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January 27, 2012


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Fight for correct usage! Long ago I worked in a school district in which memos from the superintendent's office regularly had spelling, punctuation, and typing errors. (Think "hte".) I don't believe it's any wonder that the students' standardized test scores were always low....

Stay strong on holding up high standards on your writing assignments. As a professional with 30 years in a technical field, I can tell you that the people who succeed are the ones who can communicate effectively in writing and in speaking. Your students deserve to be prepared to enter their working lives with skills that will get them where they want to go.

This is unrelated to your current post, but I want to tell you that I thought of your daughter and her "dinder" and "doughduts" yesterday when I heard my 3 year old utter the word "domidoes" (dominoes)!

So ask your students if they think there is a difference between an A and a B on a paper. Tell them that you think there is, too...and that in your class, that difference can come from great content with POOR USAGE.

This is their chance to learn how to succeed. I like to think that someday you're going to get a letter from a student who will thank you for having such high standards.

But I also have to say that I don't think the student barbs should sting as much; they come not from the students who worked to have A's, but from the students who settled for B's. It's really not your fault they made that decision.

That reminds of one of the comments my husband got as a teaching assistant during his Masters. A student actually wrote, "You should mark what I mean not what I say." Keep your standards high. When I was student I appreciated teachers like you because most profs would see that I could structure a paper and a sentence better than most students and would hardly give me feedback on where I could improve. When a teacher actually did take the time to really dig in I respected them more. You're doing them a favour if they choose to accept it.

Keep your standards high. My advisor used to scare the pants off of her students on the first day of class when she gave people her expectations. Her expectations forced me to work really hard on papers for her and I ended up doing better in grad school as a result.

I provided a guide to how I graded, including the key information that a paper with no thesis statement got an F. We used to workshop papers and discuss what grade other students thought papers deserved, and some classes just got it better than others.
"I'd give it a B. I mean, it didn't have a thesis, but other than that, it was good."

Piling onto Sarah's unrelated comment: My 3yo says "try-kih-sol" for tricycle :) He started with "try-kih-kohl" but clearly could tell there should be a "sss" in there somewhere, and then decided on the proper place... and so far, there it has stayed :)

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