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GENERAL SUGGESTIONS. I. In small classes, hear every pupil read his composition, or part of it, every day. In large classes, call for the reading of eight or ten, or fewer, at each lesson, criticising orally such matters as may be noticed, until all of a set have been read. Let this occupy only a part of each lesson-time. But do not call for the reading of a whole set on the same subject, unless there is variety in its treatment, except sometimes, perhaps, in classes of young children.
II. Do not allow pupils to make again and again the same inistake which you have corrected in their papers. See that they get the good of your pains with their work; make some memorandum of frequent mistakes of individual pupils who are careless; at a convenient and proper time, call their attention especially to these. (Examples: “ Mary Brown, “ Looks like he was,' —third time”; “ Henry Green, ‘Different than,' second time.")
III. Occasionally copy, or cause to be copied, upon the board, short compositions which are correct in spelling, syntax, punctuation, capitals, etc., etc., but uninteresting, full of platitudes, unnecessary assertions, and spun-out sentences. (Use anonymously old papers of previous term or year.) Draw from the class criticisms, reasons why these are dull, etc., etc., but lead the critics to see, first, that the papers are correct in every particular; and, afterwards, that correct writing is not necessarily good writing.
IV. Let each lesson-time be taken up partly with reading and criticising compositions already prepared (in preceding lesson-hours, in the school-room, and nowhere else), and partly with continuing others already begun, or beginning new ones.
V. Whatever oral criticism is done by the class should be so directed as to prevent hypercriticism, and criticism of anything else than the matter and writing. The feeling that all learners make mistakes and that they ought to be grateful for correction should be one of the first lessons learned in the composition class.
VI. Correct always, yourself, the mistakes made by young children. Indicate by signs the nature of the errors in the exercises of older children, and require them to correct for themselves, each his own. Occasionally ask each pupil to rise at his desk, after having received a corrected paper, and say whether he understands all the markings made, and whether he can correct according to them.
VII. Require each pupil to keep a book in which he copies such of his compositions as the teacher may think best, perhaps one a week; the books to be inspected monthly or fortnightly.
VIII. Remember that all young pupils need to be told plainly, once, what you mean, when introducing any new kind of lesson. Tell a child, for example, to write something about “ Little Chickens," and leave him to himself to do it. A blank stare, or a “ I don't know how" is what may be naturally expected. Try the other plan of asking questions, and talking for a little while on the subject, until the children see what kind of things they may write, or what kind of things will be good enough to write, and then say: “Now write me something about ‘Little Chickens,'” and you may get twenty such little papers as this:
“My white hen Snowball has six brown chickens and three yellow ones. They are soft as cotton and have dear little red feet. The hen lets me take them in my hand if I stay by her, but she clucks and puts her head up to see what I do. I guess she knows I could not hurt such pretty things. The little brown ones have fine black stripes on the sides of their heads, and a broader one on the back. Ned says they look like baby quails. The yellow chickens will be white when they are older. They are like Snowball, but she does not like them any better, or feed them any more, than she does the others.
JENNY GREY." Or:
“ Ben had three little chickens that had no hen-mamma. He gave them to me. I keep them in the yard, in a box that has no bottom. When I feed them, they run under my hand to get warm. Every night, I put them into a basket, and cover them with wool, and set them by the fire; if they get cold, they cry, and I have to warm them, for they make so much noise I cannot go to sleep. I have named one of them Dandelion, one of them Squeak, and the other Ducky Daddles, because it always steps in the water-dish.
A SIMPLE little play in dumb show affords A good material for training in accuracy of detail and its order. With the exception of the names of those acting, nothing is to be left to the imagination in the first lesson, but the whole is to be a literal narrative of the action. In the second, dialogue to suit the action is to be invented. This exercise may be modified or elaborated to serve in any grade from the Primary to the High School. Little lessons in the First and Second Readers will lend themselves admirably to this use, the simple lessons being the best to begin with. (McGuffey's First Reader, Lessons XLIII., LIII., parts of LIX., and LX., XXII., VIII.; Second Reader, Lessons I., II., XII., 7-11., XVI., XX., XXXVIII., L.; Appleton's First Reader, Lessons XXII., XXIII., XXVIII., XXXVI., XVII., XVIII. ; Appleton's Second Reader ; California Series, First Reader