Grissom's Grammar and Composition

This blog is for any student writing papers for college, for current and former students in my Communications Cluster at Lindenwood University, and my students at St. Charles Community College.

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I write for myself, for the web, and for everyone who gets me. I've been on a fasting liquid diet, traveled to Europe, and raised 2 kids. And I'm directionally challenged - I get lost a lot.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Reminder: Room Change for Monday Night Class

Remember the Wednesday class will not meet this week. Students in this class should attend either my Monday Westport Class or my Thursday Wentzville class.

We needed a bigger room to combine classes, so we will meet in Room 232B for tonight's class. As you enter the main lobby, go down the hallway to your left instead of the hallway to the right.

We will probably also meet in this room the Monday before Thanksgiving when classes are cancelled for the holiday. I will post a blog update to confirm the week before Thanksgiving.

Email if you have questions.

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Monday, October 22, 2007

Don't Forget Our Extra Class Tomorrow Night

You must sign in with me when you arrive, so I can keep track of attendance. We are meeting in Butler Library in the computer room reserved under my name.

Do not confuse Butler Library with Butler Hall - different buildings.


Hey folks. Some of you out there still need to turn your papers in at I've extended the deadline several times, and now I'm starting to get cranky. You wouldn't like me, when I'm cranky.

If you have attempted to turn it in, I'm not talking to you. Do. Not. Panic.

Some of you have created profiles, and your names are on the class list, but I see no paper turned in. If your security settings are too high, you may have difficulty turning in your assignment, so be sure your paper was successfully turned in. If you don't remember getting a message to that effect - go back and check.

From here on out, papers must be turned in to on the day they are due in class - or I'm not grading them until they are. Yep. That's right. I'm holding them hostage. If you have a legitimate computer problem, I might consider ransoming a paper. Maybe. . .


Friday, October 19, 2007

Where Can I Do Research?

Start With Lindenwood's Library
To do research from home, you will need your Lindenwood student I.D. number. Follow the directions for signing in. If you want to check out materials, you will need your student I.D. Contact the reference librarian for Butler Library at Lindenwood for specific reference sources for your topic. You can call them, or e-mail if you are at a distance site.

Other Places to start doing Research: The National Public Radio site has programs like Morning Edition and Talk of the Nation that discuss controversial issues. You can listen to archived versions of the programs on your computer if you have a media player. It is a great place to browse for current topics and find experts to research further. is the official portal to all U.S. government agencies. Here you can find information by topic on subjects such as health, education, technology, agriculture, history, arts, and culture.They also have an extensive reference section on data and statistics for the United States such as crime rates, census data, and economic indicators. It’s an excellent source for a variety of subjects. is a free reference site that has link to all the major news outlets like CNN, MSNBC, ABC and more. Scroll down a bit to find the listing for news sources.

The Librarians Internet Index researches websites and then recommends them on their page. It has lots of great links to credible websites that public librarians have researched for their patrons.

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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Class Updates - Grammar Exercises,, Extra Class in Library

Grammar Exercises: Because of the problems with our book's grammar website, I've extended the deadline for the grammar exercises. You have until November 1, 2007 to finish the sections Basic Grammar, Sentence Style, and Punctuation.

The deadline for the remaining grammar sections (Mechanics and Word Choice) will be November 21st (the Wednesday before Thanksgiving). Please submit Short Paper 1 and Short Paper 2 to by Friday, October 19th. Your grade is not final until you've turned your paper in to the website. I will not be putting your grade on Short Paper 2 unless you've turned it in by this Friday.

If you have computer problems, let me know, and we'll make arrangements for an extension. Be sure to create a user profile on Turnitin before submitting your paper. If you experience other technical problems, email Turnitin's tech support.

Extra Class at Butler Library: Remember our extra class for the cluster meets Tuesday, October 23rd in Butler Library's Computer Room on Lindenwood's main campus.

You must have your Student I.D. by next week so you can access the library resources. You can get your I.D. on the third floor of the Spellman Center. I think it's open on Saturdays until 2 p.m., but call (636) 949-4562 to check their hours.

The class will meet from 6-10 p.m., so come prepared to do extensive research for your paper. There is a new coffee shop in the library where you can get refreshments. Consult the campus map for directions. It's near the building we met in for the first Saturday class.

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Friday, October 12, 2007

Due The Week of October 15th

Due This Week:
  • Final Version of Short Paper 2 (include sketch outline, all drafts, and written assignment title page in your folder)
  • Oral Presentation, 5-7 minutes based on one of your short papers
  • Readings Listed

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Don't forget to turn your paper in at by Monday. Be sure to create a user profile before you attempt to submit a paper. You will need the class number, and the password I gave you in class. If it asks for my email, use the address.

Class Numbers:
Monday class # 2038013
Wednesday Class # 2038028
Thursday Class # 2038029

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Tuesday, October 09, 2007 Information

Here are the class numbers you need to turn in Short Paper 1:

Monday class # 2038013
Wednesday Class # 2038028
Thursday Class # 2038029

I will give the Wednesday and Thursday classes the password when we meet this week. Don't worry about turning anything in until you receive the password. Email me at if you have any questions.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Because You Don't Have Enough to Read - Book Recommendation

Anyone looking for something to read? I recommend Lottery by Patricia Wood.

