. . .and more about syntax

The more we think about syntax, reading or writing it, the more we close in on sentences. If syntax is basically the ordering of words, sentences are how we deliver or read that ordering of words. We can opt for doing this in staccato ways with punchy short sentences, in long leisurely orderings, or in sentences that withhold a crucial element until the very end. And good writers use all of these. It’s relevant, then, to do a quick review of ...

Syntax: a path to better analysis, better writing

Very often, in commentaries and other analysis, students bring up the term, 'syntax' but seldom have much to say about it.  If you pay a little attention to figuring out what it is and how writers use it, you could really raise your game in both analysis, and yes, your own writing. First, let's get straight the simplest definition of what we mean when we talk about syntax.  It's simply the way words are arranged in a sentence.   'Arrangement' suggests writers ...

Pump up your verbs, please

In all of your essays, whether they are demanded for your Written Assignments, your commentaries, or your Paper 2 essay, you can win the heart of your examiners by moving beyond the conventional verbs you use to talk about literature.  Show, demonstrate, characterize, suggest, reveal, portray: all of these are good, valid and useful, and sometimes just the right one for your purposes. However, maybe you'd like to extend your options. How about 'intimate' for 'suggest?' ' The poet intimates that perhaps ...

Sound should make sense: better poetry commentaries

Sound should make sense: just as the poet uses sound to enrich the meaning as well as the emotional and pleasurable aspects of poems, so should you try to write sensibly about the linking of sound to meaning in your commentaries.  What does the poet gain by manipulating the sound possibilities of language? One of the challenges candidates face when so writing about poetry is how they can usefully address the sound effects that are both present in and intended by ...

Encoding and Decoding

Anyone connected to ICT and education is familiar with the word "code" - and recently "Teach the kids to code" is all the rage. It usually implies that we should teach kids the fundamentals of computer programming. (In this post I'm going to use the word "kids" as a code word for "learner of any age".) But if you think about it, we also teach kids to code, as in reading and writing, all their lives, all the time.  Let's explore this ...

Sometimes it’s fine to be ‘fresh’

Though being 'fresh' as in "Don't be fresh with me, young man, 'said his mother curtly'  is perhaps a little archaic in usage, working to get your writing to be 'fresh' is a goal worth aspiring to and will offend no one.  Our previous 3 sets of tips on writing have addressed some important and basic ways to improve the ways you present your writing, but this 4th one moves to a different but equally important level.  And it has ...

Are these in your Google Docs universe?

In a clever post from the Google for Work Official Blog, Looking back at Marie Curie’s radical discovery: How the Mother of Modern Physics might have used Google Apps, "we imagine how Marie Curie’s discovery of radioactivity, which won a Nobel Prize and revolutionized modern cancer treatment, might have played out in a Google Apps universe."  I encourage you to follow the link, and read the post. Most of us are aware of the Google Chrome extensions and add-ons: did you know that ...

Three-and-a-half Tips Using Google Docs

I want to pass on a few "tips and tricks" I've read recently for using Google docs. The first comes from Jarod Bormann: How to force "make a copy" when sharing a Google doc.  Jarod wrote "Sharing a doc link and asking a group to Make a Copy inevitably would lead to mass confusion. Most would be able to follow File > Make a Copy without any problems. But there are the handful that begin making changes on my original and therefore ...

The Crazed Semi-Colon

Of late I've noticed a huge increase in the presence of semi-colons in IB assessment. Here's a little simple advice. First, semi-colons (;) are good.  Second, you should use them.  Third, you should learn how to use them correctly. They are not good for every uncertain punctuation moment in your writing. You need to know when and and when not to use them, and there seem to be a lot of IB students in the last category, sprinkling them liberally wherever. You ...

First aid for your writing

By Saturday, September 27, 2014 0

All of us have trouble at times introducing some variation into our writing. All of us tend to use the same verbs over and over again. All of us need to refresh our prose style and introducing some variation in our verbs. Here is a list one of my students passed on to me, and I pass it on to you. Do note that 'imply' and 'infer" appear on the list and this is a big stone in the road that many students trip ...