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LinguaPhile, March 2006

An e-mail newsletter nurturing the development and enjoyment of English language arts at home and at school.


Order Your Limited Edition Now: Grannie Annie, Vol. 1

Well, the stories are in, and selections are being finalized.

Grannie Annie, Vol. I will include selections submitted to the first annual Grannie Annie Family Story Celebration. Students age 9-14 interviewed someone from an older generation of their family and then wrote a 250- to 500-word story about an event from their family's history.

Wouldn't you like to read about childhood adventures and courageous deeds? Wouldn't you love to get an insider's perspective on historic events? Grannie Annie, Vol. I has all of this -- and more!

Behind each family story lie experiences common to people in different centuries and on different continents. These simple, and very personal, family stories can help writers and readers forge a bond with people in today's world whose lives seem very different from their own, thus building understanding and community.

Why should you get a copy of Grannie Annie, Vol. I?
1. It has great well-written one-of-a-kind stories!
2. The stories might remind you of your own experiences that you can then share with your family.
3. The stories will give you a unique glimpse of other people's lives, connecting you with people in other places and other times.
4. The stories might spark the memory of someone else in your family and prompt that person to share his or her stories.
5. The book would make a great gift for senior citizens or your local retirement home.
6. It would make a great gift for your local school or library.
7. It would make a great gift for teachers and homeschoolers.
8. Because the stories are short, the book is ideal for waiting rooms in your office, beauty salon, car repair shop, etc.
9. If you know a child who might want to submit stories to The Grannie Annie next year, this book provides models of entries that have been accepted for publication. This is an invaluable resource for students who are preparing submissions and for the adults who are guiding them.

Decide how many copies you would like; then place your order:
Note that books will be printed after orders are closed on April 30. Books will be shipped in May.

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Did Your Children/Students Participate in The Grannie Annie?

Did your children or students interview family members and write stories for The Grannie Annie? Even if they did not submit their stories to the contest, we'd like to hear from you!

Please send us a short e-mail message telling us about your children's experience. Did they develop a closer relationship with their families or a greater appreciation of family members? Did the information they learned about their family history help them bond with people outside their family? What other benefits have you found in The Grannie Annie? Have you found ways to share the children's stories in your school or community?

We hope to use these "statements of support," which can be just a sentence or two, in Grannie Annie, Vol. I and in our promotional materials. We'd like to include your name, city, and state (or country, if not USA), and we'd like to indicate your relationship to the participant(s) -- parent, teacher, counselor,

In addition to hearing from you, we'd love to get firsthand accounts of the experience from the children themselves!

Grannie Annie, Vol. I goes to press May 1, so please send your statements of support as soon as possible. .

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Spring Conferences: Indianapolis, Kansas City, Harrisburg

Conferences are a great place to
• get a firsthand look at Hands-On English products
• introduce your colleagues to Hands-On English products
• give feedback on products you're using (including suggestions!)
• get your questions answered
• avoid shipping costs on Hands-On English purchases

If you will be attending one of these conferences, be sure to stop by the Portico Books booth to say hello to Fran. Take your friends along!

March 24-25: Indiana Association of Home Educators (IAHE) conference. Indiana Convention Center, Indianapolis, Booth #554. Fran will present a workshop about Hands-On English on Friday during Workshop III (at 4:45 p.m.) in Room 140.

April 21-22: Midwest Parent Educator conference, KCI Expo Center, Kansas City, MO, Booth #605. Fran will present a workshop about Hands-On English Friday at 1:45 p.m in Room D. This will be the first homeschool conference we have attended in the Kansas City area, so if you know homeschoolers there, please suggest that they stop by Booth #605 to take a look at Hands-On English.

May 12-13: Christian Homeschool Association of Pennsylvania (CHAP) conference, Farm Show Complex, Harrisburg, Booth #222. We have not attended this conference for several years. We look forward to renewing acquaintances and making new ones.

If you will not be attending these conferences but know people who will be, please encourage them to stop by the Portico Books booth.

The article immediately below this one will introduce you to Hands-On English products. Visiting the website can also give you a good background for seeing the products in person:

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Looking Ahead to the 2006-2007 School Year

Please consider Hands-On English as you select an English program for your students. Hands-On English makes grammar visual with symbols to represent parts of speech, and it assumes no prior knowledge in grammar, usage, capitalization, or punctuation. While Hands-On English is a valuable resource for teachers, it is even more effective when each student has a copy of the handbook. Having the information at their fingertips helps students develop independence and confidence with English. And when students can independently get much of the information they need, teachers can more easily meet the diverse needs of students in their classes.
(Near the bottom of that page you'll find links to a complete table of contents and a few sample pages.)

