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About writing for school. . . and success
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Science says those grammar rules you learned in middle school were a waste of time

Science says those grammar rules you learned in middle school were a waste of time | Writing Matters | Scoop.it
Steven Pinker on why you can split infinitives and use the passive voice.
Elaine J Roberts, Ph.D.'s insight:

Oh pish tosh. Of course you CAN use passive voice or split infinitives. There have been numerous discussions on how much more powerful "to boldly go" is than "to go boldly" would have been. Now I wouldn't go so far as to try to outdo the venerable Strunk & White though I've not read Mr. Pinker's potentially self-aggrandizing tome. But any "mere" English teacher will tell you there are exceptions to many grammar rules, that many grammar rules have changed and others will change over time. They should also tell you, however, that any time you break a rule, know why you are breaking that rule and that your writing will be more effective because you have broken the rule.

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Nicholas C. Rossis's curator insight, October 10, 2014 12:26 PM

I agree!  Just keep in mind that you are breaking a rule, explain yourself why, read out your sentence and continue.

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3 Ways to Stick to a Writing Schedule | Everything's Temporary

3 Ways to Stick to a Writing Schedule | Everything's Temporary | Writing Matters | Scoop.it
Elaine J Roberts, Ph.D.'s insight:

I am a list maker. I often lose my list and too frequently I have lists of lists, but I make lists. And I write stuff down or somehow record it as it occurs to me--whatever the ideas--using scraps of paper, sticky notes, Evernote, voice messages to myself. Seriously. And then later, when I have time to sift, filter, and think through, I discard some things, make connections with others, and post others somewhere while I continue to think about them.


What works for me might not work for you. My friend Vicki Davis (@coolcatteacher) has a candle at her writing place. She lights it with a match and leaves the matches on the candle holder. At the end of the week, she should have at least five matches to help her hold herself accountable for writing at least five days a week. You'll figure out what works best for you and how it works best for you. Now figuring out what to say and how to say, well, that's a completely different story.

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David Mitchell on How to Write: "Neglect Everything Else"

David Mitchell on How to Write: "Neglect Everything Else" | Writing Matters | Scoop.it
The Cloud Atlas author keeps a James Wright poem as a reminder to live in the now.
Elaine J Roberts, Ph.D.'s insight:

"We have a hard time remaining in the present: Our monkey minds are continually jumping through the jungles of the past and the forests of the future. But Wright’s poem says: Stop! Just stop. Calm down, be quiet, and look around. It’s an homage to, and an exhortation of, the act of seeing. . . The world is very good at distracting us." So when you can, yes, neglect everything else.

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A 50-Year Protest for Good Writing

A 50-Year Protest for Good Writing | Writing Matters | Scoop.it
A crisis of quality in literary criticism led Robert Silvers to found The New York Review of Books—and he believes the crisis continues today, online.
Elaine J Roberts, Ph.D.'s insight:

"Do articles and book reviews have a calculable political and social impact? Frankly, it is simply a mystery whether anything you publish will get attention and change someone’s mind." But when writing DOES get someone's attention and influences that individual's thinking . . . WOW.

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The Source of Bad Writing

The Source of Bad Writing | Writing Matters | Scoop.it
The 'curse of knowledge,' writes Steven Pinker, is the result of writers' assuming readers understand the subject. This causes bad writing. Good explanations start with imagining what it's like to be ignorant of a subject
Elaine J Roberts, Ph.D.'s insight:

And again: THINK ABOUT YOUR AUDIENCE. That combined with the other elements of the writing triangle--your purpose and your tone/style--will help combat the "curse of knowledge,"


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Writing for Business is Not Like Writing a Novel

Writing for Business is Not Like Writing a Novel | Writing Matters | Scoop.it
A quick refresher on business writing basics might help you more than any tip on the next big thing on the business horizon.
Elaine J Roberts, Ph.D.'s insight:

This might seem obvious, but sometimes it's too easy to overlook the obvious.


For any kind of writing situation: THINK ABOUT YOUR AUDIENCE. In business writing, think about your secondary audience--the individuals to whom your text is going to be forwarded. As you craft your writing for your manager, imagine it will be read by those at one or two levels higher; imagine it is going to be shared with unexpected readers, perhaps even the media. That's not going to happen for many of us, but as we think about the audience, we think more carefully about the tone and style we use as we make choices about the words and structure we use because we think more specifically about the purpose for which we are writing.

