Violence and Potty Humor in Elementary Writing

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by otterpop, Feb 26, 2018.

  1. otterpop

    otterpop Aficionado

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    How much, if any, violence and potty words are your students allowed to use when writing on a topic of their choice?

    Can they include:
    • guns
    • robots with laser guns
    • marshmallow guns
    • karate
    • describing video games in which characters are killed
    • describing non-kid movies (summarizing a movie like The Black Panther or other superhero movies, that, while not entirely appropriate, most of them have seen)
    • wrestling
    • punching / kicking
    • swords
    • farting
    • pooping
    With more and more young children playing violent video games, it's difficult to get some students to write about things that they like that don't include violence. Some of these kids go home and play adult video games or watch non-kid movies all night. Do you let them write about that in free choice? If it's a narrative they've been working on about a superhero and it includes parts where the bad guys get smashed, or fall off a bridge, would you make them change the plot line?

    I'm curious where others' lines fall. I'd like to limit all of the above in writing, but that's a challenge for some kids. Plus, when they're reading books with titles like Captain Underpants and the Perilous Plot of Professor Poopypants, many of them like reading potty humor and it makes sense that they'd imitate that writing.
     
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  3. agdamity

    agdamity Fanatic

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    I really don’t see too much of that with my fifth graders. We do talk a lot about making sure our writing is appropriate for school and the situation. So, when writing about the Revolutionary War, guns and killing people do come up. For the most part, in their free writing, they might have a fire-breathing dragon that takes out the villian, but nothing too dramatic.
     
  4. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    ......
     
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  5. otterpop

    otterpop Aficionado

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    I can't tell whether your post was deleted or you thought it was a stupid question?

    I have so many students wanting to write about Call of Duty or similar games this year, to be more specific. In an informative paragraph, a student might write, "One thing I'm good at is playing Call of Duty. In this game you shoot enemy soldiers while playing with friends online."

    Obviously I don't let them write about overly violent things. But do you ban the topic of video games entirely? Tell them they can say "Call of Duty" but not talk about weapons? What is your general class policy?

    I've also had students write stories about robots where they shoot laser beams. Again, not overly violent but there's still shooting. Do you ban than entirely?
     
  6. miss-m

    miss-m Devotee

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    Many of my 2nd grade boys last year wrote stories with most of the above in them. As long as the stories were clearly fictional and didn't involve shooting people they knew (or describing violence in a realistic setting) I didn't have a problem with it. Most of the time guns were included in the context of zombie or robot wars, which is clearly fictional and just reflective of their interests. Some kids I would encourage to write about other things if they were fairly prolific writers. Some of them I left alone because it was a miracle they were writing anything at all.

    I did try to steer them away from writing about movies or video games just because those stories all ended up the same and never fit in whatever genre or unit we were studying.
     
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  7. otterpop

    otterpop Aficionado

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    Feb 27, 2018

    I notice it mostly in my lowest writers, the ones writing below grade level, so I imagine it could be something that younger kids are more likely to do. They usually don't realize there would be an issue with their topics.
     
  8. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    My students are in grade 7. I always tell them to consider what rating the movie of their story would have. If it's not PG, it's not appropriate for school. By the time they get to me, they know what's appropriate and what's not (although that doesn't stop them from pushing the limits).
     
  9. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    Eh... each of those would have a different line for me, though I am particular about shows and video games (because it bugs me to no end when 2nd graders watch "It" every night and play Call of Duty.) Many of those I would chalk up to being a kid.

    Truth be told, I haven't really seen much of this on my level. When I did personal writing with whole class, interviewing a student, I would bit accept It or American Horror Story as responses to favorite show.
     
  10. mathmagic

    mathmagic Enthusiast

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    I ask kids to think about what's appropriate to be talking about and doing at school, as well as what the purpose of the writing is (to persuade, to inform, to entertain). Almost all of the time, the student is able to self-assess whether what they're writing about - or using within their writing - is appropriate.
     
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  11. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Provide freedom within limits. Most video game stories are boring, and ,given the times, I'd definitely ban writing about weapons, violence and killing.
    Karate-ok, especially if about their karate class/accomplishments
    Farting and poop- confer acknowledging "potty humor is funny sometimes and now that you've tried it out, it's time to write about more appropriate things, you're a much better writer than this" frame of reference
     
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  12. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    Thought more about it. 6th grade, I probably wouldn't bat an eye at any of those save potty humor as they might be advancing in their subject matter and nothing seems psychotic.

    Any grade lower, I would have to wonder why such interest/knowledge (all things being equal, of course)
     
  13. Lei286

    Lei286 Rookie

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    Karate and stuff like that...I don't care about so much. They do see superheroes and ninja turtles...and Lord knows what else on TV. I wouldn't necessarily think of these things as harmful.

    Basically I just tell my second graders, "no blood, no guns of any kind, no bathroom talk".... and they follow it. If they don't, they erase and rewrite it- during recess if necessary. They'll learn quick enough.
     
