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What is your 9th grader's level of writing skill?


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I would like to get a better feel for the level of skill of a "typical" 9th grader in writing essays & other papers. I know for the crowd on this board the overall level is likely to be higher than "typical" but it would still be helpful to get some feedback on how much your student writes,both in frequency & volume, what type of writing he/she is doing, and how much assistance the student needs to complete essay or other writing assignments.

 

Also, do you teach writing completely separately from other subjects or do you use the content of subjects like history & geography as topics for your student's writing?

 

If any of you out there are (or were) actually high school English teachers, I would especially love your feedback.

 

Thanks!

 

ETA: I'm really hoping for more feedback! If you don't feel comfortable talking about your own child's level as a 9th grader, can you simply add your own understanding of what a typical 9th grader's writing skill would be? Thanks!

Edited by Tokyomarie
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My son has done IEW for the past two years and is currently in 9th grade. We are moving into doing quick paragraph summaries and multi-paragraph essays. I am encouraging him to use the stylistic techniques from IEW but not all of them for each paragraph.

 

Right now, we are using Rhetoric, History, and Literature as subjects on which to base writing. Because he doesn't have much experience doing essays yet, we are working on flow, making a point and following it through to the end, with supporting points along the way. He does a decent job of using style and an even better job of writing cohesive paragraphs, but making and supporting an overall point is a weak area at the moment.

 

I am going for more assignments at the moment, trying to provide as much experience in writing as possible so that I can give a little feedback for each paper, and not overwhelm him with any one paper (don't want to discourage him). I also try hard not to give him too much feedback on grammar and spelling beyond the obvious, so that we can focus on the overall flow more.

 

I have used IEW and I have read Webster's accompanying (IEW) text and Writer's Jungle for ideas on how to teach. I really have no idea how to teach writing. However, I have very verbal kids and I've had a lot of experience writing, although I wouldn't call my education in that area stellar.

 

I guess I think of it a little like a painting- writing is never finished. There is always something you can do to make it clearer, more concise, more descriptive, better. So, I offer what I can on each paper and figure that they are learning bits and pieces that they can consolidate over time to make their writing better. In short, I am beginning to trust the process even though I feel like I haven't the foggiest notion of what I am doing here.

 

I am looking forward to seeing what others have to say about 9th graders and their writing. This is one of my pet topics.

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We use Seton..

 

He writes what he has to write, be it a paragraph or a 5 paragraph or longer essay.

Revisions/editing are greeted with the resignation of a martyr. He no longer holds out hope that he won't have to do it - ever.:D

He still needs help with his revisions/editing, but I figure that's why publishing houses have editors, so I don't look at that as neccessarily a negative.

He has recently had a spark of development in this area and it is much easier/better than it was say 6 months ago.

 

His greatest difficulty is remembering:

1 that the reader cannot read his mind and thus know what he meant

2 that 95% of the time he shoudl avoid writing in a conversational/slang manner.

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Thanks, Jenny & Martha, for your feedback!

 

When did you first introduce 5 paragraph essays to your boys? Do they find it easy enough at this point to come up with an outline and/or rough draft for those essays? Or is it pure torture to get past the first stage of generating ideas for what should be in each paragraph?:tongue_smilie:

 

How long/how many days do you work on a single paper?

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When did you first introduce 5 paragraph essays to your boys?

 

It starts with a single paragraph in 3rd grade, 3 paragraphs in 4th grade, and 5 paragraphs in 5/6/7 BUT with help, such as giving the intro praragraph and/or topic sentences at first, esp for the harder assignments.

 

Do they find it easy enough at this point to come up with an outline and/or rough draft for those essays?

 

rough draft is easy b/c they have FINALLY reached a point where they no longer ever expect to have a final draft if they make a good enough rough draft.

 

outlines.. just stink. I tend to personally hate them, so offer more sympathy than I should. A 5 paragraph essay just isn't long enough to need an outline, imo, but I know that some kids do need it to gather their thoughts. My oldest is one of those kids. My 2nd is not.

