Do you think it’s too late to start your novel? Compare yourself with these bestselling authors.
Infographic courtesy of Robert Morris. Source.
I love education. I love education technology. I also love writing.
I know there are some genuine people out there who love freelance writing. There are some people with a voice and no platform.
I was flattered when my blog received enough attention in the blogosphere to have people emailing me guest posts. It still flatters me. I figured with some solid guest post guidelines I’d get some good content. Unfortunately, spammers thought differently.
Take for instance, content. The guidelines kept getting more and more specific because I’d receive submission with titles like these:
Or the one who thought I’d pay him to blog on my site?
I’m looking for a paid post on your site, here I can provide you with a well researched content. Let me know how much you charge for a do-follow link within the content?
Make it reasonable so I’ll come up with regular post.
Yeah, not happening, buddy. Not to mention the do-follow link is also not happening.
There were other submitters who didn’t think I’d Google sections of the article. It was obviously plagiarized. This is an education blog! Please cite sources. And yes, that includes the “artwork” you sent along with the article.
Speaking of plagiarism…I’m not going to support essay writing services. Also, I don’t believe for one second that you’ll give me “100% original content” as long as I promise to backlink to BuyCheapOriginalPapers.com or DontWriteItBuyIt.com. Especially after reading the essay and my inner English teacher cries at its lack of organization, use of mechanics, and overall content.
On other occasions, the email that accompanied the submission was rather rude. For example,”[k]indly check and publish it on your website. Also do inform me once it is done”. Umm, what? Okay, to be fair, these were probably errors in translation.
But you’d expect if the email was some of the worst butchered English, the article would be so full of grammar and spelling mistakes that it would be difficult to read, right? WRONG! No obvious errors. Yeah, I don’t believe you wrote that. Maybe you’ve got a robot that spit that out, but I know you certainly didn’t write it.
It was also strange to have someone with a personal email address submit an article with someone else’s name in the author biography. When confronted, the emailer stated the bylined writer was “on my team”. Why can’t the bylined writer send it? sniff sniff Something smells fishy to me.
And, so, dear readers, it is with a frustrated heart that I requirements for guest posts will become stricter and sadly, more subjective. If it doesn’t exactly follow the guidelines, denied. If I suspect plagiarism, denied. If I don’t like it, denied.
So what can you do if you really want to submit a guest post?
I still love the idea of guest posts. I still will accept guest posts. It will just be rarer now. So what can you do? Follow the guidelines. Email me a review of a web 2.0 technology using a Prezi or a Glogster. Even better, review that technology using that technology…for example, a review of YouTube in a YouTube video. Explain in the email why you want to submit this to Teaching & Technology. Of course I’ll backlink to a social media account, if its appropriate for K-12 audience. I’m a one-person operation. If your post can contribute to keeping Teaching & Technology a quality blog, then I want to know about it. If not, then find another blogger to bother.
Guest Post by: AussieWriter
Famous writers are humans with their own weaknesses and peculiarities. And sometimes they can’t resist the temptation to insult their colleagues. It’s difficult to say was it mostly because of personal reasons or professional ones. But all in all, great writers remain creative even in sharing these insulting characteristics. This infographic from AussieWriter depicts some of the most figurative among them.
Guest Post by: Cindy Bates
Writing is a skill that one cannot learn or acquire overnight. The best way to further enhance your writing skill is to make use of certain techniques and to form habits that will make you become an excellent writer. Almost all of the best and famous writers in the world share the same habits and techniques. Not all of them were able to write their masterpiece in their first try. The very first thing that you have to do is to never be afraid to write down your thoughts. Whether it is about your life your perception things or something you have observed; the key to effective writing is to let your thoughts be heard and to bring out your creativity. Many top-notch writers have their own personal journals where they write down just about anything that happens to their lives. Everyday, they set a certain minimum number of words and from there, they continue the habit and practice their skills.
Guest Poster’s Source: http://www.
For many schools in Michigan, today was the first day back to school. So many students will go to school in the morning and feel behind by the time they return home in the afternoon. They wonder, how can I be behind on the first day of school?
