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Page history last edited by Bonny Hart 8 years, 4 months ago


FrontPage > Materials > Dan Kurland






Click here for Dan Kurland's wealth of materials on Critical Reading--including the use of X-Word grammar







Comments (39)

Richard Abend said

at 9:52 pm on Jul 24, 2009

Bonny, thanks for always responding!

Bonny Hart said

at 5:45 pm on Jul 24, 2009

#1 Because you can't speak English with only the verb "to be"

Richard Abend said

at 3:23 pm on Jul 24, 2009

The idea of contacting Schools of Education is great. What would they be directed to on our site as the intro to Xword?

Richard Abend said

at 3:22 pm on Jul 24, 2009

Is it possible to do a "fun" list like the comedy talk shows do on TV: The top 10 reasons to know/use Xword, reason #10 ...

Bonny Hart said

at 11:07 am on Jul 23, 2009

I'll look at it Dan.
Check out my new extremely homemade video at Lydon--learning the xwords to the tune of Jingle Bells.

dsloane@newhaven.edu said

at 9:48 am on Jul 23, 2009

Bonny, Dan, or Richard. I just posted some comments on learnning X-Words (I think I did anyhow). The words were supposed to be grouped in six neat columns, but the transition to posting collapsed the columns. Could one of you go into the posting and fix the columns? Thanks!

dsloane@newhaven.edu said

at 8:54 am on Jul 23, 2009

It might be worthwhile to contact Schools of Education in the US (and elsewhere) that his site exists, but I don't know if there is a simple way to do that. There might also be a list of applied linguistic associations with conferences that we might propose panels to.

Bonny Hart said

at 9:16 pm on Jul 22, 2009


Richard Abend said

at 1:48 pm on Jul 22, 2009

Did you report it to Homeland Security? Bonny, you are really doing an incredible job of maintaining and keeping this wiki going! Thank you so much!!!!

Bonny Hart said

at 1:41 pm on Jul 22, 2009

Thanks, Dan, good idea. Also, I've sent a link to Dave's ESL Cafe. Any other ideas?

Dan Kurland said

at 1:22 pm on Jul 22, 2009

Re: wikipedia page-- I recommend stealing from Allen's SECTOR ANALYSIS--FROM SENTENCE TO MORPHEME IN ENGLISH with the Articles Section on this site...... maybe simplify a bit but being sure to cover the basic linsguistic points.

Bonny Hart said

at 12:21 pm on Jul 22, 2009

On the topic of spreading the word, I've just registered to be a contributor to Wikipedia. I want to add an article on Xword grammar/Sector Analysis there and link to this site. I hope you'll all contribute to an entry. Check out the article on English Grammar to see what NOT to do.

Bonny Hart said

at 11:51 am on Jul 22, 2009

Linda's having trouble with her email and logging in so, she's using my "identity" The first ever instance of xword-related identity theft.

Bonny Hart said

at 11:50 am on Jul 22, 2009

Linda says: I'm not sure why I can't scroll down, but this is my first day being able to talk to you guys, and I'm hoping Bonnie can put my response to Dan where it's supposed to be. This is Linda Kunz, and I was thrilled to read the beginning of Dan's critical reading stuff. It took me right back to Robert Allen's class in about 1970. CHUNKING IS SO IMPORTANT! When I told my best friend, who's a reading teacher and taught a second section of SA/XWG for new public school teachers with me at Lehman College last year about it, she got very excited and said, "That's where I was going with reading when I left TC!" Obviously, a lot of years have gone by, and people have done other things (not me; XWG is what I do every day), but twice just today and once yesterday I contacted people who studied with Robert Allen back in the sixties, and they are so excited about the website. Hey! It's only two weeks old! Much more later—lots of very positive stuff—on how TT respond to XWG, but it's almost 1:00 a.m. right now. Good night!--LAK

Richard Abend said

at 12:53 am on Jul 22, 2009

Of course! What would a shifter discussion be without front and end?

Cyndi said

at 10:52 pm on Jul 21, 2009


Your video topics sound very helpful! Will you discuss front shifter vs. end shifter?

Dan Kurland said

at 7:04 pm on Jul 21, 2009

Go for it! I look forward to seeing them.

Richard Abend said

at 6:36 pm on Jul 21, 2009

Dan, I actually had a very nice afternoon today. I sat outside in the back yard and planned out 4 short videos: What is a sentence? What are the Xwords? What is a subject? What is an adverbial shifter? I'm going to try those four topics, each 2-3 minutes, put them on youtube and see what happens. Do those topics sound more realistic to you?

Dan Kurland said

at 3:34 pm on Jul 21, 2009

Priorities, my friend, priorities. Such a discussion would have to cover/touch on
1) notion of asking Y/N questions
2) the transposition in doing so
3) discovery of X-words
4) introduction of "missing" x-words (e.g., did)
5) dealing with front sentence adverbials
6) isolating a "structure" in a "position" with a "meaning/role" in so doing -- the model
7) and with that separating "noun" from "subject" from "topic" in the new perspective
8) and only then getting into possible constructions that can fill that sector

Thinking out loud on the run........

