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Lessons

Power of ‘To Be’ — Reduce passive voice

I designed this to efficiently discuss the problem of overusing forms of ‘to be’ in writing.

I aim the lesson at the conscious use of the verb to emphasize the writer’s opinion. The ‘to be’ verb (am, is, was, were, are, be, being, been) very easily slips into our writing and causes wiggly phrasing that can lead unclear sentences — unless we tame the verb and use it to our advantage.

This lesson will provide guidance and examples to help students maintain a focus on their ideas and how they can improve the articulation of those ideas with three exercises: connecting the subject to the appropriate action, inviting the reader closer by offering a story, and by consciously using a ‘to be’ verb to underline a main idea.

— Bryan Sanders

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Lessons

How to write essays — conversational outline plus examples

Writing essays can be tough.

If you start out with a conversational one page outline, known as an essay abstract, you can jump start the writing process and show your thinking process more clearly. Students will benefit from this approach and teachers can comment on the student’s thinking prior to any essay drafts.

This guide includes two examples of essay abstracts about literature: Romeo and Juliet & The Scarlet Letter.

— Bryan Sanders

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Lessons

How to Transform Textual Analysis into Written Composition

This guide will show you how to take students through the process of reading at multiple levels at once and also transform those reading ideas into a well-written paragraph about literature.

Authors are artists and literature is art. While they don’t use paint brushes or charcoal pencils to depict and connect ideas and images, one can decode and decipher their written passages in a manner that reveals the multivalence of text. The multiple reading levels of analysis can then be transformed into a single paragraph.

This guide uses Shakespeare’s *Hamlet* as an example.

— Bryan Sanders