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Teaching GrammarDo your students in high school still need refresher courses in...

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Scott Locklear | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted November 17, 2008 at 5:00 PM via web

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Teaching Grammar

Do your students in high school still need refresher courses in grammar? If so, what sort of activities do you do?

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cybil | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted November 17, 2008 at 7:55 PM (Answer #2)

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Grammar continues to be an integral component of our curriculum in grades 7-12 because we firmly believe that mastery of grammar improves student writing. Students typically complete the usual kinds of grammar exercises; however, we have written our own workbook for grades 7-8, which is designed to reinforce the grammar skills the students learn in their required Latin courses. In addition, students are asked to write sentences, usually based on the literature we're studying, to illustrate specific constructions and often to use current vocabulary words. This approach helps them to learn sentence variety. Also we continue to teach diagramming. We are definitely old school! On the other hand, we're currently designing an online grammar program for our students to use. As a prep school we have for the most part bright, motivated students. Our approach probably isn't suitable for all students. 

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linda-allen | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted November 18, 2008 at 2:51 AM (Answer #3)

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I use the Daily Grammar Practice program. The students are given one sentence each week. On Monday, they identify the part of speech of each word. On Tuesday, they identify the sentence parts (subject, verb, prep. phrases, etc.) and purpose (declarative, interrogative, etc.). On Wednesday, they identify the clauses and sentence type (simple, compound, etc.). On Thursday, they rewrite the sentence using correct capitalization and punctuation. On Friday, they diagram the sentence.

Using this program allows you to reteach without having to spend weeks on nouns, verbs, etc.

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vanessa-petz | High School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted November 18, 2008 at 6:06 PM (Answer #4)

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How do you diagram the sentence?

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linda-allen | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted November 19, 2008 at 1:34 PM (Answer #5)

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Sentence diagramming is an old method of learning parts of speech and sentence structure; but it is still effective! Basically, you use a graphic organizer to analyze each word in the sentence. Nowadays, we might just identify the parts of speech by simply labeling each word:

ex.: How(adv.) do(helpling verb) you(subject) diagram(action verb) the(article) sentence(noun)

See this web site for examples:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sentence_diagram

 

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xiatian | High School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted November 20, 2008 at 5:32 PM (Answer #6)

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A line in the film "Sound of Music" is useful for grammar teaching: "Let's make it easy." Give some simple sentences and tell their common structures.

eg.

1. You speak (clearly). I listen (carefully).

Structure: Subject+v.i.(+adv.)

2. You speak English clearly. I listen to you carefully.

Structure: Subject+v.t.+Object+adv.

Then ask some students to make more sentences and they are sure to be able to understand the grammar.

 

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kwoo1213 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

Posted November 21, 2008 at 12:08 AM (Answer #7)

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Unfortunately, students need grammar instruction in COLLEGE.  I find myself having to teach basic grammar in my freshmen comp. classes, which is very, very frustrating. 

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rituwazirchand | High School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted November 22, 2008 at 3:18 AM (Answer #8)

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Sentence diagramming is an old method of learning parts of speech and sentence structure; but it is still effective! Basically, you use a graphic organizer to analyze each word in the sentence. Nowadays, we might just identify the parts of speech by simply labeling each word:

ex.: How(adv.) do(helpling verb) you(subject) diagram(action verb) the(article) sentence(noun)

See this web site for examples:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sentence_diagram

 

I think the example u have shown is the need of the hour to make students understand the grammer in this As sentences are made but the student does not know what each word is doing in the sentence If more on this can be put out will help one and all thanks

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slchanmo1885 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted November 25, 2008 at 7:18 AM (Answer #9)

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In reply to #7, I used to run a College Writing Center and even came across senior students in the non-humanities majors who were writing their thesis papers and had to have basic grammar and spelling lessons. One paper came to me that had the phrase, "as one could no." I was scratching my head, until she talked it out with me. Translation, "As one may know, ..." It's a tough situation because students are coming from all sorts of different situations and don't have the same basis. If some of them only take the Comp 101 and somehow squeak by (or get someone to write their papers for them) and then go on to take non-writing courses, they get to their senior thesis and have NO idea how to tackle it.

