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For those in elementary school, do your teachers actually grade writing assignments?

ciscogizmo1

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The reason I ask is my dd is not particularly a strong writer and never has been. However, she is in the 6th grade and she is yet to have teacher that actually corrects her writing assignments. Usually, they write something on the top like AWESOME.. GREAT JOB... I'll read the paper find all kinds of grammer errrors, etc... As parent, I don't know what to do besides getting a tutor. Our school definitely focuses on Math and my dd is actually very advance for Math. However, the writing just bothers me. Would you send the papers back and ask for more comments? I really hate to micro-manage a teacher's job but I don't feel like the writing assignments are doing anything to help her improve. Are teachers afraid of negative feedback or what? I also feel like I'm missing something here that I don't understand what the teacher is going through. Any thoughts?
 

Liz Wolf-Spada

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I personally do correct writing assignments (5th grade), but with 38 kids in my language arts class (at or close to being at grade level), it takes a really long time and I don't assign writing that often. Sometimes I assign writing just for practice, more often for a grade. Sometimes we teach a formal writing program with modeling and practice and a final 5 paragraph essay form. I would make an appt. to speak with the teacher and find out what her purpose is in the writing assignment. Maybe she is addressing the issues like grammar and punctuation in other ways. I know I am, but I can't really see how to grade something until I've actually corrected it, so that may be just me.
Liz
 

ciscogizmo1

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I personally do correct writing assignments (5th grade), but with 38 kids in my language arts class (at or close to being at grade level), it takes a really long time and I don't assign writing that often. Sometimes I assign writing just for practice, more often for a grade. Sometimes we teach a formal writing program with modeling and practice and a final 5 paragraph essay form. I would make an appt. to speak with the teacher and find out what her purpose is in the writing assignment. Maybe she is addressing the issues like grammar and punctuation in other ways. I know I am, but I can't really see how to grade something until I've actually corrected it, so that may be just me.
Liz
Thanks for the feedback.. Wow... 38 kids... Our max is 34 kids.

We come from a very parent oriented community. I'd say on average a teacher could have one volunteer a day working in their classroom if they wanted to. Most of the lower grades take advantage of parents. So, there is someone doing copying, grading math type tests or spelling, recording reading minutes, etc.. So, I feel our teachers are very fortunate to have the extra help. One parent on the board suggested that they give more homework like Math and spend more time on writing in class. Our school also has a no homework policy so, very little homework is given. We usually only have reading, math and spelling. Very rarely we have writing assignments as homework.

While, I realize writing takes a long time to grade and teach then, why aren't other things cut out like learning to type? My dd's teacher spends about 1 hour and 15 minutes a day on Math. And, then, she spends 1 hour and 15 minutes on Language Arts. I feel Language Arts involves a lot more instruction than Math as you need to teach reading, writing, grammer, etc... I don't think it is as straight forward as Math. Maybe I'm just not really understanding the process.

And, please don't take any of this as my "dissing" on teachers, I'm not. I'm just trying to understand where the breakdown is.
 

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I'm not an elementary school teacher, but a few thoughts on the issue:

A lot of people avoid writing because of fear of getting everything right - in many cases the point of an assignment is to just WRITE - get the ideas on paper. The technical (and other) aspects can be improved later. That might be what's going on here.

This could also be like journal writing - again, the point is to get the child to think about and react to the topic, and requirements for spelling, grammar, etc might be seen as standing in the way of getting the child to compose.

Our elementary school used something called FOCUS, which I believe stood for Focus, Organization, Content, Usage, and ..... In any given assignment, there would be 1 or 2 specific requirements for each of those five areas - e.g. use topic sentences and have at least three paragraphs, or punctuation and capitals. I don't know how well that worked or if they still do it.....
 

