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Letter to the Principal

By: Miss Marm

Impeccable grammar makes you look smart, polished, and meticulous—exactly how you want to look when you're begging your principal to save a teacher's job.

A Sparkler asked me to double-check his missive for anything that might weaken his case/make his principal's lip curl in disgust. Grammar champs, look for the numbers in parentheses and see if you can guess the problem I've identified. Answers and suggestions follow the letter.

Is it true that Mr. Smith is getting fired? (1) If so, I would like to point out to you that (2) Mr. Smith is perhaps one of the best teachers I've ever had, and I have had many amazing teachers.

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I Finished That Book Months Ago, Dummy

By: Miss Marm

If you're like me (and I know you are), you race through assigned books in a few nights. You finish ahead of schedule mostly for pleasure; you love to read. You also enjoy saying, "Oh, Lord of the Flies? I finished it, like, a month ago."

But after the jerky pleasures of bragging subside, reality sets in: you must now spend week after boring week waiting for your classmates to catch up. You probably wind up taking the test four months after you finished the book, at which point you only kind of remember the plot. Worst of all, you know you're not reading as much, or thinking as hard, as you could and should be. That's the fix this Sparkler finds herself

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I'm Un-Stumped!

By: Miss Marm

Yesterday's prompt really threw me for a loop. Today, thank spaghetti monster, someone sent me a prompt I can actually decipher—sort of.

The thing is, teachers aren't so different from you. You know how, when you're writing a paper, you suddenly start impersonating an English duke? And instead of saying, "Hawthorne writes about the dullness of office life," you feel obligated to say, "Hawthorne interrogates the liminal state of wage workers and their—too justified—impatience with the sameness of their everyday tasks"? Well, the same thing happens to teachers. Check out this email from a

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I'm Stumped.

By: Miss Marm

Every so often, a Sparkler writes in with a question that baffles me utterly. For example:

i have an a question that teacher gave us but  i did no understand it

"Explain the reasons given by postcolonial theoriest to theories cultures in the previous colonies"

can you explain just the question for me and what it want

As I see it, there are a few

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Confuzzled About Thesis Placement

By: Miss Marm

Writing a thesis is like wrapping a present: challenging, confusing, and involving way more tape than you thought you'd need. (In this metaphor, tape = thinking. Obviously.)

And even once you've got your thesis nailed down, further problems await. For example: where's the goshdarn thing supposed to GO?

A Sparkler

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Categories: teachers | theses | the rules

Yellow Wallpaper Screaming Meemies

By: Miss Marm

Vandude just made such a great comment on Kat's post that I have to retweet it (respark it?) here:

i read a short story that absolutely gave me the “screaming meemies” as spark notes so eloquently states it it was called “The Yellow Wallpaper” but i forgot who its written by and its about this lady who has post-pardum depression so she is locked up by her husband so she wont do anything drastic but instead she goes crazy! yikes and then my teacher did a demonstration of the crazy lady creeping along the wall and now i still get nightmares ahhhh

Number one, I love "The Yellow Wallpaper." It's creepy and feminist and awesome. Number two, Vandude's teacher sounds amazing and I'm totally stealing her moves. Number three, the writer is Ms. Charlotte Perkins Gilman.

Anyone who hasn't read this spooky classic can check it out here. And don't miss the SparkNote, obvi.

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Bewildering Assignment Explained

By: Miss Marm

Sometimes the problem isn't starting your homework; it's understanding what your professor's asking for in the first place.

Today, a confuzzled Sparkler sent me her first assignment for a college English class. Her questions are [in green brackets]; my answers are [in purple brackets].

Assignment:

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Do You Go to Your Teachers for Help?

By: Miss Marm

Here's an interesting email from a teacher:
I'm a high school English teacher who tries to keep up on what is going on in the world of SparkNotes, since many of my students turn there before they turn to me. I'm glad to see that there's someone out there letting them know that they should edit/proofread their papers...but a simple suggestion that these desperate students seek help from their English teachers or writing tutor types (most of whom are more than happy to help) might go a long

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Categories: teachers

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