Do you take off for grammar and spelling?

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by dgpiaffeteach, Sep 26, 2011.

  1. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    I had an interesting conversation with a colleague today. He teaches a non-English related subject and has been having issues with students' grammar. Both of the English teachers (myself and another) are new. The other English teacher started last year and I started this year. We both fully recognize that the students' grammar and spelling is terrible! However, we have been informed by various faculty members that they haven't had much formal grammar. We are catching them up as quickly as we can but it's amazing what they still don't know. I gave them a general pre-assessment of what I thought was basic stuff like how to form possessives, items in a series, etc... and the seniors really struggled with it. The kids are working hard at it but it's unfair to them since they haven't received all the education they should have.

    My issue is that this other teacher keeps telling me he's taking off for grammar and spelling errors. I fully believe in grading for grammar and spelling when it is a formal writing but I feel it is unfair to judge students on their spelling when it's an in-class assignment that they don't have any time to proofread. Some of our students are terrible spellers and it's not that they are lazy. I've talked to him about it before but he still seems to want to take off for grammar and spelling, even in their journals!

    I'm especially interested in hearing from those of you who don't teach English. Do you take points off for grammar or spelling? He takes either 1/2 a point or 1 point off for each error. I can't remember which it is at the moment! It's been really bugging me since I feel like he grades harder than the English teachers do!
     
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  3. Brendan

    Brendan Fanatic

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    For in-class essays I don't take off for spelling and grammar mistakes. Out-of-class essays have a section on the rubric dedicated to spelling and grammar-about 5-10% of the overall grade.
     
  4. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    I correct it, but don't take off.

    That said, my kids aren't writing essays.
     
  5. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    Generally speaking, I grade the standard currently being addressed. If we are learning main idea and supporting details, I would not take off for grammar issues in their main idea statements, even on the summative assessment.
     
  6. kcjo13

    kcjo13 Phenom

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    We are required to write in all subjects. I do like Brendan said, on formal writing projects I have a grammar/mechanics section on my rubric. On informal, in class writing, especially journaling, I never take off, but I will correct it.

    My seventh graders are starting their big first quarter writing project tomorrow. They have to organize, color code, topic sentence, and rough draft a short essay about how to solve equations. The eighth graders are writing an accordion paragraphs about how they use integers in real life.
     
  7. beccmo

    beccmo Comrade

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    Sep 26, 2011

    I don't take off for spelling unless it is a vocabulary term in my subject...especially since I have a word wall of current terms to refer to. That said, I take points off for NOT following directions such as "Respond in a complete sentence" and "Write an essay."
    So grammatically I deduct for thinking a phrase is a sentence (one reason I stress never beginning a sentence with "because"), or the ever so annoying venn diagram in response to a compare/contrast essay.

    Too often students forget that language skills are used in more than just English class. Since the states graduation test has a written component in every subject it is important that they practice communicating effectively in all subject areas.
     
  8. KateL

    KateL Habitué

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    I don't take off points for grammar and spelling for in-class assignments like an essay question on a test. I grade those for content. I do take off points for typed assignments such as lab reports, but spelling and grammar are only worth 5 points out of 40 or so.
     
  9. KatherineParr

    KatherineParr Comrade

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    Sep 26, 2011

    I don't take off for in-class things (usually quizzes), but I definitely grade spelling, grammar, syntax, etc. on everything else they submit.

    However, I think the larger question is whether it's up to you what he grades. The whole idea of writing across the curriculum is that it reinforces what the English teachers do by showing students that writing (including spelling and grammar) matters in every subject. It makes students more receptive to the lessons taught in English.

    Our English department is very supportive of tough grading in every department, and I really value that. Maybe your colleague should be more understanding in his grading, but I'm not sure it's productive for you to worry about it.
     
  10. Milsey

    Milsey Habitué

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    I **** will point it out if I see consistent mistakes and a multitude of misspellings, but because the exam does not penalize for poor grammar and spelling I don't deduct.
     
  11. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    I definitely do correct all their mistakes except journals, which I specifically tell them I'm looking for content only.

    Katherine, I'm definitely happy that our school is so good about writing in every subject but I know it is very frustrating for the kids who are losing a whole letter grade or more on assignments so that is where my worry is coming from. I don't believe poor spelling should have that much influence in a grade. If it is truly that bad then perhaps the kids should redo it. I will also say that he has said none of the kids have improved, which makes me wonder how effective it is.
     
  12. KatherineParr

    KatherineParr Comrade

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    DG, I hear you. There are many things my colleagues do that I wonder about.

    But the thing is: you have to work with him and he sounds like he's pretty serious about his policy. Is this a fight worth picking?
     
  13. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    You're right about that. It's not one I'm going to pick unless it becomes a huge issue. I'm more curious what other teachers do at this point.
     
  14. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Um. "Because I know how, I can begin a sentence with 'because'" is grammatical. Could I trouble you to tell your students not that sentences never begin with "because" but that they'll learn how to begin sentences with "because" when they learn about complex sentences?
     
  15. bandnerdtx

    bandnerdtx Aficionado

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    I don't think there is a problem with having a section of a rubric dedicated to grammar/spelling, but marking off for every mistake has been proven to be an ineffective method for teaching grammar/spelling. As a matter of fact, studies have shown that it actually impedes grammar instruction.
     
  16. kcjo13

    kcjo13 Phenom

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    Sep 27, 2011

    TG, my next door teacher, who also teaches high school speech, just had that very argument with a student this week. A well meaning teacher once told him that sentences never begin with because, and naturally, out of 180 days of instruction, that is what stuck. Sigh.

    One of my favorite methods of grammar correction is to write the number of mistakes beside each line (alternatively, you can do every few lines or by paragraph). Then the student is looking for the mistakes. It's not a perfect method, and of course you get students who correct things that don't need correcting, but at least they are looking at their product analytically. I've used this method with fourth graders up to high school, and it works well.

    Perhaps you could suggest this method to your teacher. Point out that just taking points off, or worse, doing the correcting for the student, is not going to teach them how to improve for the next time.
     

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