Station Vocabulary concise - Marked by brevity of expression or statement; free from all elaboration and superfluous detail connotation - The emotions or set of associations attached to a word that is implied rather than literal The connotation of a snake is a treacherous or deceitful person. denotation - The literal, dictionary definition of a word
Denotation and Connotation Source: http://projectsharetexas.org/resource/denotation-and-connotation-english-1- reading?external_1=1059&external_2=2232&external_3=All, accessed 9/19/15.http://projectsharetexas.org/resource/denotation-and-connotation-english-1- reading?external_1=1059&external_2=2232&external_3=All
Names How did your parents choose your name? What does your name say about you? This lesson is about how words can have direct and emotional connections to every reader. Words and their meanings are important because you need to be able to clearly communicate your ideas and feelings in the most concise way.concise Think of the process that parents go through when naming their children. Some parents use names they have loved forever; others go to bookstores and research hundreds of baby names. Some parents may have an emotional connection to a name because it belongs to a respected person in the family or someone who inspired them.
The simple dictionary definition of a word is its denotation. This is the literal, unambiguous meaning of a word. A denotation of snake is “a limbless, slithering reptile without eyelids, sometimes poisonous.” It’s easy to remember what a denotative meaning is, because “denotation” and “dictionary” both begin with the letter “d.”denotation Denotation
Other words that authors use have indirect, personal meanings. These words can affect readers in different ways. The term for this kind of meaning is connotation. An example of connotative meaning is the word “blue” (i.e., “I’m feeling blue”). It’s easy to remember what the connotative meaning of a word is because “connotation” and “connection“ both begin with the letter “c.”connotation Connotation
Denotation and Connotation Denotation = Dictionary (dictionary definition of a word) Connotation = Connection (emotional associations attached to a word) Here’s another way to understand denotation and connotation using the word “snake.” Snake, denotative use: Be careful hiking during the day;snakes may be out looking for water. Snake, connotative use: Ralph Fiennes’ character in the new movie is a total sellout, a cowardly snake. Source: Burmese Python 4, Tambako the Jaguar, Flickr
What do I already know about connotation and denotation? How can knowing a word’s connotative meaning help when reading a short story? Think Pair Share
Your favorite Uncle If your favorite uncle gives you $25 every time he sees you, you are probably going to think favorably of him. You likely won’t describe him as “fat” to your friends, but you might say that he’s “tubby,” or if he’s a serious kind of guy, you might say he's “portly.” Knowing the difference between “fat,” “tubby,” and “portly” when you describe your uncle is important to your financial well being! Source: http://imgarcade.com/1/portly-man-in- suit/
When you’re reading, it’s important to be able to distinguish words according to their emotional or cultural meaning. Your ability to do so can help you understand the author’s purpose or more about a character in a story. For example the words that a character uses can tell you their level of education, where they’re from, and their class. Connotation and denotation are a part of language and communication. Knowing the difference between these two words can help you understand the purpose of a passage you’re reading. Remember, artists have paint; writers have words! Connotation/Denotation and Author’s Purpose
Using your phone, go to the following website- http://www.mybabyname.com/ and type in your name. http://www.mybabyname.com/ Then on your own sheet of paper, complete the following sections. What’s in a Name?
Station Vocabulary theme - The central or universal idea of a piece of fiction or the main idea of a nonfiction essay A universal theme transcends social and cultural boundaries and speaks to a common human experience. A theme may be explicit or implicit. In a work with an explicit theme, the author overtly states the theme somewhere within the work. Implicit theme refers to the author’s ability to construct a piece in such a way that through inference the reader understands the theme. inference - A logical guess made by connecting bits of information A subtle inference is one in which the bits of information are not as easily connected.
Station Vocabulary conclusion - A final summation evidence - Something that furnishes proof summation - A final part of an argument reviewing points made and expressing conclusions genre - The type or class of a work, usually categorized by form, technique, or content Examples of literary genres include epics, tragedies, comedies, poems, novels, short stories, and works of creative nonfiction. critical - Exercising or involving careful judgment or judicious evaluation
Texts and Themes You will often run across themes in your reading. Themes are underlying messages about life and human nature; they are big ideas an author wants to pass on to you. What is tricky about themes is that sometimes they don’t stand out but only emerge after careful analysis. Understanding the theme of a text is an “aha” moment that gives you deeper insight into what an author is trying to say.themes
Analyzing Texts Themes can be explicit, meaning that the theme is out in the open and obvious. Authors of pieces with explicit themes don’t hold back. They want to make sure that you figure out their stories. Themes can also be implicit. An implicit theme asks you as the reader to draw inferences about what the author is trying to say. Once you have made several inferences, you are better able to draw a conclusionabout what the theme is. Remember that yoursummation, or conclusion, must be based on evidence.inferencesconclusionsummationevidence
Analyzing Texts In this lesson, you will make inferences and draw conclusions about similar themes across various genres by finding supporting evidence within each of the texts. This task will require you to use your analytical reading skills, and it will help you become a more critical reader and better understand what you read.critical
Theme and Genres Source: Adversity Is Not Without Bacon Jambalaya, Edith Mahier, Wikimedia As mentioned, you will read texts that represent different genres: short stories, novels, poetry, and nonfiction text. Every text will have the theme “hope gives us the courage to overcome adversity.”genres Keep in mind that a theme is more than a one-word topic like “love” or a cliché such as “love is blind.” A theme expresses a clear and complete idea. Here are some helpful strategies to find the theme of a text: Follow the narrator and the main characters. Is there anything they are supposed to learn about life or themselves? (This is usually an important theme.) Keep an eye out for repeating ideas. What mistakes or difficult decisions have characters made? Have they learned from those mistakes or decisions? What is the conflict? (In analyzing the conflict, you will often discover a theme the author wants you to think about as you read.) Again, you won’t have to discover themes on your own. Each text in this lesson has the same theme: “Hope gives us the courage to overcome adversity.”
Making Inferences To draw conclusions, you have to use information that is implied or inferred. This means that the information is not clearly or explicitly stated. If you infer that something has happened, you do not directly see, hear, feel, or experience it. Instead, you decide what has happened based on what you know and the evidence that you have. You may not know it, but you make inferences every day, usually without even thinking about it. Here is an example: You are standing on a street corner. You see a car speed around a corner. Soon, because of the houses and a vine- covered fence, you cannot see the car any longer. Next, you hear screeching tires followed by a loud crash and the sound of cans or barrels rolling around. You cannot see anything, but based on the evidence you have, you can infer that the car you saw speeding has hit something.
Making Inferences We are all familiar with the sounds of sudden skidding and crash noises. We also know that these sounds almost always mean that there has been an accident. However, you have only inferred that an accident happened; there could be some other source for the sounds you heard. Maybe the car sped off and something else caused crashing sounds and screeching tires. All you have to go on is what you saw and what you think happened after that. Making inferences means choosing the most likely explanation based on the facts at hand. Take a look at this picture: Source: Ingonish inference, gak, Flickr
Making Inferences What inferences can you make by looking at this picture? Read through the following statements and answer the questions that follow on your own paper. 1. You walk into a store and you see the “Ashes of Problem Customers” sign. What can you infer from the sign? A. The store also operates as a crematorium. B. The owners have a quirky sense of humor, and they like to make jokes. C. There is a trap door below you that leads to an incinerator. D. There are wizards and witches working at this store. 2. What can you infer about the people that put the “Ashes of Problem Customers” sign on the counter? A. If you make them angry, you will be asked to come back the next day. B. They are criminally insane. C. The owners’ quirky sense of humor shines through again. D. They do not want you as a customer.
Making Inferences To understand the warning pictured in the photo, you made some inferences. Sometimes writers will require you to do the same thing as you are reading. They do this by providing hints or clues that help you read between the lines. Once you can decipher what an author is trying to say, you can use these clues to gain a deeper understanding of what you are reading. When you infer, you go beyond the readily available surface details to get at meanings that the details suggest or imply. When we say that meanings are implied, we mean that you may infer them. It is important that you understand that an inference is not a guess; inferring is coming to an understanding based on evidence from the text.
Drawing Conclusions What does it mean to “draw a conclusion”? Conclusions are statements about what we don’t know based on what we do know. This is where inferences play a role. You already know inferences follow from the information that’s available to you. Think about the situation involving the car accident from the previous section. Here is your evidence: You saw a car speed around a corner; you heard screeching tires followed by a loud crash; you heard the sound of cans or barrels rolling around on a hard surface. You can infer that the car you saw crashed into something and made all that noise. You can conclude that the car you saw speeding around the corner caused an accident based on the evidence that’s available to you. Did you get that?
Drawing Conclusions You might be aware of how often you draw conclusions in daily life, but you may not realize how often you do it when you read. For example, an author does not always state the point or main idea of a paragraph in a topic sentence. Sometimes an author implies, or suggests, a main idea through a sequence of statements that accumulate to suggest the main idea or theme. The author leaves it up to you, the reader, to make inferences and draw conclusions based on the content and language.
Drawing Conclusions Let’s look at an example in an excerpt from Eugenia Collier’s short story “Marigolds.” The story takes place in a rural African-American community in the 1930s, a period also known as the Great Depression. This decade was marked by racial segregation, devastating poverty, and high rates of unemployment. Poverty plays a big part in the theme of this excerpt. As you read, think about how poverty affects the characters and how it relates to the overall theme “hope gives us the courage to overcome adversity.”
