Unschooling and writing--how does it happen? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 25 Old 11-09-2011, 05:45 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I need some advice and support, especially from anyone who has "been there done that."  I have 10 and 8 yo boys and I am not seeing any writing from either one.  I would like to see some thoughtfulness and organizational skills in writing and they act like I'm torturing them if I ask them to write about a favorite book.

My 10 yo's spelling is quite terrible, too, to the extent that I'm embarrassed both for him and for me when others see it.

How can I encourage writing?  Maybe they need something step-by-step to lead them through the process?  Or will it just come with time?  I feel like by 10, at least, he should be able to write a paragraph with a topic sentence about something he cares about.  And more than that, I feel like they're missing out on a wonderful way to express themselves.

 

Thanks in advance,

Debbie

 


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#2 of 25 Old 11-09-2011, 07:20 AM
 
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My kids really don't write for fun in paragraph form.  They seem to enjoy making comics more, or Christmas lists or letters to grandma (or friends).  Writing is kind of hard on the hands so if their muscles aren't used to it, it can be uncomfortable.  I try to sneak in writing by asking them to help make grocery lists or Christmas lists etc.  We also draw and use playdoh a lot, so that helps strengthen those fine motor muscles.  I know for me, I use the computer way more than pencil to paper.  I can't believe how messy my own handwriting has got since I've started using the computer more.  Its quite embarrassing.


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#3 of 25 Old 11-09-2011, 08:29 AM
 
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Just yesterday I ran into the writing teacher at the local high school after my 15yo ds had completed his evaluation session for their his high school creative writing portfolio. "Your son is an amazing writer!" she said. "Wow!"

 

The thing is, when my ds is age 10 I could have written your post. (Except that for whatever reason he was born a pretty good speller.) But he didn't write. I wrote this article for Lillian's website at about that time. I trusted that he was learning to write, even though he wasn't actually churning out paragraphs.

 

Four and a half years later I can say unabashedly that it all worked out as I expected. I couldn't have envisioned the path, but I knew there would be one. 

 

Ds started coding on the computer. He learned to type. He gradually became really fast. He started visiting user group communities on-line and participating in discussions, requesting help troubleshooting problems. He wanted to be taken seriously by the other participants (mostly older teens and adults) so he began to take care with his grammar, spelling and punctuation. He built a fan website and began reviewing computer games. He gathered regular readers from across the internet. He started blogging. 

 

And this fall when he decided to start part-time high school after a lifetime of unschooling, the plan was to take the core courses required for graduation and that was it. His electives would be made up of the music stuff he loves to do. But a week into school the English teacher pulled him aside and asked him to join her Creative Writing course. He would never in a million years have thought of himself as "a writer" (that had been his big sister's passion, something he'd never touched) but he was flattered and he had some friends in the course so he decided to try it. And he discovered that he was already a fantastic writer. He has pulled posts he wrote on his blog to include in his portfolio. He can churn out quirky, compelling prose or poetry in a few minutes. His blog is followed by a good portion of the high school, and the social studies teacher often uses his blog posts as the op-ed articles he reads to the class to stimulate discussion about current events. 

 

I should confess that my son never did really get the mechanics of pen and paper writing to a necessary level of ease. He's been designated as having dysgraphia and uses a computer at school and home. It works great for him. He can write a sentence or two with a pen when needed, but for the rest he uses technology. 

 

Anyway, I stand by what I wrote in that article back in the spring of 2007. Reading and exposure to literature and well-reasoned discussion will teach your child the critical thinking, linguistic and logic skills necessary to put thoughts in an orderly fashion. That's the most important part of learning to write and it happens all the time, without any output. The mechanics of writing (whether via keyboarding or pen or both) can be learned whenever your child is motivated. And other than that it's really a question of your child finding meaningful opportunities to write. You can strew possibilities, but the meaningfulness is something that your child has to find.

 

Hope that helps!

 

Miranda

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#4 of 25 Old 11-09-2011, 12:27 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by moominmamma View Post

Just yesterday I ran into the writing teacher at the local high school after my 15yo ds had completed his evaluation session for their his high school creative writing portfolio. "Your son is an amazing writer!" she said. "Wow!"

 

The thing is, when my ds is age 10 I could have written your post. (Except that for whatever reason he was born a pretty good speller.) But he didn't write. I wrote this article for Lillian's website at about that time. I trusted that he was learning to write, even though he wasn't actually churning out paragraphs.

