Reading aloud as a strategy to improve your writing

December 1, 2017

iStock-woman at laptopOne strategy to improve the quality of your writing is to read it aloud. I’ve been doing this for years.

According to the Writing Center at University of California at Chapel Hill, reading out loud means your brain gets information in a different way. You can literally hear your errors! You can find awkward constructions or sentences that are too long, for example. You can also find words that are repeated or just do not sound right.

When I read aloud I will often print out a copy of my work first. That allows me to make quick edits and notes on the page as I go. If something sounds off, I pause, make a note on my paper, then carry on reading the work aloud.

Sometimes when I recommend this strategy to my students, they tell me they feel silly reading their own work out loud. They don’t want others in their work place or household to think they are being pretentious or too eccentric. If this is the case, go find a quiet place where you can be alone.

Another important factor is to give yourself enough time to read aloud, especially if your paper is long. You may find that you prefer to read one section at a time, taking a break in between. It can also be helpful to have a glass of water nearby.

I recommend to each of you that as you revise your term paper, thesis, report or whatever you are writing at the moment that read your own work out loud (just like I did with this blog post). You’ll be surprised how much better the final product is.

References

The Writing Center at University of California at Chapel Hill. (n.d.). Reading aloud.   Retrieved from https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/reading-aloud/

Writing Center at John Carroll University. (n.d.). Why We Ask to Read The Paper Aloud.   Retrieved from https://jcuwritingcenter.wordpress.com/2017/02/17/why-we-ask-to-read-the-paper-aloud/

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This blog has had over 1.8 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.

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10 Tips to Help Your Child Learn to Love Reading

March 22, 2013

iStock-Girl with bookHelping a child to develop his or her love of reading is a gift that will last a lifetime. Here are 10 tips to help you cultivate your child’s love of books and reading.

1. Read together – Rather than plunking your child down in a chair with the hopes that he or she will read on their own while you do other tasks, take the time to read with your child. From start to finish, show your child what it means to choose and read a book and then think about it afterwards.

2. Create special time for reading – Set aside time regularly to read. Make this one-on-one time with your child. Choose a time of day when both you and your child are alert and ready to spend quality time together. During this time, turn off and put away your mobile device. Avoid taking phone calls, responding to e-mails or sending texts during your special reading time. Give your child your full attention and focus on creating a fun and enjoyable experience.

3. Get comfy – Chose a spot that is comfortable with lots of light. Preferably, you want to read in a space that is free of loud or distracting noises, too.

4. Let your child chose the book – Chances are higher that your child will be motivated to read with you if you let him or her pick out the book you will read. If you choose the book, your child’s interest levels may be too low to fully engage him or her.

5. Take turns – You do not have to do all the reading and neither does your child. Take turns and share the reading experience.

6. Change your voice – Change the speed, pitch and tone of your voice to keep the experience exciting for your child. Create different voices for different characters to engage your child’s imagination.

7. Give encouragement – Give your child lots of praise and support as he or she learns to read. Be gentle, kind and encouraging. This helps to create a positive atmosphere where learning and discovery go hand in hand.

8. Offer incentives – For reluctant young readers, incentives can help motivate him or her. For example, one incentive might be that for every book you read together, your child can stay up for an extra 15 minutes that night… but you have to get through the whole book! Choose incentives that don’t involve food, TV or video games to help encourage a healthy lifestyle. Keep the rewards modest and then keep your promise.

9. Ask questions as you read – Ask your child to point to characters in the book or identify items that are a certain color. When your child is ready, ask about letters and words, too.

10. Keep the fun going – After you have finished your book, ask your child about his or her favorite parts of the story or favorite characters. Ask questions that help him or her remember the story. Practice new words together, too.

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Update – January 2018 – This blog has had over 1.8 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.


What Canadians who sell Kindle e-books need to know

March 27, 2012

This post is for all my Canadian author friends who sell – or are thinking of selling – their books as e-books using Amazon’s Kindle service.

I started selling Kindle books last year. This week, I got a surprise in the mail from Amazon, a “Foreign Person’s U.S. Source Income Subject to Withholding”. Amazon will withhold 30% of the royalties they paid on the Kindle books. They are required to do this by the IRS.

However, those of us living and working in Canada are exempt from royalty tax withholding. As I understand it (and I could be wrong here, but this is what I have been able to ascertain from talking to both the Canada Revenue Agency and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in the U.S.), the reason for the exemption is that if you are honest about your royalty income and report it at tax time, the Canadian government will tax you on that income. The level of that tax depends on your total annual income, but it would be reasonable to say that it might be around 30% or so.

When Amazon withholds the tax, you’re essentially taxed twice… 30% on the U.S. side and another 30% by the Canadian side, totaling about 60% tax.

