Tuesday, March 20, 2012

"Perplexed" by Proofreading~

The boys had begun working with IEW's Fix-it program and my youngest is having some trouble. I wanted to share about this to encourage and help support other parents who might have run into the same things for their children while working Fix-it. * updated included*

I haven't quite figured out just what I am going to do with Fix it, but believe that for my boys the best way for them to have Grammar/Usage learning and reinforcement is to be able to edit/proofread their work and pieces of information. For them it brings the abstractness of grammar into a more concrete way.

We found the following issues with Fix-it: ( keeping in mind I am teaching special needs children)

* We have worked two weeks of the program and are now starting Week 3 and I found the first week and the second week to be hard to do because the first week explains that they will be working Subjects, Verbs, Indentation and Sentence Opener #1.  When working the sentences we found that on day 3 they also added in Sentence Opener #3 which we had not gone over at that point. This caused some confusion, even for me.

* The second thing I noticed is that it works on many different concepts with the sentence and that seems to be a bit overwhelming for them. When your trying to have a learner "learn" vocabulary words, find the subject, find all the verb and verb phrases, look to see if a sentence "should be" indented or not (and learn and follow those rules), correct errors in spelling ie., homophones etc.. , and identify a sentence opener to that sentence.  Let's just say for a child who has a language disability, this can be ALOT.

I do think it can be done, but I am wondering if this can be done a bit slower and more gently ~ I still plan on using Fix-it I am thinking I just may use it more when the boys have more experience in editing and proofreading. I also think it would be more helpful if the boys had full understanding of all IEW's suggested Sentence Openers as well.

My goal here is to help them learn and practice editing since this is a major part of the SAT's. Not so much knowing grammar so this program was to help me, help them. Not to hinder and make them feel overwhelmed. I might suggest this program to be used for a child who has several solid years of IEW underneath them and also may not have significant language disability.

These are just my own thoughts. I am sure Fix-it is very successful with children, however, my boys are unique in some ways with their learning strengths and weaknesses and the whole point of home learning is to adjust things to meet them where they are at not overwhelm them and work above their learning abilities if I wanted to do that I would just send them back to school.

Here are some resources I found to help practice editing and putting grammar knowledge to more productive use:
Everyday Edits - click on the month for editing activities that are appropriate for that month. ( level 4th grade and up- however, there is a link for younger grades where you would do one edit per week while learning the basics of grammar and usage)
Grammar Girl: Proofreading Tips - I love idea #1 - "reading your work backwards" this would help my boys  break down the tasks in little chunks because by reading it backwards they need to just concentrate on one word at a time~ I would then have them read it the correct way for usage editing as well.
Samples of Evan Moor Daily Language Review-( works up to grade 6)
Sample of Evan Moor Paragraph editing- ( works grades 2- 6+) You can find more samples here for Evan Moor products.
Daily Editing Paragraphs , from Mrs. Zimmerman's Learning Conservatory- here is some that a teacher made up, no answer key that I saw.
Power Proofreading- this is a fun online interactive game to practice editing
Spelling Connections - an online interactive that is great for online practice in editing/proofreading.
Harcourt School Grade 4 Proofreading- this one you get to choose which area to work in while editing.

Update: upon writing this post I had posted on the IEW families yahoo group and wrote to Jill.  She responded promptly explaining the following to me in a nutshell ( and I wanted to share it here in case it provides helpful information for my readers) 

* The book contains 5 stories the first two stories are based on the Level A learning series, the middle one is based on the Level B and the last two stories are based on Level C. ( this helped me to know where I actually "was" in the program based on level and ability)

* Jill wrote " With your dyslexic 13 yo, I would start with Tom Sawyer. It will help him
gain confidence and will teach the grammar and the punctuation from scratch,
so he'll be sure to have it all."  ( this I think is very true and for him, learning while doing (editing/proofreading helps him give it more meaning and therefore I feel like I am teaching more for meaning which really helps, so even if I set this aside just for a bit, teaching grammar and punctuation through the writing and editing will really help us be successful) 

* I explained to Jill about the first two weeks and how they explain it is for SO #1 yet they added #2 and #3 as exercises for SO's, Jill wrote back "  The advanced concepts are for
when you are using Fix it with an older student along with a younger, or if
your student is ready. Since your son is not, just ignore those advanced
concepts. "  ( I must have missed this ~ now that I go back to the book I can see there is an exclamation mark before these two sentence openers so this would be skipped for the older learner. - I feel like for this program because they smooshed multi-levels in here I might need to make notes or highlight what I need to work otherwise I will get messed up while teaching I think this is one of the only draw backs with Fix-it - it would be nice to see it written for the separate levels. ) 
* One thing I did like that Jill explained is that with Fix-it I am in complete control so if I just want to choose what I need to do say for example only working the grammar and punctuation I can do that.  She said let the other things go and just do what I want. Jill explained that those concepts I missed would be again repeated again in the other later stories. I liked that, however I think I might still set it aside just a bit so that when we go to work it with him I can take more full advantage of the book ~ 

* Jill offered a bit more advice while working Fix-it with a Dyslexic: "  I would also plan on applying this to many other sentences throughout the
day. Dyslexics have a terrible time memorizing things, so they need more
repetition. It takes at least 55 reps to remember something, and I think
dyslexics need something like 155 reps!!

When you are reading together, point out a sentence and ask, "what is the
subject?; the verb?" If he doesn't know, just tell him. The lesson does not
need to be mastered that day; just keep reminding him over and over.
Eventually it will click (right about the time you are ready to pull your
hair out. ;)

As Anna Ingham said, keep the lessons short and snappy. It is ok if your son
is a little wide-eyed. But keep doing it over and over with a laugh and make
it fun. Sometimes make outrageous sentences for him to try: King Kong
tip-toed through the tulips. What is the subject? What is the verb? "The
elephant sprayed the crowd with forty gallons of water." What is the
subject? the verb? :) 

We end up doing this often and because we do my son really gets it. I have to laugh because sometimes I get the eyes rolling because I am integrating things so much. lol But it does help and they know it. I find I even do it with other subjects for example if we are working on learning what variables are in an experiment I might suggest or explain a variable when in the kitchen or a situation on the new, lol I get the " I KNOW MOM"!  but hey I am their teacher and mom what do they expect! ? :) 
Until next time~


Kathy D. said...

These are great! I have kids much like yours and find Fix It! to be overwhelming as well. Thank you so much for these resources!

Kathy D.

Learners at Home said...

I am so glad this helped you! And have to admit I am relieved to hear and read your comments, its nice to know that there are other learners out there like my own :) Please feel free to share this with others you think might find it helpful too~thanks again~



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