Wednesday, February 28, 2007

September 16, 2000 - Errors/ grading

If your child can type onto a computer screen, he won't have to rewrite or even "erase" anything (smile)! (One of my goals will definitely be accomplished if I get all of you parents to teach your kids to type.) I always think it is better to write in pencil so a child won't have the frustration of having to rewrite things. I have seen differing opinions on this - some want the child to use ink so that they will get in the habit of slashing through words on a rough copy, making arrows, and making the usual editing marks on their own work. This is so the child isn't trying to always erase and "make the rough copy his final copy." I see the value of this, but I think it is easier to just use pencil - even for the final copy. Have you ever had to write something out and got to the very end and made a mistake? Who wants to write the whole thing over again? And, furthermore, what would be the point of that? If it is neat and carefully done, why shouldn't your child be able to use pencil for his final copy?

If you are talking about spelling errors or easily replaced words such as "were" for "was," I would NEVER suggest rewriting the sentence until you are ready for the FINAL copy to be written out neatly. However, in the writing process, sentences will often need major revisions for improvement and that means either erasing or rewriting - my feeling is to choose the less painful method for the child. Before Ryan could type well, I had him double space all of his writing in pencil, so that he had room to insert and edit on the original rough copy. Then he only had to rewrite the final copy once. He is left-handed and has never been a guy that liked the process of handwriting (even though his writing is neat). It was always cumbersome to him and took a long time, so where I could, I tried to let him answer orally. I figured - what was the point of frustrating him further - if the task at hand did not REQUIRE the process of writing?

Regarding grading papers - I really feel that the grade should be based on the final project. If you compared it to a school project - ideally, a child would do an assignment at home, and the parent would look over it - pointing out errors to be corrected. At that point, the assignment would be corrected and/or rewritten - then turned in to the teacher for grading the next day. That's what we used to do when Ryan was in school. I don't think that is an unrealistic expectation, especially if your children are correcting their own errors along the way. Grades should be based on the learning that has taken place in the end - right? The purpose of an assignment is to get practice in achieving a particular skill or goal. If, in writing a paper, a child has achieved that goal, and has learned that skill, why do we need to bring up all the errors that they made in the process? Here's another thought - what if the child had a horrible start and DID make tons of errors on the rough copy - but had a good attitude and was willing to make changes for the better - and then turned out a REALLY GREAT paper! Should their grade be lowered because of what they wrote the first time out? I don't think so. I mean, all of you ladies would probably not have been very happy with my rough draft of A World of Adventure - and I am glad that I don't have to be "graded" on it! But the final copy is a culmination of my efforts and something I am happy to share with others. That's how it should be with our children's work too.

If you feel that this is too lenient, you can grade on the original work. For writing, it is a LOT about the process - their attitude toward it, and their willingness to be open-minded to improvement. That is why I feel grading should be based on the final piece of work - not on all the errors they made in getting there. For math, or more "objective" subjects, a stricter guideline may apply. Teachers often take grades from half of the daily lessons, for example, but include all quiz and test scores (again, the "final" product) in the grading process.

Great idea on the Alpha-Phonics list - and I am pleased to see that your plan is to only add a few other words in order to reinforce - not to overwhelm. You get it.


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