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High School — Writing
Writing Conventions

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    Writing Conventions

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      Activities: Help with Fundamentals

      These activities can help you address the fundamentals of Writing Conventions with your students.

      Simplified Spelling

      Early in the 20th century, a controversy emerged as several American thinkers, leaders and writers argued that conventional spelling should be replaced by simplified spelling. Organize students into an even number of teams and ask them to debate whether to replace English spelling with simplified spelling. Assign each team a pro or con position and an opposing team. As they prepare their arguments, encourage the teams to explore print and/or online resources on the simplified spelling controversy.

      This exercise aims to stimulate discussion about the importance of spelling in daily life. Viewing examples of simplified spelling (such as "a simplifíd speling sistem for the Inglish languaj shood be clér and consistent, and yet retain sum degre uv familiarity) might also illustrate the importance of efficient, universal spelling to clear communication.

      Punctuate the Conversation

      Pair your students and ask them to talk in turn about their plans for the weekend. Record these exchanges and ask the groups to transcribe their tapes, punctuating the sentences based on the inflection, pauses and emotions reflected in the speaker's voice. Discuss the way that punctuation conveys to a reader the flow of conversational speech.

      Internet Grammar Scavenger Hunt

      Ask students to create a class list of useful Web sites that offer helpful pointers, activities or guidelines for understanding common grammar structures (gerunds, infinitives, verb tenses, etc.). Have each student find a site for each item on the scavenger hunt list. Ask them to evaluate each site according to the following criteria:

      • Authority: Who is the author and what are his or her qualifications?
      • Timeliness: Is the information current? When was it posted and/or last updated?
      • Orderliness: Is the page arranged in an order that makes sense?
      • Clarity: Is the information clearly stated? Does the author define important grammatical terms?
      • Usefulness: How might this site help us as student writers?

      Students who have difficulty grasping the fundamentals of writing conventions can use this list of useful and reliable Web sites as a reference. They can visit the sites to clarify and correct their spelling, grammar and punctuation.

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