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How do I mark!?

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    How do I mark!?

    Hi all!! I'm having a hard time pulling out what to look for in my children's writing. We are trying to do fable accelerated with two older girls and I think I am hold to 'word for word' to the teachers manual. Help!

    Hi Violet!

    Welcome to CC! I'm so glad you have come to our program! This stage is particularly fun with older students because they have more sentence complexity and vocabulary at this age. Their creativity is really delightful! I think that what you are asking is about the "answers" for the essays in the teacher's manual, and how far you should "hold them" to those answers, in addition to what "things" are you looking for in their writing. Am I understanding correctly? CC is a bit of a unique teacher's manual, in that it exists as a GUIDE or example more than an answer key. The suggested answers form material the teacher can use as a sample, but it is not the only answer option.

    If you have the later editions of the Fable book, there is an introduction that I wrote specifically for the purpose of helping parents target the "point" in their student's work more effectively and gauge progress. I have asked for a copy of it to hopefully post here next week.
    In the mean time, allow me to give a sketch here.
    The purpose of Fable (and Narrative) is the mastery of the story elements, understanding the essential parts of the story (what can I not change without destroying the point of the story itself), and then the ability to retell it in your OWN words. This of course means that there are an infinite number of "right" answers in Fable, but that doesn't mean there are no poor answers.

    For example, take "The bird flew over the house." In my own words that might be "The pretty robin zipped over my cottage" or "Flying, the blue jay disappeared past the roof." Both of these are "RIGHT," so let's look at a "poor" answer, "The bird was flying over the house." This answer is poor (aka, wrong... and I'll explain this in a moment) because it is NOT expressing the original meaning in your own words. It does not seek to phrase the idea in new vocabulary, or change the sentence structure to substantially reinvent the sentence in a manner distinct from the original. The reason this "poor" example is "wrong" is because it is not exercising the mental muscles we want exercised. It is like the "right" way to do push-ups. Having a swayed back, torso resting on the ground, and not going all the way up and down are both Poor examples of push ups and WRONG ways, because doing them that way has little physical benefit.

    The same is true for Fable. A student who is not seeking to retell the fables in their own words, changing the vocabulary and sentence structure while they "retell" or paraphrase the story is not developing those paraphrasing muscles this stage seeks to develop.

    With that perspective in mind, each student is a bit different; some are natural "paraphrasers," so the expectations for their work should be VERY high, so they learn to grow and not rest on natural talent. That said, though, do not allow the overly verbose or creative writers to run away with the story! If their style is so opulent and extensive (turning a 300 word fable into 4 pages) that it distracts from the original purpose of the story, then you can address that tendency and help them prune their work.

    Other students, however, really struggle with saying a concept or story in their own words and will begin much more slowly, and at first their work will look more like variation, which is what I like to call "mad libs," or "vocabulary swapping" while they gain confidence in expressing a thought in their own words. They will gradually go from "The robin flew over the cottage" to "the robin zipped over the cottage" to "the flying robin disappeared over the shed" to finally, "Born on the air, the creature flitted past the shelter." The purpose of fable is not to mandate exaggerated, elaborate style, because sometimes we do just want to say "the bird flew over the house," but if that's what the original story said, we must find a different expression instead.

    In marking and grading, compare your student's writing to the original. Is the wording different? Is the sentence structure different, or did the student use the exact same sentence patterns, even the same prepositional phrases, just change out the vocabulary for the nouns and verbs? Is the moral of the story still well-illustrated while being a uniquely worded retelling of the tale? Are any directions for inversion, amplification, or reduction followed well? If the student has satisfied all these questions based on his/her level of ability then it is a successful paper!
    I apologize for making this response so very long, and I hope I was on the right track! Paraphrasing, accurately and uniquely, is the foundation for CC, and it's vital to get it right!
    Please let me know if you need anything else or if I did not address your question in the way you needed!
    Abigail Johnson
    Teacher of Classical Composition and Literature MPOA


      Hello! Thank you for taking the time to explain well. I do appreciate it and will be referencing this thread. Our version of CC is the latest, and I did read (and reread), the marking section. It was helpful, as was your response.

