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Teaching Grammar through Literacy

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  1. Teaching Grammar through Literacy Kim Jeffcoat Education Program Specialist K-12 Literacy "We will lead the nation in improving student achievement." Kathy Cox, State Superintendent of Schools

  2. What do the experts say about teaching grammar through literacy? "We will lead the nation in improving student achievement." Kathy Cox, State Superintendent of Schools

  3. In 1936, NCTE said the following: • “The formal teaching of grammar and mechanics has little effect on students’ writing and, in fact, has harmful effects when it displaces writing time.” "We will lead the nation in improving student achievement." Kathy Cox, State Superintendent of Schools

  4. Not RULES but TOOLS • “Grammar and mechanics are not rules to be mastered as much as tools to serve a writer in creating a text readers will understand.” (Jeff Anderson, Mechanically Inclined, p. 5) "We will lead the nation in improving student achievement." Kathy Cox, State Superintendent of Schools

  5. What is Literacy? "We will lead the nation in improving student achievement." Kathy Cox, State Superintendent of Schools

  6. What do the “experts” say about grammar instruction? • You must teach the standards and elements of your grade level. • You must provide remediation when needed, but you need to move beyond the identification of the parts of speech (remember “Use”). • You must connect grammar to relevant texts (mentor texts). "We will lead the nation in improving student achievement." Kathy Cox, State Superintendent of Schools

  7. What do the “experts” say about grammar instruction? • In order for students to understand style (in both reading and writing), they need to have a basic understanding of grammar rules and syntax (structure). • Understanding comes from reading, explicit instruction, writing opportunities, and feedback. • Mere identification will not prove that a student understands and applies the rules of grammar. "We will lead the nation in improving student achievement." Kathy Cox, State Superintendent of Schools

  8. A few concepts taught well and a few pieces done well can be much more important for a student writer’s growth than many concepts and lessons taught superficially and many pieces of writing assigned without much guidance. ~Constance Weaver Grammar to Enrich and Enhance Writing "We will lead the nation in improving student achievement." Kathy Cox, State Superintendent of Schools

  9. Activity #1: Questionnaire • What have I done to teach this grammar or mechanics pattern? • Have I thoroughly shared many correct models of the skill, both visually and verbally? • Have I modeled the grammar and/or mechanics pattern in my own writing? • Have I modeled how to correct these errors? • Have I allowed the students enough time to practice? • Is this mechanical or grammatical error important enough that it demands all of this work? "We will lead the nation in improving student achievement." Kathy Cox, State Superintendent of Schools

  10. Non-negotiable facts about teaching grammar and mechanics: • Teachers MUST teach the grammar and mechanics students need to know. • Teachers MUST NOT merely mention the grammar and mechanics rules. • Teachers MUST NOT merely correct students’ errors in grammar and mechanics. "We will lead the nation in improving student achievement." Kathy Cox, State Superintendent of Schools

  11. What do we mean by Conventions? Conventions are not merely rules for punctuation, capitalization, etc., but also include the following: STYLE (Style is basically the way you write as opposed to what you write about, though the two things are definitely linked. It results from things like word choice, tone, and syntax. It's the voice readers "hear" when they read your work.) SYNTAX (The grammatical arrangement of words in sentences.) VOCABULARY/WORD CHOICE SPELLING "We will lead the nation in improving student achievement." Kathy Cox, State Superintendent of Schools

  12. Activity #2What do I teach? • Look in your participant’s guide and locate the “Conventions” list. • In a small group or with a partner who teaches the same grade you do, study the standards and elements of the grade level that is before and after the grade you teach. • Note the similarities and differences. • Share your discoveries with your group. "We will lead the nation in improving student achievement." Kathy Cox, State Superintendent of Schools

  13. Why Learning Conventions is a Challenge: • Students don’t see the power of conventions. • Teachers are always searching for the best way to teach conventions. • Educators are often reluctant to encourage risk taking. • Schools often put too much stock into programs. ~Ruth Culhum, 6 + 1 Traits of Writing "We will lead the nation in improving student achievement." Kathy Cox, State Superintendent of Schools

