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Proximity and modifier problems

April 3, 2009

Things did not go a planned in my last two classes today. 

I had ordered a computer for my writing class, but it was a no-show.  I had put together Word files of the exercises after scanning in the exercises, so I had invested a lot of time in this to prepare for the class.  Without the computer, I used the blackboard.  We were reviewing misplaced and dangling modifiers using the handout and the textbook.  As I was doing this, I realized that if the students could get one idea, the modifier must be next to the noun it describes to be used correctly, they could understand the principle without all the labels and grammar talk.  I did the grammar talk into plain English and then we practiced repeating the principle of proximity, i.e., next to several times as we worked through the items on the handout. 

I don’t spend a lot of time on this because while the examples are fun, the students don’t make many errors of this type.  However, it is on the final exam and the state mandated exam, so they have to be able to handle the two or three items on the exam related to the modifiers.

In the next class, I had arranged with a guest speaker who has never failed me before in eight years, but something happened, which I hope was just forgetfulness and not something serious, and she didn’t come.  That class was not as successful though we did have a nice discussion about persuasion in preparation for the final presentation, and I went over some suggestions for preparing for the final listening exam.  I committed the cardinal sin of not having a backup since I was relying on a person who had never failed to come through in the past. 

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