Written Narration….

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  • Shanna

    UGH!!! I just dont know what to do. I am sure that I put off requiring written narrations for way to long for my oldest (12) but he was not a very good reader till this last year and I felt that was the area we needed to focus on first.

    But, his writing is absolutely horrible. His comprehension is great it is the grammar itself that is down right deplorable. I really am taking the blame for this and I have not said a thing to him about it because I don’t think it would be helpful.

    Here is an excerpt from his narration of “Where the Red Fern Grows”…

    “Bill is a eleven year old boy he whats some coon dog he is down by the river and fisherman leave stuff behind and Bill is look round and see a magazine and he look at the back of it and see some coon dog for sale $50 each in Kansas. He pray to God to help him to earn money to buy the dogs.”

    And it goes on for 3 pages like this with some worse than others.

    How do I teach him how to write better? Is it just the process of doing many of these and it will get better? I am by no means a great writer so I want them to learn to write and express themselves well.

    Sonya Shafer

    I would be inclined to approach this teaching opportunity one concept at a time. It looks like his mistakes are basically two or three (in general terms): run-on sentences, verb tenses, and subject-verb agreement. So you might focus on just one of those concepts for now. For example, you could take just one or two of his “sentences” and show him how they are really several sentences pushed together. You could work together to re-write just those few example “sentences” into real sentences. Give him the clue that the word “and” can be a red flag to check whether he’s running sentences together that he could easily separate. Then next written narration, remind him to watch those run-on sentences when he’s writing. When you’re going over that assignment, try to look for places that he is improving in the run-on sentence category. It may take a few more weeks of concentrating on run-on sentences to fine tune that aspect of his writing.

    Once he has a pretty good handle on that issue, you could move on to consistent verb tenses and then subject-verb agreement in the same way.


    One suggestion may be to have him read the narration to you out loud. Maybe he will be able to detect some of the mistakes as he is reading it. You could also prompt him and ask if the sentence makes sense to him. Very often, the words get mixed up from their brain to the paper. I’m assuming he doesn’t speak with that kind of grammar, so he will probably be able to hear the problems. This is just a suggestion; I know it helped when I was teaching. It’s also a skill that I used when editing papers in college. Hope it helps.

    Faith 🙂

    I was going to suggest what Faith did! That really helped one of my daughters who would get tenses and sentence order mixed up. And like Sonya said, one concept at a time! I know I tend to want to “fix it all at once”!! I teach a semi-Suzuki style piano, and I have learned a lot from that about focusing on one thing at a time! I know with older dc, we tend to panic thinking it’s got to all be fixed immediately (if not sooner! 🙂 ) My 14 yodd was the one with those issues, and she was probably 11-12 when I started working on it more with her. It’s been sporadic because of life the past few years, but she is starting to really get it now! Yippee!

    Take a deep breath, don’t panic, and pick one to work on for awhile. Oh, and as much as I always thought spell and grammar check was a crutch, grammar check helped her a lot when she would type her assignments in Word!!! A crutch is okay when you need one! But she did learn, it wasn’t just a “lazy way” out!

    Hope that helps!




    With my DS10 who has come a long way from Dysgraphia, apraxia, and Dyslexia(diagnosed by specialists not me!)…I’ve used oral narration from the beginning…

    our stepping stone to writtenn narration…

    after I type his oral narration, he copies a grammatically correct sentence from his own oral narration on the same page. This is working great for him without discouraging him.

    Lisa D.


    Thanks everyone…

    We did sit down and go over his narration today. We are going to follow Sonya’s advice and work on one thing at a time. We re going to actually rewrite his whole narration and use it as our grammar lessons. We are going to start with the first sentence which really is about 5 and break it apart and work on run-ons. We will then go from there and work on the next step. I am sure this will take a few months but the fruit will be worth it.

    I am actually looking forward to helping him in this area and I despise grammar!!!!

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