Drawing Conclusions: “Marigolds” But our real fun and our real fear lay in Miss Lottie herself. Miss Lottie seemed to be at least a hundred years old. Her big frame still held traces of the tall, powerful woman she must have been in youth, although it was now bent and drawn. Her smooth skin was a dark reddish brown, and her face had Indian-like features and the stern stoicism that one associates with Indian faces. Miss Lottie didn’t like intruders either, especially children. She never left her yard, and nobody ever visited her. We never knew how she managed those necessities which depend on human interaction—how she ate, for example, or even whether she ate. When we were tiny children, we thought Miss Lottie was a witch and we made up tales that we half believed ourselves about her exploits. We were far too sophisticated now, of course, to believe the witch nonsense. But old fears have a way of clinging like cobwebs, and so when we sighted the tumbledown shack, we had to stop to reinforce our nerves. Miss Lottie’s marigolds were perhaps the strangest part of the picture. Certainly they did not fit in with the crumbling decay of the rest of her yard. Beyond the dusty brown yard, in front of the sorry gray house, rose suddenly and shockingly a dazzling strip of bright blossoms, clumped together in enormous mounds, warm and passionate and sun-golden. The old black witch-woman worked on them all summer, every summer, down on her creaky knees, weeding and cultivating and arranging, while the house crumbled and John Burke rocked. For some perverse reason, we children hated those marigolds. They interfered with the perfect ugliness of the place; they were too beautiful; they said too much that we could not understand; they did not make sense. There was something in the vigor with which the old woman destroyed the weeds that intimidated us. It should have been a comical sight—the old woman with the man’s hat on her cropped white head, leaning over the bright mounds, her big backside in the air—but it wasn’t comical, it was something we could not name.
Drawing Conclusions What conclusions can you draw from this paragraph about Miss Lottie? What can you infer about Miss Lottie based on the evidence the writer provides? We know the following: Miss Lottie is “at least a hundred years old.” Her once big, powerful frame is “now bent and drawn.” “Her smooth skin was a dark reddish brown.” Additionally, we know that Miss Lottie does not like intruders and scares children. What else? We also know that she lives in a “tumbledown shack” and has no visible means of support, yet she works vigorously to keep the weeds out of her garden of bright- blossomed marigolds. What can we infer from that information? We can infer that she is poor. We don’t know that for certain, but based on the evidence, we can conclude that physical hardships associated with poverty have transformed Miss Lottie into a mean old woman who dislikes intruders, especially children. Do you see what we did? We drew conclusions based on inferences.
Drawing Conclusions Here’s another example from a different genre. This excerpt comes from a memoir by Rick Bragg titled All Over but the Shoutin’. It’s a true story about how Bragg grew up poor in Alabama in the 1960s but was able to carve out a life for himself based on the strength of his mother’s encouragement. This excerpt shows the sacrifices that his mother made for the family and how those sacrifices are central to the overall theme “hope gives us the courage to overcome adversity.”
Drawing Conclusions (My mother) did what she could to support us with her own work, her own sweat, but sometimes it was just too hard. I know it killed her deep inside to go begging, but it would have destroyed her to watch her three sons do without. She stood in line at the welfare office, stood in line for government cheese. She fawned over the church people, year after year, who showed up at Christmas with a turkey or a ham. I saw her follow them back to their big cars, thanking them, a hundred times, and walk back to the house pale and tightlipped. I did not know then, like I know now, that my momma never ate until we were done, or maybe I did know but was too young to understand why. I did not know then that she picked all the meat out of the soup and stew and put it on our plates. I did not hear her scraping pots, pans and skillets to make her own plate, after her three little pigs ate most of what we had. But I can still see her sliding the bones off plates and gnawing them clean, after we were done, saying how she liked that meat close to the bone, that we just didn’t know what we were missing. It is not that we were starving, just that the quality of life for her children inched up a little if she did without.
Drawing Conclusions Think about the first paragraph of this excerpt. When you’re ready, make your own inferences and draw your conclusions about them by responding to the following questions on your own paper: 1. What can you infer about Bragg’s mother based on evidence from the text? A. She did without so that her children could eat. B. She hid food from her children. C. She tried to trick them into eating food they did not like. D. She hoarded food. 2. What can you conclude about Bragg‘s Mother based on inferences you made while reading? A. She had too much pride to accept charity. B. She made sure that no matter what she had to go through, her children had enough to eat. C. She was so overcome by adversity that she had given up even trying anymore. D. She was so angry about her situation that she could not focus on her family. 3. Which of the following phrases from the text supports the main theme “hope gives us the courage to overcome adversity”? A. “I did not know then, like I know now, that my momma never ate until we were done.” B. “[My mother] did what she could to support us with her own work,... but sometimes it was just too hard.” C. “She fawned over the church people, year after year, who showed up at Christmas with a turkey or a ham.” D. “It is not that we were starving, just that the quality of life for her children inched up a little if she did without.”
Drawing Conclusions Read the following excerpt from a newspaper article and keep an eye out for the theme “hope gives us the courage to overcome adversity.” The article is an example of the nonfiction genre and is about Michael Hancock, who overcame serious adversity to become the mayor of a big city. Message of Survival Won Denver Race for Mayor by Kirk Johnson Source: Mayor Hancock, Matthew Staver, New York Times Knowledge Network DENVER — Lots of politicians, when stumped on the stump, resort to talking about their own lives and the results are often about as exciting as your average greeting card. Michael B. Hancock never had that problem. In running for mayor of Denver, a position he won overwhelmingly on Tuesday, Mr. Hancock told a family story so powerful, almost Dickensian in its poverty and hope — he and his twin sister were the youngest of 10 children raised by a single mother in Denver, part of that time in public housing — that the theme of adversity overcome became the heart of the campaign. Mr. Hancock, when inaugurated next month, will become Denver’s second black mayor. The first was Wellington E. Webb, elected in 1991. Mr. Webb’s pioneering role — and perhaps the altered political landscape since President Obama’s election in 2008 — meant that race never came up as an issue in the campaign, Mr. Hancock said. Mr. Hancock told voters about much harder parts of the world. His brother, Robert, died of AIDS in 1996. A sister, Karen, was killed in a murder-suicide in 2002. The family hit bottom, Mr. Hancock said, when he was about six or seven, shortly after his parents’ divorce. They became homeless, living in a motel and, as he put it in the interview, “trying to figure out what was next.” But always the Hancock story came down to how adversity was overcome. In one church appearance during the campaign, for example, he talked about the sixth grade teacher who changed his life. He had been misbehaving in class, and Mr. Hancock described the day she took him aside and said that instead of punishing him, she would make him a student leader. Then he introduced the teacher herself — a member of that very church. Mr. Hancock said that tough budget issues — Denver faces a nearly $100 million projected deficit in 2012 — would probably dominate his agenda. But he said that optimism, inspired by his mother, who supported the family as a hospital medical technician, would be crucial. “I think that played itself out during this campaign,” he said. “No matter how difficult and challenging it got, I continued to believe that everything was going to work out for the good. I think that’s directly related to my upbringing.”
Drawing Conclusions Let’s analyze this excerpt beginning with the title. It tells us that we are going to read an article about a survivor. We already know what the overall theme is, so our task is to understand how the story supports the theme “hope gives us the courage to overcome adversity.” First, the opening lines tell us that the subject, Michael B. Hancock, a politician, has an interesting life story. In the next few lines, we learn that he is the “youngest of 10 children raised by a single mother in Denver” and spent “part of that time in public housing.” The next line is what we need to help us figure out how the article relates to the theme. The author gives it to us explicitly: “the theme of adversity overcome became the heart of the campaign.” Overcoming adversity and Mr. Hancock’s determination to succeed against overwhelming odds are the main themes of the article, and it is this line that connects the text to the overall theme in this lesson. Knowing the theme helps us to better grasp the role that hope and courage played in Mr. Hancock’s life, and we can better understand how he was able to reach such a prominent place in Denver government. The entire article is clearer and more meaningful because we know the theme, and it is supported by the text.
Drawing Conclusions So far, in this section, you have made inferences and drawn conclusions about a theme in a nonfiction newspaper article. You have seen how the text supports the theme “hope gives us the courage to overcome adversity.” Now read a text from another genre, poetry. As you read the poem, find evidence that you can use to make inferences and draw conclusions to support the theme “hope gives us the courage to overcome adversity.” Hope” is the thing with feathers “Hope” is the thing with feathers – That perches in the soul – And sings the tune without the words – And never stops – at all – And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard – And sore must be the storm – That could abash the little Bird That kept so many warm – I’ve heard it in the chillest land – And on the strangest Sea – Yet – never – in Extremity, It asked a crumb – of me. —Emily Dickinson
Short Answers Consider each of the texts in this lesson: “Marigolds,” All Over but the Shoutin’, “Message of Survival Won Denver Race for Mayor,” and “‘Hope’ is the thing with feathers.” Use your notes to respond to the questions that follow. Use the STAAR short answer form to record your responses. You may want to plan your response first, write a rough draft, and then write your final response. 1. Each of these selections supports the theme “hope gives us the courage to overcome adversity.” Choose two of the passages, and write a short answer showing the evidence that supports the theme. 2. How does knowing the theme help you understand each text? Choose two different passages from the first question and form your response using text evidence.
