TABLE OF CONTENTS
RATIONALE OF THE STUDY……………………………..3
How to help gifted students find essay writing
easy and how to help them write more effectively
Writing is ooften considered as the last skill to be developed after listening, speaking,
After many years of teaching at Luong The Vinh high school I have found that a lot
of gifted students at this school are enthusiastic about writing especially academic
writing. But, after marking and correcting their essays I found that their pieces of
writing still contained mistakes. These mistakes ranged from minor ones such as
spellings to major ones such as sentence structures and the organization in an essay. As
a teacher, I think that I should do something to help them overcome their difficulties in
writing so that they can improve their writing skill and write well and effectively. The
innovation covered a range of skills , from basic punctuation and capitalization rules to
clause work and the organization in an essay.
RATIONALE OF THE STUDY
a. What is Writing ?
According to Oshima and Huge, “ Writing is a possessive activity. This means that
when you first write something down, you have already been thinking about what you are
going to say and how are you going to say it. Then after you have finished writing , you
read over what you have written and make changes and corrections. Therefore, writing is
never a one-step action: it is a process that has several steps.” ( Oshima and Huge 1997 : 2 )
b. The importance of writing to gifted students / college students
Writing skill plays a very important role and gifted students / college students need good
writing skills as Oshima and Huge point out that “ The most important aspect of a college
education is to learn to communicate clearly and effectively. That is why general college
education prerequisites include a number of composition and reading courses that you must
complete before you graduate.”
c. The aim of the innovation :
- To teach gifted students some basic academic writing skills
- To help them write well and effectively
- To help them find essay writing easy
- To help them develop more confidence in their ability to write
- To help them show their skills in organising their ideas systematically .
d. The participants of the study
64 students of the two English classes ( grade 11 ) of LTV high school were chosen
to take part in the innovation . The innovation was carried out in writing periods of the two
semesters of the school year.
The reason why the students of the two English classes ( grade 11 ) were chosen as the
participants of the study were that :
They are gifted students.
They usually have to write essays.
They are interested in writing.
They often have to sit exams of English around the year.
Learning to write well is a step-by-step process. As Oshima and Huge point out that “
The ability to write is not a talent one is born with.”
“In writing, content is more important than mechanics, but mechanics is important too.”
( From the Course book : Teaching Reading & Writing – SEAMEO – page 104 )
Here are some important rules / skills that I have accumulated and given to students
so that I could help them show their ability in presenting a logical argument , their skills in
organising their ideas systematically , their ability to select relevant ideas and information to the
topic and last but not least their ability to use correct English grammar and vocabulary.
1. Title Rules
A title is used to attract attention and generally tells the reader what to expect. It is usually
a phrase , not a sentence.
-Capitalize the first , last , and important Choosing a Vacation Spot
words in a title.
- Do not capitalize short prepositions such How to Fight Stress
as on , to , in , and for ; short conjunctions Winning the Lottery
such as and , or , and so ; and the articles a,
an ,and the .
Exception : Capitalize a short word if it is The Problems of Single Parenting
the first word in a title.
The Advantages of Public Transportation
2. Capitalization Rules
a. The first word of a sentence
Mother Teresa is admired for her work all
over the world.
b. The pronoun I
The nun and I tried to care for poor, sick
people throughout the world.
c. Abbreviations and acronyms, which are FBI
words formed from the first letters of the USA
words in the names of organizations.
d. All proper nouns. Proper nouns include
- Names of deities
- Names of people and their titles
Jane P. Doe , PhD
Diana, Princess of Wales
Dr. Jonas Salk
BUT NOT a title without a name.
the general , the prime minister , the math
professor , the prince , the king
-Names of specific places you could find on Lake Victoria
- Names of days , months, and special days
BUT NOT the names of the seasons.
-Names of specific groups of people Moslem
( nationalities, races, and ethnic groups)
- Names of geographic areas
the Middle East
James’s home is in the South, but Tom
comes from the East Coat.