  14. Leaborb192

    Leaborb192 Enthusiast

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  15. Leaborb192

    Leaborb192 Enthusiast

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  16. 3Sons

    3Sons Connoisseur

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    To a certain extent, writing about something is a way of psychologically processing it. Kids who wrote about death aren't threatening to kill someone typically; they're trying to process their own feelings Abbott death.
     
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  17. TeacherWhoRuns

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    Apr 13, 2018

    Right now my students have an assignment to write about what happens when a student is bullied. My boys all want the bully beat up in the end. I mean, I get that that's what the Avengers do and what happens in their video games, but I want them to think. I outlawed violence in the stories. There's probably some psychological component about empowering them by letting them fantasize about it, but I'm not going to deal with it and I'm not going to answer to my principal when she decides she wants to walk in the room and read over their shoulders. Some students came to a total standstill when I told them no violence, despite the fact that we watched videos, read articles and had several discussions about productive ways to deal with bullies. Regardless of my personal feeling about it, the assignment is research based. None of our research said, "Call your older brother to kick his ass."

    No doubt there are people with the "let them write what they want to write" philosophy who'd disagree with me. If a kid wants to write about violence, he's free to do it on the weekend without me to stifle his creativity.
     
  18. Leaborb192

    Leaborb192 Enthusiast

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    Last edited: Feb 4, 2019
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  19. Teacher234

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    My students are not allowed to write related to violence or unreasonably gross things.
    The school and my classroom have a zero-tolerance policy to anything violent. This means anything....ranging from weapons to harming others.
    Students who write about, speak of, or demonstrate violence are to be written-up and immediately suspended. (Out-of-School suspension for up to 10 days)
     
  20. otterpop

    otterpop Aficionado

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    Interesting! Thanks for sharing. That's right on this topic. It's nice to see there's some research in the area... Much of what the article talks about matches what I see in my own classroom.

    I found this quote especially related to this discussion, although I'd argue it's not just a practice of female teachers:

    Finding 5: Female teachers unintentionally limit boys, placing topics that interest them off-limits

    Reflective introspection led to discoveries about our own practice. We observed that it was not hard for boys to come up with ideas to read and write about, but we female teachers unintentionally limited them to writing on topics considered school-appropriate or subjects which with we were comfortable. These were not topics boys were interested in reading and writing about. We realized that as females, we were judgmental about the content choices that boys made.
     
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  21. Leaborb192

    Leaborb192 Enthusiast

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  22. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    If students aren't allowed to write about potty humor or any sort of violence, should school or classroom libraries contain any literature that contains the same subject matter? Why would a school so opposed to student produced products so readily supply this type of information to the students?
     
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  23. Leaborb192

    Leaborb192 Enthusiast

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  24. mathmagic

    mathmagic Enthusiast

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    I just heard from someone else that a couple of the Big Nate books are scarily bad in terms of inappropriateness...
     
  25. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Here’s the thing- one can write about video games, etc, but teach kids to write well when doing so. A video game story could be a well written personal narrative (maybe the first time I beat my big brother in that game) or an instructional piece (how to play the game, how to navigate thru challenges in the game, etc) or could be an opinion/persuasive piece (a game review, why one should play a specific game...) This of course requires teaching into those genres. Kids need to know they can use topics across genres, revise old pieces...and also be encouraged to try on new topics as well.
     
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  26. TeacherWhoRuns

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    This is interesting. I get it in terms of a narrative or art project, especially given the times we're living in, but how strict is it in terms of research or current events? If a child is writing an editorial type piece about school shootings or a paper about WWII, how does that work? Does your admin strictly enforce the policy?
     
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  27. Teacher234

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    My administrator is very restrictive on anything that relates to violence. The sole exception is if the possibly violent topic is directly related to the current content being taught. Approval is required and really a very dramatic process. In an SS class, students could write about WW2 with approval and the requirement that nothing about hurting anyone....I know. I think it really depends on my administrator's mood. For example, she approved a teacher sharing a video about Medieval Torture device for a social studies class, but specified that only a minute and a half of the video could be shown.
     
  28. kellzy

    kellzy Comrade

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    I don't really care for my students if it's a free write. I tell them they can make no threats against themselves or another person, if they are feeling feelings that are telling them to hurt themselves or someone else the thing to tell is a trusted adult, not a piece of paper. My kids are pretty good at understanding that. We have a long talk about it at the beginning of the school year, including the reasons why, I try not to give students rules and expectations without explaining the reason behind the rules and expectations.
    If something begins bugging me after a while, like too much potty humor, like what I've had this year I simply tell them, "Poop* category is full for now." *whatever it is that's bugging me. Sometimes the category will remain full for the remainder of the year, sometimes I just need a break from reading about it and will allow more later on.
    Now, if it's assigned writing, I use it as a lesson in proper language for your audience (i.e. potty humor is great with your friends, but when writing an opinion paragraph for your teacher potty humor isn't appropriate).
     
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