3rd grade writing

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sotodog
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3rd grade writing

Postby sotodog » Thu Jan 26, 2012 3:20 pm

I apologize but I come from a public school background and am wondering about a 3rd grade homeschool writing curriculum. I have a bright 3rd grade boy in public school who is struggling with the brief constructed response (BCR). Is this something that is the 'teaching to the test' concern of public schools only or do homeschoolers also work on this type of writing too? He seems to do well if he can write about something that he likes and knows about.

I believe there are many different ways to teach and I honestly do not always believe that my son fits the public school box but I am not ready to pull the plug yet.

I have also been reading alot about how these type of writing skills 'generally' develop later in boys. My son tends to be a very literal kid who generally doesn't like fiction. He struggles with coming up with ideas.

DH is very concerned about this because my son excels in so many other areas except this one. I tend to be more laid back and have a wait and see approach. Anyway, does anyone have any comments about general 3rd grade writing curriculum? Any recommendations about material to help my son?

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Theodore
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Postby Theodore » Sun Jan 29, 2012 8:59 am

If I'm understanding the BCR concept, it's all about writing a brief paragraph in answer to a few bullet-points on some real-world topic, in which case it's really more a matter of how well you know the real-world topic and whether you can come up with a coherent, supported opinion on it in a short period of time. I'd say assign your son some news items to read every day, have him pick the one that interested him the most, then write him a question based on that news item and have him answer it. Eventually he'll get better and you can switch to picking one at random, then to asking questions about something related or something he may have read about weeks ago.

I don't have a lot of imagination either (though I'm good at modifying things to make them better...), and I write well because I read widely and have a lot of material to draw upon.

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Postby sotodog » Mon Jan 30, 2012 10:52 am

The BCR is simply an answer to a question. In this case it is the answer to a question about a short story to validate that the child understood the text.

It is taught many times using the hamburger as a metaphor. The bottom bun restates the question. The burger is the supporting details from the text (2 or 3 details). And the top bun is the summary which the child is also supposed to relate to him/herself somehow.

My son seems to understand the text but he seems to struggle with how to use the text to answer the question. He doesn't seem to 'understand' the question. He can explain the text.

Recently he had to read a folk tale called Half Chicken. The story goes: This half chicken heard he should see the viceroy at the castle so he took off. Along the way, chicken helped the water, fire and wind when they were stuck. When the chicken got to the castle where the viceroy was they went to cook half chicken in a pot of water. Half chicken asked the water, fire, and wind for help and they got him out of the pot. The BCR question was "What was the moral of this story" and my son said that "when someone helps you, you should help them". His statement to relate this back to him was that "if someone helps me, I should help him." He relayed this entire story to us from memory but he could not explain anymore details about 'WHY?'

It seems to me that he gets the point and understands the text but cannot communicate this with details from the text. He explained once that the questions are like 'yes' and 'no' questions.

What I want to understand is whether this skill is something that homeschoolers focus on, whether they have materials which might help with my son.

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Postby Theodore » Tue Jan 31, 2012 3:14 am

I don't think most homeschoolers are going to be -too- worried about lack of creative writing skill at 3rd grade. There's still years to go and lots of time to practice. Even more so with BCR, which is just a small, artificial subset of creative writing, and seems designed to teach you how to regurgitate what you read rather than think about it and form an opinion. Using the example you just gave, it would have been much more fun if they left out the ending and then asked you to come up with one, or asked you to make a judgment call on whether to help water, fire, and wind and then explain your reasoning. I'd have no problems coming up with answers to either of those, but my answer to the question as stated might have been essentially the same as your boy's, since what more needs to be said? If you want the textbook answer, you're going to have to supply him with plenty of examples so he can figure out the pattern and replicate it.

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Postby sotodog » Tue Jan 31, 2012 8:07 am

Thanks for your opinion. I am really trying to get perspective as to what others are doing because there are so many ways to get to the finish line and I don't think the public school method is the only way. While I should not compare my kids, my 2nd grade daughter flies through this stuff. The school system is expecting the kids to be able to do this because the test scores track the kids. So what are we to do or think when our child struggles with this? We have always been told my son is bright (recently supported by standardized tests) and this is the first area of difficulty and I believe DH is struggling to accept or understand this. I think DH and my approach to this issue is the real issue here because if my husband wasn't so concerned about this, I would probably let it go since the teachers are not too concerned.

I never really understood what the 'teaching to the test' philosophy really meant until now. Now I see. I too don't always understand how to answer some of these BCR questions.

I admire homeschoolers and wish I could do it. I love learning (what I want to learn). I love exposing the kids to stuff they are interested in. We love museums and talking about real events in the world. I hear about the kids watching movies in school and other 'silly things' and wonder how much 'learning' they actually do. But this is another story that is not part of this post.

Thanks for your opinion.

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Theodore
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Postby Theodore » Sat Feb 04, 2012 1:34 am

If you have to take the test, then the test is important. Otherwise, it can be largely ignored. Your son will need to be able to write at least baseline well by high school, but it's entirely possible he may be going into a vocational or technical major that requires very little writing, in which case the focus should be on advancing him far ahead in those areas and not worrying so much about the writing. Homeschooling's advantage is in being able to focus a much larger percentage of your time on a much smaller area, since in the real world it's all about being good at your major / specialty.

Not that writing should be entirely ignored, mind you, but I feel that most writing skills can be built just by reading enough good books. How much does your son read?

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Postby Blessings4all » Tue Feb 07, 2012 2:36 pm

Do you live in Maryland? It appears that BCR questions are in that state. Here are a few resources for you.
Here is a link to a Yahoo Answers page. Someone asked how a BCR should be written and a teacher answered with a great description of how to write one.

I wrote an article recently about teaching your child how to write a good paragraph. You might want to check it out.
Teach Your Child How to Write a Good Paragraph
It shows the "Hamburger Method". You may not need to teach your child about the "hook" yet. I'm guessing they just want a topic sentence.

Good luck to you.
Many blessings,
Susan

www.HomeschoolWithLove.com - Homeschooling made easy for you & fun for the kids.

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Postby Llola » Mon Feb 13, 2012 7:43 pm

Have you looked at Winning With Writing? I'm using this my son. The lessons are short and easy to understand. The material isn't dry and boring. You can see samples of the curriculum on the website.


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