Between the Lines

literacy news @ manheim central | january 2016

Happy New Year and Welcome Back!

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Grammar 101: The Comma Splice

A comma splice is a type of run-on sentence that occurs when a writer (incorrectly) places a comma between two independent clauses. They're common enough, particularly in casual, informal writing and especially online and in contexts such as Twitter. In academic writing, however, the comma splice is a grammatical persona non grata (unless you're using it for artistic/rhetorical effect. But that's a subject for another post entirely). Use the Comma Splice Toolkit below to help students fix up their sentences.

Here's what a comma splice looks like:

The sinister First Order has risen from the ashes of the Empire, it will not rest

until Skywalker, the last Jedi, has been destroyed.


COMMA SPLICE TOOLKIT

1. Divide & Conquer. Separate the splice into two complete sentences.

The sinister First Order has risen from the ashes of the Empire.
It will not rest until Skywalker, the last Jedi, has been destroyed.


2. Conjunction Junction. Link the two clauses with a comma and a coordinating conjunction (FANBOYS - For, And, Nor, But, Or, Yet, So).

Pattern: MAIN CLAUSE + comma + coordinating conjunction + MAIN CLAUSE


The sinister First Order has risen from the ashes of the Empire, and it will not rest until Skywalker, the last Jedi, has been destroyed.


3. Rely on a Semi. Link the clauses by inserting a semicolon between them (if and only if the two clauses are related to or contrast with one another)

The sinister First Order has risen from the ashes of the Empire; it will not rest until Skywalker, the last Jedi, has been destroyed.

4. Recast and Revise. Recast as one main clause and one subordinate or dependent clause; punctuate accordingly depending on the order. Note: The example sentence used throughout doesn't work well with Pattern 1.

Pattern 1: MAIN CLAUSE + SUBORDINATE CLAUSE (no comma needed)

or
Pattern 2: SUBORDINATE CLAUSE + comma + MAIN CLAUSE


Because the sinister First Order has risen from the ashes of the Empire, it will not rest until Skywalker, the last Jedi, has been destroyed.

Book Review: Reading Nonfiction - Notice & Note Stances, Signposts, and Strategies

The latest book from Kylene Beers and Robert Probst tackles the complexities of critical reading of nonfiction texts. The authors propose three nested categories of approaches and strategies (Big Questions, Signposts, and Fix-Up Strategies) that lead a reader towards understanding. First, they suggest that readers adopt what they call a Questioning Stance. By asking three key BIG questions of the text, a reader can begin to identify new learning, gaps in knowledge, and author purpose and bias.
  1. What surprised you?
  2. What did the author think you already knew?
  3. What changed, challenged, or confirmed what you already knew?

Next, the Notice and Note Signposts help to draw the reader's attention to and think critically about claims the author is making. There are five signposts each with a corresponding chapter that provides an in-depth explanation, clues to the signpost, and model lessons/language for teaching it.
  1. Contrasts and Contradictions
  2. Extreme or Absolute Language
  3. Numbers and Stats
  4. Quoted Words
  5. Word Gaps

Finally, the Fix-Up Strategies include those for use before reading (Possible Sentences; KWL 2.0), during reading (Somebody Wanted But So; Syntax Surgery; Sketch to Stretch), and after reading (Genre Reformulation; and Poster). All the strategies require students to reread the text and talk about what they have read. These discrete skills - rereading and talking about text - are supported by ample research demonstrating their value in increasing reading comprehension.

IF YOU OR YOUR DEPARTMENT WOULD LIKE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THESE STRATEGIES FOR NONFICTION TEXTS, I'M HAPPY TO COORDINATE A BOOK STUDY OR PROVIDE MORE TARGETED SUPPORT AND ASSISTANCE.

*** The first reader to correctly identify the song title depicted in the Comma image above wins a copy of Reading Nonfiction: Stances Signposts, and Strategies by Kylene Beers and Robert E. Probst. Email your answer! ***

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Shakespeare on U.S. Tour

To mark the 400th anniversary of The Bard's death, the Folger Shakespeare Library will commence a yearlong traveling exhibition tour of the the First Folio - the first printed collection of Shakespeare's plays. Published in 1623, just seven years after the author's death, the First Folio is the sole source for 18 plays including Macbeth, As You Like It, Julius Caesar, and Twelfth Night.

The First Folio will tour all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and USVI. We are especially fortunate because the only tour location within Pennsylvania is right here in Lancaster County: Elizabethtown College will host the Folio tour from November 8 – December 5, 2016 at The High Library. Mark your calendars for a rare opportunity to see this historic text in person!