I seem to be having those honest conversations with kids a lot lately. Today it happened in English 9. We are studying author's style and voice and somehow, the conversation turned to what other teachers had taught them in the past (as I have mentioned before, I have been frustrated with how this class has been going, so this conversation was one I had been wanting to have).
"We learned a lot about nouns and verbs and stuff. "
"Yea--and punctuation. Yuck. Please don't do that."
"What do we even need periods for?" Yes, a freshman in high school asked why we need periods. Of course, she was also the freshman who thought you had to chew your food up into really small bites when you were pregnant so the baby could eat the food. And she couldn't find her textbook on the shelf today. Number 66. I pulled it off the shelf as soon as I went back to look. "Unh unh...that's number 99." Really. I couldn't make this stuff up!
"What's a noun again?"
"A person, place, thing, or idea."
I had to ask, "Did you write?"
"No. This was English class. We just did English stuff." Can you hear the screaming in my head?
"I understand now. No wonder this class was such a shock to you in the beginning. You really didn't always get what I wanted."
"Yeah. It was hard, Mrs. Day."
"So, you didn't really write?"
"Well, we wrote a story once. And in seventh grade we did journals every day."
"We wrote in Mrs. __________ class. We wrote something every week." Sounded like a scripted prompt to me.
"Well, this is why you're going to write more this semester. You need to! Almost every job you will ever apply for will ask you for a writing sample. You have to know how to write more than a tweet and a status update! And it needs to sound like you...it needs to be real. No one's going to ask you what a noun is or have you diagram a sentence. Not that you don't need to have an understanding of those things. But you need to be able to put your thoughts down and have them make sense to other people! So no grammar or punctuation units. If we need to review something, we will, but we're not going to study it to death and fill out lots of worksheets."
"Listen guys. She gets it!"
I'm not sure what I "got", but hopefully, they "got" that I think writing is more than grammar and punctuation worksheets. That the writing we will continue to do will be real. As for why we need periods, well, I did point out some examples later in the lesson!