The resources below are designed to help you succeed in your Science, Social Science and Math classes. Use them to brush up on grammar, improve the structure of your essays, conduct research and more.
Directed Learning Activities
A Directed Learning Activity (DLA) is an exercise developed by a faculty member or Learning Center staff member that students complete in the Learning Center. A DLA allows the students to gain more practice on a concept or skill introduced in class. A DLA differs from a homework assignment in that a DLA 1) usually has a short time limit – 30 to 45 minutes, and 2) requires a follow-up session with a tutor after completion.
Check out a sample lesson .
Skyline College English Department Rhetoric
The free Skyline College English Department Rhetoric is a comprehensive writing tool created by Skyline College faculty to help students with the writing process.
Grammar Explanations and Practice Exercises for Download:
- Adjectives and Adverbs : Learn to identify and use adjectives and adverbs to add detail to your writing
- Appositives : Learn to use appositives and NPAs to add detail to your sentences
- Articles : Learn to correctly use a, an and the
- Commas : Learn to correctly use commas when writing quotes, introductory phrases, series and more
- Contractions : Learn how correctly use contractions and apostrophes
- Coordinators : Learn to use the coordinators for, and, nor, but, or, yet, and so to join sentences
- Dangling Modifiers : Learn to identify and correct these incomplete "pretend" sentences
- Fragments : Learn to identify and correct these incomplete "pretend" sentences
- Possessives : Learn to show ownership of things, people or concepts using possessives
- Run-Together Sentences : Learn to identify and correct improperly joined sentences
- Subject Verbs : Learn to identify subjects and verbs so that you can write clear, complete sentences
- Subject Verb Agreement : Learn how to match singular and plural subjects with its corresponding verb form
- Subordinators : Learn to correctly use subordinators like although, because, and while to join sentences
- Verb Tenses : Learn to correctly use verb tenses including the past, present, future.
General Essay Writing Guides:
- Case Studies: Colorado State University has a site on how to conduct a case study and write it up. The most helpful aspects of this site are the sections on the different types of studies and key terms you need to use in a case study.
- Critical Analysis: If you are having trouble with critical analysis, check out this site from Southeastern Louisiana University because it features a step by step approach to critical reading and to writing a critical essay.
- Compare / Contrast Essay: Looking for a great guide to compare and contrast essays? If so, check out this page that features two different layouts for a compare and contrast essay. For those of you having trouble getting started on a compare and contrast essay, you might want to check out this site on prewriting a compare and contrast essay.
- Writing a Process Essay: Writing a process essay can be difficult, but if you check out this site from the University of St. Cloud, the essay will be easy to write. They have provided some pre-writing questions to get you started, as well as some transitions that will help you lead readers through the essay. Best of all, the site has a sample essay that shows you what a finished process essay should look like.
- Cause / Effect Essay: Would you like to know more about writing a cause/effect essay? If so, the Mount Hebron Essay page is the place for you. The Cause/Effect essay section of this site features: pre-writing ideas to get you started, a list of words used to signal cause/effect, a list of possible topics to give you writing ideas, and an editing list to make sure your essay is complete.
Persuasive Writing Guides
- Writing a Position Paper: This website by Simon Fraser University is a great guide for how to structure a position paper. The site also contains information about: how to determine your audience point of view, develop an argument, and write an outline for a position paper.
- Persuasive Writing: Study Guides and Strategies put together a website designed to help students construct an effective persuasive essay. The website has excellent tips on how to begin pre-writing, drafting and editing your persuasive writing.
- Developing an Argument: Are you having issues developing a winning argument? If so, check out this site from Purdue University On-line Writing Lab because it has tons of information about how to improve your argument by perfecting your thesis statement.
Business Writing Guides
- Writing Business Letters: Writing business letters is something we all have to do, so the University of North Carolina has put together a site tells you: the basics of writing a business letter, suggestions on how to avoid the passive voice, ideas for maintaining focus, and examples of good letters.
- Writing Cover Letters and Resumes: Are you stressing over writing a cover letter or a resume? If so, head over to this site because it is full of resume and cover letter tips as well as examples. The site also includes advice on writing a “thank you note” after an interview, which is extremely useful.
- Writing a Business Report: Nothing is as difficult as writing a business report; however, if you check out this site, business reports will be painless. Featured on the site are: seven tips for writing business reports, templates for business reports and resources for business writers.
Science Writing Guides
- Lab Reports: The University of North Carolina has a site that details how to construct the perfect lab report. Make sure you check out the section on how to get started and the “drafting” section.
- Natural Science Writing: This Sacramento State University site gives you detailed information about how to write a scientific paper. The site has info on everything from writing abstracts to writing up your experiment, so check it out before you start writing a science paper.
