Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Really good, helpful website

This morning, through a fellow tutor at Jiskha, I found this amazing website. Its title is fairly mundane, but the approach is wonderful: straightforward and startling!

There are subtitles and attention-grabbers such as these: "Write Better. Right Now." and "Stop. Writing. Junk."

Just use the different links in the section above the red stop sign to navigate the website. For example, this morning there was a question on Jiskha about the use of the article the. I looked in several of my other stand-by grammar websites, but I couldn't find anything that approached the student's particular question.

So now I have a new website to add to my list of grammar websites, and perhaps this one will be at the top.

Questions? Be sure to post them in the comments.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

How to use [sic]

Interesting error here - and it seems to be a common one whenever most people give it a try: the misuse of the abbreviation sic within brackets inside a quotation.

"A rousing round of complaints and emails later, Berry posted an apology on his blog. It says in part: 'When I’m wrong, I’m big enough to admit it. (sic) I was simply wrong.' "


The abbreviation sic is to be italicized and used in brackets [ ] not parentheses ( ), for one thing. For another, it is to be used to indicate that the writer understands that the original speaker or writer (the quoted person) made an error. The bracketed abbreviation - [sic] - is then to be inserted immediately after the error. Is that what's going on here? I don't really know. There is an error there (the vague use of the pronoun it), but is that what she is recognizing? If so, her post should have read like this: A rousing round of complaints and emails later, Berry posted an apology on his blog. It says in part: "When I’m wrong, I’m big enough to admit it [sic]. I was simply wrong."

It would certainly be nice to be able to get inside this writer's head and find out what she thought she was writing! Maybe I'll ask her.

Penmanship -- who cares?

One recent type of assignment for my grandchild in fifth grade is to write his spelling/vocabulary assignments and quizzes in cursive rather than manuscript (printing). That’s an assignment that just blew him away at first, poor baby. I hadn’t realized that no one had ever taught him how to make the letters correctly, much less how to connect them smoothly. His major problem has been connecting letters that end high (such as the cursive o or v) with letters that begin on the line (such as the cursive s or r). He really struggled. Of course, I wrote words out for him and showed him how to make the letters and the connections, but for a child who has spent the past 4½ years printing, it’s been difficult. I went to the D’Nealian website and printed out a sample page. That helped greatly with the lower-case letters, showing the progression from manuscript to cursive. But the upper-case letters aren’t available on that particular website, so we practiced writing those ourselves. All the upper and lower case letters and printable practice sheets are available here and here.

My grandchild in first grade is being taught D’Nealian manuscript (printing). I don’t know if that’s a conscious choice on the teacher’s part, but I’m very happy about it. She will have a much easier time transitioning to cursive than her brother is.

Who cares what children are taught in school? We all should. Obviously, just about all these children have and will continue to have access to computers, but throughout their school years, the legibility of their handwriting (manuscript or cursive) will matter. What my grandson needs to understand is that, if his teachers cannot read what he’s writing (or printing), they won't know what he really knows. In other words, if they can’t read it, it’ll be marked wrong.

To me, writing (cursive, that is) is much faster than printing. I know that to other people printing is all they’ve done, so it’s become quite fast. Others employ a mix of printing and writing, and for the most part it’s legible and fast. Still others have such poor results – printing or writing! – that about all we can do is hope they have access to computers for everything except signatures!