All posts by David Jacobs

Avoiding Plagiarism

1. A direct quote from a source
2. An idea taken from a source
3. Paraphrase from a source
4. A summary of information in a source
5. Pictures, charts, and graphics from a source
6. Statistics and data from a source

Don’t Cite:
1. Common knowledge
2. Your own ideas and analysis
3. Your own experience or observation

Do Not:
1. Recycle a paper from a previous class
2. Download a paper from the internet
3. Use a paper from a friend
4. Pay someone to write a paper for you

Plagiarism, based on the Greek word for “kidnapping,” is stealing someone else’s ideas or writing. Someone’s ideas and writing is actually their personal property! You wouldn’t want anyone to steal from you, and you don’t want to get caught stealing someone’s property.

As you progress through school, the consequences for plagiarizing become more severe. In middle school, you may be forced to redo the assignment, given a bad grade, and/or put in in-school detention to redo the work.

In high school, you may be given a bad grade. In college, you could be kicked out. There are several tricks you can use to avoid plagiarizing.

1. Paraphrase the information! Put it into your own words. That doesn’t mean changing one or two words; that means changing almost all of the words AND the sentence structure.

2. Give the author credit. Quote their words directly, using quotation marks, or reword what they said, but ALWAYS give them credit! This is called “citing your source.”

**Wikipedia is NOT a good source of reliable information. Anyone can add information to Wikipedia, and sometimes, the information is wrong! Some of the information on Wikipedia may in fact already be plagiarized from somewhere else! It’s a good place to look for links, but never use it as a source in your own work.

Persuasive Writing: Ethos, pathos, logos handouts

Ethos is the Greek word for “character.” In order to convince people to agree with you, you need to establish that you are worth listening to. If your audience thinks you are trustworthy, knowledgeable, likeable, andrespectable, they will tend to believe what you are saying. The impression you make on the reader is just as important as the information you present.


“Let tyrants fear. I have always so behaved myself that, under God, I have placed my chiefest strength and safeguard in the loyal hearts and good-will of my subjects. And therefore I am come amongst you, as you see, at this time, not for my recreation or disport, but being resolved, in the midst and heat of the battle, to live and die amongst you all. “

– Queen Elizabeth I (1588) from a speech meant to encourage her troops to fight against an invasion by the Spanish Armada

Pathos means appealing to the audience’s emotions. If you can inspire an emotional connection with your audience, get them to feel what you feel, such as anger or pity, or get them to feel sympathetic to your cause, they are more likely to agree with your position.


“Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace– but there is no peace. The war is
actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field!

Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!”

– Patrick Henry (1775) from speech delivered to Second Virginia Convention

Logos means to persuade an audience by logic. This is where you present facts, evidence and reason to convince your audience. Citing
authorities and showing that your argument is well-researched can lend your argument credibility.


“Yesterday, December 7th, 1941 — a date which will live in infamy — the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan. The United States was at peace with that nation and, at the solicitation of Japan, was still in conversation with its government and its emperor looking toward the maintenance of peace in the Pacific…Japan has, therefore, undertaken a surprise offensive extending throughout the Pacific area. The facts of yesterday and today speak for

– Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1941) from “Pearl Harbor Address to the Nation”

Custom Essay Prewriting Techniques

Teacher Notes
Custom Essay prewriting techniques are meant to help students get warmed up and start a free flow of ideas. This should be a low-stakes exercise, with just participation points awarded, if any, to cut down on anxiety or worrying about getting it “wrong.”

Copy the handouts for the students, or have them use their own paper. You may want to pass out the clustering example as a handout or use it as an overhead.

The reason short time limits are given on each exercise is because students should work quickly and spontaneously, and not over think each topic of their custom essay. Reassure students that no idea is too silly to write down. The point is to keep the ideas flowing.

Personal Brainstorming List:
Before beginning, have students make a list from 1 – 10 on their paper. Remind them that they should choose a topic that is meaningful to them and related to something in their lives. Then give them two minutes to think of as many possible topics for custom essay as they can.

Group Brainstorming:
After Personal Brainstorming, have students form groups of 3 – 5 people. Give them about 10 minutes to share their lists and ask each other questions. The students should get feedback on what the most interesting topics are, or what they liked to talk about the most. Ask them to write this down on their papers also.

Ask the students to choose two topics for their custom essay from their brainstorming session. For the first topic, have them draw a circle in the middle of their papers. Then give them two minutes to make clusters of related ideas. In the example, you can see that the student started with “Images in the media” and branched off to different ideas.

