To They or Not To They

By Ish Stabosz
Center for Creative Instruction & Technology
Delaware Technical Community College
Stanton Campus

My sharing of this video, created by the Baltimore Sun’s John McIntyre, is simply an attempt to gauge how many English teachers and grammarians read this blog. I know you’re out there, and once you watch this you simply won’t be able to keep your fingers from typing in the comment box. Continue reading

What Time Does Class Really Start?


By Carey McDaniel
Language Department
Delaware Technical Community College
Owens Campus

When I walk into my daily Advanced Grammar class, I am pretty stoked to talk about past progressive verbs or the benefits of using noun clauses as the objects of the prepositions. Who doesn’t love the snappy banter of gerunds in the morning?

I couldn’t understand why my students straggled into class–coffee in hand and texting away–between 8:35 and 8:50 (class starts at 8:30:01 AM). The only student I could excuse was a woman who had to put her kids on the bus every morning.

Wasn’t my energy, enthusiasm, and compassion enough for them to get to school on time? Wasn’t I modeling the professionalism they were striving for?

In a word: no.

Not even close. Continue reading

Paraphrasing is not Phrasingpara

by: Patricia A. Gallo
English Instructor
Delaware Technical Community College

I am always amazed at how many students think that paraphrasing is taking the end of a sentence and moving it to the beginning or hitting shift F7 to access the thesaurus on Word. Even after my presentations on “Effective Steps to Paraphrasing” and “Patch-writing is not Paraphrasing” they are still not getting it.

Here’s what I did:

  1. I gave the students a paragraph from the English 102 Supplemental Guide (1989) by Kathleen Yancey (can also be found on the Purdue OWL site). In class, they were to read it, type their paraphrased version, and email it to me.
  2. I created a Word document of all the emailed paraphrases (minus student names). I uploaded these to Google Docs and added all the students in the class as editors.
  3. Next class, they opened the Google Doc and got to work as editors.

The obvious benefit was to get feedback on their own paraphrase. However, I wanted them to see how well others did, or did not do, when paraphrasing. It made for some interesting discussions while they were editing. They did not have to disclose which paraphrase was theirs (although it was obvious since they did not edit their own paraphrase!).  We went over them together so I could comment on the comments. I was able to cover grammar and proper paraphrasing in one lesson.

Boggle My Mind

by Lisa Ruschman
ESL Instructor, Terry Campus
Delaware Technical Community College
Tags: Active and Collaborative Learning

I never thought I’d get old enough for Grammar to go out of style, but admittedly, my favorite class to teach is not high on the excitability scale.  At 8:30 every morning, while I bask in the glow of subject-verb agreement, my students wish to be watching the backs of their eyelids.  Beyond full displays of singing, dancing and making a spectacle of myself, keeping a room of ESL students focused on Grammar at 8:30 in the morning deserves Academy Award recognition.

Because Grammar is not a naturally collaborative subject lending itself to deep and insightful conversation, we rely on the activity aspect of Active and Collaborative Learning.  This week’s game was called “Boggle My Mind” and is loosely based on the word game Boggle.  Because we are working on the stimulating subject of verb tenses, I asked each student to write an “Advanced Grammar” sentence using the verb tense assigned.  As the first finished, I checked to be sure his sentence structure was correct and gave him enough dry erase boards (30 boards for $30 on Amazon – best teaching aid I have EVER purchased) on which to write his complete sentence (13 words, 13 boards).  The student then distributed his boards randomly throughout the class.

For example:

Students who received dry erase boards came to the front of the room and had to work together to put their words in the correct order.   Their confusion was apparent at first, but I prompted them to start looking for sentence chunks (adverb clauses, prepositional phrases, verb tenses) and they quickly figured out what they were supposed to do.  It was quite enjoyable for me to stand back and watch this very diverse group of students shoving each other around, waving their signs and laughing hysterically at each other while slowly putting together a correct sentence.  Eventually they had formed a human train around the room with each of them holding their signs.  When they thought they had it, each student read their word to make the complete sentence.

I have been studying for my Grammar test for the past three hours.

We did several rounds of this, even throwing in some mistakes, missing words, or extra words to make them work harder.   Sentences with time clauses were especially fun (don’t roll your eyes) because we could move the time clause people to another part of the sentence and still be correct.  When I called a stop to the game, students whose sentences hadn’t been used yet were MAD!

This game can easily be used for other subjects …I’m thinking recipe ingredients, math formulas, vocabulary collocations, composition of scientific elements, just to name a few.