Thursday, May 26, 2011

For Every Action...

You've heard the saying, "For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction," right? That's the premise of cause and effect. Every action sparks a reaction; every decision has its consequences. The trick to showing that clearly in your writing is to use transitions that point to either a cause or an effect.

Your writing assignment: Select either #3, #6, or #9 from page 154 as your topic for a cause and effect paragraph.

My response:

Losing a job has devastating effects on a family. The fear of being unable to make the necessary rent or mortgage payment while struggling to put food on the table can provoke many sleepless nights. As as result of the decrease in income, families have to revise their budgets, cutting out superfluous items. Some families might opt to keep only basic cable instead of the premium movie channels, while others might relinquish cable TV altogether. Another consequence of income loss would be the delay of major expenditures, regardless of whether or not those expenses are necessary. The replacement of that air conditioning compressor may just have to wait so that daily bills can be paid. Often an unintended result is that families dig a deep well of debt using credit cards to buy food and fuel, having exhausted what meager savings they may have accumulated in this unforgiving economy. And as money gets tighter, arguments burst into flame. Only conscious, supportive declarations of optimistic faith can successfully douse the fear income loss causes.

Your turn: be sure to post your cause and effect paragraph no later than Thursday, June  2nd, at 5:00 p.m.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Our Stories

Everyone has a story to tell. Our stories fill the world with knowledge and can change the course of a life. What's your story? Tell it with vivid verbs and colorful adjectives. Draw your reader with compelling figurative language and make your point. Your story is important, too.

Your writing assignment: Select either #3, #9, or #13 from page 88 for the topic of your narrative paragraph.

My response

I have been a Christian for 23 years. I attended the same Pentecostal church for 18 of those years serving in many different capacities. I have read the Bible through several times, and tried to align my life with my beliefs. Perhaps the most difficult thing I have ever done is to open my home to people outside my small family. I laugh now when I think about my first husband bringing home drunks and drug addicts and wanting them to stay the night; I thought his intention was to expose me and our young daughter to the "seedy" side of life. I resisted with all my strength then. I interpreted those actions as a way to turn our home into a drug hangout where our meager personal possessions, along with our self-respect, would disappear with the wayward. Now that I am older and my daughter no longer lives at home, however, and now that I am married to a man who, like I, believes that our faith must be more than a mental construct, I find that I am doing just that. We have, over the past four years, opened our home to three different homeless people. Not at the same time, mind you. And not to just anyone off the street, either. We were in relationship with these individuals prior to allowing them access to our home. Most importantly, we both agreed that God had asked us to become their surrogate family and to mentor them during the time they spent with us. RB lived with us for one year and probably had the greatest impact on our lives. She was the first person to whom we opened our home. She taught us much about living like real Christians -- she became our sister in every sense of the word. We often jumped in the car and delivered dinner to her at her night job, giggling ahead of time about the surprise we knew would overtake her. We prayed together, worshiped together, and shared birthdays and holidays, even taking her to the homes of other relatives for family celebrations as well. Yes, our blood family often looked askance at us, wondering if we had finally lost our minds. The joy of obeying the Lord, and knowing that whatever we have done for our earthly brothers and sisters God sees as our having done for him has been such a blessing. We have a concrete understanding of what it means to love our neighbor as ourselves.

Your turn: Be sure to post your narrative paragraph no later than Tuesday, the 31st, at 5:00 p.m.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Giving Instructions

If you're like me, you like to tell people what you expect to be done and have it turn out just the way you imagined it in your mind. How often does that happen, right? Well, sometimes it's what we communicate (or fail to communicate) that hinders our success. We need to be precise and to give the steps in the correct order or else the resulting product won't meet our expectations. And that's process writing -- plainly stated. 

Your writing assignment: Select either #2, #9, or #10 from page 107 as your topic for a process paragraph.  If you choose #2, you can number the steps if that helps. Since I have a cooking blog (, guess which one I'm going to choose!

My response:


1 lb. lean ground beef
2 large red onions, coarsely chopped
1 large red pepper, coarsely choped
4 bay leaves
2 1/2 tablespoons beef base
1/2 cup chopped pimiento-stuffed olives
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
1 package discos de empanadas, thawed
vegetable oil

For filling:  cook beef, onions, bell peppers, and bay leaves in saucepan over medium heat until beef is no longer pink and the vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes. Add beef base, olives, and cumin. Simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat. Drain completely in a colander. Let cool.

To make the empanadas: fill each pastry with a heaping tablespoonful of the beef mixture. Wet the bottom half of the empanada disk with a little water and fold the top half over to meet the bottom. Using a fork, crimp the edges to seal completely. Prick the top with the tines of a fork to allow steam to escape when cooking. Fill all ten discs.

Pour oil into a large saute pan to a depth of 2 inches. Be sure the oil is hot before adding the filled empanadas. Cook several at a time being careful not to crowd the pan as the empanadas will puff up as they cook. Fry until golden brown on each side, about 4 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Serve as soon as possible. Don't let anyone sample as you are cooking or you won't have any left to serve!
Your turn:  Post by the 24th at 5:00 p.m.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

We Live to Compare

Comparing and contrasting is something we do every single day. We compare prices on luxury items we want to buy, ingredients in food products, and movies in which our favorite actor or actress stars.  We can't escape this form of analysis. 