Do a second cluster the same way with another topic. Ask the students to circle a section of one of the clusters that interests them the most.

Free write:
Give the students three minutes to write a custom essay as much as they can on the ideas they circled on one of their clusters. Then have them re-read the free write, circle the most interesting  thing, and start with that idea on another three-minute free write. If time allows, do the same thing for another round.

When free writing, students should never stop writing, even if they run out of things to say about their topic. If this happens, tell students to write “I can’t think of what to write next…” or something similar. Spelling, punctuation, and grammar don’t count.

Most custom essays, whether they are research papers, compare and contrast, or persuasive, will depend on an argument. To make sure students do not simply write an informational custom essay, have them do the last pre-writing activity when they have narrowed down their choices to two or three topics.

Ask the students to write down a topic, and an argument, that they will make. Using the example in the cluster, a student could write as the topic “media and eating disorders.” An argument could be “media images can be a cause for eating disorders in girls.” The opposition might be “eating disorders are caused by a mental illness and not the media.”

This exercise helps students think through whether their topics have an argument and what direction their papers might take. Of course the ideas will change as they start researching and delving into their topics, but they will have a possible direction in mind.

Learn Rules of Summarizing an Article

After you have annotated your article, it’s time to write a summary. Writing an article summary is to give your reader an objective, condensed version of the article.

Keep the following guidelines in mind as you write your summary:

Tips for Writing a Summary
1. Give the reader context – name the article and author in the first sentence.
2. Keep it objective. Give the author’s opinion only (no “I” statements, opinions, or analysis).
3. Give the thesis and main points only. Do not use examples and illustrations.
4. Attribute all ideas to the author. Use tags such as: According to the author…; The author states…; The author also believes….
5. Use your own words (paraphrase). Avoid direct quotes. For emphasis, you may want to include a word or two from the original passage. In this case, be sure to use quotation marks.

Most articles can be summarized in a few sentences or one short paragraph. If your summary goes longer than this, make sure you are not using details and examples from the article and are summarizing the main points only. You can address statistics, examples, and illustrations in the response section of the essay.

Writing a Response

Once you have an objective summary, it’s time for your own opinion. Think about whether you agree or disagree with the author. It’s common to agree with some points and disagree with others, so you will want to decide which points you want to address. You do not have to take on the entire article.

The first step is forming a working thesis, where you agree or disagree with the article, or points in the article. It’s best to then list a few reasons why to set up the organization of the rest of your response.

Here is the thesis statement from the sample summary and response essay:

While I agree that the Monsanto company has too much power over the industry and consumer choices, McGuire’s proposal to ban all GM foods is too extreme. What McGuire leaves out of her article are the benefits that come from GM foods, consumer choice, and the ack of evidence showing the GM foods are truly dangerous.

The first sentence clearly gives the author’s response to the article.

The second sentence then gives three reasons why the author disagrees with the article’s main proposal. The three reasons will become topic sentences for three body paragraphs.

The paper now has an outline:

Paragraph 1: Summary
Paragraph 2: Response Thesis
Paragraph 3: Benefits of GM foods
Paragraph 4: Consumer choice
Paragraph 5: Lack of evidence that GM foods are dangerous
Paragraph 6: Conclusion

Writing a Response

The response section is a lot like writing a regular essay in terms of organization, but there are some important tips to remember to write an effective response.

Tips for Writing a Response

1. You can respond with your own experience and knowledge, but your response will be even more effective if you bring in evidence from outside sources to support your points.
2. Be sure to give evidence and a logical argument whether you agree or disagree or disagree with a point.
3. Stay close to the points in the article. It’s easy to veer off on your own tangent about the topic, but remember that you are responding to what is in the article. Use quotes and paraphrase from the article throughout the response.
4. Write a conclusion that is consistent with your thesis and comes back to the main point of the article.

Writing a Summary and Response Essay

The first step in writing a summary and response essay is to thoroughly and critically read the article you will be addressing.

When you read an article critically, you are not just seeking to understand what the author is saying, but questioning the author’s points and analyzing why and how the ideas were presented. It is also important to consider how effectively the author presents the arguments.

Annotating the article will help you with this process. Annotating is basically a notetaking system directly on the article. Read through the article once, then get a highlighter and pencil and follow the steps as you re-read the article:

1. Read the article’s title and first paragraph. Make a note in the margin about what expectations you might have for the article based on the introductory information. What is the author’s
topic? What is the tone? What might be the author’s main point?

