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How much writing for an average 9th grader??


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#1 Julieofsardis

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Posted 13 June 2009 - 04:43 PM

I know this has been discussed before, but I've searched and not found discussions on how much writing is appropriate. I also think I remember that the most people believe that the right amount is subjective, but I just cannot decide for myself how much writing to assign dd.

She went to PS last year and did horribly little writing, but we did do quite a bit the year before in 7th grade. She will be writing lots of long and short summaries for history. She is going to do R&S 7 for grammar, but I'm not sure how much of the composition aspect I'm going to use. I don't know how much writing she will do for Science as I'm outsourcing Physical Science to a co-op. She will be reading several literary works and I'm planning to make up my own assignments for literary criticism and summaries.

But, what is the right amount of writing for a 9th grader. She isn't totally opposed to writing, but although she's is a smart girl, she's not academically bent. I don't want to overwhelm her, but I do want to challenge her in this area. Any opinions, or can you direct me to a previous discussion or a website that might help.

Thanks for any help!

#2 LoriM

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Posted 13 June 2009 - 08:01 PM

We measured all our hsing work as "written" work, whether it was math problems, outlining, note-taking, summarizing or more formal research-based writing. No matter what, in 9th grade, my dds produced 15-25 pages of "written work" each week. That's 3-5 pages per day. Very reasonable. That's math problems (usually front and back), history notes, science vocabulary...whatever. She would read, write and think every day. I couldn't measure the thinking (grin), but I could measure the reading (page count) and written work. I evaluated all twenty-five pages every week. I commented on every. single. one. If it were important enough for her to do, it was important enough for me to read and comment back. Usually I checked the math daily (she checked for accuracy, I checked for methodology and elegance), but read through the other pages every other day or so. I also gave her time to edit/correct things that were inaccurate or "fill in" vague bits.

Formal written essays always diminished the writing requirements in other subjects. So, if she had a 3 page paper due in history, that might be the only written work that day (other than math problems). She would probably still *read* in other subjects, but not necessarily write.

I used the 15-25 page window to keep her accountable to a minimum, and also to a maximum so that she didn't overwork herself. I wanted her summaries to be summaries, not paraphrases. :) She needed to learn to take notes neatly, but in less than a page to review material she could always refer to again in the book for more depth. Synthesizing was an important work of high school, IMHO.

I tried to stagger my requirements for written papers from subject to subject. One week literature, one week history, another week science. Writing style and grammar always mattered, no matter what topic.

Finally, the other formal writing we introduced in 8th grade was twice a week, 45 minute essay writing and editing. For a timed 45 minutes, she answered a writing prompt. I called time, she filed it, and we didn't read it or edit it for 3 weeks. By then, she'd forget what she'd written. :) Then she'd pull an essay from the file for the second 45 minutes, read it, and rewrite it in under an hour. We did that every week. I occasionally offered hints, but usually she made all the corrections she needed to make (grammar, style, clarity, etc.) just by rereading and rewriting her own papers. It took all the "red ink" pressure off of me, and really helped our relationship as mother/teacher and daughter/student.

HTH,

Lori

#3 AnitaMcC

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Posted 13 June 2009 - 08:05 PM

I know this has been discussed before, but I've searched and not found discussions on how much writing is appropriate. I also think I remember that the most people believe that the right amount is subjective, but I just cannot decide for myself how much writing to assign dd.

But, what is the right amount of writing for a 9th grader. She isn't totally opposed to writing, but although she's is a smart girl, she's not academically bent. I don't want to overwhelm her, but I do want to challenge her in this area. Any opinions, or can you direct me to a previous discussion or a website that might help.

Thanks for any help!


I am looking forward to reading answers to this question!!!!!!!!!!! For my twins starting 9th grade I am afraid that I am either giving them too much or not enough-LOL.