Patri

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A lot of people avoid writing because of fear of getting everything right - in many cases the point of an assignment is to just WRITE - get the ideas on paper. The technical (and other) aspects can be improved later. That might be what's going on here.
That could be, but unfortunately, the later often never comes. Schools should teach proper grammar every year and in every class. In science, for instance, maybe don't lower a grade for poor sentence structure, but still point it out. Same with spelling. And sorry, but every college-educated teacher should know basic language arts skills, no matter the subject taught. Some of this stuff was never corrected in my own kids' high school classes.
All of this is not OP's particular concern, but consistency throughout makes for a better education for our children.
 
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I teach 5th grade in Arkansas. I am in a self contained class of around 28. I teach the writing process and grade each aspect. The prewriting, rough draft, revisions, editing and final copy. The final product is graded based on the rubric the state uses for state testing. I look at the content, style, sentence formation, word usage, and mechanics. When we do a piece we spend 1 to 2 weeks per piece and will write 2-3 pieces each grading period. I really work on trying to get the children to stay on topic, explain(elaborate), and increase the vocabulary they use.

I spend about 1 hour a day on reading, 1 hour on writing, and about 1 hr. 15 min. on math. I feel we slip in the areas of science and social studies. There is only so many hours in the day.
 

pjrose

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A lot of people avoid writing because of fear of getting everything right - in many cases the point of an assignment is to just WRITE - get the ideas on paper. The technical (and other) aspects can be improved later. That might be what's going on here.
QUOTE]

That could be, but unfortunately, the later often never comes. Schools should teach proper grammar every year and in every class. In science, for instance, maybe don't lower a grade for poor sentence structure, but still point it out. Same with spelling. And sorry, but every college-educated teacher should know basic language arts skills, no matter the subject taught. Some of this stuff was never corrected in my own kids' high school classes.
All of this is not OP's particular concern, but consistency throughout makes for a better education for our children.
I agree. I used to teach Statistics and Research Methods classes. The major research paper, essentially a Junior or Senior Thesis, is developed over the course of many revised assignments. Sometimes students grip, saying "it isn't an English course," but as long as the paper is to be written in the English language, I expect students to use the language correctly! For the first few assignments, just getting down the ideas is fine. The final paper, however, must be correctly written.

I'm all in favor of teaching revision - not just spell-checking, but revision including developing ideas, logical organization, supporting examples and details, citations, etc. It'd be great if the beginning-of-the-term assignment to introduce yourself or write about summer vacation was revisited throughout the year to teach organization, sentence structure, and, yes, spelling, capitalization, and punctuation.
 
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I teach English (and other subjects) in a self-contained classroom at the high school level. We do daily ungraded journal writing about the novel we are reading in class and a 5 paragraph essay - graded, every 5 chapters. The purpose of the journal writing is to get kids to read, think, and write every day - I mainly look for comprehension and analysis in the journal writings. I also do Daily Oral Language and Writing Mechanics.
 
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gretel

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My sons are in 4th and 5th grades in a small Catholic school. They often get writing assignments that are red-inked all over for revision.

Some teachers have a more holistic approach and don't want to discourage creativity. Others are more grammar and structure-oriented and want to ensure they learn mechanics. Some do both (those are the best in my opinion). If the lack of editing isn't based on a philosophy, then it is laziness.
 

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Looking back on my education starting back in the late 50's, I have to say I think I got more from reading than I really did from my teachers of English classes. I was reading at the age of 3 and my mother really encouraged me to read, most anything. She felt it was better for me to be reading the newspaper, a sports book or a Nancy Drew novel, than watching TV. So basically anything I found in the library, that was age appropriate, was OK. It didn't have to be something from a great novel list. I still read a lot today, although most of it is now on the computer. Somehow, just by reading proper written english in a book, you seem to just naturally absorb what is correct. Osmosis I guess.
 

