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I am really struggling with writing. I believe in CM methods for language arts, but truly have no ability to implement them. I have all the books about narrations, writing style, etc. I must have a deficiency because I just cannot seem to help my children progress with narrations. They are now in 7th and 10th and still not past 1 meager paragraph of “tell me what you read.” I really need help. I was thinking of using IEW for one or two years, then letting them go back to narrations. Any ideas? I am really desperate.
I have a senior also this year. I stuck him in an IEW class at our co-op which is going o.k. He hates it, but he hates all writing. I do see it helping him organize his thoughts and be less intimidated by paper and pencil.
I have been using CM methods for about 7 years, so it isnt lack of narrating experience. It is a teacher thing. I just dont know how to draw more out of them.
Any ideas would be appreciated.MissusLeataParticipant
My older two did IEW last year. They hated it but I saw great improvement in their writing. It’s a very different approach, but I like it and I think it works.MissusLeataParticipant
I wanted to add that IMO, IEW is a written narration. They read a story and re-tell it in their own words. They just use an outline that they wrote to do so. 🙂Karen SmithModerator
“Tell me what you read” is an okay narration prompt but it is a bit too open ended. Have you tried focusing the narration prompt, such as tell all you know about George Washington crossing the Delaware River? Sometimes when the prompt is too open ended students have a hard time deciding where to start and how much to tell.
Also, you can ask for different types of narrations. “Tell me about” prompts are narrative narrations, which can be used for all grade levels. Grades 4-6 can add in expository narrations, “How does this work?” Grades 7-9 can add descriptive narrations, “Describe your favorite scene” or “Describe a journey [in a geographical region read about]”. Grades 10-12 add in persuasive narrations, having the student state his opinion and give supporting points from the reading(s) in a logical manner. For example, “Write an essay on the present condition of (own country).”
If you are doing all of the above, evaluate their writings for content, not length. Are they covering the main points in the reading? Are they showing an understanding of what they are learning about? If the answer to those questions is yes, then they have completed the assignment. Some people are able to express themselves in fewer words than others. Some of my kids had short narrations and some of them had longer ones, but they all covered the content of the material being narrated.
If you think their answers are too broad, ask them to expand on their thoughts. Personally, if there are many places they are too broad in a narration, I would choose one place to ask them to give more details. You do not want to overwhelm them. Once they are in the habit of giving more details, then you should see their narrations improving.CrystalNParticipant
Karen, you make me feel like I could actually do it without a curriculum! It seem so simple when you write it out, but when I try to implement it I fail completely. When Charlotte indicates weekly writing lessons, what exactly does that mean. Just sitting with one narration and making it better? Adding and intro and conclusion? Stronger verbs? That sort of thing? How can I know when and how to do that?Karen SmithModerator
Usually, in the high school years one written narration would be chosen to edit and refine each week. That editing and refining should focus on the mechanics (punctuation, verb usage, adjectives, adverbs, capitalization) and the content (introduction, conclusion, conveying the ideas clearly and succinctly).
For the mechanics, whatever your child has already learned about grammar, he should be held accountable for in his writing. Let him freely get his thoughts in writing for the initial narration. So, don’t evaluate the initial written narration on spelling, grammar usage, punctuation, etc., but evaluate the narration on the content — did his narration cover most of the content from the reading? Save fixing the spelling, grammar, punctuation, how the content was presented, etc. for the refining of the narration. Think of the initial written narration as a rough draft, and the editing and refining process as working toward the final draft.
If you are using our Using Language Well grammar and English usage curriculum, there are writing rubrics in the teacher’s guide that can be used to help you evaluate what areas your child needs improving for the mechanics part.
Chapter 7 Becoming a Writer in Karen Glass’s book Know and Tell: The Art of Narration gives a good overview of how to edit and refine written narrations. She even includes a section in that chapter for the student to read. I highly recommend that you read (or re-read) Know and Tell.
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