Resources Used in This Lesson: Bibliography Bragg, Rick. All over but the Shoutin’. New York: Vintage, 1997. Collier, Eugenia. “Marigolds.” Nexus: Holt Elements of Literature Third Course. http://www.nexuslearning.net/books/holt_elementsoflit- 3/Collection%204/marigolds%20p1.htm.Marigolds Dickinson, Emily. “‘Hope’ is the thing with feathers.” Poetry Foundation. http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/171619.Hope’ is the thing with feathers Johnson, Kirk. “Message of Survival Won Denver Race for Mayor.” New York Times, June 09, 2011. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/09/us/09denver.html?_r=1.Message of Survival Won Denver Race for Mayor
Station Vocabulary expository essay - A type of informational essay that clarifies or explains something persuasive essay - An essay written with the intent to persuade or convince the reader of something short story - An invented prose narrative shorter than a novel usually dealing with a few characters, aiming at unity of effect, and often concentrating on the creation of mood rather than plot purpose - The intended goal of a piece of writing; the reason a person writes audience - The intended target group for a message, regardless of the medium brainstorming - A technique in which many ideas are generated quickly and without judgment or evaluation in order to solve a problem, clarify a concept, or inspire creative thinking. Brainstorming may be done in a classroom, small group, or individually.
Writing Think about the types of writing you come across on a daily basis. In most of your classes, you use a textbook written by one or many writers. The content on the Internet and the newspapers and magazines you read are also composed by writers. Even the television shows and movies you watch are in large part based on writing found in scripts and screenplays. This lesson will focus on the writing you do this year in high school. Whether you write expository and persuasive essays or short stories, your first steps are to determine your purpose and define your audience.expository persuasiveshort storiespurposeaudience After that, you will begin to generate ideas and questions. This lesson will guide you through the early steps of writing a short story and an expository essay. Source: Write hard, die free, yksin, flickr
Writing the Short Story To write a short story, you need to develop a topic, either one you choose or one your teacher assigns. After you have a topic, you need to determine the audience and purpose for writing a short story. First, you need to ask “What is my purpose?” or “Why do I want to tell this story?” The purpose of a short story can be to entertain and/or to make your reader think or feel something. The purpose is what you want your writing to do when someone reads it.
Writing the Short Story Take a look at this excerpt from “On the Gull’s Road” by Willa Cather:On the Gull’s Road It often happens that one or another of my friends stops before a red chalk drawing in my study and asks me where I ever found so lovely a creature. I have never told the story of that picture to any one, and the beautiful woman on the wall, until yesterday, in all these twenty years has spoken to no one but me. Yesterday a young painter, a countryman of mine, came to consult me on a matter of business, and upon seeing my drawing of Alexandra Ebbling, straightway forgot his errand. He examined the date upon the sketch and asked me, very earnestly, if I could tell him whether the lady were still living. When I answered him, he stepped back from the picture and said slowly: “So long ago? She must have been very young. She was happy?” “As to that, who can say–about any one of us?” I replied. “Out of all that is supposed to make for happiness, she had very little.”
Source: “Waterhouse: Study for portrait of the Marchioness of Downshire,”deflam, flickr
Writing the Short Story In this excerpt, what do you think Cather’s purpose is? If you reread the opening paragraphs, you will see that she uses the red chalk drawing as an introductory subject to “set up” her story; and she “hooks” us by explaining that she had “never told the story of that picture to anyone.” Not only does she want to entertain us, she wants to inform the young painter and us, the readers, about something that is mysterious; she wants us to think. Sometimes a piece of writing is meant only for the writer’s eyes, as is the case with a diary or personal journal, but in Cather’s story, the audience is public. We are intended to be the readers or audience. When you write a short story, you need to think about who will be reading it. Will your audience be adults, teenagers, elementary students, or some other group? Will you be writing your story for your teacher and classmates? Will you be in a testing situation where you will be given a prompt? Will you try to publish your short story?
Writing the Short Story: Purpose and Audience Think for a moment about how your intended audience will change the way you write. Writing for elementary or middle school students will not be the same as writing for adults. You might also write a different kind of story if your friends are the intended audience. Let’s review one more time. Before you write, you must do two things: 1. Determine a purpose. 2. Determine who the audience is.
Short Story: Brainstorming Now that you know your purpose and audience, you need to develop ideas and questions for your short story. Brainstorming refers to many different practices for generating ideas. Of course it isn’t literally a weather event in your head, but a mental storm in which you allow your mind to think freely and write about ideas that may eventually become the focus of your writing. This part of the lesson will focus on brainstorming techniques you can use to gather ideas for a short story.Brainstorming
Freewriting: a brainstorming technique Freewriting is the first brainstorming technique we’ll discuss. To freewrite, find a quiet place to work with no distractions. Next, take five to fifteen minutes (use a timer if you have one available) and write as much as you know, or can imagine, about your topic. In this lesson, you will look at a picture and generate ideas and questions about it for a short story. When you freewrite, follow these guidelines: Don’t worry about grammar or spelling. Don’t go back and review what you have already written. Don’t stop until your time is up. When you are finished, read what you have written and circle, underline, or highlight any ideas that you think will work well for the short story you are going to write.
Graphic Organizer Follow the directions in the organizer. If what you write brings up questions, write them down. When you are finished, return to the lesson, but save your graphic organizer or keep it open to refer to later in this section.
Parts of a short story: Plot Now that you’re warmed up, let’s review the parts of a short story. These are essential ingredients that must be included: I. Plot: The plot is the sequence of events in a short story. A short story typically has one plot and is meant to be read in a short span of time. An elusive part of plot is the theme or message of the story. Theme helps to bring the elements of a short story together. The plot contains three main parts: Beginning: The beginning of the story or the exposition provides background information. This is where the characters and setting are introduced to the reader. Most importantly, we are also introduced to the main conflict of the story. Middle: During the rising action, interest or suspense builds as a conflict develops. The climax is the turning point of the story. The climax is followed by the falling action. This is where the events of the story begin to be resolved. End: At the end of the story, or the denouement, the conflict is resolved, and the action ends.
Parts of a short story: Setting II. Setting: The setting is the time and place of a short story. The setting is important because it is the when and where of a story. The short story’s setting contains the following: Place: the physical location where the story takes place Time: possibly a historical period as well as the time of day Mood: the atmosphere and feelings the writer is trying to create For example, mood may be happy, sad, mysterious, or frightening.
Parts of a short story: Characters III. Characters: The characters are the people who drive a story. They speak through dialogue to let a reader know what is being said. The characters' dialogue can help the reader understand more about other characters. Note: Remember that a short story is fictional. You make up the events and parts of the story.
Short Story Terms: Matching 1. Mood 2. Place 3. Setting 4. Characters 5. End 6. Middle 7. Beginning 8. Time 9. Plot A. How the events in a short story play out. B. Where an explanation of the plot or exposition occurs. C. The rising action, where the events in a story unfold in the climax. D. Known as the denouement, this is where the conflict is resolved. E. The physical location of the story. F. The location and the time in which the short story takes place. G. The year, calendar day, or time of day when the story takes place. H. The “atmosphere” created in the introduction. I. The people who make it all happen and speak the dialogue.
Writing the Expository Essay: Audience and Purpose In this section, you will learn to do another kind of writing. You will write an expository essay about “The Great Texas Drought of 2011.” An expository essay is based on real experiences or nonfiction, but similar to the short story, you need to decide the purpose of and audience for the writing. The purpose could be that you want your audience to become more aware of the harm that a drought can cause; attend a meeting to talk about drought; or learn about drought effects and conditions. Source: Lake Travis Drought, Texas Parks and Wildlife
Audience and Purpose To understand how the purpose of an expository essay affects the content, choose the correct response for each sentence below. Write the question and answer on your own paper. 1. “You may want to wash your car daily or take a long shower, but you should never waste water, especially in a drought.” This sentence might be found in an essay whose purpose is to— A. warn people about the dangers. B. create awareness about the situation. C. report or summarize the situation. D. create a dialogue with others. 2. “Effects of the drought include dry or dead vegetation, low water levels, and fires.” This sentence might be found in an essay whose purpose is to— A. warn people about the dangers. B. create awareness about the situation. C. report or summarize the situation. D. create a dialogue with others.
Audience and Purpose You will also need to consider the audience for your essay. Your teacher will sometimes specify the audience when a paper is assigned. If not, you will need to consider these questions: Who do you anticipate will be reading your writing? What do you think they may already know about your topic? What new information do you want them to learn about your topic?
Purpose Questions Read the examples below and decide the best audience for each purpose. Choose the correct answer 1. Purpose: Making sure home and business owners understand water restriction rules and consequences of not obeying them. The best audience for this purpose is... A. Community Leaders B. Congress C. School Administration 2. Purpose: Imposing sensible restrictions for water consumption of football players during two-a-day practices. The best audience for this purpose is... A. Community Leaders B. Families C. School Administration 3. Purpose: Encouraging the placement of water flow control devices on bathroom shower heads. The best audience for this purpose is... A. Community Leaders B. Families C. School Administration
Writing the Expository Essay: Brainstorming Techniques “The Great Texas Drought of 2011” is a huge topic that needs to be narrowed down before you can start working on your essay. It would be a good idea to start by finding a common definition of “drought,” looking into the history of droughts in Texas, and then adding supporting details to address your definition. First, however, you need to ask yourself, “What is it about this topic that interests me?” To address that question, you could brainstorm using the freewriting technique that we discussed in the sections on writing a short story, but try your hand at two other brainstorming techniques instead: listing and mind mapping. Listing Watch the video clip (see Mrs. M’s computer) several times and use it as a starting point for brainstorming more about your topic. Focus on the content presented. Using your notes, list as many issues about the drought as you can remember from the video. Don’t stop to think; just write everything you can remember about the video clip and any thoughts you have about what you saw. When you are finished creating your list, check your understanding to see a possible response.
