answers.)

Step #6. Number students off into groups of no more than three.  Instruct each group to list at least six examples of sarcasm from the song and explain their answers.

Step #7. Collect student work and review it as a whole-class activity.

Additional lyrics that can be used to discuss verbal irony:

Consider the following lines from “Troublemaker” by Weezer

I’m such a mystery
As anyone can see
There isn’t anybody else
Exactly quite like me
And when it’s party time
Like 1999
I’ll party by myself because I’m such a special guy

Also, there are some lovely examples of verbal irony in the song “Walking Slow” by Jackson Browne.  See if your class can spot them.

by Richard W. Bray

The Morality of the whole Capitol punishment thing (A hastily composed paper using the first three sources I found on the google the night before its do that i wrote super quickly but it still turned out pretty awesome)

November 8, 2013

badwriting

Since the beginning of time society as a whole has tangled with the notion of weather or not capitol punishment is acceptable. Some people say it’s right; other’s say its wrong. (Why is life so confusing?) Anyhow, my answer to this timely dilemma would have to be that capitol punishment is usually wrong unless the person did something totally heinous, like brutally murdering babies in front of his parents. On the other hand, Jesus said we should learn to forgive, but on another hand, Jesus’s dad wasn’t quite so forgiving. (He was seriously into “smoting” the bad guys in the olden days.)

Andrew Taylor, Phd candidate (he’s got my vote) in ethics at Boston College agrees. Andrew (who, if you don’t mind my saying so is sort of cute in a nerdy sort of a way) thinks that people who are against capital punishment are a bunch of mamby-pamby sissies. And the Catholic Bible also agrees, too. Furthermore, its way ethical to kill cold-blooded baby killers because “The fact that it is possible not to execute killers doesn’t establish that that it is morally obligatory to do so.” According Andy’s quote, theirs no question that the death penalty is moral. How could anybody even possibly disagree with that?

Even so, the death penalty is kinda harsh, if u get my point. And sometimes the dudes aren’t even guilty. As a guy wrongly convicted of murder, America as a nation needs to be more careful than that. “Retesting of evidence from the case indicated that, contrary to earlier tests, a chemical found in semen was not present on the victim, suggesting that she was not sexually assaulted before the murder.” How does stuff like that even happen? As people, we need to be a lot more careful. I completely see why it sucks to be wrongfully abused of horrifical crimes that you didn’t even commit.

Lastly, check out this quote from the Guys at the American Civil Liberties Union. “The capital punishment system is discriminatory and arbitrary and inherently violates the Constitutional ban against cruel and unusual punishment.” Whoa. I know that my dad says that their just a bunch of terrorist-loving communists, but hey, nobody’s perfect. Besides, the death penalty does sometimes seam like it’s a little bit of an overreaction. I mean, live and let live and all. Why can’t we all just get along, right?

In conclusion, as I mentioned before, both sides have some pretty ritecheous arguments on the morality of the whole capital punishment thing. And statistically speaking, the numbers don’t lie. If I had to come down on one side of the arguments, I would pick one because capitol punishment is like killing someone for killing somebody else, and that’s pretty serious business. Why can’t all of the humanity in the history of the universe just deal with these issues on a more humanistic level?

Sources Sighted in this paper

http://ethikapolitika.org/2013/05/16/capital-punishment-and-public-safety/
http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/
https://www.aclu.org/capital-punishment

by Richard W. Bray

Scrambled Paragraph Lesson Plan

July 20, 2013

scrambled p

Here’s an activity which demonstrates how the sentences in a well-constructed paragraph should fit together like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. The following scrambled paragraph is a true story that happened to me when I was around ten years old.

____ Unfortunately, I also got my foot.

____ I got his shadow.

____ I will never forget the time I stuck an awl through my foot.

____ I pulled it out, ran into the house, and shouted, “Mom, Dad, I
        just stuck an awl through my foot.”

____ They did not believe me until they saw it.

____ The knife not only penetrated Andy’s shadow, it went through
        the top of my foot and came out the other side.

____ This happened one day when I was stabbing the awl from my
        dad’s pocket knife into my front lawn.

____ My neighbor Andy and I were playing a game in which I
        attempted to stab his shadow as he ran across the yard.

Activity:

#1. Pass out this Scrambled Paragraph to students and have them number it.
#2. Show them the answers and let them correct their own papers.
#3. For homework, have the students write a first-person narrative paragraph between eight and eleven sentences long about something interesting or exciting that has happened to them. Then they should “scramble” their paragraphs like the example above. (Answers should go on the back of their papers.)
#4 Classroom activity: Students swap each other’s paragraphs and number them.

(Scrambled Paragraph answer: 5,4,1,7,8,6,2,3)

Richard W. Bray

A Lesson Plan on Complex Sentences

July 14, 2013

zzzsubordinators

#1. Read the following paragraph to your students:

This morning I woke up. The time was 7:30 a.m. I went to the bathroom. I took a shower. I shaved. I brushed my teeth. Max barked at me. I took him for a walk. It was a glorious day. He was happy. I was happy. I felt famished. We both had breakfast. I went to work.

