Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Topic: Dealing with Parent Complaints about the Writing Program

10-second review: Go to the source. Talk to your English teacher about the writing program. If there is a problem with grammar, what is it from your point of view? Find out what the teacher intends to do about it. Read actual examples of your child’s compositions.

Title: “Grammar and Composition: Myths and Realities.” C Kuykendall. English Journal (December 1975), 6-7. A publication of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).

Comment: Long ago, I found out that when people stand up in school board meetings and say that our students can’t read and write, I needed to find out from them exactly what they meant by “can’t read” or “can’t write.” Until the problem is defined, I couldn’t help to resolve it. “They don’t understand their textbooks” is a different problem from “they do not read anything outside of school.”

One time, the parents said their children were not being taught to write because they never saw any compositions coming home. When we were able to show them the collected compositions in the students’ folders, they recognized that the students were being taught to write. But we also learned that we needed to send the compositions home for their parents to see them before we filed them. We filed them, of course, so that students could analyze their progress from composition to composition. We also needed to send home the complete file at the end of the year so that students and parents could assess their progress together—before returning the file to keep for the following year.

We need to learn from parents their perceptions of the students’ problems in learning to read and to write. “They can’t read” and “They can’t write” are too general to be of any help in resolving the students’ problems. RayS.

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