Writing Skills - Discussions about student writing

Copywork, Cursive, Dictation, Grammar, Handwriting, Letter Writing, Memory Work, Narration, Read-Alouds, Spelling, Vocabulary, & Writing (many of these topics apply to other subjects such as Bible, History, and Science)
PaulaA
Posts: 6
Joined: Sun Dec 16, 2007 2:07 pm

Writing Skills - Discussions about student writing

Unread post by PaulaA » Tue Feb 05, 2008 10:27 am

QUESTION: exercise/unit #3

My 10 ds is currently working on the #3 exercise from WS book 3.
I am not the best writer in the world to say the least. Many times a sentence just doesn't sound right to me, but I am at a loss to explain why.

Today for part of the assignment he wrote:
  • Logan(who is strong) fought Jonah (who is funny).
For some reason he has started to use a lot of parenthesis. I helped him rewrite it without the parenthesis to read:
  • Logan who is strong, fought Jonah who is funny.
I'm not sure my help was right--what do you think? How do I explain about the use of parentheses?
I really hate to over correct his work and stifle his creativity. He doesn't enjoy any writing assignment unless he can write about whatever he wishes and doesn't have to make any corrections :)

I need to read more about how to write and teach my children writing.
When I think back to my own education, it is fairly shocking how little I was required to write. (That includes 6 years of college :0)

I love that my two boys have such different writing styles--both of which are entertaining to read. I want them to enjoy writing so it is hard for me to critique anything they write. Their favorite writing exercise is when we do "Friday Freewrite" an idea I borrowed from the Writer's Jungle website.

But, I do see the value in Writing Strands so we'll just stick with it and go slowly. I also am really liking the writing they are doing in the PLL and Ill. They rarely complain about the lessons in those great little books.
Today my oldest told me that he thought that the "Barefoot Boy" was his favorite poem :) .thank you for your help

Paula

cbollin

Re: QUESTION: exercise/unit #3

Unread post by cbollin » Tue Feb 05, 2008 10:43 am

PaulaA wrote: How do I explain about the use of parenthesises?
For parentheses, here's a quick link
https://owl.english.purdue.edu/engagement/3/7/97/
I'm sure there are other places out there to help.

I'm not surprised that he might like to use them because there are a lot of parentheses in WS. :)

Usually they are used to add extra info that is less important to the sentence. In your son's sentence, I think it is more appropriate to use a pair of commas based on one of the rules of commas that is found in Writing Strands. Look in the back, Commas, Rule #4. Your son is giving us some extra but important information about each of the boys in his sentences.

just my .02, but I could be wrong.
-crystal
Last edited by cbollin on Tue Feb 05, 2008 11:36 am, edited 2 times in total.

Julie in MN
Posts: 2928
Joined: Mon Jun 28, 2004 3:44 pm
Location: Minnesota

Re: QUESTION: exercise/unit #3

Unread post by Julie in MN » Tue Feb 05, 2008 10:47 am

Hi Paula,
My son *really* wants me to say: "If you get complaints, then don't make him do it!"

Okay, now *I* get to type :o)

I actually think parentheses are helpful in seeing what's going on in a sentence. And then usually they can be just taken out (if the info is short) or changed to commas (one on each side) -- haha I'm using parentheses, too :o)

  • Logan (who is strong) fought Jonah (who is funny).
    Logan, who is strong, fought Jonah, who is funny.
    Logan who is strong fought Jonah who is funny.

Here is a longer sentence where commas are more necessary to keep track of the connection between your main subject (Logan) and main verb (fought):[/i]
  • Logan, who is the strongest 13-year-old I have ever met, fought Jonah, who is so funny that he makes me laugh when he just looks at me.

I agree about letting the boys have "style." As long as it's understandable and not an out-and-out error, I mostly just give my opinion & let my kids make the final decision.

And by the way, I didn't know any formal grammar until I was in my 40s, and now I feel quite comfortable with it at almost 50. It was about then that I started asking questions about things that had never made sense to me, and all of a sudden, it came together in my mind :o)

Julie
Last edited by Julie in MN on Tue Feb 05, 2008 10:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Julie, married 29 yrs, finding our way without Shane
(http://www.CaringBridge.org/visit/ShaneHansell)
Reid (21) college student; used MFW 3rd-12th grades (2004-2014)
Alexandra (29) mother; hs from 10th grade (2002)
Travis (32) engineer; never hs

Julie in MN
Posts: 2928
Joined: Mon Jun 28, 2004 3:44 pm
Location: Minnesota

Exercise/unit #7

Unread post by Julie in MN » Wed Apr 02, 2008 12:53 pm

---------------------------------------
Ideas for Exercise #7:
---------------------------------------
Day 1:
1. I narrowed the "living room" down to one wall. I don't know how your living room looks, but for most homeschoolers, the living room has many items to describe, including at least one *million* books! Describing one wall in our house was more than enough. So the first thing Reid did was choose the area he would be describing (south wall of the living room).

2. He listed all major items along that wall (a numbered list of 8 pieces of furniture or structures such as windows). We skipped dozens of miscellaneous items. (I originally panicked, & making the decision to just include 8 items made a world of difference in my brain!) He left plenty of space on the page after each numbered item, to add more info later.

3. After each item on the list, he wrote its color(s). We worked for a while on that, because he didn't really have the vocabulary (or interest) to describe off-white/beige, & many of the items in our living room are varying shades of this. He didn't necessarily absorb a lot of new vocabulary, but had an intro.

Day 2:
1. After each item on the list & its color(s), he added its material(s). This took a little discussion, but we came up with wood, glass, plastic, metal, fabric, or paint.

Most items had 2-3 main materials to include (rarely would he understand *all* the materials that make up a picture or a window or a chair). And at his age, he said "fabric cover" or "dark wood" but not much more. At first I worked on this with him, showing him that "fabric cover" could refer to many different textures and softnesses, etc., but decided it might take many days (!), so I saved that work for something else (describing the placement, see below). I think an older student would spend more time on describing the materials -- and so 8 items would still be enough!