Don’t feel like the only choice is homework assistance and essay writing sites. Those sites are not there to help you—they encourage you to plagiarize someone else’s work, leading to suspensions and expulsions.
Why You Shouldn’t Use Essay Writing Sites
In a very particular order…
A Quick Review of Plagiarism
What is the definition of “to plagiarize”? The Merriam-Webster dictionary’s quick definition is: “to use the words or ideas of another person as if they were your own words or ideas”. Their full definition is broken down into both the transitive and intransitive forms.
transitive verb: to steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one’s own : use (another’s production) without crediting the sourceintransitive verb
: to commit literary theft : present as new and original an idea or product derived from an existing source
So…according to the full definition, plagiarism is taking someone else’s words without their permission and passing them off as your own.
But let’s split hairs…
What if you paid your friend to write it. Or, what if you bought the essay? Technically, you had it “ghostwritten” and they gave permission, right? You paid them…aren’t the words yours now? (Hint: No, not in an academic setting.)
What does plagiarism look like?
The University of Illinois Springfield has a detailed guide (with examples) explaining all about plagiarism. But let’s just look at their headings…
In that last section they specifically give the examples, “If you purchase an essay from the internet, a writer (including a TA or GA), or another student, you are plagiarizing.” and “If you pay your roommate, friend, brother, sister, mom, TA/GA, or anyone else to write your paper, you are plagiarizing.”
Essay Writing Sites to Avoid
Okay, so you finally understand. Don’t buy that research paper. Spend the time and do it. If necessary, spend that money you would have spent on a paper on a good tutor to help you with your paper. Now the question is, which homework help and essay writing sites should you avoid?
Below is a non-comprehensive list of sites found through a few Google searches. There are no links to these sites because Teaching & Technology does not advocate the use of these sites and will not add to their Google Page Rank by linking to them. Add any more you find to the comments section or email me.
I’m only on the 3rd page of a Google search that resulted in 27,800,000 results. I think I’ll stop. Many of these sites sounds disreputable and those that sound like honest companies…they many in fact be. However, if you turn in a paper that you purchased and don’t acknowledge the other writer, in an academic setting, it is plagiarism.
There are many ideas not worth promoting; however, there is just as many worth promoting. One of these ideas that is worth promoting is literacy.
- Low literacy affects more people that you think. About 22 percent of American adults have minimal literacy skills, which prevents them from effectively communicating. (National Center for Educational Statistics)
- Low literacy is correlated with chronic unemployment. 50 percent of the chronically unemployed are not functionally literate, which prevents them from maintaining jobs. (Ohio Literary Resource Center)
- Low literacy is correlated with imprisonment. 65 percent of prison inmates (or one million Americans) have low literacy. (Literacy Partners)
- Low literacy is correlated with poverty. 43 percent of Americans with low literacy are impoverished, lacking basic reading and writing skills to help them overcome their situations. (Literacy Partners)
- Low literacy affects the American economy. Experts estimate that low literacy costs the American economy $225 billion a year in lost productivity. Improved workplace literacy can increase employees’ efficiency, effectiveness, and productivity on the job. (Reach Higher, America)
Being able to read and write, in other words, being literate, will affect you paycheck. Yes, good grammar will get you promoted.
So this next school year, pay attention to your English teachers—they want you to earn a higher paycheck in the future!
On October 10, 2012, Slate ran an article about the writing portion of the SAT standardized test and its effects on high school and first-year college level writing. While many facts and ideas mentioned are not new, it is the combination of them and the message of the article that is very striking.
The article, “We Are Teaching High School Students to Write Terribly” by Matthew J.X. Malady is available to read on Slate’s website. Additionally, I have copy and pasted the article below. Links within article are original to the article.
This past Saturday, several hundred thousand prospective college students filed into schools across the United States and more than 170 other countries to take the SAT—$51 registration fees paid, No. 2 pencils sharpened, acceptable calculators at the ready. And as part of the three-hour-and-45–minute ritual, each person taking the 87-year-old test spent 25 minutes drafting a prompt-based essay for the exam’s writing section.