 

Four and a half years later I can say unabashedly that it all worked out as I expected. I couldn't have envisioned the path, but I knew there would be one. 

 

Ds started coding on the computer. He learned to type. He gradually became really fast. He started visiting user group communities on-line and participating in discussions, requesting help troubleshooting problems. He wanted to be taken seriously by the other participants (mostly older teens and adults) so he began to take care with his grammar, spelling and punctuation. He built a fan website and began reviewing computer games. He gathered regular readers from across the internet. He started blogging. 

 

And this fall when he decided to start part-time high school after a lifetime of unschooling, the plan was to take the core courses required for graduation and that was it. His electives would be made up of the music stuff he loves to do. But a week into school the English teacher pulled him aside and asked him to join her Creative Writing course. He would never in a million years have thought of himself as "a writer" (that had been his big sister's passion, something he'd never touched) but he was flattered and he had some friends in the course so he decided to try it. And he discovered that he was already a fantastic writer. He has pulled posts he wrote on his blog to include in his portfolio. He can churn out quirky, compelling prose or poetry in a few minutes. His blog is followed by a good portion of the high school, and the social studies teacher often uses his blog posts as the op-ed articles he reads to the class to stimulate discussion about current events. 

 

I should confess that my son never did really get the mechanics of pen and paper writing to a necessary level of ease. He's been designated as having dysgraphia and uses a computer at school and home. It works great for him. He can write a sentence or two with a pen when needed, but for the rest he uses technology. 

 

Anyway, I stand by what I wrote in that article back in the spring of 2007. Reading and exposure to literature and well-reasoned discussion will teach your child the critical thinking, linguistic and logic skills necessary to put thoughts in an orderly fashion. That's the most important part of learning to write and it happens all the time, without any output. The mechanics of writing (whether via keyboarding or pen or both) can be learned whenever your child is motivated. And other than that it's really a question of your child finding meaningful opportunities to write. You can strew possibilities, but the meaningfulness is something that your child has to find.

 

Hope that helps!

 

Miranda

Thank you, Miranda, for this very encouraging post.  My ds is now 10 and writing is where he lags behind.  I often wonder if all the time I have spent reading to him will ever make any difference.  Sometimes I wonder if I am just wasting my time and his time reading literature, when he should be working on developing some "skills", such as writing, etc.  He does have an amazing imagination and an advanced vocabulary, but is lacking in the skills that would make him a good "school" student.  Since he doesn't go to school, I guess that doesn't matter.

 

I remember my dd's (now 12 & 13)  lagging behind in writing up until age 10 or so.  Now both girls are writing wonderfully, and my 12yo who went to public school for the first time this year is getting all A's in language arts, even though she was "behind" in the early years.  

 

I don't think it's natural for many kids to be able to write at a young age.  I know it can be forced and they can learn it, but it's not natural.
 

 

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#5 of 25 Old 11-09-2011, 03:01 PM
 
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Just to reinforce Miranda's post, my nearly 11 year old went from hardly writing anything to churning out writing of a quality that astonishes me.  We have never formally taught grammar (beyond MadLibs) or spelling, but her knowledge of mechanics is exceptional (testing in the 99th percentile of an above level test) and her spelling is nearly flawless.  How she got here is lots and lots of reading, mainly books I chose for her (at her request).  She also prefers to type, but can write by hand (slowly) when its required.  

 

I have outsourced writing instruction recently-- she's taking a class in creative writing now.  For whatever reason, she prefers to write for someone who is not her mother.  So, she's writing and we're not fighting about it-- win/win.  But mainly the class has convinced me that I didn't need to worry too much about skills practice, because the quality of her writing was excellent immediately.

 

For essay writing, I tend to believe the classical idea that the ability of kids to write good analytical papers is a developmental thing, and most kids need to be @12 before they are ready to do it.  So I'm not stressing about learning to write essays at this point.  I believe it will come easily later.

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#6 of 25 Old 11-10-2011, 07:16 AM
 
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My girls are a bit young to give me enough direct experience in this matter, but I do notice that their writing (at this point just little signs for the cat food etc.) lags far, far behind their reading, comprehension and speaking skills.  Creative writing is far into our future, but we do make up stories to tell each other-- simple stories about our personal monsters and the "midnight library" that they go to at night and their dream farms.  Not exactly "stories" in the literary sense, but they are young yet.  

