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Grammar Across the Disciplines

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  1. 1. “ See everything, overlook a great deal, correct a little.” work of “Grammar Across the Disciplines LC" presented by   Katrina Arndt John Travers Russ Coward Deborah Uman Ed Freeman Deborah Vanderbilt
  2. 2. Introduction <ul><li>Goals for the group: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Identify concerns in our classes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Review research about grammar instruction </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Identify useful strategies and plan to implement them into our classes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Share information with the community </li></ul></ul>
  3. 3. Common concerns: Do ours match yours? <ul><li>Grammar </li></ul><ul><li>Fragments </li></ul><ul><li>Comma splices </li></ul><ul><li>Run-ons </li></ul><ul><li>Misplaced modifiers </li></ul><ul><li>Spelling </li></ul><ul><li>Apostrophes </li></ul><ul><li>Semi-colon </li></ul><ul><li>Verb tense </li></ul><ul><li>Subject/verb agreement </li></ul><ul><li>Pronoun agreement </li></ul><ul><li>Holistic </li></ul><ul><li>Nonsense </li></ul><ul><li>Lack of coherence </li></ul><ul><li>Register </li></ul><ul><li>Discourse competence </li></ul><ul><li>Clichés </li></ul>
  4. 4. Why are these concerns important? <ul><li>Students should know what a sentence is, and they should have basic knowledge of the building blocks of language </li></ul><ul><li>These problems impede the logic and clarity of writing, and interrupt the flow of reading </li></ul><ul><li>We teach these concepts often and students use them frequently. </li></ul><ul><li>These can be status-marking errors. </li></ul>
  5. 5. Andrews, et. al., 2004 “There is no high quality evidence that the teaching of grammar, whether traditional or generative/transformational, is worth the time if the aim is the improvement of the quality and/or accuracy of written composition.”
  6. 6. George Hillocks, 1986 <ul><li>Hillocks found that the teaching of grammar as a method of improving writing actually had negative effects, perhaps mainly because it replaced time that teachers could have spent actually guiding students through the writing process. </li></ul>
  7. 7. Weaver, 2007 <ul><li>“Historically, most students have not learned grammar well, fewer have remembered much after being tested on it, and fewer still have independently applied the relevant aspects of grammar study to their own writing.” </li></ul>
  8. 8. Christensen (1967); Mellon (1969); O’Hare (1973) <ul><li>Sentence combining is the only kind of “grammar” teaching that has consistently been found helpful in enriching students’ writing—or at least their writing of individual sentences. . . [but] it is a technique not for teaching grammar but for teaching ways of making sentences more sophisticated and effective. </li></ul>
  9. 9. Sentence Combining <ul><li>An entire semester of sentence-combining practice had effects not much different from those of a week spent intensively helping college students combine, expand, and revise the sentences in their own writing, in connection with teacher advice to use longer, more complex sentences in their writing (Smith & Hull, 1985). </li></ul>
  10. 10. Read! Read! Read! Write! Write! Write! <ul><li>Another study (Hartwell & LoPresti, 1985) suggests that extensive reading and writing may be just as helpful as sentence combining, if not more so. </li></ul>
  11. 11. Sample exercises <ul><ul><li>Ed: summary </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Deborah: sentence </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>combining/imitation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Russ: misplaced modifiers </li></ul></ul>
  12. 12. Directive #1 <ul><li>Do not waste time on “drills and skills” workbook exercises. Students may perform well on them, but do not apply them later to their own writing. </li></ul>
  13. 13. Directive #2 <ul><li>Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you can help students fix all errors: take on a manageable piece and teach “an inch wide and a mile deep.” </li></ul>
  14. 14. Directive #3: accept that language changes <ul><li>Rules do change and are dropped. Years ago English teachers went into conniptions over the use of shall vs. will . </li></ul><ul><li>(One grammar handbook has over 20 pages on this subject alone.) </li></ul><ul><li>Focus on things that block effective communication of ideas . </li></ul>
  15. 15. The directives in action: <ul><li>Each student should bring their own folder on Friday. Subject Verb Agreement error! </li></ul><ul><li>I can understand the sentence. LET IT GO! </li></ul><ul><li>She didn’t go to the class she got notes from a friend. Run-on sentence: incorrect punctuation! </li></ul><ul><li>Faulty punctuation impedes my ability to understand the sentence. FIX IT! </li></ul>