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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

How's Your A? Some of You Won't Make it Through the 3rd Grade!

3rd Grade F foe Some of You?

How's Your A? Some of You Won't Make it Through the 3rd Grade!

Here is a portion of an email (emphasis added) I received from Mrs. Yollis, one of the third grade teachers of students assigned for comment4kids:

I would like to thank the students in your EDM 310 class for visiting our class blog and especially for leaving a comment.

I don't know how to say what I'm about to say without feeling extremely awkward. However, I'm going to say it.

Please remind your students to proofread their comments before publishing. Many of them are not capitalizing the pronoun I. That is an automatic rejection for third graders. In addition, other grammar errors have been made. For example, use of "a" where "an" is called for and excessive use of exclamation marks.

My students evaluate the comments daily. I did not show two that I received because they did not model quality writing for my students. That is the purpose of our classroom blog.

I wasn't going to say anything, but I feel compelled because these people are passionate about becoming educators and I want to help them succeed.

And you are practicing being teachers. Shape up those of you who are not writing as college students! Mrs. Yollis says she felt awkward in writing me. She should not feel awkward. If you are one of the students who did not use correct grammar, you are the one who should feel awkward! Actually the appropriate word is "ashamed."


  1. That is very shameful! I understand some mistakes when typing, but when you're commenting on a child's blog you need to promote grammar by using it correctly, that should be obvious to future edcuators.

  2. As an aspiring ENGLISH teacher, I'm very ashamed of the reputation I have just been given... Thanks, classmates.

  3. Very embarrassing, goes back to using spell check. These are blogs not instant messages to friends, what is left behind is like a fingerprint. Is that how you(and you know who I am talking about) want to be remembered?

  4. Sometimes it can be difficult to separate personal from professional, especially when online. Many teachers have two personae, one as a teacher and one as an individual. I don't do that (I'm big into transparency throughout my life) but it may be an option for those of you that worry about things like this happening.

    I try to use good grammar and spelling in all my communications, although with texting it can be difficult (I don't bother with my family or my youth group, they already think I am a nerd...) Time to start practicing what you will be preaching.

  5. Yikes!

    It's important to remember that individually and collectively the world sees our work. We're interviewing as well as teaching with every post. It's not wise to post just to post. It's better to not post if the content and format isn't appropriate for an interview or lesson.

    It's time to regain the perspective we had earned by individually being precise in our content and presentation. As tough as it is to hear, I am glad for the feedback from Dr. Strange.

  6. I intended to say perception instead of perspective in my post above.

  7. Nobody is perfect and we must remember that. This is mid-term time for a many of students. So a lot of us are under lots of stress and are apt to make more mistakes than usual. We do need to use correct grammer when writing and communicating. To say we would not make it through the third grade is overreacting. When posting comments is there a spell-check? I think we students have worked hard on completing the many assignments on time and with good content. The comment included a lower case I. Does that make it less of a comment? I understand the teachers concern and appreciate her bringing it to our attention. The third grade part I could have done with out. Not all of us are English majors.

  8. Thanks for the heads up Dr. Strange. I think that it's great that the third grade teacher brought attention to our class's mistakes. It's pretty sad to say that we as education majors are making grammatical errors that a third grader is able to spot and correct. This is such an embarrassment. When did we forget that we had an actual audience? When did we stop caring about the integrity of our work?

  9. This course requires numerous written assignments every week. When you are dealing with such a large quantity you sometimes don't get the quality you are looking for.

  10. This is embarrassing. I do try my best to make sure that I use proper english. However, I will admit that sometimes I do make mistake. I do use the spell check on the commenting. Also, I have noticed that sometime I use cliques shorthand version depending on what I am reading, like LOL for laugh out loud. As far as I know, that is probably the only one I used so far. Thank you Dr. Strange for bringing this to our attention.

  11. Hello everyone in EDM310!

    My name is Kathleen McGeady and my Grade 2 class in Australia is very much into blogging! You can visit our class blog at

    I came across your blog after seeing some students' comments on Mrs Yollis' class blog.

    I have actually written a post on my own blog about how I teach commenting skills to my students. You can check it out here

    Don't be too embarrassed about the commenting error! It is certainly something that needs to be learnt and I don't think it should be taken for granted that everyone knows how to write a quality comment.

    I think it is fantastic that your class is learning about integrating technology into the classroom. I know it is something that is rarely touched on at our local universities. You should all feel very grateful to have a teacher who is so "up with it" and dedicated to technology integration. It will set you in good stead for your future careers.

