Saturday, February 17, 2024

Tips to Avoid Three Common Usage Errors

Tips to Avoid Three Common Usage Errors

How to choose between:
Fewer? or Less? * Who? or Whom? 
* Bad? or Badly?

Fewer? or Less?

If you mean “not as many,” choose fewer

(Use fewer when items can be counted.)

If you mean “not as much,” choose less.


I bought fewer pencils. 

I ate less pudding.

Who (Whoever)? or Whom (Whomever)?

Find the verb nearest the pronoun in question. If the pronoun appears before the verb, choose who or whoever. Who went to the store?

If the pronoun follows an action verb, choose whom or whomever. The leader will choose whomever you wish.

If the pronoun follows a linking verb, choose who or whoever. The winner will be whoever the people elect.

Whom or whomever always follows a preposition.

His friends, most of whom are older, are friendly people. 

Hint: Substitute he or she for the pronoun who. Substitute him, her, or them for the pronoun whom.

Bad? or Badly?

Badly describes an action. He danced badly. 

Bad describes a feeling or emotion. (I feel bad.)

Always use the word “bad” after linking verbs such as lookfeel, seemtaste, and smell

You look bad. 

I feel bad. 

His conduct seems bad to me. 

That meat tastes bad to me.

That perfume smells bad.

Note: Do not say or write I feel badly for you. (Although you hear this in the media and read it in printed material all the time, it is incorrect.)

If you feel badly, there is something wrong with your fingers. 

If you sympathize with someone, you feel bad for them.

It will become much easier to use these words correctly if you practice.

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Sunday, January 21, 2024

Six Confusing Words to Master

Here are 6 confusing words to master when you write. Although they sound very much alike, they have different meanings.

Tess' Tips 6 Confusing Words to Master

Dying – means that a living being is no longer alive. Dying is the present participle of the verb die.
Examples: I am just dying to see your new car. The poor man is dying of a horrible disease.
Dyeing - means to change the color of something by using a dye.
Examples:  Mother is dyeing her hair brown to hide the gray hairs. Jane is dyeing her shoes to match her dress.

Weather – means changes in the atmospheric condition.
Examples: We need to check the weather before we set sail. The weather is warm and dry today.
Whether – is used to indicate possibilities or choices.
Example: He was not sure whether or not to eat the sushi.
Whether - also means if something is or was true.
Example: Will you find out whether or not they want to go with us to the movie?
HINT: When choosing between weather and whether be sure to pronounce the “h” in whether. If you are talking about clouds, rain, etc, choose weather. There is no “h” sound in weather.

Advice – is a noun that means an opinion or suggestion that one gives to another.
Advise – is a verb that means to give an opinion or suggestion.
HINT: Try substituting the word opinion into the sentence. If it makes sense, choose the noun advice.
Example A: I need your (advice, advise) on how long my speech should be.
I need your (opinion) on how long my speech should be.
Since you could substitute the word opinion in this sentence, choose advice.
Example B:  You need to (advice, advise) me on how long my speech should be.
You need to (opinion) me on how long my speech should be.
Since you could not substitute the word opinion in this sentence, choose advise.

Here's a free exercise on the use of more confusing words. Confusing Words Grammar Worksheets.

Here's another exercise your students will enjoy. Confusing Words Task Cards.
This set includes task cards to practice the correct use of die or dye; weather or whether; advice or advise; anxious or eager. TASK CARDS can be more fun than worksheets, and they are a perfect way to reinforce lessons and improve proofreading skills.

Be sure to visit my store for more free lessons and take a look at my Simple Steps to Sentence books. Help your students learn grammar and usage the easy way.

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Sunday, November 19, 2023

Classification Exericses for the Holiday Season

Classification allows us to better understand relationships and connections between things.  


Challenge your students' minds with fun Higher Order Thinking Skills Classification Exercises. Students will classify a group of items according to their general category, consider which one of the items is different from the others in some subtle way, remove it, and then determine the specific category that remains.

The student will learn:

to classify items belonging to a general category and having the characteristics of that category;

to determine which item in the general group is different from the others and remove it;

to reclassify the items that remain into a specific category;

to work cooperatively in small groups.




Dallas Cowboys, Minnesota Vikings, New Orleans Saints, Green Bay Packers  


General Category: Football Teams

Item to Remove: Minnesota Vikings

Specific Category: Football teams that have won Super Bowls.

I hope you have a wonderful holiday season. Be sure to read the interesting blog posts below from my teacher friends in The Best of Teacher Entrepreneurs.

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Sunday, October 15, 2023

Embrace the Spooktacular and Enjoy the Season

Three carved pumpkins

As the air becomes crisp and cool and the leaves turn red and gold, there's no denying that Halloween is just around the corner. For teachers, this time of year provides a unique opportunity to engage students in the spirit of the season while imparting valuable lessons in culture, creativity, and community.

Halloween's Historical Roots
Before diving into the fun classroom activities, it's crucial to understand the historical origins of Halloween. Halloween, also known as All Hallows' Eve, has its roots in the Celtic festival of Samhain, marking the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter. Over time, it evolved into a day of remembrance for the dead and a time when the veil between the living and the deceased was believed to be at its thinnest.