Day 3:
1. Time to add the "placement" info. We started with a quick sketch -- which might help some kids but didn't add anything to Reid's understanding of how to write. (Drawing a map of the house is a big assignment later in WS, so it can wait, anyways.)

2. For his first draft he could only come up with a short paragraph, but this showed me what he was thinking. Reid had a hard time knowing how to write about placement. He insisted that just saying "south wall" was perfectly clear.

3. So it helped to use a marker board, and for me to pretend I was an alien. Was all the furniture in a pile, or stacked on top of each other? Were pictures grouped or spread out; above windows, beside windows, or covering up windows?

Note: He continued with his original list of 8 items, now adding a description of their placement. I guess this step was the major focus for me.

Day 4:
1. He typed up a more thorough paragraph describing placement. After my alien impersonation last time, Reid over-emphasized things like how many inches or feet, and where it was in relation to the floor & wall. That's okay, at least he's experimenting with some new description.

Day 5:
1. I read it back to him (reading it aloud to someone else would have been even better), hoping it would help him realize when placement was not clear. He did add some things as we went along.

Days 6-7:
1. The placement description was joined with all the other info about each item. He created one list of 8 items, but each item was now a paragraph (a short paragraph because he was a 3rd grader). Here is part of his 3rd grade result for Lesson 7 (grammar errors & all)!
  • The South Wall of my Living Room
    1. On the floor at the far east side is where my end table is. It is darkish brown and is made of wood 'n glass.

    2. On the wall over the end table is where my window is. The color is beige (curtains) and is made of glass, wood, metal, fabric, and plastic.

    3. Moving west from my end table is my couch, which my couch's back is about a foot away from the south wall. The color is off white and has a cover covering it all.

    ...8. And my wall is behind everything :o) and it has no wall paper. It is not behind the windows though it is "around" the windows and it is beige and of course, it is made of sheet rock and is painted beige.
2. Note that we had left out two of the steps completely -- the "kinds of pieces" (how many couches, chairs, etc., is already obvious) and "what they're used for" (which seems either too obvious when there is just one use or too complicated when the item has innumerable uses).
Julie, married 29 yrs, finding our way without Shane
(http://www.CaringBridge.org/visit/ShaneHansell)
Reid (21) college student; used MFW 3rd-12th grades (2004-2014)
Alexandra (29) mother; hs from 10th grade (2002)
Travis (32) engineer; never hs

cbollin

Re: Exercise/unit #7

Unread post by cbollin » Wed Apr 02, 2008 1:12 pm

----------------------------------------
Ideas for Exercise #7:
-----------------------------------------


A few words of encouragement about Exercise 7 to help understand the why’s. The skills in this lesson are valuable for learning how to organize your thoughts and to logically present those thoughts to a reader. I also think the lesson will help you to help your reader picture what you are trying to describe. This will be great for many parts of writing when you aren't in the same room with someone and there is no power point to watch. With that in mind, I could see a bigger reason for doing this exercise and modified as needed.

I found it worked best to use a room in the house that was small and not heavily decorated. My daughter would have been overwhelmed with the living room. I needed to coax my child into this exercise. I knew she needed to very logically form her thoughts. I think that having her look at something concrete (such as furniture) gave her something to think, talk and write about. We selected the half bathroom as our room to describe. It is a small room and not overwhelming to describe. Besides, at her age she thought it was funny to write about a bathroom.

Some children may enjoy this exercise a bit more if you give them a story prompt sentence to open. Some ideas for that goal (if your child needs it)

1.Detective Brown walked into the living room and noticed the layout of the room. He saw....

2. Mother wanted the living room in the new house to be arranged exactly like the old house. But she was at the store. I called her and asked where to put everything.

3. We got a little silly one day and rearranged all of the furniture in the dining room At the end of the day, we had to put all of the furniture back exactly like it should have been. Against the wall near the window we…..

4.(for the budding real estate agent and/or museum tour guide in your family) As we continue our tour of this lovely home, we enter the living room. You’ll notice the great use of space along the wall with….

kellybell wrote:(my oldest, for example, really didn't like being told exactly what to write about -- her bedroom or whatever -- when she really wanted to write about other, even similar, things).
Post by cbollin » Wed Aug 20, 2008 6:57 am
(realizing there is no perfect program for everyone. But also realizing that #7 is one of the tougher lessons in WS 3)

Just sharing how my oldest and I handled that lesson (WS 3, exercise 7, and follow up in 10).

I discussed with my daughter that the lesson is about learning how to write a structured multi paragraph essay about a single topic without having to do much in the way of research. I gave her three options:
*do it as assigned
*do the lesson using the smallest room in the house (half bathroom on main level of my house....... oooh I bet Kelly is thinking - I know how boring and bland that room is, how could you write about it???? other than the litter box????)
*or to write a coherent 5 paragraph essay on whatever it was we were studying in history that week.

She wrote about the half bath and giggled the whole time like a kid.

So, there is flexibility in WS because no curriculum should be your master like that. As long as it fit the goals and objectives and big picture reason of the assignment, we felt free to change the topic a bit. The big picture reason of the assignments didn't seem obvious to me at first, but when I read the whole lesson it made sense to me. Just ask if needed. :)

-crystal

cbollin

Writing Strands 3, #1

Unread post by cbollin » Wed Aug 20, 2008 6:57 am

I've always thought that Writing Strands was supposed to be used in a teacher/child discussion and coaching style of teaching. As much as it was needed, I sat with my oldest while she did the lessons. And sometimes, we did it on a dry erase board or just typed it in Word (together). She'd dictate to me and I'd type :-) That was just our style to work together for a long time. Then she got older and didn't want to do it that way. It doesn't stay that way forever.

An 11 year old might go through the early lesson (exercise 1 and the first part of exercise 2) at a quicker pace than younger kids in the book. My 12 year old certainly did that.