      I found two reviews online of older children working through it and they just seemed to move along more naturally that I am 'allowing'.

      We are struggling with the outlining. And we are on the first lesson. They would put main points as the subpoints or word the right concept not as clear as the example, we'd discuss it and I found they 'meant' basically the same thing. We are having a hard time confidently choosing what is the 'right' answer and the margin on what's acceptable. What you wrote above helps but could you touch on the outlining specifically?

      ​​​​​​​Thank you! I really want them to enjoy it and plow through it confidently.


        Here is the Introduction Abigail promised you!
        Fable Introduction.pdf

        Attached Files
        Last edited by tanya; 04-10-2020, 11:13 AM.


          Hi Violet,
          Thanks for the clarification once again. The outlines are only a tool here, not the main focus of evaluation and grading. The reason we do outlines is to help students "chunk" and dissect a story into obvious acts or scenes. It helps them master the story as well as see that parts that make up the whole. I VERY rarely leave the whole outline to the students, but will at the very least give them clues leading to a basic structure, like asking how many bog sections they see (like acts in a play), and make sure they are not saying 15 or one :-)
          The idea is to see an outline that is REASONABLE, not exactly the same as the teacher's manual. So, if, for example, in the Ant and the Chrysalis, the student sees 2 or 3, or 4 acts but can reasonable provide a reason (for example Act I one day, Act II another day OR "Act I one day, Act II Ant Speaks, Act III another day, Act IV Butterfly Speaks) for their organization, it is perfectly alright.

          The other purpose to the outline is to give the students a broken-down map of the story to use as a check in their paraphrasing, to make sure things are not skimmed over or forgotten, or that in reduction necessary points are not omitted. This simpler, non-paragraph form story I find is extremely helpful for students to no accidentally, subconsciously mimic the original vocabulary and sentence structure of the model fable.

          Again, however, the outline, as long as the student has a reasonable, logical breakdown of the larger points, and then the smaller points decently organized beneath (again, teacher led, or have students only fill in some of them and instructor gives some, or work on it all together) it is fine. I do not recommend spending a lot of time constructing the outline, as it is a tool for the paraphrasing, and will detract from the actual writing if it becomes a huge task in and of itself. As far as the wording of the outline goes, have students pick the phrases from the story, or use their own words. If you see your students using too much on one line, too much info or too wordy, guide them to shorten their points by saying, "is this more than one point? Is this too much for a single event" Do these two things like running in the sunshine and searching for food belong in one line or two? This is a very "subjective" process in some ways. The idea is to learn to break a story down, not that there is only one way to do it, so again, as long as it is USEFUL to the student and reasonably organized, I would go with it!

          Abigail Johnson
          Teacher of Classical Composition and Literature MPOA


            I laughed out loud when I read your response!!! I definitely overcomplicated it!

            Thank you so much for the clarification. Very helpful. I think I'll be printing this thread and adding it to my book.


              I'm so glad this was helpful to you! Please write again if there is anything else you need, or just let us know how it's going!


                Originally posted by tanya View Post
                Here is the Introduction Abigail promised you!

                Did you mean to post the entire teacher's guide?
                ~ Carrie
                Catholic mom to four - ages 11, 9, 7, and 5
                8th year homeschooling, 3rd year MP!
                2020-2021: 6M with FFL, 4M with FFL, and some of 1st grade



                  No! Thanks for letting me know! I thought I had posted just the new Introduction. I've fixed it!



                    The Teacher's Guide is still accessible under the "Attached Files".
                    22nd year homeschooling:
                    DS 17 (autism, tech genius)
                    DD 12, 6A (former micro-preemie; only baby in NICU with a library by her isolette)
                    3 bonus students: nephew 13 and twins 8 (SC)
                    DS 29 Working on Master's in Architecture
                    DD 20 my right hand: knits incredible things
                    Class of '21:
                    DD 23, Summa Cum Laude (Self-designed major psych/ communications)
                    DS 22 Magna Cum Laude (Philosophy/Music dual major)
                    (proof a classical education at home can yield amazing results)


                      Tried again! See if it is gone now.

                      Thanks for the heads-up - again!