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If your kid brought this home, what would you do?

Discussion in 'Parents Off Topic' started by sarahspins, Sep 14, 2011.

  1. selketine

    selketine Approved members

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    I think at the beginning of the school year if a child did that - and I was a teacher - I would give them ONE pass - but I would write on the test - next time the words with incorrect capital letters will be counted as a mistake.

    That might give the kid and the parent a heads up - that way you could have reminded him.

    Of course her way works too - I suppose you both will remember she wants lowercase.;)

    I'd be more concerned if she were counting off for the writing because she doesn't like the tone - if tone wasn't part of the assignment (write a happy story or something).

    I also find that my kids will not always remember the instructions for an assignment correctly - or warnings that they will be penalized if they do X.

    Since he is in 5th grade - the grades somewhat don't matter. It is a good time to learn that with some teachers they aren't going to like what you're putting out so you need to change to meet their expectations or sink with your ship. I"m sure we've all had highs school teachers and college professors (if we went to college) that were insufferable nitpicks on some things and left the barn door open on others. You had to take the class to graduate so you learn to roll with it.

    Also - a computer would automatically make those words capital letters. I don't know if your child uses a computer to study or type out the list - my kids do. That could be affecting the way he thinks of writing his words in a list like that.
     
  2. jules12

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    I wouldn't say anything and use it as a time of learning for my son. Since he is in 5th grade, this is just the start of having different teachers, different personalities, expectations, etc as he continues through school. You have to learn what your teacher wants and provide it. Is it always fair, no - but it is life. If he is getting discouraged, I would talk to teacher about that and see if there is some extra credit work he could to help bring up his homework since he spelled the words correctly.
     
  3. Beach bum

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    My girls just started middle school and they are really cracking down on things like this. Reading directions is key, and they showed us the other day at open house what makes up the grade. Following directions exactly was one part. If the words were given to them in lowercase, then they must be given back on the test as lowercase.
    As for the writing that's tricky. I would save his papers for the parent/teacher conference so you can talk about them. If he's doing all the required work (ie. spelling, sentence structure, grammar), then he shouldn't be failing. He's obviously got a different writing style than she's used to, and that's really not right to fail him for his style.

    As for the test, I would let it go and just remind him that you follow directions, write spelling words as they are given to you. Don't capitalize words unless they require a cap. My kids would have been penalized for writing the list in caps.
     
  4. lgouldin

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    Well since it says spelling test at the top and doesn't say capitalization test then I would be :mad:. I would have to say something to her about this, but that's just me. Seems kinda harsh to me!
     
  5. nanhsot

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  6. thebestnest5

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    Knowing my kids' school they would penalize for capitalizing a spelling list that was given to them, if the list given did not have the words capitalized.

    I'd then review capitalization with my child. I would be encouraging to my child, pointing out the actual spelling was correct, but I'd be supportive of the teacher's grading (even though I may or may not agree personally).
    http://www.kimskorner4teachertalk.com/writing/conventions/capitalization.html

    In 5th grade, I'd ask my child to talk to the teacher and ask for help improving his grades. It will depend on the child, but if you feel your child can handle this step, it can be empowering to take this step in improving their grades.
     
  7. Lisa P.

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    I'm wary of entering this thread because my take on this stuff is a little fringe, so feel free to ignore.

    There is a very good chance this is just an adjustment period with a strict teacher. I'm a fan of strict teachers, who make their expectations clear, have a reason for the expectations that they can explain, and hold the kids accountable. I think a conference would make clear if she were this kind of teacher and if it's the case I'd back her all the way. There are too few teachers who expect kids to perform well and deliver consequences fairly based on that.

    However. . . . .

    There's also a chance that the teacher is not a very good teacher, or a very good writer. Last time I subbed in an 8th grade English class the teacher had the kids write an essay. First, the essay had to follow the textbook format -- intro paragraph previewing the information, three points backing up the theses, and concluding paragraph summarizing. This was, like, less than 500 words. If I'd had to grade these papers I'd have had to put a nail through my skull to keep awake, I'll never understand why teaching kids composition means beating them into a template that any monkey could follow and that in no way is inspired, inspiring, or even mildly interesting or informative writing.

    Also, the example essay she left for them? Full of grammar and even I believe spelling errors. Really horrible writing, too.

