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WhirlyBirds
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We are jumping into homeschooling in the fall. I will have a first grader and a gifted 4th grader. I have the WWE book that I was going to use with both of them. They have never done narration or dictation and neither have I. 4th grader can write a composition with very few grammatical errors. But I tried a dictation from WWE to see if we needed to start there or if I can move to WWS and he couldn't do it very well (His grammar was perfect but he couldn't remember what I said perfectly). Is dictation more of a memory exercise? Was I doing it wrong? The directions said to read the paragraph 3 times and then he had to write what I said. Is he supposed to start writing when I start reading, like taking notes, or is he supposed to listen the whole time and then start writing when I've finished reading? We tried it both ways. He was super frustrated with it. I guess I'm asking what the purpose of dictation is, how I'm supposed to implement it (write while reading or after reading), and if we can skip it if he writes well already.

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The purpose of dictation is to help the student learn to hold words/thoughts in their head until they can get them down on paper. This will help with writing and, down the road, note-taking.

 

Watch SWB's "dictation with Dan" on YouTube, you all are doing ok. Level 4 (is that what you are using?) was a step way up in difficulty.

 

Dictation is a different skill than writing, but there are a lot of ways to practice it without frustration.

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You cant start with paragraphs, even with an older child.

 

You may even need to start with clauses, not necessarily complete sentences.

 

You will likely get different answers about dictation, because there are two overall camps and then every individual has had her own experience...but afaik, it's universally understood that you must meet the student where they are, and progress accordingly.

 

Dictation should not take very long at all at first, and irs important to keep it pleasant. Because its the kind of thing that you will be doing together, in short increments but diligently, perhaps the whole of their career as a student in one form or another. Iow, you dont "master dictation" and leave it.

 

Anyway, yes, back way up. The cat sat on the mat. Point to the nouns. Great job today, kid!

 

This isba wee kindle booklet that i just love.

 

http://www.amazon.com/Homeschooling-simplified-Dictation-Bonnie-Landry-ebook/dp/B00GP3NFHQ/ref=sr_1_11?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1460560979&sr=1-11&keywords=dictation&refinements=p_n_feature_browse-bin%3A618073011

Edited by OKBud
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Interesting. English and French dictations seem to have different goals.

Well chime in with the goals of French dictation, because I'm no expert! Does French dictation focus on spelling and grammar?

 

I still struggle with whether the goal is to accurately capture the "idea" of the passage, or the exact wording. The debate is always one-sided because my kids don't care and would just like me to set them clear guguidelines.

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Yes, you will have to start with shorter things.  Likely even less than a single sentence.

 

FWIW, when we used WWE, my daughter who was used to copywork, really struggled with the dictations.

 

I think there is a lot to be said for doing studied dictation, where the child is given time to study the passage before having it dictated.  I also found it was very important to write down any words where spelling would be a real issue or they would forget the passage while trying to figure out the spelling.  This was especially true of names.

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Well chime in with the goals of French dictation, because I'm no expert! Does French dictation focus on spelling and grammar?

 

I still struggle with whether the goal is to accurately capture the "idea" of the passage, or the exact wording. The debate is always one-sided because my kids don't care and would just like me to set them clear guguidelines.

I had no idea the goal of dictation was to hold things in your head until you could get them on paper, but then I don't follow the WTM way w/r/t writing and grammar so that's not surprising.

French dictation as far as I can tell focuses on spelling and grammar, mostly because so much isn't pronounced. So for those a piece of text is read three times, once before the kids write, then each word or phrase so they write it down, along with the punctuation marks, and one last time so they look over to see if they missed anything.

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Since the topic of other languages was brought up, I wanted to chime in with the Russian way. We had dictations the way Madteaparty described (I didn't quite get the part about punctuation. We had to punctuate on our own). We also had another exercise, which I am not sure how to translate. The point was that the teacher read a short story (up to several paragraphs, depending on grade) a couple of times, and we were supposed to write it down without missing any major points. Kind of like narration, but the goal was to stay very close to the original. It took off the pressure to remember every single word, or even remembering the spelling of a difficult word, since it could be replaced with a synonym, but forced us to keep a much larger piece of information committed to memory.  Personally, I think it was a better exercise than English dictation, since it deals with a larger block of text, while focusing more on the meaning, not the little details. It is also far less frustrating.

