Hibiscus Press Publishes Frances Ohanenye’s Article

Hibiscus Press U.S.A., a dual-language publication journal, has published an article written by Frances Ohanenye. The article is geared toward all learners of the English language who battle with verb conjugation. Titled “Ambiguity and the Overuse of ‘-Ing’ Verbs,” the article is a must-read for students and anyone else who wish to excel in public speaking and writing, and anyone who wishes never to allow verbs to terrorize him or her.

Abstract: Learners new to English language experience a heightened level of difficulty with verb tense conjugation. Based on decades of teaching public speaking and English to college freshmen and to high school seniors, I have discovered that verbs complicate the ease with which learners could pass any English language course or exam. People whose first language is English seem to have the same fear or verbs. This article is intended to assist students of English to construct powerful sentences devoid of fragments if learners minimize or monitor the inclusion of verbs that end in -ing.

Key words: Present continuous tense; resent progressive; past continuous; participle; present perfect continuous; past perfect continuous; future continuous; future perfect continuous.

Articles are submitted to Hibiscus Press in either Chinese or English and are translated into the other language.

For full access to Frances Ohanenye’s article, visit Hibiscuspressusa

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Teachers Use Grants to Overcome Barriers

This article appeared in the Houston Chronicle during the summer of 2016.  This was my second time winning the Katy ISD Education Foundation’s Imagination Grant. 
I forgot to post it here at that time it was published. I am making a concerted effort to republish/redirect all publications/articles about me to this site.
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KISD foundation funds help educators to enable students to break limitations

Updated 11:50 am, Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Encouraging a reluctant teen to pick up a book, enabling a transient student to build robots and using a school garden as a tool to help special-needs children are examples of efforts that will be the focus of foundation-funded projects in the Katy ISD.

The Katy Independent School District Education Foundation has selected 200 district teachers at 33 campuses to receive funds for the 2016-17 school year during its fourth year of “Inspiring Imagination” teacher grants.

“We received 80 grant applications and funded 55,” said Janet Theis, Katy ISD director of community partnerships. Funding for this year’s approved grants totals $206,627.

Among the team grant recipients are Sundown Elementary’s “Morning Tinker Time: MakerSpace,” led by third-grade teacher Leah Miller, and Franz Elementary’s planned “Going Green” gardening program, led by Title I science teacher Tracy John. Individual grant recipients include Mayde Creek High English IV teacher Frances Ohanenye for “Fearless Readers of Life-Changing Novels” to help students who struggle with reading.

Fostering creativity

“We’re trying to put creativity back in the classroom,” said Miller, whose school has many low-income and transient students. In 2014-15, 76 percent of the 873 Sundown students were considered economically disadvantaged, according to the Texas Education Agency.

The school had a mobility rate of 17 percent – based on the number of students who miss six or more weeks of school – compared with a 10 percent rate in the district overall.

In the 2016 Greater Houston Area Elementary School Rankings by Children at Risk, Sundown rated a “D.”

Like makerspaces for adults, the Sundown program for grades 3-5 will offer a place to design, create and improve projects for 20 minutes beginning at 7:30 a.m. before class starts. The program will start in October.

“We’ll have stations where they can explore, engage and initiate to get involved in their own learning,” said Miller, who partnered with school librarian Terry Lambert, Title I science teacher Bianca Xu and fourth-grade teacher Lisa Renee Asaro for the $5,000 grant. Xu is also the school’s coordinator for projects for the Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math program.

The makerspace will offer youngsters what they need to create craft projects and build robots, Miller said.

“It will allow kids to initiate tinkering, getting them to work together and combine efforts and make something awesome,” said Miller, who would like to apply for another grant for the program for the school year after next.

“The whole goal is to get them involved,” she said.

Garden refuge

The initial idea behind “Going Green” was to focus on the older grades at Franz Elementary, John said.

“What we found as we went on was that younger grades wanted to grow veggies and watch things grow,” she said.

A setting of native plants in a butterfly garden can benefit special-needs children, John said.

A child with autism can be overwhelmed with too much information.

“If you take them outside, it’s less confining, more peaceful, and they can focus on one thing at a time,” John said. “It’s extremely beneficial as a coping mechanism, and they’re better able to return to class.”

The school of more than 1,000 students has classes of life-skills students, an autistic unit and a behavioral unit.

Allowing a student to go to the garden can serve as a reward or an incentive for good behavior, John said.

