10/27/08

Rags the dog

Can I just say that I could be a curriculum writer. No, let me rephrase that, anyone could be a curriculum writer. Anyone with half and brain and grammar check that it is. Now, I'm not the grammar Nazi. Even working that the WC, I knew that was a weaker point. When students wanted my help in that specific area, I always started casting my eyes around for someone like Anona or Leanna who were good at that. At least, I thought they were. I don't think I have ever had a conversation about this with them. But I guess since they were English majors I assumed...oh well. Anyway, not my area of expertise.
However (oh the fateful and most powerful word of however) in the recent curriculum my school district received to aid us in teaching reading comprehension there are, count them, 7 grammatical errors on page three and 5 errors on page four.
Here is an excerpt from this miraculous piece of cut down trees and wasted ink:

"Hey Jill." Isn't that your dog, Rags?" said Susan.
"Why yes. How did he get to school." said Jill.
"Better take him home. Dogs aren't allowed in school you know." said Susan.
"I will take him home a lock him in the kitchen." said Jill.

The rest of the book continues on in this manner, and I will not bother you with its drivel.
In my opinion, which may not be worth terribly much to the rest of the world and certainly wasn't of significance to my coworkers, if you are going to bother to write a curriculum and sell it for the exorbitant amount of $250 a teacher, you would at least be sure that you had the correct number of quotation marks placed in the appropriate locations.
Aside from the grammar, the question that begs to be asked is, "What in the world are our students suppose to comprehend from a story like this?"
The answer: There is nothing to comprehend. No wonder more that 75% of kids hate reading now. They are expected to read and analyze this?

In other news, I've joined the harrowing and somewhat insane world of the insomniacs. Is there anything special I have to do to be inducted in, or does it just happen based on cumulative hours spent awake at night? You more seasoned veterans will have to let me know.
And if there are anymore posts about grammar at 4 am, you'll know why.
Goodnight.

9 comments:

Sky said...

Jewels (I don't know why I started with that nickname, but it fits),while this is ironically hilarious, isn't there anything you can do to stop this illiteracy from spreading further? I honestly think this may be why more profs. on this campus do not assign more papers, because they're too embarrassed to admit they don't know grammar or usage either. (I don't know why I'm complaining. This actually makes us worth our weight in gold.) Aside from the blatant misuse of commas, my favorite part is this line: "'Why yes. (long pause with the period adds slight smile, raised eyebrows--drama. Whew) How did he get to school.' said Jill." Ha ha ah. May I use this in seminar? You've got to join face book, so we can send this to Jill. (We don't have good writing there like this piece, but you and Jami need to break down and join just to see the pictures of Leanna's Chinese baby, say Hi to Antoinette and Mike, and get a really good look at model EmPo's photos of wedding. They're dazzling. (C'mon, you Pristine Divas, just do it. EmPo? Ivor? Talk to them.)
But, also, you're so right about content. Said Jill should have said,"Why yes, Sister Susan. That %$#@*# drug-dealer did cut off my dog's head." Ah, the joys of our public school system.
And, hey, do NOT even mess with insomnia. Crystal and I are still in our contest, which is sad that we have to get competitive just to crawl in bed by 1:00 am. Right now she's way ahead, though I did make it by 11:30 a couple of nights. But, seriously, Google "sleep deprivation," and it'll scare the crap out of you. Plus, Alyssa (my health science major) says your body can't get the sleep back. But, I love you. (I would have answered you back last night, but I've grounded myself from the computer from 9 pm onward, so while you were writing, I was out shining a flash light on this blankety-blank beaver. (He actually slaps the water with his tail to scare me, forgetting what I did to his parents. Poor thing.) It has taken me five months--when did we start with the star chart, Crystal? June or July?-- to get my metabolism back to where it gets slightly slowed down by 12:00 pm. But if I stay up a minute past 12:00, I get a second-wind and don't make it to a pillow 'till 5:00 am. My body's gone (see Dan's pic); my memory's gone (even more than before); my brilliant intellect is now buried deep within my hypothalamus (sp); and I have Nada as in zero empathy or compassion (ask present assistants)--all from insomnia. Don't do it. Ha. I'm talking like it's a choice. Sure. Either get a walking program, help from your doctor, or a hammer.

Emily Goodsell said...

Julie, I feel your pain. I'm one of the few teachers at my high school who cares to teach grammar/mechanics etc. The rest of them think it's just not worth the time. So many of my students (yes, juniors and seniors) don't know what a semicolon is. They thought that it was just a fancy comma. We've been working on using them correctly, and now that they can write simple sentences like "My shirt is red; his shirt is blue.", it seems like we've made huge headway.

My greatest complaint though is that my students don't know how to write essays. At the beginning of the year, my students didn't know what a thesis statement was--MY HONORS STUDENTS, even. When we discussed it, they all argued with me about the placement of the thesis, claiming that it is the first sentence of the introduction. Their other teachers told them so. It goes something like this: "Today I'm going to talk to you about ______." And it ends with "I hope you enjoyed listening to my essay about ______." I'm trying to teach them, but it's so slow and terribly painful, and I still don't know if it's doing anything. Sister Morgan, how do I teach someone to write an essay? HELP.