Check Your Understanding Sample Response: Maybe you wrote a list something like this: 2011 drought may become a long-term drought. This drought was epic, similar to one in the 1940s and 50s. Nearly every major Texas heat record was broken (including hottest summer ever, hottest month ever, hottest August temperature, most 90- and 100-degree days). Dry soil led to higher temperatures. Two years of La Niña is responsible for the drought. La Niña starts with air over the Pacific. Texas agriculture losses were the worst in history, totaling more than five billion. Lakes were filled by one heavy rainfall during another period of extremely dry weather.
Listing Example Remember, for this example my assignment is to write an expository essay that explains the effects of “The Great Texas Drought of 2011.” I have decided to focus on the damage caused by this drought and my experience during it. Cross out the issues on my list that don't relate directly to my purpose. Check your understanding to see a revised list. Sample Response: I am deleting the background information about La Nina for now. I can add it back later if I need it. I have decided to focus on the damage caused by this drought and my experience during it, so I'm also not going to use the example of one rainfall refilling several lakes. This event could be its own separate topic. 2011 drought may become a long-term drought. This drought was epic, similar to one in the 1940s and 50s. Nearly every major Texas heat record was broken (including hottest summer ever, hottest month ever, hottest August temperature, most 90- and 100-degree days). Dry soil led to higher temperatures. Two years of La Niña is responsible for the drought. La Niña starts with air over the Pacific. Texas agriculture losses were the worst in history, totaling more than five billion. Lakes were filled by one heavy rainfall during another period of extremely dry weather.
Mind Mapping Another brainstorming technique you can use is a mind map or graphic conceptual organizer. To begin, take a piece of paper and write your central topic in the middle of the page. Next, fill the page with everything you can come up with about your topic, writing anywhere you wish. This is where your listing exercise comes in handy because you can use the ideas from your list. After you are finished, draw lines or arrows between similar ideas and assign them to a category. Take a look at this example: Let’s create a mind map together. We’ll write our topic in the middle bubble: “The Great Texas Drought of 2011.” Next, we will organize our data into clusters. A What cluster is a good place to start. What is the essay about? The next cluster is a When cluster. When did the drought begin and end? The next cluster is a Where cluster that addresses the geographical areas affected by the drought. Finally, we’ll include a How cluster indicating how devastating the drought has been.
For each detail that appears below, choose whether it answers a What, When, Where, or How question about your essay topic. Some details may answer more than one question, but see if you can find the response we chose for each one. The point is to consider how information relates to your topic. 1. Epic drought similar to Dust Bowl Drought “officially” started in February A. Where did the drought happen? B. When did the drought happen? C. What has happened as a result of the drought? D. How bad is the drought? 2. First six months driest in a century A. Where did the drought happen? B. When did the drought happen? C. What has happened as a result of the drought? D. How bad is the drought? 3. Drought devastating agriculture in Texas (over three billion agricultural dollars lost in Texas alone) A. Where did the drought happen? B. When did the drought happen? C. What has happened as a result of the drought? D. How bad is the drought? 4. 54 Texas counties categorized as severe drought zones A. Where did the drought happen? B. When did the drought happen? C. What has happened as a result of the drought? D. How bad is the drought?
5. We need a lot of rain really badly, water resources drying up A. Where did the drought happen? B. When did the drought happen? C. What has happened as a result of the drought? D. How bad is the drought? 6. The dry conditions have led to wildfires A. Where did the drought happen? B. When did the drought happen? C. What has happened as a result of the drought? D. How bad is the drought? 7. Landscape here in Texas being referred to as “dead” A. Where did the drought happen? B. When did the drought happen? C. What has happened as a result of the drought? D. How bad is the drought? 8. Drought affecting 12% of the country mainly in the south and the west A. Where did the drought happen? B. When did the drought happen? C. What has happened as a result of the drought? D. How bad is the drought?
Resources Used in This Lesson: Bibliography Cather, Willa. “On the Gull's Road.” americanliterature.com. http://www.americanliterature.com/Cather/SS/OntheGullsRo ad.html.On the Gull's Road “‘Drought of 2011 was one for the books.” KXAN. YouTube video, 3:22. Posted October 17, 2011. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UsIan4b5f_c.Drought of 2011 was one for the books
EDITING Rising: Effective Introductions and Conclusions
Introduction Take a Deep Breath “Hallelujah! I’m finished.” “Finished with what?” “I’m finished with my essay.” “That’s great. The hard part is getting that first draft finished.” “What do you mean ‘the hard part’? What other part is there?” “You’re going to revise it, aren’t you? I mean, I thought you were serious about this.” “No, I don’t want to revise it. I don’t even want to look at it again. I’m finished. It’s done.” We could continue this interchange, but you probably get the idea. Once you finish an essay, it’s really hard to go back and revise it. Why not just let it be? If it seems finished, then it will probably be OK. The problem is that what we see on the page and hear in our heads can be very different from what a reader sees and hears. Revision is the time to be a reader of your own writing. That means you have to pretend you don’t see how things connect until you’re shown how to connect them. You have to pretend that you’re coming to this essay for the first time.
Introduction One of the best things you can do to help you revise an essay is to put some time between you as a writer and you as a reader. If you can let the paper “rest” for one or two days, you will have a much easier time seeing what is there on the page. You won’t be as tempted to fill in gaps or missing connections with what’s in your head. Writers often don’t have time, however, to let an essay sit for several days. If you can give it two hours, that will help. Even just fifteen minutes may help you come back to the essay with the right attitude. What if you were asked to read a very good friend's essay, and your friend told you it was extremely important for the essay to be clear, eloquent, and appropriate to the audience and purpose? You would read your friend's essay looking for, almost hoping for, places where it could be revised. Maybe the first thing you would notice is that the introduction sets up expectations for a different paper from what follows. You might also notice that the introduction is sort of dead. In addition to those two problems, you might realize that the conclusion is only a simple restatement of previous ideas. There are probably other things to look at, but the thesis, the introduction, and the conclusion are good places to start.thesis
Introduction In this lesson, you will learn how to adjust your thesis so it accurately reflects the main idea of your essay. You will learn how to breathe life into a dead introduction and how to enliven a conclusion so it’s more than a mechanical repetition of material you have already covered. The first draft really is the hard part. Revising is not nearly as hard as writing a first draft, but sometimes it may seem to you that getting yourself to do the revision is the hardest part. Just remember; revision is not optional if you are serious about your writing. You just need to take a deep breath and start.
Station Vocabulary thesis - The subject or theme of a speech or composition dialogue - The lines spoken between characters in fiction or a play anecdote - A short narrative that relates an interesting or amusing incident, usually in order to make or support a larger point
Adjusting the Thesis You may think it’s strange to revise a thesis. Your whole essay is based on your thesis. If you revise it, won’t that mean you have to revise the entire essay? In a perfect world of perfect writers, it will probably be true that once you have decided on the main idea of your essay, the main idea would not change. However, writers don’t write in a perfect world, and (for the most part) writers aren’t perfect. Sometimes you will discover your topic as you write. As a result, your ideas will change so that when you finish, the idea you started with is no longer the center of your essay. The famous writer E. M. Forster said “How can I know what I think till I see what I say?” Forster was an important novelist and essayist. You are in good company if you end up saying something different from what you thought you would say when you started. When you find out that your thesis doesn’t match your essay content, what should you do about it? The thesis is important because it focuses the essay. The whole essay should be constructed to develop one main idea. If the whole essay develops a main idea, but the main idea is different from the thesis that you stated or suggested in your introduction, the most obvious thing to do is to change the thesis.
Adjusting the Thesis The thesis makes a promise to the reader. If your introduction states or suggests that the essay will be about the moneymaking possibilities of keeping honey bees, you had better write about the moneymaking possibilities of keeping honey bees. Otherwise, your readers will be at best confused and at worst annoyed. OK, so what if you begin writing about the bees, but then as you write, your interest and focus move toward how fascinating it is to observe honey bees at work? You haven’t made the promise yet because you are still writing the essay. Instead of promising to write about money, you can adjust the thesis so it promises to explain how fascinating it can be to observe the bees. Let’s look at an example of how this works. Let’s say you decide to write an essay about learning honesty from your mother. You plan to show how honest your mother is. The thesis is “My mother is a model of honesty.” After you finish writing, you look at what you have written and find these subtopics: My mother expected me to be honest with her. My mother got angry when she discovered I wasn’t honest. My mother taught me to be honest with my friends. I have learned to be honest from watching my mother.
Adjusting the Thesis The answer is no. Which of the following is a better statement of focus for this paper? Write your answer on your own paper, and in 1 – 2 sentences, explain why. A. I am an honest person. B. I learned to be honest from my mother. C. Honesty is a very important virtue. D. I’m always honest with my friends
Adjusting the Thesis You sometimes have to “look at what you’ve said” to find out “what you think.” Always reread an essay to check the accuracy of your stated (or implied) thesis. Don’t be surprised if you end up with a different topic than the one you intended. Of course, there are times when you have to be sure not to stray from what is expected or required: when answering essay questions on a test or when writing an essay to respond to a prompt, for example. If a prompt asks you to respond to a particular quotation, you can’t write about a different quotation. In this case, your thesis shouldn’t be changed if the change means it no longer responds to the prompt. In any situation where you have a choice of thesis, however, the first step is to adapt your thesis to reflect the main idea of your essay.
