proud mama


It really is back-to-school season. I've spent the weekend working on course materials, and my older son just cleaned out his backpack. ("Mom! Look! The missing SandwichKeeper!") I told him to toss any papers that he didn't want to save, and he pulled out one and nonchalantly said "I don't really care about this, but you might want it."

It's just a short "research report" on the rainforest, typed on the computer and then printed out. But I have to say, it's pretty sophisticated writing for an 8-year-old. (He's 9 now.)

We need to save the rainforest for many reasons. One is that there will be less runoff. The trees will hold the soil so the rain does not wash away.

Another reason is that we will lose oxygen. The trees will take in less carbon dioxide, and they will breathe out less oxygen.

Another reason we should save the rainforest is that there will be more droughts if we do not. The humidity will stop and the dry wastelands will contribute to the global warming so there will be more droughts.

The final reason that we should save the rainforest is that we will not find all the new species. There may even be a plant that can cure cancer, but it will probably be destroyed before we discover it.

This is why we should save the rainforest.

I read it, then say to him "Wow. This is really good. Where'd you find all this stuff out?" "We did research." "So, did you mostly just copy the stuff you found?" "No. That would be cheating. I did the research, then wrote it in my own words."

I just wish that more of my 18-year-old freshman students at RIT (a) wrote this clearly, and (b) had such a clear grasp of academic ethics.


Liz, that's really great. Isn't it wonderful to see our children learn well? I am continually amazed.

Your post is also quite timely for me. We have an 8-year old boy that's about to enter 3rd grade and the big 3rd grade project is the study the rain forest.

What? I write good, ya know what I'm sayin? :-)

Unfortunately a lackluster English program in secondary school is far more common than one that provides adequate instruction and preparation for the real world and/or college. I am quite lucky to have had the program I did (Arlington Central School District, LaGrangeville, NY) as well as Professor Gary Lehmann for Writing and Literature I and II at RIT. I've helped numerous friends edit their reports and it scares me; even now as a 4th/5th year student in college, the level of writing in some of these papers still remains around an 8th grade level (I won't even start on spelling)...

I suppose a clear understanding of ethics is also important, but when the deadlines are bearing down on you... No, no, I'm kidding. :-)

Provided with infinite opportunities and proper guidance, a child can learn and accomplish anything he or she wants to. All it takes is love and encouragement.

What you have shared is an example of a technique called "Power Writing" used by many elementary school teachers (particularly 3rd/4th grade in my experience) to teach kids how to write expositionally. (Google the phrase for more if curious.)

The technique is often criticized for being overly formulaic, but as you have observed, you can't argue with results. :-)

It's always good to see examples made public of the generally successful work of teachers. :-)

I have nothing but good things to say about the teachers and administration at my son's school (Sherman Elementary, in the Rush-Henrietta School District in suburban Rochester, NY). We originally considered homeschooling the boys, but decided to give the public schools a try, keeping the option open to pull them out if they (or we) were unhappy. Four years later, we've got no regrets.

Of course, they live in a house where writing and reading are valued and modeled for them (not just on blogs), so I'm sure that has some impact on their love of language and their writing skills, too. :)




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This page contains a single entry by Liz Lawley published on August 3, 2003 10:32 AM.

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