“If the expectation of what we teach students
about writing is changing, then so should our
preparation. If we are to teach the craft of
writing to students, and not just mechanics and
spelling, most of us cannot rely solely on our
own histories of writing instruction.”
~ Elizabeth Hale, Crafting Writers
Write at least three sentences about
something fun you’ve done recently with
your friends or family.
You MUST follow these two rules:
1. Indicate plurals using the marker guk.
2. Form past tense with the ending bo.
Example: On Saturday, I hadbo brunch with my
friendguk, Heidi and Lydia.
“When I was a child, editing meant error (bad,
wrong, red pen and points off).”
~Lucy Calkins, The Art of Teaching Writing
“Grammar is the skunk at the garden party of the
“the G word”
~Martha Kolln, Rhetorical Grammar:
Grammatical Choices, Rhetorical Effects
“bleeding all over the paper”
When teachers “‘red-ink’ student writing to a fatal
hemorrhage [they] destroy student interest in writing
and writing improvement.”
Grammar and the Teaching of Writing:
Limits and Possibilities
“The English Teacher’s Red Pen: History of an
~Steven Zemelman and Harvey Daniels,
A Community of Writers
“A Third Way”
“In teaching grammar for writing, less is more.”
~Rei Noguchi, Grammar and the Teaching of
Writing: Limits and Possibilities
“Teach an inch wide and a mile deep.”
qtd. in The Grammar Plan Book
by Constance Weaver
“Putting Grammar in Its Place”
“If students learn elements of grammar in the
context of expanding their options as writers, it
has its place.”
~Jim Burke, The English Teacher’s Companion
Four Major Definitions of Grammar
• Grammar as a description of syntactic structure
• Grammar as prescriptions for how to use structures
• Grammar as rhetorically effective use of syntactic
• Grammar as the functional command of sentence
structure that enables us to comprehend and produce
~Constance Weaver, Teaching Grammar in Context
A more positive view
• “Grammar—the ways words are used to shape
meaning, voice, style . . .” ~Jim Burke
• Grammatical conventions are “what readers’ eyes and
minds expect from texts, and how marks and forms
give writing voice and power and make reading
predictable and easy.” ~Nancie Atwell
• Conventions are “a tool to make [the writer’s]
meaning clear and help the reader understand what
they are saying.” ~Ruth Culham
woman without her man is lost
Woman, without her, man is lost.
Woman, without her man, is lost.
How many different marks of
punctuation can you think of?
List as many as you can.
Pat Smith called Sarah Lou is here
that that is is that that is not is not this is it isn’t it
One of the jobs of the teacher is to “make
students consciously, linguistically aware of
the grammatical repertoire they already
(Olson, p. 291)
Alternatives to Daily Oral Language
• Mentor Texts
“Every single text we encounter presents us with a
whole chunk of curriculum, a whole set of things to
know about writing.” ~Katie Wood Ray
• Sentence Imitation
• Sentence Combining
• Scrambled Sentences
• Express-Lane Edit
Papa slogs through the door, pouchy bags
under his eyes, a mustard stain on his shirt.
from Replay by Sharon Creech
Tucker was a trucker.
Tucker was out of luck.
He was stuck in the muck.
He was near Winnemucca.
Embrace Students’ Errors
What’s hiding in their errors?
• Over-generalized rules
• Valuable information about where they are as
• A direction for instruction
“When a thought takes one’s breath away, a
lesson on grammar seems an impertinence.”
~Thomas Wentworth Higginson,
Preface to Emily Dickinson’s Poems
“It is grammar, first of all, that makes language
possible, that allows us to articulate our
thoughts, our selves, in utterances.”
~Oliver Sacks, Seeing Voices:
A Journey into the World of the Deaf
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