BUT NOT the names of compass directions
Drive east for two blocks, and then turn
- Names of school subjects with course Business Administration 17B
Chemistry 10 A
BUT NOT names of classes without Computer science , business administration ,
numbers , except languages.
German conversation , English composition
-Names of specific structures such as Golden Gate Bridge
buildings and bridges.
Park Plaza Hotel
the White House
organizations International Students’ Club
( businesses, clubs, schools )
University of California
St. Mary’s High School
American Heart Association
-Titles of compositions, stories, books, Introducing Myself
magazines, newspapers, plays, poems, and Introduction to Academic Writing
All Quiet on the Western Front
Note : Underline or italicize the titles of Star Wars
books, magazines, newspapers, plays, and
Change small letters to capital letters wherever it is necessary in the following sentences.
1. farnaz is a student from iran. She speaks english, french, and farsi. her major is
2. three important winter holidays in the united states are christmas, hanukkah, and new
3. president john f. kennedy was bon on may 29, 1917, and was assassinated on november
4.greenhills college is located in boston, massachusetts.
5.i am taking four classes this semester : english 40, sociology 32, typing and a computer
6. thanksgiving is always on the fourth thursday in november.
7. excuse me ! can you please tell me where the golden gate bridge.
8.there are three main religions in japan : buddhism, shintoism, and christianity.
9.i work during the months of june, july, and august.
3. Punctuation Rules
a. END-OF-SENTENCE PUNCTUATION
The flowers are beautiful in the spring.
-Put a period at the end of a statement or Water the flowers today.
- Put a question mark at the end of a Why are your roses dying ?
- Use an exclamation point to show strong Well, I’m not a gardener!
b. COMMAS ARE USED
To separate items in a series.
I’m taking, Spanish, English, physics, and
The teacher will read your essay, make
comments on it, and return it to you.
To separate the day of the month from the American declared their independence from
year, and after the year.
England on July 4, 1776, in Philadelphia.
NOTE : If no day is given, no comas are American declared their independence from
England on July 1776, in Philadelphia.
To separate the parts of an address in a My address is 404 West 63rd Street , Apt 13,
New York, NY 10017
To separate the street name from the 401 West 63rd Street , Apt 13 New York, NY
apartment number and the city from the state 10017
in a postal address.
Before a coordinating conjunction in a We don’t need to bring umbrellas, for the
sun is shining brightly.
After a sentence connector in compound The sun is shining brightly; therefore, We
don’t need to bring umbrellas.
After a dependent adverbial clause that is Because the sun is shining brightly, we don’t
followed by an independent clause in a need to bring umbrellas.
Before (and after ) nonrestrictive adjective The Napa Valley, which is a famous wineclauses.
growing region in Northern California, is
about 100 miles north of San Francisco.
nonrestrictive The Napa Valley, a famous wine-growing
region in Northern California, is about 100
miles north of San Francisco.
After most transition expressions at the Finally, we arrived at our hotel.
beginning of a sentence.
However, our rooms were not ready.
After an hour, we left to find a place to eat.
Across the street, we found a small café.
c. SEMICOLONS ARE USED
Between independent clauses that are not My battery is dead; my car won’t start.
connected by a coordinating conjunction in My battery is dead; therefore, my car won’t
d. QUOTATION MARKS ARE USED
She said, “ I’ll miss you.”
“ I’ll write you every day,” she promised.
“I think about you every day.” she
“ and I’ll dream about you every night.”
B. BASIC WRITING SKILLS
I. / The Basics of Sentence Construction
a./ Noun phrases
The bright blue dress was Helen’s favourite dress.
b./ Prepositional phrases ( phrases that start with a preposition. Prepositional phrases
work to modify nouns or verbs )
The man near the door is talking with Nathan.
( in this sense , they work very much like adjectives and adverbs)
c./ Verbal phrases ( phrases that start with either : a gerund , an infinitive , or a participle.
