Wednesday, December 22, 2010

One Last Survey: Middle School LA

The Middle School Language Arts Instructional Materials Adoption page has links for a staff/student/family survey as well as info on applying for the Adoption Committee. Again, the end date on the surveys and due date for committee applications is Jan. 6th.


SC Parent said...

More jargon to confuse parents in these surveys - "Levelled classroom libraries" (never mind the misspelling on a LA survey). How about "age-appropriate" or "reading-level appropriate", both of which could fit under the umbrella of a "leveled" library, but are very distinct concepts.

SC Parent said...

FYI, Question #3 asks the respondent to "rank in the order of priority" but only allows the boxes to be checked, not numbered. I suppose they want us to check all that apply, not rank in order of priority.

seattle said...

I'm going to take the survey now. Sure hope it lets you rank Writers Workshop. I want to WW gone, gone, gone.

kid not like the others said...

should we go back to the way writing was taught before?- which was ...? do you have an alternative suggestion?
the way i was taught was osmotically. if i read, eventually i would figure out how to write well . what an epic failure that was.
sure, complain, but provide specifics to support your argument, then offer a replacement.
either that, or apply to be on the adoption committee if you feel so strongly.

Charlie Mas said...

I agree with kid not like the others that effective complaint always includes a suggested solution - or at least some willingness to work towards one.

I would be very surprised, however, if these surveys allow for that possibility. You'll probably have to offer that solution or willingness to work outside of the context of the survey.

Wouldn't it be great if the survey did allow for constructive criticism of that type? How could a survey like that be written - and written in a way that would provide both an opportunity to give a meaningful and actionable response and the ability for the survey sponsor to derive meaning and plan action based on the response?

I'll ponder this.

seattle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
seattle said...

"should we go back to the way writing was taught before?-"

You mean back to the time when grammar and punctuation were taught, practiced, and graded? When spelling was taught, and kids spelling errors were circled and corrected so they might actually learn from their error? When the personal narrative didn't dominate the curriculum for 7 years (grades 2 - 8)? When kids actually did book reports? When kids learned how to write a persuasive, comparison, and descriptive essay? When the class read and analyzed a classic novel together as a group?

Yes, I think we should go back to those days.

All of this above is missing in a big way from the Writers Workshop curriculum.

WW does have some strong points though...

Kids learn to love writing because it's easy and fun if they are never really held accountable, are graded by peers instead of teachers, and don't have to worry about all of the boring aspects of writing like grammar, punctuation and spelling.

Kids get to read any book they want which they seem to like (but must be hard for teachers who have not read every book to evaluate the students work, and analytical and critical thinking?)

Kids get to write tons of personal narratives which they seem to like (until they have written about the most significant event in their life for the 11th time). Personal narratives are easier to write than essays which require research, analytical thinking, footnotes, sources, etc.

Kids get plenty of time to talk and chat with each other (which they really like) while the teacher spends 1:1 time with individual students (routine practice of WW).

Charlie Mas said...

I do not recall any specific effort to teach me how to write until I was in the sixth grade. I know that I wrote reports - one to three pages long - as early as the third grade, but I don't recall anyone actually trying to improve my writing back then.

In the sixth grade Mr. Pinski taught me the structure of the Five Paragraph Essay with an introductory paragraph, at least three body paragraphs, and a concluding paragraph. He taught me to include a thesis statement in the essay - commonly near the end of the introductory paragraph. He taught me that each of the body paragraphs should have a topic sentence and at least three supporting statements - a sort of microcosm of the essay. He taught me what types of things were and were not okay to use in the introductory and in the concluding paragraphs.

Although I had been taught the parts of speech, Mr. Pinski also taught me to diagram sentences in the sixth grade.

All of this instruction is now precious to me as it forms the sound and stable foundation for all of my expository writing.

In the eighth grade Mr. Wyckoff introduced me to rhetoric and transitional techniques. This was the end of my formal instruction. Since then I have only practiced and polished my 8th grade writing skills.

I was not taught anything new since then - at least not in school. I did get, and have followed, some very good advice from other writers, and I have taken lessons from my reading, but no more formal training that improved my writing.

In short, I had two important teachers. One who taught me how to write and one who taught me how to write well.

That's not entirely fair. Let me add one more. In high school Ms Oran made me want to write.

I know that it is difficult to teach writing. I know that a lot of instruction in writing is misdirected or misspent. I also know that if a student can be ready to learn with just one or two teachers, it may be all they need.

Anonymous said...

I agree with seattle. More substance is needed than WW.

Shouldn't OSPI's Grade Level Expectations be the baseline of instruction? Why are they reinventing the wheel when grade level guidelines already exist?

My daughter's friend says she just makes up the personal narrative and makes it sound real. Because, really, how many times can you write the same thing? And not all kids want to share their personal moments.

I too would like to see teacher guided discussions about novels. I asked my daughter if they had specific questions they discussed when meeting in reading groups and was told, no, they just sit around and talk about the book. "So, what's to keep you from getting off topic and talking about the latest movie?" I ask. "Well, the teacher walks around the room and we talk about the book when she's nearby." They're such quick learners.

-Old-fashioned Parent

Stand Up! said...

Can anyone hear how bad the music at Eckstein sounds?

I have hope,

However, the idea that no one in the the Seattle area is outraged by Eckstein, the flagship of a horribly mismanaged and segregated school district, is anathema to me.

Both Eckstein and Washington have failing music programs by national public standards. These standards are defined first by inclusion and ethical practice, not by showboating and the extolation of a few privilaged kids - much less trophy accumulation.

Exclusion, segregation and remunerative practices mark the poor and cheating programs of the Seattle Public Schools.

The presentation of a facade of accomplishment is foisted upon the public by an incopetent administration and a horribly mismanged district. This district goes so far as to give "jazz" instructors credit cards- credit payed for by you.

Has anyone reviewed the demographics in the Eckstein building over the last 10 years? If you have, you tell me what you think is happening to students of color in that environment.

In terms of the music, does anyone think about the fact hundreds of band students not only never get the opportunity to participate in the illegally funded "Jazz Band" program, but are also constantly bullied in a hostile and reified environment; an environment that is established upon inherently exclusionary and emaciated musical practices?

Did anyone notice the favors that kids who are "soloists" or "featured" performers in the "jazz" bands and musicals get while the others are shouted at and told to be quiet?

Did anyone stop to listen to how awful the large choirs and bands sound at Eckstein this year, or is everyone mesmerized by the "jazz" doodle-ings of about 14 privately instructed rich kids?


-Former Teacher
Concerned Citizen

Anonymous said...

Former Teacher,

I would like to reply to your post, but this is not the thread within which to have this discussion. The blog organizers post an open thread every Friday. Can you please repost all parts of your message in last Friday's open thread or wait until tomorrow to post them in the new Friday thread?

Thank you,
Eckstein Parent