-crystal

HSmommi2mine
Posts: 159
Joined: Mon Oct 23, 2006 5:59 pm

Typing

Unread post by HSmommi2mine » Wed Aug 20, 2008 8:23 am

If the physical act of writing is difficult for her then I would allow her to type. Handwriting can be practiced later but the goal of any writing program is to get them writing information. Instead you are bound to get short uninspired sentences and paragraphs as the child tries to cut down the amount of physical writing they are doing.

If my son can type something he writes more than he would on paper.
~Christina

Wife to my favorite guy
Mom to 3 great kids

cbollin

Drill and practice

Unread post by cbollin » Sat Aug 30, 2008 5:48 pm

pjssully wrote:Crystal suggested drill and practice--what does that mean and how is it done. I
pam
Basically my drill idea is to look for times on "non writing strands days" to work on the things to be improved. At the end of each WS lesson, you and your child do a check list of Progress Notes. Among those notes, you make a note of "this mistake I made this week and I will not make it next week" -- well, on days that you aren't using WS, why not take 2-3 minutes to practice not making that mistake.

For example, if your student uses quotation marks the wrong way, then practice a copywork sentence using quotes. Don't make it a long task. Just a quick way to practice for next writing assignment. Or a time to practice spelling a tough word that always seems to get misspelled. Or a time to practice using a thesaurus to liven up your writing. Just not a long lesson -- quick

Or my daughter needed practice on this week on:
learn different ways to start a sentence. During drill time the next week, I had her look a Read Aloud book for how an author used other styles of sentences. She would look for and say out loud a few different sentence styles and then model her own version of those styles. But we would only spend about 5 minutes or less of our English time on this. Usually she would work at the dry erase board for this or even out loud.

The point with drill time in writing to work on a specific mechanics or style technique that you notice your child needed extra practice. Keep it a very short lesson, work with them (like a coach).

-crystal

Mommyto2
Posts: 50
Joined: Sat Jul 07, 2007 8:14 am

Unread post by Mommyto2 » Thu Sep 11, 2008 8:21 am

Toni@homezcool4us wrote:1. We completed lesson 2A today and so far dd has not followed directions correctly a single time. Do I walk her through the excersizes?

2. And how much expectation should I have? For example, when she came close to following directions (today's lesson) she simply took their core sentence example ("A frog ate the fly") and basically doctored it for her sentence (A cat ate the mouse). I thought her doctoring of the example missed the mark. But... She's 9 and it's her first attempt at writing.

Anyone?
I went to a "Teaching children to write" seminar this year and am so glad I did. I lowered my expectations dramatically.

If your child is a wonderful writer already, go for it. Let them follow directions and do most of it on their own. For others we are somewhere in between holding their pencil and guiding their every word or just giving them a few hints to keep them on track.

The instructor helped me by emphatically stating to do the whole exercise out loud for your child at first if they really can not do it. Model it and they will follow or do some of it the next time, more the next, etc.

He said not to expect a child who has never written anything to be able to sit down and just do it. I really like WS3. It goes slow and gives a lot of direction. All that being said I am still sitting down beside my ds 9 and helping him through the exercises.

I write everything down for him. I try to have him come up with all the ideas and the sentences but he still isn't quite getting how to do it step by step. He is either wanting to jump from the core sentence to adding it all in and having sentence 5 or changing direction and losing the core sentence because he has a different idea.

What kind of help does your dd need to complete the exercise correctly without tears? That's what I would do to help her.

Brenda
mom to ds 9 and dd 6

Toni@homezcool4us
Posts: 122
Joined: Wed Jul 06, 2005 4:28 pm

Unread post by Toni@homezcool4us » Thu Sep 11, 2008 11:30 pm

I really like WS3. It goes slow and gives a lot of direction. All that being said I am still sitting down beside my ds 9 and helping him through the exercises.
Thanks, Brenda. The above words were encouraging. I like it too for the same reasons (plus, I just love creative writing in general). I intended to help as the lessons continued, but had the wrong impression that dd was supposed to do lesson 1 alone. Crystal clarified that for me.

What my dd did was to come up with 5 entirely different sentences instead of building on the same sentence each time. Then in lesson two, she used their example as her sentence, just changing the nouns. This is one class that she and I can have a lot of fun in (again, I love writing) so we'll move forward with more direction from mom.
Blessings!
A proud adoptive mom of 4 children,
~Toni~
I invite you to join me THE WISE WOMAN BUILDS HER HOUSE

Julie in MN
Posts: 2928
Joined: Mon Jun 28, 2004 3:44 pm
Location: Minnesota

Writing

Unread post by Julie in MN » Sat Mar 07, 2009 4:51 pm

RJ's Momma wrote:I'm needing a little help with teaching/encouraging writing for my 4th grade dd. This is really the first year I've required much writing from her, and I don't know if I'm expecting too much from her now, if she is really having a problem, or if she is just being lazy about this.

She doesn't have a problem with copy work. She isn't having as much problems with the writing in Language Lessons, but the lessons are usually shorter, so that might be the reason. It is only when she has come up with things to write for herself, she doesn't like to write at all.

We are using Writing Strands 3, which we probably won't finish this year, but I'm okay with that, as long as she is learning what she should. I make sure to give her help (maybe too much though), giving options on what could be written about, changing the subject that is asked for in the book to something she knows more about (I gave her the option of describing anyone in lesson 4 of writing strands, and she chose her grandpa instead of a friend), and if it is a lot of writing I will write what she says and have her copy it the next day. I'm also allowing her to take as many days as she needs to finish the lessons.

Here is an example of the problem, the last couple of weeks we did lesson 6. She didn't understand that in the final paragraph, she could just write what she had already written, but with more detail. She became frustrated and started it all over, only giving me 3 sentences in the end.

Now, I will say, she does capitalize and use puctuation well, sometimes wants to keep sentences going for too long, but not too bad. She's beginning to understand that you cannot use the same words to describe things or to start off sentences all saying .... And then, And then.. etc. So that is getting better.

