When students don’t look up…

…at what they’ve just written, and at the squiggly lines that word processors generate under questionable word choices and grammatical errors, this is an example of what you get:

blue_squiggles2

(From a recent student paper.)

Actually, most of my recent students have been good about proofreading. Examples like this one stand out to me partly because they aren’t that common, but partly, also, because I don’t understand why they happen at all.  That is, I can’t imagine what it takes to turn something in without (a) noticing these markings, and/or (b) caring to address them.

We’re still a long way from routine, sentence-level revisions!

Waxing sententious about sentences

With enthusiasts like Doug Lemov, the sentence is finally, after years of neglect, regaining its due. And this due is long overdue. After all, the sentence is the minimal unit of thought. It derives from Latin sententia, meaning “opinion” (and shares its root with “sententious”). As Catherine has cited J.S. Mill as saying, “the structure of every sentence is a lesson in logic.” And, as I noted in my last post, it’s the smallest unit of prose that lends itself to multiple revisions.

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More fun with exclamation points

Disclosure: I am a person who, when texting, likes to use exclamation points.

Lots of exclamation points.

I like using question marks, too, especially question marks in conjunction with exclamation points.

e.g.:

WHAT???!!!!!

She *said* that???!!!

Out **loud**???!!!!

Good thing I don’t work for the FBI.

Anyway, where exclamation points (and question marks) are concerned, I like to do exactly what everyone tells you not to do if you want to have a job or a life or the respect of people writing articles complaining about too many exclamation points.

Which brings me to my actual point: French people write exclamation points and question marks differently than we do.

Specifically, they leave a space between the end of the sentence and the mark.

Au secours !

Or:

Sauve qui peut !

I love that. (I love that!!!!)

Somehow, for me, the space between the words and the mark gives the mark a dimension of poignancy it doesn’t have when it follows directly on the final letter. I don’t know why.

Poignancy or sobriety.

I’ve started leaving spaces, too.

I love that !!!!

Better, right ?

* It’s a really good thing. I once wrote a ticked-off email to a friend complaining about Ed refusing to sign off on my buying a new computer. He was cheap, I said. Then I sent the email to Ed, by mistake. I was in the room when he got it, and I still remember the look on his face.  

And see: More fun with exclamation points, part 2

Common Core Language Goals for Common High School Graduates

I’ve just finished revamping my power point slides for this week’s installment of my Autism, Language and Reasoning class. In the process, I found myself back on the Common Core website–a place I hadn’t visited for a while.

This week’s class discusses the challenges that writing assignments pose to children with high functioning autism, most of whom are mainstreamed into regular classrooms. One of the strategies we consider is offering alternative, autism-friendly writing assignments.

But what do the Common Core English and Language Arts Standards have to say about that, I wondered. How much flexibility does the Common Core allow towards uncommon students? After all, only 1-2% of students are exempt–only those with the most severe cognitive impairments. Everyone else, including those with high functioning autism (like J), is held to the same calendar-age-based standards.

A quick scan through the ELA Standards shows a number that could double as diagnostics for autism. Consider:

  • “collaboration with peers”
  • “Use… dialogue… to develop characters.”
  • “anticipate the audience’s knowledge level, concerns, values, and possible biases.”

(From the Writing Standards).

Even better, from the Speaking and Listening standards:

  • “Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions…building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.”
  • “Follow agreed-upon rules for discussions (e.g., listening to others with care, speaking one at a time about the topics and texts under discussion).”
  • “Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and tasks”
  • “Respond thoughtfully to diverse perspectives”

and, perhaps most effective of all:

  • “use appropriate eye contact, adequate volume, and clear pronunciation.”

America’s Common Core architects appear to think they’ve landed on something that has eluded the world’s psychologists, neurologists, and therapists: a cure for high functioning autism! Namely, America’s Common Core-guided K12 classrooms.

Unless what they’re really after is a high school diploma that certifies that none of America’s high school graduates has more than a mild touch of autism.