    Composition teachers need to teach kids:

    1. How to use proper rules of grammar. This is essential, because unless everybody uses the same form no one understands each other well. Then when you choose to break a rule for effect, it's on purpose, and has an effect.

    2. Proper spelling, because otherwise you can be brilliant but you look stupid.

    3. How to use the best word choice and sentence structure to make your point clear, convey the attitude and atmosphere and emotion you want to convey, address the specific audience in a specific way, be honest and if possible beautiful. Even a business report has its own kid of beauty if there is directness and clarity and full content.

    The very best way to teach the above is to have the kids read tons of examples from the very best writers, identify why those writers were good, emulate them, and develop their own writing style.

    Instead, teachers generally use textbooks with dull examples written by textbook writers. Textbook writers are often the guys who wanted to be "real" writers but couldn't get published so they write for Mifflen. Frankly, too many English teachers are frustrated novelists who have half a novel they wrote in college when they were going to be authors sitting in their desk because any day now they're going to finish it and be famous and be able to leave this awful teaching job behind.

    In my experience with publishing, the same kind of story will get a lot of red ink on it when sent to a local tabloid but just a few marks when sent to a national paper. It's because the editors of the national paper are interested in getting an error-free work out in print. The editors of a small local often are interested in proving to the writer how much more they know than she does and how much better they'd have written the story if they had written it.

    So, if that's the case with Mrs. Negative, how do you deal with that?

    I think the goal is to make sure you don't kill the decent writer in yourself while surviving the class. If you can test out of the class, or transfer, do. If you can't, consider taking the hit on your grade. If that's not palatable, do what it takes to make it through the drudgery, hold your nose and follow directions, but do a ton of writing on the side in your own style -- submit short stories to magazines, write a column for the local paper, write long letters to grandma. If the class gives you any good info, take it, but if the class tries to force you into bad writing, don't let it sink in very far.

    Hope that helps. :p

    (Brevity is one writing skill I never mastered, sorry).
     
  8. Becky Stevens mom

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    I did ask my brother about this, he is a 5th grade teacher and has been for about 10 years now. He said that first of all, he would mark them wrong as the rule is that they are considered misspelled if capitalization rules are not followed BUT that he would give the student the chance to take a retest and hopefully remember about the capitalization rules in the future.
     
  9. Sarah Maddie's Mom

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    Couldn't agree more.

    Really could have put the whole paragraph in bold ;)
     
  10. willie's mom

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    I am teacher and I would explode over that grade. Those words could just as easily be capitalized as not. If they were the beginning of a sentence they would be capitalized. Was the teacher assessing spelling or the ability to write lower case letters.
     
  11. lynn

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    For those of you who think the words are fine capitalized, I have an observation and a question.

    The observation first: A spelling test is not a grocery list. And computers are programmed to capitalize after a period so that is why a list would be capitalized on a computer. We are not computers. We have the ability to think and reason and recognize that a single spelling word is not the beginning of a sentence.

    Now the question: What about when the spelling test has a proper noun included? A capitalized first letter is part of spelling a proper noun correctly.
     
  12. nanhsot

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    I would expect a brief note asking/reminding to only capitalize proper nouns. If the problem persisted and the child persisted, then I might take a more punitive stance. Considering how early it is in the year, it seems harsh to me to assign a 20 to a perfectly spelled test. Take off a point per word if you must...but a 20 when the words were perfectly spelled? What is that proving other than teacher superiority?

    I actually don't think they are "fine", but I think the harsh stance is not going to forge a good child/teacher relationship. I would expect a teacher to remind the child gently of the rules and ask them to capitalize appropriately on future tests.

    Spelling tests rarely test over proper nouns, IME.
     
  13. Big Hair Momma

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    Exactly this!
     
  14. Ali

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    Remember that it is the childs perception that matters. I suspect that at 10 the kids sees all those big red circles as a big failure and without anything wriiten to explain he is really left in an awful state. My big issue with many teachers is not the being exacting but being strict without a teaching moment via a written note or an in person talk. I have seen this over and over with three kids over 20 years. It is great to expect much but then you need to spend the time to teach and help "much". Kids are in school to learn-not to already know... Ali
     
  15. sarahspins

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    This was my first reaction as well.. however I am not sure there is the option for another teacher because it's a small school. The kids change classes for their core subjects.