Verbal phrases can work as nouns , adjectives , or adverbs.)
Working in a factory had left him broken in body and spirit.
d./ Appositive phrases
My uncle Jack, a diligent and serious man , taught me the value of hard work.
Exercise 1 :
Read the following sentences. Underline all the noun phrases and circle the prepositional
phrases. Then draw an arrow to the word that each prepositional phrase modifies.
1. The leopard’s spots help it to hide from its prey.
2. When the right foot of the player touched the foul line, the referee blew the whistle.
3. Average winner temperatures in the Arctic Circle drop below zero.
4. The vast majority of start-up companies fail their first three years.
Read the following sentences. Underline any verbal phrases that act as nouns. Circle any
verbal phrases that act as modifier. Then draw an arrow to the word that each phrase
1. Maintaining a high grade point average is essential to any student hoping to go to
2. Crying and upset, the witness admitted she had lied to protect her boyfriend.
3. Ned came home to find his door forced open and his belongings scattered on the floor.
4. Planning the trip scheduled for next week is Helen’s responsibility.
Read the following sentences. Underline any appositive phrases in them and put a comma
at the beginning and at the end of each appositive phrase. Then draw an arrow to the noun
modified by the appositive.
1. The Tigers the only team to go undefeated are the favorites to win the championship.
2. The film about King Kong a giant ape who destroys the city was entertaining.
3. The dancer a girl of both beauty and grace was the star of the show.
4. The climbers decided to attempt their ascent of the mountain during the spring
traditionally the safest time of year in terms of weather.
a./ Independent clauses
( Independent clauses can stand alone as complete sentences. Independent clauses can
function as sentences because they express complete thought.
He got out of his car.
b./ Dependent clauses
Dependent clauses cannot function as complete sentences because they do not express
complete thoughts. Dependent clauses come in three forms : coordinate clauses,
subordinate clauses ,and noun clauses.
-Coordinate clauses are essentially independent clauses. However, they cannot function as
complete sentences because they begin with coordinating conjunctions, and this makes the
thoughts they express incomplete.
He got out of the car, but he left the car running.
- Subordinate clauses always start with a subordinating conjunction. Subordinate clauses
can be joined to independent clauses , coordinate clauses , or other subordinate clauses.
e.g. : He got out the car, but he left the car running because he was planning to return
- Noun clauses : Within a sentence, noun clauses serve the same functions as nouns. They
can work as subjects , objects , or complement. Noun clauses are introduced by one of the
following words : that , which , whichever , who , whoever , whomever , what , whatever ,
when , whenever , how , however , and whether.
Mike always buys whatever Mary wants.
Whoever ate the last piece of cake is in big trouble.
The big question is how we are going to fix the problem.
Read the following sentences and circle the independent clause in each sentence. Then
underline any dependent clause in each sentence. Where it is appropriate, place comas
between the independent clause and any dependent clause.
1. The city’s air pollution is the result of high number of cars on the road and of its outdated
factories but little is being done to solve the problem.
2.Although the modifications to the ship’s design were thought to be minor they had a
significant impact on its performance.
3. Most wild animals are afraid of humans but they can still be dangerous when they are
4. While Mark usually displays excellent sportsmanship he was thrown out of the last game
because of his behaviour.
Exercise 2 :
Read the following sentences below. Find the noun clause in each sentence and underline it.
1. Last semester our science teacher taught us how batteries work.
2. That he had committed the crime was understood to be a proven fact.
3. although Nick is actually from New York , Miami is where his heart is.
4. When Jessica found what Mark had hidden under her book, she screamed at the top of
Read the pairs of sentences below. Then combine them into one sentence using the type of
conjunction indicated in parentheses ( ) .
