Tuesday, May 31, 2011

day 110: more prepositions as other parts of speech

I think I confused more than helped in my last post about "coming with..." I am going to elaborate a bit on the different uses that words that are commonly prepositions might have in writing:

1. First of all, a word is seldom a certain part of speech in isolation. Words are called parts of speech because they are used in a certain way in speech (and writing). Thus, it is often incorrect to say that, for instance, a dog is a noun. You can be dog tired. You can dog somebody to pay you. A part of speech is a part of speech when it is used--not in isolation.

2. Thus, the preposition as other parts of speech problem. We have students memorize lists of prepositions (though we prefer to have them use them in Check Sentences, again, because that is how "parts of speech" are used)--but we have to remember that those prepositions are only prepositions when they are used as prepositions--how is that for confusing? Remember, a preposition must have an object following it in order to be considered as being used as a preposition.

3. Examples!!! I will list prepositions below to show how they may be used as prepositions or how they may be used as other parts of speech--again, in context.

a. Over
    i. I am coming over. (Adverb--tells where you are coming....)
    ii. Jump over the water. (Preposition--begins the prepositional phrase (PP for short): over the water...)

b. Down
  i. He fell down. (Adverb--tells where he fell..)
  ii. We rode down the hill. (Preposition--begins the PP down the hill...)

c. Before
  i. Before we go to class, let's check our backpacks. (Subordinator--before is used as a subordinator beginning the subordinate clause before we go to class--a subordinate clause is a clause (subject/verb) that begins with a subordinator and is not a real sentence by itself.)

  ii. I heard that story before. (Adverb--tells when you heard that story...)

  iii. He has to go before the leaders. (Preposition--begins the PP before the leaders...)

Hope this helps! Feel free to write in questions--if I don't know the answer, I will look the question up in my 600 page reference! :)

Monday, May 30, 2011

day 109: another pet peeve--"I'm going to come with"

Another pet peeve of mine is popping up everywhere, so I thought I would share with our readers what it is and why it sounds so incorrect to me. 

This pet peeve is people using the preposition with as an adverb (or, in the case of my daughter--with an understood object of the preposition--her way of using grammar terms to justify its use!). 

Here is the run down on what I see as this pet peeve's problem:

1. First of all,  yes, words have multiple uses and parts of speech everywhere all the time. This is one reason why we advocate only using grammar programs for children that have the words used--not lists of words in which the student is to identify what part of speech it is. A part of speech is determined by the word's use, not the word itself:
     a. jump--a student might determine that jump is a verb...which it can be. But it can also be a noun (she made a huge jump) and an adjective (it was a jump start program).
     b. to--a student might determine that to is a preposition...which it can be. But it can also be part of a verbal phrase known as an infinitive (to run).

2. With is not one of those "multiple use" kinds of words. With is almost always (and probably always) a preposition. 
   a. With is a preposition because a preposition is a word that shows possession, has an object with it (the object of the preposition), and is the beginning of a prepositional phrase: with her, with the show, with the leader.
  b. With is seldom, if ever, used alone as an adverb (like many other prepositions can be):
      i. She is going along. (Along is an adverb here.)
      ii. She ran along the trail. (Along is a preposition here.)

     iii. I told him to jump down. (Down is an adverb here.)
    iv. He ran down the street. (Down is a preposition here.)

3. With is not an adverb by itself. It is not the kind of word that can stand alone as another part of speech. It is a preposition that needs an object to show a relationship (with whom? with what?).

So...tell who you are going with--and use with as a preposition, the way it was intended to be used! Smile...

Sunday, May 29, 2011

day 108: weary vs wary

The other day as I was reading aloud to my sons out of a book about Clara Barton, I came across a sentence that i read, then re-read, then re-read again. It was about Clara Barton, the founder of the US Red Cross during the Civil War, becoming weary on the battle front. I was sure that the author had misused the word weary--and really needed wary. It was then and there that I decided that the concept of weary and wary warranted its own "Tricky Trick to Help It Stick"!

Weary is a word that means tired or overwhelmed from something, such as too much work, no rest, difficult circumstances, etc.

Wary is a word that means to be paranoid or suspicious.