Learning how to write about the things we are comparing or contrasting can be a bit tricky however.  There are some definite rules. We can make our comparisons (and our contrasts) in one of two ways: point by point (color of A & B, the cloth used for A & for B, and the cost of A compared to B) or we can fully discuss item A and then fully discuss item B. Remember that comparing means showing how two or more things are the same, while contrasting means showing how those same things are different.

Your writing assignment: Select your topic from #1, #5, or #6 on page 135. Then write a compare and contrast paragraph based on the selected topic.

My response:

     While I am still a mom and a teacher, my life today and my life five years ago are substantially different.  Five years ago my daughter was living at home and attending high school. I was working at a middle school about seven miles away. I drove her to school in the morning and then proceeded on to my school. When my teaching day was over, I picked my daughter up and we drove home together. That afternoon drive was the highlight of our day; it was the time to share everything about our day as we made our way home. Working at the middle school was the only teaching assignment I had so I was free to spend time in pursuits that pleased the entire family. Now, however, things are quite a bit different. My daughter is living in her own apartment in Gainesville, where she has successfully completed four years of college, graduating magna cum laude with a Bachelor's degree in English, and a minor in the German language and a minor in zoology. We don't commute together anymore, and therefore our level of communication has slipped some, which makes us both very sad. In addition, I am no longer teaching middle school; I have finally graduated to high school. I am also teaching at the Palm Beach Gardens campus of our local college, so all my free time is spent grading papers and revising my lessons for interest. Time for myself? Not anymore!

Your turn: Post by the 19th at 5:00 p.m.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Driving Home Your Point

Illustration. That's an interesting word. For  me, the word immediately conjures an image of pictures in a child's storybook. Those pictures help the young reader understand what the words mean. Basically, that's what the writing style of illustration does -- it uses an experience, a story, and specific details to enhance the reader's understanding of a point the writer is trying to make. 

Your writing assignment: Select either #5, #7, or #13 to use as the topic sentence of an illustration paragraph (p. 80). Be sure to use appropriate transition words or phrases.

My response:

     A sense of humor can make difficult times easier to bear. Take this academic year, for example. I was hired to teach at a high school just one week before school began. That meant packing up my classroom at the middle school where I had been teaching for the past ten years, making numerous trips from Lantana to Loxahatchee with my SUV stacked and packed. My goal was to set up my new classroom (and my 1200 book library) before students arrived while simultaneously simultaneously attending pre-school meetings and coming up with lesson plans for the week. I was barely up and running on the first day of school, and I have felt like I was behind schedule all year. The stress of being at a new school with new rules  and trying to adapt to a completely new grade level built up so greatly that I forgot to have fun. The self-imposed pressure to live up to my previous successful performance levels with my students only added more stress. On top of that, I, unbelievably, expected my high school students to be better behaved than my middle school students had. Ha! I finally lost it in February. The event caused me to take a hard look at myself, and when I did so I realized I had abandoned my sense of humor.  Those same issues still impinge on my daily duties as a teacher; however, now I find something to laugh about in each class and at lunch, thereby relieving a boatload of stress upon the waves of laughter.

Your turn: Post by the 17th at 5:00 p.m., please.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Welcome Summer A Students

Well, the pistol has been fired and we are off and running! I hope you will come to enjoy these blog postings as much as my other students have. I think the part that really fascinates everyone is being able to read other students' postings. That having been said, let's get started.

Your writing assignments: This week we will be mainly looking at coherent paragraphs and introductions to essays. Coherence involves logical order as well as making sure to repeat key words so you and the reader stay focused on the topic.  The use of transitional words and phrases are important to coherence as well.  Introductions, on the other hand, are the glam and glitter that entice the reader and gets him or her to keep reading. Without a doubt, the most important ingredient in an introduction is the thesis statement, which should be the last sentence of your introduction. We'll be discussing the thesis statement more fully next class. Meanwhile, be sure to refer to your textbook chapter on introductions and conclusions for helpful hints on how to complete the blog assignment. 

My response:  

p. 61, Writing Assignment 5, Paragraph 1: 

My favorite form of relaxation is reading a good book. What constitutes a good book? Well, it is one that has an exciting and unusual plot line and which also contains enough beautifully constructed images and sentences to captivate the artist in me. The thing that makes a good book relaxing is its ability to transport me to a universe different from my daily experience, thereby freeing me -- albeit only temporarily -- from worries, demands, and responsibilities. Now, what page was I on?

p. 205, Writing Assignment 1:

     My mother-in-law has been hospitalized at least twice a year each year over the past five years. It's not always the same condition that sends her there; sometimes a troublesome medical problem will send her to the Emergency Room, while other stays have been scheduled operations. Either way, these frequent hospital stays have often become a discouragement. These illnesses, however, usually transform themselves into surprising blessings, such as new friendships and the opportunity to minister to others in the hospital, patients and staff alike.

     The economy certainly has had a negative impact on life in the United States. The nation's continued involvement in "The War on Terror" has cost untold billions. And, while recent reports show small by steady quarterly increases in the number of new jobs, there are still far too many unemployed Americans. Foreclosures still continue to be a significant problem in many states. While space exploration is generally seen as a positive venture, the nation's financial woes do not warrant continued expenses in this area.

Your turn: Please post your writing assignments as soon as possible. We can fudge the deadline a little as we are all trying to adapt to these requirements.