I need any advice as to what to do with my 15 year old son in regards to written narration. He hates writing, struggles to get any thoughts on paper. It is a fight every week and although I give him several suggestions, he struggles with what to do written narration on. I am tired of fighting with him about it and wondering if there is an alternative I can use.
Has he had plenty of practice with oral narration? Maybe he needs more time organizing his thoughts and giving them orally. Have you allowed him to type his narrations? Some say that helps their reluctant writer. SCM also has many suggestions for alternative narration ideas. Check the learning library. They also have wonderful books in their bookstore that might help.
Unfortunately, yes. We have used SCM from the beginning, so he is quite used to narrating, except in recent years he has not narrated as much. He began typing them a couple years ago. He hates it and it is a continual struggle to get him to write. 🙁
My oldest is like that also. Been narrating orally forever, never really that good at it and can barely eek out a paragraph at 16. I wish I had helpful advice for you. I ended up getting The Power in Your Hands for him and may put him in a writing class next year. It will be torturous for sure, but I need him to be able to do college level work. I hope you will get some great advice, I will be watching as well.HollySParticipant
My daughter has struggled with written narrations too. We did some IEW key word outlines and it helped her a lot. They basically pick 3 key words from each sentence of a short passage and write them out. Then they turn them into a sentence (orally at first, then written out). So it’s basically a paraphrase when finished. We’ve moved on to narrating short passages like Aesop’s Fables and Fifty Famous Stories, and I’m hoping we can transfer it over to her regular lessons soon.
She does okay written narrations at this point, and usually gives me a short paragraph. She had a ways to go, but I’m just glad she’s not staring at a blank page.
Holly you just reminded me I have been having my son outline as well. He finds that very helpful. I started him outlining his Notgrass textbook because it is basically already outlined. It helped him see how ideas were organized. Obviously a textbook is a pretty dry thing to narrate, but it is very easy to see the division of ideas. I got the idea from IEW and Susan Wise Bauer’s Writing with Skill, they both encourage outlining.Karen SmithModerator
This part of your post, “he struggles with what to do written narration on,” makes me wonder what you are giving him for narration prompts. Are you asking for him to tell what he read or are you asking him to tell about [person, place, etc.] that he read about? Leaving the narration too open ended can leave the student struggling with where to start. Try narrowing the focus a bit but still leaving the prompt open ended enough to give the student plenty of material to narrate. Also, make a list of key words, names of people and places, and dates before the reading so he has something to help him focus on while reading, and he has names and vocabulary words to use in his narration without needing to check in the book for spellings.
The Raising the Bar article from our Narration Q & A blog series has a break down of the different types of narrations you can ask for and the ages to introduce each type. Plus, the article has many examples of how to ask those questions.
You can also see examples of narration questions and lists of names, dates, and vocabulary words in the samples of our Narration Notecards.
I am looking over The Power in Your Hands that you mentioned. I think he may need something structured like this. Have you used this at all? Any feedback?
We used Power in Your Hands. It’s college prep which is fine for most, but not for a couple of mine. They prefer the old version of Writing Strands. Lots of options out there now for composition.
Mandi – so far I really like it. We are still on the first set of lessons. I think he did lesson 1.8 this week. We aren’t doing it every day, we are taking it really slowly. It seems to really give baby steps, at least in the beginning. He is working on an essay about teens owning credit cards. So far he has decided on a side, listed his reasons and learned different ways to order his reasons. He also worked on some opening sentences. It has been very manageable for him. I planned to let him use it this year and next, giving him plenty of time to take it slowly. Once we complete Power in Your Hands I hope to use Lost Tools of Writing if he still needs help.
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