I'm going to tell you...

Discussion in 'General Education' started by kcjo13, Mar 25, 2009.

  1. kcjo13

    kcjo13 Phenom

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2005
    Messages:
    4,395
    Likes Received:
    7

    Mar 25, 2009

    I need some writing advice. My class this year, more than any other, cannot seem to get out of the habit of writing "I'm going to tell you three things about xyz" or "Now that I told you three things about xyz". Also, in transitions - "In addition, I'm going to write about xyz"

    These kinds of phrases drive me crazy. First of all, they are not essay words-more speech-y, but we're not writing speeches. (And even if we were, it's a weak way to write a speech.) Second, it's such a lazy way to transition or preview/review. But when we edit, I feel like I am just telling them how to change it, and they end up doing it again.

    Does anyone know of a method to get these out of writing? I've tried different lessons on this, but I don't have a specific way to teach them an alternative. Like I said, I just end up telling them what to change it to. Suggestions?
     
  2.  
  3. kilikena0310

    kilikena0310 Companion

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2008
    Messages:
    193
    Likes Received:
    0

    Mar 25, 2009

    Can you devote an entire lesson to have students come up with their own introductions, transitions, and endings? Give them an example to start out, then have students start throwing out ideas of their own. You could create a large list to hang in the classroom to remind them of different phrases they can use in their writing.
     
  4. MsMar

    MsMar Fanatic

    Joined:
    May 16, 2007
    Messages:
    2,771
    Likes Received:
    53

    Mar 25, 2009

    I don't have any advice, but just had to share that I had a sixth grader that did this as well. I was able to work with her individually to help change it, which is not so helpful to your situation.
     
  5. kcjo13

    kcjo13 Phenom

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2005
    Messages:
    4,395
    Likes Received:
    7

    Mar 25, 2009

    I had one student a couple of years ago who was terrible with this, and it took most of the year to get him to finally write something else on his own, but this year it is 3/4 of the class! I have tried group lessons, I have tried individual lessons, but they still keep coming back every time with the same "I will tell you..."

    I even tried outlawing the word "I"!
     
  6. courtneymarie

    courtneymarie Rookie

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2008
    Messages:
    16
    Likes Received:
    0

    Mar 25, 2009

    I had 11th and 12th graders who did this and it drove me nuts. I, too, outlawed using the word "I" unless I specifically told them they could. I also outlawed "you", as in "You're going to hear about this..."

    I basically told them instead of saying, "I am going to talk about such and such and its effects on one, two, and three" to change it to, "Such and such had effects such as one, two, and three." They've since stopped using "I" and it's wonderful. =)
     
  7. Samothrace

    Samothrace Cohort

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2008
    Messages:
    610
    Likes Received:
    0

    Mar 25, 2009

    Something us art teachers do, but can be used with your bad transitions. This is a quote from a website I go to quite often, but is a good kind of catchy thing to do to really get your point across.



    I had an "I Can't Funeral." I had [the students] all write what they couldn't do from art to every other topic and then they folded their lists and we stuck them in a coffin...they didn't know what we were doing at this point. Then I gathered them all and said that we were all gathered for the funeral of our dear friend, " I Can't." He had been a good partner and has given us many years of security. He had many aliases: 'It's too hard,' 'I don't know how,' etc. (make it up as you go)... He is survived by his brothers and sister "I can", "I will", and "I am going to try my best." In the future when we feel like we need "I can't" we will turn to his brothers and sisters for strength and we will make it through our tough times..... Then we had a moment of silence and put the top on the box. I think that the teacher I borrowed from even buried the box outside.. I just put a tombstone on the wall and wrote R.I.P "I Can't" and the date. It was cool because even though it was corny everytime someone said I can't someone said "I can't is dead" and pointed to the wall.
     
  8. Tasha

    Tasha Phenom

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2007
    Messages:
    4,391
    Likes Received:
    5

    Mar 25, 2009

    I had to laugh because my superintendent starts every letter with I am writing to tell you . . .
    I would start by making a banner of the phrase and make a big deal out of out-lawing the phrase and put it behind bars. Then, make a chart of beginnings, transitions, and endings and hand it up in the room. Let the class add to it periodically to keep it current and make a rule that they have ask someone to check their paper for the outlawed phrases and that person must sign it. You might even build a lesson into peer editing, it made a huge difference for me when I was in college to look for ways to improve someone else's paper.
     
  9. lmjcatz

    lmjcatz Rookie

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2006
    Messages:
    33
    Likes Received:
    0

    Mar 25, 2009

    I feel your pain-in addition to the problem you are having, I am also STILL trying to convince my 11th graders that the one-sentence "And that's what I think about..." or "That's all I have to say about..." are NOT proper conclusions! A couple of suggestions-First, frequently expose them to "good" writing, and point out that the intros in the essays you look at do not say "I'm going to tell you about...". Also, I have found that working together as a class to practice writing intros can work well. List/describe the topics that will be covered in the essay, and then work together to write an intro. Small group or paired sharing works well also-let the students help each other with their intros (and conclusions, if necessary) for some of their writing assignments. Once they see that there is a better way to do it, most will eventually break that habit.