  14. What is the best method to teach conventions? • The best way to teach conventions is by example. • Examples used may be mentor texts or the student’s own writing. • Use skill-focused lesson books wisely to help fill in the gaps discovered about students’ weaknesses. "We will lead the nation in improving student achievement." Kathy Cox, State Superintendent of Schools

  15. What the research says:Research does not support claims that the separate teaching of grammar: • Will improve the quality or accuracy of students’ writing. • Will help form the mind by promoting “mental discipline.” • Will help students score better on standardized tests that include grammar, usage, and punctuation. • Will help people learn the grammar of another language more readily. • Will help people master the socially prestigious conventions of the spoken and/or written language. • Will help people become better users of the language---that is, more effective as listeners and speakers, or as readers and writers. Culham, 2003 "We will lead the nation in improving student achievement." Kathy Cox, State Superintendent of Schools

  16. How to teach conventions: • Assess to get a good picture of what students know and what they still need to learn. • Teach the skills that are developmentally appropriate according to the GPS. • Allow for plenty of practice, time to experiment, and opportunities to apply the new skills in writing. • Begin to hold students accountable for specific skills on future writings. ALL OF THIS SOUNDS SO SIMPLE, RIGHT? IN TRUTH, THIS IS VERY, VERY DIFFICULT WORK! THE SECRET COMES IN FINDING THE RIGHT BALANCE. "We will lead the nation in improving student achievement." Kathy Cox, State Superintendent of Schools

  17. “Teaching skills in the context of students’ personal writing is far better than teaching them in isolation.” Ralph Fletcher Author of Craft Lessons: Teaching Writing K-8 "We will lead the nation in improving student achievement." Kathy Cox, State Superintendent of Schools

  18. What is the power of conventions? • Students should see conventions as a tool to make their meaning clear and to help the reader understand what they are saying. • When readers know to pause or stop at punctuation, it’s like a nod of the head. • When readers see and understand accurate spelling, it’s like a big smile. • When readers see capitalization used correctly, it’s like having direct eye contact. "We will lead the nation in improving student achievement." Kathy Cox, State Superintendent of Schools

  19. Have students combine sentences: Start simple by inserting adjectives, adverbs, etc. • Have students imitate model sentences. • Have students practice using reference tools like charts, organizers, etc., in their classrooms and reading/writing notebooks. • Have students practice with partners and independently. "We will lead the nation in improving student achievement." Kathy Cox, State Superintendent of Schools

  20. Provide students with guidance and feedback via small/flexible group instruction and student/teacher conferencing. • When giving feedback, look for patterns of errors. Also, be specific about what the child is doing well (reinforcement). • Have students assess themselves and/or partners according to a checklist. • At times, children will take a piece through the publishing process, which includes revising and editing. "We will lead the nation in improving student achievement." Kathy Cox, State Superintendent of Schools

  21. Have the students apply whatever approach you use to their own writing and to their reading. • Have students identify and examine how their favorite writers manipulate sentences; have the students emulate their favorite writers, using the exact same style. • Have students use newspapers and their own writings as sources for grammar examples and exercises. "We will lead the nation in improving student achievement." Kathy Cox, State Superintendent of Schools

  22. Assessing for Conventions • Consider two approaches: • A holistic approach • Grade-level expectations "We will lead the nation in improving student achievement." Kathy Cox, State Superintendent of Schools

  23. Good, Everyday Practices for Teaching Conventions: • Wait! • Set aside editing time. • Ask why. • Model. • Keep writing tools handy. • Get ‘em, one by one. "We will lead the nation in improving student achievement." Kathy Cox, State Superintendent of Schools

  24. When teaching conventions, remember: • Students should understand that editing and revising are different. • Teachers should expect correctness, but only according to appropriate developmental level and age. • Teachers should value experimentation right along with correctness. Remember, it’s a balancing act. • Teachers must be patient. Learning to use conventions well takes time and practice. "We will lead the nation in improving student achievement." Kathy Cox, State Superintendent of Schools

  25. Be Spontaneous! Setting the stage: • Students are working on rough drafts. • Teacher is walking around the room, giving praise and answering questions. • Teacher notices something special on a student’s paper. • Teacher spontaneously borrows the student’s example and teaches a mini-lesson on that particular thing. "We will lead the nation in improving student achievement." Kathy Cox, State Superintendent of Schools

