Monday, September 11, 2017

Natural Disasters

This year many Americans started the school year with natural disasters in the form of  hurricanes. In Texas, there was Hurricane Harvey, and in Florida there was Hurricane Irma. Each storm brought with it torrential rain, storm surges, tornadoes, and high winds. The governors of the states ordered many people to evacuate to shelters or other safe locations. People who lived in coastal areas were most vulnerable to the effects of the storms, and buildings and houses on the water were flooded. Many government and private agencies were sending help, such as FEMA, the Red Cross, the Salvation Army, Goodwill, electric and gas companies, and church organizations. Most importantly, neighbors and strangers were ready to help one another get through the aftermath of the hurricanes.

natural disaster (compound noun) - a catastrophe caused by nature
hurricane (noun) - a storm with violent wind and rain, a tropical cyclone
torrential (adjective) - very heavy, a large amount
surge (noun) - a large amount of ocean water coming on shore
tornado (noun) - twister
evacuate (verb) - to leave
vulnerable (adjective) - powerless, weak
flooded (verb) -- filled with water
FEMA - Federal Emergency Management Agency, a government agency that helps people during natural disasters
get through (phrasal verb) - to live or survive
aftermath (noun) - effects or results

Vocabulary Exercise:

Florida just suffered from a type of ___________  __________ called __________  __________ (a violent storm. The government tried help by sending  its special agency named ________. The characteristics of the hurricane were  ____________ rain, a high storm ___________, and even some _____________,  whose winds destroyed houses and trees. Some houses on the ocean were _____________; because of the water, people had to ______________ and go to safe places like shelters. The people who lost their homes are _____________ and need help to _______  ___________ the _____________  of the storm.

Grammar Point
There is/there are -- This is a structure that tells about the existence of something. For example, "There was Hurricane Harvey" means that "Hurricane Harvey existed."Another  example is, "There are three books on the desk."

Write three sentences with either "there is" or "there are."

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

A New Year and New Hope in 2017

Why do we celebrate the passing of the old year and beginning of the new? Do our lives really change when a new year begins? Can they change?
I would like to believe that our good intentions on New Year's Eve have the ability to transform our lives through hope and good will. When we bid farewell to the old year  with the traditional Scots song "Auld Lang Syne" (which means "days gone by" or in a word-for-word translation "old long since"), we usher in the new year with hugs and kisses for family and friends and with plans for the future. I hope that the new year will be better not only for me but also for all of you. Happy New Year!

intention(s) (noun) - plan(s)

transform (verb) - change
hope (noun/also sometimes a verb) - wanting something to happen
good will (expression) (adjective + noun) - kindness
bid farewell (expression) verb + noun) - say goodbye
usher in (verb) - mark the start of something

Vocabulary Exercise
Fill in the blanks with the correct vocabulary word.
1. When my mother leaves tomorrow, we will ______   ______________ .
2. The barber gave him a new hairstyle and _______________ the way he looks.
3. My _______________ is that my sick friend will feel better.
4. As a teacher, I like to ___________  ___ the new semester.
5. My family has the good  _______________ to adopt a cat.
6. New Year's Eve is a time for __________   ___________ towards friends and family.

Grammar Point
The personal pronouns in English include:

Grammar Exercise:
Which personal pronouns do you see in my paragraph? Write three sentences using personal pronouns.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

My First iMovie: A Presentation about Online Learning

Here is the link to my first iMovie for you to see. It won't win an Academy Award, but it is only my first film: My First iMovie

Monday, September 26, 2016

The Bad, the Dead, and the Ruined

"The evil that men do live after them...." (Mark Antony in his eulogy for Julius Caesar in Shakespeare's play Julius Caesar)

I often write blogs about my favorite television programs or movies. Today I finished watching the Netflix series Narcos, and I was reminded of the quote from Julius Caesar. The first two seasons of the series are about the Medellin Cartel and its founder, Pablo Escobar. The next season will be about the Cali Cartel. Escobar perpetrated an immense number of evil deeds in his 44 years. He is dead, his followers are dead, and many innocent people are dead. In addition to transporting his cocaine to the US that has ruined so many lives, he blew up an Avianca passenger jet to try to kill the future President of Colombia and many buildings around Colombia. And many people are still in jail because of their involvement in his business. "The evil that men do live after them" can be aptly be applied to him.

Shakespeare (noun): William Shakespeare (1564-1616) was an English poet and playwright (a writer of plays). He is the most famous English writer of all time.

Narcos (noun, plural): drug traffickers (Narcos is a slang word in English derived from Spanish.)

perpetrate (verb): do, commit, carry out (usually associated with crime)

immense (adj): very large, great

ruin (verb): destroy, hurt very badly

involvement (noun): inclusion, being part of

evil (noun/adj): very bad

aptly (adverb): well

Vocabulary Exercise:

3. drug traffickers
4. commit
5. an English poet 
1. inclusion
2. very large
6. well
7. very bad
8. hurt very badly

Grammar Point; Some of the verbs in the passage are in the past tense, for example, finished, perpetrated, and ruined. The past ense of regular verbs is formed by adding -ed to the base form of the verb.
Grammar Assignment: Write five sentences using these three verbs and two other regular verbs in the past tense.

 The brilliant Brazillian actor Wagner Moura who plays Pablo Escobar in Narcos, followed by a photo of the real Escobar

Monday, September 21, 2015

Why I Prefer Autumn

When I think of the four seasons, I always remember autumn with the most fondness and look forward to it with great anticipation. Autumn brings with it not only a fabulous array of leaf colors, but also many other welcome changes. The first day of autumn usually falls on my birthday, so my family and friends are always ready to celebrate it with dinners, ice cream cakes, flowers, and fun. Autumn also signals the beginning of the academic year, so I receive a host of new students and academic challenges that I look forward to. Another reason I like autumn is the important holidays that it ushers in: Columbus Day, Halloween, Election Day, Veterans Day, and Thanksgiving. Also, the weather in New York changes from hot and humid to pleasantly cool. Harvest sales crop up everywhere, and the farms have bright, crisp apples of all kinds, freshly picked corn, and other autumn treats. It is hard to imagine a better time of year.

What is your favorite season? Why?

autumn (noun) -- fall (September 23 - December 21)
fondness (noun) -- love, affection
anticipation (noun) -- joy, hope
fabulous (adjective) -- great, terrific
array (noun) -- variety
signal (verb) -- points the way to
challenge (noun) -- problem, difficulty, trial
usher in (verb) -- bring with it
crop up (verb) -- are, are held

Vocabulary Exercise:
Cloze exercise: Fill in the blanks with the correct vocabulary word.

1. I love the ________________, which begins in September. It does not bring the ______________ of winter, when there is too much snow on the roads.

2. There is an ________________ of activities, such as apple picking, the decoration of pumpkins, and ___________ views of the many-colored leaves.

3. The autumn _____________ cooler weather, but the weather changes also __________ that winter is coming.

4. Farmers wait for the autumn with ___________________ and ______________ because it means that their fruit and vegetables have all finished growing.

5. Parties ______________ to celebrate Halloween.

Grammar Point: Adjectives are words that describe nouns. In the passage above, there are several adjectives: great, fabulous, welcome  .... Write three sentences about your favorite season using at least three of the adjectives from my paragraph.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Writing Improves Health

The results of some recent studies show that writing improves your health and the healing process. It is true for digital writing too, so blog away.See Writers Have an Advantage

Friday, February 6, 2015

A Great Writing Prompt

Unicorn Express: The Official Melbourne High Competition Writing Blog

A man walks into a bar and sees ...

A man walks into a bar and sees a familiar outline through the smoky haze. He moves silently towards the other side of the room and sits down at a table in the shadows near the back door. He doesn't look in her direction but feels her presence. He orders a high ball and spends some time studying the ice cubes as they begin to melt. When he finally looks across the room, he cannot find that splendid form, that tender silhouette he knows as well as his own. He finishes his drink and meanders towards the door, hoping he will see her, praying he won't see her. Suddenly, the door in front of him opens ...                   (Time's up)