Hands-On English is for people working to master the basics of English, regardless of their age. It is used by students from nine years of age through adults. Because information in Hands-On English (the handbook) is easy to find and easy to understand, it is popular with students for whom English poses problems. It is just as appropriate, however, for other students, even those gifted in English. Once people begin using Hands-On English, it is likely to serve as their handbook forever.

Companion products help students master concepts presented in Hands-On English. The Activity Book includes practice pages, tests, resources, and classroom activities. The pages can conveniently be spread over several years, making the Hands-On English program even more economical.
(Near the bottom of that page you'll find links to a complete table of contents and a few sample pages.)

Hands-On Sentences is a card game that provides practice with parts of speech and sentence construction. It requires students to pull together various grammar concepts they have learned. Doing so helps them internalize concepts -- much more so than doing a worksheet, where they are likely to deal with only one or two concepts at a time.

Hands-On Icons provides enlarged versions of the part-of-speech icons and includes suggestions for making grammar kinesthetic as well as visual.

Why not start by ordering a "Package," including Hands-On English, the Activity Book (reproducible practice pages), and Hands-On Sentences? You could use the program as a supplement for the rest of this school year and think about ordering the handbook for your students for next year. Substantial discounts are available on volume purchases.

You can order by phone, fax, snail mail, or on the Internet. MasterCard and Visa are accepted, and purchase orders are accepted from institutions.

If you have questions, or call (toll free) 1-888-641-5353. This number will also accept fax orders.

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Quote of the Month: Cultural Diversity

As long as we inhabit a universe made homogeneous by our refusal to admit otherness, we can maintain the illusion that we possess the truth about ourselves and the world -- after all, there is no "other" to challenge us! But as soon as we admit pluralism, we are forced to admit that ours is not the only standpoint, the only experience, the only way, and the truths we have built our lives on begin to feel fragile.

-- Parker J. Palmer, U.S. writer and educator, in The Courage to Teach: Exploring the Inner Landscape of a Teacher's Life

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Expand Your Vocabulary:  Ballyhoo, Buckaroo, and Spuds

Linguaphiles will enjoy Ballyhoo, Buckaroo, and Spuds: Ingenious Tales of Words and Their Origins, a new book by Michael Quinion, contributor to the Oxford English Dictionary and creator of the World Wide Words website and newsletter. As the subtitle of the book suggests, Ballyhoo, Buckaroo, and Spuds explores the origin of words, phrases, and idioms.

In our electronic age, especially with the Internet, information can be disseminated more rapidly and more widely than ever before. So can misinformation. People hear a plausible and entertaining story about a word's origin and share it with others -- without bothering to check its validity. In Ballyhoo, Buckaroo, and Spuds Quinion corrects many common misconceptions.

Available from Ballyhoo, Buckaroo, and Spuds: Ingenious Tales of Words and Their Origins

Hands-On English includes more than 200 morphemes, along with their meanings and examples. Knowing the meanings of morphemes can help you unlock hundreds of words the first time you encounter them. Reviewers of Hands-On English have said that the vocabulary section alone is worth the book's modest purchase price. Learn more -- and place your order -- at

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Q and A:  Making Names Plural

Question: What is the correct way to make a surname, such as Roberts, plural?

Answer: This is a very common question. In fact, I added this information to Hands-On English when I prepared the second edition.

First of all, forget the apostrophe; it should not be used in the plural of names.

Actually, the rules governing pluralization of names are simpler than those governing pluralization of many nouns: Depending on the ending of the name itself, form the plural by adding -s or -es (-es if the name ends in s, sh, ch, x, or z; otherwise, just -s):
We visit the Robertses each year.  [plural of Roberts]
There are two Roberts in our class.  [plural of Robert]
There are two Charleses in our class.  [plural of Charles]
The Riches live next door.  [plural of Rich]
The Joneses live next door.  [plural of Jones]
The Gomezes live next door.  [plural of Gomez]

Proper nouns ending in y simply add s; the y is not changed to i as in common nouns:
There are two Marys in our class.  [plural of Mary]
There are two Maries in our class.  [plural of Marie]
The two Kansas Citys are separated by the Missouri River.

Exceptions to this rule are Alleghenies, Rockies, Sicilies, and Ptolemies.