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How Virtual Assistants Can Help Independent Authors

How Virtual Assistants Can Help Independent Authors | Writing Matters | Scoop.it

Over the last two decades, the internet has really turned things around for the publishing business, making it possible for a small, unsigned author to get noticed without spending a fortune.

 

All an author needs to do is set-up a blog, a Facebook page, a Twitter and maybe even an Instagram.

 

However, doing all these takes away a lot of time away from the author to do what they actually best: writing books.

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Good Grammar Implies Good Taste -- And Competence

Good Grammar Implies Good Taste -- And Competence | Writing Matters | Scoop.it
Hyundai is spending millions establishing the grammatically incorrect "Live Brilliant" as an accepted part of English usage. Smaller companies with more limited marketing budgets don't have that luxury, and bad grammar can dent your professional brand. Take the time to proofread and catch the typical errors most of us make. I share a few. You can use the comments to add more.
Elaine J Roberts, Ph.D.'s insight:

"Using poor grammar in your marketing communications will do only one thing: Leave a bad impression with the 10-15% of the population that cares about it."


Apple introduced "Think Different" in 1997; I know that because I looked it up. But I do remember the brouhaha famously and condescendingly ignored by Steve Jobs because "Think Different" was intended to be avant garde and challenge the status quo just as Apple's products did, and do. In the 1997 ad, Apple hypes those who think differently. And yes, "differently" was used IN THE AD so they knew the difference, but simply choice to ignore what was correct in favor of what was, well, whatever it was supposed to be. A peccadillo for the sake of smug advertising splash? If so, it worked and millions have bought into thinking that because they buy Apple products they think different(ly). No small irony there. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nmwXdGm89Tk

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If You Want To Quickly Improve Your Writing, Do These 10 Little Things Now

If You Want To Quickly Improve Your Writing, Do These 10 Little Things Now | Writing Matters | Scoop.it
Want to improve your writing fast? Do these 10 little, painless things from today and you will dramatically enhance the effectiveness of your communication.
Elaine J Roberts, Ph.D.'s insight:

I have to laugh. #8 reads "Trim everything down." It could read "Trim everything" or even just "Trim." 


I'm also curious about the author's definition of "little." While I'm not sure these are "little" suggestions, I agree they are good ones.

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How Stephen King Teaches Writing

How Stephen King Teaches Writing | Writing Matters | Scoop.it
Looking back on his days in front of a high school classroom, the acclaimed writer shares his views on grammar and explains why discovering great literature is like losing one's virginity.
Elaine J Roberts, Ph.D.'s insight:

Delightful interview with wonderful insights into the ways of learning and teaching about writing.

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Can Writing Be Taught?

Can Writing Be Taught? | Writing Matters | Scoop.it
Rivka Galchen and Zoë Heller discuss whether writing can be taught.
Elaine J Roberts, Ph.D.'s insight:

I believe writing skills can be taught, refined, improved. But just as some of us are better with paintbrushes or technology or hammers and saws, others of us are better with words.

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Ivon Prefontaine's curator insight, August 22, 2014 6:35 PM

Of course they can be. In fact, it is important to teach cursive writing.

 

 

@ivon_ehd1

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Are You Breaking This Basic Grammar Rule?

Are You Breaking This Basic Grammar Rule? | Writing Matters | Scoop.it
By Writer's Relief staff:

Every writer has a story to tell. But if you want your writing to be published and read by an appreciative audience, it’s important that you say it -- and write it -- well. Good writing skills begin with the very bo...
Elaine J Roberts, Ph.D.'s insight:

"Good writing skills begin with the very bones of your work: the sentence structure."

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10 Simple Ways to Become a Better Writer

10 Simple Ways to Become a Better Writer | Writing Matters | Scoop.it
If you’re going to write 40,000+ words this year—at minimum!—you might as well learn how to do your absolute best. Here are 10 ways to become a better writer, right away.
Elaine J Roberts, Ph.D.'s insight:

Some good strategies for any writer.

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Nicholas C. Rossis's curator insight, August 26, 2014 12:43 PM

Good questions to ask yourself.  Of course, I should have answered them 2 years ago, but perhaps I still have time!