We are using "Writer's Choice Grammar and Composition" for language arts. I bought workbooks for grammar and composition practice. They will also have 7 writing projects 5-7 pages in length (Personal Writing, Writing Process, Descriptive Writing, Narrative Writing, Expository Writing, Persuasive Writing, Research Paper).

World History they will do a lot of writing. They will do a "Critical Thinking" essay question for every chapter (29 chapters), also for each unit/time period (using Duiker & Spielvogel World History) covered, they will do a summary paper (2-3 pages). And they will do 2 reports/project (research, compare/contrast, etc) that will 4-7 pages.

Human Geography they will do 14 chapter summaries (1-2 page) and one project.

Consumer Education: several activities but no formal writing assignments.

Science they will do lab reports.

Health they will do several activities and a project/report.




#4 Julieofsardis

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Posted 13 June 2009 - 10:34 PM

Anita,

What you outline sounds roughtly about what I was thinking in number of papers, but not for the length (5-7 pages seems like a lot and 2-3 page summaries seems like a lot). Maybe that's the norm though. See, I just don't know.

LoriM,

I think I've mentioned before how much I would love to emulate your school philosophy. It just seems like your dd's are more self-motivated than mine. From your previous posts, I gathered that you laid out a plan at the beginning of the year and then had dd decide which subject to focus on when, as long as the output for the week stayed within your number of pages goal. Is that true, or did you actually make particular assignments with due dates?

I wish I could trust my dd and myself for that matter to let her work on whatever she felt like at the moment. The reason is because that is how I learn best. In being a homeschool mama, I've had seasons when I got interested in grammar and focused on that for while. Then algebra would peak my interest and I'd work on that for a while. Then I'd just read some good books or spend some time figuring out the flow of history. Science doesn't seem to ever come up though and maybe that's what I'm afraid will happen to dd. Will the mood continue to strike enough for her to finish her requirements on time? -- I'm betting not.

How do you strike that balance between letting them follow their interests and getting everything done. Or maybe I've midread you all this time and that's not even what you meant.

Anyway, I would just love to be a fly on your wall for a while and watch you and your girls in action.

Thanks to both of you for replying.

#5 firefly21

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Posted 13 June 2009 - 11:04 PM

My 9th grader wrote 3 essays per week, one for Literature, History, and Theology. On Monday/Tuesday he read....Wednesday turned in a "Thesis Outline" (Thesis statement, 3 topic sentences with details listed)....Thursday, he wrote the essays.....Friday, he typed them. If I had time, I would preview this and give back to him. Over the weekend, or more often than not, on Monday, he revised and turned in his final draft. If it was a crazy week, we did as much as we could, but always moved on to the next week's work. I monitored these steps only for the first 4 weeks. Then, I did not worry if he chose to schedule them differently, as long as he was getting things done. Typically, he did it as I taught him. However, he tried other options...outlining, writing, and typing all in one day for, say Literature, then the next day, same thing for History, etc....typing his first draft, etc. At the end of the quarter, we went back and selected one from each course (literature, history, and theology) that we thought was the best, and put that in his portfolio. The first 6 weeks were difficult, but now, he is a confident, proficient writer who knows he can pull out a paper or two in one week. My second son is less motivated, and entering 9th grade this year. I plan to have him (at the minimum) complete the thesis outline and first draft hand written. We will then revise and type one for each course at the end of the quarter.

#6 choirfarm

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Posted 14 June 2009 - 05:54 AM

Oh, my goodness!!! 3 papers every week. It would take my boy going into 9th grade 2 weeks to write one paper and that was only for English. I never wrote any papers in high school for any other class subject except English when I was in high school. Even in college I normally only had tests for my history classes with a few having a research paper component. Yikes... how do you get a boy to do that much writing?

