About 1.5 weeks ago I rolled out my class blog (Mr. Lane's Computer Applications/Web 2.0 Blog) as an interactive tool with my 8th grade Web 2.0 technology class (the first few weeks it served, more or less, as a Web 1.0 tool). After working through the layout of the blog, we read together a post, and then I asked them to submit a comment. Before they commented I spent some time discussing the importance of making sure the comment was free of spelling and gramatical errors so the content did not become diluted. I modeled a solid response and directed them to a page which containted all the requirements and expectations. As they commented I wandered the room helping those who were struggling to put sentences together. Unfortunately, the spelling and gramatical errors still got in the way of the content. I allowed their comments to be approved as I wanted them to see what I was seeing and have a sense of success.

Over the last the week I have continued to work with the students on how their minor errors do make a difference. However, they appear to be actually getting worse. It seems they are so comfortable commenting as they would on MySpace that they do not even see the possible problems. I have suggested that they type their comment in Word and then copy and paste once they have edited their work (no one has taken me up on this). The plan was to get them to create a class blog and then their own. However, as it stands right now I am a bit hesitant to go much further until I can get this issue under control.

So... I am looking for some help. What suggestions or ideas do you have or have used that might help me get the students writing in the right direction? Please help!

Views: 61

Tags: 8th, blogs, comments, grade, middle, posts, school, students, writing

Comment by Michelle TeGrootenhuis on September 29, 2008 at 10:15pm
Good question, Peter. I'm kind of in the same boat. I teach 5th grade and my kiddos have been driving me bonkers with their spelling and grammatical errors not just on their blogs, but also in their writing notebooks, assignments, and everywhere else. Here's what I've been TRYING this year since the 3rd week of school.

I have begun a "No Excuse" word list. The kids copy the words that we add to the list into their notebooks (last page) and I have the words posted with RED marker on my word wall in my room. Each week I've been introducing one, two, or three words for the wall. This week, I'm going to make a point to have a mini-lesson on all of the ones that are up on the wall already just to keep those words fresh in their minds. My rule is, that by 5th grade you are purposely CHOOSING not to spell those words correctly, so if I catch them spelled wrong on ANY piece of writing, even a note being passed in the hallway, that kiddo will spend a GOOD chunk of his/her recess time in writing that word however many times I feel necessary to get the point across. I have had only TWO students needing that extra "practice" time so far. You probably don't have recess to hold over their heads at 8th grade, but is there some other time period where you can have them "practice" spelling a word correctly?

I also just today added the ALWAYS use capital "I" and "Start sentences with a capital and end with a period," to our lists, even though those aren't "words" but I feel those are totally NON-negotiable by 5th grade.

Finally, any specific word that a kid consistently spells wrong on their blogs or in their writing goes on their "personal spelling word list" from which they choose TWO to work on each week along with the other assigned words.

So far, I'm more happy with this system than any other I've tried in the past. I'm hoping you get a couple more responses so I, too, can see what others say about it.

Good luck!
-Michelle TG
Comment by Chris Miraglia on November 21, 2008 at 9:20pm

As a 8th grade US History located in SoCal I also find myself in the same quandry. I do preface some of my posts that students have to respond to with sentence starters (which some will use), but the majority revert to old habits and utilize texting language. I occasionally will post their responses on my Smartboard and we will have an editing session. However, with the sheer number of students that I have (255) it is a hit and miss. I spend a lot of time with prompt writing and that some times seems to help with their academic writing, but the online type of responses are difficult.

Chris M
Comment by Peter Lane on November 22, 2008 at 1:55pm
What I recently did with my reading students (who have significant gaps in reading, spelling, grammar, & writing) is to spend a day in the lab in which they had to type their response in Word, use grammar & spellcheck, & then have me review their work. On the following day they could submit their comment by cutting and pasting from Word. While the writing had improved, the content was hit-or-miss. However, given the goal (complete sentences, spelling, etc) I consider this a triumph. Additionally, I did get some incredible responses that were much more complete as they were typed rather than hand-written. I will probably continue to devote two days whenever I am looking to do an extension activity which requires them to respond.

Ironically, my struggle continues to be with my computer applications/web 2.0 class that includes a high percentage of honors students or those with "advanced" or "proficient" English and writng scores. Go figure...


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