Writing frustrations

Discussion in 'Second Grade' started by becky, Oct 6, 2007.

  1. becky

    becky Enthusiast

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    Oct 6, 2007

    Our third year of homeschooling is going okay, except for writing. Same crap, different year. Here's an example-
    We're doing Africa in social studies. Friday's work was to choose where in Africa Jeannie would like to live, read a book about it, then write a paragraph about it. The paragraph would start with her stating where she'd like to live, then two or three sentences to state why. It took one hour. She couldn't think of a topic sentence, she couldn't decide on three reasons, etc, etc. She ended up in tears and I hate that it goes this way every time she has to write.

    It's like this with every writing assignment. I end up giving too many suggestions, asking too many what I feel are leading questions, and I just feel overall like she's not develping her own ideas. That's wrong and unacceptable to me. Any suggestions on how I can turn all this negativity around?
     
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  3. Rabbitt

    Rabbitt Connoisseur

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    It seems that my kids write better about things they aleardy know lots about...not what they've just learned.
     
  4. becky

    becky Enthusiast

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    Oct 6, 2007

    It's been about two weeks at least that we've been on this unit. It's a huge unit. She already knew a small amount about Africa before we started, as well. I do have to say that when she writes about her favorite things, the writing goes faster. However, not all her assignments are going to be about things she likes, and that's why I need to find a way to break this cycle.
     
  5. MissHunny

    MissHunny Comrade

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    Oct 7, 2007

    Try using a 4 square. With my students, nearly everytime we do any nonfiction writing I set them up with four squares.
     
  6. mom&teacher

    mom&teacher Companion

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    Oct 7, 2007

    Have you tried using an organization curriculum, like Step Up to Writing? If she knows the information, it sounds like she might be having trouble organizing it in her mind. Also, I think it was on this site or maybe another someone told me about a website (www.ttms.com) that is awesome when it comes to writing!
     
  7. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Oct 7, 2007

    becky, does Jeannie tend to need things to be perfect?
     
  8. becky

    becky Enthusiast

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    Oct 7, 2007

    TG- no, she's not like that. I wish. This is one of those situations where she takes longer trying to put it off, than it would take to get the thing done to begin with.

    M&T- I subscribe to www.writingatoz.com. Instead of trying to squeeze in one more thing, I try to teach from the rubric in her English book. If the rubric says her writing should show this, that or the other, I try to guide her to write in those ways. My problem comes in where she won't put out her own ideas. Even if her writing didn't come out properly, I believe that she should be able to piece together a few sentences for a paragraph. I don't even use the word 'papragraph' anymore, because she equates that with a long piece of writing. It makes me mad that I have to play games like that, but I see no other way to get through it.

    Miss Hunny- what is a 4 square??

    Kids not wanting to write is something I hear many hs moms talk about, so I know Jeanne isn't the only one. Some of them are willing to wait until the child is 'ready' to write, but when does that happen, if it ever does? Am I expecting too much?
     
  9. becky

    becky Enthusiast

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    Oct 7, 2007

    Btw- here's how her assignment turned out Friday.

    ' If I could live anywhere in Africa I would pick Egypt. I would like to live there because maybe I'd get to see mummies. Mummies are cool. I might also get to see those jackal statues that guard the Pharaoh's tomb. I think living in Egypt would be cool.'

    I had to suggest topic sentences, which I don't think was right. Then I had to repeatedly ask her what she might see in Egypt. I think asking once should have been enough, since he had prior knowledge about Egypt, mummies, and those statues.The book we read was also in front of her. She used the book to spell those harder words. So, am I being too hard on her? Expecting too much?
     
  10. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Oct 7, 2007

    Writing can be kind of scary, becky, and more than slightly hard. There are so many things to keep track of all at once: spelling, word choice, syntax, punctuation - and that's all in addition to trying to keep track of what on earth one wants to say (or has to) and how it should be organized. If Jeanne's already a pretty good reader - and I seem to recall that she is - she may be extremely aware of the difference between the prose she reads and the prose she can write.

    If she's having trouble pulling sentences together, it might help (if you haven't already tried this) to have her brainstorm ideas and jot down things that come to mind - initially, not in sentence form and with no particular regard for spelling: the idea is to get a collection of ideas from which sentences can then begin to be made.

