Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Teaching Writing and Self-Confidence

Finally I pulled out a workbook I bought for D to do concerning the Industrial Revolution. He likes it because it's about machines and inventions. The main reasons I chose this book are
1. it's about machines and inventions
2. it has discussion and debate questions that are perfect for writing assignments.
The subjects interest him so I think he'll be more likely to write coherently about them. So far, so good. It's Instructional Fair's The Industrial Revolution from the Eye On History series.
Before this I had him only writing chapter summaries from assigned reading books. That was very difficult for him, he hated it so very much. He had a whole lot of trouble summarizing main ideas, giving supporting details, all of that. But it helped him enormously. He had to do that because he couldn't orally summarize a chapter and he kept forgetting what had happened in the previous day's reading. Now that he's improved so much, we're moving on to this new book - he'll choose one side of a debate and prove his argument with facts gleaned from his reading. So far he's done two 'mini-essays' and has done quite well. I'm quite pleased with his progress and just as pleased with his attitude. He starts out at a loss and totally freaked out and confused until we finish working through what points need to be made. He can tell me what evidence he has that proves his point but is so worried that he can't write it before he forgets. That's okay, that just means he needs to be walked through it for a while. Once he gets calmed down and gets started, he does a wonderful job! As long as I compliment him on the parts that are well done, he gains more confidence. It always helps him to be reminded that he did well before and can do it again. His biggest problem seems to be his own fear.