8th Graders Who Cannot Write.

Discussion in 'Middle School / Junior High' started by chasisaac, Aug 28, 2012.

  1. chasisaac

    chasisaac Comrade

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    Aug 28, 2012

    I am working in a school as LA 8/9 teacher. I have discovered that the students cannot write. Capitalization is a serious struggle for most of the students. Grammar is not taught in through grade six.

    In the elementary school they use a program that has two hours of reading and two hours of math a day. I talked with the 10-12 LA teacher and she says, the 7th grade teacher has never really taught grammar and focuses on vocabulary. She also mentioned that there are 12th graders who have serious issues writing a complete sentence. She has 11th graders who cannot summarize a seven page story.

    I have given DOL everyday and it is a disaster. I gave an assignment of 20 spelling words and write sentences. That is a disaster. Most kids have received a 5/20 score. I think my average is 8/20. Every sentence has punctuation and capitalization errors.

    So what do I do. :help:

    I do not care what happened before or why it happened. These are my kids I am in charge, it is my job, I am the one who is responsible, and I do not want to let these kids pass to the next teacher without being able to write. I am do this the 10-12 LA teacher will sing my praises all day long.

    I work in a rural, minority (American Indian) population of 60%, 80%-90% free reduced lunch, and a failing school. We are passing NCLB only because state standards are so low. I have a small class size with my largest at 14 students. My state has an NCLB waiver.

    I have a few choices:
    I could start at the ver beginning with Doe-Re-Mi. If I do this I will NOT be able to meet Core Standards.

    I can 'teach' Core Curriculum Standards and check off that I covered them. I would then work closely with the 2 lowest readers in the class so they can score higher on the reading portion of the test. That way I get 'better' grade for raising reading levels. The 8th grade class is the worst reading class in the district. If I raised them up to basic it would be a huge boost.


    My option is to say :p to Core Curriculum and teach these kids to write. Take the hits on whatever it is for reading. Get them so they can write a five paragraph essay. My problem here is taking the hit and not "teaching the standards." I am first year in district and seventh year teaching behind me.

    I feel almost morally obligated to teach these students to write.

    I am not trying or wanting to rant. I need some ideas.

    Any ideas? :help:
     
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  3. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Aug 28, 2012

    It's going to be challenging, but you have to teach the Core Curriculum. Presumably, it's what you were contracted to do, and you will be in violation of your contract if you don't. You're going to need to find a way to incorporate the skills they need into your grade-level curriculum. Maybe you could get with the Special Ed teachers and find out what they recommend?
     
  4. chasisaac

    chasisaac Comrade

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    Aug 29, 2012

    So your suggestion is drag these kids across the line?

    I could do that esp. with the way we are grading, via Mastery. If I give the kids enough chances to get it right they can "make it." We have a 1 to 1 laptop program, so having them "redo" a quiz or an assignment a couple of times is not as harsh.


    They will move on still unable to write. Students unable to write a basic sentence correctly will move on to 9th grade. For the record my 9th graders are not much better. They had a good teacher last year, a friend, but she followed the standards in their 8th grade and well . . . they have serious writing issues.

    This district is not a happy one as far as homework goes. Many of these kids go home and become parents to brothers and sisters. So many homework opportunities are small.
     
  5. KateL

    KateL Habitué

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    Aug 29, 2012

    Yes, a lot of us are in your shoes as far as limited homework and students not being able to write. What helped in my district was adopting a district-wide writing plan. Every teacher in the district teaches writing the same way, and we're all required to have the students do a certain amount of writing each week (different for different grade levels). It helped the students because all of the teachers were using the same vocabulary to talk about writing, and because they could see that not writing is not an option. If it's just one teacher tackling this problem, the students might suck it up and learn to write for your class, but it's doubtful that their skills will transfer to their other classes. Can you get your whole district, or at least your building, on board with emphasizing writing?
     
  6. lucybelle

    lucybelle Connoisseur

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    Aug 29, 2012

    I taught biology to 9th-12th graders who couldn't read/write. I did the best I could to incorporate as much vocabulary, reading and writing as I could. I would remind them on essays to write their "r"s and "s"s forwards, to not include "text speak", etc. I did the best I could. But I know those kids are still unable to read. Sometimes it's hard to be super teacher. Best wishes!
     
  7. pvcpa

    pvcpa Rookie

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    Aug 29, 2012

    I feel for you. We have entering 9th. graders who did not know what a noun was. To help reinforce writing we have a journal in EVERY subject, not just LA. We also make sure that all subjects are reinforcing writing by grading papers for spelling, grammar and penmanship (I was considering hiring a Cryptographer to help read some of the papers). In a public school system it is going to be difficult, it will test your skills as an educator.
     