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PUB 101: The Shift From Print to Digital Literacy – Procrinspiration by

PUB 101: The Shift From Print to Digital Literacy – Procrinspiration by | Writing Matters | Scoop.it
Elaine J Roberts, Ph.D.'s insight:

I am not enchanted by the idea of being edited and yet, when I am edited, my work is better. Why? Because the individual who edits my work does not have the same personal investment as I do, so the phrase or idea to which I have an unreasonable attachment causes them no pain when it is excised. Even more importantly, an editors reads and hears my work as others are likely to read and hear my work rather than how I hope they hear it. So this shift to self-publishing comes with some potential challenges for the reading community. On the other hand, I've read some pretty lame stuff an editor and publisher thought worthy of their investment, so go figure. Write on.

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How Student Essay Writing has Changed Since 1969

How Student Essay Writing has Changed Since 1969 | Writing Matters | Scoop.it
Yes, you read that correctly. 45 years ago, I was teaching high school English at Niles East High School in Skokie, Illinois. In case you are wondering, I snagged that job right out of college. Nevertheless, if you do the math, you know you are reading the opinion of a former English teacher of a... Read more »
Elaine J Roberts, Ph.D.'s insight:

We've been talking about machine scoring student writing for a very long time now (http://www.journalofwritingassessment.org/article.php?article=58). Most English teachers reject the veracity of machine scoring because we are concerned about context, about voice, about style; that is, we are concerned about the individual behind the writing. Software systems like Turnitin.com got its start as a plagiarism checker but the system has expanded. It does not replace teacher grading, but it amplifies and supports the peer review process, and it has some nifty resources for speeding the grading process. I've used TrackChanges in Word, but the GradeMark system adds some really nifty tools for the teacher to use in the process of grading. So the tools amplify and support the teacher in the grading process, providing consistency (as needed) for students who will inevitably compare their papers.

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Thinking Out Loud: National Letter Writing Day. . .for that personal touch?

Thinking Out Loud: National Letter Writing Day. . .for that personal touch? | Writing Matters | Scoop.it
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Why Academics' Writing Stinks

Why Academics' Writing Stinks | Writing Matters | Scoop.it
Scholars aren't penalized for convoluted prose. But the problem runs deeper.
Elaine J Roberts, Ph.D.'s insight:

Ahh, the provocative title which is certain to elicit response. The generalization that generates sputters of outrage and disagreement.


This notion of "academese" is akin to the "curse of knowledge." While there is considerable writing--of all types, I might add--that is terrible, I disagree with the generalization that academic writing is bad. It's different, and it's for a different audience. Can it be stuffy and overwrought as though trying to prove that one's lexicon is more substantive than someone else's? Sure. It is likely there is some attempt at obfuscation when a point or proof might be a bit wobbly? Indubitably. But that's a different problem. Even so, shall I say it yet again? Oh yes, I shall: THINK ABOUT YOUR AUDIENCE. I'll also say it might be wise to disrupt certain expectations with care as some institutions and ways of being, thinking, and knowing change ever so slowly.


This from the person who had to rewrite most of her dissertation because it wasn't sufficiently academic. My committee was most apologetic, but they asserted that without the rewrite, there might be others who would take my writing less seriously.


Once you are established among your peers, you can afford to be the iconoclast.

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The Trouble with Writing

The Trouble with Writing | Writing Matters | Scoop.it
The trouble with writing is that it is often a roller coaster pitching us between grandiosity and despair.
Elaine J Roberts, Ph.D.'s insight:

If you read nothing else about writing--its joys and its frustrations and the elusive moment of "Ahhh!"--read this.

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7 Words to Make Your Business Writing Work

7 Words to Make Your Business Writing Work | Writing Matters | Scoop.it
Most jobs today require writing of some kind -- email, forms, reports, presentation slides, social media, instructions, ads. And if your job doesn't demand writing skills, your social life does....
Elaine J Roberts, Ph.D.'s insight:

Good advice for any writing.

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What makes writing good?

What makes writing good? | Writing Matters | Scoop.it
Stephen King believes good writing can't be taught, but still shares insights from his teaching years. Plus, when to stop writing, the inner voice, and more.
Elaine J Roberts, Ph.D.'s insight:

Apparently reading Stephen King's book On Writing will help. I've not read the book so I can't speak to that; therefore, the title question isn't answered. However, this article offers a link that focuses on the writer's inner voices. Yes, that's plural. If you are not writing fiction, perhaps you will hear only one voice: your own. But it is IMPERATIVE you learn to hear your writing voice as your readers will and do hear it. For those who have heard you speak, hearing your writing voice is less of a challenge. For those who do not know you except through your words, well, that's what they have: your words and how you present those words to your readers. So writers, know thy voice.