According to the TEA, Franz Elementary enrollment in 2014-15 had 62.5 percent who were economically disadvantaged, 48.3 percent who were English language learners and 10 percent in special education. It was ranked as C& by Children at Risk in the 2016 elementary school rankings for the Houston area.

The $3,800 grant will cover materials for the project, which includes a vegetable garden and a butterfly garden. John planned to spend the summer enlisting community support. Her efforts might take the form of partnering with a local senior living center, contacting high schools where students need to perform community service or enlisting aid from Boy Scouts looking for a project to earn Eagle awards.

The gardens will incorporate a sundial, which John said fits in with a emphasis in fifth grade to explain Earth’s movement around the sun.

To plan the program, John enlisted the support of fifth-grade teacher Amanda Everett, a first-year teacher who is tech savvy, and fifth-grade teacher Leona Bernard, a gardener.

“We hope to give each and every child an opportunity to appreciate the world around them,” John said. “A lot of what kids have difficulty grasping is that everything is in cycles and seasons.”

Rush to read

Ohanenye teaches seniors who have not yet passed the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness test and are in danger of not graduating.

This is her second year teaching STAAR students. The first year was difficult because of a lack of resources. The $1,000 foundation grant will make a difference, she said.

“Before students get to college or a career, they need to pass STAAR,” said Ohanenye, who has been teaching for more than two decades. “I have found in my experience as a teacher the difference between passing and not passing is reading.”

Her class is based mostly on reading and vocabulary, and she focuses on what it would take for a student who hates reading to become a book lover.

“I try to convince them reading is not that frightful and is an easy thing if you know what to do,” she said.

She focuses on finding literature with which students can identify. Students must read two novels during the semester.

One of the most popular books on her reading list is “Mexican Whiteboy” by Newbery Award-winning author Matt de la Peña about a youth’s struggle to find himself.

Ohanenye’s class can have 30 students per semester. If students pass STAAR, they move on.

One student helped by the course came back as a guest speaker, Ohanenye said.

“It was affirmation to hear from someone who had gone through program. I look forward to having them come back and talk to a new group of students,” she said.

Screening process

The foundation evaluates applications for grants by screening them through Katy ISD curriculum and technology officials. Then the foundation board and volunteers score the grants.

“Campus and teacher names are redacted from the applications to ensure scoring is based on merit alone,” Theis said.

Programs receiving grants include some that are spread over multiple campuses and relate to special education, dyslexia intervention and prekindergarten education.

In its first four years of activity, the foundation has awarded more than $725,000 in grants to district teachers.

Grants are made possible by annual pledges from business and community investors, one-time contributions and fundraising events. The foundation hosts two major fundraisers every year: Fireflies and Foodtrucks, slated for Sept. 15; and a jazz event in the spring. BP funded multiple grants.

The foundation recently established the Alton Frailey Endowment Fund honoring the retired superintendent, who played a pivotal role in the foundation’s launch, Theis said.

For more information, contact foundation@katyisd.org, 281-396-6031 or visit www.katyisdeducationfoundation.org.

LEARNING ASSONANCE AND CONSONANCE: “LONDON, 1802”

“London, 1802”

By William Wordsworth

 LEARNING ASSONANCE (VOWEL SOUNDS) AND CONSONANCE (CONSONANT SOUND DIFFERENT FROM ALLITERATION–AT THE END OR IN THE MIDDLE OF A WORD):

Milton! thou shouldst be living at this hour:

England hath need of thee: she is a fen

Of stagnant waters: altar, sword, and pen,

Fireside, the heroic wealth of hall and bower,

Have forfeited their ancient English dower

Of inward happiness. We are selfish men;

Oh! raise us up, return to us again;

And give us manners, virtue, freedom, power.

Thy soul was like a Star, and dwelt apart:

Thou hadst a voice whose sound was like the sea:

Pure as the naked heavens, majestic, free,

So didst thou travel on life’s common way,

In cheerful godliness; and yet thy heart

The lowliest duties on herself did lay.

 

Figure of speech: Metonymy—the substitution of one object for another when the two are related.

“Altar” represents _________________

“Sword” stands for _________________

“Pen” represents ___________________

5 Reasons Students Should Write Every Day

This is a repost from Sherrelle Walker, M.A.

Students writing

Credit for photograph

Sherrelle Walker asked the question: “Are your students writing as much as they should be?”