Sky said...

Wow. You're really scaring me.

I don't think you can teach writing through theory. If you can get them to write something that interests them, you can show them how to mold the mess into an essay with a thesis and detail. That'll also teach them that revision is a must. But the big trick is get them interested in what they write. What surprised them recently? What embarrasses them? What habits do their brothers or friends have that drive them nuts? etc. You can pick the questions better than I can because you know them better--just keep them narrow and small. Good luck. I feel like sending some of these experiences to the Ed. Dept. because we've sent some of those teachers out there. But, I'm awfully proud of you two for fighting so hard in the trenches.

Julie M said...

So just thought I'd let you know that the hammer doesn't work. Oh well. And I really enjoyed your revised version of Rags the Dog much better than the present stuff. I should really send you a chapter out of this book. Then you would really be afraid.
Emily, I feel for you. But it comforts me to know you are there helping these students. We were both blessed with Sis. Morgan's tutelage. Hopefully we can pass that on in some small way.
I thought I should let you know, Sis. Morgan, that I taught my Young Women a lesson on mask's on Sunday. Although many of them gave me blank stares, I think I saw a glimmer of recognition in some of their eyes.
How is your hammer doing? Or do you think the sticker chart helps? I've tried that out on many of my students for behavior issues (hating myself all along--it feels so wrong to treat a human being, no matter how small, like Pavlov's dog. Education is so scary sometimes, and I fear I add to the fear.)
Want you both to know that I miss you.

Julie M said...

PS I like "Jewels" as a nickname. It reminds me of Shannon. She always called me that.

Sky said...

Julie, you can not imagine how much good you and EmPo do for me. Teaching is a thankless job. It's not like working on a painting or making a leather bag--you never get to see a finished product, so in terms of behaviorism, you never get rewarded except by yourself. What I mean by that is WE know when we've done a good job or not. Over the years, when a class went bad, I'd go back to my office and study it to find out why. But, in teaching, the effort you put in and knowing you're doing the best you can has to be the reward. Yes, I get letters, and my best Christmas present was the beautiful box filled with cards from assistants saying specifically what I'd helped them with while they worked at the Center. And Jami made a power point with all the notes she'd written down from seminar, stuff that had fallen out of my mouth--though I'm sure she had to edit carefully here and there. The PP brought tears. But usually it's a pretty thankless job. Thank you for thanking me. I'm not working in my trained field of teaching literature--which is my first love. And most of the time, I feel I'm just sinking training into students that Karen Holt and the English Dept. benefit the most from. This hurts, not only because I feel such a betrayal from the English Dept, but because we can't seem to keep really trained students. They get some training here, and some other department or person benefits from long hours of seminars. It makes me wish for the old days with Shalese and Travis, Chris, you and EmPo, Jami, Hyrum, Leanna--who were so incredibly responsible, who saw the WC as a stewardship, and who literally soaked up knowledge, which made every lesson I prepared a joy to teach. Then, the next lesson could be higher and better. You are incredibly strong people. And you must not forget that. If I can help you in anyway possible, I'd love to do it, though at this point, the advice I give seems stupid while you're in the trenches. Again, Girl, thank you for thanking me. ( And the stickers were merely a way of keeping track of our progress--or in Crystal's and my own attempt to get control over the insomnia--our non progress.)

Julie M said...

You deserve to be thanked by all of us.
Most of us (at least myself) owe you our lives ambition. Or at the very least, a search for truth and honesty. I could go on, but I won't for the risk of getting sentimental.

Do you think strep is contagious across blog lines?
Who am I kidding? I work with 20 walking viral cesspools. Do I even need to contemplate where my illnesses come from?

Chan said...

Here's a thanks, though not phrased as a thanks. Sis. Morgan taught me (and hopefully everyone in seminar) that writing well is, at base, about writing honestly. That's still the foundation of my [insert term that means "writing philosophy" but that doesn't sound so pretentious].

Julie, I don't understand how your hammer doesn't work. Hammers are not complicated tools. I don't mean to be disagreeable, but I have to point out that, in light of a hammer's simple design, if your hammer is not working, you may be using it incorrectly. Eric, whom you don't know, is very mechanically inclined; maybe he can give us all some hammer-wielding tips.

I loved the excerpt. My favorite part is "I will take him home a lock him in the kitchen." It sounds so vindictive, like this is from the script of a made-for-TV movie about a dog with sensationally abusive owners. "You will never leave he kitchen, Rex. And I will force youto eat cat food!"

Sky said...

Hey, thanks, Chan.
And I think we should use the hammar on you, dumdum. (Chan has perfect sleeping habits--no concept of insomnia.)My favorite lines in the comments are "I work with 20 walking viral cesspools. Do I even need to contemplate where my illnesses come from?"

I adore what Elder Worthlin said in conference. He quoted his mother who told him, "Come what may. And love it."