Writing Tips

I found a scribbled, hastily assembled, crumpled piece of paper simply titled “Tips” in my desk today.

As far as I recall, it was the product of grading a set of essays a couple years ago on the novel Wild Geese by Martha Ostenso.

A common practice of mine after reading/marking a set of essays is to assemble a list of “pet peeves,” or writing errors, or tips that emerge from the set.

Here is the list:

  • practice writing a thesis/topic statement that can be parsed
  • the inclusion of a detail must support it’s purpose
  • structure, connect, state clearly, order, each subtopic as it develops the thesis
  • avoid “if…then” as logical proofs of what is
  • when discussing technique, consider the degree of complexity
  • avoid pronoun shifts: “you”
  • avoid plot summary
  • develop a Linking Lexicon
  • avoid dropped quotes
  • No X=X (see Rule 3 of 6):
    “These things…”, “There is nothing…”, “… shows us something important…”, “In this essay…”, “Many examples…”, “The quote…”, “In the book…”, “On page…”, “… the same thing…”, “I don’t think…”, “This is the end of my essay…”, “She was herself…”, “As a human…”, “… the way it did…”, “… start doing things…”, “… many times…”, “After reading…”, “I will be writing…”, “These symbols are the things…”, “… good with the bad…”, “It made things…”, “They did what he told them to do…”, “Her true feelings…”, “… an effective way…”, “… a secret way…”, “… the way…”, “… many ways…”, “… a different way…”, “… it speaks…”, “We, as readers…”, “… finished reading…”, “… the ideas of…”, “… something in the end.”

This invasion of one’s mind by ready-made phrases [X=X] can only be prevented if one is constantly on guard against them, and every such phrase anaesthetizes a portion of one’s brain. George Orwell

Stoics Reign on Caesar’s Parade

Read the first scene of Julius Caesar(or here or here).

Recall class discussions on the “Four Postulates.”

Recall class discussion on Stoicism and Epicureanism.

What is the Feast of Lupercal? Why would it have any appeal to an Epicurean? A Stoic?

Are Marullus and Flavius more Epicurean or Stoic in their response to the citizens’ preparations for Caesar’s victory parade?

How do the citizens behave throughout the scene? Initially are they Stoic or Epicurean? How do they leave?

Predict Caesar’s response to Marullus and Flavius driving away the vulgar herd.

Who killed Pompey? What is a Triumvirate? Why was the First Triumvirate “unofficial”? Who forms the Second Triumvirate?

What other questions can you raise about Act 1, Scene 1?

Semester Begins: Overcoming Tech Obstacles

Welcome to new STJ bloggers. No doubt you are learning new skills very quickly, but take your time to figure it all out, depend on each other, and ask questions of your teacher.

Grade 9 bloggers overcame a snag in the STJ email server(again!). The server simply stopped sending email until our division techies fixed the clog(again!). Emails sent out at 9:15AM Thursday did not get to their inboxes until Friday morning. I was able to sign-up bloggers manually but bloggers need to now edit their user profiles to set their password and website URL, … a task handled by the auto-magic email registration/confirmation before. I see a couple duplicate users/blogs now as students responded to late arriving emails, so I’ll be sorting that out right away.

Grade 10 bloggers for the most part were already registered but hit a snag of a different sort. The topology of the STJ LAN has all school workstations accessing the Internet through a single IP address, a common scenario. This requires me to make sure that the IP address of the STJ outgoing server is entered into the firewall of the stjschool.org incoming server so it doesn’t ban our IP for exceeding the limit on simultaneous connections. Our division techies changed our outgoing IP in December, … stjschool.org firewall now has the correct IP to bypass. Coincidentally, a major failure in the mediterranean undersea Internet cable caused higher loads on many router/server farms so diagnosing the problem had some sluggish “trace-routes” as well. Did you know you can monitor the health of the Internet in real time?

The “tens” are sharing their first posts and comments as well, but we’ll soon be in the regular classroom continuing our study of Julius Caesar. Blogging about Shakespeare, an anachronism that is not so out of place.

I wonder what challenges this week will bring?

Now, the “niners” are adding friends to their RSS aggregators and blogrolls. And sharing their first posts/comments with each other.

I’d like Grade 9s to trackback their first post here.