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Since the topic of other languages was brought up, I wanted to chime in with the Russian way. We had dictations the way Madteaparty described (I didn't quite get the part about punctuation. We had to punctuate on our own). We also had another exercise, which I am not sure how to translate. The point was that the teacher read a short story (up to several paragraphs, depending on grade) a couple of times, and we were supposed to write it down without missing any major points. Kind of like narration, but the goal was to stay very close to the original. It took off the pressure to remember every single word, or even remembering the spelling of a difficult word, since it could be replaced with a synonym, but forced us to keep a much larger piece of information committed to memory.  Personally, I think it was a better exercise than English dictation, since it deals with a larger block of text, while focusing more on the meaning, not the little details. It is also far less frustrating.

 

This sounds a lot like the way narration is done for the younger students in Charlotte Mason style education.  The students are meant to tell back the story with all the important points, not to summarize.  Later, when they start to write, they start with that style again. 

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FWIW, when we used WWE, my daughter who was used to copywork, really struggled with the dictations.

With my kids, I found that they were copying almost letter-by-letter, even when they were capable of copying in larger chunks.  Also, they had a tendency to copy straight from the model, instead of getting a chunk of the model in their brain, and then writing that chunk from short-term memory (which made the whole thing just a handwriting exercise instead of also composition practice).  No amount of copywork done that way was going to prepare them for dictation, kwim? 

 

The point being, I had no idea (until recently) that sometimes you need to explicitly teach kids *how* to do copywork - that it's more than just knowing how to read and write.

 

I think there is a lot to be said for doing studied dictation, where the child is given time to study the passage before having it dictated.  I also found it was very important to write down any words where spelling would be a real issue or they would forget the passage while trying to figure out the spelling.  This was especially true of names.

With my oldest, I make the WWE passages studied dictation.  We're in WWE2, where the copywork is the same passage as the dictation, so it's already kind of studied dictation, but I also have her mark up the passage with Spelling You See's visual marking system on copywork day, and then study it for a few minutes right before dictation. 

Edited by forty-two
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If your ds is already completing compositions, skip dictations, especially if they are frustrating him. The ultimate goal is strong writing skills. It sounds like he is already a strong writer.

 

Fwiw, I have managed to raise all 6 of my older kids to be strong writers w/ no dictation exercises. Dictation is simply one approach out of many.

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If your ds is already completing compositions, skip dictations, especially if they are frustrating him. The ultimate goal is strong writing skills. It sounds like he is already a strong writer.

 

Fwiw, I have managed to raise all 6 of my older kids to be strong writers w/ no dictation exercises. Dictation is simply one approach out of many.

Oh, I am so glad you posted this reply because it looks like I'm heading in the same direction with my ds. It makes me feel a lot better.

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The point being, I had no idea (until recently) that sometimes you need to explicitly teach kids *how* to do copywork - that it's more than just knowing how to read and write.

How do you teach copywork? Ds tends to want to write letter by letter and if could help him, I would love to! lol

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If your ds is already completing compositions, skip dictations, especially if they are frustrating him. The ultimate goal is strong writing skills. It sounds like he is already a strong writer.

 

Fwiw, I have managed to raise all 6 of my older kids to be strong writers w/ no dictation exercises. Dictation is simply one approach out of many.

Is this true for certain? I feel like part of dictation is learning how to hold the thoughts, so giving up on a student who struggles, even though he/she can write really well, may not be the best solution. My gifted dd can write pages upon pages, mostly grammatically correct (although relatively simply written), but she really struggled with dictation at the start of WWE3. She could barely remember 5 words. We are 4 weeks in and doing it sentence by sentence now and she can do an entire sentence, and is getting close to dictating 2 full sentences. I have seen fast improvement, and I loved watching the video posted above. It was very helpful!

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Is this true for certain? I feel like part of dictation is learning how to hold the thoughts, so giving up on a student who struggles, even though he/she can write really well, may not be the best solution. My gifted dd can write pages upon pages, mostly grammatically correct (although relatively simply written), but she really struggled with dictation at the start of WWE3. She could barely remember 5 words. We are 4 weeks in and doing it sentence by sentence now and she can do an entire sentence, and is getting close to dictating 2 full sentences. I have seen fast improvement, and I loved watching the video posted above. It was very helpful!

True about what? That kids can be excellent writers w/o ever doing a single day's worth of dictation? Absolutely. That kids can "hold their thoughts together" w/o ever experiencing dictation? Absolutely.

