Tuesday, April 7, 2009

I love this idea a . . . . lot!

Carla at The English Teacher Blog (http://www.enotes.com/blogs/english-teacher-blog/ )that I love so much posted this 'lesson' on using the word 'alot.' I love it. Really love it, and thought maybe you would too.

Mr. and Mrs. Alot

Tuesday, April 7th by Carla

A few years back I had a group of students who routinely wrote “a lot” as “alot.” I wanted them to use a more specific adjective, but first I first wanted them to spell “a lot” correctly. The following approach seems to have been helpful.

In advance, I write “alot” in large letters on a long, narrow piece of paper that tears easily. I like to use half a sheet of construction paper for visual appeal.

My spiel goes something like this:

“If you read the paper last night, you might have seen a small notice in the Divorces column. Mr. and Mrs. Alot got a divorce.” (At this point I hold up the sign.)

“Now, divorces usually aren’t friendly events, but this one was especially messy. She caught him running around with other consonants — he accused her of cheating on him with other vowels. He started harassing her, and eventually she had to get a restraining order against him. Now he’s not allowed within 500 feet of her.” (At this point, I tear the paper between the “a” and “lot” and hold them a few inches apart.)

“She has custody of the kids.”

“So when you are using “a lot” in your writing, remember: they got divorced, and there is a restraining order. You have to leave a space.”

I usually tack the two pieces of paper on the tack strip above the blackboard for a few days.

When I run across “alot” again in student writing, I circle it and write “Don’t violate the restraining order” in the margin.

I’ve had good luck with this approach. What do YOU use to help students remember fine points?

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