Thursday, April 9, 2015

Use the Active Voice

Whenever possible, use verbs in the active voice. The passive voice is weak and uses unnecessary words. 

“A captain has been appointed by the team” 
is weaker than 
“The team has appointed a captain.”  

Sentences with verbs in the passive voice use "is, am, are, was, were, be, or been" as a helping verb with the past participle. Sentences in the passive voice often contain the preposition “by.”

To change a sentence into the active voice do the following:
1. Remove the form of the to be helping verb. Be sure to keep the tense of the verb the same as it was.
2. Remove the word by. Flip the ends of the sentence.

Step 2 in SimpleSteps to Sentence Sense is all about finding the verb and the verb phrase.

Click here to watch a video explaining Step 2.

Once your students have learned to find the verb, I have a great lesson on using the verb correctly. Click here to see the All About Verbs product.

If your students master the use of the verb, they will become better writers.

Thanks for reading,


Monday, April 6, 2015

Join Secondary Teachers for a One Day Spring Sale

Join us for a One Day Spring Sale

CLICK HERE to Visit the Blog Hop
and Save! Save! Save!

My best selling poetry product is on sale today.

Enjoy! Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Practice with 

Subject Verb Agreement


If you have followed the steps 1-3 in Simple Steps to Sentence Sense, it should be very easy for you to find the subject and the verb. Once you find them, you can be sure they agree in number. 

This means:  
If the subject is singular, the verb must be singular.
If the subject is plural, the verb must be plural. 

Singular means one person, place, or thing.  
For example: boy, city, tree.

Plural means more than one person, place, or thing. For example: boys, cities, trees 

The subject and the verb agree in this sentence: 
The leaves are brown and brittle.

The subject and the verb do not agree in this sentence: The leaves is brown and brittle. 

is=singular   are=plural  leaf=singular  leaves=plural

It will help if you remember that singular verbs end in an “s.”

After you find the subject, decide if it is singular or plural. If it is a singular subject, be sure the verb or the helping verb ends in s.

For example:

The children (is, are) going to the park.
The subject is “children.” The word “children” is plural, so choose the plural verb. The one that does not end in “s.”  
The children are going to the park. 

The child (is, are) going to the park.The subject is “child.” The word “child” is singular, so choose the singular verb. The one that ends in “s.”  

The child is going to the park. You can see how easy it is to make the subject and verb agree in number. 
That’s because the sentence would sound strange if you were to choose the wrong verb. 

For example, who would say: The dogs barks? That sentence would probably sound wrong to anyone who reads it.

Watch for these 3 special circumstances.

1.  Sometimes, however, it is not so easy to spot a subject/verb agreement error because a prepositional phrase located between the subject and the verb can fool you. 

For example:  
One of the dancers are more experienced. 
That sentence may not sound wrong, but it is. It has an error in subject and verb agreement. 

The word “dancers” is not the subject of the sentence because it is in a prepositional phrase. 

Remember that the subject of a sentence will never be found in a prepositional phrase. 

If we follow the steps and eliminate the prepositional phrase (of the dancers); find the verb (are) and then find the subject (one), it is easy to see that the subject is singular, but the verb is plural. 
One are

Now you can hear the error. 
Remember: If the subject is singular, you would need a verb that ends in s.

So the sentence should read: One of the dancers is more experienced.

2.  Sometimes the subject of the sentence is compound. 

Two or more subjects joined by the conjunction “and” take a plural verb. Apples and oranges are both delicious fruits.

If two or more subjects are joined by 
the conjunctions “or” or “nor,” make the verb agree with the subject nearer to it.

The minister or the choir members are riding on the bus.

The choir members or the minister is riding on the bus.

3.   If the subject follows the verb in a sentence (such as in sentences beginning with there or here), be especially careful to find the actual subject and verb and make them agree in number.

Remember: The words there and here are never the subject of the sentence.

Example: Here (is, are) the keys to our house.
The subject of this sentence is the word "keys."

Click here for more help with subject/verb agreement and a 20 question practice exercise with answers included. 

Thanks for reading!