This essay, which was added to the SAT in 2005, counts for approximately 30 percent of a test-taker’s score on the writing section, or nearly one-ninth of one’s total score. That may not seem like much, but with competition for spots at top colleges and universities more fierce than ever, performance on a portion of the test worth around 11 percent of the total could be the difference between Stanford and the second tier. So it’s not surprising that students seek strategies and tips that will help them succeed on the writing exercise. Les Perelman, the recently retired former director of MIT’s Writing Across the Curriculum program, has got a doozy.
To do well on the essay, he says, the best approach is to just make stuff up.
“It doesn’t matter if [what you write] is true or not,” says Perelman, who helped create MIT’s writing placement test and has consulted at other top universities on the subject of writing assessments. “In fact, trying to be true will hold you back.” So, for instance, in relaying personal experiences, students who take time attempting to recall an appropriately relatable circumstance from their lives are at a disadvantage, he says. “The best advice is, don’t try to spend time remembering an event,” Perelman adds, “Just make one up. And I’ve heard about students making up all sorts of events, including deaths of parents who really didn’t die.”
This approach works, and is advisable, he suggests, because of how the SAT essay is structured and graded. Here’s a typical essay prompt taken from the College Board website. It follows a short, three-sentence passage noting that people hold different views on the subject to be discussed:
Assignment: Do memories hinder or help people in their effort to learn from the past and succeed in the present? Plan and write an essay in which you develop your point of view on this issue. Support your position with reasoning and examples taken from your reading, studies, experience, or observations.
After spending a few moments reading a prompt similar to that one, test takers have 25 minutes in which to draft a submission that will be scored on a 1-to-6 scale. (No scratch paper is provided for outlining or essay planning.) Most students choose to write what is referred to as “the standard five-paragraph essay”: introductory and concluding paragraphs bookending three paragraphs of support in between. Each essay is later independently graded by two readers in a manner that harkens to the famous I Love Lucy scene wherein Lucy and Ethel attempt to wrap chocolate candies traveling on an unrelenting conveyer belt.
Anne Ruggles Gere, a professor at the University of Michigan, serves as director of the Sweetland Center for Writing, which oversees first-year writing at the university. She speaks with SAT essay-graders often. “What they tell me is that they go through a very regimented scoring process, and the goal of that process is to produce so many units of work in a very short period of time,” she says. “So if they take more than about three minutes to read and score these essays, they are eliminated from the job of scoring.” According to Perelman, especially speedy graders are rewarded for their efforts. “They expect readers to read a minimum of 20 essays an hour,” he says. “But readers get a bonus if they read 30 essays an hour, which is two minutes per essay.”
Gere and Perelman aren’t the only ones who know about the demands placed upon SAT essay graders. Many students do, too. Those with a firm grasp of what time-pressured essay-readers care about—and, to be sure, what things they don’t care about—can increase their chances at a high score by resorting to all sorts of approaches that are, shall we say, less than ideal. For starters, facts don’t just take a back seat when it comes to describing personal experiences on the SAT essay; they don’t matter in general.
“There’s really no concern about factual accuracy,” says Gere. “In fact, the makers of the SAT have indicated that in scoring it really doesn’t matter if you say that the War of 1812 occurred in 1817. The complete lack of attention to any kind of accuracy of information conveys a very strange notion of what good writing might be.”
That’s one way of putting it. Perelman, who has trained SAT takers on approaches for achieving the highest possible essay score, has another.
“What they are actually testing,” he says, “is the ability to bullshit on demand. There is no other writing situation in the world where people have to write on a topic that they’ve never thought about, on demand, in 25 minutes. Lots of times we have to write on demand very quickly, but it’s about things we’ve thought about. What they are really measuring is the ability to spew forth as many words as possible in as short a time as possible. It seems like it is training students to become politicians.”