 

I've been teaching my kids for 22 yrs, have 2 who graduated from college with honors and one who is a 4.0 college student. My high schooler is a fabulous writer. As is my 8th grader. My 4th grader is a beginning writer whose spelling is horrific. (But, hey, she is following in her brothers' footsteps. ;) )

 

Yeah, it is certainly true for my children. (My kids don't do narration so, either. :) )

 

There is no single correct path toward any outcome. Multiple paths will lead kids toward a desired outcome. Learning is far from a linear path. It weaves and winds, circles back, goes straight forward, and then veers off again. Thank goodness! Homeschooling would be so boring any other way! :)

Edited by 8FillTheHeart
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How do you teach copywork? Ds tends to want to write letter by letter and if could help him, I would love to! lol

 

IDK that I have any magical method.  Once I realized it was happening, I started sitting with them and walking them through the process I wanted them to follow.  "Read the whole thing.  Ok, look at the first word/phrase/sentence." <I point out anything tricksy they might need to focus on.>  "Are you ready - can you picture it in your head?"  <If yes, then I cover the model.>  "Now, tell it back to me.  Ok, now write it."  <They write it.  I uncover the model and have them double check that what they wrote matches.>  "Ok, look at the second word/phrase/sentence...."  Lather, rinse, repeat ;), until they seem to have it down and can/will do it unprompted.

 

In general, whenever I notice that the kids have subverted the point of an assignment (a depressingly common occurrence), I sit with them and explicitly walk them through the steps of the process I want them to be practicing. (I generally notice the problem whenever the assignment ramps up in difficulty and they go from doing it easily to resisting and complaining about "how hard it is" - it tends to be a sign that they didn't learn the skills I meant for them to be learning through the assignment, usually because they did it another, easier-for-them-way, that left the weaknesses I was targeting untouched.  Sometimes I just can't fathom how they could do the assignment successfully *without* working on the skill I wanted them to practice, but somehow they manage it ;).)

 

Does that help any?

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True about what? That kids can be excellent writers w/o ever doing a single day's worth of dictation? Absolutely. That kids can "hold their thoughts together" w/o ever experiencing dictation? Absolutely.

 

I've been teaching my kids for 22 yrs, have 2 who graduated from college with honors and one who is a 4.0 college student. My high schooler is a fabulous writer. As is my 8th grader. My 4th grader is a beginning writer whose spelling is horrific. (But, hey, she is following in her brothers' footsteps. ;) )

 

Yeah, it is certainly true for my children. (My kids don't do narration so, either. :) )

 

There is no single correct path toward any outcome. Multiple paths will lead kids toward a desired outcome. Learning is far from a linear path. It weaves and winds, circles back, goes straight forward, and then veers off again. Thank goodness! Homeschooling would be so boring any other way! :)

I was just asking--no need to be defensive and throw out credentials. I'm sure your kids are top notch!  :grouphug:  I was asking with sincerity, by the way. 

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IDK that I have any magical method.  Once I realized it was happening, I started sitting with them and walking them through the process I wanted them to follow.  "Read the whole thing.  Ok, look at the first word/phrase/sentence." <I point out anything tricksy they might need to focus on.>  "Are you ready - can you picture it in your head?"  <If yes, then I cover the model.>  "Now, tell it back to me.  Ok, now write it."  <They write it.  I uncover the model and have them double check that what they wrote matches.>  "Ok, look at the second word/phrase/sentence...."  Lather, rinse, repeat ;), until they seem to have it down and can/will do it unprompted.

 

In general, whenever I notice that the kids have subverted the point of an assignment (a depressingly common occurrence), I sit with them and explicitly walk them through the steps of the process I want them to be practicing. (I generally notice the problem whenever the assignment ramps up in difficulty and they go from doing it easily to resisting and complaining about "how hard it is" - it tends to be a sign that they didn't learn the skills I meant for them to be learning through the assignment, usually because they did it another, easier-for-them-way, that left the weaknesses I was targeting untouched.  Sometimes I just can't fathom how they could do the assignment successfully *without* working on the skill I wanted them to practice, but somehow they manage it ;).)

 

Does that help any?

Yes, this is very helpful! I am a little annoyed at WWE level 1 because so much of it has big words, like "Rumpelstilzkin" (I'm not even sure on the spelling without looking!!!), in a very simple sentence: "The man's name was Rumpelstilzkin." I doubt that's the exact example, but it takes what would be a very easy sentence and really complicates it. I am seriously considering making my own, but I feel like that's really complicated for beginning writers! Am I wrong? Or is that the whole point?

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Is this true for certain? I feel like part of dictation is learning how to hold the thoughts, so giving up on a student who struggles, even though he/she can write really well, may not be the best solution. My gifted dd can write pages upon pages, mostly grammatically correct (although relatively simply written), but she really struggled with dictation at the start of WWE3. She could barely remember 5 words. We are 4 weeks in and doing it sentence by sentence now and she can do an entire sentence, and is getting close to dictating 2 full sentences. I have seen fast improvement, and I loved watching the video posted above. It was very helpful!

