Thursday, October 15, 2009

Round 1...

We are now 2 weeks into late fall semester. Things move at a fast pace when the class begins at the end of September, yet ends mid-December, along with all the other classes.

Students turned in their first paper, which I returned to them today, all green pen marked and graded.

I gave them my usual--here's what the various marks mean, and here is where you look in the handbook to fix the types of mistakes commonly being made--speech.

Before, I even got to that review, one student called out--what does WW mean. Continuing with the paper returns, I said--it means wrong word. There are various words in the English language--wonderful rich language that it is--that sound like other words, yet mean something completely different.

I find that using wrong words is one of the most frequent errors students make. And the tendency is catching. I was using a PowerPoint to highlight the important content that I wanted students to get from today's lecture--and there it was up on the screen. A MISTAKE. Glaring. Winking at me. Arrgghhhh! I have been corrupted by my students.

I had written DUEL, when I clearly meant DUAL. Tsk, tsk, tsk. Sadly, no student caught it.

Here are three of my favorite wrong word errors from this round of papers.

Fronds. . .meaning friends

Sauna gram. . .meaning sonogram

And spur attic. . .meaning sporadic.

With all the papers returned, I gave students time to review their marks. And, I answered as students said--what is this that you wrote.

All along, I could hear one woman in the front of the class muttering--I am not liking this at all.

I dismissed class a bit early, saying--any of you who have questions, and want to take 5 minutes to go over your paper, I will stay right here.

I expected the muttering student to stay and ask something--but she was out the door in a flash. SIGH. And to think, at the beginning of the semester, she had loudly announced how much she loves to write. What she probably means is that if she gets to write, journal fashion, unedited, unevaluated thoughts, then she loves to write. But let me review her work and offer constructive criticism--well, that she is NOT liking at all.


LauraHinNJ said...

There's a value to that unedited writing, tho, don't you think?


(mostly what my blog is about!)

The spelling errors are always a sad surprise, but I'm usually so glad for any student that dares express themselves... dares express an original thought.

(I teach reading, not writing.)


I hear you, Donna. I do.

possumlady said...

Okay, "sauna gram" made me laugh out loud! Is this from teaching children to write by spelling out what they hear? Hmmm, doesn't seem to have worked.

Denise said...

How do these students get through high school? I understand there are high school students that couldn’t care less about furthering their education by going to college. However, for those who are planning to continue, how do they get through with errors such as these? Come on…sauna gram, spur attic? How can students that have aspirations in high school of furthering their education make mistakes like this? I know it is true, because you say so, but I am baffled as to how they get through high school? Grammar errors I can understand – a lot of us struggle with those (especially me) – but I just wonder what happened in high school. Have we dropped spelling? Just curious.

dguzman said...

Ah, the joys of teaching. Oops, I just did a WW--I meant "oys" as in "oy vey!" I don't miss it a lick, but your post brings back so many memories. I had a student who wrote about the "many faucets" of the topic he was going to cover.

Oy vey.

Tossing Pebbles in the Stream said...

With spell check you would thing students could turn in papers with no spelling mistakes. There are good Internet usage sites on commmon mistakes like
they could reference.
I think your students may have missed phonics. The period of "whole word" learning has handicapped many.

The quickest way to check words and usage on the computer is to "search" the word. Even badly spelled it may turn up a correct spelling.

Being a little pig-headed and nationalistic I try hard to avoid American simplified spellings. I have even been know to use gaol rather than jail. Of course I never miss an opportunity to include the "u".

warriormom said...

Spell check would not catch spur attic or sauna gram. In our school district it was "magic writing" that trumped phonics and severely handicapped our children.

Keep up the good fight!

Ginnie said...

I agree with Warriormom. Keep up the good fight!
Here in the South there is a sort of lazy language that drives me crazy...lots of letters in words are just not pronounced...and then other simple words are drawn out...such as the name Bill...pronounced Beeull. Ugh!

Anvilcloud said...

My favourite was having a student report on a workshop about the Oaks of Anna.

Rather than Oak Savannah.

NCmountainwoman said...

Don't you hate that sick feeling when you see a spelling error in your Powerpoint? At least you had a ready answer, "Congratulations! I was hoping someone would notice that."

JeanMac said...

Patience of a saint!

Climenheise said...

My contribution from a paper this week: "equal rites for women". From a student who knows better and needed to do a final proofing of her paper.

RuthieJ said...

As a former proofreader and spelling fanatic, I love these posts about teaching and your students writing assignments. My hat's off to you as a teacher -- it's a tough job and seems to get tougher all the time. Hopefully a few of your students will learn and benefit from the lessons you strive to teach them.

femail doc said...

Oh I love that, I want one, a sauna gram! It's snowing outside now, the perfect evening to receive such a missive. Went to a lecture recently, Power Point, one slide entitled
"A nother thing to consider". As my brother the English major often says, "I weep for the future."