Posts Tagged ‘self-care’

Monday Grammar & Teacher Journal

In Grammar on November 16, 2009 at 10:23 pm


Over the next couple of Mondays, I thought we might talk about some specific punctuation rules for research papers. First, let’s talk about how to use punctuation with quotation marks. If you learned British English, you might be a bit confused about how we punctuate quotations in the US. In British English, you have to think about the sentence as a whole, and you use punctuation differently, depending on the quotation’s role in the sentence. In the US, it’s a bit simpler. The punctuation for a quotation goes, 99% of the time, inside the quotation marks, like this:

Dylan Thomas said, “Someone’s boring me. I think it’s me.”

In this example, the period at the end of the quotation goes inside the quotation marks. There’s also a comma after the word “said,” where the quotation is introduced. Here’s an example that’s flipped, with the tag (the part of the sentence that identifies the speaker) at the end:

“Nobody realizes that some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal,” Albert Camus said.

Notice that there’s a comma instead of the period at the end of the quotation — and also that it goes inside the quotation marks. Pretty easy, right? Here’s an example with a quotation that’s broken into two parts:

“Correct me if I’m wrong,” George Price once said, “but hasn’t the fine line between sanity and madness gotten finer?”

The first part of the quotation has a comma afterward. Then we have another comma after “said” and finally, the question mark (still inside the quotation marks) to end the sentence. In this instance, the quotation is all in one sentence. What happens, though, if the quotation is broken into two — but it’s also made up of two complete sentences? Take a look:

“Interestingly, according to modern astronomers, space is finite,” Woody Allen said. “This is a very comforting thought– particularly for people who can never remember where they have left things.”

Can you see the difference in how this is punctuated? There’s still the comma at the end of the first quotation, but there’s a period after the word “said.” This is because the sentence is complete at this point, and the following part of the quotation is also a complete sentence, so it can stand on its own.

Next week, we’ll talk about what to do with quotations when you also have APA or MLA citations to add. Happy punctuating!

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Choosing Your Class Schedule

In general on August 6, 2009 at 10:00 am


At most colleges and universities, international students must take at least 12 units to have full-time student status and to keep a current student visa. Often, I see international students going far beyond these required 12 units — taking 17 or even 20 units at a time. Sometimes, it’s less expensive to take more units at once — or it might seem like a good way to transfer more quickly or finish school in record time. Whenever I see students with such heavy course loads, I worry.

When I started graduate school, I’ll never forget how the program director introduced us to the school. We were at orientation, and we were all gathered around this huge conference table. I was excited to be there. I had so much to learn about writing, and I was ready to fling my whole self into the program, the work, and my writing ambitions. It was December, and on the other side of the window, the sky was already dark.

“I have one very important piece of advice for you,” our leader said. “I don’t want you to do too much. Pace yourself. Take care of yourself. It’s cold and flu season.”

I’d heard lots of advice from teachers, but I had never heard a teacher say this before. I was so touched that my new teacher would care about my stress levels — that she would worry about my health. I also remembered what she said about pacing yourself, and I remember it each time I see a student taking 17 units. Just as my teacher once worried about me, I now worry about you. Read the rest of this entry »

Overwhelmed during finals week?

In organization on June 4, 2009 at 9:00 am

life computer printout

It’s easy to get overwhelmed toward the end of the semester, as you’re studying for three tests, preparing your final English paper, or completing that last final project. Sometimes, even starting to tackle a project like this seems too overwhelming. One solution is to start by breaking the project into smaller chunks. Here’s an idea of how you might break down a research paper:

  1. Read the teacher’s handout of the assignment
  2. Make a list of resources (people, libraries, etc.) available for help
  3. Brainstorm a list of possible topics
  4. Choose your favorite topic
  5. Create a research question (a thesis statement in the form of a question)
  6. Learn how to use the library database
  7. Locate 3 articles from the database
  8. Look critically at the first article to decide if it’s a good source . . .

Notice that these are small steps. You don’t want to tell yourself to “Research” or to “Write the paper.” Instead, look for tasks that are small enough to make you think “I can do that!” Choosing a topic might be overwhelming, but brainstorming a list of ideas might not sound so bad. Researching sounds like no fun, but just finding three articles? Not so hard. Read the rest of this entry »

Preparing for Final Exams

In exams on May 22, 2009 at 10:00 am


It’s the time in the season for final exams. As each of your classes winds to a close for the summer, you’ll have papers due, projects to present, and tests to take. At my school, students are walking around with wrinkled brows and large cans of Monster energy drinks. Everyone looks so tired! It’s important right now to study strategically, to get the best results without running yourself ragged.

Here are a few basic reminders that might help you make it through the next couple of weeks:

  • Find a comfortable place to study. Not everyone studies best in the library or at home. You might work well at a coffee shop or outside in a park. When I was an undergraduate (and taking lots of tests), I used to make note cards and carry them with me on walks. I’d study as I walked. Find a comfortable place where you can concentrate without distractions.
  • Don’t study for 12 hours straight. Marathon study sessions aren’t always the best. Read the rest of this entry »