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F. Scott Fitzgerald on the Secret of Great Writing

F. Scott Fitzgerald on the Secret of Great Writing | Writing Matters | Scoop.it
"Nothing any good isn’t hard."

What is the secret of great writing? For David Foster Wallace, it was about fun. For Henry Miller, about
Elaine J Roberts, Ph.D.'s insight:

There is no "secret" of great writing. Each writer has a voice, a style, and something he or she believes must be said. The raison d'être for one writer is not the same for any other writer. Yes, there are strategies that contribute to quality writing. Yes, there are certain rules that should be followed that inform good writing of particular types in particular circumstances. What rings true and clearly today may not have the same clarity and purity tomorrow or with a different topic. Great writing is often determined by that exquisite and ineffable meeting of the written word and the reader.

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A.K.Andrew's curator insight, September 14, 2014 12:00 PM

We all have different styles and ideas of what is "good" writing, but they all require hard work and persistence.

Nicholas C. Rossis's curator insight, September 15, 2014 8:16 AM

Lovely words

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INFOGRAPHIC: This Is Why Grammar Matters

BREAKING: words matter....
Elaine J Roberts, Ph.D.'s insight:

Words matter. Good writing matters. Books are good.

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Nicholas C. Rossis's curator insight, September 15, 2014 8:21 AM

I love infographics and this one is good: editing matters!  

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Please, please, people. Let's put the 'awe' back in 'awesome'

Please, please, people. Let's put the 'awe' back in 'awesome' | Writing Matters | Scoop.it
Which of the following is awesome: your lunch or the Great Pyramid of Giza? Comedian Jill Shargaa sounds a hilarious call for us to save the word "awesome" for things that truly inspire awe.
Elaine J Roberts, Ph.D.'s insight:

This is hilarious, and true. Jill Shargaa reminds us that we've lost our powerful of words and diminished our vocabulary if everything is "awesome."

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These Writing Tips From George R.R. Martin And Robin Hobb Are Just Epic

These Writing Tips From George R.R. Martin And Robin Hobb Are Just Epic | Writing Matters | Scoop.it
"It's like chasing butterflies and trying not to crush them."
Elaine J Roberts, Ph.D.'s insight:

On writing: "It's like chasing butterflies and trying not to crush them."

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On teacher pay

On teacher pay | Writing Matters | Scoop.it
I talk about teaching an awful lot on this site, right?  Enough that there are people who have admitted to me that they regularly skip past posts on the topic.  (Which, for the record, is fine.  I'...

Via Ivon Prefontaine
Elaine J Roberts, Ph.D.'s insight:

We complain that classroom teachers don't do enough. We complain that classroom teachers aren't good enough. We do not treat this profession with the respect it deserves because we KNOW there are plenty of good if not excellent teachers who deserve our respect and our appreciation, and who deserve to get paid commensurate with their abilities, their education, their willingness to keep on learning and growing, and their patience in putting up with politicians, far too many school board members, and too many of the public who know so very little about what they actually do.

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Ivon Prefontaine's curator insight, August 21, 2014 8:44 AM

There was a time people went into teaching because it was a way to make a difference in the world. It paid well enough probably that it meant teachers remained in the profession. The article has an American view to it and things are done differently in the US, but there are issues in Alberta. For example, I felt the number of part-time teachers was on the increase. This does not stabilize the profession and will force young teachers to reconsider their choices. I met young teachers who held a second job out of necessity.

 

If School is important, does it not make sense that teachers would be compensated fairly?

 

@ivon_ehd1

Elaine J Roberts, Ph.D.'s curator insight, August 21, 2014 8:55 AM

We complain that classroom teachers don't do enough. We complain that classroom teachers aren't good enough. We do not treat this profession with the respect it deserves because we KNOW there are plenty of good if not excellent teachers who deserve our respect and our appreciation, and who deserve to get paid commensurate with their abilities, their education, their willingness to keep on learning and growing, and their patience in putting up with politicians, far too many school board members, and too many of the public who know so very little about what they actually do.