No matter how intelligently designed or unique you make the writing assignments for your students to do, the issue of grammar will most likely be a a subject you will have to addess in your class. Depending on the struggles students may have with grammar at this level, you can probably expect to include some grammar instruction in your classroom. However, with limited face-time with your class and a plethora of individual issues to cover, what are the most effective ways to deal with the grammatical errors that you may see your students making? The amount of grammar you cover will be entirely up to you, but the following ideas are meant to aid you in using this book in order to help students improve their writing skills as much as possible.
Using a Diagnostic
You may decide to use a grammar or writing diagnostic to determine the level of grammatical proficiency in your class, and from there decide how much class time you will want to spend focusing on grammar. The diagnostics will help tell you the pervasive problem areas and patterns that students exhibit, and this will help you develop a plan for what aspects to teach. For example, if most students have problems with verb tense, fragments, and parallelism, then these areas might be lessons you can actively teach the entire class about. If, however, only a few students use fragmented sentences in their writing, then other strategies may be needed.
Ideas to Help Teach Grammar
This technique called "glossing" is one way to help students individually focus on one to three problem areas at a time. Once students turn in a paper to you, the easiest way to use this technique is to highlight the grammatical errors that you see them making over and over in their paper. Let's say that you have a student named Jackie who continually uses run on sentences, forgets to use commas after introductory clauses and switches verb tenses througout her paper. Highlight the grammatical errors you see in her paper (Focus on 3-5 only, or it will be overwhelming for her), label the highlighted portions as "run-on," "verb tense," etc...and then give her these instructions:
- Using the Rhetorical Composition Handbook, go to the section entitled, "Writer's Handbook."
- Look up the rules that apply to run-ons, verb tense and commas.
- Type three of the errors that were highlighted in your paper on a separate document, and then copy and paste the rules from the Writer's Handbook that will help you correct these errors.
- Type a corrected version of your glossed sentences to show that you recognize the grammatical errors that you made and understand the rule(s) that show you how to fix them.