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Help with 7th graders writing assignment!


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#1 seemesew

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Posted 17 October 2017 - 05:16 PM

I am unsure what or how to go about helping my 7th grader with his writing assignments for Key of liberty. I want him to write his own (we have found out that a few of the kids parents are writing their kids papers) but I am unsure what is expected of that age on a paper. His teacher has said she is not doing grammar or checking spelling ( I do have him in a grammar program and I check his spelling) so basically she's not checking his paper for anything but his ideas. I want him to do a good job no matter what his teachers light requirements are.

Here is his most recent paper (I know the topic is guns which is a hot topic please do not comment on the political issues of them I am only interested in helping his writing improve), it is an opinion paper and this is what he wrote, :

 

TOPIC: When is it right to defend your liberty with guns?

 

I am going share the definition of liberty. There are many definitions for liberty but I am only going to name three of them. One of the definitions is to do what you want to do. The next definition is a state free with in society. The last definition I am going to share is freedom to not to be owned by another person.

 

 

I am going to share a situation when you might need guns. Let’s say that you were at home in your room and these people come in with knives. They threaten your family. They told them to get everything valuable and give it to them. That is when you notice a gun next to your bed you take it out saying, “Do not move or I will shoot” then they drop their knives and run out the door.

 

 

I believe that you can use guns to defend your liberty when somebody threatens to take your property, family, and house. It is also right to defend yourself with guns when an animal tries to kill you. 

 

How do I help him from here? What is expected at this age? He went to public school last year and he was an "A" student on the honor roll so I am surprised that his papers aren't better, honestly.



#2 Ellie

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Posted 20 October 2017 - 08:38 AM

He's padding his writing. IOW, he's using a boatload of extra words to make it look as if he has written more.

 

He uses "I am going to share" way too many times. Even once was too many.

 

He needs to say what he's going to say with fewer words, and without so much repetition. I would expect a 12yo to be able to do this. :-) Possibly his previous teacher beat into his head some made-up rules such as the necessity to have three paragraphs with a beginning statement, an ending statement, and [insert favorit number] of supporting sentences. The result is often pieces written like this.

 

You could do Writing Strands with him at home. I'd start with Level 3.

 

Edited for stupid spelling error and redundant phrases, lol.


Edited by Ellie, 21 October 2017 - 03:58 PM.

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#3 fralala

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Posted 21 October 2017 - 06:05 AM

I think Ellie's totally right about the padded writing. I can tell you from my tutoring experience that this is absolutely typical writing I see from kids who are trying to Do What the Teacher Wants and Just Complete the Assignment (and this is a piece of writing that many teachers who lack confidence in their ability to teach writing will accept with relief because frankly they see a lot worse).

 

Have you ever used Julie Bogart's The Writer's Jungle? That has some very good suggestions about how to approach assignments like this. One thing I'd do if you're trying to fix this particular assignment is the "cut and paste", where you take each individual sentence he's written and move them around. Start with there is "What do you think is the most interesting/exciting/controversial thing you can start out with to 'hook' your reader and make her want to continue?" Save the definitions for when you've already gotten them reading. I'd think you'd want to begin by asking him to just tell you about one of his imagined scenarios where you might need a gun. And although you don't want us to get political, push him a little and make him go into detail and defend himself. ("You notice a gun next to your bed? How did it get there? How does it feel when you pick it up? How are you feeling? Where is your family? Who are those people with knives, anyway, and what do they want? Why don't they have guns? What if they do have guns?" Not all of these questions should be asked, but any you think might make him respond fiercely and with conviction-- once he starts responding, that's great, and "You should include that!" is often good advice.)

 

Maybe he'll end up including some of these details, maybe not, but I think it's good as a parent to start from the place of one thing you really think is promising about the writing, or that you think might actually interest him, and point out that you noticed what he said there and you want to hear more. And then just see if you can get him at all interested or motivated in jazzing it up. I'd approach this as a helpful first draft because it is a starting point. Just getting something down on paper can be hard, especially when it's for an assignment. And he definitely has interesting ideas to work with and elaborate upon!


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#4 seemesew

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Posted 21 October 2017 - 11:35 AM

He's padding his writing. IOW, he's using a boatload of extra words to make it look as if he has written more.

 

He uses "I am going to share" way too many times. Even once was too many.

 

He needs to say what he's going to say with fewer words, and without so much repetition. I would expect a 12yo to be able to do this. :-) Possibly his previous teacher probably beat into his head some made-up rules such as the necessity to have three paragraphs with a beginning statement, and ending statement, and [insert favorit number] of supporting sentences. The result is often pieces written like this.

 

You could do Writing Strands with him at home. I'd start with Level 3.

 

 

I think Ellie's totally right about the padded writing. I can tell you from my tutoring experience that this is absolutely typical writing I see from kids who are trying to Do What the Teacher Wants and Just Complete the Assignment (and this is a piece of writing that many teachers who lack confidence in their ability to teach writing will accept with relief because frankly they see a lot worse).

 

Have you ever used Julie Bogart's The Writer's Jungle? That has some very good suggestions about how to approach assignments like this. One thing I'd do if you're trying to fix this particular assignment is the "cut and paste", where you take each individual sentence he's written and move them around. Start with there is "What do you think is the most interesting/exciting/controversial thing you can start out with to 'hook' your reader and make her want to continue?" Save the definitions for when you've already gotten them reading. I'd think you'd want to begin by asking him to just tell you about one of his imagined scenarios where you might need a gun. And although you don't want us to get political, push him a little and make him go into detail and defend himself. ("You notice a gun next to your bed? How did it get there? How does it feel when you pick it up? How are you feeling? Where is your family? Who are those people with knives, anyway, and what do they want? Why don't they have guns? What if they do have guns?" Not all of these questions should be asked, but any you think might make him respond fiercely and with conviction-- once he starts responding, that's great, and "You should include that!" is often good advice.)

 

Maybe he'll end up including some of these details, maybe not, but I think it's good as a parent to start from the place of one thing you really think is promising about the writing, or that you think might actually interest him, and point out that you noticed what he said there and you want to hear more. And then just see if you can get him at all interested or motivated in jazzing it up. I'd approach this as a helpful first draft because it is a starting point. Just getting something down on paper can be hard, especially when it's for an assignment. And he definitely has interesting ideas to work with and elaborate upon!

Thank you! This is exactly the kind of help I was hoping for! He turned in that paper but he has one every week to do so I will go over your suggestions with him and look at the resources you mentioned. Thank you so much!


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