Both words are adjectives, meaning they describe nouns (or sometimes pronouns, in the case of predicate adjectives: I am weary.).

So, what can we use for a Tricky Trick?

Well, I will propose one that has worked for me since my Clara Barton encounter--see if it helps you as well:

1. The day was dreary, so she grew weary--just remember that the spellings are the same--dreary and weary (dreary weather makes you tired or weary!).

2. The  salesman was scary, so the buyers were wary--just remember that the spellings are the same--scary and wary (a scary saleperson makes you wary or suspicious/paranoid).

Now, I hope you don't get weary in your grammar studies--or wary when you write a sentence using weary/wary! 

Sunday, May 22, 2011

day 107: showing possession

In writing Mother's Day, I reminded you that the day belongs to one mother--your mother. Thus, you write Mother, then you show possession to the word mother: Mother's Day.

Possession can be so tricky because we think of whether the word is singular or possessive; we contemplate whether the apostrophe should be on the inside or outside of the s, etc. It doesn't need to be that complicated! You are probably thinking too hard!

Tricky Trick to Help It Stick: Do not worry about whether the word you want to show possession to is singular or plural.
     1. Just write the word you want to show possession to
     2. Then see if it does or does not end in an s:
              a. If it DOES end in an s, just put apostrophe on the outside of the s that is already there (s')
                       i. glass
                       ii. glass' rim
             b. It it does NOT end in an s, add apostrophe s ('s)
                      i. cup
                     ii. cup's rim

day 106: may holidays

May is halfway over! And so are May's holidays! Here is a list of the holidays for May, spelled and punctuated correctly:

*Mother's Day
   1. Remember, you have one mother--the day belongs to her...
   2. Show possession of mother by writing the singular word mother--doesn't end in an s, so we put 's to show possession to it***
  3. Cap M and cap D

*Memorial Day
   1. No s or 's in this holiday
   2. Cap M and cap D

***HINT: Do not worry about whether the word you want to show possession to is singular or plural.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

day 104: another thing that bugs me---who wore it best?

I was flipping through a magazine at the beauty shop the other day and came upon another of my pet peeves---the “who wore it best” feature of a celebrity magazine. The pet peeve of this stems from the fact that there are two gals wearing the outfit—but the question asked is “Who wore it best?” If only two people are being compared, it would definitely be “Who wore it better?”

The rule for this is the comparative and superlative forms of words—

Comparative words are used to compare two things or one thing to one other thing:

  1. better, worse, more
  2. She wore it better than the other gal.
  3. He is taller than she.

Superlative words are used to compare one thing to many:

  1. best, worst, most
  2. She wore it best out of all of the celebrities.
  3. He is the tallest in the room (of many).

Oftentimes, it is not clear what comparison is being made—and it can be tricky (and even subjective) to determine whether the comparative or superlative should be used. However, in cases where it is extremely clear (two people or things being compared), it should not be that difficult to do it properly.

So….the first article—with two gals wearing the same dress—should ask “Who wore it better?” but the next page—with three girls wearing the dress—was correct to ask “Who wore it best?” J

day 103: wacky words---breathe and breath

Another Wacky Word pair that trips people up is that of breathe and breath. (The latest sign I saw of this had to do with helping people to "breath clean air"!)

This pair is tricky, along with all of the ea pairs, because ea says short e and long e--all by itself. For example:

1. Today I will read the book.
2. The leaf fell to the ground.
3. The thief is going to steal the diamond.

The key to knowing whether to use breath or breathe is to consider the pairs that do have e at the end--it is there to show that, that word is the long e one (not the short e one).

For example:

1. Take a deep breath (breth--short e).
2. Breathe deeply (long e).

3.  He took great pleasure in it (short e--plezz).
4. They want to please him (long e).

While there isn't a fullproof trick (like their/there and affect/effect), it does help to keep in mind that if one of the set has an e at the end of it, it is there for a reason--in these cases, to make the first vowel say its long sound--breathe (long e) vs. breath (short e).

day 102: creating an environment conducive to learning to read part iii of iii

 Children who learn to read naturally, without reading instruction, are raised in an environment that is conducive to learning to read naturally—an environment that creates a love for learning and a very perceived need to learn.

