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Writing Wednesday

February 28th, 2018 at 04:32 pm

Today DH and I volunteer at one of my former schools. He reads to a second grade class and I work with a fifth grade class. I've been working one on one with these kids on writing. It is so sad to see what poor writers they are, but not really a surprise. Teachers hate teaching writing. Kids overall thinking writing is a pain. I'm not talking handwriting, but putting together words, sentences, paragraphs, etc. It's a pain to grade. I get that. But it is important to be able to communicate.

I get a chuckle over some of these kids who will write anything, and it doesn't stay on topic or even have enough detail, but they will inform me I don't know what their teachers wants. I finally told one attitude filled boy that I have known his teacher longer than he has been alive and believe me, I know exactly what his teacher wants and this isn't it. I know that sounds harsh, but you should hear some of the things they tell me that I don't know squat about writing. There are times after I make comments on their "sloppy copy" that I think I have written more than they have. I go over this with them hoping they will improve. And for some of them, they have.

But laziness prevails. I keep trying to impress upon them that saying things are nice and good isn't very descriptive. Gone are the lessons on using a Thesaurus. I pulled one out of the library to show them and they have been taught to scorn such old fashioned nonsense.

You probably wonder why they don't like books. Well, we had some administrators who said kids need devices and they are the end all, be all to learning.

Here's my educated response: "Ha!"

Ok, maybe not so educated and profound, but devices should be tools, not primary instruments for learning. I think if we taught kids how to learn and then use basic instructional skills, they would fare far better. Unfortunately the administrators feel that devices are necessary and are to be used almost exclusively instead of those old fashioned things called books and paper and pencil.

Our district decided to do away with math textbooks a number of years ago. And that year our math scores plummeted on the state test (ISAT). Three years ago they took away the reading textbooks and teachers are to come up with their own materials for reading and math. The district touts itself as being progressive by doing this.

As an educator I think this is horrible to put this type of burden on teachers. Most teachers are not curriculum specialists. This is not a put down by any means. There is an art to developing curriculum that is age appropriate as well instructional; assessments are difficult to write and there's more to it than just asking a question.

Well, to go back to what I was originally writing, it is a shame that these kids struggle with writing so much. I know they think I'm a nag and I probably am. But, if they don't write and they don't learn what good writing is, I fear that as students they will struggle not only academically, but economically as well. Those people who communicate well may not know all the answers, but they can ask the right questions to learn what they need to know.

4 Responses to “Writing Wednesday”

  1. snafu Says:

    Public school is not what the original framers of the Public School wanted when they created an education system for all children. In the past parents were huge supporters of their school system. Not so much now.

    Doing away with text books saves your school district a lot of money. Eliminating curriculum specialists reduces payroll significantly and keeps taxes from increasing too rapidly. The teachers in W Virginia were on strike as 4 year, Ed degree + one year Master grosses an average of $ 40,000. per annum. In comparison, a 4 year degree here averages $ 85,000. Have you looked at the figures that compare American public school K - 12 achievement with other countries?

    If you're still interested in teaching, and have qualifications needed, you'd be surprised by the experience of teaching English in any of the SE Asian countries. They 'revere' teachers, almost like westerners admire music stars like Taylor Swift. It's totally weird, so unexpected to be wai [bowed] as respect. Can you imagine?

  2. creditcardfree Says:

    Their future employers will thank you! My sister is a kindergarten teacher who said the district wants to add even more Chrome Books to her classroom. She barely has time to think let alone figure out what these students should be doing on them.

  3. rob62521 Says:

    Snafu, I can see your point on money front, but they had text books. The math texts were not that old when they decided to do away with them. The reading books were older, but the company offered to come in and help with training to help them pull current items to keep us going. It wasn't about money because each kid in the district was lent a device. High school and some middle school goods got MacBooks. iPads for everyone else. They handed these out and told the teachers to figure it out.

    Thanks for the suggestion about teaching elsewhere, but I don't think that is for me.

    CCF-- My sympathies to your sister. Little kids need hands on stuff as well as people talking to them so they get the phonemic awareness, not a Chrome Book.

  4. FrugalTexan75 Says:

    I agree Kinder is too young to be relying on tech - they need to be spending the majority of their day playing - playing and learning go hand in hand for that age.

    I don't know why teachers don't want to teach writing - I loved teaching writing to my students. We did a lot of creative writing, and had author's nights 2x a year where they read their "book" to their parents/family. Kids and parents got a kick out of it - and it gave *most* kids the extra motivation to do well.

    I can believe the attitudes you're getting though - 5th grade was my least favorite age to teach.

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