Copyright 2004 © Laraine Flemming.
1. Students need to know that this chapter is central to everything that follows. Once they can distinguish between general and specific sentences, the rest of the explanations will fall into place.
2. Try giving students writing assignments that require them to compose more specific versions of general sentences, e.g. The movie was horrible becomes The movie was plotless and over-long to boot. Or just the opposite, give them writing assignments that ask them to write more general versions of specific sentences, e.g. The house had no windows, no door, and holes in the roof becomes The abandoned house was terribly run down.
3. Exercise 3.3 in the manual (pages 27-28) forces students to think long and hard about four words in order to discover a general category that could include all four. Put another way, it makes students engage in analysis and synthesis. Because such questions force students to mentally dig a little deeper, I like to include a quiz (Quiz 1) in which the larger category is less obvious, for example: What category could include trees, dogs, carpets, and skin ? (I know this one is a little tricky but someone in the class usually knows that human skin sheds cells; thus the four words all refer to creatures or things that shed.)
4. Students love trying to stump one another by making up items like the two described above. For my part, I think making up their own questions is a terrific way to painlessly teach them about forming generalizations, so I encourage it. My personal favorite is from former student Patty Fresa: peaches, sausage, humans, and pudding. You guessed it. They all have a skin.
5. Many students labor under the misguided notion that all generalizations are bad. Use the explanation on page 111 of the text to counteract this notion and pave the way for critical thinking. Emphasize that generalizations only become meaningless if they are not grounded in specifics. To illustrate the need for generalizations, tell your students to imagine what it would be like if they could not generalize in response to questions like How was your day?
Last change made to this page: August 3, 2004