Ending the School Year

Today marks the next to the last Friday for this school year. We have almost finished the regular and Honors English 9 curriculum for this year.

Third Period: Today we read and annotated “Romeo and Juliet in Bosnia” from the Informational Text handout given to each student on Thursday. The class assignment was to answer the four Reading Check questions on page 1037 of the handout. Students were reminded to provide well-written answers using complete sentences. Students were also instructed to answer all five of the Test Practice questions on the same page.

Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Periods: Most students have read their published short stories to the class. We are now working on a Paper Circuit and LED Illuminating the Text Project. This will be our last project of the school year. Each student will find or create a visual representation of their own story, making sure they adhere to all copyrights laws. Students need to have their images ready for class on Monday so that we can begin the maker activity to build a series ciruit out of coper tape and pick a focal point to illuminate with an LED light sticker. Watch for future posts of finished projects.

English 9 Final Exams – Students were reminded that they will take a two-day final exam for English 9. Everyone will take the writing prompt portion of the final exam on Monday May 22. Then students will take the multiple choice portion of the final on either Tuesday May 23 or Thursday May 24th based on which class period they are in and the school’s final exam schedule.

Story Days

Give students time to write and then be amazed at what they produce. After day one of our week of students reading their own original work, I am amazed at just how powerful and moving some of their stories are. Great writers, great thinkers, and just all around some really great kids.

Parabola

A parabola is a symmetrical open plane curve formed by the intersection of a cone with a plane parallel to its side. The path of a projectile under the influence of gravity ideally follows a curve of this shape. The first student to explain why I might have named our class blog Parabola will earn extra credit.

New Look – Same Information

Please don’t be alarmed. Mrs. Scales’s Room blog has taken on a whole new look for the first time in nearly a decade. The blog is being redesigned to better accommodate the needs of the classes being taught during the upcoming school year. It looks considerably different, but will still contain the post information that you are use to finding and the weekly lesson plans. Just let me know if you have any questions.

Active / Passive Voice

Today we did some basic grammar work to aid us with our essay edits.

In active voice sentences the subject does the action.

Example: Liz played the piano. •

The sentence that uses the active voice is stronger, uses fewer words, and clearly shows who performs the action.

In passive voice sentences the subject receives the action.

Example: The piano was played by Liz. –

The sentence that uses the passive voice is weaker and less direct. It is, however, not incorrect to use the passive voice. • Sometimes the doer of the action is omitted in passive voice sentences. Example: The piano was played.

Some students confused active and passive voice with the verb tense. A sentence could have a present, past, or future tense verb and still be active or passive. It is all about whether the subject is doing the action or the action is being done to the subject.

Thomas feeds his dog.  – This is an example of active voice and Thomas is the subject of the sentence. Thomas is doing the action (feeding).

The dog is fed by Thomas. – This is and example of passive voice and the subject is now dog. The dog is being fed so the subject is receiving the action.

Tomorrow is our Writing Conference Day where any student doing extra writing can have it reviewed with me for extra credit. 

What is It?

Today we continue with the editing stage of the writing process. I have copied the following blog post because we can’t always get to external links from our in school filter and I know you can all get my blog posts.

This is from the blog of Candace Johnson who is a professional freelance editor, proofreader, writer, ghostwriter, and writing coach who has worked with traditional publishers, self-published authors, and independent book packagers on nonfiction subjects ranging from memoirs to alternative medical treatments to self-help, and on fiction ranging from romance to paranormal. As an editorial specialist, Candace is passionate about offering her clients the opportunity to take their work to the next level. She believes in maintaining an author’s unique voice while helping him or her create and polish every sentence to make it the best it can be.

She has explained the problem with unidentified pronouns so well, that I am referring you to her blog for this subject.

What Is It? Avoid Undefined Pronouns to Strengthen Your Writing

“He worked hard to earn enough money to buy it.”

What is “it,” exactly? In the context of the sentence above, “it” is used as a pronoun, and illustrates a common (and avoidable) writer error:

Undefined pronouns

A quick grammar review: Pronouns are a useful part of speech that give writers greater flexibility in naming schemes. Instead of using and reusing a noun, the substitution of a pronoun allows for a type of shorthand. For example, instead of writing, “The moment John walk into the store, John realized John had forgotten John’s wallet at home” (pretty clunky, huh?), this sentence becomes, “The moment John walked into the store, he realized he had forgotten his wallet at home.”

Personal pronouns are fairly straightforward. Most of us use I, he, she, they, him, her, them, his, hers, and theirs properly . . . but “it” often present unique problems for writers.

The Problem with “It”

When I edit manuscripts, I usually see two different but related problems with the use of “it”:

  1. The pronoun “it” does not relate to the antecedent
  2. The pronoun “it” is part of vague sentence construction.

In plain English, the first problem is using a pronoun that is ambiguous or doesn’t refer to a specific noun. Example:

Although the pizza delivery van ran into the school bus, it was not damaged.

Does “it” represent the pizza delivery van or the school bus? We just can’t tell by the way this sentence is constructed. The pronoun doesn’t clearly relate to the antecedent.

Vague sentence construction and the indefinite use of “it” often calls for a sentence revision. Here’s an example of a problem sentence:

“Mary wondered if it was something about the energy of young people that animals pick up and want to be around.”

When “it” is combined with a form of the verb “to be,” take a closer look to see if there might be a better way to construct your sentence:

“Mary wondered if animals pick up on the energy of young people and want to be around it.”

In the above example, “it” stands in for “the energy of young people.”

“Mary wondered if the energy of young people was something animals pick up and want to be around.”

This example eliminates “it” completely.

When self-editing your work, remember to add “it” to your list of words and terms to search and possibly replace. You don’t need to avoid this pronoun, but use “it” wisely and properly.

If you have any great tips for avoiding the overuse of “it” in your writing. please share in the comments.

Happy Writing,

Candace

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As students, many of you also make this mistake by using the pronouns he, she, they, etc. in your writing, when you have not first identified who he, she, or they are. Your essays must be clear and you have to identify specifically who you are talking about prior to using any pronoun that might be unclear to the reader.