kitchen table math, the sequel: interviewing Mary Hake in 3 hours

Friday, June 26, 2009

interviewing Mary Hake in 3 hours

Yes, I know, this is ludicrously short notice, but I'm interviewing Mary Hake at 9:30 East Coast time - so if you have questions, let me know.

Here are some Comments at Homeschool Reviews (haven't read yet).

Also, if you have questions about portfolios & Writing Workshop / Reading Workshop, I'll ask those, too. I talked to her a bit about Writing Workshop & she may not have much experience with it - but I'm sure she'll have a lot to say about incremental teaching, aka skills taught in isolation.


Anonymous said...

Are there any other subject areas that she might be considering?


Catherine Johnson said...

OK, got it.

Anonymous said...

Whatever became of this interview? I've read good reviews about the Hake Grammar series, but I'm interested to know your opinion, Catherine.

Anonymous said...

Catherine's in IL taking care of her ailing mom.

I believe she did do the interview, but she hasn't written up, I don't think. We'll have to ask her about it when she's back in NY.


Anonymous said...

I find it interesting that the Writing Next team found that explicit grammar instruction actually had a negative effect on students' writing.

Here's the exact quote:

"Grammar instruction in the studies reviewed involved the explicit and systematic teaching of the parts of speech and structure of sentences. The meta-analysis found an effect for this type of instruction for students across the full range of ability, but surprisingly, this effect was negative. This negative effect was small, but it was statistically significant, indicating that traditional grammar instruction is unlikely to help improve the quality of students’ writing."

Here's a link to the main Writing Next page:

...and here's a link to the report itself:


Anonymous said...

I just skimmed the article, but the suggestions looked a lot like the program my district adopted.

It also has a tremendous amount of edu-jargon which always raises a red flag for me. And when I see those deep structure words like "strategies" I run for the door. I know what that looks like and the confusion it causes in students.

The problem with ignoring grammar in grade school and middle school is that eventually you have to go to high school and college, where they actually care about your ability to write. The SAT and ACT also care and neither test needs "collaborative writing" or constant rewriting to be successful. You only get one shot at the essay.

There were certainly some good things in there, but making "traditional" teaching, whatever that means, the bogeyman always raises my suspicions.

In our district, the teachers would send home a packet here and there, kind of a grammar "exposure" packet. This went on for years.

Later, when grades started to count, students needed to actually understand a lot of it (8 parts of speech included) to the point of mastery. Surprise!


Anonymous said...

I think that running for the door at the mention of the word "strategies" is a bit silly. Call it a formula instead of a strategy, if it makes you feel better. William Kerrigan's X123 is a writing strategy.

I wish that my kids were being taught specific writing strategies instead of being given a blank sheet of paper and told to use the "Six Traits". (Please show me a third grader who understands what "Voice" and "Sentence Fluency" mean.)

A specific story writing strategy like Harris & Graham's POW+WWW would do wonders with kids that freeze because they don't know what to write or how to write it. See:

This is nothing new; I learned it when I was a child. It's basic stuff that you would think any good teacher would use to help children with creative writing. But my kids looked at me like I was crazy when I asked them if their teacher had taught them to use the 5W's in their stories.

Please get rid of the 6 traits and bring on the 5W's and X123!

Crimson Wife said...

The strategy called "summarization" in the report sounds an awful lot like Charlotte Mason-style narration. Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose...

Anonymous said...


If my district had used Kerrigan as a strategy I wouldn't have had a problem. Instead there was a hyper focus on process before the kids were comfortable just writing a complete sentence.

In fact, structure rarely entered the picture. Only the essay forms were taught, as early as 2nd grade. My son was to infer and make global connections. He wouldn't have understood voice and sentence fluency at that age, either.

I'm not against those topics or the teaching of them at some point, but they seem to me to be higher level concepts that should come later.


ChemProf said...

Well, I looked at the section on "traditional grammar instruction", and would be curious to see what they meant by that, since they don't define their terms. Currently in most schools, there is little or no grammar instruction, and when there is a bit, it is cursory rather than systematic. So if they are testing the efficacy of a 10 minute weekly grammar exercise, which is the grammar instruction I had in middle school twenty years ago, I'm not surprised that it does nothing.

I do think that sentence combining is a great exercise, and am glad to see them encouraging that, but students still need to know the parts of speech.