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. The ongoing, regular activities (Quote of the Day, Lift for the Day, Never Quit, Good News Wednesday, etc.) are continued on every day for the duration of the course. The next major topic we worked with for several weeks is Attitude. We feel that attitude is so very important, in fact, we feel that it is the single, most important behavior that one brings to any situation that people are engaged. "You can do everything wrong and still succeed if you have the right mental attitude. You can do everything right and still not succeed if you have the wrong mental attitude." The lessons on attitude are primarily those developed by Zig Ziglar of Dallas TX. We have stepped through his program, listening to tapes, watching videos, and completing daily lessons that emphasize the importance of attitude. In addition to attitude we have introduced our basic writing unit. The purpose of the unit is to instruct the students in the principles of writing at grade level. This is a semester long project with various assignments due along the way. The first step is to have the students write an autobiography. In order to have a large enough document to work with, it should be 750-1000 words or longer. Basically we are looking for close to three word processed pages or more. Some students get into the program and write more, but most stick to the three pages. Assignment number two involves rewriting the paper according to The Checklist and transferring the paper to a computer disk that we can use in the classroom. The Checklist is a guide that I have developed which establishes the paper's format (manuscript form) and addresses a number of FUNdaMENTAL writing skills. Step 3 in the program is to rewrite the paper taking out all uses of I, was, and were. This is a particularly difficult step for the students. They have a very difficult time in writing, especially an autobiography, without using these three words. They are locked in their thinking and stuck in their writing development. As educators we know that growth is often difficult. People have the tendency to achieve a certain level of skill, get comfortable at that stage, and refuse to make the changes to step up to the next level. Even though the step and change is good and for the better, they about the philosophy of "I'm all right the way I am" and fight the change. In social studies class I would give a written report assignment to the students. They would do what they have done for years: go to the IMC, locate their favorite encyclopedia, copy what information they could readily find and hand in the report. Often they learned how to do this in the 5th grade. Their 5th grade teacher would praise them for the good job they had done, the students would feel good getting this reinforcement, and they would model this behavior for years to follow. Whenever they would get a similar assignment in future years, they would model the same behavior, get more reinforcement, and perpetuate this performance. When challenged to break out and do something different, their normal reaction is to rebel and say it cannot be done. We have developed a worksheet that focuses on helping the students write at grade level and to eliminate I, was, and were. We have a grammar check computer program that will
check the student's paper (once it is on disk) which will help the students identify grammatical errors and generate a report that indicates at what grade level their essay was written. The program identifies the basic elements of writing at higher grade levels. The two most important factors are: (1) vocabulary and (2) sentence length and structure. Most students use too many pronouns and talk about things, and stuff, and crud like that. Their sentences have a tendency to be very short and elemental. The rewrite at this stage involves combining sentences and using a more proper vocabulary. To write as a high school student should write sentences should average 20-25 words in length. Paragraphs should average 5-7 sentences or more, and their should be 150-170 syllables per 100 words in the paper. These are the thing we work on during the rewriting at this particular stage. Through the remainder of the semester, we work to polish the paper and achieve the goal of submitting a paper with fewer than five errors. It is a long and often arduous procedure, but when completed, the students have learned some basic skills of writing at grade level and really feel good about their effort. They also learn that there is more than one way to fulfill the requirements of the assignment, and they participate in a real life, classroom perseverance activity.