 

So, I think that a combination of shared reading, their own reading, fun with verbal stories will help them form a good base for writing in the future.  In this digital age, I try to find ways to write some myself-- not so great on that front-- but I think, why would they write if they don't see us write, or another adult?   (Well, some kids want to do it anyway....)  I used to write a gardening column for our little local paper, but Life got in the way of that, so they don't see me write much anymore.


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#7 of 25 Old 11-10-2011, 11:22 AM
 
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As for spelling, do what my mom did. She wouldn't help me, I had to look it up every time in the dictionary. I got tired of getting out the huge book, I started to memorize the ones that always gave me trouble!

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#8 of 25 Old 11-11-2011, 06:37 AM
 
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My ds is 10, too.  He hardly writes but I can see that he is progressing in that ever so slowly way it does before he gets something mastered and will start actually demonstrating the skill (I'm thinking a couple more years, at least).  He'll write messages to other online players in games.  He is evolving from typing in a very text-speak sort of way to filling in more of the letters of the words.  For longer writing, I'll take dictation.  Then I'll read it back and we'll talk about whether any sentences are redundant or should be reordered.  I feel he is developing everything he needs to know to become a good writer very nicely despite the fact that he barely writes anything.  His grammar is very good because he is exposed to good grammar from our speech and read-aloud books.  His punctuation is reasonable.  He is building up his spelling knowledge.  He cares about whether he is spelling things right.  I sometimes wish he'd care less because then he'd be willing to try more.  It's all working out just the way learning to read did.  It just isn't happening at the same pace as schooled peers but that's one of the reasons we unschool.  His learning looks like "shuffle shuffle shuffle shuffle shuffle shuffle shuffle [2 years later] HUGE LEAP."  All that shuffling along when he seems to be learning at a snail's pace is just him absorbing everything he needs to know for that leap. 


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#9 of 25 Old 11-16-2011, 06:05 AM
 
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I definitely think 8, and probably 10, is young to expect unschoolers to be writing a lot. My 7yo (he'll be 8 in January) just recently started writing little bits here and there. It's not much at all. We have a few books where you fill in the story and he has a Dr. Suess My Book About Me (or whatever it's called). He has filled in some of the stuff in those books but none of them are done. I tried to encourage writing over the summer by setting him up as a penpal with his grandfather but that didn't last long. So, I say try to relax about it and wait for it to come. One thing that might move things along is typing on the computer rather than hand writing. I am really beginning to think handwriting other than maybe short notes to ourselves is going to be obsolete soon. Typing and word processing is much more useful.

FWIW, my oldest, who is 20yo now, went to public school until half way through the 7th grade, was homeschooled for a year, attended public school again for the 9th grade and then dropped out. He got his GED at 18. Even with all the schooling he got, he didn't start writing legibly until he was 19 or 20. So, writing later than is expected in school or even not really writing at all isn't an unschooling fail. I hope that makes sense.

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#10 of 25 Old 11-17-2011, 11:01 AM
 
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I definitely agree that it's not until later that they develop the skills to formulate their thoughts in a critical and logical manner and this is just one of the many reasons I unschool (I have my own definition of that I guess.... I know a lot of people consider it child led learning for me it really is UNschool) because I do feel that the classroom instruction attempting to teach writing skills at this age actually does more harm than good.  I think learning to be a good writer at this stage is all about exploring creativity and wonder and having dialogues with others, listening to and reading stories and discussing things of interest.  I believe being a great writer requires passion, so I'm always striving to encourage that in my children's lives... almost anyone can learn to be a good writer at any age with some tricks and formulas so if they get to be 18 and still aren't writing prolifically I'm not worried about it, in a couple of weeks they can learn those skills, however you can't learn passion, but you can kill it and that's the only explanation I have for why so many college students that have spent a dozen years taking english courses still can't write a sensical paper.   Fwiw, my 16yo has never had any writing instruction and tested at the highest level for the college writing entrance exams (last year) and so far has gotten all As on her papers as well as lots of positive comments and even a request to join a creative writing group with other adults and writers.  I should say she is a terrible speller (I may be exaggerating especially since she's managed to pass writing exams without a spell checker and no errors), I'm not sure why, her sister is a phenomenal speller.  I suppose it could be argued that if I had drilled her on spelling for years she would be better at it, but I have noticed she doesn't tend to hear the parts of words in the same manner as my other children so I'm more inclined to think it would've just been at the cost of other skills and time spent together (and, heck, I used to be an excellent speller myself until more recently I've started catching myself having to double check my spelling, so I'm just not personally worried about it).  Taking Latin, German, and Greek I think has also helped with her spelling... I suspect it goes back to hearing the sounds and gaining more skill there (just like forced writing, especially at a young age, and so many other academics, I don't feel actually improves the skills needed, I believe that the best method towards becoming a better speller isn't that direct). 

