Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Grammar and Mechancis

It's such a challenge to motivate children see the value in and then actually thoughtfully adempt the editing process of literacy. In a day when there are so many D.O.L (daily oral language) and Daily Edit worksheets (which I am guilty of using), it is hard to think of authentic ways to implement editing in my classroom. The kids look at it as a chore and I can't blame them because I was never very good at or liked grammar and mechanics myself. That is until last night. I attended a workshop on Grammar and Mechanics in the Context of the Literacy Workshop. It changed the way I saw teaching/learning editing. Jeff Anderson sums up the class with this quote from his book Mechanically Inclined, "Teach grammar and mechanics as a creational facility rather than a correctional one." Rather than have children correct sentences that already have mistakes, help them see the wonderful grammar and mechanics in pieces of writing that are already published. To go along with this, we learned a teaching strategy called-Sentence Observation. The teacher basically writes a sentence from a prior real aloud on chart paper and then ask the students what they notice about the sentence. It provided an outlet for a really authenic conversation about parts of a sentence and the value of proper grammar and mechanics. The teacher can really concentrate on sentences that contain an idea that the kids are currently thinking about, while also thinking about other aspects. This is a wonderful way to differentiate instruction and really zero in on concepts that are just right for certain students while exposing those students to other ideas that might not be just right, purely by being part of the conversation. This workshop helped me to see that teaching grammar and mechanics should be a piece of lteracy workshop, just like any other mini lesson. Grammar/Mechanics lessons can be given in a whole group setting, small group or individual setting depending on the needs of the class. These lessons should have students concentrating on text from books in their classroom so they can see proper grammar/mechanics in action. This seems like it will help with the transfer to their writing much easier than if they are making corrections on a sentence that has no real meaning to them (D.O.L./Daily Edits). I am so inspired to change not only my student's thinking, but my own, about the editing process.


Karen said...

Wow! I am so impressed that you took all that out of our presentation! It is what we were aiming for, but you just never know who your audience is. I would love to sit down and talk with you sometime about the practices in your classroom. In the meantime, I will start checking your blog regularly. I can tell you are doing some very reflective thinking about your own teaching practices.
As someone fairly new to the blogging world myself, let me be one of the first to welcome to you to all the fun!

Abby said...

Thank you so much for spending time on my blog and your support. Yes! Your workshop was fantasitic. I was telling colleagues all about it yesterday. I would love the opportunity to chat with your sometime and get some feedback on my practices. Thanks again!

Cathy said...

Interesting!!! Have you read that book? The other teachers that I work with do not do a reading or writing workshop (a true one) and this is my second year diving into reading workshop (which I adore). I've always found it tough that they do the sheets and I don't...wondering if I should be doing those.

I do fluency folders: folders with lots of lots of poems where we try and read one a week. I use these to ask what they notice and then we practice reading them to build fluency. I'd be interested in hearing more about how it goes in your classroom with the sentences.

debrennersmith said...

I have been using Jeff Anderson's material extensively. I also have posted several lessons on my website if you are interested.

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