English in Social Studies

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by Soccer Dad, Nov 28, 2008.

  1. Soccer Dad

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    For the past few years, I've noticed that students really are not good writers. Grammar is getting worser every year. I'm grading their essays (comparison of classical civilizations) and just came across this line, "China that was strong and powerful was able to surpass India cause it got tons of trade resources." And, "However it wasn't until the Mauryan empire that India really began to become a superpower and was truley a world civilization that wasn't as powerful as China but was able to make tons and tons of cotton so therefore it was powerful."

    ....I'm thinking of making bi-weekly "Grammar, Punctuation, & Spelling" review packets and assigning them for over weekends. I'm really getting disgusted with the quality of writing. I taught them how to quote properly in October and I'm still getting kids who forget that punctuation goes before the quotation ("Before.") and forget that they have to add an ellipses (...) if they want to eliminate something from a quote. I keep reviewing it because I'm assigning a research paper that uses MLA citation and want them to practice now; however, it's getting really irritating to keep spending class time reviewing something they should already know!

    Any thoughts on teaching typically English subject matter in Social Studies? I'm going to have to be very careful not to teach them the wrong stuff, I don't want the ENG Dept to get angry!!
     
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  3. Mamacita

    Mamacita Aficionado

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    Nov 29, 2008

    By all means, DO IT! And thank you very much; your concern is much appreciated. Good grammar is something that should be insisted upon in every class. My husband is a calculus teacher, and he will not accept a written answer that contains outrageous grammar mistakes. Once in a while, a parent will question that policy, but he just calmly tells them that he could not, in all conscience AND out of professional courtesy, overlook inferior workmanship. We should all emphasize to our students, beginning down in the lower grades, that people who do not have good communication skills are perceived as less intelligent by the world at large, and often passed over for jobs. Remind students in all classes that for the rest of their lives, their communication ability will be judged, and judged harshly, by people who do not love them or understand what sensitive and charming people they are, and who will evaluate them solely by what they put down on paper. Once submitted, it's carved in stone. University: beware!

    Some of the cover letters, resumes, and applications I've gone over have been unbelievable. I wouldn't hire those people to pick fleas off a rabid dog. I don't think some of them would know the difference between a dog and an armadillo. Based on their written self-representation, at least, I wouldn't be able to guarantee to anybody that they could.

    "Maury, U dun no mee! Dun judge mee cuz U dun no mee!"

    In the words of a typical 7th grader: LOL, ROFLMAO.

    I get so many students in my college writing classes who don't even know how to construct a proper sentence; yet they got straight A's in high school English. Whassup wit dat?

    Inexcusable.
     
  4. Brendan

    Brendan Fanatic

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    Nov 29, 2008

    I would lover to cover Grammar with my kids, would love to. However, I have to cover my standards and grammar is not in them. I see grammar as a life skill we must teach (along with organization, note-taking, pc skills, etc.) I try to teach these skills as much as possible, but within my standards
     
  5. Shanoo

    Shanoo Habitué

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    Nov 29, 2008

    I teach in a French immersion classroom, but my kids know that grammar DOES count for part of their grade...even in social studies or science. I build it right into the rubric I give them before an assignment.

    Good for you for taking a stand! We get a lot less of the 'texting' language in my department, solely because the kids don't know it in French, but I find it disheartening that students don't know that there is a time and place for everything and that a school assignment NOT the time and place for such language.

    I'm sure the English teachers would appreciate the extra help as well.
     
  6. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Nov 29, 2008

    My little donation to the cause of forcing our kids to write English:

    When we do verbal problems, the answer has to be in a complete English sentence. "Not necessarily a Pulitzer Prize winning essay, but a grammatical English sentence with a capital letter and a period. If the question is asked in English it is to be answered in English."
     
  7. Soccer Dad

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    I sent an Email to my director letting them know what I plan to do and I'm in the process of making a newsletter to go home alerting parents of my "new" expectations. I'm hoping that if the students see that I'm not giving in on "then vs. than," then maybe they'll try harder. I've even changed my rubrics to be a lot more strict. I also have a friend in the English department who said they'd be more than willing to lend me advice on how to set up my packets.
     
  8. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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    Nov 29, 2008

    ::sigh::

    I don't get it, I really don't. When Word will fix then vs. than for you along with 99% of punctuation errors (it cured my overused of commas!) why does this matter? It is one thing to teach kids to write sentences that make sense but quite another to make a huge deal out of it. The idea that the upcoming generation can't communicate is a joke. That is all they do all day long!

    While I will always be the first to correct a kid who doesn't realize your and you're are two different words I would never have it count against their social studies grade. My state pays me to teach my state standards - that is what I'm to evaluate.

    To me this is yet another "Things were better back in my day!" argument and I'm becoming quite amazed how often they are coming up. Our kids will never match the rest of the world in dedication to rote memorization of grammar rules or math problems but the U.S. has always put out the best thinkers. If we don't nurture that we are truly doomed. Telling a kid "I don't want your ideas unless they are presented in the proper fashion" is a slap in his/her face.
     
  9. Luv2Learn

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    I'm sorry, but I don't agree. While we may put out a lot of good thinkers, that margin is shrinking for sure. Also, many of those good thinkers do have a better foundation and usage of good grammar. It doesn't matter how great one's ideas are if they are able to be communicated.
     