While I have never had a natural reader myself, I tried all throughout my children’s learning days to create this type of environment. It has created outstanding learners and avid readers in the Reish home.

One of the “rules” that Ray and I had for our children’s early education was that if something could be taught informally (and painlessly), we would teach it that way (as opposed to using workbooks or “curriculum” for something that can just as easily be learned while driving down the road or snuggling on the sofa).

That is one thing that I truly loved about the “natural reader learning environment.” Why get a workbook to teach capital letters when you can teach it while you are running errands (from all of the store signs)? Why get a program for rhyming words when nursery rhymes, silly songs, and I spy games on the road can do the job without the stress? The “natural reader learning environment” fit how we thought young children should be taught—regardless of whether our kids truly became natural readers or not.

The environment described in the last couple of days’ posts is extremely conducive to teaching a myriad of things that kindergarten and first grade curricula often use workbooks, worksheets, and other “formal” approaches. And kids do not even know they are doing “school” with Mom and Dad while running to the hardware store or cuddling during an extensive story time!

Here are just a few of the skills that the research on natural readers indicated are learned/enjoyed by kids in this environment:

1. Contact with print

2. Thinking skills

3. Comprehension (especially when a wide variety of materials is presented and discussion follows)

4. Expanded vocabulary

5. Enunciation and pronunciation

6. Love of and need for reading

7. Sentence patterns

8. Relationship between parent and child---the most important one of all, of course!

Create a “natural reader learning environment” in your home—regardless of your kids’ ages….and watch the interaction with print increase; the love for learning grow; and the positive relationships bloom.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

day 101: creating a reading environment for new readers, part ii of iii

"You may have tangible wealth untold; caskets of jewels and coffers of gold,

But richer than I you could never be; for I had a mother who read to me."

So what were the commonalities I found in studying the environment of “natural readers”?

Common Characteristics of Natural Readers:

1. Interaction with adults—these kids were with adults a lot—and definitely not around peers more than adults. They had adults on hand to discuss things with, to answer their questions, and to provide examples of proper speech patterns, etc.

2. Much book handling by the child—these children were surrounded with books that they were permitted to interact with. They were often found at very young ages with stacks of books around them, just looking at the pictures, making stories in their minds from the pictures, etc.

3. Print abounds and interest in print is evident by itself—not only did the homes of natural readers contain books themselves, but they also contained all type of print. The parents of these children read magazines, journals, newspapers, etc. I think the “interest in print” part probably began with something like a parent saying, “Honey, look at this whale they found beached on the coast of Florida,” as he or she brought the little one up on to her lap to see the picture that was provided with the article in today’s newspaper, etc. This type of activity causes a child to become interested in print.

4. Tapes and books are used—nowadays, of course, this would say “cd’s and books are used”; however, this is the reason why I began using book and tape sets a few times a week for my preschoolers and elementary children—and why we have used audios (talking books, radio dramas, etc.) every week of our lives since our oldest was one year old. “Tapes” and books show our children the benefits and “fun” that reading provides.

5. Memorization takes place—these natural readers often followed a certain pattern—they memorized a picture book (usually many), then through the memorization, they began making print-sound-word connections. That is, when they turned the page and recited, “If you give a mouse a cookie,” they began to understand that i-f says if and y-o-u says you. Natural readers were experts at memorizing large portions of text.

6. Interest in writing words and “language experience” activities—many years ago, there was a movement in education to replace phonics instruction with “language experience” activities (also called a “whole language approach”). Phonics proponents everywhere were up in arms at the thought of “activities” of writing what the child said (dictation) for him, making little homemade books, etc. taking the place of phonics instruction. While I am a strong phonics proponent, I believe that these “language experiences” and “whole language” activities augment the reading instruction greatly. And, of course, the natural readers in the research were exposed to these types of activities early and often. These kids were the ones who dictated thank-you notes to Mom to go to grandparents and colored a picture to send along with it; they were the ones who had a chalk board in the kitchen in which Mom or Dad wrote the day of the week each morning; they were those who “said” stories aloud and parents copied it in little “journal” books for the child. And on and on. Why wouldn’t these types of experiences and activities increase a child’s relationship with print and love for learning?