 

I was going to say some more but then I just now read that article of Miranda's she linked to here, and, wow, yeah, that, exactly, what she said (wrote).

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#11 of 25 Old 11-19-2011, 02:37 AM
 
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The other day for some reason we took our little chalkboard off the wall and put it on the bed.  Suddenly my dd (age 8) started writing up a storm  She too avoids writing.  She commented as she wrote that it is so much easier to erase when writing with chalk.  I think that writing on paper may come with more "fear of mistakes" when compared to writing on a chalkboard.

 

Ever eager to encourage writing (and no doubt I need to relax on this front) I think I am going to have to find a place to keep the chalkboard on the floor or on a low table where she can get to it  more easily and more casually.

 

 


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#12 of 25 Old 11-19-2011, 04:39 AM
 
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My 4yo recently pulled out some chalk and I had to go hunting for a chalkboard so he wouldn't draw on the walls. I decided I needed to get a couple bigger chalk boards for both kids to write on. I bought some chalkboard paint a while ago that I wanted to put on the wall in my then 17yo's room but we never got around to it. I'm thinking now that it would be cool to paint the kids' table top with it. I also wanted to paint one section of the playroom wall with it and put some sort of border around it but my dh was opposed.

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#13 of 25 Old 11-19-2011, 06:01 AM
 
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I'm going to have to say Miranda is spot on.  DD1 was so interesting in a game on line and she wanted so badly to be able to play and interact that she forced herself to learn.  Her spelling is ridiculous and that fact that she knows what all those "big" words mean is pretty amazing.  We didnt' help her though, she did it on her own.  DH told her that if she wanted to play and interact that she would have to do it on her own.  We of course watched over her shoulder but she would pull up an online dictionary and write away.  When she got her own email she would write these long detailed emails to her aunts or her grandmothers without any proding from us. 

 

Currently she's into sending letters and post cards.  She's 8.  This all happened last year when we unschooled.  She went back to school this year and was immediately placed in a higher language group.   All that matters is that she found a reason to want to write on her own.  I think that's pretty important is that they have something that helps them develop that skill in a way that's interesting to them. 

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#14 of 25 Old 11-19-2011, 06:15 AM
 
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My son went straight to typing; he too was a terrible speller until he found a message board he liked around age 9 or 10-- gradually his spelling improved.  He used spellcheck a lot at first but has vastly improved since those days.  I think the spellcheck taught him, since it automatically points out mistakes.

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#15 of 25 Old 11-23-2011, 05:14 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rumi View Post

The other day for some reason we took our little chalkboard off the wall and put it on the bed.  Suddenly my dd (age 8) started writing up a storm  She too avoids writing.  She commented as she wrote that it is so much easier to erase when writing with chalk.  I think that writing on paper may come with more "fear of mistakes" when compared to writing on a chalkboard.

 

Ever eager to encourage writing (and no doubt I need to relax on this front) I think I am going to have to find a place to keep the chalkboard on the floor or on a low table where she can get to it  more easily and more casually.

 

 

Yes, my daughter has made it quite clear that her perfectionist tendencies make her reluctant to write on paper. She gets frustrated that even the lightest pencil is impossible to rub out "properly". She tells menshe would much rather use a whiteboard marker because it is so easy to rub out. We have a large chest freezer in the house we have designated as a whiteboard and just today she wrote a story about a dog on the lid.

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#16 of 25 Old 11-23-2011, 10:06 AM
 
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Quote:
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Yes, my daughter has made it quite clear that her perfectionist tendencies make her reluctant to write on paper. She gets frustrated that even the lightest pencil is impossible to rub out "properly". She tells menshe would much rather use a whiteboard marker because it is so easy to rub out. We have a large chest freezer in the house we have designated as a whiteboard and just today she wrote a story about a dog on the lid.


I love this idea!


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#17 of 25 Old 11-23-2011, 12:17 PM
 
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I also love this idea and will do the same at home.