I guess I just want someone to say, it'll get better. That I'm just expecting too much. I know how to write, but not how to teach it:) Thanks for any help you can give,
Shannon
I think her progress sounds very good for a 4th grader. Making capitalization & punct. a habit is a big accomplishment!

After I had used WS for a while, I realized that teaching my child to "follow instructions exactly" wasn't my purpose in using that program. My goal was to have ds learn the overall ideas about writing -- things like writing is done from different perspectives & different tenses, & ways to be more descriptive. And "doing" this kind of writing helps cement the ideas in the mind. At the end of the lesson, I'd mostly be checking to see if she "got" the focus of the lesson.

Of course, any writing is also an opportunity to correct technical skills. Maybe some time (in the summer?) you can look over some of her writing & make a list of technical skills she needs to work on. Maybe even one or two things you want to figure out for her, & ask on the boards... Then you could focus on one thing or another that comes up during each assignment. And, at the end of the year you will have a better tool for evaluating whether she's progressed in these areas.

I find that it isn't until they get a little older that they actually can see the value in some of the technical details. Gradually, kids start using more complex sentences & having more complicated thoughts, and so learning how to properly express them just makes more sense. Right now, she just needs to make a little progress. A solid foundation is more important than a rickety tower of skills, IMHO.

P.S. Does she type? My ds has always avoided the pencil like the plague.
Last edited by Julie in MN on Sat Mar 07, 2009 4:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Julie, married 29 yrs, finding our way without Shane
(http://www.CaringBridge.org/visit/ShaneHansell)
Reid (21) college student; used MFW 3rd-12th grades (2004-2014)
Alexandra (29) mother; hs from 10th grade (2002)
Travis (32) engineer; never hs

cbollin

Re: Writing

Unread post by cbollin » Sat Mar 07, 2009 4:56 pm

Well, I think you’re doing many of the right things that a good writing coach should do. You’re helping in good ways. You are not feeling restricted to the exact letter of the lesson (freedom to change from friend to grandpa in Lesson 4)

It is perfectly acceptable to help a 4th grader in all of the ways you are describing with offering suggestions and all of that. Also, one big thing to do with emerging writers is to talk with them through several drafts (in other words, longer compositions that require some thought can be done together out loud)

Since you have ILL, take a look at lessos 51, and 100. Those are good mechanical things to look for and help with on writing.

Anyway, just to talk about WS, book 3, lesson 6. I think in lesson 6, you might have over expected for her age. (Hey, we all do that with our oldest. It’s ok.) Or possibly tried to do 2 things at once in the writing.

Remember that WS 3 can be used with children from grades 4-7, so some examples will show older children’s style. Usually those drafts are there for teacher to see the progression. Perhaps all you needed to do on the "more detail", would have been to say "what were some thoughts and feelings you had while doing that stuff".

I have a big guess here. Your daughter wrote too much for the stuff [in the first paper] and then when she was asked to give more information and detail, she had nothing left to give or say. That’s alright. She’s doing well and so are you.

Ah lesson 6. It seems so much easier the second time you teach from this book. Don’t go back and re do lesson 6. But this is my interpretation of the lesson.

Based on the examples, I think the lesson was to be about two writing styles to communicate.
*The first one was just a list of what we did. Think of this as “just the headline news” of the day.
*The second was to be written to give some personal interest to the thoughts and feelings of the people involved in that story to draw the reader’s interest to the parts that the writer likes. In the second example, he basically adds a lot more detail to explain the sentence on the other page that said "We had a hard time of it". (As a reader, you're left with the question, Why did you have a hard time of it? Well, that's one place to add more detail.)

So, when going to the next day's writing and your child is stuck on adding more details about it all, just ask the natural questions that arise. Pretend you weren't there with them when it happened and just ask for more detail. It goes back to "helping them". It gets easier. sorry.

So, my opinion is this lesson is setting up for later writing in many ways.
1.To organize thoughts and write from an outline
2.To write just the facts and present information accurately.
3.To write the thoughts and feelings of people (in later lessons, it will be fiction writing with thoughts and feelings. You didn't have to master it in this lesson. you'll get more practice.)

With my daughter (4th grade) this year:
First, we changed the assignment to My Day at the St. Louis Zoo.
Then we just made a list of six things we liked that day
And a second list of things that were not as exciting

Next, we turned those into sentences that told just the facts. I didn’t worry about the fact that all of them started with I went to, then we went to. This was not necessarily a lesson in dressing up a paragraph. It was a lesson about communicating "just the facts".

Next day, we picked out a little bit in those things we liked and talked about why (emotional and feelings) she liked it. Then the reasons behind not liking some stuff. And we wrote that down.

Then finally it got all mushed together into one very long story. Some of the things that she liked did not have extra description beyond just being in the paragraph about things she liked. The one or two special things were the thoughts/feelings around it.

Anyway, my guess is that your daughter did just fine on the paper

My daughter’s paper certainly could be “improved” on mechanics, but that’s true of all writing.

I still think you're going fine.
-crystal
Last edited by cbollin on Sat Mar 07, 2009 7:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.

cbollin

Writing Strands - Lesson 6

Unread post by cbollin » Sat Mar 07, 2009 5:31 pm

I thought maybe if you saw my daughter’s level of writing (and this is with some help of course with some sentence structure) maybe it would be helpful. You see, homeschoolers don’t always get to see a wide variety of skill levels among same age kids, and we don’t have a book out there to say if it’s ok what my kid is doing. I sometimes wonder if my kid is below level or on target, or what. Don't we all feel like that from time to time? We'll cyber talk in general terms, but here goes in my house. alright. pushing past the blushing side in case she isn't doing well.

So, in lesson 6.

(1) we did outline. no need to show that.

(2) This is the before details version.
My Day at the Zoo

When I went to St. Louis, I got to visit the zoo. I liked lots of things. I liked seeing the fake dinosaurs. In another part of the zoo we saw tiger cubs. We saw flamingos in a pond. We saw the two humped camels.

