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Thread: dialectic student having problems

  1. #1
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    Hello! My 8th grader seems to be having problems with his writing assignments. For example we are in Week 20 China. He is supposed to write a compare and contrast essay about china's revolution and the communist revolution. Or the leadership of the 2 leaders in the chinese civil war. His only reading is 1/4 of a book about Mao Zedong. Is he supposed to get information other places??? Because he certainly doesn't have enough just from his reading. I was under the impression that they would get their information from the books I have for this week's reading. I know the internet is a great place for information, but #1 there's too much and #2 we've already had problems in following links to other things....... Sooo.......am I supposed to know that for this certain week I am supposed to get extra books so that he can write this essay???

    Thanks, Deb

  2. #2
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    Hi Deb,
    The Writing topics are designed to be written about after the student has read the assignment *and* discussed it. Yes, they are geared to be taken from the student's reading, but oftentimes the student simply cannot grasp all of the material until after discussion time. Thus, before discussion time, make sure your student understands the correct format of compare and contrast writing or whatever the assignment is. Then, *after* discussion, he actually does the writing.

    I hope this helps! If not, do feel free to post again.

    Blessings,
    Dana C. in TN
    Vice President
    Lampstand Press

    "Let my teaching fall like rain and my words descend like dew,
    like showers on new grass, like abundant rain on tender plants.
    I will proclaim the name of the Lord. Oh, praise the greatness of our God!"
    Deut. 32:2-4

  3. #3
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    So, when are kids doing their writing assignments? A week after what they were reading??? I guess I'm confused. In my mind they do their reading at the beginning of the week and then midweek they can start working on their writing assignments. Is that not how people are doing it? I mean I know we all do it differently, but I guess I also was thinking that we discuss what they read, so if he can't write until after we discuss, I must be lecturing him something, because he doesn't have enough to write on based on the reading.......
    Does that make any sense?

  4. #4
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    Deb,

    The rhythm that TOG recommends is to "read, think, write." This means, for many families, that the student does his reading first, say M-T. Then, he "thinks" -- meaning, he discusses with you, typically on W. He then can at least get to his pre-writing on W. (at least, mind usually did). Then, he should do the bulk of his drafting of the writing assignment on Th. Then, ideally, you should give him a red-pen over his draft by Th.'s end. Then on F. he makes final corrections, polishing, and then hands it in.

    Sometimes there is not enough in the reading to do a writing assignment; it's tough for us to always be able to pull up interesting assignments from what they've been assigned. You have two choices in such cases: extra Internet research, or you can always still cover the genre by assigning a different topic, usually (in this case) not from History materials. So, you might choose something that he knows more about to comp/cont and allow him to use this simpler (for him) topic to learn the genre on. (For instance, assign him a thesis that causes him to comp/cont the seasons of the Green Bay Packers and the Pittsburgh Steelers.)

    Also something to check: is your child writing on advanced tracks while reading books on lower tracks?

    One more clarification, perhaps: the Russian Revolution was studied earlier in the year, so that's clear, but do you realize that the Communist revolution in China to which this topic is referring was the civil war leading UP TO Mao's coming to power, not the various forms that Maoism took after 1949?
    Blessings,
    Marcia

    No one can do me a greater kindness in this world than to pray for me.
    --Charles Spurgeon

  5. #5
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    Thanks so much for walking me through this both of you! Sometime I feel really dumb! In terms of Mao, the book we have that I am having him read (the library didn't have the one recommended by Tapestry) only takes him up to Mao at 16 years old.......but like you said, Green Bay and Steelers - something to learn that type of writing... He is in 8th grade, doing level 8, reading dialectic. Some weeks there is a lot of reading though - can students do it all by Wed.? Do some people start on the weekend before maybe? Thanks again!

    Deb

  6. #6
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    Some people DO look ahead and, if it's a particularly challenging week, start their kids reading over the weekend, yes. Around the Somerville home, it was just plain QUIET as older kids read and read (and did Math/Science as breaks to their History/Lit on those days). We returned to interactive status on Wed. for discussions.

    However, not everyone does it this way. This year, I'm teaching in a local co-op where we have Writing class on Wednesdays. This means that students have done their reading (because group discussion is that day as well) for, say, Week 4, but they won't hand in their Writing assignments for the Week 4 subjects until the FOLLOWING Wed, Week 5, technically. There is no one right way to run the TOG rhythm. You have to find what's right for y'all.
    Blessings,
    Marcia

    No one can do me a greater kindness in this world than to pray for me.
    --Charles Spurgeon

  7. #7
    Deb,

    Here is another thought for you. I typically spend 2 weeks on a paper. I give them several to choose from from several levels form a couple of weeks. They can normally find one that they like. They must pick the topic by Wednesday. They must have their graphic organizer or outline done for the assignment on Friday. The next week they write the paper by midweek, then I look over it and they have 2 days to revise. It just takes 2 weeks for us to write a paper. To me, for 8th grade if they have 4 good papers each quarter, then that is a good number. Another thing, if it is a multi-week assignment I often make it shorter. We did a newspaper assignment and only took 2 weeks to do that. They've done a story in previous years and only took a couple of weeks to do that. So adjust it to your needs. I normally pick out the style of writing I want them to do: analytical essay, compare contrast, etc. and then give them choices among levels and weeks..many times from the previous weeks not the current weeks so they have a better basis of knowledge. Remember, there is no right or wrong as long as they write!!!

    Christine

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