Introductions “When I was in middle school, my mother came into my room every morning to tell me it was time to get up. I know that lots of my friends had to get up by themselves, but I never thought about getting ready for school by myself. Then everything changed. One day my father gave me an alarm clock. He said that from now on I could take responsibility in the morning.” Did that paragraph get you interested in reading more? Did you connect with it? Did it make you laugh or smile? Did it make you cringe or feel sympathy? Maybe it did one or more of those things. This introductory paragraph isn’t bad, but it’s very ordinary. If you are serious about your writing, ordinary will not be good enough. This introduction establishes the context and clearly introduces the thesis idea: “An alarm clock helped me take responsibility for myself in the morning.” If this was part of your essay and you asked a friend to read your essay and suggest changes, your friend might not say anything about this paragraph needing to be changed. There is nothing wrong with it that must be corrected. It’s just that it’s not very effective. It’s ordinary, maybe even a little boring. So what can you do? It would be nice if this paragraph introduced not only the topic and the main idea of the essay but also the personality of the essay. As it stands, the paragraph might as well have been written by a robot. We want to feel that a real person is behind this; we want to hear tone or attitude. There are many, many ways to begin an essay. This section will describe and let you to practice three strategies. As you work with these strategies, you should develop a sense of what makes a good introduction. You should also get a sense of what gives personality to an introduction. When you begin to understand what is needed for a good introduction, then you can use other strategies beyond these three and even invent some of your own.
Introductions Use dialogue. Have you ever seen a written text start with dialogue? If you said no, you haven’t been paying attention to this lesson, which started with dialogue. The first sentences of the lesson introduction are “Hallelujah! I’m finished.” “Finished with what?” “I’m finished with my essay.”dialogue Use an anecdote. An anecdote is a brief story. We could have started this lesson with an anecdote instead of the dialogue. We could have begun with this:anecdote Source: cry, egg on stilts, Flikr Seriously, I started to cry. I had worked for three days on that essay. When I got it back, the teacher had written “Very good start. Revise it carefully, and hand it back in tomorrow.” So I stayed after class and asked her what was wrong with it. I wanted to know what I needed to correct. She said the introduction was rather ordinary, for one thing. Also she said that the conclusion was an uninteresting restatement of the main idea. What did she want, excitement and drama? I was just writing an essay.
Introductions Be a mind reader. Using the mind-reader strategy, you begin by presuming what is in a reader’s mind concerning your topic. You then surprise the reader by introducing a new idea (your thesis) that contrasts with those presumed ideas. An introduction for this lesson using the mind-reader strategy might go like this: You probably think that revision is the same as correction. You probably think a writer only revises when there’s something wrong with the writing. You might even think that good writers get it right the first time. Am I right? Well, if you do think this way, you are wrong. Revision isn’t just correction, it isn’t just for writing that has errors, and it isn’t just for bad writers. In fact, some people would say that the difference between a good writer and an average one is how well the writer revises.
Practice with Dialogue For each of the practice exercises that follow, we’ll use the topic of “helping people out.” A model of an introduction using dialogue appears below. Read the model, and then try your hand at revising the ordinary introduction (about the alarm clock) at the beginning of this section. You will write your version using a graphic organizer. More instructions follow the model introduction. Here’s a model introduction for an essay about helping people out that uses dialogue: “Oh wow, did you see that? That guy really ate it on those stairs.” “Yeah, I see. Oh no, his backpack came open, and the wind is scattering his papers.” “This is crazy. I’m glad I’m not him right now.” “Should we go over and help?” “Nah. I’ve got to get to class. It’s not our problem.” “Yeah, you’re right.” This didn’t actually happen to me. But it could have. I would have been the guy who said, “I’ve got to get to class.” That’s how I felt about helping people out two years ago, but since then I have grown up, at least a little. I now think about situations like this a little differently because of something that my mother told me. I now think that it is “my problem.” I think that helping other people out when I can is just the right thing to do. Use this model to help you revise the “alarm clock” introduction from the beginning of this section. As you revise, pay attention to the transition from the dialogue to the thesis statement. You can’t abruptly jump from the dialogue to your main idea. In the previous example, the writer used four sentences to connect the dialogue to the statements about his or her attitude toward helping people.
Practice with Anecdotes If dialogue does not appeal to you, try using an anecdote in the introduction as shown below. Read the model, and then try your hand at revising the ordinary introduction. Here’s a model introduction about helping people out that uses an anecdote: “When I was in sixth grade, I liked to go to the grocery store with my mom. Once, something happened that I have never forgotten. It was really a very small thing, but it changed the way I felt about helping other people. My mom and I were in the produce section, and a man in front of us pulled an orange from the display. A small avalanche of oranges began, and they were soon bouncing around on the floor. I started laughing because it was, in fact, pretty funny. However, my mom immediately began to help him corral the oranges and put them back where they belonged. I still think things like this can be funny, but I have also learned a grown-up concern for people involved in small accidents like this one. Now I always try to help out if I can. It is just the right thing to do.” Use the model to help you revise the “alarm clock” introduction at the beginning of this section. When you write your revision, don’t jump abruptly from the anecdote to your main idea. In the example above, notice the transitional sentence (starting with “I still think”) that connects the anecdote to the thesis. Return to page two of your graphic organizer to do the revision using this strategy.graphic organizer
Practice with Mind-Reading Here is a model of an introduction using the mind-reading strategy. Read the model and try your hand at revising the ordinary introduction from the beginning of this section. Model introduction for an essay about helping people out: “You probably think all teenagers are self-involved and inconsiderate of others. You would probably be surprised to see a teenager help someone get some bulky groceries into a car. You probably don’t think that teenagers would ever pick something up to return it to a person who dropped it or share an umbrella with someone in the rain. I’m a teenager, and I will admit that I sometimes used to act like this. But something that my mother explained to me changed my mind about helping other people out. Now, I think that helping other people out when I can is just the right thing to do.” Use the model to help you revise the “alarm clock” introduction at the beginning of this section. When you write the revised introduction, pay attention to the transition from the mind-reading comments to the thesis statement. You can’t abruptly jump to your main idea. In the example above, the writer uses two sentences to connect the mind-reading statements to the statements about his or her attitude toward helping people. Return to page three of the graphic organizer to do your revision.graphic organizer
Conclusions Read this conclusion to the alarm clock essay: “I used to depend on my mother to get me up every morning. Besides that, I depended on her to remind me about homework, to give me money when I needed it, and even to make sure I had the right clean clothes to wear to my job. Now I’ve learned to be responsible for myself.” Here are some questions to ask about this conclusion: Is anything included that is different than what you read in the rest of the essay? Is there anything that hasn’t been presented already? Conclusions (like introductions) need to deliver the essentials: a reminder of the thesis and a reminder of the central points supporting the thesis. The conclusion above does those things, but it does no more. It seems reasonable for a reader to skip it since it doesn’t say anything new. Though conclusions are not the place to introduce new subtopics, it’s still possible to write a conclusion that is worth the time it takes to read it. A conclusion can tie the end of the essay to the beginning to give a reader a satisfying sense of unity. A conclusion can also introduce results and effects: ways that the thesis idea can be extended into the future. In this section, we are going to practice two strategies for revising conclusions. The first is mirroring, which circles back to the beginning of the essay. The second is projection into the future, which focuses on results and effects. These strategies are two ways to improve an ordinary essay conclusion.
Mirroring Mirroring refers the reader to the way the essay began—not to the main ideas, but to the particular situation, example, anecdote, or analogy that was initially used to get the reader interested in the essay. Remember the dialogue introductions in the last section? Look at the dialogue that was used for the essay about helping other people. It is repeated for you below. To mirror the use of dialogue, we could start the conclusion with some dialogue. That seems a little cumbersome, though. Referring back to the situation of the students observing a third student dropping his backpack would make enough of a connection.
Mirroring Introduction “Oh wow, did you see that? That guy really ate it on those stairs.” “Yeah, I see. Oh no, his backpack came open and the wind is scattering his papers.” “This is crazy. I’m glad I’m not him right now.” “Should we go over and help?” “Nah. I’ve got to get to class. It’s not our problem.” “Yeah, you’re right.” Conclusion Now, if I saw someone “eat it” on the stairs and saw papers flying all over the place from a dropped backpack, I don’t think I would say, “It’s not my problem.” It is my problem to help people out when I can. My mother helped me see this and changed the way I think about helping other people. If my friend asked me “Should we go over and help him?” whether I had to get to class or not, I’d say, “yes.”
Mirroring Practice Can you see all the points at which the conclusion mirrors the introduction? Words from the introduction ate it on those stairs his backpack papers Should we go over and help him? have to get to class It’s not our problem. Words from the conclusion eat it on the stairs the backpack papers Should we go over and help him? had to get to class It’s not my problem. Look back at the dialogue you wrote for the alarm clock introduction in your graphic organizer. Using your notes, write a conclusion that mirrors your alarm clock introduction. When you are finished, check your understanding to see how someone else used mirroring to revise. The ordinary version of the conclusion is repeated below for you to use as a starting point. “I used to depend on my mother to get me up every morning. Besides that, I depended on her to remind me about homework, to give me money when I needed it, and even to make sure I had the right clean clothes to wear to my job. Now I’ve learned to be responsible for myself.”