If the correct construction seems awkward to you, try to rework the sentence to avoid the plural:
The Roberts Family (instead of The Robertses)
Two girls in our class are named Mary.

Hands-On English will put a wealth of information at your fingertips so that you can quickly find what you need to know about grammar, usage, capitalization, punctuation, spelling, and more. Get details -- and place your order -- at

We invite your questions for this feature:

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Review: How to Teach Students Who Don't Look Like You by Bonnie M. Davis

Like so many good how-to books, How to Teach Students Who Don't Look Like You delivers more than it promises. While it does indeed include many strategies for teaching students whose background and culture differ from the teacher's, many of the strategies -- such as building relationships with students and creating an environment where students interact positively with each other -- are beneficial in any classroom.

Author Bonnie M. Davis has given us something all too rare: a book that is thoroughly researched (with a bibliography of 8 1/2 pages) yet easily readable. No doubt this follows naturally from Davis's own experience: Her Ph.D. in English is complemented by thirty-seven years teaching in a variety of classrooms.

How to Teach Students Who Don't Look Like You is a valuable resource for any teacher. It provides opportunities for readers to reflect and respond, to examine their own thoughts and feelings, to set goals. The book can be used by one person, by a school group for professional development, or by a class of preservice teachers. In the Facilitator's Guide at the end of the book Davis suggests particular chapters that would be appropriate for 60- or 90-minute workshops with various groups. Using the book with a group (even a group of two) including people from different cultures adds a new dimension to the study.

Davis gently leads her audience, first inviting readers to examine themselves and their own culture. Once we recognize that we look at the world through a "unique lens," we are more likely to recognize that others do, too. The better we understand people's culture, the better we can understand and relate to (and teach) them.

Davis includes many practical, concrete suggestions for valuing other cultures. She challenges educators to consider how far into their school students must walk before they find someone who "looks like them" or find other evidence of their culture. If a student is not validated by his or her academic environment, is it realistic to expect that student to succeed academically?

About one third of How to Teach Students Who Don't Look Like You includes specific teaching strategies, indicating appropriate levels and subjects for each. Davis devotes several chapters to the development of literacy skills, collaborative projects, and multidisciplinary experiences.

How to Teach Students Who Don't Look Like You is likely to encourage and inspire teachers who are frustrated or overwhelmed. Its practical, concrete approach provides educators with suggestions they can implement immediately so that they begin to see a difference in their students.

Published by Corwin Press, 2006, 168 pages.

Available from How to Teach Students Who Don't Look Like You: Culturally Relevant Teaching Strategies

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Seedfolks by Paul Fleischman, a Book for Building Community

In How to Teach Students Who Don't Look Like You Bonnie M. Davis recommends Seedfolks by Paul Fleischman as a tool for building community among educators, parents, and students. This small book (69 pages) contains thirteen vignettes, each written from the point of view of a different person. Although the people begin as strangers from various ethnic backgrounds, they become acquainted as each cultivates a part of a vacant lot. As the lot becomes a place of beauty, individual lives are transformed as well -- and a community is created.

Published by Joanna Cotler Books, an Imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, 1997.

Available from Seedfolks

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Puzzler: Before and After

Find the word that completes the compound begun by the first word in each item and begins the compound completed by the last word of the item. (Take a moment to absorb those directions.) Some of the compounds are two words rather than one.

Example: gentle _____ hole [man; (gentleman, manhole)]

1. key _____ walk
2. blue _____ cake
3. card _____ knee
4. bull _____ tired
5. side _____ hop
6. iron _____ tender
7. snow _____ power
8. book _____ study
9. wheel _____ person
10. tooth _____ pocket

Answer to November Cryptoquote






Language is the armory of the human mind; and at once contains the trophies of its past, and the weapons of its future conquests. --Samuel Taylor Coleridge

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Thank you for reading. If you find LinguaPhile helpful and interesting, don't keep it a secret! Consider which of your friends would also enjoy it, and send them information about subscribing. Those receiving this forwarded message can subscribe at . People who have e-mail but do not have Internet access can subscribe by clicking on this link and requesting to subscribe: .

We welcome your comments and suggestions:

The index to LinguaPhile, which is updated regularly, is now available on the GrammarAndMore website:
This makes the information from previous issues readily accessible. You are encouraged to print the index for your convenience or to share it with friends. Why not send them the URL?

LinguaPhile is a gift you can give, yet still have for yourself!

2006 Fran Santoro Hamilton


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