7. Experiences related to literacy and books—these obviously include the types of activities listed in number six, but these kids knew from birth that books and reading were important. They were the ones in a double stroller at the library lawn sale as toddlers—child in front seat with back seat full of picture books. They were the ones who had their own “book basket” in the corner of the nursery almost from birth. In other words, they were immersed in literacy and books from an early age.

8. Self-regulated behavior and risk taking—This characteristic related to how they “organize” their little lives. These kids would pull all of the Curious George books off the shelf and stack them up to look at after lunch. They often had little learning systems in place at ages four and five. And they were not afraid to be wrong. This, of course, stems from not being talked down to or made fun of when they did ask questions. These kids were risk takers because taking risks in learning (“Mommy, is this word (dapper) ‘Daddy’?”) yielded information that helped them in their quest to learn. The questions did not yield put downs or “you should already know this.”

9. Read to often—Obviously, a link has to be made from the squiggles on the page to the sounds that those squiggles make in order for a young child to teach himself to read. Thus, a child must be read to (or follow along with books and tapes) in order to learn to read without formal instruction. Now, this is not to say that a child who is read to will automatically learn to read early and on his own. I read aloud to our first three kids three to five hours everyday for years and years—and not one of the three was a natural, or early, reader! But it certainly created a love for print and learning in my children!

Tomorrow—how does this reading environment teach informally what could take years of instruction to learn?

day 100: homework help--creating a reading environment for new readers, part i of iii

“I would be most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves.” ~Anna Quindlen, "Enough Bookshelves”

For homework help this week, I am going to introduce readers to creating a reading environment for new readers. If you do not have a new reader, please read anyway! Lots of info that pertains to families with all kinds/levels of kids!

During my graduate studies (in Reading Specialist) at Ball State University, I did a master’s thesis about children who learn to read without any reading instruction. That is, the kids just suddenly started reading books without ever having phonics lessons, basal readers, or other “formal instruction.” It was a challenging thesis simply because there is so little data about it because of our “early school attendance age.” Seldom does a child learn to read “naturally” before age six or seven, and with kids going to school at age five (and often beginning reading instruction in kindergarten), the research was sparse concerning these “instructionless” readers.

I did find enough, however, and I was also blessed to find a family who had a natural reader to compare the printed data with. My observations, coupled with the studies in teaching journals, etc., led me to find what I called the “environment” in which natural readers are raised. This led me to other lines of thinking—if a child can learn to read with absolutely no instruction in a literary-saturated environment, wouldn’t this environment be conducive to helping those who DO receive instruction learn to read better, more easily, and more naturally?

The answer, of course, was yes. Study after study shows the type of environment that causes kids to learn better. Duplicating the “natural reader’s” environment can only help our kids learn better. Maybe our creating this “literary atmosphere” will not automatically make our six year old pick up a book and begin reading, but if it makes the learning process (actually any/all learning processes) easier, more enjoyable, and less stressful, why wouldn’t we want to duplicate it in our homes for all of our kids?

Tomorrow and the next day I will detail this environment and its outcomes. But today I will leave you with a little hint: one of the characteristics of the home of a natural reader has something to do with the quote at the beginning of this post. Smile…

Friday, May 6, 2011

day 99: lie and lay

Sit and rise have I's--and lie does too.
"Coz these are things that I, all by myself, can do.
Set, raise, and lay are words that you choose
When each one has an object after it to use.

Here we are at the end of our Wacky Word pair—lie and lay.

Remember these lie and lay tips:

  1. Lie has an I—and I alone can do it (it is not done TO something else).
    1. I lie in bed at wide awake.
    2. Yesterday I lay awake half the night.
    3. Before that I had lain down when the cat jumped on me.

  1. Lie means to stretch out in a flat position—anybody or anything can lie, as long as it does it by itself (i.e. it is NOT laid)
    1. She lies down with a headache every day.
    2. The sun is lying low.
    3. She has lain down for a nap.