 

My son Alex (5) tries sometimes to write on paper or on his whiteboard, he likes to write his name, some words he knows, but sometimes he wrote just letters and ask us to read it, then I explain him that letters must be "ordered", I show him how to copy words from the books... I don't want to be strict with him...

 

How do you act with your kids when/if they do the same?

 

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#18 of 25 Old 11-23-2011, 12:44 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Isabelle HSH View Post

My son Alex (5) tries sometimes to write on paper or on his whiteboard, he likes to write his name, some words he knows, but sometimes he wrote just letters and ask us to read it, then I explain him that letters must be "ordered", I show him how to copy words from the books... I don't want to be strict with him...

 

How do you act with your kids when/if they do the same?


I get in a silly mood and I sound it out, even if they write XTRSEEEFIGHER ("exterrrrsseeeeefiggHer").  It's practice even if it isn't a "real"word.  I've even heard them do it too.  It's still practice reading and writing (and child-led at that) and I'm all for it.

 


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#19 of 25 Old 11-25-2011, 12:24 AM
 
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Agree with all advice so far. And relax about the topic sentence with a certain format too. As a teacher, I promise you that it is rapidly falling from grace, because it never equipped anyone to write in the real world anyway. Not for business, not for personal life, not for ANY reason! It truly is just for academic exams...and the assessment of those is changing rapidly.

 

Real writing automatically includes relevant information, and it doesn't follow just one format.

 

Message boards (whether for chat, game talk, book talk, sports talk—whatever!) are miraculous for getting children writing naturally out of personal desire...and that is the reason they develop good writers! If the child has lots of book and story experience, it tends to be pretty natural to being one day, when comfortable and the desire is there, to learn the niceties. And it will almost NEVER include a topic sentence with 3 supporting details. ;) 

 

i teach struggling readers, and a few parents won't let me encourage their kids to write online. Those kids never learn as quickly as the ones who are allowed to be themselves and write as themselves. I don't criticize the parents, for it's not my place, but I do wonder why lessons on Skype are OK, but actual, real-life writing among a group of peers via the keyboard is NOT OK. ?? Ah well. To each his own.

 

I applaud you all who've written in support, and agree. A child with something to say will find a way to get it down on paper or on screen eventually. Just keep building that literate base, and I predict all will be well. (Or on freezer or chalkboard or...anything!)

 

Kids are ready to read at different ages. The same is true of writing. Before they're ready, you'll only get trite nothings anyway. But when they want to??? 

 

Whoa! Enoy! :)

 


Paula,

who is far too chatty tonight! ;)

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#20 of 25 Old 11-25-2011, 05:45 PM
 
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I do think that boys seem to lag behind girls when it comes to writing. My daughter began writing an at early age so she could add words to illustrations. Sometimes she writes stories, or lists, etc. DS on the other hand showed no interest in writing and still doesn't except when it is useful and practical. For example, the other day he was watching a YouTube video about a game he likes to play and they were listing some cheat codes. He came running out to me for a pen and paper - not something I'm used to hearing from him! And off he went. His writing is horrible but he has fine motor delays due to his autism, however it has improved over the years despite very little actual practice with it. I'm confident he will continue to improve as he comes up with reasons to write, and that those reasons will become more frequent as he gets older. 


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#21 of 25 Old 11-25-2011, 06:53 PM
 
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I am not currently an unschooling parent, but I was unschooled a bit as a teen.  I also worked as a writing tutor throughout college and graduate school.  I actually think I am just an adequate writer, but I've been told I am an excellent facilitator.  I  feel like facilitating is something that can fit very well with unschooling.  So, I hope you won't mind me thread crashing a little bit.

 

As a writing tutor, I was mostly a listener/reader and a reflector rather than an instructor.  I listened as a student would read his or her work aloud.  Students would catch things they meant to say but didn't, or find awkward places in their writing.  (A good line by line editing technique is to read the work backwards, from bottom to top, one sentence at a time.  But we usually began at the beginning.)  Then, I might say, "This part seems clear to me, but I want to check in - did you mean, blahblhabla?," and hear back, "Yes, that's what I meant," or "No, what I meant was," or "Well, partly, but what I think I'm really trying to say is...."  I might also say, "This part I was confused by.  Can you tell me more about what you mean?" 

