Teaching Effective Grammar SkillsHas anyone discovered how to teach grammar skills effectively? My students have always performed very well on grammar tests; however, they can not seem to...

Teaching Effective Grammar Skills

Has anyone discovered how to teach grammar skills effectively? My students have always performed very well on grammar tests; however, they can not seem to translate their good grammar skills to their writing. When I receive their writing assignments, it is as though no one has ever taught them grammar!?

56 Answers | Add Yours

roberteinarsson's profile pic

roberteinarsson | College Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

Posted on

My workbook Traditional English Sentence Style tries to answer this question. I think it is a matter of reinforcing the sections a sentence divides into, and how those sections are arranged and put together. Then, I think it is very important to spend a lot of time analyzing sentences written by classic authors with really strong writing styles.

By reinforcing their awareness of sentence segments, we give students the ability to manipulate, and by the way to punctuate, those segments competently.

ajmchugh's profile pic

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

Posted on

I'm glad I saw this post.  In our district, we're not allowed (you read that right--we're not allowed!) to teach grammar.  We have no grammar text, and the only kind of grammar instruction we're premitted to do is incidental--based, for example, on common errors in a round of essays. 

I understand that research shows that isolated grammar instruction doesn't effectively help students become better writers.  However, what should be a simple lesson (something like comma usage) doesn't work if students don't know the terms involved. 

burbina's profile pic

burbina | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

Posted on

I've taught Freshman writing for the last 5 years, and we've found that teaching grammar through writing seems to be effective.  They remember their mistakes and how to avoid them because they're seeing what they're doing wrong in their own work...not just a random sentence or multiple choice question.  The key to this, however, is to decide exactly what grammar skills you want to focus on.  Then, create daily grammar exercises...one slide PPTs...that the kids are require to do when they come into the room (have them keep a grammar notebook).  As a class, go through the exercise and have the kids correct their work in a different color than what they used to write originally.  Now...you should focus on one skill for an extended period of time...just approach it in different ways, and through different exercises.  Whatever writing assignment you're working on at this time, make sure the kids understand they'll be held accountable for that specific grammar skill in that writing assignment...work it into the scoring guide.  As the year goes on, the grammar skils students are being held responsible for become comprehensive.  This also helps with your grading of essays, for it allows you to focus on specific skills instead of wearing yourself and your students' papers out marking for everything.  You can mark everything...and comment on everything, but only hold them accountable for what you've covered.

smflannery's profile pic

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

Posted on

Teaching Effective Grammar Skills

Has anyone discovered how to teach grammar skills effectively? My students have always performed very well on grammar tests; however, they can not seem to translate their good grammar skills to their writing. When I receive their writing assignments, it is as though no one has ever taught them grammar!?

  One of the many courses I teach is SAT Critical Reading and grammar is a major focus.  I found a wonderful website (www.chompchomp.com) that helps with the commom grammatical mistakes.  You might want to check it out.  It is a bit "cheesy" but it helps.

parkerlee's profile pic

parkerlee | Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

Posted on

I follow closely my students' progress (or lack of it) through their personal compositions.  I keep a memory check of repeated mistakes, and each student has his or her profile. When I mark an error with an arrow from the words 'FIX THIS!' in capital letters, they know this means that this is their personal mistake I have seen time and again, as rebellious as crabgrass, and that I don't want to ever see it again. This usually helps them to make the resolve to "fix it" indeed. I suppose it's the idea of personal accountability that either scares or motivates them to clear it out of their writing.

keithi's profile pic

keithi | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

Posted on

Teaching Effective Grammar Skills

Has anyone discovered how to teach grammar skills effectively? My students have always performed very well on grammar tests; however, they can not seem to translate their good grammar skills to their writing. When I receive their writing assignments, it is as though no one has ever taught them grammar!?

I believe they need practice, practice, practice until they have mastered a particular skill. One technique that I have used in the past is music. Several times a trimester I have the student write a song, or poem, or rap about a particular process or topic. It just needs to be grammatically and factually correct. Unfortunately we are experiencing some unique problems these days... they are texting and 'IM'ing!! At least once a week I get an assignment with abbreviated words just like if they were texting a friend...they just have to redo the assignment. Try doing the music lesson, the kids love doing it and they are always engaged!!

misterb200's profile pic

misterb200 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

Posted on

Teaching Effective Grammar Skills

Has anyone discovered how to teach grammar skills effectively? My students have always performed very well on grammar tests; however, they can not seem to translate their good grammar skills to their writing. When I receive their writing assignments, it is as though no one has ever taught them grammar!?