    Explicitly breaking up the process into components (prewriting, writing, revision, proofreading) may help this be a little less daunting for her.
     
  11. Youngteacher226

    Youngteacher226 Enthusiast

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    Oct 7, 2007

    I would definately suggest teaching her the "writing process" then allow her writing to blossom. Maybe she can first brainstorm her ideas in a web, then take that web and start to draft what she wants to write. Then go back and reread her draft, and find places where she can "add on" to her writing or make it better. (ex. adding sense details, interesting word choices etc.) Then she can worry about the mechanics of her writing (ex. punctuation, capitalization, spelling etc.) Last, make a big deal about her finished product. Allow her to "publish" her writing about Africa & have a writing celebration! Have her read her piece to family members, granparents, go out for ice cream etc.
    (Writing Process: Brainstorming, drafting, revision, editing, publishing)

    But the Four Squares should also help her! I'm planning on teaching my kids the Four Square method this year to write more in other content areas (science, social studies, math etc.)
     
  12. becky

    becky Enthusiast

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    Oct 7, 2007

    I always take a week on writing assignments, sometimes longer, and each day is for one step of the process. We web everything, every time. One day alone is webbing. I know better than to do too much , because she resists and it all blows up. I even give her awards for good attitude during writing, because I know she dislikes it, plus I think of another reward when it's all over.

    TG, she is a great reader. She flipped me out a few days ago. We were using the newspaper, and she read a sentence that began with 'because' or one of those words you don't normally start a sentence with. She thought the sentence was a fragment at first. 'Did they put a fragment in this story?' I thought it was neat that she was applying what she knew, without input from me, and in another context .
     
  13. becky

    becky Enthusiast

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    Oct 7, 2007

    Please- what is this 4 squares??
     
  14. Youngteacher226

    Youngteacher226 Enthusiast

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  15. Youngteacher226

    Youngteacher226 Enthusiast

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  16. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Oct 7, 2007

    Uh-huh: more or less as I thought. She knows what writing is SUPPOSED to look like, and she knows she can't perform at that level. Golly: I'd be sick at heart too.

    Give her a hug when she's frustrated or stuck, please, and tell her this is pretty normal. And show her this, please: http://scholar.library.miami.edu/treasure/chapters/chaptr23.html.
     
  17. mom&teacher

    mom&teacher Companion

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    This is what I meant by trying step up to writing. I use it to teach kids how to use different graphic organizers and organization. I also teach the writing process and incorporate the traits of writing. I've noticed that I get much better writing pieces if we use a graphic organizer, even at the end of the year when we've done over 150 writing assignments.
     
  18. MissHunny

    MissHunny Comrade

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    Here is the name of the 4 square book that i have used in the past:
    Teaching and Learning FOUR SQUARE WRITING METHOD GR. 1-3

    Basically the 4 square is a writing organizer that included a main idea/topic sentence, 3 details, and a closing. This book shows you have to start out with these 5 basic sentences then eventually expand on them.
     
  19. becky

    becky Enthusiast

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    Oct 8, 2007

    TG- I'm not bullying her or anything, and I have never told her I expect her writing to look like anything. The problem I have is, I have nothing to go by to know if I'm teaching her to write correctly. The one thing I do try to push is for her to think more for herself, especially if she's writing about something I know she likes.
     
  20. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    becky, this is hard stuff. Let me insert here a hug for both of you. I wasn't intending to suggest that you're bullying her, nor am I saying that the standards shouldn't be high. But it's clear that she's not comfortable, and I suspect she may be beating up on herself a bit. (She wouldn't be the first to do that, either, believe me. I still remember feeling desperately embarrassed as a second grader because a kid in the class asked me how to spell Yosemite expecting that I'd know, and I didn't.) I'm suggesting that it might help her to know that it's not the case that there's anything wrong with her.

    She may be one who will benefit from seeing the difference between "good" and "good enough" - between what you write to last and what you write fast. What about taking a break from the weekly assignment and giving her a two-minute (or five-minute) writing assignment?

    And again, hugs to both of you. This is hard stuff.
     
  21. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Oct 8, 2007

    Instead of 'Where would you like to live in Africa and why', you could change the prompt to 'Describe an area of Africa'...Since she knows the topic so well, maybe if she could stick to the facts (just the facts, Ma'am) she might feel a little more at ease on this.
     

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