Friday, March 20, 2015

Free Products for Grin & Grab it Day

Grin and Grab it Day 3-22-2015

Grin and Grab it Day 3-22-2015
This post is about Grin and Grab it Day 3-22-2015. Several sellers are participating, and we hope you find this to be a good opportunity. If you have read this blog before, you will know Grin and Grab it Day is when we make some usually priced Teachers Pay Teachers products free for the day. We do not all live in the same time zone, so just check and see if the items are free, and"grab" them if they are. Don't wait! Of course, we so appreciate kind feedback if you like a product. This post will also point out some always free items, just in case you weren't aware of them.

Fun Frog Theme Day: If you think you will need a substitute this spring, or you would just like to have an entire day that is just "print and go," this frog theme day would be perfect. It could be used anytime, really. Grab it and add it to your sub binder, or use it yourself in between units or after testing week. Print-and-Go-Fun-Frog-Theme-Day

Word Play Higher Order Thinking Skills Activity: Change a letter, change a lot! Students will find the word that matches each definition by replacing only one letter in the previous word. Fun and challenging.
La Casa Dream House: How about a dream house project for your Spanish students? Have your students design their dream house in descriptive detail! There are TWO rubrics included in this packet to help your students practice their writing skills. One is for a "Dream House" and the other is for "Mi Casa Nueva."  La-Casa-Dream-House-Project-for-Spanish-classes

Breakfast, Lunch, Desayuno, Almuerzo Vocabulary Practice, Cloze: “Cloze” sentences give clues to breakfast and lunch vocabulary words in Spanish. Students use their problem solving skills to decide which vocabulary word from the list makes sense in each sentence. Practice for your next meal in a Spanish restaurant!

Cootie Catcher Fortune Teller Comecocos IR in the PRETERIT: A “comecocos” is also called a “fortune teller” and a “cootie catcher.” The instructions on how to fold the paper are included in this packet.

Practice in Base Ten with the Base Ten Kids: This 65 page unit supports learning Numbers and Operations in Base Ten. There are matching games for place value and math thinking sheets. Worth your time to download and enjoy in your classroom!Practice-in-Base-Ten-With-the-Base-Ten-Kids-Numbers-and-Operations-in-Base-Ten-811640

Odd and Even Numbers in the Barnyard Song and Printables: You are getting a fun odd and even song ready to print and display in your class. The children love it and its helps them to remember the odd and even numbers. You are also getting 7 printables in black and white with numbers to sort for odd and even. Odd-and-Even-Numbers-in-the-Barnyard-a-Song-and-Printables

Similar to Pete the Cat I Have Who Has Game with Fry's First 100 Words: Grab your I Have Who Has game using the Fry's First 100 Words. There are 24 cards in this set. Similiar-to-Pete-the-Cat-an-I-Have-Who-Has-Game-with-Fry-Words

Decision Making Grade 4 Personal, Family, School, Community: Here is a product usually priced $4 for fourth grade about decision making. I made this thinking about the fact children are not always taught how to decisions are made. See a free similar product, a decision making freebie, at this link. Decision-Making-Grade-4-Personal-Family-School-Community

Compound-Word-Puzzles-Sampler-free-The following products are always free by Gramma Elliott's Educational Tools. Compound Word Puzzles Free Sampler
Long-Vowel-Clip-Art-Sample-Freebie  Long Vowel Sample Clip Art, always free

And, finally, another always free product, Insects for Your Bulletin Board! This would certainly
Insects-for-Your-Bulletin-Board-Magnified-by-an-Electron-Microscope capture the interest of students.   We hope you like our Grin and Grab it Day products! Thank you so much, Carolyn Wilhelm

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Avoid Redundancies and Simply Say What You Mean

Good writers simply say what they mean and avoid excess verbiage.

Don’t say: “In my opinion, I think you are wrong.” Instead, just say: “I think you are wrong.” (Obviously this is your opinion.)

Don't say: "At this point in time." Instead, just say, "now."

Don't say: "I thought to myself." Instead, just say, "I thought." (Obviously your thoughts are directed to yourself. They are your thoughts, after all.)

Good writers avoid using redundant expressions.

Redundancy generally occurs when a word or phrase that already has specific meaning is further modified by words or phrases that mean the same thing. 

In your writing, you should always strive to find the most specific words to express your thoughts. 
Then, when you find those words, you must also resist the temptation to embellish them. If you do the result often results in redundancy. 