Richard Abend said

at 2:13 pm on Jul 21, 2009

Maybe that is the place to catch interest! "What is the subject of a sentence?" Do you think it would be too much to also introduce the construcitons that can fill the subject place?

Dan Kurland said

at 12:52 pm on Jul 21, 2009


I suspect it's a minority view, but I have qualms about the emphasis on Y/N questions. Yes, it is "cute" and even primary to recognize the existence of X-words and that they shift with the formation of a Y/N question. But what then? The point is to go on to recognize the COMPLETE subject and with that the principle of constructions filling sectors, then applying that perspective more broadly. From there to recognizing sentence adverbials and their shiftiness. Without that expansion I don't really see the purpose. I recognize I come to this predominantly from a remedial college reading/writing perspective, not ESL, which may or may not explain that view.

By "shifters" do you refer to X-words, IO, or sentence adverbials?

My favorite starting point on desc/pres is the idiocy of saying a pronoun replaces a noun, rather than a noun cluster. I find that a good takeoff for approaching sentences as a series of constructions....

I do suspect there first has to be a decision as to audience -- ESL or not.

Alternatively, what we really need is sexy come-on. And "A simple foolproof way to find the subject of a sentence" may be the way to go to get interest and meet teacher needs. I do suspect many teachers will still want a single-word subject, and we would have to shift the sentence adverbial out of the way..... but that would be getting them to see the perspective we want.

Have I just reversed myself?

Richard Abend said

at 11:16 am on Jul 21, 2009

Dan, I don't think many teachers distinguish between prescriptive and descriptive grammars, and I'd even guess that there are a number of teachers out there who are completely unaware of the difference. What do you think about a 5 minute video on yes/no questions and/or shifters? What would you recommend for contrasting between prescriptive and descriptive grammars in a short video?

Dan Kurland said

at 10:40 am on Jul 21, 2009


Your criticism is well taken re: graphics on my pages. The site was written long ago directly in htlm code sans a wysiwyg program -- hence the issues with arrows and lines and such. Someday I have to find the time to put the diagramming into pdf! That still leaves the issue of who we really want to reach. I'm not sure that having a bunch of drones out there doing x-word exercises achieves our vision. I would start by going after the more intellectually curious who really want to learn an alternative grammar. Which may mean we have yet to do our homework on showing the deficiencies of prescriptive rather than descriptive grammars. How many teachers really distinguish between the two?? Anyone know?

Richard Abend said

at 1:29 am on Jul 21, 2009

Those are all good suggestions. I don't think I'll have a class available, so any video is going to be just me. What do you think about yes/no questions and/or shifters?

Cyndi said

at 10:43 pm on Jul 20, 2009

Video: Teachers and students in action
1. Writing Y/N questions or turning statements in a given text into questions
2. Working with DO/DOES/DID mice
3. Identifying x words etc in their own writing
4. Other activities that show something clicking in students' brains as they work with the language and that show them taking control of editing their own work
5. Working on the concept of immediate & remote
6. Maybe students reacting to presentation of a limited # of verb forms (e.g. 3, not 6, and those 3 not the usual base-past-past participle)

Still thinking about what else!

Cyndi said

at 10:39 pm on Jul 20, 2009

Dan Kurland, apologies if my tongue was too sharp! I have a much stronger taste for freedom than diplomacy!

As for images, various pics to catch people's eyes and move them around on the page. Nothing specific in mind yet.

Blog - Well, tonight I revisited the process of having students generate Y/N questions about something hidden in a bag. It took them far to long to come up with questions & affirmative & negative statements, all in one sitting. I'd write about what I did, what worked, what didn't, how students reacted, etc. That kind of thing might make it feel more real to teachers who are put off by x word grammar thinking that they have to learn a whole new set of terms.

Richard Abend said

at 8:33 pm on Jul 20, 2009

Cyndi, what would you put into a 5 minute video?

Richard Abend said

at 8:30 pm on Jul 20, 2009

Cyndi raises a very good point. Teachers are like students when in that same situation. They want something fast and immediately applicable. Can't say that I blalme them. That said, what content would a five minute Xword video contain to catch attention, either of students of English or teachers?

Dan Kurland said

at 5:20 pm on Jul 20, 2009

I must say at first I found your comment wonderfully sarcastic, an acerbic comment on teacher's unthinking reliance on fill-in exercises. Then I wasn't so sure. I guess that's one of the problems with the internet.
As noted elsewhere, I believe the most immediate strength of SA is to educate teachers about how the language works so that they may apply their understanding in examining strengths and weaknesses of student output, and so that they may structure specific exercises to meet specific student needs (or more broadly when applicable). The goal is not to teacher the grammar to students per se -- a wonderful exercise on the graduate level, but more questionable elsewhere in a world of standardized tests relying on other terminology and concepts. The goal is not to save the instructor from thinking, but to engage the instructor in thinking anew about the language.
What kind if images or blog do you have in mind? What context and level of instruction?

