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#1 Ordinary Shoes

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Posted 07 June 2017 - 11:21 AM

I've written here before about my worries about my DD's writing. She is going into 2nd grade and struggled all year to complete her writing assignments in 1st grade. 

I think there were some issues with letter formation. She is a perfectionist and often writes and then erases letters that are not perfect. 

 

I'm conflicted about how to address this. On one hand, I think the writing requirements in early elementary school are ridiculous. If she was allowed to follow a more traditional path, I think she would be fine. She's gaining fluency in her reading. She is articulate and has a broad vocabulary. She does very good oral narrations.  

 

But I don't want her to think that she can't keep up because she can't fill a page with words in school. I hate to sound flippant but I think that what they are looking for is a page full of words. Content doesn't matter. Spelling doesn't matter. They just want the kids to fill the page. My child does not fill the page. 

 

I read The Writer's Jungle and a book called I'm Done. Bravewriter seems to be a bridge between the more traditional approach of copywork and dictation and the modern approach of encouraging lots of freewriting. I'm Done is the modern approach and discusses how to establish a writers workshop in a primary school classroom. I really like I'm Done. I think the advice is very good but I can't help but question why we are spending so much energy doing something that would be easier to accomplish with older children. Much of the author's advice is about to capture the interest of little children and focus their attention on writing. But we all know how much easier it would be to accomplish that task with a 10 year than a 7 year old. 

 

The author takes it as a given that little children should do original writing every day but provides no evidence that there is a connection between prolific writing in the primary grades and accomplished writing in older children. 

 

Regardless, DD's school believes in the modern approach and expects a lot of writing from little children so we have to accommodate it. 

 

I had the realization that no one has really taught DD how to put her thoughts down on paper. I think I can work on that over the summer. I was thinking of doing some mini lessons with her copywork. After she copies it, we can talk about the sentence and why the author chose those words and put them into that particular order. I feel a little bit annoyed at the expectations that children will just organically pick up writing without formal instruction. 

 

Has anyone here tried to afterschool writing? 

 

BTW, I just read this fascinating article on a writing program in a trouble NYC high school. 

 

 

 

The Hochman Program, as it is sometimes called, would not be un­familiar to nuns who taught in Catholic schools circa 1950. Children do not have to “catch” a single thing. They are explicitly taught how to turn ideas into simple sentences, and how to construct complex sentences from simple ones by supplying the answer to three prompts—butbecause, and so. They are instructed on how to use appositive clauses to vary the way their sentences begin. Later on, they are taught how to recognize sentence fragments, how to pull the main idea from a paragraph, and how to form a main idea on their own. It is, at least initially, a rigid, unswerving formula. “I prefer recipe,” Hochman says, “but formula? Yes! Okay!”

 

https://www.theatlan...olution/309090/


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#2 amymarie3

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Posted 07 June 2017 - 11:45 AM

My boys (twins) are in the exact same age group with writing issues.   I decided that instead of teaching them to write content I wanted them to do copy work this summer using good quality text that uses the ideas of dictation.  I found the program Spelling U See  that they will use this summer.  I really like their approach to teaching spelling and at the same time they will be working on their penmanship which is really where they need the work.   The plan is that they will do one lesson a week day all summer long, with it taking between 10 - 15 minutes. It looks to be fairly hands off so Grandma can monitor and make sure it gets done.   I feel like teaching the fundamentals of handwriting and spelling will get them further with writing in school at this age than a program like bravewriter will.   I do like bravewriter for summer when they are older but not at this age.  

 


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#3 winterbaby

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Posted 07 June 2017 - 12:38 PM

I am using an old "language lessons" book ( https://play.google....id=iTAXAAAAIAAJ ) but it is written, as far as I can tell, for about third grade, and I am using it remediate a rising fifth grader. It would depend on her reading comprehension, I guess. It's certainly gentle because in those days they understood that your output in the early stages is not going to be up to the level of your comprehension, so it may work for you.

 

Another thing we used a couple years back was "642 Things to Write About: Young Writer's Edition." Because it's totally "fun," it helped overcome her reluctance to write. (It can be hard to spontaneously come up with your own content in the school setting where you're trying to satisfy a teacher so it's not really spontaneous, you know? I find the whole "be creative in school" thing to be a bit of a set up.) If she gets used to using a book where anything goes - my daughter actually started out drawing in it a lot, gradually increasing the use of captions and labels until she was just writing - that will habituate her to the act of writing, which is important because at this stage you may also just have a physical stamina issue. This book might be a bit much for a first/second grader (I'm not sure... it's been a while and I have a poor understanding of what typical kids that age are like) but it has so much in it that you can keep it around for years. I totally agree with you about the school approach to writing, and I think it's hard to find material to use on your own that's really keyed to that age because those crazy expectations are really just a school idea.


