kitchen table math, the sequel: Steve H on "language arts"

Friday, May 8, 2009

Steve H on "language arts"

My son is now in 7th grade and I still don't know what goes on in Reading and Language Arts.

This area gets double the time now. Reading is a full course and LA is a full course. He reads books (all of the same genre - He never gets any history or biography books) but there is not a lot of writing going on. One time, he had to do a board game for a book. That would be his third so far in his school career. One time, he was allowed to do a web page about a book. My son can create a video and upload it to YouTube in minutes (self-taught). What he really needs is more help in writing.

Everything I see about schools screams low expectations.

Twenty-first century skills are vocational. What kids need are knowledge and skills that have passed the test of time; reading, math, history, and critical analysis and writing.

Three board games.


That's a lot of board games.

the high school vanishes


Anonymous said...

Teaching writing takes years of corrected practice, in increasing amounts and complexity. Recent posts on Joanne Jacobs' website, under the Rebel Writer headline, have some practical suggestions, some of which used to be common practice. Teaching writing - and spelling- can and should be combined with teaching content, in literature, history, science and geography. BTW, does any school actually teach geography any more?
It seems that geography vanished and history was minimized when social studies was created. I remember when geography was taught as a separate subject, in junior high, after years of exposure in elementary school.

momof4 said...

Steve H, my sons and daughter loved the Rosemary Sutcliff books, which are very well-written; construction and vocabulary. She has versions of the Iliad, the Odyssey, Tristan and Iseult, Beowulf, Boadicea and a King Arthur trilogy which can be read to young elementary schoolers even before they can read them independently. There are also a number of historical novels, with young male protagonists, about Roman Britain, which are middle-school level or better. It sounds as if you son might like them. I can still read them myself and enjoy them.

Schools seem to have attached themselves firmly to the idea that content doesn't matter, either in reading or writing. I posted on Joanne Jacobs' website, under the Rebel Writer headline, the way I was taught to write, using all subject areas, back in the Dark Ages.

palisadesk said...

Amen to the suggestion of Rosemary Sutcliff's books for the 6th-8th grade (or better) reader. I was spellbound by them myself at that age, and my favorites were The Eagle of the Ninth (about Roman Britain), Warrior Scarlet (about prehistoric life in the Bronze Age), and Knight's Fee (Medieval period). These are all masterfully written; they are gripping and suspenseful narratives with complex characters whose lives make real the meaning of loyalty, courage, maturity, sacrifice and redemption -- characteristics often missing or minor elements in contemporary "issues-oriented" fiction for the young.

A series of similarly gripping historical novels -- not written for kids, but easily accessible to a good reader of that age -- were written by Zoe Oldenbourg. I still remember being so engrossed in the first novel in the series, The World is not Enough at age 12 that I didn't want to put it down and open Christmas presents.

Anonymous said...

Kids at that reading level may also enjoy Ellis Peter's medieval mysteries, featuring Brother Cadfael.

Thanks for the recommendation; I'll check out Zoe Oldenbourg.

VickyS said...

I am happy to say my son attends a high school that offers a full semester course in geography, which he has taken. It's one of the most important classes he'll ever have, in my opinion.

In our living room, instead of paintings we have large maps of the US and the world.

That's to go along with our kitchen table math, of course.

Catherine Johnson said...

oh my gosh -- thank you so much -- what a fantastic lot of suggestions.


I fear these things need to be "pulled up front" AND I need to read ALL of Joanne Jacob's commenter's posts.

Catherine Johnson said...

I've never even heard of Rosemary Sutcliff!

good grief

9 more days 'til board & budget election, then I plan to have a life again

"a life" meaning "a life on the blog"

Catherine Johnson said...

Did we once do a list of alternative history novels?

I love those & so does Ed.

Barry Garelick said...

"a life" meaning "a life on the blog""Life on the Blog" by Catherine Johnson. An alternative novel to Life on the Mississippi.