 

Or is it pure torture to get past the first stage of generating ideas for what should be in each paragraph?:tongue_smilie:

 

depends. are we talking creative writing or research or?

for creative writing I don't think that will ever change.

but for research papers, lit analysis and so forth, often it is easier because there's really nothing to "make up".

 

it finally really clicked with my oldest how it all connects.

 

my 2nd has never really had a problem with it.

 

How long/how many days do you work on a single paper?

 

A single 5 paragraph essay? 4 days.

day 1 - rough outline and rough draft

day 2 - edit/2nd draft

day 3 - edit/3rd draft

day 4 - 4th draft or final draft

day 5 - final draft/turn in

 

I'd like to greatly reduce that.

By the end of this year I hope to have it whittled down some. In my fantasy, down to 1 day. In reality, I'll settle for 2. This time frame is presuming all research, and reading has already been done, so this is for only the actual writing.

 

But we are also going to hit timed essays starting in February/March because for various exams and such, writing a decent essay in 30 - 45 minutes will be a tremendous help to him.

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I should probably note that we don't write essays every week either. Up to now we were doing them on average every 6 weeks or so. He did daily writing, usually a paragraph or two. Don't want you to think my poor kid is doing this every week. ;)

 

I'm so glad you clarified that! I was trying to imagine a full 5 paragraph essay each week :eek: but assuming you didn't mean quite that frequently.;)

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here is what my 9th grader is doing.

writing a paragraph 3 times a week about HOAW including most dates mentioned and why they are mentioned

and every 6 weeks or so a minimum of 5 paragraph essay using the discussion questions from spielvogel world history . he spends one whole day doing the research, and writing the rough copy, the next day he improves the rough copy and types the good copy onto the computer.

 

I know this isn't very much writing , in fact it is nowhere nearly enough. but my son has dyslexia and this is a major improvement , and is all part of my plan to gradually improve writing skills .

we do a lot of oral discussion about many things like science etc.

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We do different kinds of papers now, in 9th, though. We have history context pages, which are not generally revised and are short. We have rhetoric essays of about 3-5 paragraphs, and we have history and literature essays which can be that long or longer. Usually, he has about 2 papers going on any given week, but a paper can take anywhere from a couple of days to two weeks. He had a bunch of papers (like 4-5) that he was working on last week and he did become a little overwhelmed with all the writing. I will try not to make assignments overlap like that in the future, but I want him to have a good bit of experience getting his ideas on paper with good flow.

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My daughter is in 7/8th grade now and this is her first year homeschooling. So far she has written 4 essays and is at work on number 5.

 

I am using Write Source (7th grade) which has excellent suggestions for different types of writing and rubrics to help get them started.

 

In just a short period of time I already see a difference in my daughter's writing.

 

Writing was one of those things that came naturally to me (unlike math!) but unfortunately both of my children need to work on their writing skills.

 

I remember being a freshman in college and kids had to take a remedial writing course because their writing was not up to par.

 

That is not going to be my child!

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I remember being a freshman in college and kids had to take a remedial writing course because their writing was not up to par.

 

That is not going to be my child!

 

I used to tutor students informally who were taking freshman composition when I was a freshman in college. I got AP credit so I never took the class but I was amazed at the level of writing I saw.

 

My oldest daughter is very verbal & a natural writer. She got AP credit for freshman composition. My second daughter was a late bloomer & didn't really take off in writing until about 10th grade. She took 2 semesters of freshman comp- required at the school she attended that year. She wasn't able to test out, but didn't have to do a remedial class either. She got very positive comments from her instructor.

 

My son is dyslexic & dysgraphic, so writing is a huge struggle. I've been trying to figure out just how he compares with the typical 9th grader. Then I remembered that my oldest dd was really only writing about 3 paragraphs maybe 3-4 times a month, with the occasional longer paper thrown in, when she was in international school for 9th grade. I began to wonder if my expectations of "typical" were a bit skewed toward the high end.

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