  1. Lay must have an object following it—something that it is being laid down.
    1. Lay your book on the table.
    2. He laid his money down.
    3. She has laid the towels in the sun.

Okay…the tenses for the three:

1. Lie
            a. Base form: lie—Tomorrow I will lie down early. (Remember—no object; down is an adverb; early is an adverb here, not an object.
            b. Past simple: lay—Yesterday I lay in the sun. (Tricky part: past tense of lie is lay; lay is also the present tense of lay—to lay something down!)
            b. Past participle: lain—They have lain low ever since then.
            d. Third person singular: lies—The dog just lies under the tree all day long.
            e. Present participle/gerund: lying—The sun was lying on the horizon for so long today.

2. Lay
        1. Base form: lay—I lay the kids’ clothes out every day. (Tricky: lay is the base form of lay (to put something down; it is also the past tense of lie—to stretch out by yourself or itself.)
        2. Past simple: laid—Yesterday I laid the pink pants out for Jon.
        3. Past participle: laid—Before the dog came in, I had already laid his bones out.
        4. Third person singular: lays—He lays the book down every night at ten.
        5. Present participle/gerund: laying—I am laying the swim suits out to dry.

Tricky Tricks to Help It Stick

  1. Again, do sit/set first (all same base word for tenses of set!) or rise/raise (since many people get this pair correct even if they do not know sit/set and lie/lay very well).
  2. Do rise/raise after sit/set or sit/set after rise/raise (saving lie/lay for last).
  3. Memorize acronym/rhyme to cement the fact that all three with I’s are the ones that are done by someone or something (not to something).
  4. When you get to lie and lay, to lie first all by itself until it is memorized. Then do lay. (I am starting to wait a week between the two with lots of practice on lie during that week before moving on to lay.)

I’m officially done with sit/set; rise/raise; and lie/lay! Time to move on. I feel that I have risen to the occasion and am glad that I did not sit idly by and lay these tricky ones aside. Glad I did not let people lie in agony over these Wacky Words. I would like for all of us to set our grammar burdens aside and raise a toast in honor of sit/set; rise/raise; and lie/lay! J (Last time for a while, honest!)

Monday, May 2, 2011

day 99: rise and raise

Sit and rise have I's--and lie does too.
"Coz these are things that I, all by myself, can do.
Set, raise, and lay are words that you choose
When each one has an object after it to use.

I like to start with the simplest Wacky Word pair—sit and set. Then I like to move onto rise and raise. (And leave the “wackiest” pair, lie/lay, for the end.)

Remember these rise and raise tips:

  1. Rise has an I—and I alone can do it (it is not done TO something else).
    1. I rise around
    2. Yesterday I rose at dawn yesterday. (Not really!)
    3. Before that I had risen when the cat jumped on me.

  1. Rise means to come up to a higher position—anybody or anything can rise, as long as it does it by itself (i.e. it is NOT raised)
    1. She rose to greet us.
    2. The sun is rising late.
    3. Our grades have risen lately. (Technically, grades are raised by someone (“I raised my GPA”)—but if you do not state who raised them, they would be rising by themselves—which we know doesn’t really happen!)

  1. Raise does have an i—but not only an I like rise—raise is done to something.
  2. Raise must have an object following it—something that it is being raised.
    1. Raise your glass for a toast.
    2. He raised his children well.
    3. The children are raising their hands in class now.

Okay…the tenses for the two:

1. Rise
            a. Base form: rise—Tomorrow I will rise early. (Remember—no object; early is an adverb here, not an object.
            b. Past simple: rose—Yesterday I rose late.
            b. Past participle: risen—They have risen to the task.
            d. Third person singular: rises—The sun rises early now.
            e. Present participle/gerund: rising—The sun was rising later in the day before.

2. Raise
        1. Base form: raise—Today I raise my voice in song. (Object—voice)
        2. Past simple: raised—Yesterday I raised the log and found a mole.
        3. Past participle: raised—Before I put the binoculars down, I raised them up and looked through them in the distance.
        4. Third person singular: raises—She always raises her voice when she is angry.
        5. Present participle/gerund: raising—I am raising the bar in that class!

Tomorrow is quiz day…so be ready! J