Thursday, June 19, 2008

Boy writes name, receives feedback

A few months ago, my son (who turned three in January) wrote his name for the first time. As a teacher of writing, I thought it appropriate to give him some comments. Here follow the image and my response.

Assignment: Writing Your Name
Peter Simpson
Introduction to Reading and Writing
April 2008

Dear Pete,

Congratulations on writing your name for the first time! You have done an excellent job learning the three letters necessary for completing this assignment, and you wrote them in sequence with only minimal supervision and guidance from Mama. She and I are both proud of you, and we hope you look back on this as one of the highlights of your three-year-old year.

I also have some suggestions you might consider as you continue writing your name in the future—as I would encourage you to do, given this promising beginning. The first point involves spacing. As you know, you ran out of room on this sheet of paper after the first three letters, so you had to make the final “e” next to the initial “p.” It would be better to plan out the spacing of your words in advance to avoid confusing the reader. Also, most readers and editors will expect any capital “e” to have exactly three horizontal lines. Drawing many more horizontal lines on each “e” is fine if you are writing for Mama and me, but when composing for a wider audience, try to stick to three. Along the same lines, you seem at this point to be capitalizing the letters “p” and “e” but not “t”; I would suggest either capitalizing all your letters or only the initial “p,” to make either “PETE” or “Pete.” If you want to know which of those two forms is preferable for a given piece, consult your teacher or editor. Finally, though I certainly understand your desire to reduce your spending on school supplies, especially since you will not even get an allowance for some years yet, I do think you’ll find that readers prefer letterhead or plain white writing paper to hotel stationery. Mama or I can show you where to find such paper at home.

Do not let these details overwhelm my main point, Pete: you have done very well with this assignment, and I sincerely look forward to seeing what other words you will write soon. Nice work!


Professor Simpson (Papa)

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