Writing as Punishment

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by katrinkit, Mar 21, 2007.

  1. katrinkit

    katrinkit Comrade

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    Mar 21, 2007

    I have posted before (uneasily) that a teacher in my school has students write essays each time they are in detention. While I know it works for some, my questions are...

    Aren't we teaching kids that we think they "hate" writing, so our goal is to find what they hate and make them do that?

    Isn't the goal to figure out what is going on with the student, so we can help them behave/follow simple directions?

    What are some things you do when students join you for detention?

    Do you ever try to add another n in detention? (dentention - I have done it every time I typed the word!)
     
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  3. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Perhaps you're typing "dentention" because it bites?

    (Sorry. Bad joke.)

    I agree that, if essay writing is known as a punishment one gets in detention, that's likely to color how students view essay writing. There's an uneasy tension between possible goals for detention - punishment vs. learning opportunity - and I'm afraid I don't have any good answers for that.
     
  4. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    When our kids get sent to study hall for behavior, they often have to write a letter of apology, but I can't imagine assigning an essay as a consequence. That's all the kids need. Another reason to hate writing.
     
  5. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    OUr kids have to copy a page from the dictionary for an hour. Aside from the off chance that they'll learn a new word, it's a complete waste of their time-- exactly as it's intended to be.
     
  6. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Ouch. So now we have kids who end up hating the dictionary...

    That was supposed to be a joke, mostly.

    If what's wanted is a certified time-waster, what about having kids copy out the school rules?
     
  7. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Mar 21, 2007

    Our handbook is a BOOK!

    Actually, though, that's not a bad idea.

    My own personal favorite is more of a threat; I'm not sure whether I've actuallly ever used it:

    Multiply your phone number (with area code) by your zip code. If there's a second offense, check by division.

    I've threatened it once or twice with Junior and Senior classes, and I've never had to follow through. :)
     
  8. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Oooooo, Alice, that's hard! (I like it.)
     
  9. Katerie

    Katerie Rookie

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    I think that things like detention are a waste of time if things are not being accomplished, but I also believe that writing essays is far from a fit punishment to be giving high schoolers. There are so many different things they could be doing that would be better than writing a pointless essay, and making them hate to write even more than they do already, which in some cases, is insatiable.
     
  10. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    It's funny. I mentioned it today to one of my Senior Precalculus classes. (It's our 3rd day of solving systems of equations using matrices. Those kids who understand it are starting to get bored.)

    One kid actually started doing the multiplication. I reminded him that if he didn't get back to Precalc, he would be doing the division after school, and back to matrices he went!:D
     
  11. Ms.Jasztal

    Ms.Jasztal Maven

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    I wish I can do something like that... but for fourth graders, it's just a tad :D different.
     
  12. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Ohhh, times tables!!!

    How about the elevens to the twenties? (Or less-- I don't know the age group like you do!)
     
  13. ms_chandler

    ms_chandler Comrade

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    Well, I have mine write their weekly definitions 3X each. They end up with 30 definitions. I don't think this makes them hate vocabulary. I mean, they're supposed to be punished! What punishment is it to have something unproductive? I would rather them learn from punishwork rather than write lines. Basically, the whole point is that they're being punished, so won't this mean anything they do is viewed as negative?

    My punishwork is effective because it makes them memorize their vocabulary. They've already done their definitions and flashcards, so they've written them 2X already. After punishwork, they're written each definition 5X. If they view that negatively, I have no idea what could actually be positive!!!
     
  14. CoolTchR

    CoolTchR Rookie

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    I'm new to teaching (I've come from industry), so I don't have much experience with classroom management and how to punish students so it fits the crime. I do know that they are acting a particular way for a reason. The reason could be for attention or it could be due to frustration. It could be for many reasons. I do, however, agree that we are sending a message to the children that learning or doing classwork is a punishment. Perhaps the students should be counseled and assisted in understanding why they behaved the way they did. Are there any videos out there on behavior? Perhaps they can spend the time watching a video on the difference between proper and improper behavior. Maybe they could have these students attend workshops in groups (after school) so that they can get the students to look inward instead of acting outward. Perhaps, to send the message loud and clear, the parents should have to attend as well. I bet the students will change their behavior sooner. Any thoughts?
     