    Best wishes,
    Kathleen McGeady

  12. @betty

    I hope that your comment above is sarcastic. As a 10th and 11th grade teacher for 5 years, I am going to tell you that not one of those excuses that you listed is worthy of any kind of merit. It doesn't matter if there is a "spell check" or not. Write the comment in Microsoft Word and then copy and paste it over if you have to rely on that tool. The use of a lower case "I" is giving a class of third grade students the perception that it is "OK" to make up our own rules to writing. Not to mention that it is impossible to take any point of view seriously when it contains these types of ridiculous flaws.

    To answer your question: it does make it less of a comment. I can handle people making a mistake, but I can't accept the individual who makes excuses for something so simplistic. Incidentally, no one should have to be an English major to know that they need to capitalize the letter "I" either.

    Regardless of the tone of my comment, I will inform the entire class of two points that everyone needs to be aware of at all times when they become teachers.

    1) You are ALWAYS teachers. Everything you say, act, do, and model is watched by an audience that believes you are a knowledgeable, academic adult. It is imperative that teachers use good judgment in their actions and offer students a model of academic consistency. Offering excuses for why momentary lapses take place does nothing to further their education or cognitive development.

    2) We live in a world that is dominated by the Facebook status, Twitter update, and text messaging. Yes, these are deemed socially acceptable behaviors by a large group of people. But you must remember the biggest difference between previous generations and the current one. Previous generations of students were focused on proper grammar, writing, and syntax BEFORE they began adopting these new linguistic skills. Newer generations haven't had that opportunity. Hence the decline in vocabulary skills of many high school and college students as well as their ability to draw meaning of words out of context. For more on this see: .

    Betty & Class,

    I apologize if you feel as though I am "attacking" you. I assure you that's not my point. What I just did was speak to you as though I was your administrator and this same issue came up, but the e-mail was written by a parent instead of a fellow teacher. I wouldn't take your side or accept any of your arguments, and I would outline my arguments to you as I have above. You must always be mindful of your role in cultivating the minds of America's youth as well as your image as a public employee.

    In education, there is no time for excuses.

  13. Dear Dr. Strange, This situation is in such contrast. It is hilarious that you students have been spanked down by a third grade teacher. However, it is disheartening to see such a low level of correspondence. Now in the students defense, texting is an abbreviated form of communication. Now the students need to learn there is a time for professionalism to show through in their writing skills. Too bad they missed their first shot. Later.

  14. @ Dr. Strange and Mr. Eyler

    Nicely said.
    You are our teachers and it's called constructive criticism. Why do some people still not understand that? There is NO excuse and it should be brought to everyone's attention.

  15. In response:

    I was making an observation not excuses. We are students also. Is it constructive criticism to tell your students that they won't pass a grade? I know I'm not the only student that feels this way. I'm not encouraging improper grammer by any means. What happened to positive reinforcement?

  16. Betty,

    In the professional world, the kind of quality displayed in those comments would be less than adequate if not cause for termination. I'm speaking of a workplace I am familiar with outside of teaching which doesn't involve being a literate example for students. Listen to the message from Dr. Strange. It's strong because the performance and offense is just that bad. These are skills we should have entering the program. Maybe this is a wake up call that no one has provided to these folks prior to now.

    It is constructive criticism to be told you're not making it. Sometimes criticism is going to be direct. Be grateful for the mentor that will tell you like it is to help you improve, rather than let it go and let you fail. You'll look back at this class and be grateful for the feedback.

    The big red F was appropriate for the offense, I feel. Look beyond the big red F in the posting and see the other messages from other teachers and students that are softer yet critical. There is a lot of constructive feedback all over the blog.

  17. Wow hope i dont get the big red F.

  18. Hi everyone, Now I feel led to make an apology. I am tracking back through your posts late at night here in NZ - after doing most of my online school work for my students - and I left comments on a few of your blogs. And I KNOW I made some typos. I thought about deleting them when I saw the errors, but I hoped the sentiments would be more important.
    So thank you sincerely for taking the time to visit the blogs from Pt England School and leave comments for our kids. We love them.
    And excuse my poor typing :(

  19. Ashame? Akward? For posting a comment with mistakes in it. You should be ashame by pioritizing typing skills to level of thinking or emotional. This is a poor thinkinglevel blog and focus on wrong part of life. Just give your students small feedbacks in private message. Then they learn for the next time to remember the mistakes. And keep on focussing at the deeper meaning what someone is typing. Everyone should have this kind of value.

  20. Oh Wow!!

    After reading the comments from students and others I am extremely displaced. I can agree with the students but at the same token, the teachers have a point as well. I guess that it is better if we do make the effort to read over what we write to these kids. They are looking at us as future instructors and being able to write and speak in the proper way is important.

    Some of the comments are a little too critical for my taste but with criticism comes progress. With progress comes success. I hope the mistakes are a one time only thing.