The Children’s Zoo was a blast! First I saw guinea pigs. In one cage I saw cute little birds. I liked seeing meerkats; they live in Africa. We finished by playing on the playground. When that was done, we went to Grandma’s home.

But not everything was exciting and fun. When I went inside to meet more puffins and penguins, inside was too cold. At first I didn’t see the polar bear. When we they cleaned his area, the polar bear came back. When we saw elephants we saw piles of disgusting elephant poop.

Even with all of that I had a great day at the zoo.

*******
(3) Now time for adding detail. She didn’t know what details to add at all. I prompted her.
I asked her to write some more details about something. I asked her “why did you like seeing the fake dinosaurs? Maybe you can add some detail to that.” What about the tiger cubs, why did you like that?

Here, on the Children’s zoo part, what did you think of the guinea pigs when you saw them?

And tell me what did you play on the playground at the Children’s zoo?

And sweetie, I do remember that you were sad about the polar bear, but I don’t remember why? Tell me more.

(in fact, after she told me more on that, she added another sentence about something else)


(4) So, here is the “more detail version”. Will it win the homeschool writing essay? Who cares? She’s writing. See if you can find where she added “detail”. She didn’t add too much. (and I wait for Julie to tell me it's ok. hold my hand Julie in MN)

My Day at the Zoo

When I went to St. Louis, I got to visit the zoo. I liked lots of things. I liked seeing the fake dinosaurs. And one of them was spitting water on my big sister. That was so funny. We didn't know that was going to happen. In another part of the zoo we saw tiger cubs. They were so cute. We saw flamingos in a pond. We saw the two humped camels.

The Children’s Zoo was a blast! First I saw guinea pigs they reminded me of Lennie on Wonder Pets. In one cage I saw cute little birds. I liked seeing meerkats; they live in Africa. We finished by playing on the playground. Sliding under the water, I saw water creatures (sea otters). Quietly, I climbed like a spider on the ropes. When that was done, we went to Grandma’s home.

But not everything was exciting and fun. When I went inside to meet more puffins and penguins, inside was too cold. At first I didn’t see the polar bear and thought maybe he disappeared and was now extinct. I felt disappointed. When we they cleaned his area, the polar bear came back and I felt very happy. I felt a little disappointed that I didn’t see the swan that my sister saw. When we saw elephants we saw piles of disgusting elephant poop. Eew. That’s just too gross.

Even with all of that I had a great day at the zoo.

*******

That’s just one style of teaching out there. It covered the assignment and goals. She really was worried the polar bears were extinct. What a sweetie. That's how my 4th grader writes, and I'm not worried about it. I shouldn't be worried about it, should I? Julie, help?

-crystal

Julie in MN
Posts: 2928
Joined: Mon Jun 28, 2004 3:44 pm
Location: Minnesota

Time Zone assignment

Unread post by Julie in MN » Wed May 12, 2010 10:43 pm

cbollin wrote:The Creation Museum is physically located in Kentucky just across the river from Cincinnati. the town is a 'burb of Cincy. So some people will say it is in Cincy (ohio), but if we get all technical.... it's in Petersburg Kentucky. but that is Cincy.
-crystal
Did your kids do that Writing Strands exercise where the airport was in two time zones or something like that? I remember Reid having fun with that.

That would be a great adaptation of the WS assignment :)
Julie
Julie, married 29 yrs, finding our way without Shane
(http://www.CaringBridge.org/visit/ShaneHansell)
Reid (21) college student; used MFW 3rd-12th grades (2004-2014)
Alexandra (29) mother; hs from 10th grade (2002)
Travis (32) engineer; never hs

cbollin

WS 3 Lesson 1 Day 3

Unread post by cbollin » Thu Jul 15, 2010 6:36 am

rawbanana wrote:Ok, it says to to put to use what you learned- following sentences and writing directions..Ha Ha. =)

Anyway, it says to find some writing you did some time ago and redo it using what you just learned...I am confused on what she just learned that she could use to 'redo' some of her writing, for one.
The idea is to find something the student has written and have them rewrite some of the sentences to make them longer. This is similar to what the day 2 exercises were doing with adding a new word to the sentence.

source material? Do you have any letters the child has written? Do you have any Sunday School papers with one sentence written by the student? anything from last year? Anything in ILL/PLL?

If not, here is an idea: look in a book and have your daughter rewrite a sentence or two from the book and make the sentence longer.
examples: I just randomly opened to p. 16-17 of God Speaks Nummangang. Can you add one word on p. 17 to describe how the friends taught the children? (were they patiently teaching, or kindly teaching, or something like that) Can you change the word "yummy" to something else?
Also, did you do the next page 'record of progress'? My 9yr old didnt make any mistakes on lesson 1....
Thank you!
I kept mental notes of what to work on with my oldest. In retrospect I wish I had written some of it down. "Let's look for how you improve over the year". Or, in your case, make a note that "you followed the instructions and I didn't catch any mistakes. Each sentence started with a capital and ended with punctuation. Your words are spaced properly."

It doesn't have to be fancy.

-crystal

jasntas
Posts: 471
Joined: Sun Apr 26, 2009 6:10 pm

Is this appropriate writing for 4th grade? Lesson 6

Unread post by jasntas » Sun Nov 14, 2010 5:46 pm

mamacastle2 wrote:My daughter just finished Lesson #6 in Writing Strands 3, writing about something you did at school. I'm curious if this is appropriate for 4th grade.

Also, when you "have your parent check your writing to make sure there are no serious problems with it," what areas do you point out? I point out major spelling errors and places where she might have incomplete sentences. But like in the last paragraph here, she has different cases for her verbs, but I don't think she understands that so much right now so I'm not sure it would help to point it out. Any input for me would be valuable. Here is her finished work:

School Fun Time
We made rock candy and it was yummy. We put sugar in a big pot. Then we boiled it. We tied a string to a pencil and rolled it in sugar. Then we took the boiled sugar and put the string in it. And we waited a week. Then we ate it. Mmmmmmm!

