Lay Down the Lie

February 22, 2010 by  
Filed under Grammar, Mini-Lessons

There are so many misused words in our crazy language.  This pair is one of the most confusing because the past tense of one is the same as the present tense of the other.  ⇒ ⇒

The parents of this beautiful, precious baby laid her down for a nap.

Lay vs. Lie 


Lay means “to place something down.” It is something you do to something else.

Incorrect: Lie the coat on the chair.

Correct: Lay the coat on the chair.
(It is being done to something else.)

Lie means “to recline” or “be placed.” It does NOT act on anything or anyone else.

Incorrect: Lay down on the hammock.

Correct: Lie down on the hammock.

(It is not being done to anything else.)

But . . . the real reason lay and lie are confusing is their past tenses:

The past tense of lay is laid. (remember, to lay is to put something else down)

The past tense of lie is lay. (remember, to lie is to recline yourself)  THIS IS THE CONFUSING PART!!

Incorrect: I lay the box down here yesterday.

Correct: I laid the box down here yesterday.
(It is being done to something else.)

Incorrect: Last night I couldn’t sleep and laid awake in bed.

Correct: Last night I couldn’t sleep and lay awake in bed.
(It is not being done to anything else.)

And to add to the confusion . . . We use the past participle of verbs when we are indicating a timeline during which no specific date is given.

The past participle of lie is lain.

The past participle of lay is like the past tense, laid.

Correct: On Sunday, I could have lain in bed all day.  (indicating the action, in this case lying in bed, will be complete at some point in the future, but you don’t know when)  I KNOW THIS SOUNDS WEIRD . . . I MEAN, WHO TALKS LIKE THIS, RIGHT?!  WE SHOULD BECAUSE IT’S CORRECT!!

Correct: They have laid an average of 500 feet of sandbags a day.  (indicating the action, in this case laying sandbags, was finished at some point each day)

BTW . . . Layed is a misspelling and does not exist. Use laid!!

Bringing Blogging to The Classroom #1

As I embark on a new semester, I’m planning a unit in which my reading students create and utilize their own blogs.  I’m hoping this facilitates motivation and fluidity with students’ reading and writing skills.  The blogs will provide a place for students to publish their work and feel a sense of an audience other than me.  I’m piloting this with and will incorporate this into other class curriculums if it proves somewhat successful with this group.

**I will update with more activities as I administer them along with the successes and tribulations as they come!***

Activity #1:  This will spark the initial discussion on blogging.  →  →  →


Directions: Next to each statement, please put an A if you agree with the statement or a D if you disagree with the statement.  We will discuss these issues together!

_____1. Computers are necessary.

_____2. Email is better than the telephone.

_____3. Text is better than email.

_____4. IM is better than text.

_____5. We would be nowhere without advancements in science and technology.

______6. We need weapons of mass destruction.

______7. The only people who are responsible for weapons of mass destruction are the people who use them.

_____8. I would like to have a clone.

_____9. To cook = to microwave.

____10. When I was little, playing with my friends meant playing outside.

____11.. When I was little, playing with my friends meant playing video games together.

____12. Friends and family are more important than anything money can buy.

____13. Man has power over technology.

____14. Technology is more powerful than man.

____15. My social life would not be as fulfilling if it wasn’t for social networking sites such as Facebook or MySpace.

____16. Blogging is a productive way to read and/or share information.

Activity #2:  To provide a baseline for writing skills at the opening of the semester, the course requires students write a five-paragraph opinion paper.  I’ve slanted the requirement to the blogging project.  →  →  →

Technology = Friend or Enemy?

Believe it or not, when your incredibly young, hip, stylish teacher was your age, the Internet or World Wide Web was just getting off the ground; we certainly did not have it available in school.  There were no cell phones.  Oh, there were those lovely, large car phones that could not be removed from the car and that only worked when the car was on.  So, at least, if one had an emergency while the car running, it was all good.  One of my favorite video games was Kaboom, which was an Atari game – I’ll be shocked if any of you remember that awesomely addicting game!  You know, I thought that in the year 2010 we’d be living like the Jetsons by now. (wait . . . that cartoon is way before your time too!)

Aside from the few prehistoric items I mentioned above, think about the many technological innovations we have today:  the vast array of communication tools, medical advances, entertainment breakthroughs, space exploration and other transportation, weapons technology, and more.  We have come a long way in the short time since I was in your position — sitting in my freshman English class wondering, “What are we doing today, and why do I even care?”  Well, today you should care.  This assignment is a chance for you to finally voice your views.  All I want you to do is think about one question:  Is technology our friend or our enemy?

