Teach kids to put a space between paragraphs?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by otterpop, May 9, 2016.

  1. otterpop

    otterpop Aficionado

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    May 9, 2016

    Would it be terribly incorrect to ask my elementary students to put a blank line between paragraphs?

    Technically, it's not correct according to style manuals. However, everywhere you look online puts a blank space between paragraphs (including this forum). For me, it's easier to see right away that they actually did use paragraphs in a handwritten paper. Personally, I like it. But I don't want to ruin them for future years or cause bad habits.

    What do you think?

    ----

    To contrast, here's the same post with no extra line:

    ....Would it be terribly incorrect to ask my elementary students to put a blank line between paragraphs?
    ....Technically, it's not correct according to style manuals. However, everywhere you look online puts a blank space between paragraphs (including this forum). For me, it's easier to see right away that they actually did use paragraphs in a handwritten paper. Personally, I like it. But I don't want to ruin them for future years or cause bad habits.
    ....What do you think?

    (As a side note, I find it odd that there is no way to indent in this forum! Tab doesn't work, and so I used spaces, but those auto-delete when you submit the post. I actually had to add white periods to put in the indent.)
     
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  3. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    For me, my view is that if the work is double spaced, then an extra space is a no-no. (it just looks bad)

    But if the work is single spaced, then a space between paragraphs helps to separate the text into neater and easily readable chunks.

    I'm not an English teacher though, and I'm not great with official writing style guides.

    I do get double spaced work with extra spaces between the paragraphs (probably so they could eke out the minimum length requirements) and I cringe every time I see it. Another thing that makes me cringe is two spaces after the period, and using spaces to indent (or center text!! Ack!) instead of tabs.

    And yes, BBcode forums are a very different medium to work with than traditional text editors. I learned most of my spelling, grammar, and style from BBcode forums ironically.
     
  4. bros

    bros Phenom

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    I agree with you on that.

    I believe two spaces after a period was standard on a typewriter because sometimes the spacebar would stick or not register the press.
     
  5. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    No: two spaces after period was standard because a typewriter's font is necessarily monospaced - the carriage would advance exactly one em (the width of a capital M) with every keystroke, so a period (.) would occupy the same amount of space as that capital M, and the result was that it was harder to discern the ends of sentences in running text.
     
  6. MissCeliaB

    MissCeliaB Aficionado

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    I am still in the habit of putting two spaces after a period because for screenwriting the font I use is Courier, and because the industry standard for screenwriting is two spaces after a period. I just can't make myself not do it, and don't see any real reason to.
     
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  7. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    The extra space after paragraphs is for online formatting -- online writing is not indented, so you use the space after to show formatting if publishing to the web. For the love of your students' secondary teachers, PLEASE do not teach them to add a space after paragraphs in writing that is destined for anything other than online publishing! It is so hard to un-train students from "skills" learned in elementary (putting the header on the right for MLA instead of the left for...whatever reason, for example)!
     
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  8. vickilyn

    vickilyn Magnifico

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    When I was taught to type, 2 spaces after the period was standard. I may not be a great typist, but that one thing stuck with me. Fast forward a few decades, and now people squawk about the extra space after the period. My rationale has two tenets: 1) I am set in my ways. 2) Do you really think I am going to cause the loss of thousands of trees by using an extra space at the end of every sentence? Very little of what I write makes its way to a printer, so I fall back on my first tenet - I am set in my ways. Until someone can show me that I have offended the great paper gods by that one act, I refuse to be bothered. :rolleyes:
     
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  9. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I thought that the APA said that two spaces after a period was fine because it enhances readability...?
     
  10. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    To this day, I type two spaces, and when it's appropriate I'll simply have Word batch-change two spaces to one. Much depends also on the font I'm using.
     
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  11. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    As to paragraphs, the standard rule has always been that block paragraphs (no indentation of first line) end with a blank line (typographically, two RETURNS) and indented paragraphs don't. I see no reason to change that.

    If the issue on the OP's mind is that it isn't clear where handwritten paragraphs begin, the student writers are not using large enough indentations. If these are kids young enough to be using their fingers or a popsicle stick to space between words, have them use at least two fingers at the beginning of the paragraph. For older kids, it may need to vary from individual to individual; one-half inch would do, or have each kid figure out how much space the abbreviation "Para. " takes up in her writing - with the trailing space included, please - and leave that much space at the beginning of each paragraph. If kids are doublespacing their lines, the paragraph indentation may need to increase.
     
    Last edited: May 10, 2016
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  12. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    As usual, what TeacherGroupie said! Also just realized I said right instead of left for MLA...
     
  13. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    It's not a huge deal, and you're not offending the gods. It's just a pet peeve of mine and makes me cringe. LOL. To me it looks bad. It's not about saving paper. In fact, most single-spacers do their typing on the internet which doesn't use trees.

    Apparently typographers (those who study type) say that it's incorrect to use two spaces though (just an interesting tidbit of info). http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/technology/2011/01/space_invaders.html
     
  14. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    I just recently learned about the two spaces thing myself! I definitely had it drilled into me in school and am working on un-learning it. I've heard it said that this is one of those "dividing lines" between Gen X/Gen Y and Millennials...those of us who learned to type from typewriter users learned two spaces, and those who learned to type from computer users learned one.
     
  15. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I learned to type on a computer, and I use two spaces after a period.
     
  16. jadorelafrance

    jadorelafrance Cohort

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    Same and I am a millenial. I guess I have to unlearn this!
     
  17. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    I meant that people my age learned to type on a computer from teachers who learned to type on a typewriter. That's my best way to understand the generational shift in period spacing that is underway!
     
  18. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    I actually think I was taught to use two spaces as well when I was in Elementary school. But I either didn't pay attention, or my later experiences stuck more than my early ones.
     
  19. Obadiah

    Obadiah Groupie

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    This is the first I've heard of one space after a period. Hmmm. Trying to do that right now while I'm typing feels like I'm trying to remove stripes from a tiger! It would definitely take some practice.
     
  20. mathmagic

    mathmagic Enthusiast

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    I guess it's something I never think about, either. Even the editor of the math competition tests that I write, who finds bazillions of spots I need to revise/edit (to the smallest detail), has never mentioned it.
     
  21. applecore

    applecore Devotee

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    For the line in between paragraphs, I don't teach my 3rd graders to because we're learning trying to learn the basics of actually indenting a paragraph was the best I got out of them. I do start teaching how to write a paragraph by skipping lines; x's on the skipped lines so they can see and edit.

    As for the space after the period. I've been doing that since high school when we had to use those old fashioned electric typewriters. :)
     
  22. otterpop

    otterpop Aficionado

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    Thanks all. So, I'm seeing the answer is a big no, which is fine.

    I think that the issue isn't so much that they forget to indent (although they sometimes do) as much as their handwriting is just atrocious for around 1/4 of my class. Sometimes it's hard to see whether there are paragraphs at a quick glance because their pages are so messy. I really don't think my group was ever actually taught how to write letters, judging by the way several kids write them. Fine motor skills definitely need some work.
     

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