Drill & Kill: Teaching Grammar

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by ayotte04, Jun 15, 2007.

  1. ayotte04

    ayotte04 Comrade

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2007
    Messages:
    483
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jun 15, 2007

    Hi all,

    This summer and next year I'll be teaching 6th/7th grade English. I'm not that worried about teaching reading or literature, but concerned about teaching the grammar. When I was in school, I totally got turned off to the subject because of dissecting sentences, and all that "drill and kill" my colleagues refer to it as.

    Any tips, ideas, or books you recommend would be appreciated. I want these kids to enjoy sitting in my class.

    :) :thanks:
     
  2.  
  3. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

    Joined:
    May 13, 2005
    Messages:
    29,807
    Likes Received:
    1,171

    Jun 15, 2007

    Have the kids work with examples that show them why grammar matters. You might want to have a look at Eats, Shoots, and Leaves by Lynne Truss, though some of the punctuation is non-American. For your own inspiration, try Karen Elizabeth Gordon's The Deluxe Transitive Vampire, though I wouldn't recommend the examples for middle school (giggle).
     
  4. Mamacita

    Mamacita Aficionado

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2004
    Messages:
    3,322
    Likes Received:
    13

    Jun 15, 2007

    Since grammar is my OBSESSION (saying "I'm obsessed" is more politically correct than "grammar nazi," right? See, I didn't say it! You all know how important I consider political correctness. . . .) I will just stay out of this one.

    Except for this one comment: AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGH
     
  5. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

    Joined:
    May 13, 2005
    Messages:
    29,807
    Likes Received:
    1,171

    Jun 15, 2007

    Aw, Mamacita: I wasn't agreeing that she shouldn't have the students dissect sentences: I was suggesting being... selective about the sentences that get dissected - or dissed, as the case may be.
     
  6. Brendan

    Brendan Fanatic

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2004
    Messages:
    2,974
    Likes Received:
    1

    Jun 15, 2007

    There are very few fun activities that you can do with high school level grammar, unfortunatly. When I taught English I basically told the kids that they needed gramamr to better their writing and becuase they would recieve a fianl grammar exam at the end of the year worth 10% of their overall grade.

    Mamacita, if you do not mind me asking what was your reason for quiting teaching middle school and moving to college.
     
  7. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2006
    Messages:
    7,946
    Likes Received:
    4

    Jun 15, 2007

    I do not feel qualified to teach grammar...but I do. It just wasn't stressed in school; we certainly never dissected sentences! After independently trying to learn even what most would consider the basics, I still feel lost. Mamacita, I know this will crush your soul, but as much as I do worry about it, I also don't feel that it is the most important thing to learn in language arts. I'm more concerned with the creative process and learning how to express yourself. That said, after I finish my master's degree in the spring I'm on a sincere mission to learn grammar! It is very sad how much I truly don't know.
     
  8. pwhatley

    pwhatley Maven

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2007
    Messages:
    5,276
    Likes Received:
    1

    Jun 15, 2007

    I'm such a nerd! We diagrammed sentences in junior high, and I LOVED it! It was like a puzzle or game to me. I guess it is all in your perspective.
     
  9. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

    Joined:
    May 13, 2005
    Messages:
    29,807
    Likes Received:
    1,171

    Jun 15, 2007

  10. ayotte04

    ayotte04 Comrade

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2007
    Messages:
    483
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jun 15, 2007

    Diagrammed! Yes that was the real word I was looking for. Didn't mean to be so harsh there MamaCita. So since you're a grammar guru....honestly, your advice? And what's all that Latin stuff you have on the bottom of your profile?
     
  11. ayotte04

    ayotte04 Comrade

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2007
    Messages:
    483
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jun 15, 2007

    TchrGrpi,

    You never let me down with your endless resources and fountain of knowledge. You're like a walking library/encyclopedia. love it!
     
  12. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

    Joined:
    May 13, 2005
    Messages:
    29,807
    Likes Received:
    1,171

    Jun 16, 2007

    You're gonna make me blush, ayotte04.

    By the way, you're welcome to use "TG" for short.

    The Latin in Mamacita's signature is bogus Latin, in fact. It's supposed to say, "A little song, a little dance, a little seltzer down your pants." It doesn't, really, but never mind why.
     