The best way for students to learn grammar is by doing massive amounts of reading. Stephen Krashen and others have provided ample research indicating that direct grammar instruction, while it may produce better results on grammar tests, does not have a track record of success in improving reading comprehension. Grammar is in and of itself a fascinating and worthy subject of study, but teaching it in a direct fashion is a laborious and ineffective method for improving reading. The work of Vygotsky and others indicates that learning takes place when new material is married to background knowledge. This learning takes place in a "zone of proximal development" or ZPD. Krashen and many others have also indicated that learning is accelerated when there is low affective filter. Direct grammar instruction does not meet this standard. As an English teacher, I find that modeling, sentence imitation, and massive amounts of reading will result in better grammar.

 

charcunning's profile pic

charcunning | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Assistant Educator

Posted on

We use what are called "Focus Correction Areas". For example, have students write in response to a prompt (can be formal or informal). Then choose 3 and only 3 areas to focus on--one or two can be grammar. For example, perhaps your FCA's for an assignment might be comma usage, subject/verb agreement and strong topic sentences. Have the students then GO BACK TO THEIR OWN WRITING and work on just those things; grade them on just those things as well.

They need to learn grammar in the context of their own writing--ALSO GIVE THEM LOTS OF AMAZING EXAMPLES!!

Also, pick out sentences with beautiful grammar, structure and punctuation and have them do a mimic.

For example: The dog, wet and smelly, rolled on my carpet; however, I loved him, so I forgave him.

Now THEY write one using the exact format:

For example My sister, obnoxious and annoying, barged into my room; however, she was bringing me cookies, so I wasn't mad for long.

 

devval23's profile pic

devval23 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

Posted on

Sorry, I responded quickly without proofreading. Excuse my own grammar errors. Oops!

devval23's profile pic

devval23 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

Posted on

Having read most of these posts, I also agree that grammar MUST be incorporated into writing, but reading should also play a role. i am a secondary teacher and this is what I recommend:

Integrate and embed!

 

For example, for a unit on descriptive writing, you can focus on how concrete nouns and adjectives play a role in description. First, have them write a descriptive sentence and then ask them to identify words that describe. When they see that they haven't included sesnory language, teach an isolated lesson on nouns and adjectives, how they acts. Then, have them revise their sentence using concrete and proper nouns, and adjectives. Then, a reading exercise where they indentify descriptive langauge, then back to their own writing and then a lesson on verbs,etc...Teach each part of speech and how it acts and why it's important. For example, conjunctions could be next for sentence combining and sentence variety. Then have them read two texts to compare sentence length, then go back to descriptive writing and combine sentences, etc. Hope that wasn't too lengthy.

kalick's profile pic

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

Posted on

Don and Jenny Killgallon's Sentence Composing workbooks are also great resources.  Students are asked to model particularly effective sentences from texts that are commonly taught in English class (To Kill a Mockingbird, Of Mice and Men, "Shooting an Elephant").  There are different versions of the text for different grade levels (middle school and high school). I think grammar instruction is important because it gives us a (teachers and students) a common language to talk about writing, and the structure of this book allows students to imitate models of effective writing without getting overwhelmed by intricate rules.  The modeling strategy works well because it is structured, but at the same time allows for creativity.  When students practice writing sentences it is easier for them to transfer their new skills to writing paragraphs and essays.

susan3smith's profile pic

susan3smith | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

Posted on

My favorite way of teaching grammar is using Ann Longknife and K.D. Sullivan's The Art of Styling Sentences.  This short handbook explores 20 basic sentences patterns.  Each pattern includes generic examples as well as examples taken from professional writing. The sentences are clearly impactful, and students love to imitate them.  After teaching these sentence patterns, I find students imitating them in their writing, using semicolons, colons, parallel structures, elliptical constructions, etc.  These lessons work nicely as weekly mini-lessons.

jblederman's profile pic

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

Posted on

I do enjoy the posts relating to grammar that contain atrocious grammar. There is a spell check option right here!

As an educator, I must agree with teaching the skill of writing as opposed to teaching grammar. I did learn some GUM in school, but as a life-long reader and writer, identification and correction of mistakes is much more intutitive than a process.

I do not circle errors on papers or make corrections. The students warn an overall GUM score on a writing assignment, and must find their own errors to increase the score. I encourage them to have a proofreader that is NOT Microsoft Word, but a living being.

sboeman's profile pic

sboeman | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Assistant Educator

Posted on

My high school students seem to love Mad Libs-they're easy to copy, eat up some time, and the kids get a kick out of them.  It's also fun to have them make their own and share them with each other.

Another idea is to have each student write a short sentence, no more than 3 or 4 words.  They will then pass the sentence to another person, who will then rewrite it and add, say, one adjective and one adverb.  Then, once again, pass it on and another will add a prepositional phrase and a subordinate clause, for example.  Pretty soon people can add sentences, paragraphs, etc., and the people love to get their "stories" back at the end.

linalarocca's profile pic

linalarocca | College Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

Posted on

Thank-you for all of your ideas! You have all been very helpful in guiding me to become a better teacher; thus, you have aided many students in the area of grammar and writing.

Sincerely,

Lina

Showing 1–15 of 56

We’ve answered 318,919 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question