Analysis of Their Own Writing:
A Statistical Picture of Sixth
A "picture" of sixth graders writing is important
because it can tell us a lot about what we should be trying to teach sixth
graders. Many grammar textbooks claim that they help students improve their
writing, but I have yet to see a textbook geared for students at a specific
grade level that is based on how students at that level actually write.
If you browse through the analysis keys above, you will find that the KISS
Approach can explain the syntax of the vast majority of words in these
students' writing. There are very few gerundives and appositives, for example,
even in the writing of the most sophisticated of these students. What I
am suggesting, once again, is that students do not need a mass of grammatical
terms in order to discuss the style (and errors) in their own writing.
One of the things you will note if you look
through all the samples from the PA Standards is the extremely wide range
of sophistication in the samples. Some of the students wrote very little,
and did so in very simple sentences; others wrote a lot more, and did so
using a wide range of clause structures and very varied sentence structure.
As students analyze the samples, they will see this for themselves, and
will, in general, see for themselves how their own writing compares to
that of their peers.
Another purpose of this set of exercises
is to provide statistical background for some of the KISS "Statistical"
Exercises. It is my intention to return to this set and to provide a statistical
analysis, comparable to that
I have done for seventh graders. (Before doing so, I want to put sets
comparable to this one in some of the other grades, so that, there too,
students can use examples of the writing of their peers simply to understand
sentence structure.) In order to use these examples as exercises ("S_Ex"
above), most of the errors in them have been edited out. In the statistical
evaluation, these errors are included -- and discussed. The results, I
believe, will be comparable to those for the seventh graders -- most errors
are misspelling of subject/verb words ("it's," "its"; "they're," there,"
etc.), or they are fragments, comma-splices, and run-ons, i.e., clause
boundary errors. To avoid or fix these errors, students do not need to
learn bunches of grammatical terms -- they need to learn how to analyze
sentences. And that is what the KISS Approach attempts to enable them to
do. See also
KISS Level 6.5
The primary point of this is that students
should attempt a statistical analysis of their own written responses to
one of the prompts. Not only does this integrate English and math, it provides
students the opportunity to closely examine the structure of their own
sentences. Even if they have problems with the statistics, students will
note, for example, that there are a lot (or very few) subordinate
clauses in their own writing.
here for the detailed statistical analysis of this set of samples.