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Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The How to of Dictation

Copywork first, letter for letter, then Transcription around age seven or eight; word for word, an introduction to spelling, seeing entire words in their minds as they copy and write whole words in place of individual letters at a time, then Dictation. At eight or nine years old, a child prepares a paragraph, older children a page or two or three pages.
The child prepares by himself, by looking at the word he is not sure of, and then seeing it with his eyes shut. Before he begins, the teacher asks what words he thinks will need his attention. He generally knows, but the teacher may point out any word likely to be a cause of stumbling. He lets his teacher know when he is ready. The teacher asks if there are any words he is not sure of. These she puts, one by one, on the blackboard, letting the child look till he has a picture, and then rubbing the word out. If anyone is still doubtful he should be called to put the word he is not sure of on the board, the teacher watching to rub out the word when a wrong letter begins to appear, and again helping the child to get a mental picture. Then the teacher gives out the dictation, clause by clause, each clause repeated once. She dictates with a view to the pointing, which the children are expected to put in as they write; but they must not be told 'comma,' 'semicolon,' etc. ~Vol. 1, p.242 
You can read more for yourself of what CM prescribed in chapters X, XI, and XII of Vol. 1.

There is also a lesser known Parent's Review article titled "Notes of Lessons" which outlines the Dictation lesson for us this way:

Group: English. Class II (grades 4-6) Time: 20 minutes.

Objects:
To increase the girls' vocabulary.
To help them to visualise words and so write them correctly at their first attempt.
To improve their handwriting and composition.
To help to form habits of neatness and accuracy.

Lesson:

Step I. Let the children look over two pages of Parables from Nature, by Mrs. Gatty (for seven or eight minutes), which is new to them, but in which they are already interested.

Step II. Ask the children for any words they have not met with before, and write them upon the blackboard, giving other words like them, if possible, e.g., narrow, harrow, marrow; to make a stronger impression.

Step III. Choose a short passage from the two pages, and dictate once distinctly and clearly, not word by word, but in phrases. Look at the books as the children write, and if any mistakes do occur, cover them over with strips of stamp paper as soon as they are made and let them be rewritten correctly, so that the children may not get a wrong impression of a word fixed in their minds.

Step IV. Correct, noticing the neatness, accuracy and improvement in handwriting, and give encouragement accordingly.

There is also a helpful book my friend Arica shared with me, The ABC's and All Their Tricks



It's a great little reference book that lists words with similar spellings for every letter of the alphabet among other things. It can be handy for those dictation lessons or if your child is like mine and asks you to please help her learn how to spell you can give it to her for her own browsing and reference.

4 comments:

  1. Hi there!
    I saw an old post of yours on Brandy's Afterthoughts blog.

    "read Stories from The Faerie Queen by Mary Macleod during a break from Pilgrim's. It was a favorite. It is a children's version of Spencer's Faerie Queen about St. George and the Dragon written at the time of Queen Bess. The characters are virtues and vices personified, much like Pilgrim's Progress. It is the classic quest story with good triumphing over evil that much of literature alludes to. Just thought I'd share about it."

    I was wondering if you had the exact title and author, as this looks like something that our family would enjoy reading during our Circle Time!

    Thank you!
    Julie

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  2. I don't think that was me, or my memory is off, but here's a link to the Faerie Queen. You can also find it available for download if you google it http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/1605064769

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  3. I've done the Step II from the PR article and didn't know I was doing something right! I thought it was just my nerdy fascination with words overkill for my poor son. Yay, me! Thanks for this post. It shows how simple Dictation can be, and yet how exactly it must be done (the covering up of misspelled words, for example.) I also have "ABCs and all their Tricks." Love that book. I studied it and used it to make word building cards for our reading lessons of long ago.

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  4. I do Step II from the PR article from time to time, and didn't know I was doing something right! I thought it was just my nerdy word loving overkill for my poor son. Yay, me! Thanks for this post. It shows how simple Dictation can be, and yet how exactly it must be done (the covering up of misspelled words, for instance.) I also have "ABCs all All Their Tricks." Love that book. I studied it and used it to make word building cards for our reading lessons of so long ago.

    ReplyDelete