  26. Example of a Spontaneous Lesson: Using Action Phrases in Description: • You have noticed that a student, after clustering ideas for a descriptive writing, has spontaneously produced some –ingmodifiers and has incorporated two of them into one sentence. **Sample sentence: I felt the wind going through the trees like ice cream melting in the summer. • You write the sentence on the board and interject a brief mini-lesson showing the other writers how they too can use similar action phrases in their description. • Encourage students to emulate this technique. "We will lead the nation in improving student achievement." Kathy Cox, State Superintendent of Schools

  27. Activity #3:Rate the three lessons • Locate the activity, “A Tale of Three Lessons.” • Read each lesson, and rank the lessons from the best example to the weakest example using the provided worksheet. • Locate some professional examples from your own mentor texts that support your favorite lesson. "We will lead the nation in improving student achievement." Kathy Cox, State Superintendent of Schools

  28. Be a Sentence-Stalker • Always be on the lookout for great mentor texts: sentences, paragraphs, essays, articles, advertisements, and novels. (Vicki Spandel, 2005) "We will lead the nation in improving student achievement." Kathy Cox, State Superintendent of Schools

  29. Why do students struggle with word choice? • Too often, language is used to exclude • Vocabulary is usually taught in isolation • Students get “word drunk” "We will lead the nation in improving student achievement." Kathy Cox, State Superintendent of Schools

  30. Activity for Description • A list of activities for sharpening descriptive powers is listed in your participant’s guide: “Activities for Sharpening Descriptive Powers.” "We will lead the nation in improving student achievement." Kathy Cox, State Superintendent of Schools

  31. Why is searching for just the right word so important? • Mark Twain once said, “The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.” "We will lead the nation in improving student achievement." Kathy Cox, State Superintendent of Schools

  32. Activities • In your participant’s guide, you will find two separate activities to support word choice: • 1. Activities for Using Exact Language • 2. Activities for Choosing Colorful Words and Phrases "We will lead the nation in improving student achievement." Kathy Cox, State Superintendent of Schools

  33. The Three P’s Approach to Teaching Grammar • Positive • Productive • Practical “Teaching grammar to enrich and enhance writing is teaching grammar as possibility. We see it as positive, offering options rather than focusing on errors; as productive, especially in the sense that it produces effective sentences and paragraphs that flow; and as eminently practical.” Constance Weaver, 2008 "We will lead the nation in improving student achievement." Kathy Cox, State Superintendent of Schools

  34. Activity #4:12 Principles Supporting the Three P’s • In your participant guide, you will find a list of 12 principles. • Look at these twelve principles, and label them as true or false. • You will have five minutes to construct your responses. • I will ask for volunteers to share examples. "We will lead the nation in improving student achievement." Kathy Cox, State Superintendent of Schools

  35. Working with Models from literature from a previous or current student • Share a model created by the teacher in advance composed by the teacher on the spot teacher • Create another model teacher and students together (pg. 63, Grammar to Enrich and Enhance Writing,2008) "We will lead the nation in improving student achievement." Kathy Cox, State Superintendent of Schools

  36. Daily Practice: Using Mentor Sentences to Develop Concepts • This practice promotes quick, daily instruction and practice. • It is best carried out at the beginning of class. • The time should take no more than ten minutes. • A shared experience with grammar and mechanics is provided daily. "We will lead the nation in improving student achievement." Kathy Cox, State Superintendent of Schools

  37. Use of Mentor Text:Tips from Mechanically Inclined • Use mentor text during reading, writing, or skills time (for modeling in the mini-lesson, work time, or closing). • Teach one thing at a time (be focused). • Have students analyze in reading time and apply during writing time. • Have students keep a reading/writing notebook. • Provide visuals and scaffolding. "We will lead the nation in improving student achievement." Kathy Cox, State Superintendent of Schools

  38. Teaching Conventions withMentor Text • Teachers model appropriate use of conventions using mentor text(s). • Using mentor texts allows for explicit and intentional teaching. • Students can see “rules” in the context of real literature. • Students will be more likely to experiment with this same language in their own pieces. "We will lead the nation in improving student achievement." Kathy Cox, State Superintendent of Schools