1. Most professional sports are seasonal in nature. Athletes need time to rest and recover
between seasons. ( subordinating conjunction )
2. The waves in Hawaii are better than in most of California. Hawaii is the surfing capital
of the US. ( coordinating conjunction )
3. CD players were released for mass marketing in the late 1980s. CD players quickly
replaced tape players. (subordinating conjunction )
3. SENTENCE STRUCTURES
a./ Simple sentences
A simple sentence is made up of a single independent clause. However, simple sentences
are not always short and easy. An almost unlimited number of phrases and modifiers can be
built into a simple sentence structure, so sometimes these sentences can be quite advanced.
My dog loves to play fetch.
My dog, a beautiful and playful Labrador puppy, loves to play fetch on sunny
afternoon in the park near my house.
b./ Compound sentences
My dog loves to play fetch , and I take him to the park almost every day.
c. / Complex sentences
My dog loves to play fetch, even though he is very old now.
d./ Compound- complex sentences
Even though he is very old now, my dog loves to play fetch, and I take him to
the park almost every day.
Read each of the following sentences and indicate whether it is a simple sentence, a
compound sentence , a complex sentence , or a compound- complex sentence.
1. Justin apparently misplaced all his textbooks, or at least most of them, during the ride
from the library to his house.
2. The hurricane caused severe hardship for working class members of society, but the
rich , having access to far greater resources, viewed the storm as little more than an
3. Even though the Constitution guarantees all citizens the same essential rights, in
practice, many groups have been denied the full rights and benefits of citizenship.
4. The government claimed that the recent restrictions on the press were in the interests of
public safety, and it promised to ease the restrictions as soon as it is deemed to be safe to do
Exercise 2 :
Combine the simple sentences below. Try to combine them into a single sentence using as
many different sentence structures as possible.
The team began to lose any hope of victory. The team realized it was thirteen points back
with only minutes to go in the final quarter.
1. Combine the sentences into a compound sentence.
The team realized it was thirteen points back with only minutes to go in the final quarter,
and it began to lose any hope of victory.
2. Combine the sentences into a complex sentence.
The team began to lose any hope of victory when it realized that it was thirteen points
back with only minutes to go in the final quarter.
3. Combine the sentences into a single, simple sentence.
Realizing it was thirteen points back with only minutes to go in the final quarter, the team
began to lose any hope of victory.
4. / PRONOUN USAGE
Antecedents of pronouns :
If a pronoun is used in a sentence , there must be a noun before it of the same person and
number. There must be one, and only one , antecedent to which the pronoun refers.
Examples of pronouns without antecedents :
Henry was denied admission to graduate school because they did not believe
that he could handle the work load.
The members of the admissions committee denied Henry admission to
graduate school because they did not . . .
Rewrite the following sentences so that each pronoun has a clear antecedent. If you have to
supply a noun, use any noun that will make the sentence correct.
1. The dispute between the faculty and the administration was not resolved until they got
better working conditions.
2. Ellen spotted her friend as her friend as she walked towards the student Union.
3. Foreigners are easily impressed by the bullfighters as they march into the arena.
4.In their spare time , many great books have been written about the famous Greek and
5. Dr. Byrd’s book was accepted for publication because they thought it would be
beneficial to students.
6. Bob and Helen hate flying because they make too much noise.
7. Casey was not admitted to the country club because they thought he was not socially
8. Mary loves touring the country by train because it is so interesting
9. The colonel was decorated for bravery , having fought them off.
10. The children were frightened because they made eerie sounds.
5./ SUBJECT / VERB AGREEMENT
Read the following sentences. Then rewrite the sentence to correct the error.
1. The biggest problem facing many new companies are is the dozens of regulations that
are often unfamiliar to the company management.
2. Most of the talk , including the portions on political reform , financial stability , and
future economic growth , are is available on tape for anyone who is interested.
3. Seemingly minor breakdown in social etiquette, the failure to apologize after bumping
into someone, for example , is are Michael’s complaint about life in the city.
4. In the suspect’s house, underneath his mattress , was were found the murder weapon
and the stolen property, which was enough to convict him of the crime.
