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critiquing writing

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I wish I could critique my daughter's writing without making her cry. I try to be objective, I try to be kind, I try to be gentle and she still ends up in tears. I know if someone else were critiqing her she would just nod and do the rewrite and be fine. But since it's me, she takes it personally.


Some days it's just not fun to the homeschool mom.

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Could you give her a grading rubric that contains what you're looking for and have her critique her own writing? Do you think that would help?


I am ashamed to say this, but I don't know how. I don't know what I am looking for, really. I encourage her to use the IEW dress-ups, but that frustrates her and she becomes obssessed with fitting a who-which clause in there somewhere.


The whole paper is just so awkward to read.


A rubric might help. Can you point me to a source, preferable free and online because we need help today!

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I'm no expert but I have learned a few things from trial and error over the years. And, I learned the most from having ds take a workshop from Write@Home and "watch" how their coaches handled it because he thrived with their feedback.


First, if you see a couple of areas that you feel need work, select only one and concentrate on that for a few papers until you see progress and then move on to the other areas. For instance, if it's transitions , focus on that first. If it's integrating examples to support a point, focus on that first. Move on only after your student has accomplished the singular goal you set.


Secondly, don't focus on grammar at all unless it is absolutely horrible then that should an area where you go back and do daily teaching so that the student is fairly confident before tackling a paper. We never had a grammar problem but I saw coaches consistently ignore grammar in favor of working on writing skills. Frankly, poor grammar would drive me nuts so I would just correct it without comment when it arose.


Lastly, PRAISE, PRAISE, and more PRAISE! Find everything, even the littlest thing and praise the efforts first and with gusto! Then and nly then move on to discuss the singular point for improvement that you selected to work on. I've suggested this site before because it has some good rubrics but also sample papers and I found it easier to "see" the application of the rubrics that way.



There are many more ways to crack this nut but this is a short version of what I came to do after trail and error and it is now not painful for either of us, mercifully.


Hang in there!



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I whole-heartedly agree with MaryM! Writing is tough! Ultimately, pick the glaring errors and one or two areas of improvement after praising and acknowledge specific accomplishments, " Wow! I like how you remembered to X!" IEW is a great program, but I have found the awkward sentences involve the dress-ups or sentence openers found on the checklist. If this is the case, identify one dress-up or opener that is a problem and work on that particular type of sentence. After working on that over a few days, or on the next assignment select another type of sentence to work on. I also wanted to share that IEW has a yahoo group that you can subscribe to which has the composition checklist which include the dress-ups and style openers. Use this as your guide and look at the errors the student is making consistently and add them to the checklist. Don't overwhelm the student, simply add two or three and when you see it is becoming automatic adjust accordingly. For example, you might start with verb-tense shift and commas. FWIW, Put That in Writing is a great resource that allows the student to assume ownership of their learning an writing. It is very structured and breaks down assignments into daily work which include grammar review and it gives specific criteria that must be included in the composition. I like this resource because the criteria are specificly delineated and I can hold the student accountable for the criteria rather than be the "mean Mom." Stick with it, you can do it!


Good Luck!



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On the IEW DVD (I don't remember which exact one) Andrew said he DID NOT correct his sensitive daughter's papers. He just made a note to himself to teach that concept before he had her write the next concept. She went on to college and got A's on her paper, so that method must have worked.



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