  39. Activity #5:Using Mentor Sentences • Locate the pages for examples of mentor sentences in grades 6-8. • Follow along as we quickly review the examples. • Working with a partner or in a small group, find additional mentor sentences within the books you brought that will support the elements of the conventions domain. "We will lead the nation in improving student achievement." Kathy Cox, State Superintendent of Schools

  40. How do we teach students to avoid sentence fragments? • Share common language: incomplete sentence, non-sentence, intentional fragment • Teach the two-word sentence strategy: Subject + verb = sentence. Examples of Mentor Text: They race. (p. 5) Jerry Spinelli, Loser He sprung. (p. 128) Stephen King, Cujo "We will lead the nation in improving student achievement." Kathy Cox, State Superintendent of Schools

  41. What about Run-on Sentences? • Students need to understand the differences between dependent and independent clauses. • Students need to understand that information should not flow breathlessly but should instead be placed into meaningful chunks of details that flow smoothly. • Studying mentor sentences is an excellent method of teaching students the craft of avoiding run-on sentences. "We will lead the nation in improving student achievement." Kathy Cox, State Superintendent of Schools

  42. Sample student run-on error: • Something that makes me happy is my friend Destiny she doesn’t try to act all cool and she is just goofy like when she dances she don’t care about what nobody says and she just dances and laughs and doesn’t worry so she is a lot of fun to hang with because she makes me laugh and we can go to the mall and walk around she is not shy so we always get to meet guys. "We will lead the nation in improving student achievement." Kathy Cox, State Superintendent of Schools

  43. Analysis of the problem……. • The writer has a lot to say about her friend, Destiny. Furthermore, the writer is almost breathless in putting her thoughts down on paper. It is quite possible that the writer does not understand the meaning of a simple sentence. She needs strategies to help her put into manageable chunks all of the details that are so easily flowing whenever she writes. "We will lead the nation in improving student achievement." Kathy Cox, State Superintendent of Schools

  44. Prepositional Phrases to the Rescue! • If students continue to have problems with run-on sentences or identifying the subject and verb of a sentence, giving them information about prepositional phrases may help. "We will lead the nation in improving student achievement." Kathy Cox, State Superintendent of Schools

  45. Activity # 6:Just how important are prepositions when we write? • Think of a room in your home. • You will have five minutes to describe the room as clearly as possible. • Focus on the location of the room, the décor of the room, the placement of the furniture in the room, etc. • YOU MAY NOT USE PREPOSITIONAL PHRASES! • Share your writings with the members of your group. • What did you discover? "We will lead the nation in improving student achievement." Kathy Cox, State Superintendent of Schools

  46. Activity #7: How Important are Prepositional Phrases? • Look at the example piece on prepositional phrases. • One volunteer in the group should read the first passage aloud. • Another volunteer should read the 2nd passage aloud. • Discuss what happens when the prepositional phrases are omitted. • How important are prepositional phrases? "We will lead the nation in improving student achievement." Kathy Cox, State Superintendent of Schools

  47. How do we teach manageable chunks? • Students need to discover the secrets for adding information to sentences without creating sentences that run-on. • Students need to understand dependence first. • Next, students need to learn that a sentence earns its independence when it stands on its own. "We will lead the nation in improving student achievement." Kathy Cox, State Superintendent of Schools

  48. Independent vs. Dependent • Students must understand the difference between an independent clause and a dependent clause. • Support this idea with examples of sentences from mentor texts. • Analyze the parts of the sentences. • Locate the dependent clause/s and the independent clause/s. "We will lead the nation in improving student achievement." Kathy Cox, State Superintendent of Schools

  49. Activity # 8Creating Mind Movies • Students close their eyes. • Teacher reads the sentence and asks the students to see it in their minds. • Teacher guides the students to see the parts of the sentence as they act like a camera, gliding across a scene and giving a close-up of the details. • Look at the sentence again. Students will emulate sentences of their own using commas to separate and hold together the groups of words. "We will lead the nation in improving student achievement." Kathy Cox, State Superintendent of Schools

  50. Dangling Modifiers • Modifiers “dangle” when it is not clear what they describe. • Modifiers usually need to be near the idea (noun) they are meant to describe or modify. • Correctly placed modifiers make sentences clear and help combine several ideas or actions into one thought. "We will lead the nation in improving student achievement." Kathy Cox, State Superintendent of Schools