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#4 SKL

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Posted 07 June 2017 - 01:12 PM

It's hard to advise without knowing the philosophy of the school.  My kids' school has never really (through grade 5) been serious about writing, as far as I can tell.  But in 1st grade, the kids were required to write in a journal a few days a week.  By the 4th quarter they were supposed to write 4 sentences in each journal entry.  It wasn't graded, but if the 4 sentences weren't done, the kids lost recess (once my kid was even kept back from lunch - don't get me started about that).  They were also required to write 10 sentences each week for spelling homework in the 2nd semester.  From that 1st grade experience, I was worried that writing demands were going to be heavy in 2nd and beyond, but they weren't, not at all.  Well, they did have to do a research paper toward the end of 2nd grade.  :p  But that was just one assignment, and it was done at home.

 

I didn't really have a comprehensive plan for writing for my kids.  I did the following though:

  • Where workbooks required written answers (supplied lines to fill in more than a word), I required my kids to answer in complete sentences.  At those times, I reinforced grammar, spelling, and legible handwriting.
  • The kids wrote letters.  I think you said your daughter is in the AHG pen pal program.  She can write something every few days about something interesting that she's done / seen, and about once or twice a month compile these into a pen pal letter.  Alternatively they could be letters to a relative etc.
  • I bought workbooks to specifically teach writing, but I hardly ever used them.  But occasionally a short paragraph or essay was required in a more general workbook such as Brain Quest, so I'd have them do those.
  • Diaries, journals etc. - given to the child to use as they please.

I would also look for non-academic activities that build finger strength and stamina.  Digging in the garden, drawing, needlework etc.  Also, have you had her vision checked in case that is the issue?


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#5 Heigh Ho

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Posted 07 June 2017 - 01:48 PM

Once the perfectionist issues are addressed, she will likely be able to produce.
Mostly what I find is that many forget what they wanted to write because they focus on perfect letter formation. Its all good once they become fluent with penmanship. In the meantime, she can dictate, then copy.
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#6 sunnyday

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Posted 07 June 2017 - 02:09 PM

One of the things I like best about Bravewriter is the idea of divorcing the writing process from the act of putting the words on the paper. Whether you scribe the words or she types the words or writes them or some combination, the writing is so much more than just the transcription into print. I'm interested that you think that the Writer's Jungle is about finding a balance between copywork and freewriting. I feel like it is a program for developing the whole writer by working on skills like punctuation spelling and grammar through copywork, while working on skills like formulating ideas and getting past writer's block through freewriting, then combining the two into a robust editing process. And in particular she addresses your concerns about putting too much effort into forcing prolific writing at early grades, by her emphasis on the developmental stages. A 7yo is in the "Jot it Down" stage and nowhere near ready for copious school writing, per Bravewriter. http://www.bravewrit...th-brave-writer

Julie has mentioned being very influenced by Peter Elbow, so I have turned directly to Elbow for further guidance. I really enjoy his books like Writing with Power and Writing Without Teachers. He goes into a lot more depth about how writing for yourself, and honing the process of creating the words and then editing them to suit an audience, is the crucial skill here for producing meaningful writing that conveys the author's voice and reads with flow and cohesion. He explains about how always writing to the same audience -- your teacher -- can cramp your development as a writer.

Anyway, this summer I'm thinking of doing a Friday Freewrite and a Poetry Teatime most weeks.


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#7 Ordinary Shoes

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Posted 07 June 2017 - 02:47 PM

Thanks. 

 

Correction - the book is No More I'm Done not I'm Done.

 

I agree that there is more to Bravewriter than serving as a "bridge" between copywork and freewriting. What I meant to write was that Bravewriter is different from the standard CM LA programs which focus solely on copywork and dictation. Freewriting is a modern idea. In my opinion, Bravewriter, among other things, is a "bridge" between modern and vintage writing philosophies because it encourages copywork and dictation (which are not done in any modern program with which I am familiar) and freewriting (which is not done in vintage programs).  

 

I agree with the writing stages discussed in Bravewriter but don't see how they would apply to a child who attends school and is expected to write in the primary grades. 

 

SKL, DD is not involved in AHG. 

 

The more I think about No More I'm Done the more frustrated I am. The expectations the author has about writing seems consistent with what I've seen in my DD's schools. I think her idea of a writing workshop in the primary grades is probably an excellent way of accomplishing that much writing at that age. However, no one addresses the elephant in the room, IMHO. That being why we are expecting K-2 graders to be able to write paragraphs. I deliberately included K because the book addresses writing in K through 2. Some of the kindergartners around here have to write book reports in the spring semester.  :001_rolleyes:

 

The method explained in the book takes a lot of time. My DD's school could not spare that much time for a daily writing workshop. Why dedicate that much time and effort to teach something that would take much less time and effort in late elementary? Regardless, I'm sure the children benefit because it allows them frequent discussion time with a teacher about their thoughts and ideas. That kind of one on one contact doesn't happen in my DD's school and it's a small parochial school. 

 

Most kids are left with the expectation that they write as much as kids in the author's school without that hour of time a day dedicated to writing. How are they going to be successful? 

 

And then in high school, those kids who wrote prolifically due to having the supportive writing workshop experience run into trouble with a teacher who doesn't care about their thoughts and feelings and wants something more substantive. Why not just wait until kids are capable of writing about something more substantive and teach them how to write then? 

