Author: Erica Hart

Welcome to Ten-Minute Revision!

ne tricky aspect of the Common Core Standards is the way the language standards build on one another. In the introduction to the language section, it says,

“Students advancing through the grades are expected to meet each year’s grade-specific standards and retain or further develop skills and understandings mastered in preceding grades.”

In grades 3 through 12, many of the grade-specific language standards are marked with an asterisk, which means they ought to be reviewed frequently in subsequent years. What this means for high-school teachers like us is that we have to teach a few specific grammar or language standards that students haven’t been exposed to before (like parallel structure or semicolon usage), but we are also responsible for reviewing a lot of past concepts that they should have (but may not have) mastered in previous grades.

The only way I have found to do this without taking up all available class time and making students despise language and grammar is through short, focused activities at the beginning of class every day. If it’s daily, the students see it as a normal routine rather than a cruel and unusual punishment and you are able to cover a lot of grammatical ground. And if it’s short (ten minutes tops) the students don’t feel too bogged down by it and you still have plenty of time left over for all the other incredible projects and activities you want to guide your students through during the year.

I originally created a full-year, comprehensive grammar curriculum called Ten-Minute Grammar for my seventh and eighth graders. The students enjoyed it (as crazy as that sounds, considering that we’re talking about grammar), I covered a huge amount of ground during the year, my students told me the daily practice really helped in their standardized tests, and their writing improved. And best of all, it only took ten minutes per day.

But now that I’ve moved into high-school English classes, I needed to create a new set of materials that hit students at a higher level.

Ten-Minute Revision is similar to Ten-Minute Grammar in that it is a full-year, comprehensive program built around short, daily practices. Each day, students come to class and find a few short practice questions that they can answer on a sheet of scratch paper. They have five minutes to answer the questions the best they can, and then five minutes more are spent analyzing and discussing the answers.

Where the Ten-Minute Revision units differ from TMG is in the type of concepts being taught. In TMG units, the topics were usually very concrete grammar concepts focused on identifying examples in context and then finding and correcting errors. In the TMR units, the focus is more practical—it’s all about helping students improve their writing. We will focus on topics like how to write a powerful thesis statement, how to revise wordy writing, and how to choose words deliberately for meaning. Many of these concepts don’t have right or wrong answers, but there are some revision rules-of-thumb that the students can benefit from.

The key difference is that the skills and concepts taught in these units are intended to be put to use immediately. Rather than stand-alone units that are separate from whatever you’re doing with the remainder of your class time, the goal here is to get students to apply new concepts in the context of whatever writing they are doing in English class as well as their other subject areas.

Categories: Essay Revision

Brainstorm Thesis Statement Creation Outline

Step 1: Brainstorm Your Ideas (Web or List Format)

The purpose of brainstorming is to put your ideas about your topic on paper. It is important to
somewhat organize your ideas but things may still change after this step. The most important part is to
put down as many ideas as you can think of so you have lots of information to choose from as you move

You can choose to do a web or list based on the instructions below. You have the following page to
complete your brainstorm.

Web Instructions:
1. Begin your diagram with a circle in the middle of the page.
2. Inside the circle, write your topic.
3. From your circle, draw four or five lines out into the page. Be sure to spread them out.
4. Draw a circle at the end of each line. In the circle, put different subtopics.
5. At the end of each of these lines, draw 5 more circles.
6. In each circle, write examples from the text (with page numbers if possible) that prove your

List Instructions:
1. Begin by writing the topic of your essay at the top of your page, centred and underlined.
2. Make 4 or 5 subtopics that fit under your main topic. Make sure to underline these headings and
leave 6 or 7 lines between each subtopic.
3. Under each subtopic, come up with 5 examples from the text (with page numbers if possible)
that prove the subtopic fits with your main topic.

Categories: Brainstorm Ideas

Essay Writing Package Overview


Step 1: Brainstorm
Students are provided with the task and asked to create a web or list to start the essay writing process.

Step 2: Compose a Thesis Statement
Students are provided instruction on how to complete a three-pronged thesis statement for their essay topic.

Step 3: Outline Your Essay
Students are provided with a graphic organizer to help them organize their thoughts for their essay.


Step 4: Write Body Paragraphs
Workspace and detailed instructions are provided in this step.

Step 5: Write Introduction
Workspace and detailed instructions are provided in this step.

Step 6: Write Conclusion
Workspace and detailed instructions are provided in this step.


Step 7: Revising
Detailed instructions and checklists with guiding questions are provided to help students revise
their essays.


Step 8: Editing
Detailed instructions and checklists with guiding questions are provided to help students revise
their essays.