    I think some of you are missing my point here.. the issue is not whether he did the test "wrong" - I agree that he probably did, and I don't for a second feel he should have received a perfect score, so that's really not the problem, it's wether grading a spelling test without any misspelled words with a 20 is reasonable. I don't feel that it is at all, I really do think it's excessively harsh for a kid who clearly has no problem spelling the words. In some neighboring districts, it's actually policy that you can't grade any completed assignment with less than a 50... his average in this class is currently less than that and it's clearly not that he doesn't understand the material. I can see absolutely no practical application for this kind of arbitrary requirement in the real world for a kid who has no problem understanding the rules of capitalization in actual writing. I get that many 10 year olds still struggle there - but mine doesn't.

    The bigger issue that I feel we're about to face is that he's not fitting into the tiny little box of what this teacher is expecting of her students. I had classes myself where the grades were more about following arbitrary "rules" to the letter than actually learning, and they were some of the worst experiences I had before I finally convinced my mom to let me do homeschool (and I homeschooled my oldest for a while, he begged to go back to public school because he really missed being around his friends every day). For a kid like my son who finds the work itself very easy - taking the time to pay attention to every little detail is a lot harder than if he had to take more time to do the work because he just didn't get it. I can only do so much to help him - I can make sure he's doing his homework correctly (though even I haven't completely understood some of the directions), but I have no control over what he does at school.

    As far as questions about the writing and 'tone' - that isn't a case of being prompted to write a happy story and writing a negative one. The assignment is usually something along the lines of "Write sentences with your spelling words." I asked him about this, and his response was pretty much that those are the only times he's allowed to let out how frustrated he is at school - which I can COMPLETELY understand, but I've asked him to try to make those sound happier.
     
  16. GaPeach

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    My DD's 5th grade teacher would have given a 10 for this test.

    My oldest DD had the same teacher a few years ago. The teacher warns parents that your A or A/B student will probably not continue to receive those grades this year. She is very strict and counts off for every failure to following directions. NO EXTRA CREDIT is given.

    As my first DD entered her class, she was an A/B student with occasional C's due to sloppy work, simple mistakes and lack of focus on study skills. After a year in Mrs. C's class, she was outstanding. She is in 8th grade now and has maintained straight A's throughout middle school. Her study skills are awesome.

    Parents beg to have their child placed in Mrs. C's class. Her 5th grade graduates love her and come back to the school to visit for years to come.

    A teacher that prepares a student for life is tops in my book.
     
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2011
  17. lynn

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    Some teachers are strict right from the get-go. They don't seem to be as interested in forging a good relationship as they are in gaining respect and obedience. To be honest, this thread has reinforced why I am glad we homeschool. It is coming at a good time since we have just started school this year and are having some growing pains while trying to add the youngest in. Of my seven kids I think probably two of them would do well with the teacher the OP's son has. But it's the teacher's class and it's the teacher's rules.

    I feel for the OP. I don't envy the feelings of frustration and anger and unfairness. I have seen with family and friends how hard it is to have a smarter-than-average kid in public schools. The school is just not geared toward the small percentage of kids at the top.
     
  18. Lisa P.

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    I'm sympathetic with much of your son's plight, but the above scares the heck out of me.
     
  19. hawkeyegirl

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    Upon further reflection, I'd be curious to know what his week 1 spelling test looked like. Did he capitalize all of the words on it? Did she comment on that?
     
  20. obtainedmist

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    Does your school have a gifted and talented coordinator? Many kids who are identified as such struggle with classes due to boredom, frustration and a million other reasons. It would be nice to talk to someone about these issues who hopefully can help your son deal with the ups and downs. If your school doesn't have one, it might be good to ask to meet with someone like that within your district.

    If he has organization problems, there are specialists/coaches who can help kids be better organized to get the work done and stay on top of things. Usually that honor falls to us moms :rolleyes:.

    I still feel the best thing would be to work with the teacher...get her on your side and keep encouraging your son to be polite to her and not take his frustration out in his writing. And again, have him ask for some extra credit activities that he could do to raise up his grade. It'll make her feel as if he cares, and it might make him feel more in control again.

    Hope it gets better soon. I've walked in your shoes!!
     

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