The Magic of Dressing Up
One of the most beloved Halloween traditions is dressing up in costumes. Teachers can incorporate this tradition by organizing a voluntary costume day in their classrooms. This not only encourages creativity and imagination but also fosters a sense of unity among students. You can encourage students to make costumes from items they find at thrift stores to avoid the expense of commercial costumes. Students in grades 9-12 can fashion costumes that depict characters in books they have read.

Exploring Spooky Literature
Halloween is the perfect time to delve into spooky literature and read classic tales like Washington Irving's "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" or Edgar Allan Poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart" to your students. These stories not only capture the eerie essence of Halloween but also provide opportunities for discussing literary elements and critical thinking.

Community Involvement
Halloween is not just about costumes and candy; it's also about community. Encourage your students to take part in local Halloween events, parades, or charity initiatives like "Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF." This fosters a sense of responsibility and empathy among students.

Halloween is a time of year that bridges the gap between tradition and imagination. As teachers, you have the unique opportunity to use this season to engage students in a blend of history, culture, and creativity. 

By incorporating these Halloween traditions and customs into your classrooms, you can make learning a thrilling adventure that will last long beyond the spooky season. 

So, embrace the spooktacular and let Halloween light up your classroom with fun and learning!

I have three Halloween resources in my store that my students love. You might like to use them in your classrooms.

Halloween Song Writing Activity Print and Digital

In this fun Halloween Song-Writing Activity, students will enjoy changing the lyrics of familiar Christmas songs to spooky or funny Halloween songs. It offers a good way to work in practice with rhyme and syllables while students have fun.

Halloween Sentence Combining Activity Print and Digital

This activity provides the opportunity for writers to combine twenty clusters into twenty original sentences. All sentences in this exercise are about Halloween. It is a good exercise to help students compose sentences while enjoying the excitement of Halloween.

Sentence Patterns Grammar Worksheets for Halloween

This Halloween activity will teach your students to rewrite sentences without changing their meaning to achieve sentence variety. At the same time, they will be reminded of things that are associated with Halloween.

Thanks for reading,


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Sunday, September 17, 2023

Make a Good Impression

Have you ever wondered what your students might be thinking about you? 

Here are a few possibilities:

1.  Your breath is not fresh.
If you are engaged and interacting with your students, you will often lean in close to them to offer advice or encouragement. Be sure the tuna sandwich and ranch dressing chips you had for lunch do not offend. Keep some breath mints in your desk, pop one in your mouth, and keep your breath fresh. ( I can still remember my 6th grade teacher's offensive breath. Seriously? After all these years, you'd think I could forget.)

2.  Your voice is unpleasant.
Record your lessons for a few days and listen to the sound of your own voice. Are you too loud? Do you speak in a monotone? Do your words produce a singsong pattern? If so, practice making your voice more pleasant. 

3.  Your instructions are not clear.
Do your students ask you several questions before they begin to work? Are the questions ones that were already addressed in your instructions? If so, perhaps the wording in your instructions is not as clear as it could be. Anticipate the questions (even if they seem trivial) your students might ask , and include that information in your instructions.

5.  Your focus is not what it should be.
Are students cheating? Are they visiting and socializing when they should be working independently? If so, examine what you are doing. Are you walking around the room and interacting with your students, or are you typing on your computer or iPad, checking your email, or grading papers? Focus on the students who are acting out. Leave everything else until later. They will soon realize that you are aware of their actions, and they will get to work.

It is entirely possible that your students have never thought any of these things about you, but it helps to be aware of the possibility that one of these might be something you could improve upon.

Here are links to three FREE and two moderately priced lessons you might find helpful during the first few weeks of school. I hope you are off to a great start.

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Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Teaching the Short Story

Many ELA teachers begin with the short story. In fact, many of the state-adopted textbooks feature the short story as the first unit in the books.

To help you get a running start, I have several resources in my TPT store that will either help you teach the elements of the short story, teach story analysis, or teach your students how to write original short stories. 

Pick and choose from the lessons that would be most helpful to you and start your new school year stress-free with no-prep lessons. Just print and distribute. Some are digital and can be accessed in Google Drive or used in TPT Easel.

All are on sale today, August 29th, and tomorrow, August 30th at 20% off. Plus, if you enter the code BTSBONUS23 at checkout, TPT will take off another 5%, which means every resource in my store will be on sale for 25% off.

To save you time, I have included all the links to these products below so you can read the descriptions and see if any of these would be helpful to you.

Writing About Literature Bundle (12 activities)
All the resources below and more are included in this money-saving bundle.

Comparing and Contrasting Two Short Stories
Short Story with Comprehension Questions

Short Story Analysis with Study Questions

Three Ways Authors Reveal Characters

Create a Story Plan Creative Writing Activity

Point of View in Fiction Creative Writing Activity
Analyzing a Fictional Character Writing Activity

Here's a free activity for you. Using 3x5 Cards to Set Up Scenes Creative Writing Activity

I hope you have a great school year!

Thanks for reading,