Peer Review

Step 9: Peer Review
Detailed instructions, checklists, and a comment/feedback form are provided to help students
work together to revise and edit each others’ essays.


Step 10: Evaluate
Instructions are provided to get students to reflect on their work.


Step 11: Publish
Instructions are provided to get students to make a final copy of their work.


A detailed rubric is provided to help teachers assess their students’ work.

Categories: Essay writing tips

A Step-By-Step Guide that Outlines the Essay Writing Process for Students and Teachers

Essay Topic:

Write an essay that proves what kind of character traits the protagonist in your book possesses. Use the characterization notes you went through. Follow the writing process.

Web Instructions:

1. Begin your diagram with a circle in the middle of the page.
2. Inside the circle, write your topic. What type of character is the protagonist of your story?
3. From your circle, draw four or five lines out into the page. Be sure to spread them out.
4. Draw a circle at the end of each line. In the circle, put different adjectives or character traits your character could possess.
5. At the end of each of these lines, draw 5 more circles.
6. In each circle, write examples that prove the character possesses that trait.
o If you are trying to persuade, you want to write your best arguments.
o If you are trying to explain a process, you want to write the steps that should be followed.
o If you are trying to inform, you want to write the major categories into which your information can be divided.

Additional Concepts to Consider Teaching in Greater Depth:

   Thesis Statements
Information is provided in the booklet but you may choose to provide more information on thesis statements, provide more practice, or go over them in more detail.
   Transition Words and Phrases
You may choose to go into greater depth with transition words and phrases to give students a greater understanding of this piece of writing.
   MLA Format
Basic information is provided in the booklet but you may choose to provide more detailed information like how to cite properly or how to format your paper correctly.

You may choose to use the OWL Purdue Online Learning Lab for help. You can find the MLA
Formatting and Style Guide at

Categories: Essay writing tips

How to write an analytical essay

Begin with an introduction in which you present the text that you are going to analyze and its overall theme. A simple way is to name its author and title and then add a thematic statement such as this, “Miguel Syjuco’s short story ’Be Here Now’ from 2010 is about a photo journalist who is trying to find his feet in a relationship after having been abroad”.

And why not pose an interesting question that relates to the text? Then you may give a more focused thesis statement, which is a couple of sentences that describe your particular take on the text, explaining in what direction your will essay go. End your introduction by presenting your essay further, i.e. by naming the specific focal points that you are going to investigate.

The Three-Part Essay

A standard essay consists of three constituent parts—the introduction, the body, and the conclusion.

The Introductory Paragraph

Our thesis sentence—the essay’s primary claim—should be the last sentence of the introductory paragraph. Since we already have our thesis sentence—it was created when we created our outline—we can simply place it at the end of the introductory paragraph.

While constructing our introductory paragraph, we might want to use one of the following approaches: background knowledge; a rhetorical question; a quotation; a topic of current interest; a contradictory, shocking, controversial, or minority opinion.

Categories: Essay writing tips

How to Write an Essay

Your first step: Your first step is to create your thesis sentence. Choosing first the topic, then the stance to take on that topic might be the most important step in the essay. Turning a poor thesis into a good essay is a difficult task.

Avoid the stale, worn-out topics like gun control and abortion; also avoid vague, wishy-washy topics like “music” or “what a real friend is.”

Once a suitable topic is chosen, avoid taking the obvious stance on that topic. Arguing that the elderly should have access to food is a waste of time and effort. Of course the elderly should have access to food. Everyone already agrees with that proposition.

Instead, choose a minority opinion—go against the grain. We want fresh insights, new angles on old problems. An essay about how we should go to school so we can get a better job is tame and obvious. Think beyond the obvious. Is making money really the only reason to go to school? Is the kind of intelligence valued in school the same as the intelligence valued in work? Why do we want to make money anyway? How did this economic system come about? Is this really the best of all possible worlds? And so on. This is the kind of critical thinking writers should engage in before selecting a topic and creating a thesis sentence. Good thesis sentences cover new ground; bad thesis sentences cover the same ground that thousands of others have already covered.

Prewriting: There are many forms of prewriting; ultimately, an outline serves as the best platform from which to create an essay. As a bare minimum (a “barebones outline”), the writer should have a major point (the thesis) and three sub-points—the support. A barebones outline might look like this:

We should focus on obtaining what is necessary for life. (thesis)

  • food
  • shelter
  • warmth

This minimal structure can serve as the jumping off point for an essay. Or, if further security is desired, the barebones outline can be made fuller:

  • The one-word items can be turned into complete sentences.
    • A third level can be added. If we think of the thesis as level 1 and the three sub-points as level 2, then the next level of the outline would be level 3. Some details about food—examples of food or explanation of why food is so important—would become the third level of the outline. The same is true of details about shelter and warmth.