2. Locate and highlight the thesis of the article. If there is no one sentence that contains the thesis statement (an implied thesis), mark the sections where the author’s main point is most evident. In the margin, write a “T” or an asterisk so you can quickly come back to the thesis.

3. Highlight any words that you don’t know, or sections that you don’t understand. Write a “?” in the margin so you can look up definitions later.

4. Highlight the main points in the article. These are often topic sentences. Write “MP” in the margin.

5. Make notes in the margin of any questions you might have. Why did the author use a certain example? What has the author left out?

6. Note any sections where the author has made an effective or ineffective point.

The Thesis statement in Compare/Contrast Essay

A compare and contrast essay shouldn’t have a surprise ending. In other words, be sure to state your opinion clearly in the thesis statement.

If you don’t state your opinion, you risk a ho-hum thesis. Notice the difference between these two thesis statements:

“There are many differences between organic produce and conventional produce.”
“Organic produce is superior to conventional produce.”

The second thesis is better, but it is still a bit of a “so what?” thesis.

Why might your opinion be important to your audience?

Consider how this thesis statement might resonate better with a wider audience:

“Organic produce is better for you than conventional produce.”

To keep your essay organized and focused, it’s best to list from two to four points of argument in your thesis.

“Organic produce is superior to conventional produce because of its nutrition and safety.”

Finally, if it makes sense, you can work in a reference to the similarities if it’s a contrast essay, or a difference if it’s a compare essay:

“Although similar in taste, organic produce is superior to conventional produce because of its nutrition and safety.”


“Organic produce is superior to conventional produce because of its nutrition and safety; although it can be more expensive, the benefits are worth the extra cost.”

Point-by-Point Example Outline

Thesis statement: Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven” and “The Black Cat” have themes of superstition, sorrow, and judgment.

Point A: Superstition
Subject 1. “The Raven”
Subject 2. “The Black Cat”

Point B: Sorrow
Subject 1. “The Raven”
Subject 2. “The Black Cat”

Point C: Judgment
Subject 1. “The Raven”
Subject 2. “The Black Cat”


Math tips

Want your child to be more interested in math?
Add a little math to whatever interests your child.

Note: Before focusing on addition and subtraction, make sure your child recognizes basic numbers and has a solid command of counting.

Tips to improve Math skill and enhance numbers operations

—Spark your child’s interest and enthusiasm by using something of interest to him or her.

  • Count how many dolls (or bottle caps or baseball cards, etc.) your child has in his/her collection.
  • Count the number of jellybeans in a bowl – then subtract the number your child eats!
  • Practice basic math skills using games such as Dominos, dice and playing cards – games your child associates with fun, rather than study.

—Rhyme numbers with words: 2+2=(four-door), 3+7=(ten-pen) etc.

—While doing chores at home – count! How many toys did he or she leave on the floor? How many things did you forget to clean up? Be creative. Let your child make up the game. It’s fun!

—At snack time, have your child evenly divide the crackers, orange slices, or other snack among siblings, parents, etc.

—Open a joint savings account to calculate the money added to the account each month.

—Use measuring cups in your kitchen to teach your child fractions while cooking or baking.

—Take your child on a $1 shopping spree at the candy section of the grocery store! Have them count the number of pieces and how much money they have left to spend. Have them count the change, too.

—Junk mail? Don’t throw it away! Have your child make a fictitious order and add up the prices of items in the catalog. Even credit card offers can be compared to verify, which has the most lucrative offer. Do it together!

Bottom line: Math is fun – especially when you make it a creative part of your child’s day! Anything you have around the house can help your child enhance his or her counting, addition, and subtraction skills.

Reading tips

Read. Read More. Repeat.

—It can’t be said enough: Reading to your child during these formative years is perhaps the most important learning activity you’ll ever share with them. So do it often!

  • Reading expands your child’s vocabulary… ignites your child’s imagination… teaches proper grammar and syntax… and helps your child excel in every subject.

Tips to improve reading and enhance comprehension 

—Teach your child the letters of the alphabet from pre-school.
—Read out loud to your child ? or have your child read out loud to you – for 15 minutes every night.
—As your child reaches kindergarten, continue reading aloud and play rhyming games to enhance his or her awareness of phonics.

  • You can also help your toddler and pre-K child develop motor skills – which will make learning to write later on much easier – by having them play with clay, paint and scissors, etc.

—For Kindergarteners and up, be sure to check their comprehension after they’ve finished reading.

