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Engaging Your Reader with Sentence Structure

Engaging Your Reader with Sentence Structure

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Engaging Your Reader with Sentence Structure

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  1. Engaging Your Reader with Sentence Structure Nik Nadeau, Writing Instructor Walden Writing Center

  2. Housekeeping • Questions • Tech trouble? http://support.citrixonline.com/en_US/GoToTraining • Recording: http://writingcenter.waldenu.edu/415.htm

  3. Webinar Overview What do we mean by “engaging”? How do we engage readers in our writing? Tools: • Syntax • Sentence structure • Punctuation Revision Tips: • Wordiness and redundancy • Active voice • Casual language • Transitions

  4. Engaging Your Reader Engage: “to hold the attention of” “to attract and hold by influence or power” “to induce to participate” Merriam-Webster Incorporated. (2013). Engage. Retrieved from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/engage

  5. Engaging Your Reader Based on feedback I have received, some students the act of researching, formulating, and writing out an argument as the opposite of a creative endeavor. Students’ perceptions of endless rules and formulae of academic prose can frighten even the most dedicated and hard-working writers. Most academics associate the words creative writing with the writing of fiction, or sometimes memoir and creative nonfiction, where the writer is in control of the basic structure and length of the piece. However, in academic work, organization and sentence structure are subject to certain arbitrary standards of length, diction, and clarity. Within these boundaries, however, students actually have significant freedom to write creatively. Students always tell me that researching is not creative; but, they are wrong! Creative writing is usually associated with nonfiction writing. Academic writing is usually associated with standard rules students have to follow. I always ask students “Why can’t you use the rules from academic writing to be creative?”.

  6. How do we engage our readers? • Syntax: The order in which words appear to form a sentence. • Sentence structure: The way phrases and clauses (idea chunks) combine to create a sentence. • Punctuation: Commas, periods, colons, and semicolons.

  7. Syntax: The way words are put together to form a sentence • Repetitive syntax can become burdensome Ex: Nurses care about their patients. Nurses who care about their patients are better nurses. Better nurses who care about their patients have better patient outcomes. • Varying syntax keeps your reader interested Ex: Nurses should care about their patients, and patients consider nurses who do so to be better nurses. These patients, in turn, often have better outcomes as well.

  8. Varying Syntax The subjects had 15 minutes to take the test. The subjects then had to seal the test in an envelope. The subjects did this to protect their anonymity. The subjects then handed the envelope to the moderator. The subjects had 15 minutes to take the test. Once completed, the subjects sealed their test in an envelope to protect their anonymity and then handed the envelope to the moderator. • Pros • Clear, correct grammar • Specific description of subjects’ steps • Cons • Boring • Repetitive • Clunky

  9. Sentence structure: The way you combine phrases and clauses to create a sentence. • Sentences consist of clauses and phrases • Mixing and matching clauses and phrases creates variety Teachers create less plans. Teachers can revise lesson plans. Students benefit from good teachers. Students learn more from good teachers.

  10. Sentence structure: The way you combine phrases and clauses to create a sentence. • Sentences consist of clauses and phrases • Mixing and matching clauses and phrases creates variety Teachers are responsible for creating and revising lesson plans. When teachers do this well, students benefit in many ways. One benefit can be increased learning.

  11. Sentence structure: The way you structure phrases and clauses to create a sentence. Counseling can be an emotionally draining profession, and counselors must ensure they take care of themselves before they will be able to take care of their patients. Because counseling can be emotionally draining, counselors must ensure they take care of themselves before they will be able to take care of their patients. Counselors must ensure they take care of themselves, because counseling can be emotionally draining, before they will be able to take care of their patients.

  12. Punctuation: Commas, periods, colons, and semicolons • Helps you vary sentence structure • Show different relationships between ideas. Management is responsible for accurate and effective communication; this includes telling employees about organizational changes. Management is responsible for accurate and effective communication, and this includes telling employees about organizational changes. Management, responsible for accurate and effective communication, must tell employees about organizational changes. Communication from management about organizational changes needs to have a few characteristics: accurate and effective.

  13. Now What?

  14. Are you engaged? Successful tech entrepreneurs eventually face a choice, known in Silicon Valley as an exit: either sell their start-ups to bigger companies or take them public. As we wrote on Monday, that decision can be painful and personal. And like Snapchat’s rejection of Facebook’s billion-dollar offer, it is often a high-stakes bet. New York Times Company. (2013, November 19). Start-up founders look beyond the usual options of selling or going public. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/11/19/start-up-founders-look-beyond-the-usual-options-of-selling-or-going-public/?_r=0

  15. Are you engaged? Selfies have become the catchall term for digital self-portraits abetted by the explosion of cellphone cameras and photo-editing and sharing services. Every major social media site is overflowing with millions of them. Everyone from the pope to the Obama girls has been spotted in one. In late August, Oxford Dictionaries Online added the term to its lexicon. Wortham, J. (2013, October 19). My selfie, myself. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/20/sunday-review/my-selfie-myself.html

  16. Say what? Much better! “In order to make efforts to create the possibility for 4-year graduation rates to increase by some extent over a period of time, the distinguished members of the Chelsea School District board will need to take many serious evaluative measures in an attempt to ask and answer the right questions about whether its educational enrichment programs are doing a good job in improving them and how there might be certain weaknesses keeping them from growing to a higher rate.” [Submit your own version via the Question Box.]

