November 18, 2011

I will remember it is hard to write....

I will remember how hard it is to write.
I will remember how hard it is to write.
I will remember how hard it is to write.

In a parent presentation I gave this week, about early reading acquisition, I reitterated how important it was to remember that the reason it is so hard to teach 7-year olds how to decode is because we cannot feel ourselves doing it. So it doesn't help to say, "Oh, c'mon, you know this word!" I then passed out a list of Ambassador's names, so they could feel what it is like to have to make several attempts at decoding a word before it sounds right.

I need to remember how hard it is for kids to produce a paragraph. The mind doesn't think in paragraphs, but rather, idea strings. So the 5-paragraph essay seems artificial to some of my free thinkers, and long (!) to some of my spatial and visual learners, who tend to think in pictures, not words. I mistakenly and effusively say, "Oh let's write about your laser tag party that you loved so much this weekend!" I figure that will be easier to produce than an assignment about a historical fiction novel they just read. But who is their audience? Just me? Well then they would prefer to talk it out.They will sometimes get up from our work table in my office and spin around, gyrate and gesture, in order to recount the event, but they go into "lockdown" when it is time to put pen to paper. Okay, sometimes putting finger to ipad app will get the flow going a little bit more.

Tis the season for legends and myths. I have two students creating legends and another two creating myths, for school assignments. They were so proud of their (terribly short) rough draft pieces! I could not resist the urge to coach for elaboration. Vague settings (but not in their minds) and a lot of dialogue (their teacher said they had to use it) but no emotions, or How Phrases, or Why Phrases. I settled on giving them each a managable, small revision to make. is my newest discovery... an online detailed grammar checker
It checks for everything, from preposition use, to fragments, to parallel verbs.
This may be a great tool but it also may create overwhelm, since it give such a detailed rundown of every nuance. I would like it more if you could tailor it to only search for a certain few criteria. Also I would prefer that it show other sentence options after the user works on the sentence

I cut and pasted in a final draft of a student's essay about Sherman Alexie's book, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. (Blogger does not allow underlining!)

Here is a precious capture, and there were some great examples of better sentences, but not examples of his sentence.


When Jr.’s sister dies it makes it harder much on him because he has lost yet another family member and that can be really hard on a child.

When Jr.’s dad does not pick him up from school he has to walk the 22 miles to his house or when he has to go to school.

This is a very mysterious kid - not diagnosed with ADD - yet - but a 6th grader who still makes these kinds of mistakes in his 4th draft.

Grammarly vs. Microsoft® Word

Example mistakes caught only by Grammarly

Contextual Spelling
The philosopher did not speak allowed often.

Presenting your ideas effectively improves communication.

Be careful for the ice, the steps are slippery!

"Let's go outside" said the boy.

Do you want more or less apples?

It is music to my own ears and eyes, but I am sure some kids might just feel daunted by the tool, like I feel looking at this: