Monday, January 20, 2014

Expectations VS. Reality

As I worked with Trinity and Charity today in their writing and literature classes, I was struck with the knowledge that I continue to have 'expectations' that may or may not be realistic.

I walked Trinity through the 'steps' of revising her descriptive paper.  We talked about a good 'topic sentence'; we discussed the use of sensory language; we touched on using transition words to depict level of importance; and we covered including a decent sentence of conclusion.  (All of which have been dealt with individually in lessons leading up to today.)

I stepped away to work with Charity. Fully EXPECTING Trinity to continue working - diligently and independently - on her writing assignment.

How hard could it be?  She had her 'rough draft' to work from. The draft had my 'scribbled' corrections. We talked about ideas for improving her draft.  I even gave her suggestions for an actual topic sentence and conclusion.

Why oh why, then, did she come to me -- almost immediately -- asking WHAT to write?  (Maybe because she's 7!)

Similarly, working with Charity, we discussed the main idea and the use of past tense verbs to tell  whether a reading excerpt was about past or present events.

We went over the concept. We discussed examples of past tense.  We talked about the main idea of a paragraph.  We went through some 'sample' paragraphs.  All appeared copacetic.

Thinking she had grasped the concept, we began moving forward. Reading more paragraphs to determine whether it was discussing past or present and finding out what the main ideas were of each.  As she responded "They," when I asked, "What word tells you this happened in the past?", I wanted to scream.


I began to get frustrated as I dealt with both situations simultaneously throughout our lessons.

Why couldn't they get it?  (Maybe due to their ages - 7 and 6 respectively?)  It was SO obvious.  Why were they struggling when they SEEMED to get it just seconds before?

Finally it hit me.  E-X-P-E-C-T-A-T-I-O-N-S!!!

My expectation was that this should have made as much sense to them as it did to me -- an adult, who has learned and has taught, in depth, similar material at least 3-4 times prior to this moment in time.

Logical?  Not.  So.  Much.

Hmmmmm.... maybe taking a step back was warranted.

That's what we did.  We worked on another subject.  Coming back to the 'difficult' concepts after a short break.

No, Trinity's revised paragraph wasn't perfect.  It still needed some serious work to have a 'good' topic and concluding sentence.  Yet, she finished the work. Without tears. Without a mommy snarling at her.

No, Charity didn't identify EVERY past tense verb correctly nor did she choose the main idea appropriately the first time for each paragraph.  Still, we completed the story. We covered lots of past and present tense verbs, and she successfully identified the main idea of SOME of the paragraphs also without an irritated mama.

It wasn't pretty the whole day, but I realized I needed to alter MY expectations.  I walked away.  I came back later.  We finished our work.

Another successful day.

How do you help kids with writing?  How do you prepare them to identify the main idea of a paragraph?  Any tried and true tricks up your sleeves?

No comments:

Post a Comment

I only check comments for spam.