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lynn30k | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

Posted November 25, 2008 at 5:20 PM (Answer #10)

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I have to agree with #7 and #9.  I'm a "change of career" teacher, and went through teaching certification and master's courses in a program designed for people who already had a BA/BS in another field. There was an incredible lack of preparation in basic writing skills. I'm glad my college was trying to address the problem (by insisting that people who were deficient utilize the writing center), because as a mother of 4, I have had notes come home from teachers that were poorly written.  Believe me, nothing makes you doubt your child's teacher as much as having a note come home with grammar or spelling mistakes!

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timbrady | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted November 25, 2008 at 6:31 PM (Answer #11)

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I would like to recommend an article in the current (September 2008) issue of "English Journal" entitled My New Teaching Partner?  Using the Grammar Checker in Writing Instruction. It may sound odd, but it is an interesting study of ways to unite grammar and writing.  I have followed a similar procedure for years, and although I am more interested in writing than grammar, the improvement in grammar happens as part of the process.

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npdckrsn | College Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

Posted November 26, 2008 at 12:40 PM (Answer #12)

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Teaching Grammar

Do your students in high school still need refresher courses in grammar? If so, what sort of activities do you do?

For those students who do not actively pursue a foreign language for at least a couple of years, grammar studies in English are essential.  I have taught at all levels from grade school through college level and find that all of the students needed help with the simplest parts of speech study.  When I taught at college level, students swore that they had never heard of independent and dependent clauses and that no one ever told them that a phrase could not contain BOTH a subject and verb.

To echo what one teacher posted here--a student working on his doctorate came to me wanting me to proofread his doctoral thesis.  It was too bad to even consider a problem of grammar.  He did not know how to organize at all. 

Our students need to write daily--whether or not it is graded.  They need the practice of constructing good sentences.  They need to READ good writing to know what it looks like.

Give us an area for grammar questions and you will see them flow in like a trickle at first and then a flood.  And thank you for asking.

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enotechris | College Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

Posted November 27, 2008 at 8:51 AM (Answer #13)

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If Grammar's still taught as it was when I was in what they then called Grammar School, kids are still in trouble!  I didn't learn a damn thing until 7th Grade saturday mornings, when School House Rock interrupted my cartoons. Now that they're on YouTube, I'd steer kids (and adults) there.  Of course, that's just the bare basics -- like adding and subtracting.  Higher levels of Grammar, like calculus, focus on how to quantify and express ideas.  That's what's worth working towards in teaching.  Sadly, I see far too much worry regarding student's ability to spit back definitions of the parts of speech, with no understanding of how to use them. What benefit to the student if the whole class knows the definition of  "gerund," so the school gets a good MCAS rating, but the student knows not how to make or use one?

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magic | eNoter

Posted November 28, 2008 at 10:18 AM (Answer #14)

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I use the Daily Grammar Practice program. The students are given one sentence each week. On Monday, they identify the part of speech of each word. On Tuesday, they identify the sentence parts (subject, verb, prep. phrases, etc.) and purpose (declarative, interrogative, etc.). On Wednesday, they identify the clauses and sentence type (simple, compound, etc.). On Thursday, they rewrite the sentence using correct capitalization and punctuation. On Friday, they diagram the sentence.

Using this program allows you to reteach without having to spend weeks on nouns, verbs, etc.

Thank you for sharing what looks like a very sensible way to teach grammar concept. Especially in limied time periods and to MS students! I am looking forward to trying this out, and probably learing more about grammar than I know. (I'm not a great fan!) I'm sure this will help my kids do better and improve their writing at the same time. Thanks again.

Charlie

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npdckrsn | College Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

Posted December 1, 2008 at 2:30 PM (Answer #15)

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If Grammar's still taught as it was when I was in what they then called Grammar School, kids are still in trouble!  I didn't learn a damn thing until 7th Grade saturday mornings, when School House Rock interrupted my cartoons. Now that they're on YouTube, I'd steer kids (and adults) there.  Of course, that's just the bare basics -- like adding and subtracting.  Higher levels of Grammar, like calculus, focus on how to quantify and express ideas.  That's what's worth working towards in teaching.  Sadly, I see far too much worry regarding student's ability to spit back definitions of the parts of speech, with no understanding of how to use them. What benefit to the student if the whole class knows the definition of  "gerund," so the school gets a good MCAS rating, but the student knows not how to make or use one?

Your post immediately brought to mind the day my students started to sing: Conjunction Junction, What's your function? Apparently they learned more from the songs than from classes.