 

I think you're right. While many kids obviously don't need to do it, many will benefit from it. Dictation is part of the WTM method & I find it odd to think that it would be outright dismissed on this board. 

 

Are there kids who thrive without it? Sure. Just like there are kids who thrive and arrive academically without being homeschooled the WTM way, or without being homeschooled at all. 

 

http://www.welltrainedmind.com/why-do-copywork-and-dictation/

 

Why do copywork & dictation? 

 

"What does this do for the brain? It trains the mind to retain what is heard. It increases concentration. These are valuable practical skills for any learning situation, and especially for notetaking in a college classroom."

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mamamoose - My DD had hard time doing dictations in 3rd (we tried using WWE2). I dropped it, although I admit that I was worried on more than one occasion when I would say something she was supposed to write down, and she would have a meltdown because I refused to dictate it word by word, although all she needed to write down was the main idea of what I said. Now I think it was more of "why would I care to remember it." Recently, in 8th, we were discussing something, and she then proceeded to write down my speech in its entirety, practically word for word. I was honestly surprised. So I guess she can hold an extensive thought in her head without years of dictation. I have no credentials whatsoever. I am still worried that my DD is not writing as well as she should at her age, but this particular thing is not a problem at all.

 

ETA: One more thing. From my experience, the best thing for notetaking in college is not remembering every single word, it is the ability to listen and select the most important ideas and details to write down, because you can't write down every word.

Edited by OlgaLA
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I was just asking--no need to be defensive and throw out credentials. I'm sure your kids are top notch! :grouphug: I was asking with sincerity, by the way.

Not defensive at all. You asked if it was certainly true. My response was equally sincere. I am simply sharing that dictation is absolutely not necessary for developing good writing skills, for developing working memory, for holding thoughts together, etc.

 

There are plenty of other activities that can nurture any of those skills. Strategy games which require mentally working through the the outcomes of multiple future steps, memorizing and reciting poetry, telling a story they have created, performing in plays, etc. all require kids to "hold their thoughts together."

 

1000s of books exist on teaching writing. Obviously no single approach is the only way. Strong writers do not develop their skills from just one of them but across a full spectrum of them.

 

Fwiw, kids that have never done dictation can sit in a class and take notes, can write down exact quotes, etc. That is NOT saying dictation doesn't develop those skills. Dictation's strengths simply do not negate the fact that other approaches accomplish the same skills.

 

If I had a child who hated dictation and it was making them hate writing, I would drop it and find another approach. That is not a hill I would die on.

Edited by 8FillTheHeart
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Yes, this is very helpful! I am a little annoyed at WWE level 1 because so much of it has big words, like "Rumpelstilzkin" (I'm not even sure on the spelling without looking!!!), in a very simple sentence: "The man's name was Rumpelstilzkin." I doubt that's the exact example, but it takes what would be a very easy sentence and really complicates it. I am seriously considering making my own, but I feel like that's really complicated for beginning writers! Am I wrong? Or is that the whole point?

I create my kids' copywork. I create or copy simple sentences based on what they are currently reading bc that is on an appropriate level for them. For example, my Ker is reading Nate the Great. Today her copywork was "Harry painted over top of Annie's picture. It did not look like Fang anymore. Now it was a picture of a monster." She read it to me before she copied it. We talked about why the words had capital letters.

 

My goal for her in K is correct letter formation, understanding capital letters, and recognizing that sentences have end punctuation marks.

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Thank you all for your responses, they have been really helpful and have given me a lot to think about. The benefit of developing working memory makes me want to give it my best effort in the hopes it will help DS with his "absent minded professor syndrome" if nothing else!

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I feel like part of dictation is learning how to hold the thoughts, so giving up on a student who struggles, even though he/she can write really well, may not be the best solution. My gifted dd can write pages upon pages, mostly grammatically correct (although relatively simply written), but she really struggled with dictation at the start of WWE3. She could barely remember 5 words. We are 4 weeks in and doing it sentence by sentence now and she can do an entire sentence, and is getting close to dictating 2 full sentences. I have seen fast improvement, and I loved watching the video posted above. It was very helpful!

 

I agree that part of dictation is learning how to hold the thoughts in one's mind (ie, strengthening working memory. In fact, if you have a student who struggles with working memory, dictation is an excellent way to work on that). I agree that there are many paths to becoming a better writer--and there are likely other ways to work on working memory as well. 

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