Jump to content


What's with the ads?

Photo
- - - - -

Sanity Check: Too Much for Language Arts? How to trim?


9 replies to this topic

What's with the ads?

#1 dori123

dori123

    Hive Mind Worker Bee

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 83 posts

Posted 18 October 2016 - 12:49 PM

I'd like some feedback from the LA gurus about my approach. 

 

First, know that I am not really following a classical approach here.

 

Next, my goals (for 6th- and 7th-grade students) are:

 

1. not to squash their love of writing (lol),

2. to encourage creativity and development of voice, as well as introduce some basic styling to their writing

3. to introduce and/or practice formal academic writing (essays, etc)

4. to practice grammar mechanics as necessary

5. to make the entire writing process (including edits, revisions) a habit

 

With that in mind, here is what we are doing. My biggest questions are: Is this too much, and if it is, what / how should I cut? We have a hard time getting through all of it, and when you add in history, science, reading, math, Spanish, music nearly every day... well, it just seems to be too much.

 

(Reminds me of my favorite Dostoevsky quote: "But there were thousands of most important things; and they all reduced me to the point of impotence.")

 

So, any advice? (Also, as I look at it here on paper, it looks like it should work out just fine, but in practice, it somehow takes longer.) 

 

 

M, Tu, We, Th: Daily grammar. Using Fix It. I also have supplemental worksheets to practice concepts that seem unmastered. Takes 15-20 minutes.

 

M, Tu, We, Th: Daily journal. Using Take 5 (love this) to encourage voice, flow, creativity. Also important: kids like it. Takes 15-25 minutes.

 

M, Tu, We, Th: Daily style. Using pieces of Killgallon books, starting with sentences and moving to paragraphs. I see this as a way to develop style more than practice grammar. Takes 20-30 minutes.

 

M, Tu, We, Th: Daily writing. Using Hake's Grammar & Writing (the smaller workbook, not the grammar one) to introduce and practice essays and other academic writing. I love the no-nonsense approach but we try to pick more interesting topics from across our curriculum. Takes 30-45 minutes.

 

F: Creative Writing Workshop: Use a variety of things, but I really like 826. Only thing we do on Fridays for LA. Usually 90 minutes.

 

We also talk about and practice the writing process as we do our writing assignments. 

 

 

The one thing I don't specifically have mapped out (and I know you classical types stress this) is a Summary / Outline / Note-Taking segment. I have WWTB, WWE/WWS, but we haven't been able to get through the above on a regular basis, so I'm reluctant to add something else. I think some of this happens organically as part of our academic writing, so for the moment, I'm okay with this on the back burner. 

 

 

That's my dilemma. Would appreciate advice from those of you who have worked through this kind of thing. 

 

Thanks!

 

 



#2 freesia

freesia

    Hive Mind Royal Larvae

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 2898 posts

Posted 18 October 2016 - 01:14 PM

That does seem like a lot of writing each week.  I  would:

Keep the grammar.

Drop the Daily Journal to a couple of times a week, do Killgallon the other days or alternate weeks/Killgallon units.

Keep the Hake (and wouldn't that cover the outlining and notetaking)

I would consider dropping the Creative Writing Fridays and doing a 6 week creative writing unit instead of Hake at some point.

 

Remember, it's a marathon not a sprint.  Doing one thing well and really having them nail a strong paragraph is the most important part right now.


  • Ellie likes this

#3 dori123

dori123

    Hive Mind Worker Bee

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 83 posts

Posted 19 October 2016 - 10:45 AM

Thanks for the comments. 

 

I may try alternating Killgallon and the journal as you say. I am experimenting this week with simply breaking up the LA units throughout the day instead of doing them back-to-back. 

 

I was kinda secretly hoping someone would say "just drop science," lol.


  • freesia likes this

#4 Slache

Slache

    It's Latin to me!

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 21026 posts

Posted 19 October 2016 - 12:19 PM

I think you should drop Science.

I have a kid in kindergarten so I don't know anything about middle school but you have a grammar and a writing and a grammar and writing. Isn't that unnecessary?
  • Ellie and lanalouwho like this

#5 dori123

dori123

    Hive Mind Worker Bee

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 83 posts

Posted 19 October 2016 - 01:14 PM

LOL, Slache. I would *love* to drop science! 

 

But I won't. If nothing else, it will teach them that "suffering is good for the soul," haha. 

 

And yes, it may look redundant on paper, but we don't really have grammar, writing and grammar, writing.

 

We do have grammar (ie mechanics: parts of speech and punctuation) with Fix It.