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Looking back on my education starting back in the late 50's, I have to say I think I got more from reading than I really did from my teachers of English classes. I was reading at the age of 3 and my mother really encouraged me to read, most anything. She felt it was better for me to be reading the newspaper, a sports book or a Nancy Drew novel, than watching TV. So basically anything I found in the library, that was age appropriate, was OK. It didn't have to be something from a great novel list. I still read a lot today, although most of it is now on the computer. Somehow, just by reading proper written english in a book, you seem to just naturally absorb what is correct. Osmosis I guess.
Same with me - I have always read anything I could get my hands on. And since I had older teenage sisters I am sure it was not actually even age appropriate!! I read Gone With the Wind in 2nd grade. It seems to have always helped with spelling also - I am the unofficial "speller" at work. My supervisor calls my into his office whenever he has a really important email to send - so I can type it and it looks like it comes from him. This is NOT part of my job in any way - but since it breaks up the day I don't mind. It is not uncommon me to receive 3 - 4 phone calls a day just asking me to spell something. Again - NOT part of my job.

I do think that writing anything is helpful, whether they are grading the grammar at this point or not. I will have to check my 5th grade niece and nephew to see what their assignments look like. I remember when my own daughters were younger getting some of those writing assignments with the red marks all over them :)
 

pjrose

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Looking back on my education starting back in the late 50's, I have to say I think I got more from reading than I really did from my teachers of English classes. I was reading at the age of 3 and my mother really encouraged me to read, most anything. She felt it was better for me to be reading the newspaper, a sports book or a Nancy Drew novel, than watching TV. So basically anything I found in the library, that was age appropriate, was OK. It didn't have to be something from a great novel list. I still read a lot today, although most of it is now on the computer. Somehow, just by reading proper written english in a book, you seem to just naturally absorb what is correct. Osmosis I guess.
Absolutely. Seeing what the words look like would prevent writing "sight of facts" instead of "side effects" (and yes, that example is true :eek: ).
 

Liz Wolf-Spada

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This is really interesting. I enjoy hearing what others think and especially what other teachers are doing. We spend one hour and 45 minutes per day on math and an hour and a half on language arts (including Accelerated Reader time of 20 minutes). That doesn't really leave adequate time within the language arts period for writing, but as we switch kids around to ability group for language arts, that's where we try to do our writing. Last year I tried to do 3 weeks of reading, grammar etc. and then a week of writing instruction. My kids need more writing time, but I can't spend 4-5 hours of time correcting writing each week along with all the other correcting I do at home.(Plus that one writing assignment took two full language arts periods.)
I'm also thinking from what I saw in their first assigned 3 paragraph essay, that they need more focused work on just one paragraph, knowing they are to be looking for and self-correcting for complete sentences, grammar, tense and spelling. Maybe if we do some paragraph work together and then do a paragraph every other day they could really focus on the skills some of them are missing. When they are expected to write a really long 5 paragraph essay, I think they tend to rush and not notice their own errors.
Liz
 

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Sometimes in the lower grades the focus can be on finding you writer's voice. If the focus correction areas are being used the kids should have some sort of rubric or something. I would ask the teacher what the goals are for each assignment and how they are assessed and I would certainly explain my concerns. The problem can be that with all the time it takes to assess writing some teachers are not having kids write enough or they cannot spend the time assessing it. I teach high school English. With the increase in class sizes we are finding some content going by the boards with all the correcting and so on. Also, larger class sizes translate into shorter conferences...and, in order to progress with the writing assignment I have to turn the papers around in one day so we can move on. It gets really tough. I don't think it is possible to assess any piece of writing until you know what the assignment was and the goal for the piece. Definitely ask.
 

pjrose

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I was impressed with an organization technique one of my kids learned in middle school; I have since used it with college students! The original assignment was to write about XXX using three main points, and for each of the main points there were to be three examples. Everything having to do with point 1 was written in blue, point 2 in green, point 3 in red. The introductory paragraph needed to introduce each of the three points, and the concluding paragraph needed to sum up each point. In the body, all the material for each particular point needed to be together. It was so easy to organize the papers: 1st paragraph: blue, green, red. Body: blue examples, green examples, red examples. Conclusion: blue, green red.

Not long after, I was helping one of my college students papers with a terribly disorganized paper. I grabbed some highlighters and started marking her examples and discussion in yellow, pink, green, and aqua, then simply told her to put all the yellows together, all the pinks together, and so forth.

