For the new semester, every student in all of my classes is assigned to write at least three sentences a day in their own personal journal. They can write about anything they want. The only rule I have is that they write something. I collected the journals of three classes today, and I want to show you the difference in writing quality, even just inside the same section of the sixth grade. So we can end on a positive note, here are excerpts from the weaker of two student submissions.
myself to play with friend she milet mai bine mathe and fathe to play by mine and may bpothe
aunt my folk are form at home a bull, a hen, a rooster, goose, goot to other she may much oneself to occupy he they
Bpother es student Mather also father no to proces I am stydent. Family my is mika in foif person. Bpother litle is we live hard sumpathetic.
have two cow with to eat herb maize, straw, haw and straw also wheat on they Mathe has to milc the cows we to hawe much milky
You can see why as soon as I read this, I went to the computer to type it up; I need a few readings to comprehend how to correct it. In case you're wondering, the mix-ups between P's and R's and between Y's and U's is based on confusion with the Cyrillic alphabet. This is a common mistake for weaker students who go into generic "foreign language mode" and mix English with Russian. I might do that too, if I had to study two foreign languages, both for too little time each week, starting in fifth grade. On to the other example for the day, from a girl in the same class:
17.1.2006 - Tuesday
I today red one book. She be very intersting. This book be about two girls. One girl is fine and athes is malignant. At to school I receive note 9 and 10. In this today I be very happy.
20.1.2006 - Friday
I and Nicu need new clothes. We are going to the children's shop to buy some. Nicu wants a new jacket. He tries one on. I hasn't got a blazer. I wants one.
21.1.2006 - Sunday
Bucharest is the capital of Romania. It is large and beautiful town. It has many new blocks of flats, wide streets and large park and gardens.
The children are very hungry when they come back from school. For lunch they have fish or meat and vegetables. Then they have fruit or pudding or a piece of cake.
That range exists just in the sixth grade. The range is actually even more severe, since there are students who haven't written anything. The girl who gave the first example above will get a good grade for at least putting forth an effort every day.
[After writing this original entry, I had aВ dilemma with a seventh-grade girl's diary. She had bought a Barbie diary with one of those cheap "locks" on the side. I had the keys, but accidentally slipped them inside the diary. The diary clasped shut, leaving the keys sandwiched between the pages. My mind flashed back to my childhood, occasionally trying to pry into my sister's diary. It was childish what I was about to do, but I had no choice. And so I, at the age of 22, sat at my desk in Moldova and used two pen tips to "pick" the lock of my student's diary. I guess not much has changed, except now I'm the authority figure and I'm still trying to open up girls' diaries. And if you're wondering, Yes, I succeeded.]