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Grammar Notes student reading








Our Department Philosophy on How to Teach Grammar

  • It is best to teach grammar as part of the writing process and as a rhetorical strategy.
  • If the writing process includes brainstorming, drafting, editing, and proofreading, correct grammar and mechanics can be reviewed as part of the repeating cycle: for example, after a student drafts their introduction, and they edit it for global concerns, they can also review their draft for grammar and mechanics. In other words, grammar and mechanics can be reviewed in small bites. Grammar and mechanics review can also wait until the paper is complete and in the proofreading stage. In either scenario, proofreading is taught and reviewed during class-time.
  • Instead of teaching grammar in isolation, teach grammar and mechanics as tools students can use to communicate effectively. Grammar can be viewed as a rhetorical strategy that facilitates communication. In this case, grammar is continuously reviewed during class time as choices writers make. Course readings may be analyzed to assess how an author uses punctuation to make meaning.
  • Grammar and mechanics should move away from issues of correctness to facilitating communication.
  • Viewing grammar as a rhetorical strategy moves the teaching of grammar away from a set of rules to memorize, and instead places grammar and mechanics as tools that facilitate communication; in so doing, grammar instruction is no-longer ever complete or done, and instead is a process and journey every writer undergoes. Grammar usage alters, changes, expands along with the individual’s intellectual growth and as an individual confronts new ideas and concepts.

Suggestions and Techniques

  • Grammar logs & Editing logs

    1. In a grammar log, students record and analyze the types of errors they make. They write down the rule and then correct their own sentences. They maintain this “log” throughout the semester.
    2. Editing logs are similar to the above, however they focus on the editing process the student went through to revise and/or complete their essay. This can be a handout students fill out each time they turn in an essay or they can be kept as a “journal” entry. Editing logs allow students to evaluate their writing processes.
  • Grammar and mechanics review

    1. After identifying common errors, the student reviews the rules in the 100L lab book or a grammar manual.
  • Grammar as a rhetorical strategy

    1. Teach grammar as choices writers make.
    2. Discuss in all aspects of writing, use course readings and student work as examples.
  • One to one teaching

    1. After identifying common errors, hold a conference with students.
    2. In small groups, have one student lead a discussion on grammar principles and use student work. (There are many possible variations of how to use a peer tutor)
  • Grammar is a system that builds, and not a hodgepodge of unrelated topics; it is a field onto itself

    1. Grammar instruction should be integrated into the overall curriculum.
  • Use student errors as teaching moments

    1. Take samples of errors from student papers (anonymous is best and/or the sentences can be altered in content).
    2. Place student samples on a PowerPoint slide, overhead, or on a handout.
    3. Teach a “mini-lesson” that fits the samples.
    4. Use small groups and have students “fix” the errors.
  • Have students correct errors on papers that you mark

    1. After grading papers, devote a class session to fixing the errors on the papers; walk around during this time and address issues on a one-to-one basis as needed.
    2. Lower grade or points after a certain degree of errors; allow students to regain the grade or points if they “fix” their errors.
    3. Incorporate a portfolio as the final for the course, and require revised and grammatically correct essays.
  • Teach proofreading

Grammar Articles (Web links forthcoming)

      1. Micciche, Laura R. “Making a Case for Rhetorical Grammar.” College Composition and Communication, 55.4 (June 2004): 716-737.
      2. Brosnahan, Irene and Janice Neuleib. “Teaching Grammar Affectively: Learning to Like Grammar.” Hunter and Wallace 204-212.
      3. Bushman, Donald and Elizabeth Ervin. “Rhetorical Contexts of Grammar: Some Views from Writing-Emphasis Course Instructors.” Hunter and Wallace 136-158.



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