Poor work performance

Discussion in 'Elementary Education Archives' started by lcr, Dec 4, 2006.

  1. lcr

    lcr Companion

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    Dec 4, 2006

    I teach fourth grade in a low income area of my city. The students turn in their homework, but the writing assignments are always done poorly. For example, my students had to write a book report and the summary section was at the most five sentences long. There were misspelled words, incomplete sentences, lack of punctuation and capitalization. The book reports were almost impossible to understand. I've tried making them do the assignments over and they either come back just as poorly or they don't come back at all. Today I gave the kids a huge lecture about their work and they all seemed very upset. I don't want them to feel like bad kids, but I'm going to be sending out mid-term report cards that show a lot of D's and F's. Does anyone have any suggestions to share that helped improve the quality of work in writing? I'd appreciate any help.
     
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  3. maroki

    maroki Comrade

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    Dec 4, 2006

    Is the problem a lack of motivation or a lack of competancy?

    I teach in an extremely poor neighborhood at well, and it is my experience that many parents at home do not have the educational skills to assist their child in higher math or writing. In 1st grade most of the parents are capable of helping, but I have had some that couldn't help with the homework.

    In 4th grade, writing book reports could very well be over the students' and parents' heads. Are the students adequately prepared to write book reports? Do they have the resources to find correct spellings, grammar rules, etc. at home? How do similar assignments completed at school turn out?

    Maybe they really are struggling with the basic concepts of writing....grammar, spelling, capitalization and punctuation. How are those things when they do work at school?
     
  4. lcr

    lcr Companion

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    Dec 4, 2006

    Even if they don't have the resources at home, I have always told them that if they need help they can come to me. We have plenty of dictionaries they could take home.
    They do struggle with the basic concept of writing: spelling, grammar, etc., but that isn't an excuse to write three or four sentences for a summary and expect that to be enough.
    We teach using the writing workshop approach, with me doing the final editing. Their work turns out pretty good. Maybe I need to go back to basics with the kids: reviewing summaries, and take more time to teach conventions.
     
  5. teresaglass

    teresaglass Groupie

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    Dec 4, 2006

    Teach Writing and peer Editing

    I think you should review the summaries and have the children go through the writng process: Prewritng , first draft ,editing ,final draft. You might want to teach them how to peer edit. You could write along with htem. Also try to teach mini lessons on grammar. Get the Daily Language Review for 3rd or 4th grade. This will give short exercises on correcting grammar. Use graphic organizers for their prewriting. This will help them master the format. You will have to spend a great deal of time teaching them to write to improve. All kids can learn how to write. They will succeed. Give them that chance. I have taught special education students how to write. Terry G.
     
  6. Raising3boys

    Raising3boys Companion

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    Dec 5, 2006

    How much time is devoted to writing in class? Do you have them keep a writer's notebook or something similar where they write daily? Do you give mini lessons on writing? If you give them the passion for writing, the students will be able to write anything including to a writing prompt on a standardized test. I am a firm believer in this philosophy because I have witnessed it first hand. For the past several years, I have had a classroom full of students who couldn't "speak" in a complete sentence let alone write one. Give the students the tools and passion and they will amaze you.

    As stated above, the parents might not even have the capacity where to even begin to help at home. Good luck and let us know what happens. You should begin to see improvement because you have been given great suggestions here.
     
  7. ozteach

    ozteach Comrade

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    Dec 5, 2006

    Can you do some of the assessable work in class, rather than as homework? Have they done lots of book reports in class so that they know exactly what is expected? I would think about ways of having them complete such things as an in-class assignment, rather than sending it home. If you know they're capable of doing the work and it's circumstances at home (lack of support, noise, interruptions from siblings etc) stopping them from completing at their usual standard, I would definitely rethink the idea of sustained writing as a homework task.
     
  8. Beth2004

    Beth2004 Maven

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    Dec 5, 2006

    You've been given some great advice, but I have another idea that I thought I'd add. I've also worked with many students who think that a few short sentences is a long enough summary for an entire book. You may want to compose a few of your own (similar to what they are turning in) to demonstrate what a summary shouldn't look like along with teaching then what it should look like.
     
  9. 1st-yr-teacher

    1st-yr-teacher Comrade

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    Dec 5, 2006

    have you thought about using a rubric with these writing assignments?

    Rubrics can be really helpful in the older grades because they can see exactly what you expect to get a good grade. Go over the rubric before the assignment is started and have them keep it stapled to their assignment or in a homework folder. That way, they know exactly what you expect in their paper.
     
  10. lcr

    lcr Companion

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    Dec 6, 2006

    I haven't read this is in awhile! Yes, I do the writing workshop daily. I model what is expected of students at each step. The students always use graphic organizers during the prewriting stage and I have modeled using them all year. I have talked about my expectations for the book report as well as modeling what makes a good summary. I give a minilesson daily where either I'm writing and we are talking about it, or we are doing different kinds of minilessons on the six traits. I must confess, I haven't been focusing on conventions as much as I ought to during minilessons, so I have started making my bellwork editing time...where we go over grammatical rules.
    The funny thing is, individually, I have been working with students on conventions and paragraphing at different times during conferences. This week we had to give a writing assessment and most of my students were writing four page stories and many of them were using paragraphs! Many misspelled words of course. If they can do this, I think they should be able to follow the directions on a book report form that I have scaffolded for them. I decided to give them another chance to improve their grades and a couple of kids took me up on the offer. The rest said they would rather have a bad grade. I really think it is too much TV and video games at home.
     

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