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Guilt-Free Grammar or Feel-Good Grammar

Guilt-Free Grammar or Feel-Good Grammar

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Guilt-Free Grammar or Feel-Good Grammar

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  1. Guilt-Free Grammaror Feel-Good Grammar Becky Kooi Lake Michigan Writing Project Cedar Springs High School

  2. To Get You Thinking We’re going to play the game Green Glass Doors. Guidelines: * Figure out the word pattern in order to get through the green glass doors. • No talking with your neighbors. • Use this format: Can I bring ____ but not ____? When you are through the door, feel free to return to your seat, but remain quiet.

  3. Debriefing the Metaphor • What emotions were you feeling during the game? • What strategies helped you figure out the pattern? • In what ways might this game relate to learning grammar?

  4. The Problem in Simple Terms • In classrooms, grammar often does not feel like this game. • If you are like me, you’ve felt guilty about what you do and don’t do with grammar. • Goal: To give you a taste of the strategies and resources that turn grammar into a “positive, productive, and practical” part of your instructional practice. • Thanks to Constance Weaver for the alliteration

  5. Grammar Trouble at CSHS: • My students could not recognize sentences, let alone how to punctuate them. • Students had difficulty with ACT English skills. • Students who did well with mechanics often sacrificed detail and style for the sake of getting all of the their sentences “correct.” To resolve these, I tried DOL, grammar games, and even avoiding grammar altogether.

  6. Finlay McQuade Editing Skills course assessment (Schuster, xviii). With all of these problems with grammar instruction, why do we even teach it?

  7. Why Grammar? 1. Duh! So I don’t gouge my eyes out while reading pieces with nonstop run-ons or in which all plural words end with ’s Nice version: Grammar knowledge allows students to communicate more clearly and effectively in the conventions of standard English.

  8. 2. Correct grammar allows students to participate more effectively in the culture of power. • Lindsey will talk about this later in the institute.

  9. 3. Grammar instruction meets the Language requirements of the Common Core State Standards. • “To be college and career ready in language, students must have firm control over the conventions of standard English.” - CCSS, Anchor Standard for College and Career Readiness in Language • ELA Common Core State Standards

  10. 4. Grammar will be tested on the English portion of the ACT. • ACT English Question Breakdown

  11. Now it gets exciting! Brace yourself: My grammar nerdiness is about to be unleashed.

  12. 5. Correct usage allows students to be heard. “When children need punctuation in order to be seen and heard, they become vacuum cleaners, sucking up odd bits from books, their classmates’ papers, billboards, and magazines. They find punctuation everywhere, and make it their own.” - Lucy Calkins via Constance Weaver’s Grammar to Enrich and Enhance Writing, p. 39 • Derrick Example

  13. 6. Grammatical knowledge allows students to explore language and to add craft and style to their writing. • “[Craft and mechanics lessons] should be merged whenever possible. It is this very idea of focusing on craft instead of correctness that so revolutionized my teaching of grammar and mechanics. In this way, we have kids crafting their writing with correct mechanics and grammar without even realizing they are learning them.” – Jeff Anderson, Grammatically Inclined, p. 10

  14. Grammar Strategies that Leave Me Guilt-Free: Promo Activity 1: With a table partner, turn these words into a sentence: class my grammar favorite is What variations could you have? Do any of these change the meaning? What words do you know MUST go together?

  15. 1. Focus on Strengths • Kids inherently understand grammar, so start by focusing on what students already have achieved. • Remind students that they are currently following rules that allow them to communicate with their friends, family, and other important people in their lives. Honor those rules but teach them to “code switch” depending on communication need. • Embrace confusion and errors because these mean that students are trying out new rules and patterns.

  16. Promo Activity 2: With your partner, analyze the common pattern that you see in these sentences. Craft a pattern or rule that these sentences follow. Try not to use grammatical jargon.

  17. 2. Mentor Sentences • Use mentor sentences to help students see how authors use certain patterns in writing. Search them out yourself or steal them from people like Jeff Anderson. • Teach patterns of power - useful in formal writing to improve persuasiveness, flow, and clarity. • Students should be reading and looking for these patterns in their reading as well. • When learning a new sentence pattern, students should be able to go back to a piece of their own writing to check for the pattern and to see if they punctuated it correctly. Fix as needed.

  18. More with Mentor Sentences Promo Activity 3: • Look at the second to last sentence (“As she whispered…”) • In the margin, jot some noticings or questions you have about the sentence. • Discuss what you noticed with your table. • Share with the whole group. • Craft your own sentence following the pattern and style of the author. • Share your sentences with your group. • Volunteer sentences?

  19. Promo Activity 4: • Quick-write: What errors do you often see in your own writing or what do you need to keep mindful of while you write? • How difficult was this for you?

  20. 3. Focusing on Common Errors • Look for common errors that your students make and then teach mini-lessons related to these errors. • Look at the list of common errors found on state tests or that college freshman make, and use mini lessons to reduce those errors. (List from Jeff Anderson) • Have students keep track of their own grammatical issues, so they can specifically check for them in future writings.

  21. Promo Activity 5: • Turn over the student examples that I’ve placed in front of you. • Pick any example labeled with the bold number. • Read through the sample paragraph and highlight sentences that stand out to you. • Share with your table, the sentences that “popped”. What similarities did you notice?

  22. 4. Grammar as Writers’ Secrets • Teach grammar as a way to utilize writers’ secrets – the tips to making vivid, engaging writing. • If-Time Activity: Crafting absolutes. • Students did this activity and then added absolutes to their episodic nonfiction pieces. • The last two paragraphs on the sheet are before and after examples from a student’s writing. What does the absolute do for the paragraph? Do we prefer the before or the after paragraph more? Why? • Your students can participate in this same sort of authors’ choice discussion.

  23. Resources • 1. If you are a real stickler on grammar, read Edgar Schuster’s Breaking the Rules: Liberating Writers through Innovative Grammar Instruction. It will free you from the tediousness of correcting grammar or make you feel better about what you don’t HAVE to teach. • 2. Constance Weaver’s Grammar to Enrich & Enhance Writing. This book is a must for creating the foundation for positive, productive, and practical grammar. Weaver’s Grammar Plan Book will also help structure grammar instruction for the classroom. Terrific for elementary-level grammar. • 3. Jeff Anderson’s Mechanically Inclined is terrific for middle school and high school grammar instruction. It works from the above models to create lesson plans that target important grammatical skills. It also provides an outline for grammar instruction. Bonus: Reproducible Writer’s Notebook inserts included! • 4. Harry Noden’s Image Grammar encourages grammar as art.

  24. Conclusion • Teaching grammar as patterns and craft allows students to enjoy and experiment with their writing rather than feel defeated by their inability to write correctly. It also produces the dynamic writing of the real world rather than the “safe” writing of grammatically crippled students.

  25. Exit Slip • Write about how you might use this new perspective or activities in your classroom.