  10. Soccer Dad

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    Well I agree that in the grandest of schemes, having a comma splice in place of a semicolon isn't that important. I feel that in order to have people take you seriously, one should know spelling, grammar, and punctuation. For example, if a student were to write "Deffinately" on a resume, they wouldn't be hired. And in terms of state standards, writing style is evaluated when grading essays in New York; even if it's very vague and easy-going.

    And Word is terrible at picking up mistakes. It may know when you misspell a word, but its grammar is terrible. Anyways, I just think that it's something everyone should have a basic understanding of regardless. And with all respect, is it really a big deal to expect a 15 year old to be able to with some style? I mean it's not that hard to make a contraction, Wasnt --> Wasn't. I understand that passive sentences are hard to escape, I do them a lot, but knowing that when listing items a comma should be used, shouldn't be that hard.
     
  11. Mrs. K.

    Mrs. K. Enthusiast

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    Soccer Dad, do it! English teachers will bless you.
     
  12. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    The dumbing down of America started with a single teacher who accepted less than the best a student could offer. "That's not my job" is a pathetic excuse for condeming an entire generation of children to failure. It is all of our jobs to ensure that the children entrusted to us go out into the world with the ability to communicate properly.
     
  13. Soccer Dad

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    Nov 29, 2008

    :)
     
  14. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    Wait...did I miss something? I'm confused. Why did you bold and underline the word properly? Did I type something wrong or are you just agreeing with me? Spelling is generally my weakest academic skill, so I'm always paranoid if I don't use spell check.
     
  15. Soccer Dad

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    I was just emphasizing my agreement with you! I didn't even think to think that it might come off as a "correction" flag or something. :cool: Sorry
     
  16. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    It's okay. It's just my own lack of confidence shining through. I'm tired. It's been a long weekend :)
     
  17. Soccer Dad

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    Very long . . .
     
  18. ELA 11 12

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    SoccerDad,

    I am trying to get the rest of the public school disciplines (in my district) on board with your idea. I wish I had you as an ally. Like mmswm wrote, we are in this situation because we don't all have the same expectations AND ENFORCE THEM.

    It's not the students' fault in this situation. The make-the-students-feel-good-about-their-individual-work-and-they-will-be-engaged-and-learn belief system created this situation for us. It is not unlike the housing bubble where lenders had the idea that they could create loans for people who normally couldn't afford them...

    It is terrible that you feel the need to teach ELA standards to your students. Have you approached ELA teachers and share that you are on board with their expectations and want to help? They might be surprised. Grammar is included in all standards though under generic descriptions like "communicate in clear and stylistic language to the appropriate audience" (I quoted that, but really it is a summary of several different states' learning standards.)

    Rockyguykev...students don't know how to use Word because no one taught them the writing process to begin with. They right-click to get rid of the red and green squiggly underline, and they blame Word for their mistakes...like they pit us against each other as one teacher being "harder" than another or playing "favorites"...

    To sum this up, SoccerDad, you are doing the right thing but it is truly wrong that you have to do it.
     
  19. Lindsay.Lou

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    I agree 1000%! We should expect well written work. Period. It's hard to get that through student's heads because the teachers who don't expect that of their students make us (the teachers that do) look like jerks.

    I teach high school and my biggest pet peeve is the run on sentence. I see MAJOR run ons all the time. They often go on for 4 or 5 LINES and sometimes even include a total change in tense.
     
  20. Mamacita

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    I teach college writing and the students STILL don't know how to put together a simple sentence. It's absolutely appalling. They can't spell, either; the younger ones all tell me that they never had spelling in school, nor handwriting, either. My older adult students are usually good spellers, but the younger ones. . . pathetic!!!!!

    The younger ones come to their college classrooms expecting pencils and paper to be available for their use, too. Sad, sad, sad, sad, sad.

    Comma splices and fragments are two of the most common errors at this level.

    Insurance settlements and court cases can be won or lost because of a misspelled word or a fragment. Written work can turn into a legal document. My older students understand this; my younger students can't seem to comprehend it.

    Lindsay.Lou, I agree; the lack of consistent tense and person drives me NUTS. It makes a person's essay seem so childish and silly and unprofessional. Short, choppy sentences have the same effect; no college-level essay should look like a first grade beginning reader!!
     
  21. Soccer Dad

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    Well I gave them their first packet today. They were shocked, and I really mean, shocked. I can see why they might think it to be a little abnormal, but nothing like it was. Anyways, I started them off easy; reviewing spelling words (definitely, a lot, ridiculous[ly], etc.) & some easy grammar practice (they're vs. their, peace vs. piece, etc.).

    ::thumb:
     
  22. Sheba

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    That's a great post. Being able to write grammatically and demonstrate sources accurately is an essential part of social studies. A social studies teacher needs to be a writing teacher, too. When I was a uni TA the only consistant complaints on my evaluations were the 'picky marking' and 'He's more like an English teacher than a history teacher'. What the students making such complaints didn't know was that to the department head these were compliments.

    If people complain I would just ask them if they think you're job is to prepare pupils for university and, if so, whether they'd like you to prepare them for how to be A, B, C, or D students.
     
  23. ELA 11 12

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    How goes the battle?
     
  24. Soccer Dad

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    Well, the writing quality has improved--so I'm happy.

    I wish some parents would be more on board, but hey that's life sometimes.
     
  25. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Sometimes I think that if I hear "Oh, it's just rhetoric" or "Oh, it's just semantics" one more time, I'm going to run the speaker through with my poisoned red pen.
     

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