  15. hatima

    hatima Devotee

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    I worked at for a city rec program over the summer. The director and my coworkers were ever so ready to have the kids write for endless amounts of time "I will listen to the (or my) rec leader." "I will not fight." I hated this. It never worked not with a single one of the 150+kids and was often used as a group penalty for undisired behavior. Even then the main "rule offenders" were the ones let out early. Rec leaders "pets"

    I only had the kids fill out what amounted to a refocus. I had them write it as a letter. They had to say what they did wrong, what they should have done, and what they would do next time. This seemed to work, even when one kids wrote. "I was fighting with 'Max' because I thought he knocked me down on purpase I didn't know he falled. Next time I won't get caught by rec leader." He did not feel he did anything wrong but it at least helped him think.
     
  16. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    I think a lot of it has to do with:
    a) the age of the child
    b) the offense.

    I use the threat with my high school aged kids as a deterrent. The assignment is do-able, but certainly not how they hope to spend their time after school. And I'm usually pretty sure of the motives for their misbehavior: they're teenagers and they want to do something else more than they want to do math. So for a kid who is overly chatty, the mention of the upcoming punishment is normally enough to make him reconsider his priorities.

    For something like fighting or other serious offenses, or for younger kids, I can see that something else would be a better idea. But this works for me :)
     
  17. La Profesora

    La Profesora Cohort

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    In our ISS, I suggested that the teacher show motivational videos and audio tapes. Make the kids into better citizens and teach them about goal setting and organization. Make it something positive.
     
  18. PurpleTweety

    PurpleTweety Companion

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    Mar 24, 2007

    You can always check out this website: www.evildetentions.co.uk
    I've never actually used any of the ideas, but I've certainly had a good laugh imagining my students' faces if I ever did!
     
  19. CoolTchR

    CoolTchR Rookie

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    OMG!:eek: I love it! I never laughed so hard. I like the Dr. Evil detentions the best. I'll have to show these to my high schoolers. Hahahahahahaha! :D
     
  20. Bogart

    Bogart Rookie

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    I think the worst punishment would be to make a child sit in detention with absolutely nothing to do. No reading, no writing, no sleeping, no doodling; they just have to sit there for the length of detention.
     
  21. CoolTchR

    CoolTchR Rookie

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    It happens in ISS. The kids will finish the work, then just sit there. They are not allowed to put their heads down. Total torture if you ask me. :tired:
     
  22. hatima

    hatima Devotee

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    The Dr. Evil site was pretty funny. I think detention should not be a time for students to read, write, sleep, talk socaily, doodle, color whatever. I think they should do some form of "community service" to the school. Have them pick up trash (within reason of course) my fear of letting them read, write or draw is detention will have an opposite effect of what it should. In high school Hornets Nest (methods change frequently) there were several who wanted to go, because they got to draw the whole time. Work sent by teachers was not done. It was a mini party. I was sent once because I was tardy three times in a grading period.
     
  23. srh

    srh Devotee

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    Using essay writing for punishment is a lot like having kids walk or run laps for punishment. I just don't think it's a good idea to take something GOOD and use it in the context of punishment. Even if they're unpopular things to do, we should encourage positives like reading, writing, running.... There are lots of other good suggestions on this thread that would serve the purpose!
     
  24. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    When I was in high school, detention was on Saturdays and it consisted of manual labor in the form of cleaning - scrubbing the stairs, etc. I don't know this from personal experience, thank goodness.
     
  25. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    You have your goodness to thank, obviously.
     
  26. Research_Parent

    Research_Parent Cohort

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    Even this has its downfall, I got this form of detention and to this day, I absolutely HATE cleaning.
     