Perry Crandall, I.Q. 76, (which means he is one point above legally retarded, as he frequently reminds us) wins the lottery and deals with how his family and friends change - as well as how he changes - as a result.I have a few nits to pick. There doesn't seem to be one redeemable human being among Perry's maternal relatives - you'd think at least one might be somewhat decent. But no.

The other is part of the ending - how Perry and Cherry's relationship ends up and why. It went down like peanut butter and dry crackers - not well.

But aside from that, I loved hearing about the world from Perry's point of view and especially his use of his dictionary words to process what's happening in his world. Grams has had him studying the dictionary since he was little, and his words of the day are often ironic in the context of the story. (Grams is a great character too, and though she dies early in the novel, she's very much present throughout the rest of the book).

The decision Perry makes at the end about his money could have been sugar and spice sweet, but because we've followed him through the book and hear how he changes, it makes a cliche into something authentic. I believe in Perry and his decision at the end.

It's a great read, and I couldn't put it down until I found out what happened to Perry. I think you'll feel the same way.

But do your class reading first!

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Saturday, October 06, 2007

From My Son

My son in his fruitless search for a missing DVD: "It's like trying to find a microorganism in a haystack. . . " Hey, if an eleven-year-old can use figurative language, so can you.

Looking forward to Short Paper 2. Don't forget your sketch outline.

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Friday, October 05, 2007

Grammar Exercise Announcements

1. I originally assigned the Basic Grammar and Grammatical Sentences sections for the grammar exercises. The site has changed the name of the section of Grammatical Sentences to Sentence Style. So do the Sentence Style exercises instead, along with Basic grammar. Email if you have any questions.

2. I emailed the site about the technical difficulties many of you are reporting. I got an automatic reply that says he's out of the office until Tuesday, so we'll have to wait and see what happens.

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Tip for Students: Writeboard Stores Documents Outside Your Computer

I mentioned this in one of the classes this week - here is the specific info. Sign up for Writeboard's free program that allows you to store text documents outside your computer.

Many students have had computers eat their homework or forgotten to print papers or journals before class. If you store your documents on Writeboard, you can access them from any computer, make changes, and save alternate versions.

Most of our campuses have a computer available, so you can access it before class if needed. It also tracks major changes to your document, so it's easier to turn in the required drafts.

You can create as many writeboards as you want for free. They do have some paying services that help you organize your writeboards. I may sign up for one after I get more writeboard documents, but for now the freebie version works fine.

Now the evil computer can never eat my drafts again. Bwuhoohahahaha! Onomatopoeia people, remember?

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Thursday, October 04, 2007

Eight Ways to Start a Paper

The introduction of your paper is what draws your reader into your subject and makes them want to continue reading. If you don’t grab them at the beginning, you may not find them later in the paper either.

Tell a Story
We like reading about people more than ideas or issues. Your audience will connect with your topic if you show them how it affects real people. If you are writing about plastic surgery for teens, tell me about Jessica’s nose job, and I will read on to find out how it turned out.

Describe Something
Draw us in to the topic by using your senses to describe something about your issue. Seeing people, organizations, or events can connect us with the subject. If your paper is on prison reform, you could start with a description of the luxury conditions you are protesting.

Use a Quotation
Find well turned phrase about your subject to get your audience’s attention. For example, Mark Twain said a man who doesn’t read good book has no advantage over a man who can’t. This might be a jumping off point for a discussion of book censorship. Check out Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations for ideas on your specific topic.

Use a Surprising Statistic or Fact
If you run across a surprising piece of information when writing or doing research, chances are it will surprise and interest your audience too. So half of all women will have heart disease? Men also have a biological clock that reduces fertility? Use these surprises as starting points for discussion.

Go for Common Ground

This method works especially well if you are trying to persuade an audience. If you can find something both sides agree on, remind them of that common belief at the beginning and they will be more willing to listen to your side. Discussing an education issue? The majority of your audience will want students to learn more, rather than less. So start with that common goal and show why your information is valuable to them.

Ask a Question

Asking a question makes your audience think deeply about your issue, just make sure you make some kind of effort to answer the question in your paper. You don’t have to have the best answer, but you should fulfill the promise you made in asking the question by contributing your opinion. Writing about internet censorship? Ask us what the internet will look like in ten years, and then talk about your issue’s impact.

Use a Controversial Thesis
If your thesis is controversial, start the paper with it. Suggest we should reinstate the draft or eliminate Social Security. Get them curious enough about your provocative position to keep reading.

Provide Background Information

If we need an update on current legislation to understand your timely topic, then gives us the background. – but only what we need. Some students use background information as space filler and bore themselves and their instructors with extended background. If you are writing about stem cells, a brief definition and explanation of their use might be in order, but I don’t need to know how they were discovered, or what cells are.

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Spectacular Photos

Check out these unbelievable photographs posted on Vicki Lane's blog. Don't miss the last one. It will make you appreciate the lack of razor sharp teeth at your day job. Unless maybe you have one of those bosses. . .

You can use them to brainstorm topics for your second paper and practice description. How would you describe these photos to someone who hasn't see them?

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Monday, October 01, 2007

Due this Week: October 1-4


Finish reading listed for the Saturday class plus the following.
Expository Modes:

Narration S/S p. 157-170;186-189

Description Description S/S p. 105-118; 151-152

Definition S/S P. 382-398; 420-422

Review Revising and Editing S/S p. 33-37

Short Paper 1 Draft Due - 3 to 4 page rough draft of Short Paper 1, double spaced