#2. Ask students how they liked your paragraph. They will probably tell you that it sounded “boring,” “weird,” “choppy,” and/or “monotonous.”

#3. Ask them why it sounds “boring,” “weird,” “choppy,” and/or “monotonous.” Someone will say because the sentences are too short. Or, if you have already taught this lesson, someone will say that they are all simple sentences. Bingo. Paste a metaphorical gold star on that student’s forehead.

#4. Explain: Simple sentences are elegent and beautiful, and you wouldn’t want to live in a world without them. They are great for headlines, epigrammatic song lyrics, and those occasions when you want to make a point cogently and directly. But a story or an essay made up entirely of simple sentences is apt to be “boring,” “weird,” “choppy,” and/or “monotonous.” (There are some exceptions to this observation, notably books by Dr. Seuss and James Elroy). Fortunately, there are various sentence patterns which, along with strategically-placed simple sentences, will give your writing rhythm and flair. Today we will be entering the wonderful world of complex sentences.

#5. Explain: A complex sentence contains two clauses: a main clause and a subordinate clause. It’s easy to spot the subordinate clause because it begins with a subordinator.

#6. Provide students with this list of subordinators.

while, after, though, because, as soon as, wherever, when, before, as,
so that, unless, since, although, if, until, even though, whether

#7. Explain: If anyone ever presents you with a complex sentence and asks you to identify the subordinate clause, you can say, “That’s easy; it’s the one that begins with a subordinator.”

(One of the most common mistakes my students make is putting a comma in front of the subordinator. A complex sentence only requires a comma when the first clause is subordinate.)

#8. Provide students with these pairs of correctly-punctuated complex sentences. (If you love trees as much as I do, you can put them on the same piece of paper as the subordinators. Or, if you are a tree-worshipping Druid, you can post the information on Blackboard or some other Cloudy space.)

If I were a rich man, I wouldn’t be here.
I wouldn’t be here if I were a rich man.

I did not pass the Algebra exam even though I studied for over twelve minutes.
Even though I studied for over twelve minutes, I did not pass the Algebra exam.

Because you have a pool, you can be my friend.
You can be my friend because you have a pool.

#9. Activity
a) Group students into threes.
b) Number each group.
c) Instruct each group to create a complex sentence test with six problems like the two examples below.
d) Examine each test.
e) Have groups swap tests and answer each other’s tests on a single sheet of paper. (Students should not write on tests.)
f) When finished, the students should check their answers. (If they have any arguments with the answer key, they should not take matters into their own hands; they should call the teacher over.)
g) Continue to swap tests until every group has taken every test.
h) Students hand in all tests and answer sheets.

Examples Below

Create six problems. Place key on the back.

1.
___a. If you love me you will take out the trash.
___b. If you love me, you will take out the trash.
2.
___a I love you because you buy me things.
___b. I love you, because you buy me things.

Key
1.b
2.a

Coming up: Spectacular lessons on compound sentences and conjunctive adverbs.

Richard W. Bray

A Lesson Plan on Simple Sentences

April 23, 2013

grammar puppy

Step 1. Teach this lesson on parts of speech.

Step 2. Ask students what a simple sentence is. Correct working answer for the purposes of this exercise: A group of words that tells us what someone or something is or a group of words that tells us what someone or something does.

Step 3. Present the following examples of simple sentences.

N-V (noun/action verb)

Love hurts.

Batman returns.

N—V—N (noun/action verb/noun)

Horton heard a Who.

Mr. Blandings builds his dream house.

Note: In a N–V–N sentence the second noun must receive the action of the verb. Thus, Antonia eats pizza. is a N–V–N sentence, but Tuan walks around the lake. is a N–V sentence. (Around the lake is a prepositional phrase.)

N—LV—N
(noun/linking verb/noun)

Jeremiah was a bullfrog.

Time is a thief.

N–LV–ADJ (noun/linking verb/adjective)

The weather outside is frightening.

I feel pretty.

Note: Linking verbs include all the forms of the verb to be: is, are, was, were, be, being, been. The following words can act as linking verb, but only when they describe or rename the subject: feel, smell, taste, look, appear, seem, remain, stay, turn, grow.

In the sentence This soups tastes funny., tastes is acting as a linking verb.

However, in the sentence Guinevere tastes the soup., tastes is acting as an action verb.

Step 4. Group students in threes.

Step 5. Have each group generate a list of two N–V sentences, two N–V–N sentences, two N–LV–N sentences, and two N–LV–ADJ sentences on paper.

Step 6. Groups show sentences to teacher.

Step 7. Students write sentences on the board.

Step 8. Teacher reviews sentences as a whole–class activity.

Coming up: Lessons on complex and compound sentences that will knock your socks off.

Richard W. Bray