  27. Mldouglas

    Mldouglas Comrade

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    Mar 26, 2007

    This is not a good idea!!!!

    Myself personally I don't think that writing should be used as a punishment. As a matter of fact I don't think any thing related to curriculum should be used as a form of punishment. I would take away a privilege. Maybe not having recess or not being able to go on a field trip, or not having free time in class. I think by using writing as a punishment this teacher is going to make the child hate writing and it may cause problems in the child's future education. I remember one time when my family was living in Tennessee, I didn't do an assignment in a science class because I didn't understand how to do it. I did try to do the assignment but it was only half done so the teacher did not count me as even attempting. My punishment choices were to be paddled five times in front of the class or copy five pages out of my science textbook. I chose the writing over the spanking because I had never been spanked as a child and the thought just terrified me. To this day I don't like science and I am still a little hesitant about writing anything.

    Marci D.
     
  28. wig

    wig Devotee

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    (I didn't read the other posts so I may be repeating others. )

    If it is an essay than I would assume that the goal is to make them think about their behaviors. I assume the essay is either sent to the teacher, to the parents, or put in the student's file. I would rather students were involved in something meaningful during a detention. i am not sure exactly what you mean by essay. Mine have to state what they did wrong, what they should have done, and what they would do next time in a similar situation.

    I never could buy into this "it will make them hate writing" theory. Does making them practice math make them hate math? Does requiring reading make them hate reading, etc. Often kids hate writing because it requires more thinking than other subjects for many students. Some subscribe to having them help clean the school. I guess that could make them hate cleaning in the future. (I hate cleaning and I never had to clean the school - of course my mother made me clean.......) Same with community service. To be honest, you can use any excuse for hating something in life. Your only other alternative is making them sit and do nothing.

    That being said, I see no value to writing the same sentence over and over.

    Once you have sent a child to detention, you have gone past finding out what the problem is. It's not the teacher in charge of detention's job to sort out everyone's problem.
     
  29. srh

    srh Devotee

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    You should read many of the other posts! Most who disagree with using writing as punishment believe it is not the best idea to use something GOOD, something we want to ENCOURAGE, in a negative way. There really is something to be said about associating the negative aspect of punishment with things such as writing, reading (I can't imagine, but some people assign pages to read!), running (as if that's a bad thing students SHOULDN'T want to do...), etc.

    I wasn't saying that kids will necessarily grow up to hate whatever the activity is, but it seems contradictory to me. Someone else brought up the "cleaning" thing, and the difference to me is that cleaning, to one degree or another, is something everyone HAS to do in life, whether thoroughly or not. But reading, writing, running, and other positive things are CHOICES we all make, and I wouldn't want to be the one to discourage a student from making those great choices because they're rebelling against something in the past!

    Maybe a psychology major could chime in on this one!! :-D
     
  30. hatima

    hatima Devotee

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    About the cleaning. Thats true. I was thinking how community service is done for law offenders...I see your point. My best thing is just to let the kids sit and think. I do like refocusing. I have got kids as young as 5 to sit down and think about what they have done. I think the "quiet time out" didn't work at the rec center because most of the leaders would have kids, regardless of age sitting for a half hour to a number of hours.

    I definately think a pschological viewpoint would be great.
     
  31. kamteach5

    kamteach5 Rookie

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    Students in our school have to write a letter of apology to the person they misbehaved for, copy the behavior standards 3 times and then copy a dictionary page until the end of the detentions. Detentions are usually assigned 3 lunch times per offense. Each time the students gets a new detention the process starts over. Of course there are the students who are always on detention and then there are the few that get one detention and are devastated by it and never return.
     
  32. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    I think a LOT Of this has to do with the age of the child.

    Posted in the Secondary Ed forum, I think we have to assume we're talking about kids in their teens. At that point, they pretty much already know their likes and dislikes. I'm not sure that an hour here or there is going to make any difference. So when I mentioned my cool phone-number-times-zip-code threat, one of my kids stopped his classwork to try it. Clearly the punishment is NOT going to make him hate the material (although it would make him miss Lacrosse practice, and he's a Varsity Captain. So any punishment after school would serve the purpose.)