So, the American and Canadian governments came to an agreement that more or less says, “Canadians are exempt from U.S. taxes on royalties because they have to pay tax on their income in Canada.” (Again… I am paraphrasing according to what I understand… and I could be wrong.)

However, a problem arises when Canadians sign up for a Kindle account. Canadian authors must “claim treaty benefits” in order to not be taxed by both the U.S. and Canadian governments. (No one tells you this when you sign up for a Kindle account.) You need to correctly fill out, sign and submit a W8-BEN form in order to claim these “treaty benefits”. You can get a W8-BEN form online form here: http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/fw8ben.pdf

Amazon will not process the form without a TIN (Tax Identification Number).

There are two types of TINs:

Steps to follow:

  1. Figure out what type of TIN you need.
  2. Apply for the correct type of TIN with the IRS. You can do this over the phone, by mail or by fax. (Canadians are not eligible to apply for these numbers online.)
  3. Fill out the W8-BEN form. You must include either your ITIN or your EIN on your form or Amazon will not process it.
  4. Send your completed, signed form to Amazon. You can scan your form and e-mail it to them through the e-mail address they provide on their site.

Do all this as soon as you set up your Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) account. That means, do it before you make your first sale on Amazon. Do not wait! Get it done right away.

If you do not claim the correct treaty benefits using the W8-BEN form, Amazon will withhold tax. (They are just following the rules required by the IRS).

Then, you will need to fill out both a W8-BEN form AND an affidavit form to backtrack. (I am still waiting for confirmation that they will reimburse me for the taxes they withheld for 2011).

Today I spent over three hours on the phone with the IRS (much of the time I was on hold). In total, I spoke with nine different IRS agents to try and figure this all out. (No, I am not kidding).

Most of them could not help. What I can tell you is that there are two different sets of phone numbers to call. Americans can call the toll-free 1-800 number. The folks who answer those lines can’t help foreign nationals much. There are different numbers for foreigners to call. Today I called 1-267-941-1000 and eventually got through to someone who could help.

The best answer I got was “All this e-commerce stuff is new… We’re not trained in it… But basically, if you are a Canadian working and producing your writing in Canada, paying your taxes in Canada and you do not live in the US, you should be able to claim treaty benefits.”

The one question no one was able to answer clearly for me was, “If I have a TIN will I be required to file US taxes?” The best answer that came was, “Probably not, because you are claiming treaty benefits. You may have to fill out a form to claim exemption.” But whether or not this is actually the case remains to be seen…

My big disclaimer: I am not an expert in US taxes, or Canadian taxes either, for that matter. I claim no authority or expertise in these matters. This information is provided for informational and educational purposes only. I am simply sharing my own experience and what I learned as a result of it. It is your responsibility to do your own research and adhere to all the tax laws of your jurisdiction.

Resources for Canadian writers and publishers to check out:

W8-BEN Instructions

Article 901 – US Tax Treaties

IRS Publication 515

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Update – January 2018 – This blog has had over 1.8 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.


Success Strategy for Students: How to Make Sense of Scholarly Research Articles

January 17, 2012

Students sometimes find it hard to figure out what a research article is really trying to say. The language is dense and thick, full of long, Latin-root words. Before you know it, their eyes are drooping. Their phone chimes and they pick it up, eager for any reason to abandon the dull and hard-to-read article.

This handy tool helps students move from being passive readers to active readers of research articles. It helps them figure out key information and dissect the article in a way that helps them make sense of it.

This is a free, downloadable and printable resource designed for high school and post-secondary students, as well as adult learners.

View this document on Scribd

Related posts:

Success Strategy for Students: How to Cite Class Notes

Success Strategy for Post-Secondary Students: Get to Know Your Profs
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Update – January 2018 – This blog has had over 1.8 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.


Literacy for Christmas: Free activities and resources

December 19, 2011

Swirl of giftsAre you looking for activities with a Christmas or holiday theme to promote or improve literacy? Check out some of these great free resources:

Early Childhood Literacy

Christmas literacy resources for K-3 teachers 

Candy cane math and sight words for preschoolers and kindergarten – The Preschool Toolbox blog

Literacy activities for K-12

Tons of holiday literacy resources for a variety of ages (including printables) – Teaching Ideas

Christmas writing activities – Literacy Minute blog

Christmas around the world – Numerous activities for a variety of age groups – TES resources

Literacy at Christmas “How to” kit – NWT Literacy Council (NALD)

Christmas Brainstorm Activities – About.com (There are links to other worthwhile resources from that page.)

Do you know of other free activities for literacy teachers that we can add to this list? If so, leave your comment below.

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Update – January 2018 – This blog has had over 1.8 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.


Literacy and Essential Skills: Why Digital Literacy is Crucial

December 6, 2011

The Guardian recently published an article called “No place in class for digital illiterates“. The article talks about how children who lack technology literacy skills are getting left behind. Writer Gavin Dudeney talks about changing definitions of literacy that now include “digital literacy”  or the ability to use the Internet and interact with digital texts.