Projection When you use projection in a conclusion, you guide readers to make use of your thesis idea. If your thesis idea is that helping other people when you can is the right thing to do, then you should help your readers imagine how this idea could change the way a person might live his or her life. Look at the example revision of a conclusion below. Model conclusion for an essay about helping out other people: “When I was younger, I didn’t feel any need to help people out, but I have grown up, at least a little. I now think differently about helping other people because of what my mother told me. I think that helping other people out when I can is just the right thing to do. This isn’t always easy. Sometimes it makes me late or takes some effort. But I think it is always worth it. And the thing is that when I help other people, they are very likely to pass it on and help someone else. By taking the time to help other people when we can, we may just make the world a better place to live.”
Projection Practice How does this conclusion project? It projects into the future by considering the domino effect that could result from helping people. Using your notes, write a conclusion for the alarm clock essay that projects into the future; revise the original version of the conclusion shown below. “I used to depend on my mother to get me up every morning. Besides that, I depended on her to remind me about homework, to give me money when I needed it, and even to make sure I had the right clean clothes to wear to my job. Now I’ve learned to be responsible for myself.”
Conclusions Tip for higher-level writers: Avoid giving your readers advice at the end of an essay. Most readers do not want to be told what to do. They would rather read about your expectations for yourself. In other words, say “The next time I see ________, I’ll do _______” rather than “So the next time you see ________, do ________.” Experiment with revision possibilities. Give yourself options. Watch how other writers handle introductions and conclusions. Above all, don’t skip revision. After you’ve done the hard part by writing the first draft, take your writing seriously and spend some time revising it.
Check Your Understanding Read the essay below and help the author find the best revisions for the introduction, conclusion, and thesis by answering the questions that follow. An Unusual Pet (1) Most people probably have the idea that keeping tarantulas as pets is dangerous, but the idea that tarantulas are out to get you is a superstition. (2) Actually tarantulas are very good pets for plenty of reasons. Will a tarantula bite you? Well, if you give it a hard time, yes. Will a puppy bite you if you bother it enough? Yes. What pet can you think of that will not bite or sting or do something to defend itself if it feels threatened? If you want to mistreat your pet and not have it retaliate, you’d better get a philodendron. Different kinds of tarantulas have different venom potencies, but the bite of most tarantulas is about equivalent to a bee sting. Have you ever seen pictures of beekeepers covered with bees but not getting stung? Do you think that beekeepers train bees not to sting? No. A beekeeper makes sure not to make the bees feel threatened. A beekeeper avoids bee stings by making sure the bees feel safe. If you have a tarantula for a pet, you can avoid getting bitten by making sure you do not threaten the tarantula. To be sure, some tarantulas are aggressive and easily angered. The Ornate Golden Baboon tarantula has an eight- inch leg span and is covered with orange hairs. An SPCA official who picked up such a spider from an owner who decided he could “no longer care for it” said it was “the kind of spider that nightmares are made of.” The owner made the decision to give up the spider when it started rearing up on its hind legs and exposing its half-inch fangs. The owner inferred from this behavior that the spider was becoming too dangerous to keep as a pet. This was probably a safe inference to make. However, a Chilean Rose tarantula is “very docile.” That is the kind of spider you want for a pet. If you get a Chilean Rose and treat it with respect and consideration, you will probably never have to deal with a spider bite. Even if it should nip at you, the bite will only cause a little swelling. There will be no rush to the emergency room and no need to call the SPCA to come and take the spider away. (3) It is important, if you want to get a tarantula, to know which few breeds are truly dangerous. (4) It is also important to know how to take care of a tarantula once you bring it home. (5) Informed pet owners know that most tarantulas are not dangerous. (6) If treated properly, tarantulas are very good pets.
Revision Questions 1. The author wants to revise the introduction to have a more interesting beginning. Which of the following could best replace sentence 1 to connect with readers in an emotional and humorous way? A “Errrr these are not cute... they could kill you.” This is what a girl named Maggie wrote about tarantulas on the Cute Home Pets website. However, the idea that tarantulas are out to get you is the same sort of superstition that leads people to think snakes are slimy or that bats will fly into your hair and bite your neck. B Many people are afraid of tarantulas. Tarantulas, it is true, can bite, but the bite is no more painful or consequential than a bee sting. C Tarantulas are harmless to humans and to most household pets. Nobody has ever died from the bite of a tarantula. They are nocturnal creatures so hunt mostly at night. If you own a tarantula, you should keep it in a small enclosure because a large enclosure will just make it feel insecure. D There are tarantulas from Africa and tarantulas from North and South America. One of the most important differences between the two types is that the tarantulas from the Americas (New World tarantulas) have tiny hairs with barbs at the ends that can be released by the tarantula when it is threatened. The effect of these small hairs is unpleasant, but unless they get into your eyes, they are harmless. 2. The author checked the thesis and decided that it does not reflect the content of the rest of the essay. Which of the following would be the best replacement for the original thesis statement (sentence 2)? A Actually, tarantulas are very interesting creatures. B Actually, tarantulas have differing venom potencies. C Actually, most tarantulas are not dangerous. D Actually, tarantulas are inexpensive to care for.
Revision Questions 3. The author wants to begin the conclusion with something more interesting than the informational statements in the original essay. He wants to replace sentences 3, 4, and 5. Which of the following will begin the conclusion with a lively tone and lead into the restatement of the thesis idea? A A Goliath Bird Eater is the largest known tarantula. It is nearly a foot across and has fangs that are an inch long. It is a New World spider native to the South American jungles. B Some people will probably never get over the idea that spiders wait in dark corners for a chance to leap out at humans and inject them with fatal venom. Such people shouldn’t become spider owners. These people would probably scare the poor spiders with their screeches of fear and wails of disgust. C Tarantulas come in many shapes, sizes, colors, and temperaments. Also, some are more expensive to buy than others. A prospective tarantula owner should consult a good reference on spider care before embarking on tarantula ownership. D My friend Roberto has a wolf spider for a pet. Roberto has named the spider Peter Parker after the Spider Man character. He says that taking care of Peter Parker is easier than taking care of any other pet he’s ever had. He said it’s almost as easy as taking care of a houseplant. 4. The author wants to add a statement to replace sentence 6 that will powerfully restate the revised thesis as a way to end the essay. Which of the following is the best choice? A Tarantulas may always seem scary, but that is more because of superstition than reality. If treated with care, most tarantulas are completely safe to keep as pets. B Everyone should get a spider. You can scare your friends and have fun on Halloween. Remember that Peter Parker fought for justice and helped keep the city safe for ordinary citizens. C Safety is a relative term. You could say that it is not safe to have a dog because a dog might get rabies and bite you. You could also say that it is not safe to get a parakeet. After all, a parakeet could peck at an electrical cord and start a fire. D Tarantulas are not nightmares. They are actually very cute if you think about it. What about stuffed animals that are shaped like tarantulas? You have to admit that they are really cute.
Resources Used in this Lesson: Bibliography Forster, E. M. Aspects of the Novel. New York: Rosetta Books, 1927. Holland, Carolyn C. “Tarantula Tales: Arachnophobia.” (blog). February 21, 2012. http://carolyncholland.wordpress.com/2010/02/21/tarantula- tales-arachnophobia.Tarantula Tales: Arachnophobia “Rose Hair Tarantulas.” Lilreptile.com. http://lllreptile.com/info/library/animal-care- sheets/invertebrates/-/rose-hair-tarantula/.Rose Hair Tarantulas “Tarantula Facts.” Amazing Tarantulas. http://www.amazingtarantulas.com/tarantulafacts.htm.Tarantula Facts
Introduction A country singer sits with his head bowed and hands clasped, while a petite soprano sings scales to warm up her voice, and a tuxedoed man concentrates on breathing deeply. These tense vocalists are waiting to audition for NBC’s reality show The Voice. The mood backstage is somber. This is not a lesson about improving the timbre of your vocal chords, relieving tension, or lightening the mood when everyone’s on edge. While voice, tense, andmood have familiar general meanings, they mean something different in grammar. Each is a feature of verbs. By focusing on these three features, you will expand your range of editing skills and improve your writing. You might also reap indirect benefits. As you learn to replace passive verbs with active ones, your writingvoice will become more dynamic. As you learn to use verb tense consistently, your readers might be less tense because they will know if what you are writing about is from the past, present, or future. As you learn to use grammatically correct verb forms, your teacher’s mood might also improve.