I never asked my students the definition of any part of speech.  I don't care if they know a gerund from a participial, but I did care that they knew that the gerund was going to be used as a noun. When we started on the "Comma Confidence" lessons, they knew to set off long prepositional phrases and participial phrases effectively.  I gave them this sentence:

Seething the cook threw the steak back on the grill.  They had to put in a comma to show that the cook was angry instead of being cooked. They thought it was fun to do that kind of exercises. I even used a sentence from the WebEnglishTeacher about the school's dress code manual:  No clothes, which can be considered a distraction, may be worn on campus.

Can you imagine the fun we had with that lesson about restrictive and non-restricitive clauses?

No matter how we try to change our teaching style to accommodate the latest trend in education and accountability, students still need hear the basics.  Grammar is one of those basics just as addition and subtraction are in mathematics.

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engtchr5 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

Posted December 3, 2008 at 9:04 AM (Answer #16)

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I often feel like I'm beating my head against a wall when trying to do grammar and mechanics with high-schoolers. So often, they've had years of education without a single exposure to parts of speech or even subject-verb agreement because teachers themselves find grammar mundane.

I have, however, turned such lessons into something kinesthetic to increase attentiveness and retention: Much like the "question ball" method, where different interrogatives are written on a ball and then tossed around a classroom to review, the parts of speech ball calls upon students to name or provide an example of a certain part of speech. This activity gets their brain warmed up for more complex and intense grammar-related activities.

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tpisano | Middle School Teacher | (Level 2) Assistant Educator

Posted December 4, 2008 at 5:39 PM (Answer #17)

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Yes, all students need a refresher course in grammar.  I do "Our Daily Grammar".   Each day we start with a quick grammar activity that relates to what we are working on.  

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npdckrsn | College Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

Posted December 5, 2008 at 1:45 PM (Answer #18)

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Yes, all students need a refresher course in grammar.  I do "Our Daily Grammar".   Each day we start with a quick grammar activity that relates to what we are working on.  

I am SO glad to hear that someone does a lesson in grammar on a daily basis.  Today I was reading one of those tech site blogs and found the following:

"There is no excuse for the way we treat foreign language learning in America, especially when the technology to augment local resources is cheap and plentiful. Language requirements for graduation shouldn’t be an afterthought - they should be integrated into the curriculum and should leverage the plethora of tools at our disposal to make sure our students graduate with fluency in something other than English (although fluency in English for our graduates would be nice too)."Chinese…How’s that for a 21st Century Skill? | Education IT | ZDNet.com

I will say it again: I learned more English from my years of French than I ever learned in an English class.  It is DRUDGERY to teach grammar unless we use humor or something that touches the students' interest.  But learning a foreign language guarantees that students will learn their own language as well.  Blessings to English and foreign language teachers everywhere. You are the ones who make certain that our children can make themselves understood.

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mthibodeau | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

Posted December 7, 2008 at 8:21 PM (Answer #19)

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My high school students do need a refresher in grammar.  However, most of their errors are a result of not speaking English as their first language.  I do believe the research that indicates that teaching grammar in isolation is a futile measure that does not transfer to student writing.  What I do use in my classrooms is to increase the amount of time that students read on their own, since good writers are good readers, and to increase the amount that students write, with explicit instruction in revision.  I also do sentence combining strategies. 

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npdckrsn | College Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

Posted December 8, 2008 at 5:49 PM (Answer #20)

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My high school students do need a refresher in grammar.  However, most of their errors are a result of not speaking English as their first language.  I do believe the research that indicates that teaching grammar in isolation is a futile measure that does not transfer to student writing.  What I do use in my classrooms is to increase the amount of time that students read on their own, since good writers are good readers, and to increase the amount that students write, with explicit instruction in revision.  I also do sentence combining strategies. 

Teaching grammar by itself is a bit like teaching how to sew on a button without having buttonholes. Students need to USE what they learn in context. That is one of the reasons I tried to use 'scenarios' to teach clauses and phrases. Guys like the idea of war horses and battles. Women can tolerate them while learning. I have another exercise with a woman out in the boondocks trying to escape her bad experience with life. That exercise teaches the same thing: phrase and clause recognition. 

I dealt strictly with adults--from 17 to 75 years old. They all seemed to enjoy reading the papers as much as working together to find the phrases and clauses. Letting them work together also helped them to check themselves and made them defend their answers. But they also wrote once a week. It was hard on me, but they learned.