History Writing Guides
- History Writing : Boston University has put together the ultimate web resource for anyone writing a history paper. This provides tips about how to structure a history paper, stylistic issues to avoid and how to construct a bibliography.
Preparing for Oral Presentations
- Leading Discussions: Check out this web site about leading a discussion, which features tips for setting tone, facilitating discussion and wrapping up the discussion.
- Giving Oral Presentations: This web site is full of information on how to give a successful presentation. It has sections devoted to: the introduction, controlling an audience, organizing a presentation and managing time.
Conduct research online and learn how to properly cite your sources using the below resources:
Research and Citation Websites:
- Modern Language Association (MLA) Formatting and Bibliogaphy
- American Psychological Association (APA) Formatting and Bibliography
- Citation Generator (MLA, MPA): Enter the data (Book Title, Author, Publisher, etc.) and this site designs a custom citation you can copy and paste into your document.
- Online Academic Research: This page teaches you how to conduct useful research online
- Figurative Language: This website by the University of West Georgia’s uses poems and literature to provide an understanding of similes and different types of metaphors.
- Telling Fact from Opinion: This website by Auburn University shows several examples to help students distinguish facts from opinions.
- Evaluating Web Resources: The Literacy and Education Online of St. Cloud State University provides a focused guide for evaluating what is a good or bad Web Resource.
- Understanding Plagiarism: Check out Accredited Schools Online for an open-access, expert-driven guide to understanding and avoiding plagiarism
- Evaluating Print Sources: UNC has a compiled guide for distinguishing reliable print sources from the unreliable.
- Using Chicago Style: This website by Purdue OWL features examples of how to properly cite web pages, journal articles, books, etc using Chicago Style.
Improve your English grammar with the resources found here.
- Bedford Handbook: This website is a companion to the Bedford Handbook, which is loaded on the computers in The Learning Center.
- Merriam-Webster Dictionary
Grammar & Sentence Construction Resources:
- Proofreading for Commas : If you are looking for strategies on proofreading for commas, check out this web site from the University of Purdue. The site offers examples and tips for dealing with commas.
- Comma Rules: Want to learn how to use your commas? This site will give you all the rules.
- Activities for using Commas: Want more practice working with your commas? Check out these fun games that will help you improve your comma usage.
- Quotation Marks: Are you looking to improve your question mark usage? Check out this site to become an expert.
- Practice with Quotation Marks: If you want to practice working with question marks, go to this site for exercises and quizzes to develop your skills.
- Apostrophes: If you are looking for a great guide on apostrophes, go to this site to get all the rules and examples you could ever want.
- Practice with Apostrophes: For some extra practice with apostrophes, go check out the University of Purdue’s exercises and quizzes.
- Rules for Capitalization: Are you having trouble with capitalization? If so, you have to check out Grammar Book’s site because it is an excellent resource on the rules of capitalization.
- Understanding Verbs: Do you want to get a better understanding of verbs? Go to University of Oregon’s guide to verbs for all the verb knowledge you could ever want.
- Practice with Verbs: If you are looking to practice using verbs, go to University of Houston Victoria Verb exercise’s page. It has exercises to help you with infinitives, gerunds, and much, much more.
- Subject Verb Agreement: If you want to learn more about getting subjects and verbs to agree, make sure you check out Capital Community College’s guide to subjects and verbs. The site is full of info about different subject/verb issues, as well as having exercise to help you test your knowledge.
- Tense Shift Errors: If you want to learn more about tense shift errors with verbs, go to Pen and Page’s page on verb tenses. The site has information about the different kinds of tenses, as well as offering you several exercises to test your knowledge.
- Sentence Structure: If you are looking for a good guide on sentence structure, Towson University offers a great guide on how to construct effective sentences, as well as how to avoid fragments and run-ons.
- Sentence Fragments: If you want to understand sentence fragments, look at Capital Community College’s guide to avoiding and correcting sentence fragments.
- Run-on and Comma Splice: Learn more about run-on & comma splice errors at the University of St. Cloud’s website. The site is full of tips for fixing and finding run-ons or fragments.
- Understanding Nouns: If you want some practice identifying and working with nouns, this site will provide exercises and quizzes to help you understand nouns.
- Misplaced and Dangling Modifiers: This is an excellent web site about misplaced and dangling modifiers that will help you answer any questions.
- Word Choice: Correct word choice is important to the clarity and sophistication of writing, so please visit this University of North Carolina webpage to increase your skills in this area.
ESOL Grammar Resources:
- Articles: Having trouble with articles? Don’t quite understand when to use “the” or “and”? Check out this site for a great guide on when and how to use articles. Once you’ve read the guide, make sure you test you knowledge with their quiz.
- Indefinite and Definite Articles: If you want help working with indefinite and definite articles, go practice your skills at
- Qualifiers: This web site will provide you with several exercises and quizzes to test your knowledge of qualifiers.