    I don't know what grade you teach, but at some point you may have to draw the line and not accept essays with that type of introduction-my students know by the first month of school that I expect better, and that I will hand their essays right back to them to be rewritten if they've done that (I have to break them of things like that fairly quickly because they take the writing standardized test in 11th grade).

    On a similar note, Have you ever wondered why students think that they must begin an essay with a question?!?
     
  10. Mrs. K.

    Mrs. K. Enthusiast

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2008
    Messages:
    2,292
    Likes Received:
    122

    Mar 25, 2009

    Oh, my gosh! Somewhere in my district there's a middle school teacher who has students start essays with three questions, and I'm going to find them and smack them upside the head! We were just talking about this in our department planning time today - I've warned my seniors about this, but some of them still sneak in at least one question in the intro. :banghead:
     
  11. leighbball

    leighbball Virtuoso

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2005
    Messages:
    7,507
    Likes Received:
    3

    Mar 25, 2009

    KC- I don't know if it will help, but in my kids' writing folders, I give them a list of transition words to refer to. I also do some guided writing activities and have them help me write a paragraph or essay on chart paper illustrating the transitions and what else I want them to do in their own writing. I usually hang up the papers for a while too.
     
  12. RainStorm

    RainStorm Phenom

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2005
    Messages:
    4,376
    Likes Received:
    809

    Mar 25, 2009

    One year, at the beginning of the year, over half of my students started every single essay with --

    "Hello. My name is Johnny and I'm going to tell you about..." Or "Hello. My name is Susie and today I'm going to write about..."

    They all came from the same class the previous year, and you guessed it -- the previous teacher made all of her students begin every essay this way!

    It took months to unteach it!

    I just can't imagine any educated person teaching children to start every single essay -- from a personal narrative, to a how-to, to a persuasive paragraph, with "Hello. My name is....and I'm going to tell you about.."

    She also had taught them to conclude every essay with "So now you know all about xyz."

    I still shudder when I think about it!
     
  13. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

    Joined:
    May 13, 2005
    Messages:
    29,807
    Likes Received:
    1,171

    Mar 25, 2009

    Have you got a set of essays in hand in which the students do this? Is it reliably the first or second or n-th sentence in each essay? If so, what about going through the class and having each student read that n-th sentence from his or her essay, bang-bang-bang... there will probably be one or two students who do something different, and, boy, will that make the difference stand out.
     
  14. courtneymarie

    courtneymarie Rookie

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2008
    Messages:
    16
    Likes Received:
    0

    Mar 26, 2009

    I agree with the poster who suggested writing an essay as a class. I've done this a couple of times--put them into five groups where each group is assigned a paragraph in a 5 paragraph essay. I give them the topic and tell the groups which paragraph they are writing. Then I gather information from the groups writing the body paragraphs and inform the intro and conclusion groups. I give them large pieces of paper to write their paragraphs on (after they write a quick rough draft first) and hang them up in my classroom. They usually come out really well and it shows them how well an essay can come out when you really take a lot of time thinking about each paragraph.
     
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2009
  15. jorgefuriouso

    jorgefuriouso Rookie

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2009
    Messages:
    10
    Likes Received:
    0

    Mar 26, 2009

    Ralph Fletcher's book on Craft Lessons for Nonfiction would be a great help for getting past such formulaic writing.
     
  16. adventuresofJ

    adventuresofJ Comrade

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2008
    Messages:
    415
    Likes Received:
    0

    Mar 26, 2009

    Why do they think they can begin all essays with a question?

    Because the book uses that as an example... mine does... we're working on it.
     
  17. kcjo13

    kcjo13 Phenom

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2005
    Messages:
    4,395
    Likes Received:
    7

    Mar 27, 2009

    Sorry I haven't responded to all your great ideas! I have a huge bulletin board in my room that I leave up all year that has a ginormous chart of transitions, conclusion signal words, intro ideas-and they still won't refer to it. It's all based on tools (the write tools), and I have one big section devoted to "Wrench These out of Your Writing, with examples of less-than-ideal sentences-but I get almost carbon copies every time. These are sixth graders, by the way. That's my frustration-when we edit, usually I can coax a better intro or transition sentence out of them, but I want them to start automatically NOT using these I'm going to tell you...

    I've thought that maybe I'm expecting too much at this level? And I've suspected that there is a teacher below me who encourages this kind of intro...every essay that class hangs up might as well be carbon copies of each other.

    I really like the idea of a group essay. I have a lot of writing ideas, but I've never tried this one. I think I might start with everyone writing the an intro paragraph for the same topic, then transitions, then conclusion. After that, split into groups.

    Thanks again for the suggestions! If anyone thinks of anything else, please post.
     

Share This Page

Members Online Now

  1. nstructor
Total: 191 (members: 5, guests: 171, robots: 15)
test