Education trends come and go, but we should never lose sight of our best judgement and common sense. Recently, I've noticed that elementary writing teachers are being encouraged to value content over grammar when evaluating their students' writing. I wholeheartedly agree with this. I've always felt strongly that voice, above all, is really what makes a piece of writing effective and memorable. However, I hope this isn't an ideal that gets widely misinterpreted by busy, time-constraint-ridden teachers such as myself. Grammar still needs to be explicitly taught, practiced, and somehow assessed; starting in the primary grades. This is where using your best judgement comes in. I really hope that grammar isn't turning into the "new handwriting." (I fear the repercussions if it gradually disappears from our curriculum.)
Decent grammar can be just as essential to effectively communicating a written message as the content itself. I think as long as grammar lessons are engaging and the teacher is knowledgeable, grammar can be effectively taught without discouraging or burning out our young writers! It's all about making time for it, weaving it into our shared writing sessions, being excited about it, and having lots (and lots) of patience. So, here's to the kindergarten teacher who works with her whole class every day on capital vs. lowercase until she's blue in the face. Here's to the third grade teacher who, when faced with three pages of "sentences" with no punctuation whatsoever, takes a deep breath and sits beside her student to help him find the missing periods; even if that means going back to nouns and verbs. Here's to the fourth grade teacher who still enthusiastically slings her students classic spelling tricks such as, "Drop the 'e' and add '-ing!'" or "'I' before 'e' except after 'c,' or when sounded as '-ay' as in 'neighbor' or 'weigh.'" Our hard work WILL pay off; although we may not always have the pleasure of witnessing it. Let's make a New Year's resolution to keep grammar in the classroom; even when no one is keeping tabs!
In the spirit of the greatness that is grammar, I created a new flipchart to teach good ol' homophones!
Click HERE to download this grammar goodness. Happy New Year!