5. Not only the investors , but also the company itself are is expected to suffer severe
financial losses after the world of financial analysts learns of its improprieties
6. / PARALLELISM
Similarity of structure in a pair or series of related words, phrases, or clauses. Also called
By convention, items in a series appear in parallel grammatical form: a noun is listed with
other nouns, an -ing form with other -ing forms, and so on. Failure to express such items in
similar grammatical form is called faulty parallelism.
Ordering of ideas :
Generally, when making a list of ideas, the shortest and most grammatically simple ideas
should be placed at the beginning of the list. Look at this example below :
Under the judge’s ruling , the company must compensate its shareholders for their losses
caused by the company’s mismanagement , open its books to inspection every year, and
pay a fine .
In the example above, all the parts of the list are grammatically parallel ; they begin with
verbs. However, they are ordered in a manner which makes the sentence somewhat hard to
read. The sentence would be simpler if the shortest and most grammatically simple ideas
were at the beginning of the list. Look at the example below.
Under the judge’s ruling , the company must pay a fine, open its books to inspection
every year, and compensate its shareholders for their losses caused by the
Read each of the sentences below and underline the section that is not parallel in structure. Then
revise each sentence.
1. He's quite a man with the girls. They say he's closed the eyes of many a man and opening the
eyes of many a woman."
2. "They are laughing at me, not with me."
3. "Voltaire could both lick boots and put the boot in. He was at once opportunist and courage,
cunning and sincerely. He managed, with disconcerting ease, to reconcile love of freedom with love
4. "Truth is not a diet but a condiment."
5 ."Our transportation crisis will be solved by a bigger plane or a wider road, mental illness with a
pill, poverty with a law, urban conflict with a gas, racism with a goodwill gesture and we can use
bulldozers to pull down slums ."
6. "Buy a bucket of chicken and having a barrel of fun."
7. "The loss we felt was not the loss of ham but the loss of pig."
8. "Immature poets imitate; mature poets stealing ."
9. "The value of parallel structure goes beyond aesthetics. . . . It points up the structure of the
sentence, showing readers what goes with what and keep them on the right track."
10. Freedom of speech and being able to vote in election are the rights of every citizen.
11. The workers had already completed the necessary adjustments, checked all components twice,
and had gone home for the night.
12. The very definition of a Renaissance , Leonardo da Vinci was a painter, sketch artist and an
13. The mayor suggested several new initiatives: the construction of anew art complex with a large
outdoor theater , increasing funding to promote local artists, and hosting an annual art festival.
Change the following sentences so that they are parallel.
1. The puppy stood up slowly , wagged its tail, blinking its eyes , and barked.
2. Ecologists are trying to preserve our environment for future generation by protecting the
ozone layer, purifying the air, and have replanted the trees that have been cut down.
3. The chief of police demanded from his assistants an orderly investigation , a wellwritten report, and that they work hard.
4. Marcia is a scholar, an athlete, and artistic.
5. Slowly and with care, the museum director removed the Ming vase from the shelf and
placed it on the display pedestal.
6. The farmer plows the fields, plants the seeds, and will harvest the crop.
7. Abraham Lincoln was a good president and was self-educated , hard-working , and
always told the truth.
8. Children love playing in the mud , running through puddles, and they get very dirty.
9. Collecting stamps, playing chess, and to mount beautiful butterflies are Derrick’s
10. Despite America’s affluence, many people are without jobs, on welfare, and have a lot
Read the sentence below. Each sentence contains proper parallel structure, but can be
revised for clarity and simplicity. Revise each sentence by reordering the parallel structure.
1. The company manager set out three goals for the year: to increase productivity by
streamlining the construction process, to increase sales, and to decrease accidents on the
2. Strict regulation of the media, imprisonment of political enemies with little or no judicial
process, and public intimidation are all characteristics of totalitarian governments.