Station Vocabulary passive voice - The grammatical voice in which the subject of the verb is being acted upon by the verb (e.g., He was hit by the ball) active voice - Sentence structure in which the subject performs the action of the verb (e.g., the dog bit the boy) rather than being acted upon (e.g., the boy was bitten by the dog) participle - A verb form incorporating the use of -ed or -ing for regular verbs and using the third principle part of the verb for irregular verbs These verb forms are used to form the perfect tenses (e.g., Jim had spoken) or to serve as modifiers (e.g., the writing assignment). indicative mood - Of, relating to, or constituting a verb form or set of verb forms that represents the denoted act or state as an objective fact imperative mood - Having the form that expresses a command rather than a statement or a question subjunctive mood - A verb mood expressing a wish or command, or a hypothetical or anticipated condition (e.g., if I were finished eating, I would go to the party) wistfully - Full of yearning or desire tinged with melancholy; also: inspiring such yearning
Voice In NBC’s reality show The Voice, musician judges Christina Aguilera, Cee Lo Green, Adam Levine, and Blake Shelton sit with their backs to a vocalist in a blind audition. One judge casts a vote of approval, and all spin around to face the singer. The audience members, who have seen the singer all along, anticipate the judges’ reactions. The passive voice in grammar is similar to this blind audition; this verb construction doesn’t make clear to the reader who is acting, just as the judges don’t know who is singing. Although hiding identities might work well for a hit reality show, the same is not always true of writing.passive voice Source: Cee Lo Green #thevoice, stevgarfield, Flickr Source: Christina Aguilera (2006), Rafael Amado Deras, Wikimedia Source: Adam Levine from Maroon 5 cropped, Donna Lou Morgan USN, Wikimedia Source: BlakeSheltonApr10, Keith Hinkle, Wikimedia
Voice In grammar, voice indicates a relationship between the subject and the action expressed. Voice comes in two forms. First there is the active voice, which describes the subject “acting.” With an active verb, the subject of the sentence is clearly doing something.active voice Active Voice: The tenor belted out the song.In the other, the passive voice, something is being done to the subject of the sentence. The subject is “passively” undergoing the action of the verb. Sentences written in the passive voice include a form of “to be” and the past participle of a verb. A “by” phrase naming the performer of the action often follows.participle Passive Voice: The song was belted out by the tenor.The active-voice sentence emphasizes the singer, whereas the passive-voice sentence emphasizes the song. With active voice, the tenor takes center stage; with passive voice, the tenor takes a backseat. Even though “belted” is an action verb, it loses some of its energy in the passive- voice construction.
Voice The normal word order of English sentences is subject-verb-object. The subject acts upon the object. Active Voice: The tenor belted out the song. The doer of the action, the tenor, is to the left of the main verb. We will call the doer in a sentence the “actor,” and this first position is center stage. The actor gets all the attention when he, she, or it comes first. The passive voice shakes up the normal subject-verb-object order. Passive Voice: The song was belted out by the tenor. In passive voice, the actor is forced backstage to the end of the sentence. In this backward construction, the acted upon is in the actor position, and the actor is in the acted-upon position. The action is performed upon the subject and the object becomes the subject.
Voice In On Writing, novelist Stephen King doesn’t mince words in expressing his dislike for the passive voice. “You should avoid the passive tense. I’m not the only one who says so; you can find the same advice in The Elements of Style. Messrs. Strunk and White don’t speculate as to why so many writers are attracted to passive verbs, but I’m willing to.... The passive voice is safe. There is no troublesome action to contend with.” You might be too timid to read King’s horror genre at home alone on Halloween night, but even if you are, you don’t have to be a timid writer. Notice that King says we should avoid the passive voice; he doesn’t say never to use it. This is because the passive voice is not wrong, and we shouldn’t bury it entirely. In fact, sometimes the passive is even preferable to the active voice.
Voice For instance, the passive voice comes in handy when you don’t want to be accountable. Politicians may demonstrate this use of the passive voice by saying “mistakes were made.” By speaking passively, they conveniently distance themselves from blunders. In that form of the passive voice, the authors fail to name themselves as those who messed up. They get around fault by avoiding the pronouns I and we. Here are some other evasive sentence beginnings: It was apparent. It has been noted. It was decided. It is known to be. Anyone can resort to the passive voice to avoid taking responsibility. Which voice would you use to tell your parent about your first car accident? Passive Voice: Dad, the right side of the car was damaged. Active Voice: Dad, I made a mistake and clipped some mailboxes, severely damaging the right side of your expensive new car. In the first sentence, you get less of the blame. “By me” is implied, but you manage not to say it out loud. When you use the passive voice to disguise the true subject, the culprit (you in this case) might hope to get a reduced sentence. On the other hand, when a good thing happens, you prefer the accountability of the active voice. Wouldn’t you say “I got an A” rather than “An A was received by me”?
Voice The passive voice is justified in some occasions. Consider the following: The person doing an action may be unknown. The song was recorded on gramophone at 45 rpm. (Here, the artist may be unknown.) The bicycle was stolen. (The thief is stealthy and didn’t get caught.) The person acting may be irrelevant, or it may not be important to say who did the action. An error on the exam has been brought to my attention. (The name of who pointed out the error doesn’t matter.) The package was delivered. (Who delivered it doesn’t matter.) In some cases, the object may be more important. Donations were made in the sum of $50,000. (Donations and the amount given are important for this sentence; we will assume there were many givers or that they were anonymous.) The body was moved after the victim was killed. (The fact that the body was moved is important here; we may not know who moved it.) Despite these exceptions, you should use the active voice most of the time because it’s clearer and more direct. Another compelling reason to write in active voice is that it’s more concise. You can say more with fewer words. The following activity demonstrates that economy.
Exercise Use your notes to rewrite each sentence into the active voice. Create a version of the sentence that uses fewer words to say the same thing. The number of words in each sentence has been listed for you. After you rewrite the sentence, count how many words you used. When you are finished, check your understanding to see possible responses. 1. The note was dropped by the singer. (7) 2. A vocal mentor was chosen by the contestant. (8) 3. My homework has been eaten by the dog. (8) 4. It has been decided that downsizing the workforce is the only way to save the company. (16) 5. The sightseers were picked up by the tour bus. (9)
Voice You don’t want to be wordy or get in the practice of withholding information from your readers by using the passive voice. If you know who did the action, say who it was. Look for timid, passive-voice sentences in your writing and rewrite them into the active voice. If you are not clear whether a sentence you have written is in the passive voice, ask yourself whether the subject is acting or being acted upon. If an acted-upon subject shows up, try to flip the sentence around to get the actor in the right place. Also ask yourself if the sentence clearly identifies the performer of the action. If not, a passive sentence may have been written by you.
Verb Tense El Paso, Texas, is in the Mountain Time Zone, while the rest of the state is in the Central Time Zone. Unless you’re straddling an imaginary line east of El Paso, you can’t be in two Texas time zones at once. Tenses are the time zones of writing. Every English sentence has a verb that describes an action, state, or occurrence. These can happen in one of the three time zones in which we all exist—past, present, or future. In the past, something happened, in the present something happens, and in the future, something will happen. Consider the sentences below. Last week on The Voice, the contestant performed a song from Lady Gaga, this week sheperforms a Beyoncé song, and next week she will perform a Katy Perry song. You’re already experienced using these three simple tenses. You know that the simple past adds -ed to regular verbs, the present form adds an -s (when the third-person singular is being used), and the future uses will or shall. However, in high school, you are expected to deliver more nuanced writing that makes subtle distinctions in time. You may need to use a perfect tense. The word perfect literally means “made complete” or “completely done.” The present perfect shows an already completed action. The past and future perfectshow when something happened or will happen in relation to when something else happened or will happen.
Verb Tense Let’s look a little more closely at the more complex tenses in English, including the perfect. The following chart shows how the terms perfect and progressive combine to create the traditional names for our tenses. In the chart we use the word eat as our example. PresentPastFuture Simple eat, eats (simple present) ate (simple past) will eat (simple future) Progressive am (is, are) eating(pre sent progressive) was (were) eating (pa st progressive) will be eating (future progressive) Perfect has (have) eaten (pre sent perfect) had eaten (past perfect) will have eaten (future perfect) Perfect Progressive has (have) been eating(present perfect progressive) had been eating (past perfect progressive) will have been eating (future perfect progressive)
Verb Tense Present Perfect The present perfect consists of a past participle (usually -ed) with has or have. It designates action that began in the past but continues into the present. Beyoncé sang for ten years. (simple past) Beyoncé has sung for ten years. (present perfect) The first sentence implies that Beyoncé isn’t singing anymore. The second, with the present perfect, implies that she is still singing. Past Perfect The past perfect tense designates action in the past just as the simple past does, but the action of the past perfect is action completed in the past before another action. John recorded his songs and later sold them. (past) John sold the songs that he had recorded. (past perfect) The songs were recorded before they were sold. Renee finished the performance when George arrived. (simple past) Renee had finished the performance when George arrived. (past perfect)
Verb Tense Future Perfect The future perfect tense designates action that will have been completed at a specified time in the future. Saturday I will finish my rehearsal. (simple future) By Saturday noon, I will have finished my rehearsal. (future perfect) Now you will learn the progressive tenses, which concern ongoing action in the past, present, and future. Present Progressive The present progressive tense describes an ongoing action that is happening at the same time the statement is written or spoken. This tense is formed by using the word am, is, or are with the verb form ending in -ing. The performer is singing the National Anthem.
Verb Tense Past Progressive The past progressive tense describes a past action that was happening when another action occurred. This tense is formed by using the word was or were with the verb form ending in -ing. The performer was singing the National Anthem when the applause started. Future Progressive The future progressive tense describes an ongoing or continuous action that will take place in the future. This tense is formed by using will be or shall be with the verb form ending in -ing. Norah Jones will be performing daily during the festival next week. Now that you understand present and progressive tenses, let’s do something a little more complicated and add the two together. We are going to create the perfect progressive tenses!
Verb Tense Present Perfect Progressive This tense indicates a continuous action that has been finished at some point in the past or that was initiated in the past and continues to happen. The action is usually of limited duration and has some current relevance. For example, “She has been singing, and her heart is still beating fast.” The present perfect progressive is frequently used to describe an event of the recent past; it is often accompanied by the wordjust as in this usage: “It has just been raining.” The present perfect progressive tense is formed with the modal word have or has (for third-person singular subjects) plus the word been plus the present participle of the verb (with an - ing ending): “I have been working in the garden all morning.” “George has been painting that house for as long as I can remember.”
