Every day, my 8th graders tackle a paragraph riddled with errors and make corrections. I get these at Education World. We then go over the errors as a class.
Pretty straight forward, right?
Well, most of the time.
This was today’s unedited text:
Dedicated on October 28, 1886, the Statue of Liberty was a gift of friendship from the people of france. It is located on Liberty Island in New York harbor, the statue stands as a cymbal of freedom. Inside the statues base is a plaque engraved with the words Give me you’re tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…” More than 120 tons of steel was used to build the statue, which were restored for it’s 100th birthday celebration.
And this is today’s answer key:
Dedicated on October 28, 1886, the Statue of Liberty was a gift of friendship from the people of France. It is located on Liberty Island in New York Harbor. The statue stands as a symbol of freedom. Inside the statue’s base is a plaque engraved with the words, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…” More than 120 tons of steel was used to build the statue, which was restored for its 100th birthday celebration.
Great right? Sometimes under the answer key, there is additional information, explanation, or discussion. This was under today’s:
A note about:
…with the words, “Give me your tired, your…
Originally, we had not included the comma in the correction to this line of text, but one of our readers felt it belonged there. You should defer to the rules set forth in your grammar text. We believe you can call the sentence correct with or without the comma. Some sources require a comma before any quoted material. Others simply recommend it. Still others suggest that the flow of the sentence might preclude the need for the comma. If this question comes up with your students, you might use it as an opportunity for classroom debate and as a reminder that “grammar can be fun.” [Note: According to some sources, the word that before a quoted phrase precludes the use of a comma before that phrase. :>]
Ok. While that’s all well and good. I’ve got about 100 8th graders to prepare for the WKCE’s, Wisconsin’s standardized test.
I just told them it needs a comma. A discussion? A debate? Hell no!
If I’ve realized one thing in 8+ years of teaching this garbage it is this: Now (8th grade) is NOT the time for discussion or debate. This is no time to be wishy-washy. Now is the time to increase the chances of a correct multiple choice.
I just have to pray that the creators of the test are thinking the same way I am in cases like this.