Graders don’t have time to look up facts, or to check if an especially uncommon word actually exists, or perhaps even to do anything more than skim an essay before making a grading determination. Score-savvy essay writers can figure out what might catch the eye of a skimmer.
“I tell students to always use quotations, because the exam readers love quotations,” Perelman says. “One of the other parts of the formula is use big words. Never use many, always use myriad or plethora. Never say bad, always use egregious.”
Of course, according the College Board website that millions of students have used to prepare for the exam, “there are no shortcuts to success on the SAT essay.” And the country’s largest test prep company, Kaplan, does not teach such approaches. (Disclosure: Kaplan is owned by the soon-to-be-renamed Washington Post Company, which also owns Slate.)
Kaplan’s director of SAT and ACT programs, Colin Gruenwald, tutors students, helps write the company’s curriculum, and trains Kaplan teachers. He says throwing around “big words” in an attempt to influence essay readers is an unnecessarily risky endeavor. He insists that the scoring model is a holistic one that focuses on the overall impression of one’s writing skills. “The point is to demonstrate that you have command of the language, that you are able, in a pressure environment, to sit down and formulate coherent and persuasive thoughts,” he says. Students need to include certain components, he notes. “But that’s not a trick. That’s not a gimmick. That’s just good education.”
Whether verifiably true facts, or an argument that supports a position one actually believes in, are among those necessary components is unclear. What if, for instance, a student comes across an essay prompt that she has a strong opinion about, but can think of better arguments for the opposing position? “The positive side to writing what you believe is that you are more likely to be enthusiastic and passionate,” Gruenwald says. “The ideas may come more smoothly. You may be able to make a very compelling argument. But if you find that there is the side you agree with, but then there is the side that you can come up with a list of really good points for, take the side that you can come up with the list of really good points for. That’s just good demonstration. Because what you are trying to do is demonstrate that you have the writing competency to succeed at the college level. That’s not really dependent upon your opinion of the subject.” And, he admits, “It’s not even related to your grasp of the facts, necessarily.”
For university educators like Perelman and Gere, such realities become part of a trickle-down-type problem. Because of the great importance students, parents, and college admissions officers place on the SAT—as well as the large sums of money that many families spend on outside test prep—high school writing instructors are placed in a bind. “Teachers are under a huge amount of pressure from parents to teach to the test and to get their kids high scores,” Perelman says. They sometimes have to make a choice, he adds, between teaching writing methods that are rewarded by SAT essay-readers—thereby sending worse writers out into the world—or training pupils to write well generally, at the risk of parent complaints about their kids not being sufficiently prepared for the SAT. “And sometimes when they get that pushback, that means they don’t get a promotion, or get a lower raise. So it actually costs them to be principled. You’re putting in negative incentives to be good teachers.”
Gere says the end result of that dynamic shows up when students arrive at college. “I think it’s a very large problem, one that I’m concerned about, and one that we deal with a lot here,” she adds. “What happens is in first-year writing, the typical pattern is that students come in pretty well equipped to write the five-paragraph essay, and much of first-year writing is a process of undoing that.”
College professors, according to Gere, expect their students to be able to demonstrate evidence-based argument in their writing. This involves reading and synthesizing materials that offer multiple perspectives, and writing something that shows students are able to navigate through conflicting positions to come up with a nuanced argument. For those trained in the five-paragraph, non-fact-based writing style that is rewarded on the SAT, shifting gears can be extremely challenging. “The SAT does [students] no favors,” Gere says, “because it gives them a diminished view of what writing is by treating it as something that can be done once, quickly, and that it doesn’t require any basis in fact.”
The result: lots of B.S.
“In our placement tests, you see this all the time, where people continue the B.S., because they just assume that’s what works,” says Perelman. “I think [the SAT essay] creates damage, that it’s harmful.”
College Board President David Coleman just might agree. In September, Coleman seemed to concede that something is amiss with the essay. He raised the possibility of an essay revamp as part of a 2015 SAT overhaul that would focus the writing exercise more on students’ ability to critically analyze a piece of text and craft an essay that draws on the information provided.