 

American education always leaves me  :banghead: . 

 

 


Edited by Ordinary Shoes, 07 June 2017 - 02:50 PM.


#8 winterbaby

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Posted 07 June 2017 - 03:03 PM

 Some of the kindergartners around here have to write book reports in the spring semester. 

 

:willy_nilly: :willy_nilly: :willy_nilly: :willy_nilly:

 

Where are these incredibly inappropriate expectations even coming from?!
 



#9 sunnyday

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Posted 07 June 2017 - 04:08 PM

I agree with the writing stages discussed in Bravewriter but don't see how they would apply to a child who attends school and is expected to write in the primary grades. 

 

We're fortunate that we haven't had the outrageous output expectations here. So I feel like Bravewriter helps me curb my own expectations. I can guide their development as writers with after-school enrichment that encourages them toward expressing themselves in writing, and yet not feel like the class-assigned essay on "how I spent my spring break" has to be mind-blowing to prove that they're making progress, you know?



#10 Ordinary Shoes

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Posted 07 June 2017 - 07:48 PM

:willy_nilly: :willy_nilly: :willy_nilly: :willy_nilly:

 

Where are these incredibly inappropriate expectations even coming from?!
 

 

I feel like I'm in bizarro world sometimes. *Everyone* seems to agree that we ask too much of kids too early but then *everyone* goes along with the HW, new standards, whatever. It doesn't make any sense. It feels like we're all on a train going off the cliff but no one can figure out how to stop it.

 

I think parents are part of the problem. Most of us have serious status anxiety about our children. More so-called rigor makes us relax a little bit. And somebody always seems to make money off of every change so there's a profit motive at work. Parents know something is wrong but we are made to feel stupid and to distrust our instincts.

 

I read an article today about how prestigious prep schools are trying to do away with transcripts. They want college acceptance at elite schools to be something other than grades. We middle class parents can never really keep up. Someone is always going to change the rules of the game on us. It's grades, grades, grades and then it's something else that wealthy families at elite prep schools are better able to figure out how to do.



#11 Bluegoat

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Posted 14 June 2017 - 07:32 AM

You mention that her oral narrations are well done.

 

What about working on getting those down on paper?  You might start by writing them down yourself for her and having her copy some of them, and see if you can move toward her writing them as or instead of just saying them.  That would be the normal expectation over time for narrrations.

 

What might be tricky is if her actual mechanical writing skills get in the way r writing fluently enough.

 

All that being said - if it looked like my child was just not quite ready by the time school started, I wouldn't push it too much - I'd look to insulate her from the school's expectations instead.


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#12 vonfirmath

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Posted 14 June 2017 - 10:06 AM

You mention that her oral narrations are well done.

 

What about working on getting those down on paper?  You might start by writing them down yourself for her and having her copy some of them, and see if you can move toward her writing them as or instead of just saying them.  That would be the normal expectation over time for narrrations.

 

What might be tricky is if her actual mechanical writing skills get in the way r writing fluently enough.

 

All that being said - if it looked like my child was just not quite ready by the time school started, I wouldn't push it too much - I'd look to insulate her from the school's expectations instead.

 

This is what happened to my son. He can narrate okay. But he cannot write and narrate at the same time.  We started out with him talking and me writing it down.  But, last summer, we also worked out another plan that could work at school -- in any situation where he doesn't have someone to write down what he says.  He makes an outline of what he wants to say.  Then he writes from the outline (double spaced).  Then he fixes what he wrote and adds in what more he wants to say and plans to make at LEAST a second draft that is mostly copying the first one.

 

He hates all the writing and as much as possible we get it into the computer so he doesn't have to write it all again. BUT -- this gets him a perfectably acceptable writing piece that works past his inability to write and compose at the same time.


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#13 AlexaBarret

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Posted 27 June 2017 - 05:52 AM

I don`t know what to say.  :huh: I`m sure the summer holidays are for the rest. I feel pity for the children those have to work in summer too. I`m going to work with my children at the end of the summer only for reminding.  


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#14 steveoneill

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Posted 10 July 2017 - 10:17 AM

I agree with you, it's time to rest, there's a psychological effect too. it's better to let them play more because if they will not have fun enough in the childhood period it probably could affect their behavior later. Let your kids get bored enough while playing with the toys etc.Then they will study better in high school, instead of wasting time for PC games and other stuff  :party:  



#15 kiwik

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Posted 07 September 2017 - 12:14 AM

This is what happened to my son. He can narrate okay. But he cannot write and narrate at the same time. We started out with him talking and me writing it down. But, last summer, we also worked out another plan that could work at school -- in any situation where he doesn't have someone to write down what he says. He makes an outline of what he wants to say. Then he writes from the outline (double spaced). Then he fixes what he wrote and adds in what more he wants to say and plans to make at LEAST a second draft that is mostly copying the first one.

He hates all the writing and as much as possible we get it into the computer so he doesn't have to write it all again. BUT -- this gets him a perfectably acceptable writing piece that works past his inability to write and compose at the same time.


My kids both attend school and can write well - it takes them about 10 times as long as they are given though.