Another time we took chocolate and sugar and stuff like that. We put them together to look like koala bears. Mommy took pictures and I thought it was good. My koala bear is cute. Well at least I think so. I was in 3rd grade when we did this project. Mmmmmmmmmm! Food projects are fun and yummy!
My advice on the verb usage would be to just informally explain why it would be better to use all present tense or all past tense and maybe give an example. HTH

Hopefully, others will chime in.
Tammie - Wife to James for 27 years
Mom to Justin (15) and Carissa (12)
ADV & K 2009-2010 . . . RTR (again) & WHL 2016-2017
http://tammiestime.blogspot.com/
The days of a mother are long but the years are short.

1974girl
Posts: 78
Joined: Tue Aug 03, 2010 11:09 am

Re: Is this appropriate writing for 4th grade? (Writing Stra

Unread post by 1974girl » Sun Nov 14, 2010 10:00 pm

I have a 4th grader who just started Writing Strands. We aren't to where you are yet. But, your daughter did a lot of what they called "Dick and Jane" writing. They covered that on page 6. It is just very short/blunt sentences without a lot of detail or adjectives. They tried on page 6 to get that out of them but my daughter still does it too. We are actually still working on that. You might want to review that paragraph then show her where she does the same thing.

I have an awesome book called "If Your Trying to Teach Kids How to Write...You've Gotta Have this book!" by Marjorie Frank. I love it. One big thing I got out of it was that I would tell her too many things wrong with her paper. (In 4th grade, they have a lot wrong!) So, it would be very dejecting for her to see her paper with me writing all over it. So I now focus one thing a day..."Remember to use your comma's correctly" or "Remember to not do Dick and Jane writing and add more content to your sentences." Then I don't point out everything else wrong. It will kill their spirit. You will find that they will get better when they only have one thing to really focus on.

Also-in the book, here are some more helpful hints that I liked.

1) you are not teaching writing. You are teaching kids. (Thus the name of the book) You know your child better than anyone and what she is capible of doing.

2) Romance the writer. She made a group of highschoolers wear all green one day. They then had to write a poem about green when they got to her class at the end of the day. They had experienced green all day long. She gave examples that would blow you away! Play in the mud and write. Roll down a grassy hill and then write.

3)Give specific in your responses. How many times have we told our kids, "I liked that!" or "great story"? Those don't really help them at all. Tell them specifically what you like. "I like the active and fun words you used to describe the puppy." "I like the way you arranged the words to make this sentence more interesting." I was so guilty of non-helping praising.

Just thought I'd pass this along.
LeAnn-married to dh 17 yrs
Mama to Leah (14) and Annalise (11)
Used from Adventures on and finishing final year (1850-modern) this year
"When you teach your children...you teach your children's children."

sarajoy
Posts: 37
Joined: Sat Nov 04, 2006 9:08 pm

Re: Is this appropriate writing for 4th grade? (Writing Stra

Unread post by sarajoy » Sun Nov 14, 2010 10:10 pm

I'm not an expert, but it sounds like something my 4th grade dd would write.

When she does her writing, I don't worry about any spelling errs, I just mark them with the correct spelling right before she does the final draft . She is a horrid speller, so I just make sure we can figure it out. I'm pretty casual about corrections. I'm just excited to see her getting ideas on paper.

I would prefer get her comfortable with sharing her ideas without developing a fear of writing. All I try to correct so far has been her tenses. I haven't even thought about incomplete sentences. I know if we are having a rough day of it, I will let her dictate some of her ideas to me and then I will make a list /outline of her ideas. She then will work out one sentence for each of the ideas I wrote down for her. It just gives her something to work from and even helps her a bit with the spelling.

Just ideas and thinking out loud. Hope they help.

SJ

cbollin

Re: Is this appropriate writing for 4th grade? (Writing Stra

Unread post by cbollin » Mon Nov 15, 2010 6:58 am

I think it is a good start to getting the ideas down. Writing is of course a process and part of that process means we get to edit our stuff.

I tend to pick one “big area” to work with and maybe some small. I try to not call it serious problem, but use a cue from my work evaluations and say “here’s an opportunity to make it better.” (That’s right before my mentor instructor and district manager have to take points off. But, the corporate office has it marked as opportunities for improvement on technique. And they also mark me for “outstanding areas”. )

Some outstanding areas in her writing is that she uses some imagery to help me really be there and experience that the rock candy and bears were enjoyable. Another good job point in her writing is that it is in active voice. That’s not necessarily a term a 4th grader should know. But basically to a 4th grade you might say that one of your cyber friends felt like she was there while you were telling the story and that’s a good thing. We call that “active voice”.

I think in your daughter’s example, you have several options to work with for some improvement even with 4th grade. I like your style of focusing on incomplete sentences. That’s important. Spelling is minor and is a tiny edit. We can’t work on everything in all assignments or it gets very discouraging!

One of the other improvement areas was mentioned already about the Dick and Jane writing style. It doesn’t have to be solved all in one try either. Expect it to take time. To start the improvement, you might just work this story by having her try to think of a way to combine the shorter sentences such as “We put sugar in a big pot. Then we boiled it.” (ideas and let her choose one or make her own: We boiled sugar in a big pot. Or We boiled sugar in the large glass saucepan. Or the last two sentences: After waiting a week, we finally got to eat it!

I would practice lots of those combining sentences out loud with my child and be the one at a dry erase board to write down the brain stormed ideas. Let her select which one sounds the coolest to her. (no, that is not cheating)

Overall, I’d look at things that have been taught already and work on those first.

In terms of the tense of that one sentence: My koala bear is cute.
I wouldn’t get too focused right now on verb tense terminology. Instead, let her know that your cyber friend read that sentence and wondered something. Does she have a koala bear right now, or did she mean that the koala bear she made back then WAS cute.

