Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Well...I Guess I Can Complain

Chief Visionary Officer of Collegiate EmPowerment, Anthony D’ Angelo said, “If you have time to whine and complain about something, then you have the time to do something about it.”

The problem is that I actually don’t have time today. I’ve got new syllabi to write, two work meetings, a speech to write for my best friend’s wedding, a yoga class, and I haven’t even unpacked from my weekend getaway.

So instead of taking the time to do something about poor grammar—like offer a lesson—I am just going to complain about it. (And let’s face it: it wouldn’t be the first time.)

The other day I was looking for studies to prove my theory that reading improves writing. I came upon a website that offered this gem:

Reading and writing are interrelated. Reading can improve grammer and vocabulary. Reading extensively can improve your grammer more that listening is able to do. It improves vocabulary and increases the likelyhood of using new words in speech and in writing. Reading also provides examples of new expressions, phrases and idioms that the reader can use.

(I’ve taken the liberty of highlighting the errors.)

To the credit of whoever wrote this, he or she never said reading can improve spelling.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Are You There, Stephenie? It's Me, Jenny.

I just realized today that I am a Twi-Hard.

I haven’t actually read any of the Twilight books. I did see the first movie once when I was flipping through cable. Is it me or was it totally creepy when Edward told Bella that he had been watching her sleep? I guess it was supposed to be romantic, but I wouldn’t be able to sleep if I knew that the guy I liked spent the whole evening watching me—especially in the beginning of a relationship when I’m still trying to impress him. I’d be too afraid that I would snore or drool or something.

However, despite the fact that I’ve never read the books and have issues with Edward’s stalker-like behavior, I want to call Ms. Meyer right now and beg her to write more Twilight books. It was only during the height of Twilight’s popularity that I remember seeing my students walking around with their noses in a book like Belle from Beauty and the Beast.

I just read in the news that SAT reading scores hit a 40-year low. But if young adults would read more, not only would their SAT scores improve, so would their grammar. Sure, I can teach them the grammar rules and have them practice by applying them to their own writing, but if they aren’t consistently exposed to grammatically sound writing, they probably won’t retain them.

The problem is that a lot of my students claim to HATE reading. My brain—the brain of someone whose only trophy is from a third grade read-a-thon— doesn’t quite comprehend that statement. It’s like when someone tells me they don’t like chocolate: I don’t believe them. I think they are just saying that because they’re on a diet and don’t want to admit it.

Is it really possible to hate reading?

Is it possible to hate chocolate?

What book would you challenge a self-proclaimed reading hater with?

P.S. Kelly Polark recently started a very cool blog that promotes literacy by letting us know what celebs are reading.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

If I Could Be Anyone...

Due to underfunded public schools and the fact that most teens curl up with an iPhone rather than a good book, many high school graduates don’t possess even the most basic writing skills. And as many of you know, a lot of these students end up in my college English class.

Because I sincerely care about my students’ education, I carefully construct lesson plans to keep them engaged. I write extensive comments on their essays. I use a purple pen instead of a red one because I heard that red ink intimidates students. I stay after class to help. And now I am grading the final essay—the essay I urged them to take seriously and proofread over and over because it represents the progress they made over the quarter –and guess what? THEY’RE STILL MAKING STUPID, CARELESS ERRORS!

Several students aren’t capitalizing the word I. They are sticking their semicolons in more random places than Tiger Woods stuck his, um, golf ball. One student even wrote that she doesn’t judge people based on their “raise.”


To balance out the terrible essay writing, Talli Roland's wonderful writing is being released today. Buy a copy of Willow on Amazon UK for £1.71, or on for $2.99.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The September Issue

I apologize if I’ve been relatively absent from the blogosphere in these early days of September, but I got myself involved in something that took a lot longer than I thought it would. But I did it: I finally made it through Vogue’s September issue. I’ll be honest with you; after the first 150 advertisements, I didn’t think I could do it anymore. It wasn’t just because my arms were giving out under the magazine’s weight, but I started to descend into the kind of depression that comes when you realize that a pair of shoes is worth more than you are.

But I had to read it because I love fashion, and the September issue is considered thee most important issue of the year. It’s full of all the must-have hats and boots and scarves and coats for the fall season. Landing the cover of a fashion magazine’s September issue is a great honor.

Since September’s not over yet, I have decided to throw my hat into the ring. My friend took these pics of me for her digital photography class, and I am going to post them here in the hopes that a fashion magazine editor will notice me.

I was hoping to make the cover of ElleMNOP, Glammar, or even Webster’s Bazaar.