Once a satisfactory outline has been created, two steps still remain.

The first is to check for overlap. Our three points must be distinct from one another. In fact, our sample above is guilty of overlap. Since the terms “shelter” and “warmth” are not entirely distinct, we would probably want to revise—a better third term would improve our outline.

The second step is to arrange our three points in some logical order. The most common order in which to place our points is weakest to strongest. Such an order takes advantage of the psychology of argument, giving our readers the impression that our essay is gaining in strength as it unfolds. So if we were to arrange our three sub-points, we would probably reverse the current order: warmth (weakest), shelter, and food (strongest). (Due to the fact that we usually think of our strongest points first, it is often the case that we need to discuss our points in the reverse order that we thought of them.)

Not till we’ve take all these steps are we ready to begin writing.

Categories: Essay writing tips

Gone Home Indie Game Review

Now, having said all that, when I checked the rating, I found something very interesting. The rating between the critics and the users were glaringly opposite. In metascore, for critic review, the game scored, 90/100 (based on 28 critics), while the users gave the game a low 4.8 (based on 432 ratings). I have never seen such a polarized score on any game until Gone Home. This made me want to play the game much more.


Read especially if money is tight for you, fellow broke person you!

As mentioned, I will be breaking down the game first which shows the aspects of the game that shined through for me, then at the end, I will explain why I believe what I do concerning whether or not the game is worth it is price. I hope you guys/gals read everything carefully because I believe it is one of those games that are on a balance scale in terms of being great or not, of course this depends on the person as well. Plus, as a fulltime broke college student, I understand how for people where money is tight, every penny counts, so I understand you want to make sure the game you are getting and/or supporting has enough content to live up to it is price. I feel horrible saying it that way, but us monetarily challenged people just do not have the luxury of going, oh well, and shrug it off. As I said, majority of the people who asked me to review this game are in this situation so I hope I write well enough to help everyone with their decision.

First Impression and Gameplay

As I started the game, I was greeted by the voice of the character I am playing, and I do not know if it is just me, but as she talked and because of the atmosphere of the house, I started thinking of the movie, Taken. Afterwards, I finally entered the big house. The first thing I noticed was the scary and ominous vibe of the huge house. I also started thinking that they are one messy people, leaving trash everywhere. If it was an Asian household, such as the one I am living in right now; that shi wont fly son. Sorry, I digressed!

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Study With Digital Photography Classes Online

Digital photography classes online have the potential to take anyone from the level of absolute beginner to any level they choose, including the level where they can make photography their living if desired. There are basics to be learned, whether you are completely new to photography, or whether you have entered the craft from a position of experience with film cameras. Once you have learned these basics, it will be up to you how far you want to take your studies, and which level of competence you want to achieve.

Online classes come in many different forms, and are aimed at people with entirely different skill levels. The most comprehensive courses are able to take a beginner quickly to the level where they can take reasonable photographs, especially if they are using a camera which has self-adjusting settings. As the photographer gains more confidence, they can them learn how to use manual settings which offer the possibility of greatly enhanced results. This is the point at which you become a genuine user of all of the functions of the camera, and where you can achieve effects which the auto settings will not give you.

Learning how to use distance, aspect and lighting conditions to your best advantage will be the greatest step you can take towards becoming an effective photographer. The great advantage of the digital camera is that you can take as many photographs as you like without wasting resources, as anything which does not need to be kept can simply be deleted. The classes will come with an expectation that you send your own work in to be marked and assessed, and this will give you valuable feedback that you can take and make good use of.

It is also easy to integrate digital photography classes online with the need to modify pictures using software. This can be done with both free and paid software depending on the level of the course which you are taking. If you are using free software, you will need to course material to teach you all of the workings of it, as free software is extremely poorly documented. If the course is at a higher level, and is using the state of the art Adobe Photoshop software, you will be able to work with both the course material and the documentation for the software.

You can use online classes to reach any level of proficiency with digital photography, even to the extent of gaining a degree which can get you a new career. There are some roles within journalism which absolutely demand a high level of formal education, and this can now be achieved in more than one way. In the past, it was extremely difficult for anyone who had gone beyond the standard college age to get an education. There was a demand for two years at least of residential study, and this would obviously mean giving up your existing career and moving away from home.

Now, college standard digital photography classes online have removed the need for anyone to take these steps. You can study from your own home, largely in hours which you choose to suit yourself, and still achieve the same end result as the campus student. The competition for jobs in journalism is heavy, but there is no reason not to try if that is really what you want to do. If you don’t have a position at any given time, you can always use your photography skills to earn money in some other way while you wait. You will learn the full range of skills with digital photography classes online.