 

This is almost always very fruitful for the student - many times I'd see them grab a pen and begin jotting stuff down.  For some students, who are really so deep into thinking aloud, I might jot down points as they were speaking so I could read them back.  A tape recorder can be really helpful for these types of sessions as well.  I might refer students to books - either literary or technical - that I felt they might find useful.  Occasionally, I might share a piece of information that it seems like they could really use.  Sometimes, if they were asking a question but it was clear to me they didn't have the vocabulary to ask the right question, I would name for them what they were asking.  "You seem to be asking about [concept]."  Dialogue.

 

Mostly, though it's a lot of asking questions - not leading questions, but questions of discovery, because each student is different and has different ways of learning.  Asking questions is the best way for me to learn about how the student learns, and gives the student the opportunity to think out loud.

 

-I don't know how to get started.

-Well, how do you do it right now?  What do you like about that way of beginning?  What doesn't work?  What do you need to know before you can start?  What can you do on the fly?  (Obviously not a barrage of questions.  Ask one.  Then wait. )   Often the student comes up with some testable solutions - things they can try doing. Sometimes I can share what works for me or what I know has worked for other students.

 

Other questions I might ask a student: how do you know when your work is done? 

-What was your goal with this writing project?  Do you feel that you met that goal?  Why or why not? 

-What do you think is the best way to organize this piece of writing?  Why?  What information needs to come first?  Why?  Who are you writing for and what do they need to know?

-Did you tell the story or make the argument you wanted to make?  Why or why not? 

-What was difficult and what was easy? 

-Where did things go wrong, and where did they go right?  What would you do the same next time?  Different? 

 

Each piece of writing is like an experiment, and doing a debrief afterwards can go a long way to developing better skills.   For younger writers, I would probably just ask one or two.  "What do you like about what you wrote?" and "What don't you like about what you wrote?"  And, "What would you do differently?"

 

Finally, I think just plain old reading can really help develop writing - a little wood for the fire, so to speak.  I suspect it's really normal for writing to lag behind reading because reading is a great wellspring for writing to bubble up from.  The very act of reading and struggling to understand develops our ability to think in more sophisticated ways, and it makes all the different kinds of grammar, rhetoric, and organization that others use familiar to us - puts that stuff into our toolbox, so to speak.  Then, when we go to write, if we've spent a lot of time reading (or talking!), we have a better sense of what sounds right, and makes sense.  Grammar becomes a bit intuitive.

 

Re: handwriting .... taking a touch type course in high school was the best thing that ever happened to me.... :)

 

This is a guide similar to one that I was given in my tutor training, and certain parts might be helpful, despite being geared to a college environment.  I mainly think the distinction between higher and lower order concerns is useful, especially for students who need a framework to help them prioritize.

http://www.winona.edu/writingcenter/05/Guide/guide2.htm


 

 

 

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#22 of 25 Old 11-25-2011, 07:37 PM
 
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Many kids do far better with keyboarding than handwriting, and learn reading and writing much more easily using it. I have an online software program I adore and use with all my struggling readers and/or struggling writers. It's called Read, Write and Type. (disclaimer: I'm a distributor; I sell it at a much cheaper cost than its usual price at its site. If interested, contact me to save some bucks.) ;) 

 

The only reason I DO distribute it to parents is because I've used it for 15 years and never had a student who didn't benefit. It's even turned nonreaders into kids who can, all by itself, and the kids I teach love sending one another messages that they can easily type to one another in our safe online classroom. It's the ONLY product I recommend freely and openly. I'm not in sales! AT ALL. ;)

 

It's worked just as beautifully with my kids who weren't struggling too, but now that I'm stuck at home due to health, I work with the nonreaders and kids with reading or learning problems, one on one on Skype. 

 

It is good for so many learning styles because it uses audio, kinesthetic, visual, and gaming format that brings the whole process into a meaningful whole from the beginning to end.

 

It builds writing into the reading/learning process. Most kids enjoy the heck out of it. I don't require them to play it; I offer it as part of my teaching package, and they choose to use it. 

 

Just wanted to mention it. One mom above mentioned a son on the autism spectrum. Many kids with various levels of autism have greatly benefitted from it. (I give refunds if you don't like it after a week.) 

 

If anyone wants to learn more about it, let me know here. I just don't think I'm supposed to put a link here. And, if telling you about this program is against the rules, PLEASE let me know and remove this post. I'm really, really enjoying lots of areas of the forum, and don't want to be kicked out for mentioning this! Selling this isn't my business!

