Sample Dictation Lesson

Dictation Lessons Need for Dictation Lessons In composition the thought is stressed all the time. “Bear hard upon your subject,” says a book of advice to adult writers. “What is it you are trying to say?” we ask again and again when a child becomes self-conscious and hesitates over the form. Always the thought is kept in the foreground, and rightly so. Yet some place and some time the child must learn the rules and regulations by which expression is governed. He must learn them and learn them thoroughly, but let this work be done by itself, not sugar- coated and passed over as something else, unless both types of lesson become equally hateful. To pretend it is something else is like the plea of the primary teacher who keeps calling a sentence a story because, she says, “children love stories so.” There are very few forms of mental activity which children cannot enjoy if they are put clearly and rapidly. It is not doing things which becomes wearisome, but the waiting for something to do. The French children are among the best trained in the world when it comes to the use of language, and they have dictation work from the very earliest years. Some educa tors tried the experiment of dictating certain English para graphs to boys in French schools. The form was more correct than when the same selection was given to children of the same age in America. More, when the experiment was repeated with college students it was found that they, too, were inferior to the little foreigners. Their training in writing contains much dictation work and experiments recently made in our own schools prove the wisdom of this course. Special Advantages Dictation work possesses several points of advantage. The child is freed from the thsught of subject matter and can turn all his energies to form until the points under discussion are mastered. Special topics can be stressed. If the class has been studying the use of the quotation mark, the example chosen can be such as toemploy its use a number of times. If the pupils have no other drill than that given in the writing of themes, they may have no occasion to use their knowledge for a number of days. It is immediate and frequent use which clinches facts. The ease of criticising the result is another point in favor of this type of lesson. The skilled teacher should be able to complete the survey in a very few minutes by means of class and self-criticism. This can never be the case when the material under discussion is not identical. Preparation for Lesson The preliminary work is most important. The material to be dictated should be placed before the children, prefer ably on the blackboard. Then let the teacher go over every point upon which drill is needed. “Why does this word begin with a capital?” “Why is a period used here?” ” Do you find any other place where a period is used for the same reason?” Interest is easily aroused. The children know they will have immediate use for all the facts which are run over and they are anxious to prove they know them all. Suitable rules are not difficult to find. The following topics were discussed in a fourth grade. Every declarative sentence ends with a period. Quotation marks are placed around the exact words of a speaker. A person’s name begins with a capital. The name of a people begins with a capital. When asking permission use “may.” Every interrogative sentence ends with a question mark. Every paragraph should be indented. This list is given merely to show the material that is used. It is not in any sense cemplete. To put the matter briefly, every rule of ^composition, should be tested in dictation lessons. Method of Procedure in Lesson When the preliminary drill is ended the teacher should dictate the matter to the children, they writing it sentence by sentence. Naturally, in the first grade a sentence, and a short one at that, is all the children can manage. In higher grades they can take much more, a little story (if given a sentence at a time) is not beyond the power of third grade children. When they begin to write consecutive sentences to dictation it is best to tell them when to begin a new paragraph. The habit of placing each sentence by itself is hard to break, and it is well for them to grow used to the sight of the larger unit before too great a strain is placed upon them in the matter of deciding where the break should be made. As soon as the writing is finished the correction should be made. If the material has been placed upon the board the curtain which has been used to cover it can be withdrawn and the children may make most of the necessary corrections themselves. This encourages the habit of self-criticism and self-correction, which is most desirable. Besides this, it gives the opportunity to say, ” Why is this the way it is in the stoiy?” The reason is emphasized. It may seem that the drill given immediately before writing would tend to make them remember the location of the mark rather than its meaning. In theory there might be this danger. Practically I have never seen it happen. The placing will not come exactly as it did on the board, so position will not be of any great assistance. What if tie child does remember that a period came after a certain word? Have you not asked why it is there? The reason has been made plain. We see that a certain mark occupies a particular position and try thereafter to use it in the same way. Material Used It is better that all thekselections used be by good authors. We can manufacture examples to fit almost anything, but we want our pupils to feel that these rules are not abstrac tions formed for the annoyance of children and subject to discard when they reach years of discretion. Rather they must be brought to feel that they are studying the con ventions observed by all educated people, that they may take their own places with such men in the future and feel no awkwardness in the association. Possibilities in “The Wolf and the Lamb” One day a wolf found a lamb drinking at a brook. The wolf said, ” What do you mean by making the water muddy at my spring?” “Indeed, sir,” said the poor frightened lamb, “I did not disturb your spring; it is farther up the stream, and the water does not run that way.” “Well,” said the wolf, “you trampled the mud up in my spring last year.” ” No, indeed,” said the trembling lamb. ” I was not born last year.” “Oh, well, if you didn’t do it, your father or mother did.” And he gobbled the poor lamb — which was just what he had intended to do all the time. — Msop All but two of the rules quoted in an earlier part of this discussion are illustrated in this story. We advocate the use of such material, not that the children may incidentally learn more stories, but that they may realize that these rules which they have to learn are a part of what they know to be ordinary expression.

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Isaac Watts On Guarding Your Heart While Judging Books


X. Another, and that a very frequent fault, in passing a judgment upon books, is this, that persons spread the same praises or the same reproaches over a whole treatise, and all the chapters in it, which are due only to some of them. They judge as it were by wholesale, without making a due distinction between the several parts or sections of the performance; and this is ready to lead those who hear them talk into a dangerous mistake. Florus is a great and just admirer of the late Archbishop of Cambray, and mightily commends every thing he has written, and will allow no blemish in him; whereas the writings of that excellent man are not all of a piece; nor are those very books of his, which have a good number of beautiful and valuable sentiments in them, to be recommended throughout, or all at once without distinction.