Digital Photography Training Can Give You A New Career

Digital photography training is needed by anyone who wants to make a career out of photography, and it can also be extremely useful for those who are just seeking to get the best use from their camera in an amateur capacity. The type of training you will need to apply for will depend entirely on the future you have in mind for yourself, as different positions will require different qualifications. If you are thinking of entering journalism, for example, you will need a formal degree, while a wedding photographer can just get started by advertising for business.

Formal digital photography qualifications can be obtained from college campuses, either by direct attendance or through one of the increasingly popular online learning programs. These qualifications will be needed to get you into any profession where photographers are licensed. In journalism, for example, employers will expect to see an education to degree level. This will mean giving up at least two years of your time to study, and possibly more if you want to take those studies to an even higher level. The college route is a traditional one, which has been around since the days when all cameras were analog film cameras, but it is still valid today.

The greatest difficulty with the traditional college route has always been that it effectively shut off many people who wanted to change careers in later life. These people simply could not give up two or more years to residential study, not when they had an existing career which they needed to keep in order to pay the bills. A large percentage of these people will also have young families which they need to support. The introduction of online learning has given a lifeline to these people, who can now achieve the qualifications they need while still keeping their existing career.

You can take digital photography training with the intention of obtaining a formal qualification, or simply to give you the skills you will need to follow through with your chosen career choice. A wedding photographer, for example, does not need a degree to be able to set up in business, as it is not a regulated profession. What you will need are the basic skills to do the job, as what is a routine job for the photographer is one of the most important days of a lifetime to the participants.

The greatest difficulty a beginning wedding photographer will have is in trying to convince people to give them a chance while they are still new and have no testimonials. This is never easy, no matter how much of a discount you give to people, as they will be taking a chance with such an important day in their lives. There is always the possibility to try out your skills at a friend’s wedding, even if they already have someone more experienced to take the main photographs. If yours are high quality, you can always give them to the couple in exchange for a testimonial.

The most important feature of digital photography training is that it will never become obsolete or go out of fashion. Digital is now the standard for the future, and anyone becoming skilled in the techniques now should be able to look forward to a long and effective career. New training will not be needed to anything like the same degree it is with other disciplines, such as programming and software development, because although the equipment keeps improving the basic techniques stay the same. You will just need to keep up to date with the operation of the cameras in your profession, as ongoing digital photography training.

Develop Skills With Online Digital Photography Courses

Online digital photography courses can take an absolute beginner from the position of knowing virtually nothing about cameras, quickly to the level where they can take effective shots using entry level equipment where most of the settings are calculated automatically. They can then take people to the level where they can use their own settings to achieve an even more effective result. It is even possible to use these courses to obtain a university degree, and to be eligible for entry to professions which require this advanced level of formal education.

There are many simple free courses online which will be effective in helping a beginner get to grips with the basics in short order. Most entry level cameras are easy to use, because they offer the user the chance to use adjustable settings. The camera will calculate for itself the levels which need to be used, guaranteeing an acceptable result. The algorithm is not flawless, and the user of such a camera is never going to get the type of result that a trained photographer will get from the use of manual settings. Nevertheless, these beginner cameras can help people to get started quickly, and to learn the basics.

Once someone is able to take basic shots with an entry level camera, they can then begin to see the manual settings to see if they can improve on the results. It should be possible, after learning about aspect, lighting and distance focusing, to improve greatly on your initial results. It is a good idea to take pictures of static objects, so that you can then return to the same site multiple times to try out new tips and techniques. When you are capable of working out your own manual settings and producing a good result, you will have reached the status of effective photographer.

A vital component of online digital photography courses so that they teach the skill which separates the digital photographer from their film predecessor. This is the ability to manipulate the image in software after it has been taken, and after it has been downloaded to a computer. There are free and paid software programs which can eliminate common faults such as red eye, and which can also allow you to enhance the image in various ways. If you are going to take photography to its most advanced level, you will need to learn to work with Adobe Photoshop, but at over $500 this software is not for everyone.

There are courses which can take you to every level of photography success, including the level at which you can become qualified for a new career. There are many careers within photography which do not demand formal qualifications, such as wedding and portrait photography, but others such as journalism have a definite requirement for a degree. It is possible to take the degree course while studying online, and this means that you can keep your existing career while you learn.

Studying with online digital photography courses also gives you the freedom to schedule the learning in and around your other commitments, although it is vitally important to make sure that you have enough time to carry out the tasks. Always allow a safety margin to cover for emergencies when you are planning your time, as life is not something which ever runs entirely smoothly. If you are able to be an effective self motivator, and someone who can get themselves through the inevitable difficult times, you can achieve whatever you want to with online digital photography courses.

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