That sort of change may seem like a good place to start. (Would it be too much to ask for some scratch paper, too?) But Gere says we should watch what we wish for with respect to changes to the essay format. She notes that as rushed and crazy-seeming as the SAT essay-scoring process is, the fact that real-live humans are reading and grading the essays is a positive. Computerized scoring is now used to grade writing submitted as part of the GMAT and TOEFL exams, among others. And that method of essay-scoring has come under fire from the National Council of Teachers of English and others for an array of alleged deficiencies—including an overemphasis on word lengths and other measurables, inaccurate error recognition, and a failure to reward creativity.
An SAT essay based on a longer passage with more detail and a constrained set of acceptable response options would likely result in written works that are much more amenable to machine scoring than the current essays. The forthcoming attempt to “fix” the SAT essay may be less about using a model that better lends itself to more valid assessments of students’ writing skills, or turning out better writers, and more about saving money and time by eventually replacing human essay graders with machines.
“It seems to me pretty clear that’s where the SAT is headed,” Gere says. “So it goes from bad to worse, actually.”
And although other standardized tests—such as the LSAT and certain Advanced Placement exams—include essay components that differ from the SAT in terms of what skills are being tested and how writing submissions are scored, those alternative methods are not without their critics. So there would appear to be no standardized-test-essay panacea.
Kaplan’s Gruenwald notes that there have been rumblings about making the SAT essay optional. And some, he says, have suggested doing away with it altogether. Perelman would have no problem with that option. He notes that there’s one thing he tells every student working to achieve a high score on the SAT essay. “Use this [approach] on the exam,” he says, “but never write like this again.”
Matthew J.X. Malady is a writer and editor living in Manhattan. You can follow him on Twitter @matthewjxmalady.
A few weeks ago I saw a video on Facebook titled “Indoctrination in Common Core ELA textbooks”. It was posted on June 15 by Aliēnātus: the truth is out there. The goal was to open people’s minds to what was in the Common Core curriculum and that the curriculum is horrible because it “indoctrinates” students starting in the 1st grade. According to the commentators in the video, the book(s) shown have been approved by the state of Utah.
I was outraged, but not by the curriculum, rather by the ignorance of the commentators in the video and by the comments on the video. It still outrages me, thus, I have decided to embedded the video and share my thoughts.
My Issues with Statements Made in This Video
The commentators have no authority on the subject matter. The commentators who are evaluating the curriculum have no stated background in teaching, curriculum planning/design, or education. One commentator claims he has a 6-year-old (1st grader). This does NOT make him an expert on what is taught or should be taught but isn’t being taught in the 1st grade. It is apparent that he has not seen the entire K-12 system as a whole, its successes and its failures, from the standpoint of an educator. He is a parent. He may be an expert on the interests of his child, but that does not translate into the expertise of the educational goals for that grade.
The commentators’ narrow focus on the title, “Literature and Writing” ignores the benefits of working with content in different contexts. Since the commentators are not well-versed in educational issues, they do not understand that one of the major problems of the American school system is that we pulled apart our content and put each one into different boxes called grade level and subject matter from which we were told to never deviate into another subject or grade level. In other words, the 1st grade English teacher taught 1st grade English, which included reading, spelling, writing, and literature. Students were not taught reading in 2nd grade science class because “that’s the 1st grade English teacher’s job.” We now know this chunking to be very problematic and the term “cross-curricular” has entered the educational vocabulary. Encouraging students to write about advocacy in a “literature and writing” class highlights that you don’t just write papers in an English class and talk about society in social studies, you can mix them!
It’s also important to note that writing is not just about the motor skills of writing letters and sentence structure. Why should we waste students’ precious time writing about insignificant things like, “The sky is blue. I like puppies,” when they are capable of so much more? Many students have already grasped these basic verbal concepts by the 1st grade, thus, we are wasting their time by re-teaching the same concept with only adding the motor skill of writing. We end up hindering the grow of their mental skills; and when their brain isn’t stimulated, students get bored, which can directly lead to learning, “nothing” all day and hating school.