 

Then we have *enjoyable* writing -- writing, drawing and do graphic organizing -- in the daily journal. I keep this spinning because both my kids are really creative and love writing, and I want to encourage them to write every day and to enjoy writing. This accomplishes that, but does very little in terms of teaching them formal academic structure. 

 

So we do formal academic writing with the Hake book. We basically read through the lesson together, then pick our own topics (usually from our history class) and use that as our formal writing assignment. One assignment might be done in one day or it might take all week; it depends on what the Hake lesson is teaching. 

 

The Killgallon piece is more of a study of style than mechanical grammar. It introduces great (modern) writing and then shows how different authors use grammatical structures to achieve excellence. It does not cover mechanics (again: punctuation, etc.) which is what Fix It covers. 

 

At least that's how I see things. 

 

They are all equally important in my mind, but we always end up taking more time than we should. 

 

 

 



#6 freelylearned

freelylearned

    Hive Mind Level 3 Worker: Honeymaking Bee

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 198 posts

Posted 21 October 2016 - 12:22 PM

Just because everything is important doesn't mean that it all has to be done every day. It's OK to do grammar one day and style the next. You can also focus on grammar this quarter and style the next. While they are studying style, they can be applying what they learned in grammar.

 

It's OK to do composition two days a week and science two days a week so you can give each subject the time it needs.

 

Keep the journal as a daily exercise, because they love it, but you can move it to the end of the day or as the last thing of the day or even before a break. That way they are free to create without you worrying about wrapping it up to get to grammar and style so you still have time for history and science and everything else.

 

You may want to look up loop scheduling as an alternative way to schedule all of the little subjects that you want to make sure get covered.

 


  • Ellie likes this

#7 dori123

dori123

    Hive Mind Worker Bee

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 83 posts

Posted 21 October 2016 - 04:39 PM

Thanks for the great suggestions. I will look further into looping. I have glanced at it, but it will require backing off of science. Honestly, I'm thinking I will do that somewhat. We all hate it; no sense making it worse by requiring every little thing. I'm sure one lab per week will be sufficient... 

 

Thanks for the input!



#8 Ellie

Ellie

    Beekeeping Professor

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 31162 posts

Posted 21 October 2016 - 06:54 PM

I'd like some feedback from the LA gurus about my approach. 

 

First, know that I am not really following a classical approach here.

 

Next, my goals (for 6th- and 7th-grade students) are:

 

1. not to squash their love of writing (lol),

2. to encourage creativity and development of voice, as well as introduce some basic styling to their writing

3. to introduce and/or practice formal academic writing (essays, etc)

4. to practice grammar mechanics as necessary

5. to make the entire writing process (including edits, revisions) a habit

 

With that in mind, here is what we are doing. My biggest questions are: Is this too much, and if it is, what / how should I cut? We have a hard time getting through all of it, and when you add in history, science, reading, math, Spanish, music nearly every day... well, it just seems to be too much.

 

(Reminds me of my favorite Dostoevsky quote: "But there were thousands of most important things; and they all reduced me to the point of impotence.")

 

So, any advice? (Also, as I look at it here on paper, it looks like it should work out just fine, but in practice, it somehow takes longer.) 

 

 

M, Tu, We, Th: Daily grammar. Using Fix It. I also have supplemental worksheets to practice concepts that seem unmastered. Takes 15-20 minutes.

 

M, Tu, We, Th: Daily journal. Using Take 5 (love this) to encourage voice, flow, creativity. Also important: kids like it. Takes 15-25 minutes.

 

M, Tu, We, Th: Daily style. Using pieces of Killgallon books, starting with sentences and moving to paragraphs. I see this as a way to develop style more than practice grammar. Takes 20-30 minutes.

 

M, Tu, We, Th: Daily writing. Using Hake's Grammar & Writing (the smaller workbook, not the grammar one) to introduce and practice essays and other academic writing. I love the no-nonsense approach but we try to pick more interesting topics from across our curriculum. Takes 30-45 minutes.

 

F: Creative Writing Workshop: Use a variety of things, but I really like 826. Only thing we do on Fridays for LA. Usually 90 minutes.

 

We also talk about and practice the writing process as we do our writing assignments. 

 

 

The one thing I don't specifically have mapped out (and I know you classical types stress this) is a Summary / Outline / Note-Taking segment. I have WWTB, WWE/WWS, but we haven't been able to get through the above on a regular basis, so I'm reluctant to add something else. I think some of this happens organically as part of our academic writing, so for the moment, I'm okay with this on the back burner. 

 

 

That's my dilemma. Would appreciate advice from those of you who have worked through this kind of thing. 

 

Thanks!