I’m not talking about just you or just the people in this class.  I am talking about the entire human race.  Based on what you do or don’t know about the colossal world in which you play a significant role, write a five-paragraph essay on why you think technology is or is not the enemy.  In this age of IPod and IPhone and portable DVD and Flip movie camera, etc. . . this question is more important than ever!


Yes, this is an opinion paper, but you must use support.  Your support can be from your own life experiences, experiences of others, what you have seen on the news, what you read about in the papers, etc.  The point is that you must make your reader understand why you feel the way you do, and you must try to make the reader agree with you based on your support.

Paragraph 1—Introduction, which contains a thesis statement.  This statement is your main opinion statement; it is the basis for the whole paper.  It is your statement about whether technology is our friend or our enemy.

Paragraph 2—First body paragraph, first reason why technology is friend or foe and why (support).

Paragraph 3-Second body paragraph, second reason why technology is friend or foe and why (support).

Paragraph 4-Third body paragraph, third reason why technology is friend or foe and why.

Paragraph 5—Conclusion, which restates the thesis in different words, and summarizes the whole paper.

This paper is worth 45 Points.  Due end of hour!!!  Cannot be completed for homework!




Focus and Organization (15 Points)              Content/Support (15 Points)

*Thesis is clearly stated.                                *Concrete Details

*Thesis is maintained throughout.              *Specific Examples for Support/Persuasion

*No tangential issues.                                    *Each paragraph supports thesis

*Style requirements are met.

*Appropriate Paragraphing                       Grammar/Usage (15 Points) *spelling, punctuation, diction,

Some Advice on Advise

January 13, 2010 by  
Filed under Grammar, Mini-Lessons

I previously posted about using advisor vs. adviser, but I neglected to share the tricky difference between advice vs. advise.

Advice vs. Advise

Parents give the best advice they can to their children.

advice = an opinion about how to solve a problem; guidance (noun)

advise = to offer advice; to counsel (verb) pronounced advize


Please give me some advice about what to do.

Please advise me about what to do. (The act of advising is an action or verb.)

Toast a Boast!

January 6, 2010 by  
Filed under Mini-Lessons, Writing Practice


Here’s a way to introduce English Literature in the classroom:

(adapted from an assignment by the great Jeffrey Leathem, a colleague in my department!!)

Anglo-Saxon Boasts

We’re going to do a little old-fashioned chest-thumping Anglo-Saxon style.

Your boast should include the following elements:

A. Self-identification (I am . . .)

B. Your immediate ancestry and something about your lineage

C. Boasts of at least three past achievements and/or hobbies

D. Boast of an achievement to come

E. Include at least three identifiable kennings (Identify in margin)

F. Include at least three identifiable alliterative phrases (monster-mashing, Grendel grater) (Identify in margin)

Should be 20-25 lines – approximate verse form (no need to rhyme)

***Extra Credit will be given to those souls who dress up like Anglo-Saxon Warriors and deliver the boast aloud in class

Anglo-Saxon Boast Example

Hail young thanes who gather about me –
For I am GG, dweller of the creek.
From the land of Lincoln, here in Chicago.
Daughter of the late RC, chief motivator of the crowds,
And N, seller of homes. Sister of D,
Online gamer consult & seller of homes.
From the high plains I come! I roar!
Reader of books, dancer of songs,
Scribe of stories, and essay-assigner.
Commander of the hardwood battlefield,
I approach my foes and float on them with the
Fine fin, wading through water,
Snapping waves, watching for whacks from my foes.
I speak of and boast of the victories of the
Blue and White Small Bear Warriors!
And how ‘bout those Blue and Silver Boys?!
I stretch with force forming a fine angle –
Blasting my limb-movers and walking-propellers with
Momentous endurance.  Defeating my enemies.
Flying on the human-kite at 1300 ft. above ground.
Pale-hosed, I prepare the fire feast – The great celebrations.
Under sweltering sun in the flame’s face.
I barbecue the grub –Party Host Champion I am hailed:
Planner of Surprises!   Host of many!
A challenge is decreed by my heir –
I am  healer of wounds, listener of qualms,
Helper of homework, preparing the way for
My heir to this mighty mead-hall.
I’ll make good on my boast and talk all the louder –
Poets will celebrate my actions with rousing cries,
Shaping my deeds into timeless songs.