Tuesday, April 8, 2008

I'm Still Shaking My Head

I really vowed that I would not let this blog become "all about" one thing, like being a mom, being a daughter, being a wife, being a cancer survivor, being a teacher, being a "cat" person, etc. HOWEVER, some things just lend themselves to being the topic of the day.

Yesterday I commented on the continents and second graders. Well, today we have yet another educational type entry.

I teach reading intervention to second and third graders. I also teach some other stuff in the afternoons, but that varies so much that I don't consider that my primary responsibility. Each morning I spend half an hour with 3 different second grade classes and 3 different third grade classes.

As we are quickly approaching Ohio Achievement Testing Week for the third graders, I have been working on test taking skills and practice testing materials with those children.

Today we had this question:

(5) "He helps" me with my homework.

In sentence 5, "He helps" should be written —

A He were helping
B He have helped
C He help
D as it is

I explained what letter D meant (to leave the words "He helps" as they are written), then told them to read the question carefully, and eliminate one incorrect answer. After a minute or so, I had them eliminate another incorrect answer, then a third.

By this time, they only had one answer remaining (gee, that's a shock) and I had them circle that one they had left to indicate that it was their choice.

I had a total of fifteen third graders this morning. I was absolutely AMAZED that five of them got this WRONG!!

And then I read the sentence FOUR times, each time replacing "He helps" with each answer choice.

He were helping me with my homework.

He have helped me with my homework.

He help me with my homework.

He helps me with my homework.

The kids who got this wrong, still did not know why it was wrong!!! I stopped for a minute, and took control of myself. And then I began...

I looked at each one of them and told them that when they had grammar back in first grade, in addition to second and third grade, they should REMEMBER what they are taught AND they should USE it throughout their everyday life. When they go home they should use proper grammar. They should use proper grammar when they are outside for recess, in the cafeteria, during a specials class, in any other class and most importantly WITH THEIR PARENTS.

They were also reminded that we just don't use reading skills in reading class. We don't just use science skills in science class. We just don't use math skills in math class.

The sign of a great student is when a child can take what they've learned in any class and apply to it to anything else in their life.

I knew I was heading down a path where I needed to be very careful, so I was watching how I worded what I said next.

I told the kids that it is the parents' responsibility to help their children to correct their grammar at home, because proper grammar will ALWAYS be noticed. I told them that I do not permit my own children and husband to use the word "ain't" in our home or around me. I also told them that I correct the improper grammar of my children, even though they are 17 and 21, because they need to speak properly.

I also reminded the children that I model fluent reading for them at school, so they can hear what it sounds like, as their parents should at home. Additionally, I reminded them that their other teachers and I model proper grammar for them, and their parents should be modeling THAT for them also.

Then I went on a tangent about making a good first impression on people as they get older and how they only have ONE chance to do that and they shouldn't blow it. I also told them that when they are in their 20s and 30s and they have children of their own, it will be THEIR RESPONSIBILITY to model fluent reading and proper grammar for their kids.

What irritates me is that there are some parents out there in the world who have no idea how much they influence their own kids. They don't care what their children hear, see, or have to deal with. They don't care if their kids learn things properly.

And what is even MORE irritating is that I know there are so many other women and men out there who would give everything they have, and more, to become parents, and have not yet been able to travel down that path. And those are the people who would make sure that they raise their children in a strong, loving, caring, "doing what's best for them" type of environment.

Life can be so darn unfair sometimes.

The answer is D, for those of you who still may not be sure.


Jen said...

Oh, I so agree. I used to teach elementary school and one of my proudest accomplishments is that I got all my students to use "ask" instead of "axe". It was an uphill battle too.

Dr. Grumbles said...

I have had college students (in New Orleans)argue with me that C is correct because it is how "regular people" talk.

Seriously, in college classes I have gotten papers written EXACTLY like a conversation in the street and without proper puncuation usage. These folks had to pass high school to get to my class. Society has failed them.

Paulie said...


(Catching upon your posts below also . . . )