 

But felt I really needed to mention it, because it's such a terrific learning/teaching/reading/writing tool. Geeez, now I'm nervous about this! :/

 

Thanks, and let me know if you have any questions about it. :) 

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#23 of 25 Old 11-26-2011, 08:21 AM
 
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Several posters mentioned conversation and reading the written word aloud.  My husband is not a very good writer (creative or tactile-- we'd be in deep s**t if the fate of the world depended on his spelling "cereal").  Words just aren't his thing, though he is a great reader, especially of science fiction.  

 

(OK, my point is here somewhere in this stuffy-nosed-caffeine-deprived head of mine.  rummagerummagerummage.)  When I read what he writes aloud, it is terribly stilted and simply impossible.  He has to explain every sentence.  It just doesn't work and he can't tell what does and doesn't work because he doesn't "talk" in his head.  I talk in my head.  The books I read play like a movie.  I don't claim to be a great writer, but I do find writing easy for that reason.

 

When I was writing my gardening column (for nearly 3 years) most of my composition would be in my head.  I'm not so sure I liked that, since it is all I can do to quiet the racket up there to begin with.  Only after I tossed a sentence or paragraph around in my head for some time did it get written down.  Then reading it, rewriting it, over and over and over.  Finally, editing it for space (not because I couldn't write more but because my article might be cut up and placed all over the newsletter as space allowed.  As a control freak, I hated that.)  

 

I thought the other day how I love that my girls and I have all day to talk to each other, to me and dh.  In school their chance of conversation is necessarily diminished, but at home we can as much as we like.  We read out loud a lot, big, complicated books sometimes or snippets of the great ones.  I think that this verbal practice is a key link to creative writing in the future.  Not that it will prevent them from being more like dh because to some extent I think that is biological, same as my own habits, but I do think that it *will* make writing easier.

 

Ugh!  I hope I made sense on this dreary morning.


Give me a few minutes while I caffeinate.
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#24 of 25 Old 11-26-2011, 09:08 AM
 
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Caffeine in hand-- I meant "mechanical" not "tactile".  I had been staring at the screen *knowing* that there was a word out there in the ether that belonged to my thought, but i just couldn't grab it.

 

But that's not why I hopped on here again.  I was thinking about the editing process, and how much I learned about it while I was writing my column.  The though occurred to me that writing (apart from journaling) is very different from other art forms in that extensive editing can happen at any time.  It is as much a part of the writing process as creating the words in the first place.  (I will always remember the movie Wonder Boys-- the first scene when Michael Douglas' character rolls in a piece of paper into his typewriter, types the page number "148" or some such.  He looks down briefly to his manuscript for reference, then finishes the page number with a "5".)  My articles would end up being so different from what I originally had conceived-- better, for the most part.  Only once did I reread the printed article and notice that I didn't include something that had been important at the beginning of the process.  ("Notecards!"  I hear Mrs. Michaels chiding.  I never did notecards, and my writing process is as chaotic and inexplicable as the noise in my head.)

 

I'm just thinking of creative writing in general, not necessarily what might be useful for kids.  But I hope my ramblings help, nonetheless.


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#25 of 25 Old 11-30-2011, 11:20 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks so much everyone for all this insight.  I am very, very encouraged to hear about kids who just take off with writing when they are ready!  I will continue on and not push.  My 10yo ds was a late reader, I didn't push, and he just started reading books (Percy Jackson) when he was 9 and enjoys picking up anything and reading it now--instructions, scientific american, lego catalogs, computer games, or a book about rabbits because he wants a rabbit.  Both my dh and I read out loud to the kids a lot every day.  My ds is able to tell me about what he's read or learned.  Eventually writing will come.

 

I enjoyed also the tips for helping a writer organize his thoughts, etc., and the tip about online gaming.  My ds does play a couple games where he needs to type to "speak" to other players. 

 

The point about the topic sentence with supporting details: I was thinking of enrolling my ds in public school a couple years ago and, because he was homeschooled, he was required to be evaluated for proper grade level.  The woman told me very sneeringly that my son's writing lacked these things.  So this was absolutely the point where I started worrying about keeping up with where he should be in writing.

 

OK, I'm printing out this thread now for rereading.

 

Deb

 


Attached, homeschooling mom to Sam (10), Henry (8), Clara (5--now in public school Kindergarten) and Noah (2)

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