She explained that classroom writing, done with willful focus and daily diligence, remains an essential part of educating students of all ages, including adults. She also provided five reasons classroom writing is still a must:

1. Writing improves communication skills.

First and foremost, writing provides a vehicle for expression and communication. No matter the age or grade level of your students, diligent writing practice will boost both their skill and comfort level with revealing and relating their own thoughts and feelings.

2. Writing helps students review and remember recently learned material.

Isn’t it always easier to remember a household task or a website to visit later if we write it down somewhere? A brief writing assignment at the end of class, focusing on the day’s lesson and discussions, is a great way to reinforce the material, support long-term recall of the key lesson points and help build writing skills all at the same time.

3. Writing helps educators assess student learning.

Probably the most common use of writing in the contemporary classroom is for a given student to demonstrate that he or she knows and understands x or y concept. Whether the assignment is, for example, an intensive compare-and-contrast essay at the secondary level or writing and illustrating a haiku in the primary grades, writing assignments help teachers see what material students have mastered and where there may be gaps.

4. Writing encourages creativity and exploration.

Daily writing encourages a creative flow that can help students use their imaginations, explore possibilities, delve into problem solving, and engage in storytelling. In addition to “serious” writing assignments which are reviewed and graded, it is important to assign “free” or “creative” writing time, so that students can explore vocabulary, concepts, and writing styles that they wouldn’t risk in a formal essay or heavily graded assignment.

5. Writing is essential for self-understanding.

Even a cursory search online will reveal a plethora of diary-like blogs, filled with entry after entry of highly personal content.  In the same way that these blogs serve their authors, classroom writing can help students understand and make sense of their own experiences, locate contexts, and make (sometimes surprising) discoveries about their own thoughts and feelings.

Classroom teachers will find that reading through their students’ writing assignments can give them great insight into each student’s personality, style, and comprehension level of the material being presented. When a high value is placed on consistent writing in the classroom, it’s a win-win all around.

So, write on!

Chinua Achebe: I Honor the Legendary Father of African Literature

We owe so much to the man whose pen propelled Nigerian and African stories into the stars, the man who gave us the voice to tell the world that we, too, have literature, and the man who allowed us to walk with lifted spirits and heads raised to the sky.

Today, we celebrate Chinua Achebe who would have been 87 years old. Google says it well:

Today’s Google Doodle Honors Legendary Nigerian Author Chinua Achebe

Chinua_Achebe_Google_Doodle

Chinua Achebe left our world much better than he found it. We owe so much to Chinua Achebe:

  • Told our stories fearlessly despite that he was just a new graduate.
  • Was authentic in writing and in REAL life.
  • Was bestowed with many titles too numerous to count: Nigerian novelist, poet, professor, critic, publisher, essayist, research fellow, university professor/educator, director of external broadcasting for the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation, director of two Nigerian publishing houses, and many more titles.
  • Received honorary degrees from more than 30 universities around the world.

 

  • Inspired generations of African writers and others around the world. “Achebe’s writing triggered a revolution in fiction which continues to this day. By presenting the world and history as seen through different eyes, he gave voice to the previously unheard. Achebe inspired writers in both Africa and elsewhere to tell their stories, most notably African-American Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison.”

 

  • His style was unique. His work had drama, sympathy, empathy, liquid imagery, photographic descriptions, and much more: “It gives a visual image of the Nigerian values and code of life. Chinua Achebe uses visual, aural and olfactory language to colour our senses and portray the climate, the images and the way the Ibo people react to certain scenarios. “The birds were silenced in the forests, and the world lay panting under live, vibrating heat. And then came the clap of thunder. It was angry, metallic and a thirsty clap, unlike the deep and liquid rumbling of the rainy season. …”
  • Told it from the perspective of the African: In an interview with The Paris Review in 1994, Achebe explained how reading other nations’ depictions of his own, ones that described them as “savages”, inspired him to take action and become a voice for his people: There is that great proverb — that until the lions have their own historians, the history of the hunt will always glorify the hunter. That did not come to me until much later. Once I realized that, I had to be a writer. I had to be that historian.”

 

  • Even at 82 years, Achebe died young: “In Achebe’s obituary in March 2013, The New York Times described the author as the person who ‘helped to revive African literature and rewrite the story of a continent that had long been told by Western voices’.” (Refinery29.com)

Before I read No Longer at Ease, I (and millions of African readers) had never known of T.S. Eliot. Chinua Achebe made T.S. Eliot famous to Africans. Imagine that!