- English Verb Combinations: The English Page has put together a comprehensive guide to all the English language verbs. The site also has some excellent practice exercises, so check it out.
Before you Write:
- Understanding Tone and Voice: This website from Tools for Writers gives an in-depth lesson on the different types of tone that writers can use in their papers. The site also offers advice on creating voice in a paper, as well as how to use different personas in your writing.
- Understanding Audience: The University of North Carolina has put together a nice synopsis of the academic audience, and how to effectively write for an academic audience. The site includes a distinction between the academic audience and the instructor, tips for appealing to an academic reader & how to identify what your audience expects of your paper.
- Pre-writing using Brainstorming and Listing: If you want help learning how to brainstorm by listing, check out this site from Strategic Transitions. The site is full of examples on the different ways you can use listing to brainstorm.
- Pre-writing using Freewriting: Humboldt State University has put together a comprehensive guide on how to use freewriting to stimulate your essay development.
- Pre-writing Strategies: University of St. Thomas offers the ultimate guide to all pre-writing strategies! The site includes examples, graphic organizers and strategies using each pre-writing strategy.
Basics for Writing Your First Draft:
- Eliminating Wordiness: Do you find that your sentences are overly wordy? If so, practice your skills with this Villanova University grammar guide.
- Introductions: The University of North Carolina maintains an excellent guide for structuring your introductions. Make sure to check out the sections on strategies for writing an effective introduction, proofreading introductions & the sections on ineffective introductions.
- Practice with Topic Sentences: The University Toronto provides a web site that focuses on effective strategies for constructing topic sentences. Make sure you check out the section on where a topic sentence is places in a paragraph.
- Writing with Clarity in a Sentence: This site includes ways to expand your vocabulary, the distinctions between similar words and info on common comma errors.
- Structuring Paragraphs: This site has resources on how to structure a paragraph including: topic sentences, supporting sentences, the concluding sentence & how to add supporting details to a paragraph.
- Organizing Paragraphs: If you are looking for a template to write your paragraphs, check out this site by English-Zone because it provides you with a graphic organizer that you can model all your paragraphs on.
- Transitions: If you are looking to improve your transitions, make sure you check out the University of North Carolina’s page on transitions. This site includes: models for how to use transitions, lists of transition words & a guide to the different meanings of transitions.
- Summarizing: Want to know more about summarizing? The Literacy Education Online website has all the info you need including how to write, edit & revise a summary. The site also provides a detailed guide on how to read summaries.
- Paraphrasing: Not sure about how to paraphrase? Check out Duke University’s site on how to paraphrase correctly in MLA, APA and Chicago style. The site offers examples in each style, as well as tips on how to improve your paraphrasing.
- Avoiding Plagiarism: Indiana University has put together a wonderful site on how to avoid plagiarism in your writing. Make sure you not only check out the helpful hints, but, also, the examples of incorrect citation.
Developing a Strong Argument/Point of View:
- Thesis Statement: Have you been told that your thesis is too broad or that your paper doesn’t have a thesis? If so, you have to check out Indiana University’s website on how to improve your thesis. Indiana University provides you with the steps to generating a brilliant thesis for any paper topic, and, also, gives you many examples of winning thesis statements, so that you can see what a makes a good thesis.
- Using Evidence to Support Your Argument: As a college student, you are constantly being told to “use evidence to support your claims.” The University of North Carolina has built a page that tells you how to use evidence in your paper.
- Writing an Argument with Clarity: Swarthmore College maintains this web site about how to write a clear and concise argument. The site includes info on how to check your assumptions, supporting your position & on how to check your diction.
Resources Available to Students:
- Audacity software: for recording your voice to strengthen your spoken English skills
- Headphones with attached microphone for easy voice recording and interaction with language- learning software
- Access to a quiet study area to complete assigned work for ESOL and Global Languages courses.
- Free, easy to use web applications for learning English composition and grammar
How Can I Use the Resources of the Language Lab?
Students or faculty who wish to use the Language Lab resources should make a reservation by calling (650) 739-4144, or emailing The Learning Center.
How Can I Gain Access to the Resources at a Learning Center Lab?
Students who wish to use tutoring services at any Learning Center Lab must enroll in one Learning Skills (LSKL) Class. Learning Skills are not graded and students can choose between:
- LSKL 803: A free, repeatable class with zero units that is non-degree applicable
- LSKL 800: A pass/no pass class with your choice of 0.5 or 1.0 units of credit
- 0.5 units = approximately 1.5 hours per week spent using Learning Center resources
- 1.0 unit = approximately 3 hours per week spent using Learning Center resources
How Can I Enroll in a Learning Skills Class?
Students can sign up for LSKL 800 or LSKL 803 through WebSMART.