The other sentence: well at least I think so…. I might over look that one for this assignment. It’s possible she still thinks it is cute, so it’s one of those let’s overlook that sentence right now.

Is it a serious mistake on that koala bear is cute? Probably not. I think she just used the wrong word. On the other hand it would be a “serious problem” (aka, an opportunity to edit and improve) if she is talking about a real or stuffed koala that was not the bear she was talking about making from chocolate.

-crystal

mamacastle2
Posts: 54
Joined: Sat Feb 20, 2010 9:26 am

Re: Is this appropriate writing for 4th grade? (Writing Stra

Unread post by mamacastle2 » Mon Nov 15, 2010 2:50 pm

Thanks. I also noticed the "Dick and Jane" writing, and when she did that specific lesson (I think #2?), she rewrote her sentences and they sounded awesome.

But when she goes back into D&J writing, if I say "Hey, honey, it's sounding a little Dick & Jane-y," she has no idea what I'm talking about or how to fix it. The specific lesson that fixed D&J had them work through various questions adding in new information to make the sentence more interesting. But I wasn't sure that was the correct way to instruct her. For example, if I had chosen to correct this writing (which I did a little tiny bit but mostly left it all her), I would have said something like: Instead of 3 sentences of first this, then this, then this, etc., how about if we say something like "We rolled a string in sugar, tied it to a pencil, put it in the liquid sugar, and waited a week. Then we ate it. Mmmmmm!"

I feel like her writing is too much me and not enough her. Should I instead say something like "How about we combine a few sentences? Which ones would you combine?" And to avoid D&J writing, should I suggest starting a sentence differently, like "Let's start with 'Rolling it in sugar, we then placed the string...'" Or is that too advanced?

Thank you, Crystal, for your idea of reading it as a friend and then saying, "Hmmm. Your friend is confused. Is your koala bear cute now or was it cute then?" I couldn't figure out how to broach sentence case without going over her head. (She doesn't really get present tense, past tense, etc. yet. Orally of course she uses them perfectly, but to write them down confuses her.)

Thanks again everyone for all your input. I feel like maybe a lightbulb is starting to come on for me. I want to be a good writing instructor!
Jeanne
Wife to Brody
Mother to DD 10, DS 7, DD 5, DS 3, DD 1
MFW User Since 2007: MFW 1st, Adv., ECC, CTG
2011-2012 - RTR & MFWK

TriciaMR
Posts: 1001
Joined: Thu Sep 20, 2007 11:43 am

Re: Is this appropriate writing for 4th grade? (Writing Stra

Unread post by TriciaMR » Mon Nov 15, 2010 4:29 pm

One thing I've done when dd gets too much D & J, is type it into Word, and then run the Spell Check with the Readability Statistics turned on. Anyway, that will show a "grade level." Usually that will come up 3rd grade (dd is now in fifth). So, we'll go through and talk about how to improve the sentences, with a goal of bringing it up to at least 4.9 grade level.

I prompt by asking questions - how might you combine these two sentences? Can you begin this sentence with a different word? So, you might try that, and then set a goal for at least 3.9 grade level.

We have Word 2007, I think. If you click on the Windows icon in the upper left corner, and choose the "Word Options" at the bottom of the drop down menu, you'll get the Word Options screen. On the Word Options screen, choose "Proofing" on the left and check the "Show Readability Statistics" box (you might want to play with some of those spell check settings" on that screen, too.

[Word 2010: File – > Options(very tiny, near the end of the list) – > Proofing ]

-Trish
Trish - Wife to Phil, Mom to Toni(18), Charlie(14), and Trent(14)
2014-2015 - AHL, CTG
2015-2016 - WHL, RTR
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Julie in MN
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Re: Is this appropriate writing for 4th grade? (Writing Stra

Unread post by Julie in MN » Mon Nov 15, 2010 4:31 pm

mamacastle2 wrote:For those of you who have it, is Evaluating Writing a real help?
I liked having Evaluating Writing. However, I only used it to sort-of get my mind in the right mode. And if I'd get frustrated again the next year, I'd get it out again. I didn't use it a lot, but I liked having it. Does that fit the description of "real help"??
Julie, married 29 yrs, finding our way without Shane
(http://www.CaringBridge.org/visit/ShaneHansell)
Reid (21) college student; used MFW 3rd-12th grades (2004-2014)
Alexandra (29) mother; hs from 10th grade (2002)
Travis (32) engineer; never hs

cbollin

Re: Is this appropriate writing for 4th grade? (Writing Stra

Unread post by cbollin » Mon Nov 15, 2010 9:16 pm

We use the readability stats too. My dh always reminds us that it is not faultless with that tool. But I've noticed over the years that my oldest daughter's writing did become more complex with small tweaks. And it really helped her find passive voice. So it has some uses. and then when we change a few words or use a synonym and the stats increase, it's quite rewarding for my oldest. a few weeks ago, she had a writing assignment in AHL and was very happy that she wrote the assignment at 5th grade level. She told me "it's perfect then, because I was writing a fable and I had in mind the audience should be younger than my sister."


At 4th grade, that can be normal to feel like we are helping a lot. It’s ok. It’s normal. It’s part of the process. If you ask her which ones she wants to combine, that’s a great thing. If she gets stuck, it is ok to give 2 suggestions and let her select one, or to use neither.

It’s along these lines.
I’m looking for a song to use in my class. I have a list to use. I look at 2 or 3 songs. Blah. Then, I go to another instructor’s class and say “oh, that was a fun song she did in that slot. Maybe I can try it?” Then, within the structure, I begin to develop my own style in teaching.

I think it is the same way with teaching writing.


I would make a quick Writing Notebook or Writing Charts to have nearby.
Use the goals of the WS lessons to help your chart.

