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Grammar Instruction for Middle School Gifted/Talented: Ideas to prevent recurring mistakes in student writing?

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Basic Member
+3
10 years ago
I am a middle school Language Arts (and Social Studies) teacher, primarily of self-contained Gifted/Talented students. Even among this population, I have found that grammatical awareness is "not part of the culture", and that I have far less success with students in this area than in all the others (in which most, as GT students, do well.) My kids think I am a Grammar-Fascist, of course, but actually I care about grammar only to the extent it impacts students' writing. Unfortunately, to avoid the common mistakes regarding punctuation, vague pronouns, verb tense usage, etc., one has to understand a fair amount of the grammatical world.

In the past, I have made digital voice recordings as I read and evaluated student writings; students and parents have said they appreciate the feedback, but I can't say that such feedback has prevented such students from making the same mistakes in the future. I have had students try some basic sentence diagramming. For some students this seems to help in their understanding of sentence structure, but not for most.

The most radical technique I have used (and still use) is to red-pen portions of a writing selection of each and every student on the Promethean Board (my district's version of SmartBoard) in front of the entire class. A few people, including one administrator, gasped when I told them about it. My response has always been that kids have been doing algebra problems on the board since the Neolithic Era, and no one has minded. Unlike algebra problems, of course, writing more intimately expresses one's persona, and thus public criticism of the writing is construed as criticism of the person him/herself. But for precisely that reason it is all the more important to get the writing right! Few adults ever solve a math problems in public, but many adults have plenty of chances either to distinguish or embarrass themselves in business memos, letters to the editor, blogs, etc.

Believe it or not, no parent has ever challenged my use of this technique, and quite a number have applauded it. Does it work to improve writing? I think the jury is still out. It certainly does help students to see that large numbers of them make the same mistakes, even the brightest among them. It also reinforces the reality that writing is both public and, once out there, very hard to retract! But I still see too many comma splices...

Anyway, I am curious as to others' thoughts in this regard. I am also curious if any of you have tried the public red-penning technique (and what happened after, of course!)

A few years ago a student of mine went to Northwestern University for the summer as part of their Talent Search program. She decided to take a Latin class. From there she sent me a card which said, "Mr. Smith, I can't believe it! They made me buy a book called 'English Grammar for Latin Students'." At least I know one student finally got the message. (BTW, I had to use quote marks for the book title because this blog doesn't let me italicize.)
Basic Member
+6
10 years ago
Dan,

I've experienced the same problems with teaching Spanish. Students fail to see the reasoning behind using proper grammar. My concern is teaching them grammatical structures in Spanish when they haven't comprehended the same, or similar, structures in their native language.

Having listened to 30 Webinars this summer so far, I am finding ideas that may help with this problem. If a solution, or at least a partial solution occurs, I will be sure to discuss it with you.
Basic Member
+3
10 years ago
Thanks. When explaining verb tenses and 1st/2nd/3rd person sing/plural often hard to see in English I will put up a complete chart of a regular verb in Italian to illustrate the point.
Basic Member
+18
10 years ago
Quote from Smith Daniel Lakewood Ohio
Thanks. When explaining verb tenses and 1st/2nd/3rd person sing/plural often hard to see in English I will put up a complete chart of a regular verb in Italian to illustrate the point.

Your students are fortunate to have you as their teacher. Much appreciation for your energy and efforts to make a difference. :)
Basic Member
+18
10 years ago
Quote from Mrs. Riggle
Dan,

I've experienced the same problems with teaching Spanish. Students fail to see the reasoning behind using proper grammar. My concern is teaching them grammatical structures in Spanish when they haven't comprehended the same, or similar, structures in their native language.

Having listened to 30 Webinars this summer so far, I am finding ideas that may help with this problem. If a solution, or at least a partial solution occurs, I will be sure to discuss it with you.

Great learning for me. There are some SK12 members who are ESL teachers. Perhaps you will collaborate with them and find some beneficial tips. :)
Basic Member
+3
10 years ago
Thanks. Dan
Basic Member
6 months ago
I'll post a whole chart of an Italian regular verb to demonstrate the point when describing verb tenses and how first, second, third, and plural persons are frequently difficult to see in English. geometry dash

Last updated: 6 months ago

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