  13. ayotte04

    ayotte04 Comrade

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2007
    Messages:
    483
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jun 16, 2007

    Mmm hmmm. I keep telling myself I should learn Spanish because I live in Cali (yeah I grew up on French ..East Coast Baby!) But after reading everything on here, I may skip ahead to Latin.
     
  14. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

    Joined:
    May 13, 2005
    Messages:
    29,807
    Likes Received:
    1,171

    Jun 16, 2007

    Lingua latina pulchra est et grammatica potentissima.
    The Latin language is beautiful and a most powerful teacher of grammar.

    Cassie, the Latin teacher in Las Vegas, can almost certainly improve on that sentence; my college Latin was a few decades ago.
     
  15. Mamacita

    Mamacita Aficionado

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2004
    Messages:
    3,322
    Likes Received:
    13

    Jun 16, 2007

    I know it's not "real" Latin, but I like it anyway. And I LOVE real Latin!

    I left the public schools because I could no longer support the administration and drill for ISTEP all year. I could no longer support a system that had different rules for different students and different families. I could no longer support an institution that considered sports and games 'hallowed ground' but would not support a play or a musical. I could no longer support a system that considered a field trip to a play "non-educational" and did away with them all, yet continued to subsidize athletic trips. I could not condone a system that put most of the time, attention, and money on the lowest common denominator of the student population. I could not stay in an environment that taught students how to make the world cater to them. The sense of entitlement of the families was not something I could endure. I've said this before: we had janitors who didn't "do" vomit, counselors who didn't "do" sex, and secretaries who didn't "do" computers. I had to leave before I. . . . oh god. . . . became like THEM, and couldn't see the harm in it any more.

    Now, I teach some of the same students I had years ago, and even some of their parents! And I'm getting an earful from three generations worth of people about how the public schools screwed them over. Honestly, it's incredible!

    My younger students are often insufferable in their expectations and lack of basic skills. Creative writing isn't of much use if other people can't understand what you're trying to say! I remind my students daily that they must write clearly and concisely and PROPERLY because throughout most of their lives, their ability to communicate on paper will be judged, and harshly, by people who do not love them. Doors will open, and close, based on a person's ability to write well, ie, communicate. Jobs will be offered, or not, based on nothing but a cover letter and resume, and if someone misspells a word and someone else doesn't, guess who is going to get the job? The one who deserves it most, that's who. The careful applicant.

    And it's after 4 a.m. and I'm getting all punchdrunk and I'd best just shut up before my rants get worse.

    Honestly? I think Bill Engvall had the right idea.
     
  16. wig

    wig Devotee

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2005
    Messages:
    1,036
    Likes Received:
    1

    Jun 16, 2007

    I teach sixth grade and I teach Grammar. Bell work each day is taken from "Grammar With A Giggle". They love it! It reviews old skills, introduces new concepts. i also teach a ten minute mini lesson each day from a sequential grammar book.

    I agree with Mamacita that the most creative story in the world loses its impact if people do not understand what is being written. Part of the appeal of a good story is being well written.

    Grammar as a subject is definitely pushed aside in the public schools in this area. I teach in a parochial school where grammar is considered a graded subject. My son teaches foreign languages in a public high school. He said he can always tell which students come from the Catholic/Lutheran schools because they know grammar well enough to learn the language more quickly. He said he feels like an English teacher sometimes, because he has to teach them the basics. He hated grammar with a passion when he was in parochial school, but has stated time and time again that he is grateful that he had it.

    I do not spend long periods of time teaching grammar, but mini-lessons and immediate application into the writing process works very well. e.g. If we are learning about adjectives we will work on descriptive writing during that time, etc.

    Grammar does not have to be "drilled and killed" but it does need to be taught. We are developing into a society of people who speak poorly and write worse. My husband often interview applicants for his company and he is amazed at the number of college educated people who come in speaking and writing poorly.
     
