Hello again from Southern Oregon!† The fires are out, and rains have returned,
but what would you expect?† It is Oregon
after all.† School should be well
underway.† I hope you have a great year!
JUST FOR FUN††††††††††††††††††††† student
COMMON ERRORS† ††††††††††† contraction issues
ANOTHER ROUND†††††††††††††† educational
RECENT READS†††††††††††††††††† a
few from me
The vocabulary books have been reprinted.† In the new printing a note about getting the
major tests from me will appear.† You can
still email me at
to get a set of
major vocabulary tests for Jensenís
Vocabulary.† I am the only source for
these tests.† They are free, but you will
have to print them off.† Each set
includes the test and the answers.
The format writing book has been reprinted. †There are no changes of substance happened for
either the vocabulary or the writing books.
One item of interest was an order from a local public school
for my vocabulary books.† I used to teach
at that school back in the 1970ís.† I
mentioned that to the office manager.†
She responded, ďI know, you were my teacher.Ē† When she told me her maiden name, I remembered
her, so it was some fun to go back to the old school and hand deliver a set of
vocabulary books.† God is good!
JUST FOR FUN
TEACHER: Why are you late?
STUDENT: Class started before I got here.
TEACHER: John, why are you doing your math multiplication
on the floor?
JOHN: You told me to do it without using tables.
TEACHER: Glenn, how do you spell crocodile?
TEACHER: No, thatís wrong.
GLENN: Well, you asked me how I spell it.
TEACHER: Donald, what is the chemical formula for
DONALD: H I J K L M N O.
TEACHER: What are you talking about?
DONALD: Yesterday you said it was H to O.
TEACHER: Winnie, name one important thing we have
today that we didnít have ten years ago.
TEACHER: Millie, start a sentence starting with I.
MILLIE: I is..
TEACHER: No, Millie, always say, ďI am.Ē
MILLIE: All right, I am the ninth letter of the
TEACHER: Now, Simon, tell me frankly, do you say
prayers before eating?
SIMON: No sir, I donít have to; my Mom is a good
TEACHER: Clyde, your composition on ďMy DogĒ is
exactly the same as your brotherís. †Did
you copy his?
CLYDE : No, sir, itís the same dog.
TEACHER: Harold, what do you call a person who keeps
on talking when people are no longer interested?
HAROLD: A teacher?
thought of titling this article ďHomonym HeadachesĒ or ďContraction
Confusion.Ē† What follows will explain
the advent of social media, tweets, texts and blogs, a lot more public writing
is going on by average folks, especially younger folks.† I suppose it is a good thing that people are
writing more, but it also shows me that the writing skills of many are in
disarray.† While what is said isnít the
issue here, I must admit that someone being at the mall or sharing that they
are enjoying a cup of gourmet coffee isnít high on my list of interesting
things to read.† The real problem for me
is seeing all the errors.† Letís just
look at the homonym errors.
a monster,Ē said Jim as he took its picture.
speech itís and its sound the same; there is no distinction.† In writing they donít look the same; there is
a distinction.† How does one know whether
to use its or itís?† Itís simple; the
apostrophe in itís stands for a
missing letter.† Itís does not show possession.†
Itís is the shortened form of it is.
we can tell from the example sentence when to use the apostrophe form.
is a monster,Ē said Jim as he took it is picture.
the first case, it is sounds good;
hence, we use the apostrophe.† In the
second case, it is is obviously
wrong, so no apostrophe would be correct.
the little words that are used a lot that cause the confusion.† The your
and youíre homonyms are another set
that are often misused.† The same principal
is in use here; the apostrophe shows the omission of a letter; the regular
pronoun shows possession.
going to see your mother after school.
are going to see you are mother after school.
first you are works; the second
doesnít.† The first use is an example of
a letter left out; the second use is the simple pronoun possessive.
going and in whose car?
is another pair of confused words.† They
follow the same pattern, a contraction and a possessive pronoun that sound
alike.† Whoís is really a contraction for who is.† Whose is the possessive; it shows ownership.
now letís add a third word into the mix: there,
their, and theyíre.† The first word has a different meaning.† There
refers to a place, but it can also be used to start a sentence.
looked over there.
were five boys at the race.
other two words are the same familiar grouping, a contraction and a possessive
Their is the
kids saw their dog running towards them.
Theyíre is a
contraction for they are.
(they are) going to have fun at the park.
summary, hereís the key?† When you see
the wrds who, they, it, or you with an apostrophe, supply the
letter that is missing.† If the sentence
sounds good with the missing letter supplied, then the apostrophe form is
time to go. †††It is time to go. ††††††††††† ††(yes)
saw itís picture.†† He saw it is
rule is so simple, yet so many people misuse these forms.† I wonder if the distinctions are even taught.† Well, at least now those of you reading this
know the differences and can teach them to those who donít.† After all if youíre teaching these, itís a
good bet that your students will improve their writing skills, and whoís to
argue with that?
Having been in the
education field since the late 1960ís, Iíve seen fads in education come and
go.† Of course, these fads are all guised
in the clothing of the next best thing for kids and bringing all children up to
speed in their basic skills.
Common Core, the latest
fad to hit the education marketplace, has the same goal: standardize and
improve the educational experience of all students.† It sounds good in theory; in practice I think
it is just another effort by the politicians and educrats to influence the education
and training of young people across America.
The first craze I
encountered was when our district, and I believe most of Oregon, got all
wrapped up with performance indicators.†
Each grade, at least in the English curriculum, had a series of these markers
in which the students had to show proficiency.†
One I remember was that the student had to be able to find the various
parts of a newspaper and discern between editorials, news stories, and
advertisements.† Of course, as teachers
we had to teach all this stuff and then give the students a standardized test
and make sure they passed it.
Teaching for the
PIís trumped everything.† This lasted for
a few years and then suddenly slipped away.†
In English, reading lists changed.†
Lots of dead white guys fell off the lists to be replaced by more modern
writers, many of whom reflected minority backgrounds and diverse cultural
Core is just the new iteration of change.†
It replaced No Child Left Behind.†
I predict it wonít last.† However,
the taxpayers will have to pay for all those new texts, and the teachers will
all have to get training.† Unfortunately,
all students will see the standardized tests change to reflect these new
measures.† Thus home schools and private
schools wonít be able to totally circumvent the issue.
tells us there is no standard person; we are all individuals.† Why not reflect that with localized control
and individual direction for education instead of some federally imposed
Below you will find some short reviews
of my last quarterís reading. †Summer is
a busy time, so I donít always get a book read every week.† However, here are my titles and comments on
the books I did read.
ďThough I may speak with bravest fire,
and have the gift to all inspire,
and have not love, my words are vain,
as sounding brass, and hopeless gain.Ē
1.† This newsletter is
posted quarterly on the website, and it is emailed free to those who wish to
2.† Remember, if you
have questions, I am only an email away,
.† I am your support, so use me when the need
3. After the first of the year, two or three of the titles
will disappear from the major retailers.†
I will have a very few copies left and will sell them until they are
gone.† However, I am not going to reprint
4.† The next issue of
Smithy Notes is scheduled for distribution this coming winter, Lord willing.†
BY HIS GRACE,