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Write Now: Show Students How Grammar Is A Resource

Why is grammar taught in school?

In its most raw form, grammar can be viewed as rules, but I like to look at grammar as guidelines.

The reason I say this is because we need refreshers on grammar. It’s not just one course fits all, but rather several mini courses that review one concept. Yes grammar is taught in school, but do students really understand what grammar does? I don’t think so. Some students don’t understand what punctuation is for, and then to ask them about grammar, one is swinging for the fences. It’s not the fault of the students, and it’s not the fault of the teachers either. In most cases, we can blame the lack of knowledge on a curriculum and what it asks of the students.

If the curriculum says students in grade 11 need to be proficient with subject-verb agreement, then that is, maybe, what is focused on the most in class. But while focusing in on subject-verb agreement, a teacher also can bring in the refreshers. If a teacher is focusing on subject-verb agreement, why not review independent clauses and dependent clauses.

It only makes sense.

And to really tie in grammar, show students examples of subject-verb agreement by reading newspapers, novels, comic books, magazines, and internet news outlets. If a class is reading a novel, point out sentences that support subject-verb agreement. Not every sentence in a novel will support S-V-A. Why — dialogue. If you listen to people speak, they don’t speak in complete sentences, yet we understand what they are saying.

But it’s not just about showing the students the rules. A teacher may enhance the lesson by letting students read his own work, and show that, yes, even teachers struggle with grammar. A teacher needs to make a connection with students lives.

In the upper grades, show how grammar is important when looking for a job, gaining entry into college, or when communicating professionally with a colleague.

Those students may want to be an English teacher, a journalist, a public relations person, or an editor. In those positions, a firm grasp of grammar is needed with the condition that the person in one of those positions will be a lifelong learner who may want to seek out more information about writing, grammar, spelling, and punctuation to be the best writer he can be.

It is essential to show students how the writing process is a recursive process. Writing is a formal communication tool and communicating through writing can be powerful and effective. Show students how grammar is a resource, and not a deficit with proper grammar skills, students can make language do what they want it to do. Show students how to draw on their own experiences to make new experiences, so that they can think critically and creatively.

To show good writing through literature may encourage students to begin writing on their own because they want to write for themselves and not because they are assigned to write for a grade. Great writing becomes great literature.

It’s that easy.

It’s that hard.

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