Verb Tense Past Perfect Progressive Use the past perfect progressive tense to indicate a continuous action that was completed at some point in the past. This tense is formed with the modal word had plus the word been plus the present participle of the verb (with an -ing ending): “I had been rehearsing all morning.” “George had been rehearsing for weeks, and he finally felt prepared.” Future Perfect Progressive Use the future perfect progressive when you want to indicate a continuous action that will be completed at some point in the future. This tense is formed with the modal word will plus the modal word have plus the word been plus the present participle form of the verb (with an -ing ending). Here is an example: “Next Thursday, I will have been working on this project for three years.”
Verb Tense Exercise To get a better feel for the differences among the perfect and progressive tenses, answer a few questions. Read each sentence and choose the correct answer. Select the tense of the verb phrase that appears in bold text. 1. The first contestant has practiced piano since he was a boy of four. A. Future perfect progressive B. Present perfect C. Present perfect progressive 2. When the police arrived at the hideout, the criminal regretted that he had stolen the painting. A. Past perfect B. Future perfect progressive C. Future perfect 3. If the referee waits one more year to retire, he will have been calling games for 35 years. A. Past perfect progressive B. Future perfect C. Future perfect progressive 4. By the time the season is over, our team will have played 35 games. A. Future perfect progressive B. Future perfect C. Past perfect 5. The judges were consulting with one another while the musicians talked among themselves. A. Past progressive B. Future perfect C. Past perfect progressive
Why so Tense? You will be relieved to know that it is not necessary to memorize the names of the more than thirty tenses like the present perfect progressive. What is important to know is that our language accommodates subtle differences in time and that you can incorporate these differences when you edit. Source: Don't Panic poster, Jim Linwood, Flickr
Principal Parts of Some Common Irregular Verbs To take advantage of the more complex verb forms, you need to know the principal parts of verbs. Regular verbs add -ed for the past and past participle; irregular verbs change form entirely. Be is an irregular verb, and it changes to was, were, or been to relate to the past, depending on how you want to use it. Sometimes, as language evolves, an irregular word such as holp, once the past tense of help, evolves to the regular form. Now in English we have helped. In other cases, like the strange case of sneak, the regular past tense, sneaked, has been losing ground to a newly created irregular form: snuck. However, using these more advanced tenses might be difficult if you find irregular verbs challenging. If you catch yourself writing “I have flew,” “I have rode,” or “I have went,” perhaps the lesson on past and participle forms of irregular verbs snuck by you.
V1 Base Form V2 Past Simple V3 Past Participle awakeawokeawoken bewas, werebeen beat beaten becomebecamebecome beginbeganbegun bendbent bet bid bin bitebitbitten blowblewblown breakbrokebroken bringbrought
Consistency of Verb Tenses When contestants on The Voice hit flat notes, the judges are not likely to choose them. Writers sometimes hit flat notes as well. One of those flat notes is related to tense. When you’re careless with tense, it causes discord for readers, confusing them and forcing them to reread. For example, the next sentence uses present and past together in a way that doesn’t ring true. When the buzzer rings, the contestant jumped. Avoid hitting those flat notes as a writer by using consistent verb tenses. When the buzzer rang, the contestant jumped. Source: 20120913-A-3103P-004, Joint Base Lewis McChord, Flickr
If you don’t want your reader straddling the time zones of writing or having to stop to reread, you should pick a tense—usually either the past or the present—and stick to it throughout your whole paper. Generally, you should use the past tense to narrate events and the present tense to discuss the contents of a literary work. Using the same tense throughout a sentence may seem simple, but what about when the time frame changes, which requires a shift in tense? You will need to make these kinds of time distinctions as you edit your writing. These examples show how to correctly use two tenses in one sentence. Even though the contestant loves country music, she agreed to sing a rock ‘n’ roll hit on The Voice. (Loves is present tense because she continues to love country music, but agreed is in the past because it already happened.)Before the battle round began, the judge had decided which singer would win. (Began is in the past tense; had decided is in the past perfect and refers to a time before the action of began.)By the time the singer finishes the song, the interest of the audience has waned. (Finishes is present tense, and has waned is present perfect.)
Verb Tense Exercise The main tense in Rudyard Kipling’s story “Rikki-Tikki-Tavi” is the past. Below is an excerpt from the story, but with a few changes: some of the verb tenses have been altered as a challenge to you. Your job is to find the five unnecessary shifts to the present tense. Each suspicious shift can be found in a sentence that contains at least one past-tense verb. Read the text aloud, locate each incorrect verb, and write it down. After you have written down all five words, answer the two questions below for each sentence that had an incorrect tense. You will end up with ten answers total. “She [Nagaina] headed straight for the long grass by the thorn-bush, and as he was running Rikki- tikki heard Darzee still singing his foolish little song of triumph. But Darzee’s wife was wiser. She flew off her nest as Nagaina came along, and flaps her wings about Nagaina’s head. If Darzee had helped they might have turned her, but Nagaina only lowered her hood and goes on. Still, the instant’s delay brought Rikki-tikki up to her, and as she plunges into the rat-hole where she and Nag used to live, his little white teeth were clenched on her tail, and he went down with her—and very few mongooses, however wise and old they may be, care to follow a cobra into its hole. It was dark in the hole; and Rikki-tikki never knows when it might open out and give Nagaina room to turn and strike at him. He held on savagely, and sticks out his feet to act as brakes on the dark slope of the hot, moist earth.” Using your notes, answer these two questions for each sentence that contains a wrong word. 1. In each sentence, what is the past-tense verb that gives away the error? 2. Which form of the wrong verb would a writer use instead to correct the sentence?
Mood Hopefully you’re in the mood to learn about mood, the last feature of verbs in this lesson. The mood of a verb indicates whether the writer or speaker regards the action as a fact, command, wish, request, or a contradiction of fact. Consider the following moods: The indicative mood is used for ordinary statements and questions that actually occur in reality. Most of your writing is in the indicative mood.indicative mood This little pig went to market. The imperative mood is used for commands and strong suggestions. You use this mood in speaking more than in writing, especially if you’re the bossy type.imperative mood Pass the bacon. The subjunctive mood is used for wishful thinking and conditions contrary to fact. Grammar Girl’s podcast “Subjunctive Mood” provides further instruction on the topic.subjunctive moodSubjunctive Mood If pigs could fly, we would have express bacon. It’s useful to know how to write wistfully, and the subjunctive mood can do just that. For instance, how would you complete the following? If I were finished with high school tomorrow, I would...
Mood You might have overlooked the verb “were,” a subjunctive form, in this sentence stem when you began imagining your college dorm room or your audition on The Voice. “If I were finished with high school tomorrow” is a wish contrary to fact. This wishful kind of grammar is for talking and writing about things as they might be or might have been, not as they are. The subjunctive mood also kicks in when you use the words like would, could, should, and if. Notice that our example has “would” in addition to “were.” It’s important to think about voice, tense, and mood as you revise. Let’s face it; if you use the incorrect verb tense, it’s difficult to get a good grade; however, subtle revisions to your work such as changes to voice and mood make an OK essay into a very good one. You can bet that if you read carefully and revise according to the above suggestions, your mood will be lighter and your shoulders less tense. You will tell everyone in a loud voice that you received an A on your essay!
Resources Used in This Lesson: Bibliography Every, Barbara. “‘Hedging’ in Scientific Writing.” Biomedical Editor. http://www.biomedicaleditor.com/ hedging.html#ixzz29V02GdKM.‘Hedging’ in Scientific Writing Fogarty, Mignon. “Subjunctive Verbs.” Grammar Girl, March 5, 2009. http://grammar.quickanddirtytips.com/ subjunctive-verbs-was-i-were.aspx.Subjunctive Verbs “Irregular Verb List.” EnglishClub.com. http://www.englishclub.com/vocabulary/irregular- verbs-list.htm.Irregular Verb List King, Stephen. On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. New York: Pocket Books, 2000. Kipling, Rudyard. The Jungle Book. Project Gutenberg. 2012. http://www.gutenberg.org/files/236/236-h/236-h.htm.The Jungle Book LaRocque, Paula. The Book on Writing: The Ultimate Guide to Writing Well. Oak Park, IL: Marion Street Press, Inc., 2003. O’Conner, Patricia T. Words Fail Me: What Everyone Who Writes Should Know About Writing. New York: Harcourt, Brace & Company, 1999. “Perfect Tenses.” EnglishPlus.com. http://englishplus.com/grammar/00000361.htm.Perfect Tenses. Simmons, Robin L. “Auxiliary Verbs.” Grammar Bytes. http://www.chompchomp.com/terms/auxiliaryverb.htm.Auxiliary Verbs “The Verb Tenses in English.” English Grammar Guide. https://sites.google.com/site/englishgrammarguide/Home/the-verb-tenses-in-english.The Verb Tenses in English Whitman, Neal. “‘Pet’ or ‘Petted’? ‘Grit’ or ‘Gritted’?” Grammar Girl, Aug 2, 2012. http://grammar.quickanddirtytips.com/pet-or-petted.aspx.‘Pet’ or ‘Petted’? ‘Grit’ or ‘Gritted’?
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