As I was writing The Need For Increased Integration of Technology and Digital Skills in the Literacy Field in Canada I found research that suggests that Canada’s 9 Literacy and Essential Skills may be just the beginning. One of the 9 Essential Skills is “Computer Use”. Some researchers are suggesting that this term is too narrow. Today, it is not enough for a person to know how to turn on a computer, manipulate a mouse or use a track pad or write a resume on a word processing program. Digital skills are an important part of computer use.

People need to know how to search for everyday information such as bus schedules, tax information and other important information that is part of every day living. Job seekers need to know how to search for and apply for jobs posted on the Internet and submit their resume through an online application system. More and more job application sites require users to create an account and register with a company or a service. If adults do not know how to do these things, they will fall behind.

Children who do not know how to use touch screens or the Internet may find themselves disadvantaged later on, as they try to catch up with digitally savvy peers. There are some groups and individuals who are opposed to the increased use of technology in schools. Waldorf Schools, a system of private schools with an excellent reputation, reportedly does not use any technology in its elementary grades.

As an educator, I worry about such approaches. Clearly, it works for them because they are a hugely successful network of schools. But I openly confess that I have never worked with a Waldorf school, myself. I’d love to be invited to one to see how they teach and engage with their learners. As a bit of a “tech junkie”, I have to acknowledge my bias in favour of using more technology, rather than less. I worried whether children who do not learn how to use touch screens or the Internet in their school years may find themselves disadvantaged later on, as they try to catch up with digitally savvy peers?

Having said that, I do think it is important to incorporate technology in a meaningful way that shows why we are using it, what purpose it serves and ultimately, how it benefits the learner. It is critical to make these links so that we show how digital skills can help children develop cognitively and socially so that when they grow up, their lives as adults have meaning as they find work that makes them feel that they are making a meaningful contribution to their world. It is a world that we can only dream about right now. As an educator, I ask, how do we best prepare our learners for success in five, ten or twenty years’ time? And what will “literacy and essential skills” look like a decade from now?

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Update – January 2018 – This blog has had over 1.8 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.


Best resources of the week (Nov. 20 to 26, 2011)

December 4, 2011

Here are my favorite resources of the week, curated from my Twitter account.

Social Media

Schools would be wise to adopt Granville district’s social media policies – Newark Advocate

How to hide Twitter #hashtag chats from your followers by Dave Larson

The Rise of the Connected Non-Profit from Mashable

10 Things I Learned On My Twitter Journey To 100,000 Followers by John Paul

How 5 Top Brands Crafted Their Social Media Voices by Lauren Indvik

“Don’t do as I say, do as I do” – the role of leadership in promoting the use of social media by Don Ledingham

7 Secrets Of Highly Effective Twitter Power Users  by Lauren Dugan

10 Steps to Kick Start Your Twitter Network from Edte.ch Blog

Proposed social media policy has this school committee in a huff by Sherilynn Macale

Literacy and Essential Skills

Reading to your kid: even more important than you think – The Globe and Mail

How Canadian contemporary authors inspire youth – Imaginaction

Language Learning and Teaching

Chicago Public Schools teacher Kickstarting ESL program through song by Alyssa Vitale

Scaffolding Academic Learning for Second Language Learners by Karen Sue Bradley & Jack Alden Bradley

E-Learning

Activities for online courses: The Beginning by Nicky Hockly

How To Be a Top Learning Organization by Tiffani Murray

7 Things You Should Know about Google Apps from Educause

For some kids, a book is just an iPad that doesn’t work by Ivor Tossell

62 things you can do with Dropbox from MacWorld

Education Resources

Tools for Teaching: Authentic Assessment from the Centre for Teaching and Educational Technologies, Royal Roads University

Flipped Classroom Full Picture: An Example Lesson by Jackie Gerstein

Google Scholar Citations Now Open to All by Ryan Cordell

Education News

Dyslexia may explain my school failure, says Annabel Heseltine by Julie Henry

Ministers of Education Report to Canadians on Official Languages in Education – Canada Newswire

A School System in Maine Gives iPads to Kindergartners from Voice of America

Alberta education minister welcomes input on overhauling system via social media – Metro News

Year-round school: An idea worth exploring – The Windsor Star

Public Speaking and Presentation Skills

Stop Breaking the Basic Rules of Presenting by Ned Potter

App for Speakers: A presentation timer by Takuya Murakami

Secrets from JFK’s Speechwriter by Peter Temple

Writing

How to Write, Launch and Sell Your Informational Ebook by Alexis Grant

Related posts:

Dr. Sarah’s Favorite Resource of the Week (Nov. 13 to 19, 2011)

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Update – January 2018 – This blog has had over 1.8 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.


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