When I rewrite my paragraph, I can make it more sophisticated by:
*Combining shorter sentences.
*Starting in different ways that tell Who, What, Where, When, How or even Why.
examples:
Who or What is doing something --We ate pizza last night.
When it happened --Last night we ate pizza. After the game we ate pizza.
How it happened-- Happily we ate pizza last night.
Where it happened --At her birthday party we ate pizza.
Why it happened: Since it was Mary’s birthday, we ate pizza.

*I can ask my teacher for ideas too.
*I can add an extra word in many parts of a sentence.
*I can change some words to sound older. (pot -> saucepan,

Then make a separate chart and put in the hints at the end of each WS lesson.

If it takes all year or longer to work on those skills, it’s ok.

I’ve been known to suggest to do a 5 minute writing drill on non-writing strands days. That’s when you take your notes of things your child needs to work on in writing and practice at dry erase board, or do something out loud, or examine a read aloud or book basket together on those fix it points. Keep it low key. If you know a child is working on improvement from dick and jane writing, then point it out in other author’s writings when they use other techniques. Those are the WS things of “the best sentence I wrote” and the “mistake I don’t want to make again next week.”

-crystal

mamacastle2
Posts: 54
Joined: Sat Feb 20, 2010 9:26 am

Re: Is this appropriate writing for 4th grade? (Writing Stra

Unread post by mamacastle2 » Tue Nov 16, 2010 5:39 am

Thanks, ladies. Those suggestions help a lot. I'd never heard of the readability statistic before, so that will be fun to use. And thank you for your checklist, Crystal. I think maybe instead of going forward this week, we'll go back and talk about some of the things we've learned previously and review our current papers using what we've learned.

Thanks again!
Jeanne
Wife to Brody
Mother to DD 10, DS 7, DD 5, DS 3, DD 1
MFW User Since 2007: MFW 1st, Adv., ECC, CTG
2011-2012 - RTR & MFWK

cbollin

Help me evaluate writing WS Lesson #10

Unread post by cbollin » Thu Feb 24, 2011 10:42 am

mamacastle2 wrote:
Thu Feb 24, 2011 9:50 am
I listed on here a few weeks ago a sample of my daughter's writing. She's awesome at creative writing, so when she had to write a short story, she shone brightly. But now that we're back to writing about other topics, I don't know where to start evaluating.

Anyway, here was her rough draft:
  • My white and purple bunk beds are located on the west side of my house and the right side of my room, the bottom facing east and the top facing south. The “patched” bed sets on the top bunk and my “swirly” bed set on the bottom bunk. Also my brown dressers on the north side of my room and it stores my clothes. The first holds underwear and socks the second holds short sleeved shirts and shorts the third long sleeved shirts and pants forth is the last stuff that doesn’t have a place. On top I put my hair stuff, phone and things sitting around. My sisters white and purple dresser stores her clothes too. Although I don’t know which one is which I do know that the dresser came with the bunk beds and that it is facing east. On top of it is a “couch” thing that I sit on when I read a book or am doing a craft so I can be comfy. Even my desk came with my bunk beds it is white. I store my craft stuff in there and my rainy day stash in there and pens and pencils and all sorts of stuff like that. It is messy and needs to organize. But I never have the chance to. My book light is on the corner and I read in the dark with it.My three pink shelves are the princes’ kind and have a picture on each side of it. Two are on the top of my dresser and the other one on top of my mirror. The one on top of my mirror holds my makeup and the other ones hold lose stuff. I’ve had them since I was a little into princesses. My brown book shelf holds about 100 books that me and my family read and share. I love every single book we have. Also my brother used to have it in his room, but now it is in mine.
Here is how I've helped her so far, but bear in mind that I made most of the changes and just had her look at what I did:
  • I share a room with my two sisters but because I am the oldest, I got to pick the wall color. I chose purple because that is my favorite color and you’ll find it all throughout my room.

    The first purple you notice is on my bunk beds, which are located on the west side of my room, the bottom facing east and the top facing south. The “patched” bed sets on the top bunk and my “swirly” bed set on the bottom bunk. Also my brown dresser’s on the north side of my room and it stores my clothes. The first drawer holds underwear and socks. The second drawer holds short sleeved shirts and shorts. The third long sleeved shirts and pants. The forth is the last stuff that doesn’t have a place.

    On top I put my hair stuff, phone and things sitting around. My sisters white and purple dresser stores her clothes too. Although I don’t know which one is which I do know that the dresser came with the bunk beds and that it is facing east. On top of it is a “couch” thing that I sit on when I read a book or am doing a craft so I can be comfy. Even my desk came with my bunk beds it is white. I store my craft stuff in there and my rainy day stash in there and pens and pencils and all sorts of stuff like that. It is messy and needs to organize. But I never have the chance to. My book light is on the corner and I read in the dark with it.

    My three pink shelves have princess pictures all over them. Two are on the top of my dresser and the other one on top of my mirror. The one on top of my mirror holds my makeup and the other ones hold loose stuff. I’ve had them since I was a little into princesses. My brown book shelf holds about 100 books that me and my family read and share. I love every single book we have. Also my brother used to have it in his room, but now it is in mine.
Please offer me some suggestions on how you would lead your child in re-writing this, which issues you would focus on, which you would skip, etc. I truly appreciate your help.
I agree with your idea that the paragraph needs to be organized by something other than location on a wall or direction in the house.
right now, her room sounds too much like the chaos in my room. LOL but I can't seem to see it in my reader mind. I need her to help me as the reader to experience being there.

I like your idea of organizing it by people's wants and wishes.
Ask your daughter to think about the ideas where the student is to reorganize the items by something like value or importance.

look again at the specific goals of this lesson. #3 of those goals says "you can help your reader understand what you think is important by describing things in organized ways"

so, as her reader, I don't know what she thinks is important in her room. I know what's in it. I know where it is.... but the lesson wants us to help our readers understand some insights into why it is important to her.

I would work on that first.

mechanically: check on pronoun usage "me and my family" vs. "my family and I". sisters vs. sisters' vs. sister's
and during final draft, maybe how to combine some sentences together.

-crystal

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