Keep banging my head against the wall or give up?

Discussion in 'Sixth Grade' started by trina, Dec 12, 2007.

  1. trina

    trina Companion

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    Dec 12, 2007

    Background: I teach 6,7,8 science, 6 language arts, and 7 literature. Last year it was all 3 language arts, 1 science, 1 lit. My degree is in secondary language arts, and I'm working on dual certification in science.

    Problem: I am banging my head against a wall with my 6th grade language arts class. We've been doing capitalization and punctuation this semester. Caps they did OK on, but punctuation is killing them. They won't learn the rules, or apply the rules, or even realize that they SHOULD be applying the rules. I talked to the 5th grade teacher, and she told me to tell them that they are making her look bad, which I did. She said they all were doing fine with punctuation last year.

    What's not worked: After the majority failed the last test, I told them we were remediating until time for semester exams next week. I found new sentence sets and made worksheets for them. We would do the first half in class, with me taking questions, explaining why we do what we did with the punctuation, etc. Then they did the rest by themselves and could look up the rules in their books. I would check them, circle the number to the sentences they got wrong, and send them back to try again. I would check and recheck until the 4th time I told them what they were doing wrong and make them write the rule they were violating. I have weaned them down over the last week of doing this to just one time of checking, and then they have to look up the rule and write it. AND I STILLLLLLLLL HAVE STUDENTS MAKING THE SAME MISTAKES OVER AND OVER AND OVER. Like underlining and putting quotation marks around a book title. Mind you I have done my song and dance a million times about that being like oil and water, and they don't mix- can't do it- pick one or the other but not both- nope- uh uh- nada.............LEARN YOUR RULES or look it up in the dadgum book BEFORE you hand me your worksheet.

    So today I gave them a test- open book. I graded a few, and they're still full of dumb mistakes. I'm afraid to keep grading because I'm so mad. I LOVE English, and I know I do a darn good job of teaching. When I go over their mistakes one on one, they "get it." But then when they have to actually pull the info out of their own brains, they don't. Or won't. Or in most cases, won't even look it up in the book.

    PLEASE someone give me something new to motivate these kids into doing this right. Their semester exam is next Wednesday, so I have 4 more class periods to try to teach them.

    I don't want to give up yet.
     
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  3. teresaglass

    teresaglass Groupie

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    Dec 12, 2007

    Get Daily Grams for junior High. This book gives them sentences to correct evey day for 10 minutes. Every week give them a quiz. also have them correct each other's first draft when they have a writing assignment.
     
  4. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Dec 12, 2007

    You're teaching that quotation marks are acceptable for book titles?
     
  5. trina

    trina Companion

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    Oh no no no...a few keep putting quotation marks around book titles AND underlining it as well. That's the one that just drives me crazy because I have done all I know to do to teach them what gets underlined and what gets quotation marks, and that NOTHING gets both. Then they go and do both.

    :eek:

    I've used this scenario: with printed material, if you can go into a book store and buy it, it gets underlined. If you can't, it gets quotation marks. In other words, the WHOLE gets underlined (book, magazine, newspaper) the PARTS that can't stand alone get quotation marks (chapter, short story, song, poem, article). And I have this big thing I do with my hands every time to act that out, and have the kids do it with me (for the visual and kinestetic learners in the bunch). Then they underline poems and put quotation marks around books. Or do both.

    I have a little song "Commas and periods ALWAYS go INSIDE of the quotation marks." We all sing it togehter at the top of our lungs. Then they put them outside.

    Honestly, is it me? ANY ideas? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller....Bueller.....
     
  6. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Dec 12, 2007

    Does it help to tell them that italics and quotation marks don't mix, and that underlining is essentially a non-computer fake for italics?

    As to commas and periods inside or outside, oy. I think Canadian style is fairly similar to US style, but in the UK, and possibly also in Australia and New Zealand, punctuation tends to go outside the quotation marks unless it's really, really part of the phrase being quoted. (The Brits and Aussies and Kiwis also use commas rather differently, but that's a different kettle of Vegemite.)

    My own style falls somewhere in between: if the punctuation isn't part of what I'm quoting, then the punctuation goes outside. That is, if Amos whispers "Punctuation is difficult", and I'm shocked and I quote him, any exclamation point or question mark I supply has to go OUTside the quotation marks:

    Good heavens: Amos just whispered, "Punctuation is difficult"??​

    And if I'm quoting a single word or brief phrase, I'll generally plant the punctuation outside:

    Amos's bugbear, it seems, is "punctuation".​
     
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2007
  7. trina

    trina Companion

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    Dec 13, 2007

    Yes, they understand that underlining is the same as italics.

