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How The Language Of Special Education Is Evolving

The words we use and the ways we refer to people mirror — and shape — our perceptions, our attitudes, our behavior. So where to begin? The “r” word has fallen out of use and good riddance. “Handicapped,” too, for the most part. Generally we don’t refer to people as “disabled,” as in “he’s a disabled student.” One good rule of thumb: avoid adjectives. They too easily become labels. Instead,…

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What’s a Snollygoster? Even lexicographers are wrong sometimes

This is an amusing little story about how politics affects the English language. An obscure word that politicians and pundit like to use to refer to their opponents has faded in and out of use. The “wrong” move was removing the word from the dictionary recently, after which it made a comeback. (I’d still never heard of it.) As the dialectal furor faded, so too did snollygoster—so much so that…

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Using “Strive” as a Noun

Obviously I know what my students mean when they use “strive” as a noun, in phrases like “the strive for success.” I have noticed this more frequently in recent years. I do not think they are mishearing “strife” (which has the same linguistic root, but has negative connotations of violence and opposition, whereas the verb “strive” connotes dedication and progress). Is this a regionalism, like “that table needs washed,” or…

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Rubric for the Rubric Concerning Students’ Core Educational Competency In Reading Things In Books and Writing About Them.

Sadly, this only barely counts as satire. The Core Educational Competency In Reading Things In Books and Writing About Them requires that students demonstrate “critical thinking” and “critical reading” skills, but please note that this kind of cleverness should only be encouraged with regards to literary books. Aspects of life to which “critical thinking” and “critical reading” skills should not be applied are outlined in attachment 5, addendum 4.8.9.70. —McSweeney’s…

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Paper Titles: Inform by Stating your Topic and Position; Grab the Reader’s Interest If You Can

An effective research paper title will identify the limited subject of the essay, and the position the paper takes on the subject. It may also be useful to grab the reader’s interest with a brief quote or detail, but if your goal is to persuade your reader, your title will also need to inform. Your title is your first opportunity to persuade your reader. Don’t waste it. —Paper Titles: Inform by Stating your…

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High School Poems in a College Writing Workshop

Poems that you wrote in high school to celebrate a first love, work through a painful breakup, or say goodbye to friends at graduation may be of extreme personal value to you; but if such poems are historical artifacts — if you value them as definitive records of the way you felt at that time — they won’t work terribly well as submissions for college writing classes, since most professors…

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The Unstoppable Rise of the Digital Content Creator

This is why I have been encouraging blogging for years. Unlike social media posts, that are fodder that generate income for someone else, a blog lets you accrue content for yourself, on your own terms, building up your personal credibility as a source of reliable and timely links, commentary, and perspective. Of course you can create content on platforms other than your blog, but if you blog about that content,…