Monday, September 05, 2005

Calling all English Teachers

A colleague of mine has requested that I offer a grammar and writing unit for all to use. He claims technical lag (similar to jet lag). I can't say I'm too far ahead, but I do have this blog. So, if you wish, use it. Also, if you care to, please offer feedback. The author of the unit is Mr. Foley.
Grammar and Writing

My colleagues unit brings to mind a topic of great interest to me as an English teacher. In the education world where standards and testing are at an all time high, how do we teach writing. I can say taht I don't feel all that competent at taking a student's writing from point A to point B. Writing, and the corresponding skill of grammar, has come easy to me. But many of our students struggle with writing correctly.
How do you teach writing? How do you teach grammar? Is grammar even an important thing to teach? How do we make grammar more accessible to our students (translated: more interesting)? Please let me know.


At 4:55 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

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At 6:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

His unit looks good to me. I like that he uses writing samples to teach grammar.

What texts do you use for writing/grammar at your school? We have the old out of print Warriner's series, which is getting harder and harder to find. We have The Practical Writer (Bailey and Powell) for our 9th grade curriculum, and it's a very good text.

I am trying something new this year. Portfolios can be unwieldy, but this year, I put a sheet inside each student's folder with the following column labels across the top: Assignment, Date, Grade, Positive Remarks, What Do I Need to Fix? Basically, I'm asking my students to be much more reflective, themselves. I think the only way they improve is through multiple drafts, but that can be so hard if you are teaching in public school with large classes. Constance Weaver wrote a good book called Teaching Grammar in Context. Weaver insists most of what we teach in grammar is unnecessary, but some of us have mandates from schools or systems. At the very least, they should do sentence combining exercises. Sorry--this is something I guess I could write a book about.

At 6:50 PM , Blogger Mr. McNamar said...

We mainly use the Writer's Inc. series, though I don't know how closely. Our school's focus for the past few years has been reading. As our scores rise in reading, we are starting to look more closely at the lagging writing scores.

At 7:13 PM , Blogger The Science Goddess said...

I wish I had something "exciting" to offer in the area of grammar. But, I'm "old school" and always had 1 semester of grammar and 1 semester of literature throughout high school...and no one cared if it was exciting. LOL

I will say that we have used the Jane Shaffer (sp?) method for helping scaffold student writing. We have had great results. Students are willing to transfer the skills to various content areas (a real plus). There are lots of ways to construct a paragraph, but it is nice to give the kids who struggle a "no fail" template to use until they get the hang of thins.

At 9:22 PM , Blogger Mr. McNamar said...

I am vaguely familar with the model. Topic sentence, fact/evidence/ that right? I find it so difficult to convey what good writing looks like, to actually explain how to do it. It will certainly be in my Professional Growth Goals for the Pro. Cert!!!

At 12:03 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Our middle school and high school has been teaching the five paragraph essay, starting in 8th grade and going through 10th grade. They devote an entire semester just to writing. In the freshman and sophomore year the students have to pass an exit exam, writing an essay, in class, in a style announced on the test day (contrast and compare, persuasive).
The essays are then exchanged with other teachers and graded.

It seems to be working well. My dyslexic sophomore passed the freshman test and now tests on MAP as average and advanced. This is after dismal scores in 6th grade and the 7th grade WASL.

The big test this year will be the sophomore exit essay and the WASL.

good luck!

At 7:35 AM , Blogger Suzi said...

One thing which has worked for me in teaching writing is grading papers. After they have written a paper, I grade it. Then I assign them grammar units based on the grammar points which they missed in the paper. Then I have them go back and rewrite their papers with, hopefully, a better understanding of the grammar which they were having problems with.

At 2:18 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The thoughts expressed here are my own and not intended to represent the school or district I work for." The last portion of your introduction should read, "for which I work."

At 12:54 PM , Blogger Mr. McNamar said...

Yes, it should. But only if you believe in antiquated rules like not ending a sentence in a preposition. If you know the rules, you can break them!

At 3:09 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

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Judyth Piazza’s journey has led her to create the Student Operated Press ( a student career assistance foundation. will not only help students become better writers, it will also help to build the leaders of our future. will provide a platform in which students are able to create a story, have it edited by their colleagues as well as proven media professionals to be published in the real world publications such as the Local Buzz Magazine and Florida People Magazine. In addition, this foundation will offer multiple online broadcasting opportunities and scholarships.
Charles Reade once said, “Sow an act and you reap a habit. Sow a habit and you reap a character. Sow a character and you reap a destiny.”


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