  • Some children are able to “read” the words very well, but don’t truly understand what they’re reading.
  • Asking “Why” questions is a good starting point, i.e., ‘Why was the girl happy? Why was the boy embarrassed?’

—Don’t be afraid to let your child “guess” about what’s going on in the story.

  • While your child should sound out, and not simply guess at, any unknown words, don’t discourage him or her from guessing where the story’s going. Let them look at the pictures and think about what’s happening. That’s a natural part of reading and comprehension – and shows a healthy and active imagination.

Bottom line: Everybody loves a good story. If your child is refusing or struggling to read, visit the library, bookstore, or Internet to find a book or story about a topic of interest to him or her. And if you can’t find one, why not make one up together? You can even print it out and have your child draw pictures to make their first published work!

Over all, the parent should teach these skills:
1. Increase child’s vocabulary
2. Teach him/her using pictures
3. Do it through repetitions
4. Use phonemics: develop their reading skill through rhymes
5. Utilize imagination and intrigue their curiosity
All this will better your child’s reading performance in school.

Study tips for kids

Studying tips to improve Math skill and enhance numbers operations: count how many dolls (or bottle caps or baseball cards, etc.) your child has in his/her collection; count the number of jellybeans in a bowl – then subtract the number your child eats! Practice basic math skills using games such as Dominos, dice and playing cards – games your child associates with fun, rather than study.

Studying tips to do homework more productively: have a well-lit, organized desk for doing homework; as much as possible, try to stick to a set routine; if your child knows that homework time is from 3pm to 5pm everyday, there will be less resistance to doing the work; set aside extra time for big projects and term papers, like weekends; try to create a quiet environment with few or no distractions: no television, no little brothers or sisters coming and going, etc.; make sure the desk contains only the material being worked on – nothing else! Prepare all needed material for the specific subject in advance. If possible, try to do the same type of task as your child: Write when they write; read while they read.

Studying tips for preparing and taking tests: Conversation–Talk to your child about the importance of tests. Studies have shown that younger children are not always aware of their significance – but do better once they understand it; explain that tests measure students’ progress in class by grading their knowledge of the subject; let them know that standardized tests are the same for all children, and measure student performance across the state or even the entire country. To read more about Studying Tips, click Tips for the Student on the left. You can also do a search for a tutor, if you need to, by clicking Locate a Tutor.

Control The Kids: A Few Teaching Ideas

It is really important when you are teaching kids to take control of the classroom. This isn’t some over-authoritarian, strict or domineering thing. You don’t need to be stern and serious with them. But, YOU should be the focus of their attention, and keep the class moving.

With groups of kids it is all too easy for a few to start running around, and pretty soon they aren’t listening to anything you say. Next thing you know, it’s Climb On Sensei Game or Throw Fruit Maracas At Sensei’s Privates Game, and the lesson is DONE.

We don’t want that to happen, do we?

What you have to do is take control and keep it throughout the lesson. Here are some ways to do this:

-First off, always let them know that “Now we are starting the lesson.” You can do this a variety of ways. Music and songs are good for little kids. You might do some kind of mini-game that’s fun for them and gets their attention, or a simple warm up routine.

The important thing is to have a routine. At first, the kids may not know what it means, but they need a routine, so they know when class is starting.

-Throughout the lesson, keep an eye on the kids. Monitor them, and watch for signs that you might be losing them. Kids have tiny little attention spans and you have to know the warning signs when they’re starting to drift away.

When the kids start drifting off, you have to pull them back. You might change to another activity. It might be good to change position, or get them on their feet.

It’s good to have a repertoire of fillers and songs for when this happens. Another thing you can do is to pull the kid back by including them in whatever’s going on, like by singing a funny song with their name or something.

-One thing that works well is counting down “3, 2, 1.” You never have to actually DO anything when you get to one, just the counting down works like magic to get them where you want them to go.

The first time, you might try this: When things are going well, when the kids are laughing and having the most fun, suddenly stand up and count down, “3, 2, 1.” As you count down, walk to another part of the room.

It’s like magic! It’s like Pavlov’s dogs! They’ll be right behind you and they’ll be ready for whatever you’re going to do next!

At first, do it slowly. Then, once you establish this routine, you can always count down quickly and strongly. Do this when things get out of hand, and the kids will fall right into line.

Once you get a routine and you see how the kids follow it, you’ll be amazed at what you can do.

The important thing to remember is that you should keep the kids’ attention. Kids live for one thing: FUN. And, if you don’t give them the fun they need, they’ll look somewhere else for it!