The list just touches the tip of who Chinua Achebe was and what he contributed to humanity. We miss him, but we are richer, more intelligent, and grateful for his legacy.

Harry Berry Is Die-Hard in “Kidnap”

The preview of Halle Berry’s “Kidnap” came to the public’s attention in late 2016. The release date was moved to January of 2017, moved a few times, and was not mentioned for a while. Finally, a reliable source indicated that it would be released this month. It is out this August, and it is worth the wait!

David Erlich’s review of “Kidnap” is unnecessarily dismissive and insulting. Reviewers like Erlich are the reason fans go to see a movie despite them thrashing it. David Erlich must not have watched the entire movie or must not have watched it at all. He missed the crucial essence of this most prolific film and its profound message: that we should rescue exploited and missing children with the tenacity of a mother bear.

Unlike the parents of the children on the “Missing” posters at the police station, Karla Dyson refused to do as the police requested: go home. “They waited,” Karla realizes and spurs herself to continue the search for her abducted son.

Flash over to a more credible source: NBC News recognizes the importance of the movie. As such, any parent who loves his/her child will be vested emotionally in this movie. The script is believable. That parent in the audience is on the edge of the seat cheering on this struggling mother whose callous husband tosses her aside for lack of post-secondary education while he makes a dive for a pediatrician. Berry’s character gives tenacity a different meaning.

The most crucial aspect of reading a book (or–as I tell my students–READING a movie) is reference point. Writing a review demands the same: making the plot relevant to one’s life. Therefore, we relate to Halle Berry’s character, Karla Dyson, and are sold on HALLE_BERRY_IN_KIDNAP-EHalle Berry’s convincing portrayal of a low-income/minimum-wage earning waitress whose lifeline is her son, Frankie. As parents, we are in tune with the twists and turns. When we stare into Karla Dyson’s horror-filled eyes, we feel her helplessness, her raw dread, and her iron-clad resolution. KDNP_00653.dng“To say that Karla was relentless is a gross understatement. Berry made sure we feel the despair and vulnerability of this mother as she stuck to her chase no matter how many times she cheated death doing so,” writes CBN News.

Rooting for Karla Dyson, we join her as fierce mothers (humans, giant anteaters, swans, brown bears, etc.) who will go to the ends of the world to keep our offspring from harm. If movies like the “Die Hard” franchise and the “Taken” trilogy can be believed, so can “Kidnap.” Karla Dyson accomplishes so much without the violence rampant in most action thrillers. She convinces us that she is decent and is above violence unless it is her only recourse.

The movie needs and receives a mother’s touch, a splash of sensitivity that introduces the plot. The audience hears Mother Karla continuing a stream of off-camera nurturing. We sense Berry’s role as one of the producers in the touchy-feely lead-in that allows the audience to watch the baby boy grow from birth to a six-year old. The audience falls in love with the baby and feeds into the palpable and fierce bond between mother and son. The viewer now has bought into the mindset of the determined giant anteater and the extent she will go to ensure the safety of the core of her being.

This edge-of-the-seat thriller sends the viewer’s blood racing from Frankie’s kidnapping to the engrossing chase. Several instances will catch the viewer by surprise and might elicit loud screams. The film might not have received the budget or the exposure of “Monster Ball,” “X-Men” movies, or Bond’s “Die Another Day,” but in terms of its centrality to humanity and its relevant themes, “Kidnap” gives all other Berry films a run for their money.  Kidnap-movie-Halle-Berry3

The ultimate one-liner that will make this film famous is Karla Dyson’s delivery to the kidnapper: “You took the wrong kid!”

Kudos to you, Halle Berry: actress and producer!

 

 

The Shortest Movie Review: “The Cold Light of Day”

Cold Light KeyI am playing catch-up on the movies I have missed over the years. I am five years behind on this movie, “The Cold Light of Day” (2012).

The unbelievable and unacceptable point from which I still am reeling is that Bruce Willis allowed the producers/directors to kill his character, Martin Shaw. What the living daylights happened??????

For a Hollywood legend who built his reputation on death-defying roles (“Die Hard:” two installations, “A Good Day to Die Hard,” “Red,” “Die Harder,” “Red 2,” “Live Free or Die Hard,” “The Expendables:” two installations, etc.), I never believed the day would come when Bruce Willis will allow his character to succumb to premature death. I am beyond disappointed.