I've used this quite a bit since, and suspect the technique could be adapted for just about any level of writing.
 

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Several years ago I spent about $45 for markers and I have a big bagful. Even in high school the kids love the "hands on" approach and they love the markers. I use them with every peer editing session and it creates a great visual from which the kids can work.
 

mssuzan

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Anyone who can ask "do teachers really grade reading assignments' has no idea of the hours and hours spent after school grading and preparing lessons. To all those elementary teachers - thank you for all that you do in the classroom and outside the classroom on your own time and with your own money.
 

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You can do it!

Why do you need a tutor? Do it yourself!

Why don't you correct her writing assignments while you're waiting to talk to the teacher? Help her out - not as a teacher but as a parent who wants his/her child to be able to master something (or at least get better at it).

Don't go overboard but you can point out some things that will make her writing 'better'. She'll appreciate that you took an interest in what she's doing. My 14 year old is writing a book and is excited to share chapters with me - and I'm liking it too. She loves to read books and wanted to write one herself. Her spelling is atrocious. Her grammar is 'so-so' but she weaves a great story. After she's given me a chapter and I read it, I tell her what I liked about it. I also ask pointed questions about the story ('how come Ashley didn't say anything?' for instance). And then I'll tell her I saw some spelling errors that she'll want to correct. 'And check that first sentence in the second paragraph - it looks way too long to me.' I give her pointers about how she should write dialogue (use of quotes, periods, etc.). I try not to point out EVERY little mistake. Hopefully while she's fixing things she'll see it on her own. That gives her a reason to make it better - and makes her think. If she's not sure what I'm talking about she asks - and I tell her how I might do it.

There will be time for your child to learn the mechanics of writing as she gets older. You don't want her to 'hate' writing because she's dreading all the red marks.

Not everyone is good at everything. How boring that would be!

The reason I ask is my dd is not particularly a strong writer and never has been. However, she is in the 6th grade and she is yet to have teacher that actually corrects her writing assignments. Usually, they write something on the top like AWESOME.. GREAT JOB... I'll read the paper find all kinds of grammer errrors, etc... As parent, I don't know what to do besides getting a tutor. Our school definitely focuses on Math and my dd is actually very advance for Math. However, the writing just bothers me. Would you send the papers back and ask for more comments? I really hate to micro-manage a teacher's job but I don't feel like the writing assignments are doing anything to help her improve. Are teachers afraid of negative feedback or what? I also feel like I'm missing something here that I don't understand what the teacher is going through. Any thoughts?
 

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Looking back on my education starting back in the late 50's, I have to say I think I got more from reading than I really did from my teachers of English classes. I was reading at the age of 3 and my mother really encouraged me to read, most anything. She felt it was better for me to be reading the newspaper, a sports book or a Nancy Drew novel, than watching TV. So basically anything I found in the library, that was age appropriate, was OK. It didn't have to be something from a great novel list. I still read a lot today, although most of it is now on the computer. Somehow, just by reading proper written english in a book, you seem to just naturally absorb what is correct. Osmosis I guess.
This is EXACTLY what my son's HS English teacher told me. He chose an AP class and I cringe every time he writes. She says he writes fine. I think it's awful. He is very articulate when speaking but writing...what's in his head doesn't filter down to the paper. No Way. No how. He gets all his information in snipets and soundbites. No reading, unless forced or the sports page and even then...I doubt he reads the whole story. Such is the way of today. Yet-he pulls fine grades on his writing. I see some red ink...but it wains toward the end. I think once the teacher realizes he has the "jest" of the assignment-some of the criticalness disappears.

My DD on the other hand-younger-is a voracious reader and her writing can blow his away at 12 years old. It makes a LOT of sense.

Back to the original post-my daughter recently completed a very humorous writing assignment for SS class and she actually wrote on the top of the paper asking her teacher to read it because it was funny. Even at 12-she realized that they don't always read them-just give credit for completing it.

I'm not a teacher-but I am an Inst. Asst./Paraeducator and I have the utmost respect and admiration for what all teachers go through on a daily basis.
 
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