It's clear;"its" is still a problem/jan

Sun, 20 Oct 1996 19:23:29 -0500

Atten: Carolyn Dean--

If you have a better way of instructing these college students that there is
a difference between its (possessive) and it's (contraction)...

Or that run-on sentences, comma splices, and fragments don't belong in
college-level writing, even on a remedial level...

Or that it's really okay to look at a paper a second time to improve your
thoughts, instead of only to fix up the commas, especially when you don't
know where the commas go...

Or that indefinite pronoun reference - "which means that---"
isn't kosher...

Or that--

Yes, at least some of us are still marking errors on student papers and
attempting to convince kids that they should pull into the academic
mainstream...that writing DOES matter...that organized thinking is a virtue
prized above rubies...that nine sentences of shoot-the-bull opinion don't
back up a topic sentence adequately...

Back to the papers I'm handing back tomorrow. Send rope. Either I'll
strangle the kids or hang myself. A good share of this remedial comp crew
has received B and C grades in a year of English at community colleges; now,
having scored poorly on the university assessment entrance test, they're
stuck with me and I with them, along with a group of ESLs who really need
sentence structure help. Half my midterm student evaluations read, "She's
wonderful; she explains!" and the others read, "She talks to us as if we
were stupid. I KNOW this stuff." Any suggestions, short of calling in Jack

discouraged in Chicago tonight...jan