  8. Rebel1

    Rebel1 Connoisseur

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    Aug 29, 2012

    My MIL was lecturing us all about this during our vacation.
    My mind was on vacation mode; not to hear anyone run their mouth about this.:p
    My daughter and nieces were giving her the hardest time about it. She went on and on about how kids are not learning to spell right because of the short cuts of words on text messages, and b4 you know it you are not spelling right anymore. :whistle: They knew what she was trying to explain, BUT they kept the poor old lady going on and on, while laughing. It's what makes vacationing with outlaws fun.:lol:
    Rebel1
     
  9. McParadigm

    McParadigm Companion

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    Aug 31, 2012

    I'm on the editorial board of a Special Education journal, and most of the articles (by professors, most of the time, but occasionally by teachers) need heavy editing if/when approved. I'm beginning to think that our expanding role as consumers of product is becoming a severe detriment to our ability to create as a society.
     
  10. kpa1b2

    kpa1b2 Aficionado

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    Aug 31, 2012

    That's scary! When I submit an article to a journal, I want it to be the best that it can be. Yes, I expect that there will be some editing as I am human, but not heavy editing!
     
  11. McParadigm

    McParadigm Companion

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    Aug 31, 2012

    You really do come out of it shaking your head, thinking "THIS was my competition?!?" It retroactively deflates your sense of accomplishment...or at least a little bit.
     
  12. Special-t

    Special-t Enthusiast

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    Aug 31, 2012

    Isn't writing integrated into your core curriculum? It's part of our core curriculum till the students graduate high school. As a matter of fact, it's even more of a focus now, with the Common Core Standards.

    Many teachers in 9th grade solidify student's essay writing skills. Our 9th grade teacher last year taught the students to write a solid, basic Jane Shaffer essay. They had to practice writing standard 5 paragraph essays in a variety of styles.

    I dont see a problem with taking time to work on sentence structure and writing. Many teachers in our area use Write Source in 8th and 9th. Since your students are low, I recommend the 8th grade version. I use it with my students with learning disabilities.
     
  13. chasisaac

    chasisaac Comrade

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    Sep 8, 2012

    Now that a week has gone by, I am working basics with the students.

    I have permission from my P to do what is needed. As life happens we are having NCLB problems so anything to raise tests are ok. Talking with my LA 10-12, she complains about the same problems.

    I am going to work with my students and their writing skills. After a week of work on capitalization issues the students are doing much better. Next week punctuation.
     
  14. linswin23

    linswin23 Cohort

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    Sep 9, 2012

    Wow, you have a challenging job ahead of you. It will be tough, but extremely rewarding to see these kids improve. The more they write, the better they will become. The more the read and see words used in the proper way as well as capitalization, spelling and grammar--their writing will improve.

    Teaching grammar has always been a challenge for me. I have this book called Caught Ya Grammar in the Middle . It contains a story called, "The Bizarre Mystery of Horribly Hard Middle School" and it's actually pretty funny. The story is about a page long and I read this out loud to my kids, then the rest of the story is continued, but in paragraph/sentence chunks and the sentences are chalked full of errors. My kids get to continue building on with the story as well and practice correcting the errors. I make the kids write down the sentence incorrectly, and then the correct over it with pen--each time I do this I at least hit on capitalization, spelling, and one punctuation rule. It's great--check it out. The book was only about 8 bucks on Amazon.
     
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2012
  15. McParadigm

    McParadigm Companion

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    Sep 10, 2012

    I'm still waiting for that last NCLB hidden, dated release clause to finally come out.

    Section Four, Subsection II, Provision C: We were JK the whole time but you totally shoulda seen your faces LOL!

    Any day now. Any day....now. Any....
    :dizzy:
     
  16. chasisaac

    chasisaac Comrade

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    Sep 12, 2012

    Oh please please tell me it is in there. Please. :thumb:
     
  17. ArmyWife06

    ArmyWife06 New Member

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    Sep 26, 2012

    When I did my observations, the middle school department head used a program called "Grammar Punk." The kids were completely hooked and begged to do it every day. I am now using it in my class and my students get so excited on Fridays (I reserve Fridays for "language" days). There are three different levels (elementary, middle school, and high school) and it breaks down grammar by using their own writing.

    Our district has always been very invested in the reading aspect of LA. With the CCSS being implemented, it's really showing our weaknesses with writing, though. We have a lot of work to do! Good luck!
     
  18. mikemack42

    mikemack42 Companion

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    Dec 16, 2012

    I found reading Teaching Adolescent Writers by Kelly Gallagher and I Read It but I Don't Get It by Cris Tovani to be very helpful as guides of how to teach reading and writing.
     

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