7. SENTENCE FRAGMENT AND RUN-ON SENTENCES
a. / Sentence Fragments
Sentence fragments are parts of a sentence that do not express a complete thought. Look at
the example below:
When Jack grows up , he wants to be a police officer. Because his father is a police
Generally , sentence fragments are pretty easy to recognize and avoid , as in the example
above. Many people unknowingly create sentence fragments, however, by starting a
sentence with a coordinating conjunction. This makes the sentence a dependent clause , and
therefore a sentence. Look at the example below :
After the meeting had ended , Mitch and Katie got into a huge argument. But later
they apologised to each other.
In order to fix this sentence fragment, we can replace the coordinating conjunction “but”
with an adverbial conjunction like “ however.”. Look at the example below:
After the meeting had ended , Mitch and Katie got into a huge argument. Later,
however , they apologised to each other.
b./ Run-on Sentences
In theory , there is no limit to the number of clauses that you can link together in a
sentence. In practice , however, if you link too many clauses together in a sentence , your
sentence will be long, disorganized, and confusing. Look at the example below :
Bob and Jessica wanted to go to the beach, but their sister Diane didn’t , so they
planned to go into the city instead, but the traffic was terrible because there had
been a huge accident, and they had to turn around and go home.
Run-on sentences like the one above should be broken into two or more smaller sentences.
Look at the example below :
Bob and Jessica wanted to go to the beach, but their sister Diane didn’t.
Consequently, they planned to go into the city instead. Traffic , however, was
terrible due to a huge accident, and they had to turn around and go home.
Read the following paragraphs. Each one contains a number of sentence fragments and
run-on sentences. Revise each paragraph to correct these problems.
1.It is my belief that people rely on their cars too much. most people use their cars even for
short trips where they could just walk instead , like when they are going to a store that is
just around the corner or things like that. In such situations it is not necessary to drive, but
most people drive anyway. Even people who are unwilling to walk even these short
distances could drive less if they would just plan ahead and try to run all of their daily
errands at one time instead of making numerous short trips.
2. Air quality in many parts of the world has grown drastically worse in the last three
decades. Because of a greater reliance on coal to generate power. Coal, which is full of
impurities that make their way into the air, is utilized by many developing countries for
power generation due to the simplicity of the technology. Coal-fired plants are easier to
build than plants that run on natural gas or oil because it is easier to safely store coal than
either natural gas or oil , and coal-fired plants are obviously simpler and safer than nuclear
power plants. But they also cause far more pollution than other types of power plants.
C. PARAGRAPH STRUCTURES
I./ The Basic Elements of a Paragraph
1. Main ideas
The main idea of a paragraph can be expressed in two ways : directly or indirectly. When
expressed directly, the main idea will appear in a single sentence , called a topic sentence.
When expressed indirectly the main idea will not appear in a single sentence. Instead,
different parts of the main idea will be expressed in different sentences, and the reader will
be expected to be able to put these pieces together to understand what the main idea is.
a./ Topic Sentence
What is the topic sentence?
Topic sentences usually appear at the beginning or end of a paragraph and tell the reader
exactly what the paragraph is about.
A topic sentence contains the main idea upon which a paragraph is developed. What follows a
topic sentence are a number of supporting sentences that develop the main idea with specific
What does it do?
It introduces the main idea of the paragraph.
How do you write one?
Summarize the main idea of your paragraph. Indicate to the reader what your paragraph
will be about.
There are three reasons why Canada is one of the best countries in the world. First,
Canada has an excellent health care system. All Canadians have access to medical services
at a reasonable price. Second, Canada has a high standard of education. Students are
taught by well-trained teachers and are encouraged to continue studying at university.