Cyndi said

at 1:18 pm on Jul 20, 2009

Dan Kurland,

Why don't teachers comment more on the grammar section of your critical reading site? Probably because it doesn't tell them what to do!

Plenty of teachers look to the web to save themselves prep time. Many look for clear, easy-to-read, easy-to-click sites that let them print handouts or give them specific lesson ideas. Think hands on, brains in a hurry!

Without my albeit limited background knowledge of x-word grammar, I probably wouldn't have spent more than 10 seconds on your site the other day. Apologies if that sounds harsh; I was enthusiastic but rushed!

Would you like to collaborate to add some images, maybe a blog-like section for comments on real-classroom use , and more?

Cyndi said

at 1:01 pm on Jul 20, 2009

5 min YouTube video? Great idea! Showing a class in action would be so helpful. Why don't more teachers use x-word grammar?
They've never heard of it.
They don't know how.
They don't know how much sense it makes.
They haven't seen it making sense in action (a good video would show this).
They're so used to working from a grammar book, and they've never heard of x-word/SA in such books.

Dave Sloane, if you'd like to team up to design some experiments to try in my fall course, I'm willing!

Richard Abend said

at 11:42 am on Jul 10, 2009

David, you have a good idea here. Maybe it's best to share small immediately-usable pieces of SA to avoid overloading or to make people feel there is too much to learn. I like that approach. It goes along with Dan's notion that instructors may have already bought in to one system and/or are already fed up with grammar and to change at this point is just too much work. What do you think would be a good topic for a five minute youtube video?

dsloane@newhaven.edu said

at 8:41 am on Jul 10, 2009

One more thought--developing a web-site with lots of resources and varied approaches is just the place to begin. Let us keep building this wiki. Congratulations on the great work so far.

dsloane@newhaven.edu said

at 8:40 am on Jul 10, 2009

I wish we could edit these posts after we post them and see all the mistakes. My apologies for the typos. Dave

dsloane@newhaven.edu said

at 8:39 am on Jul 10, 2009

Derek Van Ittersum, "Distributing Memory: Rhetorical Work in Digital Environments, TECHNICAL COMMUNICATION QUARTERLY, 18-3 (July-Sept)2009, 259-280, makes the point that end-users change has a lot to do with their ability to use the packages and gain familiarity with them. Also, environment, need, flexibility, and a host of other features figure in the selection of tools. So, here is X-Word Grammar, needing to build a broader base anad trying to get itself known. Van Ittersteing says be pragmatic and flexible. Perhaps the best strategy would be to figure out something interesting as an introduction and broadcast it to a lot of English teachers, inviting people to try it and send inquiries--build a base. Except in New York City, X-Word Grammar never reached what I call "critical mass" to be transferred downward. We need to get teacher-training programs involved. The NCTE would also be a target. X-Word Grammar needs to go to the annual convention and demonstrate. "If you build it, they will come" is a non-starter for this kind of pedagogeuy; people resist what looks too technical to them superficially. Do reportable studies. Ask a student to edit a letter before X-Word Grammar, then be tutored in X-Word Grammar for a couple of days and do it again. Will there be noticeable changes? Little experiments like that might be publishable and draw notice.

Dan Kurland said

at 7:54 am on Jul 10, 2009

I suspect much of the problem is an emphasis on grading errors rather than competencies, and on standardized testing -- a phenomenon that prohibits teaching alternative concepts and terminology. That and the fact that prescritpive grammar has simply given grammar a bad name, a phenomenon perpetuated by the notion of advantages to teaching Latin in lower grades, leading to a deemphasis on grammar in teacher training. But that is all speculation.

Richard Abend said

at 5:57 pm on Jul 9, 2009

That is so frustrating. I just don't get it! Why is there so little interest in this grammar? Are we strange for holding SA in such high regard? I take it for granted that everyone who sees SA will immediately see its value and I'm consistently disappointed. I know I'm going around in circles when I ask, why isn't there a stampede toward SA?

Dan Kurland said

at 1:34 pm on Jul 9, 2009

Nada. Zip. Nothing. Silence.
Most times that a remedial teacher asks for a copy of the book I tell them that the grammar section on the web will probably help them with their students more... to no avail....

Richard Abend said

at 12:22 am on Jul 9, 2009

Dan, I spent some time to visit your site. It has an amazing amount of content. There really is a wealth of material. I'm guessing a lot of it comes from your text. You've also given a very concise review of SA. What kind of feedback have you gotten on the grammar section?

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