    Like so many other things, we need to take the age of the child into account.
     
  33. wig

    wig Devotee

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    Excellent point. I tend to answer questions with middle school in mind if a grade level isn't mentioned and that does make a difference.
     
  34. angeluv73

    angeluv73 Rookie

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    Maybe if they hate it they wont do it again, the point is to only end up with one of these dreadful experiences and then learn from it- or atleast be a negative reinforcer. So what if they have to write, most kids dont do enough of it anyway. I agree with wig. I only have them copy a dictionary page or write sentence if it is a last resort- usually taking to the child does the trick. You have to build a relationship with your kids.
     
  35. Mathadore

    Mathadore Rookie

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    I made them clean the classroom: boards, desks, chairs.
    To my surprise, most of them thought that was funny...
    So now, I make them write a one page letter to their parents that explain why they are in detention, what they intend to do to improve their behavior etc. And I mail the letter to the parents.
    Now, they hate that.
     
  36. angeluv73

    angeluv73 Rookie

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    sounds like a good 1
     
  37. pbaer

    pbaer New Member

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    May 16, 2007

    Call the Parents


    Who cares if the kids hate writing a note home to their parents. This action does nothing but waste time for all involved. As a parent I'm more interested in communicating with the Teacher. If there is a problem, call the parent. Set up an appointment. Have a respectful discussion between the Teacher, Student and Parent.

    If a Teacher makes my child send a letter home. The teacher gets a letter back from me. Communications are more incomplete when written in these "letters home" or even by email. Pick up the phone and have a real conversation.
     
  38. srh

    srh Devotee

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    Sometimes easier said than done (just make an appointment...). I can't tell you how many times I've tried to call a parent only to have a "full voicemail" or a "number no longer in service," or just no response to messages. I often resort to writing notes home myself and very often hear nothing back without repeated efforts. That is VERY time consuming. But I think for upper grade students, it makes them think through a little more when they have to write...and to their parents, of all people. Not love notes, not desk-to-desk notes; a note that has to make sense to parents is going to take some reflection on their part.
     
  39. Mathadore

    Mathadore Rookie

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    Before I give a detention to any of my kids, I have already tried to contact the parents.
    Most of the time giving a detention becomes then unnecessary because we have figured out a way to solve the problem together.
    However there are cases where I needed to use that strategy because there were no other way to get in touch with the parents, or because it was the only way to dissuade a student to misbehave in class.
    I do not like to refer students to the office, so I am trying to find alternative ways to make them understand the situation.
     
  40. trina

    trina Companion

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    I've had the privilege of hosting Saturday school in our small Christian middle school. My principal said "keep them busy and make them hate it so they never want to come back." SO I have them do the following:
    1. Write out all times tables 0-12
    2. Write out all states and capitals.
    3. Write a letter to your parents explaining why your earned SS and what you will change so you never return
    4. Write a letter of apology to the principal for your behavior
    5. Complete a math worksheet- it's 20 problems of 3 digit-times 3 digit problems
    6. They copy the 3 pages from the handbook that deals with school rules
    7. Copy a page from their agendas that lists all the parts of speech with definitions and all the punctuation marks and their usage rules
    8. If they still have time left in their 3 hours, I have a handwriting worksheet that they have to write in their best cursive handwriting

    The only thing we have been warned is not to make them copy Bible verses as punishment because we want them to view the Bible as a good thing, not an implement of punishment. This goes along with your question, a bit.
     
  41. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I don't think that writing should be used as a punishment, but I don't agree that it should be absent from discipline issues.

    Writing can help students become more introspective. Asking students to write about why they chose to engage in certain behaviors, why it is important that they make different choices in the future, and how they will go about making those choices is important.

    I think too often we tell kids that a particular behavior is wrong, but we don't explain why it was wrong or let them process it out.
     

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