The following examples are quite common. You may hear them most often on the news or read them online or in print. But, just because they are commonly used doesn't make them good writing.

Avoid redundant expressions to make your writing clear, concise and clutter-free. Consider the following examples. The words in parentheses are not necessary.
blue (in color)
small/large (in size)
(first) discovered/introduced/began
combine/add/mix/link/weave (together)
Easter (Sunday)
a.m. (in the morning)
(free) gift
(added) bonus
drown/starve/strangle (to death)
(Jewish) synagogue
the winter/summer/spring/fall (months)
(fully) comprehensive
visible (to the eye)
(mental) telepathy
(old) relic
reason (why)
consensus (of opinion)
(previous/past) experience/history
(new) baby/invention/discovery
(remaining) vestige
spin (in circles)
thought(to himself)

There are many more. Be watchful and eliminate redundancies from your writing whenever possible.

Click here for an exercise you can use with your students to help them master this writing revision technique.

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

3 Reasons to Use an Apostrophe


There are three reasons to use an apostrophe:

Knowing when and how to use apostrophes can be really confusing at times. The key to using them correctly is to know when they are needed and for what purpose they are to be used.

There are three reasons to use an apostrophe:
  1.  Use an apostrophe to show that a letter or letters have been left out of a word or that numbers have been left out. For example: “can’t” and ’80. Be sure to place the apostrophe in the exact location of the missing letters or numbers. (can’t = can not) (‘80=1980)
  2. Use an apostrophe to show ownership or possession of nouns and indefinite pronouns. (Cathy’s car.) (someone’s fault)
The rules to form possessive nouns are simple.
First determine if the word you are making possessive in form is singular or plural.

If the word is singular, add an apostrophe and then an s. (cat’s meow)
In words of more than one syllable that end in an s-sound, you are permitted to add only the apostrophe to avoid too many s-sounds. (Moses’ tablets)

If the word is plural, you must first check the spelling of the word before making it possessive.
If the word ends in an s, just add the apostrophe. Flowers= flowers’ fragrance

If the word does not end in an s, you would add an apostrophe and then an s. men=men’s wardrobe

Never add an s and then an apostrophe. (s’)
(Doing so would make the word both plural and possessive.)

      3. Use an apostrophe to make individual letters and numbers plural. For example: There are four             s’s and four i’s in Mississippi.

Do not use an apostrophe to make a word plural. For example: one boy= three boys

~ ~ ~

Sometimes you need to make a word plural first and then make it possessive. For example: A family named Wilson is having a party. Because there are several members of the family, you would make the name plural and then possessive. On the invitation it should read: You are invited to the Wilsons’ Christmas party.

However, the Wilson family would sign their Christmas cards: The Wilsons. (Note: There is no apostrophe because “Wilsons” is a plural noun but not a possessive noun.)

Indefinite pronouns refer to something that is not specified. To make an indefinite pronoun possessive, you would add an apostrophe and an s.

anybody= anybody’s 
anyone= anyone’s

Click here for a handout lesson on 3 Reasons to Use Apostrophes and a practice exercise with answers included.

Thanks for reading!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Teachers Are Heroes Sale on TpT

The TpT sale has been extended for one more day!

Take a look at some of the Teacher' stores in the graphic above. These lessons are carefully written and tested by a group of dedicated Super Secondary Teachers. You can't go wrong by using one of their lessons. The price is right, too! Enjoy this sale and get up to 28% off on most products. Click here to go to the linkup and visit their stores.

Do I believe that teachers are heroes? 

Yes, I absolutely do. It would be wonderful if every child had a warm and nurturing home life, but the sad fact is some of them don't. Sometimes the only smile and kind word that children receive all day is from their teacher.

The responsibility that teachers bear to keep their students safe from harm, to keep them engaged and interested, and to challenge their minds is a huge endeavor.

I admire everyone involved in the work of helping shape our children's lives. Bravo teachers, and thank you!

Be sure to enter the promo code HEROES at checkout.

My enitre store in on sale for two days including the Simple Steps to Sentence Sense series.
Click here to see what people are saying about Simple Steps to Sentence Sense.
Click here to visit my store.

Thanks for reading!

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