Christine

My 9th grader wrote 3 essays per week, one for Literature, History, and Theology. On Monday/Tuesday he read....Wednesday turned in a "Thesis Outline" (Thesis statement, 3 topic sentences with details listed)....Thursday, he wrote the essays.....Friday, he typed them. If I had time, I would preview this and give back to him. Over the weekend, or more often than not, on Monday, he revised and turned in his final draft. If it was a crazy week, we did as much as we could, but always moved on to the next week's work. I monitored these steps only for the first 4 weeks. Then, I did not worry if he chose to schedule them differently, as long as he was getting things done. Typically, he did it as I taught him. However, he tried other options...outlining, writing, and typing all in one day for, say Literature, then the next day, same thing for History, etc....typing his first draft, etc. At the end of the quarter, we went back and selected one from each course (literature, history, and theology) that we thought was the best, and put that in his portfolio. The first 6 weeks were difficult, but now, he is a confident, proficient writer who knows he can pull out a paper or two in one week. My second son is less motivated, and entering 9th grade this year. I plan to have him (at the minimum) complete the thesis outline and first draft hand written. We will then revise and type one for each course at the end of the quarter.



#7 AnitaMcC

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Posted 14 June 2009 - 09:17 AM

Anita,

What you outline sounds roughtly about what I was thinking in number of papers, but not for the length (5-7 pages seems like a lot and 2-3 page summaries seems like a lot). Maybe that's the norm though. See, I just don't know.



LOL, which is why I am looking forward to responses to the question. I didn't know if I was asking too much or not enough actually.

So for summaries and papers what are the average lengths for high schoolers?

#8 LoriM

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Posted 14 June 2009 - 03:15 PM

I think I've mentioned before how much I would love to emulate your school philosophy. It just seems like your dd's are more self-motivated than mine. From your previous posts, I gathered that you laid out a plan at the beginning of the year and then had dd decide which subject to focus on when, as long as the output for the week stayed within your number of pages goal. Is that true, or did you actually make particular assignments with due dates?

I wish I could trust my dd and myself for that matter to let her work on whatever she felt like at the moment. The reason is because that is how I learn best. In being a homeschool mama, I've had seasons when I got interested in grammar and focused on that for while. Then algebra would peak my interest and I'd work on that for a while. Then I'd just read some good books or spend some time figuring out the flow of history. Science doesn't seem to ever come up though and maybe that's what I'm afraid will happen to dd. Will the mood continue to strike enough for her to finish her requirements on time? -- I'm betting not.

How do you strike that balance between letting them follow their interests and getting everything done. Or maybe I've midread you all this time and that's not even what you meant.

Anyway, I would just love to be a fly on your wall for a while and watch you and your girls in action.

Thanks to both of you for replying.


It is not quite as freeform as you described it here. I did give specific assignments with specific due dates, but alternated between fields of study so that we were not doubling up history and science research during the same week, or had a long literature assignment due at the same time I expected a science project. Typically, I coupled my lesson planning with the "big picture" goals I want to see her accomplish this year. If writing research-based papers of a medium-length (3-5 pages) is the goal, then she can practice that in more than one area, but there is no need to demonstrate competency with 8 papers a month, KWIM?

Each child got a checklist of topics/pages to cover in each subject, and a week to do it. So, yes, she had discretion on how much to do in each subject daily, and she also got say-so in what topics we'd cover next week or next month (within reason). She certainly got to choose the *area* of focus for a period of history. If her fascination was with a certain person or event, she was welcome to write her paper with that focus. We had conversations regularly to make she also got the "big picture" of the topic or era as well.

It's not that my girls are necessarily self-motivated. I've taught them to be self-directed and responsible from an early age, because ultimately I cannot read their minds. :) They are responsible for their behavior. They are the only ones who can learn, even if I teach. They are the only ones who can decide if something is valuable or important to them, even if I tell them it should be. They have heard me say at least a thousand times, "A well-educated person can do (or knows about) such-and-such."