    I understnad the rules are different for different countries, and all I am struggling with is just one rule here in America.

    Does anyone have any suggestions on teaching punctuation, remediating punctuation, or helping kids over turning in work so they can "just be done."

    I think the 5th grade teacher may have inadvertently given them this habit because of the way she gave them seatwork. As soon as their seatwork was turned in, they could have freetime. I have tried to make it "painful" to turn in junk by making them go back and write the rule they violated for every wrong sentence. But it's not working.

    Any new ideas?
     
  8. IowaLA

    IowaLA Rookie

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    Dec 15, 2007

    By no means I have I worked out the logistics as I am just thinking off the top of my head, but maybe you could do something similar to the peer edit step in writer's workshop.

    It might look something like this:

    Before they bring their sheet to you, they have a peer be the "teacher" and correct their paper. The peer would have to put their name on the sheet they are checking and perhaps use a different colored pen to check. Maybe the checker could earn a point of extra credit, or a sticker or some sort of other reward, if they catch all the errors on their peer's assignment. If there are no errors, then the owner of the assignment gets the reward. Maybe if they know one of their peers is going to see their work, they will put forth a better effort. Like I said I have not worked out the details.

    I do know when my students go through writer's workshop I see them become better users of grammar as they start looking for errors in others work and become more aware of usage in their own work.
     
  9. imalith

    imalith Rookie

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    Dec 16, 2007

    The problem is not that they do not have these skills, it is that they are not striving for accuracy. They learned capitalization in 2nd grade. Most of these skills have already been learned.

    Last year I spent a week on teaching apostrophes. Half the class still did not understand. They didn't care and would shut down during the lesson. We began using "Daily Paragraph Editing" . Each and everyday they started to have to know those rules. Once they realized that the requirement would not go away, some begged me to reteach appostrophes to them. Guess what? They got it!

    They need to practice the grammar in a real setting and applying it to writing. Do not waste valuable classtime on something they should have learned in 2nd grade.
     
  10. bandnerdtx

    bandnerdtx Aficionado

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    Dec 16, 2007

    I would also suggest the book Mechanically Inclined by Jeff Anderson. He's a middle school language arts teacher, and the book has ready to go grammar lessons that are fun and engaging. I use it with my high school kids (just taking it up a notch), and it's been wonderful!
     
  11. trina

    trina Companion

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    Dec 17, 2007

    thanks everyone...I'll give it a try. As for the exam, I'm hoping for the best. They HAVE actually gotten alitle better over the last 2 days.
     
  12. WindyCityGal606

    WindyCityGal606 Enthusiast

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    Dec 18, 2007

    Also...keep in mind that sometimes kids will pretend they can't do something to avoid you teaching anything new. Could all be a big game for them.
     
  13. trina

    trina Companion

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    Dec 23, 2007

    Well, the exams turned out about like I expected. As I was grading them, I was considering scaling them, but when I finished grading and lined them up highest to lowest, I saw that the scores accurately reflected the ability I had seen in class over the past month.

    Thanks to everyone who posted ideas. I think I've figured out another problem that is contributing to this situation, and I will correct that in January. I am lowering the amount of points they earn for spelling/vocab homework and tests because most of them had A's and B's simply by doing well on this part of the curriculum. They could bomb several grammar tests and still have a good grade. I thik I'm going to lower it to about 20% of their total 9 weeks' point total.
     
  14. Loomistrout

    Loomistrout Devotee

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    Dec 25, 2007

    Consider: Visual Instructional Performance Model (VIP)

    The VIP is a graphic students make which shows steps to completing a skill one step at a time. Before students are released to work independently they "teach their partner" using VIP as a guide. Teach models exactly what to say while pointing at graphic (visual). Next, teach models again using a student -- teach teaching student, student teaching teach. Next, students teach partners (paired up) taking turns as teacher and student (teacher moves about monitoring). VIP is described in detail: TOOLS FOR TEACHING by Fred Jones.

    Also consider: Lots of practice with one step (or skill) at a time before introducing variations. So practice underlining books only not underlining and quotes at same time.

    One more: Build in a diligence and accuracy incentive. Instead of "When you are finished you may turn in your assignment" - this builds SPEED incentive (first one done gets to kick back) Say, "Class, when you are finished with the first four (assignment is say 10 problems) raise your hand and I will come around and check. If the first four are correct, your paper neat and to my standards you may turn it in and work on a free-time activity. However, if there are any errors in the first four, paper is not neat to my standards you must finish all 10 problems. What's incentive for doing neat and accurate work? You get less work. Incentive for quick and sloppy? More work.
     

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