Friday, May 13, 2016

Simple Editing and Penmanship

Becca's 5th grade teacher does an activity which I think is pure genius. Every week she writes a sentence with spelling, capitalization, grammar, and punctuation mistakes and the students have to 1) find and fix all the mistakes, and 2) rewrite the sentence correctly in their best cursive handwriting.

This is so quick and simple and it works great. At home, in middle school, we have been doing it DAILY with the help of an old Instructional Fair workbook series Thematic oral language for daily use: Math, science, social studies, language arts, creative arts. There is a weekly topic (in our book it is owls, snakes, tigers, polar bears, etc.) and there is a sentence or two for each day. The sentences cover the topic from all different angles: language arts, science, social studies, math, and creative arts. For example, this is Week 35 for the sixth grade volume:

Week 35 - Seals, Sea Lions, and Walruses

Day One. Language Arts.
a. dad ive been studying seals and sea lions but why cant i tell the difference between the too of them
b. yes they do look alike but sea lions has longer flippers and are able to rotate them hind flippers dad answered

Day Two. Science.
a. me knowed everything on the science test mr english accept what a "pinniped" are
b. mr english replied sum animals has flippers which look like fins so theyre called pinnipeds or fin-footed

Day Three. Social Studies.
chuck lisa and barb seen some well-trained seals at the ringing brothers circus chuck telled us that scientists they think that seals can be learned to do tricks fairly easy cuz theyre as smart as cats and monkeys

Day Four. Math.
mail walruses can bee 12 foot long and way up to 3000 pounds even female walruses they can way over 1500 lbs said the guide at the shedd aquarium

Day Five. Creative Arts.
at the metropolitan museum of art in new york city ms smythe my art teacher seen a carving maked out of walrus tusk she feeled sad that hunters useta kill them animals just for their tusks

The teacher is given an answer key with weekly lists of the corrected sentences and the skills covered in each day's work. This Instructional Fair series of workbooks [authors, Sharon Altena and Jan Leik ; illustrator, Pat Biggs] from 1993 includes a volume for each grade 1 through 6.
v. 1. Grade 1 -- IF8401
v. 2. Grade 2 -- IF8402
v. 3. Grade 3 -- IF8403
v. 4. Grade 4 -- IF8404
v. 5. Grade 5 -- IF8405
v. 6. Grade 6. -- IF8406

Of course you could try to track down used copies, which would be easy and convenient, or you could simply create your own sentences! This is what Becca's teacher is doing, although she says it takes her a lot of effort to "write it wrong" when she's creating them.

Waldorf-wise, I would suggest this type of work for fourth grade and up.

Waldorf books for handwriting? The best is Teaching Children Handwriting by Audrey McAllen (which also includes how to teach the Capital Letters using the fairy tales). I also love the Form Drawing for Better Handwriting series (Volume 1 includes the entire series of second grade running forms in FD). And, lastly, I have Soul Development Through Handwriting: The Waldorf Approach to the Vimala Alphabet by Jennifer Crebbin.


KateGladstone said...

Do fourth-grade native speakers of English (who'd be nine or ten years old) actually need to be taught not to use "mans" or "me knowed"?

Renee said...

I can't say who is struggling with what out there... and it's a valid question... but I think that the sentences aren't necessarily meant to replicate the kinds of mistakes that students make in their own writing.

Instead, I think that the authors deliberately include a variety of errors and the children need to be able to correct them and explain WHY they're wrong. Not just "it doesn't sound right" but "the subject doesn't agree with the verb; when the subject is plural the verb needs to be plural."

Lots of people get simple grammar points in English wrong, even as adults, because it sounds OK to them and they just don't think it through. Like people may say "Bob and me went riding out to the river yesterday" when it should be "Bob and I". Or, they get it wrong in the other direction, thinking the rule is to always put an "I" following another person's name and an "and." I need to constantly explain it to adults when they incorrectly try to correct their children on this in the classroom. I think sometimes people feel the stress of the teacher being present. They are embarrassed if they think their children aren't using good grammar while someone else is watching. And when the child will rightly say "Tommy gave the brownies to Zac and me," parents will say no, it is Zac and I. But it is NOT I. So I then have to say, would you say "Tommy gave the brownies to I"? and they say "no."

It's not hard, right? Just drop that other name and think about whatever would be grammatically correct without the addition of "Zac and." Figure that out and then add the "Zac and" back in.

All of which to say, being able to say WHY something is right or wrong is important and I think may be the value of this work. I have seen an improvement in the rough drafts that my girls turn in to me. There are fewer basic mistakes because they've had more practice looking with an editing eye. They also frequently point out mistakes in the newspaper!

Truffula said...

Yes! Julie of similarly promotes the use of copywork for learning. It seems almost too simple to work. And yet, it does. I just started back up with my 6th grader, and have noticed improvements I did not anticipate.