Oh, and I do want to zero in on something you said: "How do you strike that balance between letting them follow their interests and getting everything done?" I never tried to get everything done. I absolutely promise you that my kids have huge, gaping, glaring holes in their knowledge...particularly in history, science, literature, foreign language, mathematics, art, music and all other academic subjects. :) But what we studied, we studied well, and when the time was up and we needed to move on, we just moved on. I always encouraged my girls to read, think and learn some more about whatever interested them, and remind them even today (at 20 and 16) that they can get a book on that. My younger dd frequently says, "Mom, what do you know about X? I did my googling, but I'm not sure if..." GRIN. She knows to ask her resources first, and that I am only one of those resources. And a flimsy one at that!

Focus on the big picture of growing up intelligent, questioning, well-educated, polite, careful, caring, honest and wise young people...use any subject at hand to do so. Don't worry about covering everything--you won't. Just use your time well, and love 'em with passion and purpose.

That's my Sunday sermon. GRIN. Hope it helps...

Lori

#9 Gwen in VA

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Posted 14 June 2009 - 03:26 PM

In my family the amount required depends in part on the kid. My older two would WRITE if I gave them a reasonable assignment and said, "Write!" Expecting two or more essays per week from the wasn't unreasonable.

My soon-to-be 10th grader does NOT write when I say,"Write!" He does everything but! Given enough hand-holding and some incentives, he DOES write, but it is torture, agony, and suffering to him.

I do expect several paragraphs and mini-essays from him per week, but he is at this point just not capable of producing more. An future English major he is NOT!

The funny thing is that he does produce a minimum of 15 pages of written work per work -- mostly of math!

#10 LoriM

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Posted 14 June 2009 - 03:34 PM

The funny thing is that he does produce a minimum of 15 pages of written work per work -- mostly of math!


When the kids tried to pass off the math pages as sufficient for the written work (grin), I just stopped counting the math as part of the work. It ended up by 11th grade that they had 15-25 pages of written work, and 15-25 pages of math each week. But that snuck up on them as the number of pages to write decent math solutions grew.

#11 Julieofsardis

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Posted 14 June 2009 - 05:33 PM

Each child/parent sets what they believe to be an amount that will challenge but not overwhelm. Which is probably the wise thing to do.

I guess I'll probably shoot for Lori's goal of 15-25. If 10 of those is math -- which I could see that it might be more than 10 pages -- then that leaves 5-10 for other subjects. Which would equal about 1 medium length paper on some history, science, or lit topic and several short summaries or a lab report, etc. I can see where that goal could easily be accomplished.

Thanks Lori for the more in depth description of what you do. I can see more clearly where you gave them freedom. I still love your philosophy. Thanks also, for the sage advice.

#12 Storm Bay

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Posted 15 June 2009 - 09:55 AM

I've been following this thread with great interest, since my rising freshman loathes essay writing with the passion of a strong willed fourteen year old. I learned a lot from reading the posts and it is helping me develop a better plan for next year.

She will have to write essays, of course, but I can see more light now in the writing department. I'll count up all her pages of writing. Obviously she'll do a number of pages of math a week in Geometry, and she will have to write proofs. I can count her grammar and English writing assignments, her short and paragraph answers to Chemistry questions in the Conceptual Chemistry book she'll be using as well as the lab reports. I'm also going to have her answer questions for literature instead of essays next year; have her learn to see things like plot, theme, setting, etc (which she loathes) separate from the dreaded essays. History will be interesting, since I've not made her do much writing there yet. But there's no reason why we can't start off with paragraphs and move into the essays on topics of her choice. Sheis going to study the history of math, and there's no reason why she can't do some writing with that. She'll also have logic, will do some simple writing in German (letters to my Dad for one that I can photocopy for our records). I suppose her Latin grammar could count as some writing, but I'm not so sure about that.

So much to think about, isn't there? Still, we do have to conquer that dreaded (to her) essay writing. Just not with an essay a day.

So, when does she have to be able to write a timed essay? She has to do one for the SAT, correct? Does it have to be in her freshman year or can it wait until her sophomore year?

btw, it has nothing to do with the physical act of writing; typing makes no difference. She is fully capable of outlining. She just hates writing essays or any expository writing beyond answering questions.


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