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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 26

III. Writing of Short Compositions with Preceding Elements

III. Writing of Short Compositions with Preceding Elements.

The next step is to exercise them in writing short compositions or themes on one subject, with all the preceding elements. This is an important step, and requires care.

1. Use the Black Board.—Take, say a book, and put it on the desk. Draw from them by questioning and otherwise several facts regarding it, taking special care that the sentences are theirs, got from them and formed under your guidance. Use any or all of the elements already known.

As each sentence is formed to your satisfaction, let it be written on the board correctly, with capitals and period in page 27 place. The series may be of any variety, and will be greatly determined by the answers and sentences made by the children, it being your wisdom to use and adapt their material. In this way such a series as this may be formed:—

"The reading-book lies on the master's desk. It is used every day by the second class. It is very interesting. The boy takes great care of it. Other boys are sometimes careless of theirs."

We have here five sentences on the board regarding this book—in other words, we have drawn from the children a piece of composition regarding the book. They have formed them, and the work is therefore quite within their capacity.

2. Let this be copied by them on their slates. Let similar exercises be frequently done on the board and transferred to the slate, then blotted from the board, and read by the children from their copy.

3. On Slate from Memory of Board.—Let such an exercise be done on the board, read over several times, and the succession of ideas and anything else worthy of remark, pointed out. Let it be transferred to the slates, and then blotted out from the slates, and then let the board be turned round. Let the children now take their seats, and reproduce it from memory, at first, in the same or equivalent phraseology. It will be well that the sentences thus asked be simple and few, and that the ideas of each be mentioned on the board. Let the class be recalled, and the slates be compared with the original on the board, the errors pointed out and corrected, and equivalent correct expressions praised. They have now produced a composition so far from themselves. Of course this exercise will vary in difficulty according to the age of the children. Do not overdo it; let the work be slow and sure.

4. On Slate without Board.—Next, let a like series of sentences be made on any subject, and let them be written down at once on the slate without the board. Let them be read over, corrected, and improved. Let them be rubbed out, one copy being kept, and let them be reproduced in the seats, then examined and corrected, then rewritten till they are done with ease and without error. Let the same be done with a great number of common simple subjects, till the children gain page 28 power and security in first framing sentences and then reproducing them.

5. Reproduced at Home.—Next, let the exercise thus made and reproduced in school, be done at home on slate, and by-and-by on paper, and brought next day and corrected. Let this corrected exercise be written out fully, and in a fair and correct copy.

Let this be continued till they bring a really good exercise from home, and can produce one in school when asked. They will acquire ability and ease more quickly than one who has not tried it would imagine.

6. Done without direction—unaided.—All the previous exercises have been done so far by the help of the teacher, he furnishing materials for the ideas to be expressed in the seat and home exercises.

Now, however, let them make sentences in school, unaided, on a subject named by you. The subject will, at first, be simple and the sentences few, but gradually increasing in number and difficulty as they gain power. Let these self-produced compositions be examined and corrected as before, and then rewritten till quite accurately produced. Let this be done in school and then at home, and continued till they have real and felt ease and ability in producing a little composition on any simple matter, with some degree of credit.