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2007
  17. pwhatley

    pwhatley Maven

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2007
    Messages:
    5,276
    Likes Received:
    1

    Jun 16, 2007

    Mamacita:

    I couldn't agree with you more, on ALL statements above! When I was in HS (a hundred years ago), grammar was taught as a matter of course, and students were expected to use proper grammar in their written and spoken responses/works. I do not remember any of my fellow students having the insufferable sense of entitlement that seems to pervade so many areas of our society today. I have not received my own classroom yet, but have observed this overblown sense of entitlement in the world at general. My daughter thought we were HORRIBLE parents because she never had a computer (with internet access) or TV or phone line in her bedroom -- of course, ALL of her friends had them! LOL I tutored students from middle school, high school, and college for four years (in LA, History/SS, Psychology, Sociology, and Humanities), and the lack of basic skills, reasoning ability, and sense of self-responsibility was enough to turn your stomach. I would have college students coming to me for tutoring. Instead, they expected me to WRITE their compositions for them! Aaaaarrrrgggghhh! :eek: Stepping off of the soapbox now.
     
  18. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2006
    Messages:
    7,946
    Likes Received:
    4

    Jun 17, 2007

    TG, thanks for the resources!

    Quick clarification: I don't ignore grammar completely, and I agree that you must have some grammar control or your creative writing is worthless. I didn't mean that I just say to heck with grammar, because I don't. My daily bell work is often grammatical in nature, and I do actually teach it...just not as much as some of you all, I'm sure. I still certainly value grammar. Really, I do!
     
  19. pwhatley

    pwhatley Maven

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2007
    Messages:
    5,276
    Likes Received:
    1

    Jun 17, 2007

    I believe you, JustMe, but you know, there ARE some (wacky) LA teachers out there who throw grammar out the window. Makes no sense to me!
     
  20. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2006
    Messages:
    7,946
    Likes Received:
    4

    Jun 17, 2007

    Thanks. And I know what you're talking about: apparently a few of my former teachers threw it out the window! :)
     
  21. pwhatley

    pwhatley Maven

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2007
    Messages:
    5,276
    Likes Received:
    1

    Jun 17, 2007

    ROFL
     
  22. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2007
    Messages:
    14,606
    Likes Received:
    2,714

    Jun 24, 2007


    Ack! I just ran across this thread, so please excuse my delay in responding.

    Your Latin is beautiful. In fact, I'm getting teary eyed just reading it. Okay, maybe not, but quidquid.

    Seriously, folks, grammar IS important. I get it that English teachers want to teach the 'fun' stuff like creative writing and poetry and Shakespeare and stuff, but it's all important--even nouns and verbs and adjectives. Students who come into my classroom don't know how to speak or write coherently. They don't understand the vocabulary I use, and they don't understand how language works. I find myself having to teach English grammar more often than Latin grammar, and this makes me sad. :(

    Students who don't understand grammar are less successful in school and in life. They perform poorly on standardized tests. They look bad when interviewing for jobs. Would you rather hire someone who said this: I done gave you my resume so I know you seent I worked at Circuit City.... or this: I sent you my resume, so I'm sure you saw that I worked at Circuit City... The meaning is still communicated, but in a rougher way.

    Grammar is like a secret code to understanding language. Students who understand how grammar works are better able to use words creatively and to understand all the 'fun' stuff that English teachers like to teach. Wouldn't it be nice if you students actually understood Shakespeare without you having to decode it for them? Wouldn't it be nice if your students could write creative masterpieces using a variety of tenses, moods, voices, and correct punctuation?
     
  23. pwhatley

    pwhatley Maven

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2007
    Messages:
    5,276
    Likes Received:
    1

    Jun 24, 2007

    Bravo, Cassie! My thoughts exactly! I've tutored kids from middle school to seniors in college, and I get d***ed tired of supposedly intelligent people who can't string a sentence together! I'm not talking about writing a doctoral thesis, but give me a break! Let's at least teach them to communicate effectively!
     
  24. Brendan

    Brendan Fanatic

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2004
    Messages:
    2,974
    Likes Received:
    1

    Jun 24, 2007

    What I got out of my one year of latin, taught horriblbly by a monone teacher. Iulius Marcum verberat.
     
  25. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2007
    Messages:
    14,606
    Likes Received:
    2,714

    Jun 24, 2007


    Ha ha! My Latin textbook had lots of vocabulary about sticks and beatings. When we got to 2nd year Latin and had compose our own sentences, we all pretty much wrote about how Cornelia beat Sextus with a stick.

    Cornelia Sextum baculo verberavit.

    It was great for teaching us about ablatives of means/instrument, but otherwise it was pretty violent.

    Ah, I miss those days.
     

Share This Page

Members Online Now

Total: 183 (members: 0, guests: 162, robots: 21)
test