There is his demonstration of the Existence and Attributes of God, which has justly gained a universal esteem, for bringing down some new and noble thoughts of the wisdom of the creation to the understanding of the unlearned, and they are such as well deserve the perusal of the man of science, perhaps as far as the 50th section; but there are many of the following sections which are very weakly written, and some of them built upon an enthusiastical and mistaken scheme, akin to the peculiar opinions of Father Malebranche; such as sect. 5 1 , 53, ” That we know the finite only by the ideas of the infinite.” Sect. 55, 60, ” That the superior reason in man is God himself acting in him.” Sect. 61, 62, ” That the idea of unity cannot be taken from creatures, but from God only:” and several of his sections, from 65 to 68, upon the doctrine of liberty, seem to be inconsistent. Again, toward the end of his book, he spends more time and pains than are needful in refuting the Epicurian fancy of atoms moving eternally through infinite changes, which might be done effectually in a much shorter and better way. So in his posthumous essays, and his letters, there are many admirable thoughts in practical and experimental religion, and very beautiful and divine sentiments in devotion; but sometimes in large paragraphs, or in whole chapters together, you find him in the clouds of mystic divinity, and he never descends within the reach of common ideas or common sense. But remember this also, that there are but few such authors as this great man, who talks so very weakly sometimes, and yet in other places is so much superior to the greatest part of writers. There are other instances of this kind, where men of good sense in the main set up for judges, but they carry too many of their passions about them, and then, like lovers, they are in rapture at the name of their fair idol: they lavish out all their incense upon that shrine, and cannot bear the thought of admitting a blemish in them.

You shall hear Altisono not only admire Casimire of Poland in his lyrics, as the utmost purity and perfection of Latin poesy; but he will allow nothing in him to be extravagant or faulty, and will vindicate every line: nor can I much wonder at it, when I have heard him pronounce Lucan the best of the ancient Latins, and idolize his very weaknesses and mistakes. I will readily acknowledge the Odes of Casimire to have more spirit and force, more magnificence and fire in them, and in twenty places arise to more dignity and beauty than I could ever meet with in any of our modern poets: yet I am afraid to say that ” Falla sutilis e luce” has dignity enough in it for a robe made for the Almighty: Lib. iv. Od. 7, 1. 37, or that the man of virtue in Od. 3, 1. 44, ” under the ruins of heaven and earth, will bear up the fragments of the falling world with a comely wound on his shoulders.” Late ruenti Subjiciens sua colla caelo Mundum decoro vulnere fulcie; Interque cxli fragmina.

Yet I must needs confess also, that it is hardly possible a man should rise to so exalted and sublime a vein of poesy as Casimire, who is not in danger now and then of such extravagances; but still they should not be admired or defended, if we pretend to pass a just judgment on the writings of the greatest men. Milton is a noble genius, and the world agrees to con fess it: his poem of Paradise Lost is a glorious performance, and rivals the most famous pieces of antiquity; but that reader must be deeply prejudiced in favour of the poet, who can imagine him equal to himself through all that work. Neither the sublime sentiments, nor dignity of numbers, nor force or beauty of expression, are equally maintained, even in all those parts which require grandeur or beauty, force or harmony. I can not but consent to Mr. Dryden’s opinion, though I will not use his words, that for some scores of lines together there is a coldness and flatness, and almost a perfect absence of that spirit of poesy which breathes, and lives, and flames in other pages.

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I think it’s working!

It’s been 24 hours, with church in between, but it looks like our temporary fix may be a good fix. We just have to pay attention to how much we use because it’s pay as you go and also there is a limit on how much bandwidth we use each day (there is for all wi-fi companies here, so the mobile hotspot isn’t any different there). Feeling mighty tickled!

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Poet Cannot Answer Test Questions on Her Own Poem

You have got to read this. Hurry up already. Need a hook? A modern poet learns that a couple of her poems are the topic of some of the test questions by a Pearson standardized test in Texas. She protests. She’s hilarious, but it’s also horrifying.

She cannot answer the questions. They don’t even make sense.

Not too long ago I think I blogged about a book I was reading– a highly educated mother was studying for the SAT to take it for her son. Among her friends was another highly educated mom, a mom who taught at the university level, who taught the people who write the tests, and who has had some of her essays used in the tests. She also took the SAT and got a very low score on the writing, while her smart alec academic slacker son, who averred that all that was required to get a good score was to mention Martin Luther King, Jr, got a better score.

What the author found interesting is that whenever their friends would hear about it, they would sympathize, “Oh, you must have had a bad day.” She was stunned that it never occurred to them that the test scorers could have had a bad day. But what if it’s just bad questions scored by poorly trained people hired from Craig’s List? What if it’s just a scam, really, all the way down?

I suspect this kind of nonsense is baked into the test scoring, and so does our poet, quoted in the article above.

It’s long past time to dismantle this thing.

See also:

What teacher testing used to look like.
School reform always is about more money, not better outcomes for kids, and it nearly always bypasses parents as well. Except for their pocketbooks.

Good to Read:

Dumbing Us Down by John Taylor Gatto

Peter Gray’s Free to Learn: Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant, and Better Students for Life

Mind to Mind, a modernized version of Charlotte Mason’s Essay Toward a Philosophy of Education.

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This is a test, mostly, to see if things were working and that was the first file on my phone to share. It’s just a video of a tiger in a cage at the zoo,taken at night. Nothing spectacular. It may or may not have a tiger roaring, I had two videos on the phone and in one of them a tiger roared,and in the other it didn’t. But I don’t know which this one is.

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