Sunday, February 24, 2019

Reintroducing Bare Essentials Bit—The Audio Series

In 2017, DR C introduced a weekly audio series titled, Bare Essentials Bits: All You Wanted to Ask About a Grammatical/Writing Tidbit but Were Too Embarrassed To Ask!

Each 5-minute audio addresses a spelling challenge or grammatical issue that stumps or confuses writers, such as knowing when to use then or than or their, there, or they'reThe series also explored punctuation marks, apostrophes, and commas.

Because of the solid response we received from listeners, we decided to repost the audio series. While you will hear MANA's DR C announce specific dates from August to October 2017, the grammar tips remain relevant.

If you still have questions about grammar or punctuation after listening to any of the episodes, feel free to email DR C at Put on the subject line: "Bare Essentials Bits—Got a Question." Thank you! 

Now, enjoy the Bare Essentials Bits audio series! 

Audio Series

How do you use the apostrophe mark with contractions? Click on the player below for the answer. 

Miss Previous Episodes? Check Out the List Below:  

1. What's the difference between "affect" vs. "effect" and how are these words used? Click HERE to listen for the answer. 

2. When do you use "come" vs "came"? "did" vs: done"? "run" vs."ran"? "saw" vs."seen"? Click HERE to find out the answer.

3. This podcast gives tips on when to use "there," "they're," and "there." Click HERE to listen to the episode.

4. How do you use the apostrophe mark when a noun ends in "s"? Click HERE for the answer.

Want more "bits" about grammar? Then check out the book, Bare Essentials Bits—The Book: Providing the Puzzle Pieces of Good Grammar, Precise Punctuation, and Accurate Word Choice on MANA's website by clicking HERE: 

DR C's Academic Online Cruise: Week Five—Common Mechanics and Grammatical Challenges

To read the initial post about DR C's Academic Online Cruise, go HERE.


Day One

This was another unusually stormy day at sea. The cruise line put out a message to all of its ship’s captains and crews that it would be best not to have any class sessions today. I made sure no one missed the e-mail contacts. 

Day Two

Whew! The waters had calmed down significantly. So, my trainees were ready for the regular 1-1/2 session. 

The first thing I did was present a sign-up sheet for one-on-one conferences that would take place next week. Since everyone has other responsibilities besides just attending training sessions, my trainees signed up for the times on the sheet that fit their personal schedules. 

Some conference times were available during session times. This was to accommodate those who only would have time to meet with me during session time. I encouraged those who knew they were limited in times they could meet with me not to sit back and let those accommodating times be taken. I told them to let their fellow trainees know if they were not able to sign up before others had begun.

After that task was completed, I continued with the session encouraging any questions regarding what was expected during these conferences. Yes, I had covered this in the past. However, I have learned that it never will hurt to provide time for questions. Yes, there were some. 

Thursday, February 14, 2019

DR C's Academic Online Cruise: Week Four— Preparing for the Midterm Exam Assignment

To read the initial post about DR C's Academic Online Cruise, go HERE.


Day One 

My total focus is working to prepare the trainees for the upcoming midterm exam assignment. It is an argumentation assignment in which the hypothetical audience is the Congress of the United States. I may have mentioned this in an earlier blog post. By the end of Week Two, everyone should have posted his/her proposed topic keeping in mind that the topic had to be a controversial one that Congress may consider. 

Each trainee had to propose at least one topic; however, s/he could, also, post more. Then, I would review and approve or not approve every topic posted. The post was to be very short and follow the same format: For or Against? 

No discussion about the topic by anyone was to be added. If I did not approve a topic, I provided a detailed reason. I encouraged every trainee to read my reasons for disapproval to help them understand and see how a "critical reader" may view posts. Any topic approved, not just the one posted, anyone could choose for the assignment. 

Teaching Argumentation is a Requirement

Bare Essentials Handbook
Chapter 8 of the handbook, Bare Essentials, gives a thorough discussion of how the assignment should be developed. Argumentation is a major form of writing that this cruise line requires every captain to teach. Of course, each captain may choose this/her way of approaching this form of discourse. Still, everyone is expected to make certain that all trainees understand the importance of the following:

* audience
* development of a thesis that states a position and reasons for that position 
* development of support
* a respectful acknowledgment of opposing viewpoints
* a respectful refutation of those viewpoints

Having taught this discourse many times, I have asked my former trainees to critique my technique and the handbook used. They have given me very useful suggestions for improving my teaching and making the handbook even more effective in teaching this particular discourse. They have suggested my color-coding the format of presentation of the body paragraphs. This addition has been quite useful in helping my trainees understand the format I wanted and to insure they understand the reason for this format.

Friday, February 8, 2019

DR C's Academic Online Cruise: Week Three—Moving Forward Through Rough Waters

To read the initial post about DR C's Academic Online Cruise, go HERE.


Day One 

I collected the Definition themes. I must say this assignment was satisfying to read. Each paper gave me personal insight into each of my trainees. 

Also, I gained a sense of how well I was establishing a rapport with my trainees. They really shared some very personal information about themselves. This showed they trusted that I would not make any judgments or let what they shared be known to anyone. They trusted my discretion. Most definitely, I would not betray that trust. 

Several of them did not submit their work because the bad weather created very rough waters. The ship's administration did not allow for classes to begin until the latter part of the morning. So, some did not even come because their "sea legs had buckled." 

I received e-mails from some letting me know they were unable to attend class because of illness. And those who attended looked a tad worn and "green around the gills." So, I let everyone know that s/he could send me their themes via e-mail before midnight. This is what most did. 

Grading the Papers

For this assignment, I only graded the content presentation. The rubric I have used for grading their papers is the Evaluation Sheet that is on one of the pass-protected sites. They can always use it as a sample. I encourage them to make copies and use these items as a checklist: 

Thesis Sentence:               50 pts.
Introductory Paragraph:     20 pts.
Topic Sentence:                 20 pts.
Body Paragraphs:              40 pts.
Organization:                     20 pts.
Unity:                                 15 pts.
Coherence:                        15 pts.
Concluding Paragraph:      20 pts.

Each set of points is earned if all of the criteria that are indicated on the Evaluation Sheet are met for each paragraph. If any of you are interested in seeing the full Evaluation Sheet, please feel free to contact me. I shall send you a copy. Contact me at

Needless to say, I did write comments throughout each trainees paper.  Although I did not include any of the mechanics and grammatical errors that were in a trainee’s paper for this paper’s grade, I did mark them and re-emphasize where each trainee could garner guidance to learn to eliminate these errors.