  17. Say what? Much better! “In order to make efforts to create the possibility for 4-year graduation rates to increase by some extent over a period of time, the distinguished members of the Chelsea School District board will need to take many serious evaluative measures in an attempt to ask and answer the right questions about whether its educational enrichment programs are doing a good job in improving them and how there might be certain weaknesses keeping them from growing to a higher rate.” “To successfully increase 4-year graduation rates, the Chelsea School District Board must first identify the weaknesses of its existing educational enrichment programs.”

  18. Questions?

  19. Revision Tips for Engaging Writing DON’T: Wordiness and redundancy DON’T: Avoid casual language DO: Transitional words and phrases DO: Use the active voice

  20. DON’T: Wordiness 35 Accelerated Reader (AR) and Accelerated Math (AM) are curriculum-based instructional software monitoring systems produced by Renaissance Learning, Inc.that support differentiated instruction and assist education professionals in meeting the diverse needs of their student populations. Accelerated Reader (AR) and Accelerated Math (AM), examples of Renaissance Learning, Inc.’s assessment tools, support differentiated instruction and assist teachers in meeting the diverse needs of students. 27 32 In conjunction with the formal diagnostic curriculum-based instructional software monitoring system, AM is comprised of utilizing the classroom mathematics textbook and computer-generated mathematics exercises individually produced for students' individual mathematic skill levels. In conjunction with the assessment tools, AM uses the classroom mathematics textbook and students’ individual computer-generated exercises to test mathematic skill levels. 22

  21. DON’T: Wordiness Unnecessary adverbs like very and really often give a sentence an informal, embellished tone. • If you feel the need to add adverbs, you may actually need to add more information or examples to illustrate or emphasize a point

  22. DON’T: Wordiness Circumlocution is a roundabout way of saying what you want to say (using several words to say something simple).

  23. DON’T: Wordiness Redundancy refers to repeated information. While sometimes useful to link sections or ideas, avoid repeating information when unnecessary.

  24. DON’T: Casual Language Clichés and colloquialisms cannot be universally translated and might confuse some readers. Instead, use straightforward and literal language.

  25. DO: Transitions Use transitions to guide the reader from one sentence to the next.

  26. No Clear Transitions DO: Transitions There is a problem within public schools today regarding meeting No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation. NCLB mandates that all children achieve benchmark levels for the subject areas of reading and mathematics. Standardized test scores typically do not reflect successful attainment. The cause is the traditional teaching practice toward a single approach to learning instead of the differentiated instruction practice of teaching toward a variety of modalities (Tomlinson, 2001, p. 2). Traditional instruction has not worked for all students. The focus of this study is to explore how teachers can best make use of differentiated instruction to help childrenlearn.

  27. DO: Transitions Added Transitions Types: Transitional phrases, punctuation, repeated key words Within public schools today there is a problem regarding meeting No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation. Traditionally, NCLB mandates that all students achieve benchmark levels for the subject areas of reading and mathematics;however, standardized test scores show that typically students do not achieve these benchmarks. The cause for this lack of achievement is the traditional teaching practice toward a single approach to student learning instead of the differentiated instruction practice of teaching toward a variety of modalities (Tomlinson, 2001, p. 2). Thus far, traditional instruction has not worked for allstudents. Because of this lack of achievement, the focus of this study is to explore how teachers can best make use of differentiated instruction to help all students learn.

  28. DO: Active Voice Active voice means the subject of the sentence performs the action that the verb expresses. Passive voice puts the emphasis on the object, as the “doer” or actor of the sentence isn’t stated or clear.

  29. Further Resources • “Catering to the Short Attention Span in Syntax” by Rachel Grammer • “Using Verbs Carefully” by Annie Pezalla • “Steer Your Reader Right with Effective Transitions” by Kayla Skarbakka • “Transitioning into Better Writing” by Sarah Prince • Transitions page on our website • Active and Passive Voice page on our website • “Cohesion and Flow: Bringing Your Paper Together” archived webinar

  30. Questions? Now: Type into the Question box Later: Didn’t get to your question? Enter it in the survey after the webinar closes. Anytime: writingsupport@waldenu.edu