 

So, if my math is right, you have up to two hours, four days a week of just composition and grammar, plus ninety minutes of only composition once a week. Yes, IMHO, that's way too much. As a comparison, classroom English is an hour a day, and it covers composition, literature, grammar, vocabulary, poetry, and more. Often, grammar is alternated with literature and composition, so that the children are not doing all three at the same time.


  • Slache likes this

#9 OhElizabeth

OhElizabeth

    Beekeeping Professor

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 29668 posts

Posted 23 October 2016 - 08:51 AM

I'm coming in a little late, but I thought I'd do some math for you and comment on the 826 materials.  If by that you mean the Don't Forget to Write books or similar, I would DEFINITELY KEEP those!  Your plan to do them once a week is good!  And your idea of Hake for one project a week is reasonable.  So that's like Hake M-R, 826 F.  That's fine, cool, done.  But then you do the math on your idea of using Fix It AND Killgallon AND Take 5, and it's like wow, is 50+ minutes of grammar everyday REALLY necessary?!?!  I feel bad for the kids who only did 10-15 minutes a day, because they obviously didn't get enough grammar, lol.  And if you're doing the grammar portions of Hake, then pop that up even higher, like 60-80 minutes a day, which is really horrific, kwim? 

 

You're talking about dropping science, but it sounds like you have a streamlining problem.  You may not have streamlined your science to *good enough* any more than you have your LA.  Eliminate duplication.  Things might be great, but you only need ONE thing for it at a time.  Don't do THREE grammar programs at once.  Do one, but do it with your whole hearts, kwim?  Eliminate this overkill duplication.  People rave about Killgallon, but honestly there are lots of kids out there who DON'T NEED IT.  

 

You sound like someone who really likes LA, so you're drawn to these things.  The Killgallon is word play, so it's FUN to you.  But you realize there are lots of OTHER ways to have fun with LA, right?  Like get some cool games that use language.  Play games with your kids!  Axe out 30 minutes of that grammar time a day and play really cool games.  They're only this age once, and they're still willing to play with you.  Play Dixit and Liebrary and....  We had this one, the title slips my mind, that I played with my dd around that age.  You start with a saying at the top, draw a picture, then scroll it and the next person draws a picture.  You circle around and try to guess the phrase at the end. 

 

So yeah, I'd whittle down your list.  I just didn't think Killgallon was that great.  Lots of kids do that naturally.  I didn't like Fix It either.  I did the Take 5 Minutes a day history editing with my dd, and that was solid.  I did Punctuation Puzzlers.  Trim it down and leave more time for the creative, engaging, brain tingling things you clearly enjoy.  I like the journal writing.  Are they outlining yet?  I don't see that on your list, but honestly that would be more valuable than having triple grammar.  I'm not all for gag boring outlining, but it can be done engagingly, with well-written magazine articles, etc.  It sort of stretches the pop tops of their brains.  And think through this.  If you want to bring the skills of Killgallon into analyzing the essay, you could.  Like nothing says you have to DO Killgallon, just because you have it.  You could use it as a resource for yourself.



#10 dori123

dori123

    Hive Mind Worker Bee

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 83 posts

Posted 23 October 2016 - 11:34 AM

Super helpful tips, OhElizabeth. Thank you. I am excited to look up Dixit, Liebrary and Punctuation Puzzlers. 

 

Just to clarify:

 

Yes, 826 is the Eggers book. We do one workshop per week, on Fridays.

 

I have decided to do something similar with the formal writing (ie 5-paragraph essay). Instead of trying to do pieces of this M-Th, I am going to hit this only on Tuesdays. (We use the Hake G&W book -- NOT the grammar workbook -- for help structuring this. We don't really do the exercises in this book, but rather look to it for guidance on structure and scope for our formal writing progression).

 

So Tuesdays are only formal writing; Fridays are only creative writing. 

 

On M, We, Th, we will do:

 

Grammar: 15 minutes per day, Fix It. 

Style/Word Play: 15-25 minutes per day, M W, Th. Killgallon. This is like a game for us; as you say, it is more like word play.

Take 5: journaling, 15-20 minutes. (The Take 5 is not grammar, it is book of fun journal prompts; kinda like 5-minute Eggers prompts. We try to spend only 5-15 minutes on this, but when I ask my kids for one paragraph, I often get a page to a page and a half. That's why it takes so long, and I hesitate to stop them because I love that they enjoy it and I think it helps create strong voice. They are also stopping to think before they write, which is all part of the process. Sometimes, though, it actually is only 5 minutes.)

 

So we'll have:

 

One hour of formal writing per week

One hour of creative writing per week

Journaling three times per week

Grammar  three times per week

Killgallon games/word play three times per week

 

That seems do-able. It is so helpful to get feedback from you all. Thanks.

 

 

 

 


  • OhElizabeth and lovelearnandlive like this