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jessecreations | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

Posted December 9, 2008 at 5:18 PM (Answer #21)

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My students have horrific grammar skills.  Unfortunately, in the past 3 schools where I have worked, grammar has not been a major part of the English curriculum.  Grammar skills are needed on state assessments, where students might be asked to identify revision needs in a passage or to select an error in a sentence.  However, if I want to teach grammar, I have to sneak it in "under the radar," so to speak, since it is not part of my prescribed curriculum to do so.

I like to teach grammar as I notice the mistakes my students are making.  If one class, for example, shows errors in possessive pronouns, then I teach a lesson on possessive pronouns.  I try to make grammar lessons short, sweet, and as entertaining as possible for the kids.

Some ways I make grammar fun are to use song lyrics and students' names.  I use a Rufio song called "Above Me" when I teach the difference between your and you're, for example.  I also create a handful of practice sentences using the names of my own students, to make them laugh.  ex: "When Ben was rebuffed by the girl, he skulked home with his head hung low."

Students hate grammar, and many of us hate teaching it, but I feel I have to help my students improve in this area so that they will be able to communicate in a variety of situations with professionalism and propriety.

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teresa-minarsich | High School Teacher | eNoter

Posted December 12, 2008 at 12:29 PM (Answer #22)

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I find starting the class every day or every other day with a grammar warm-up effective. Each month I choose a new grammar concept to focus on based on my class grammar diagnostic tests. Every day I start the class with a 10 minute warm-up by reviewing the concept and then giving them 5 minutes to review a paragraph or series of sentences with mistakes. I include the number of errors on the page and the students' job is to proofread and find the mistakes. I call it Grammar Genius. Each day we have a new grammer genius in class depending on who got the most correct. We go over it together for the last 3-4 minutes or the warm-up.

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jennyrocks | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Assistant Educator

Posted December 14, 2008 at 4:38 PM (Answer #23)

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I have Basic English with one freshmen section, two sophomore, one junior, and two senior sections. My kids are definitely on the low-side so I work a lot on grammar with them. My freshmen have a five-week unit, my sophomores have grammar packets they do as homework after I do a mini-lesson on the whole packet on Mondays. All of my classes do DOL (Daily Oral Language) where we correct a sentence on the whiteboard at the beginning of class. The regular kids at my school also have pretty iffy grammar skills and they too have DOL and grammar their freshmen and sophomore years.

I can't help but to notice that students are really losing their skills in grammar. It is not only sad but scary. I hear "I seen him at the store" on a daily basis, they utilize the invariant "be", it is just getting bad. The internet isn't helping either (I am totally aware of the ironic value of this statement since I am posting on an internet discussion board...haha) because it is effective to spell improperly, use words improperly and anything else that can be made to butcher the English language. The only thing we can do is hit them hard in high school with it as well as the middle and primary grades and hope something sticks and they can get their thoughts across to people in a relatively coherent manner.

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npdckrsn | College Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

Posted December 18, 2008 at 6:15 PM (Answer #24)

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I have Basic English with one freshmen section, two sophomore, one junior, and two senior sections. My kids are definitely on the low-side so I work a lot on grammar with them. My freshmen have a five-week unit, my sophomores have grammar packets they do as homework after I do a mini-lesson on the whole packet on Mondays. All of my classes do DOL (Daily Oral Language) where we correct a sentence on the whiteboard at the beginning of class. The regular kids at my school also have pretty iffy grammar skills and they too have DOL and grammar their freshmen and sophomore years.

I can't help but to notice that students are really losing their skills in grammar. It is not only sad but scary. I hear "I seen him at the store" on a daily basis, they utilize the invariant "be", it is just getting bad. The internet isn't helping either (I am totally aware of the ironic value of this statement since I am posting on an internet discussion board...haha) because it is effective to spell improperly, use words improperly and anything else that can be made to butcher the English language. The only thing we can do is hit them hard in high school with it as well as the middle and primary grades and hope something sticks and they can get their thoughts across to people in a relatively coherent manner.

Jenny, would you like to try some of the exercises I submitted just for fun?  The guys like the War Horses and I think I have a romance type for the girls.  Either way, for them it is almost like getting to have fun with the reading before they have to be serious about the actual grammar.  Let me know.  npdckrsn@aol.com

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