Finally, Canada's cities are clean and efficiently managed. Canadian cities have many
parks and lots of space for people to live. As a result, Canada is a desirable place to live.
b./ Indirect main ideas
Sometimes , a paragraph will not have a topic sentence, but that does not mean it does not have a
main idea. Main ideas are often stated indirectly, especially when the main idea is too complex to
explain in a single sentence. Look at the example below :
Living in the oceans , which are often dark and murky, dolphins must rely on senses other than
vision. Dolphins navigate and hunt by using a series of high pitched sounds to locate nearby
objects. Dolphins , however, are not the only animals to do this. bats also live in an environment
where their vision is not very helpful to them. Bats live in dark caves and hunt at night. In order to
make up for the dark of light , they also use sound to navigate and locate objects.
- The main idea of this passage is that dolphins and bats both use sound to hunt and navigate
because they live in low-light conditions.
Read the following paragraph and underline the topic sentence in each one. If a paragraph
does not contain a topic sentence, write a sentence expressing the main idea of the
paragraph in the space provided.
1. A few years back , I took an extended vacation to the island of Bali. Of all the vacations I
have been on my life, my trip to Bali was the most memorable. One of the things that
struck me the most was the way that much of the traditional culture of the island remained
intact, especially in the city of Bud, located in the center of the island. There , many
families still live in the traditional style compounds, complete with a personal temple for
the family. The other thing that sticks in my memory about that trip is that it cemented my
relationship with one of my closest friends. My friend and I were close before the trip, but ,
during our time on Bali, we really bonded and became much better friends,
2. When the English Pilgrims first landed in America, they were poorly prepared for the
hardships they would endure there. They lacked knowledge concerning what crops would
grow best in the American soil or what the most effective methods of hunting and fishing
were. Without such knowledge the colonists mostly would not have survived their first
winner in America. Fortunately , they received assistance from, local Native American
tribes who taught them how to grow corn and what animas were easiest to catch. Equally
important was the fact that the Native Americans refrained from attacking the Pilgrims.
Had they desired to, the Native Americans could have easily driven those early settlers
back into the sea.
3. Nowadays, my hometown is a much better place to live in. There are more parks,
theaters, and restaurant, so it’s a much more interesting place. In addition, the police force
has expanded greatly , so there is much less crime than there used to be.
Each passage below contains a series of sentences with specific examples of a single character
trait: (1) patience, (2) a frightful imagination, and (3) a love of reading. What each passage lacks
is a topic sentence.
Your job is to complete each paragraph by creating an imaginative topic sentence that both
identifies the particular character trait and creates enough interest to keep us reading.
Passage A: Patience
Create a topic sentence.
For example, recently I began taking my two-year-old dog to obedience school. After four weeks of
lessons and practice, she has learned to follow only three commands--sit, stand, and lie down--and
even those she often gets confused. Frustrating (and costly) as this is, I continue to work with her
every day. After dog school, my grandmother and I sometimes go grocery shopping. Inching along
those aisles, elbowed by hundreds of fellow customers, backtracking to pick up forgotten items, and
standing in the endless line at the checkout, I could easily grow frustrated and cranky. But through
years of trying times I have learned to keep my temper in check. Finally, after putting away the
groceries, I might go out to a movie with my fiancé, to whom I have been engaged for three years.
Layoffs, extra jobs, and problems at home have forced us to postpone our wedding date several
times. Still, my patience has enabled me to cancel and reschedule our wedding plans again and
again without fuss, fights, or tears.
Passage B: A Frightful Imagination
Create a topic sentence.
For instance, when I was in kindergarten, I dreamed that my sister killed people with a television
antenna and disposed of their bodies in the woods across the street from my house. For three weeks
after that dream I stayed with my grandparents until they finally convinced me that my sister was
harmless. Not long afterwards, my grandfather died, and that sparked new fears. I was so terrified
that his ghost would visit me that I put two brooms across the doorway of my bedroom at night.
Fortunately, my little trick worked. He never came back. More recently, I was terribly frightened
after staying up late one night to watch The Ring. I lay awake until dawn clutching my cell phone,
ready to ring 911 the moment that spooky little girl stepped out of my TV. Just thinking about it
now gives me Goosebumps.
Passage C: A Love of Reading
Create a topic sentence.