The commentators project their adult understanding and definition of “advocacy” and cannot fathom that a 6-year-old can advocate for anything. The concept of “advocacy” can be complicated or boiled down to a very simple basic element: standing up for what you think is right. Isn’t that the exact same message behind the anti-bullying campaigns in elementary schools right now? The commentators laugh and one says sarcastically, “Yeah, my six-year-old does that all the time. She looks at what is wrong in the world and says how do I organize my people and my community to fix these social problems?” By six years old, kids are able to identify things that are right and wrong as well as come up with ideas on how to change the status quo. Why tell a six-year-old, “no, you’re only six, you have nothing positive to contribute to your family/house, neighborhood, your school, or your city”? We’re not talking about six-year-olds organizing and starting a national revolution, but they can see that there are people who are starving and that creating a community garden and donating the food to a local food bank can help. It’s also fathomable that 1st graders could organize a school-wide blanket drive to donate blankets to the American Red Cross for the upcoming winter.
The commentators ignore the intended audience of the curriculum guidebook that they mock. The guidebook is written for a college-educated educator. The voice and style of the paragraphs is written such that it will not be an insult to the intelligence of an elementary school teacher. The educator is able to translate the broad concept of “call to action” into simpler words that each individual student will understand. The concept of “call to action” really isn’t difficult to understand at all. A six-year old definitely understands, “the sentence that says ‘I want you to clean your room.’ is a call to action because ‘clean’ is a verb, and a verb is an action, right?” Why are we insulting the intelligence of six-year-olds? If they are capable of understanding the concept, willing to learn it, and desiring more out of their education, then we should be teaching them. It is the role of an educated, effective teacher to translate concepts from complex to simple. Teacher guidebooks are written for the teacher, not the student.
The commentators have ignored the basic principles of persuasion: logos, ethos, and pathos. Logos ethos, and pathos are Greek words that used to describe the three types of appeal that are used to convince people in an argument. They are essentially logical appeal, credibility appeal, and emotional appeal. These are very complex subjects that are repeatedly studied throughout middle school, high school, and college. However, the commentators do not understand that the fundamental understanding of these complex concepts must begin early. Since the commentators do not seem to have an education background, they have not experienced the problems that occur later when this ground work is not laid. An effective elementary teacher is able to teach a very basic understanding of these concepts.
The commentators have ignored the value of recognizing how someone is manipulating you in favor of focusing on the fact that we are equipping 1st graders with tools to manipulate. A six-year-old has already experienced manipulation using all three types of appeal: in video and/or print advertisements, in overhearing an argument between their parents or other adults, or by engaging in an argument themselves. It is imperative that students begin to understand how peer pressure works (usually a combination of all three, but typically lots of logical and emotional appeal) and how to avoid failing prey to it.
The commentators take issue with the example of arguing with their parents. My gut instinct is that the reason parents were chosen is that they were looking for an authority figure that a child may feel comfortable arguing with, and it’s pretty safe to assume that each child has at least one parent (or guardian). But I think the bigger problem is if you are worried that we are teaching six-year-olds how to argue back to their parents instead of simply obeying and doing as their told without incident…perhaps you need to re-evaluate your parenting style. I mean..if you can be outsmarted or outargued by a six-year-old…then you probably have not taught your kids WHY you want them to do something, which is just as important as the WHAT. Why don’t we want to equip our children as early as we can with the weapon of words instead of the weapon of fists? Why do we want to enforce blind obedience, but then wonder why kids aren’t thinking for themselves?
The commentators fall victim to the exact “problems” they criticize in the teacher’s guidebook. The commentators emphasize and pause on certain words to elicit an emotional response from the viewer. They are trying to convince the viewers that this guidebook is indoctrinating students by using their “authority” as a parent of a six year old, emphasizing emotional words, and trying to insert sarcastic commentary as part of their emotional appeal. The end goal of this video was not to objectively review the Common Core approved, curriculum guidebook for 1st grade in the state of Utah, but it was to stir up emotions and fuel rage-filled comments.