During this course, I learned a little bit about the finer points of some grammar rules that I may have been overlooking as a writer and an English teacher, but I learned even more about how to teach my students to become competent communicators without knowing all of these specifics. Before this course, I thought that the most important thing for me to do as a teacher was to help my students eradicate as many errors as possible from their writing, but now I see that the best thing I can do to help them grow as writers is to make sure they understand why the rules of grammar and mechanics are important. Their writing doesn’t have to be perfect, but if their goal is to communicate information and emotion as effectively as possible, it’s my job to teach them how to do that as best they can.
I can’t really think of anything I missed learning about in this course. I’m recognizing more and more that I need to start building up my arsenal of mentor texts to include poems, short stories, and helpful excerpts from novels that can serve as examples of powerful writing for my students. I think I’ll start working on that this fall, and maybe even classifying each text into groups according to which grammatical concepts or writing techniques they exemplify… Now I’m getting a little ahead of myself though (can anyone tell that I’m way too excited to start the next school year?)
One thing that I think worked REALLY well in this course was the textbook we used. Please believe I will NOT be selling Mechanically Inclined back to the bookstore, because I plan on using it for reference in the upcoming semester and certainly during my internship this spring. Anderson’s lessons are so well planned and structured to directly address the needs of the students struggling with any aspect of their writing. On top of that, he always discusses the reasons why students may be making the errors found in their papers, and I think that can really help students go from “Man, I’m stupid and I’ll never get this,” to “Oh, I get why I did that, so I’ll be able to fix it next time.”
There’s a lot I can take from this course and apply in my future classroom. As Sprad said in the Week 8 lecture, it’s really about making sure students know what they need to know to express themselves appropriately to any audience, and less about making sure everyone knows what a gerund is or the exact definition of a prepositional phrase. If our students are communicating effectively and they don’t consider exactly why their writing is working down to the last specific detail… well, they’d be in the same boat as us, and I don’t think that’s a bad place to be.
Hopefully Apple will start auto-correcting grammar soon.
Week 7 = Freaking out that so much needs to be done before next Friday and being so happy that summer actually begins next Friday.
I think an important aspect to reflect on this week is how students will perceive information based on date of production and original publication. Other than Grammar Girl, everything else for this week was extremely dated. I vaguely remember Schoolhouse Rock from middle school and even then thought it was cheesy. While all the videos are helpful and are informative, it is easy to be caught up in how it is not current. If the video is not current, does it apply to us now? While obviously we know that it does but will all students be able to understand that? Even though these learning tools are not necessarily broken, I think we should consider fixing them. The presentation about modifiers also sported pictures of a young female in attire that is not of the present fashion. Her image I think can be then considered a seductive detail that takes away from the content in a negative way. It would be simple to update the presentation with a modern educator figure and that would only enhance the material because it would be clear this is a concept that is imperative to linguistics today.
Grammar Girl podcast I decided on was Blond or Blonde? and I was happily enlightened. First off, I have a friend who is convinced she is blond. Being a blonde I find this amusing. It is no surprise that sex usually sells and is appealing to the eye, apparently this is even true of word choice. It would be a fun class activity to go through different company advertising and try to see who else uses word choice to appeal to consumers.
I like that the idea of teaching content and concepts that are “up to date” is so present in this post. This was definitely something I was also considering this week as I enjoyed reminiscing with the Schoolhouse Rock videos. How long can a resource like that actually be effective? I think your suggestion to have students view advertisements critically and consider the word choices used to sell products is a great way to involve them in learning about something that is current and that does specifically affect their lives. After all, they’re the targets of most advertising. They should at least take some time to consider how it all works!
Being a child of the 90’s I grew up learning from School House Rock and I say learn and not watch because School House Rock was the original teaching video. It is not just entertainment for children it is also a teaching tool. The School House Rock video helped me to learn my multiplication…
I think many of us really got a kick out of the “throwback” of the Schoolhouse Rock videos. I know that I enjoyed these tunes as a student too, and I think it’s cool that so many of us had positive learning experiences connected with these “teaching tools,” as you called them (which I think is totally accurate).
Based on what we’ve also been learning in Teaching with Technology, however, do you think these videos are “up to date” enough to capture students of the digital age? I still think they’re catchy and cute, but do we need to look for something “cooler” or more computerized to reach our students? Or does it all just depend on how we present these resources?
I was SO excited to see all of the Grammar Rock videos for this week. I was a huge Schoolhouse Rock fan as a kid and remember why: the songs are so catchy! I had “Unpacked My Adjectives” stuck in my head for hours after watching that video. I think that songs like these are an excellent way to reinforce our grammar lessons because I know they’ll stick in our students’ heads as well. I’m a huge supporter of incorporating music into lessons that require any sort of memorization whenever possible because it WORKS. I’ve probably had more experience teaching music than I’ve had teaching English and I know that students have an easier time recalling words and making connections when they can put information to a tune.
The Grammar Girl podcast that I picked this week was “Further versus Farther,” and I picked it because I actually went on Grammar Girl to search for this answer while constructing my own Preposition Poem. As usual, the source for quick and dirty tips came through with this gem: “Use farther when talking about a physical distance and further when talking about a metaphorical distance.” Problem solved! I’m glad that this resource is so easy to use and one that I can rely on in a pinch to quickly clear up a grammar-related issue.
Speaking of Preposition Poems, I’m not seeing many people posting poems of their own, so I’m not going to be super quick to throw mine out there (I am NOT a poet, by any stretch of the imagination). That being said, I think this lesson is a really great way to get students thinking about prepositions, which usually just kind of “fall into place” without a lot of consideration from the writer. It definitely made me slow down and recognize the importance and frequency of prepositions!
This week’s topic of sentence combinations reminded me that I’m not just a loser when it comes to grammar. This week I knew all the jargon and understood all the concepts. Week after week up to this point I felt a bit overwhelmed because it was demonstrated to me over and over just how much I…
I agree that the eay a person speaks does not always show their mental capacities. But I have to question whether students should be learning ebonics in their classes. I understand that it is a different way to speak, but should students be learning words they need to talk to their friends. I think that should be an outside school endevor. I know I speak different with my friends than I do in a professional space, shouldn’t it be the same for everyone?
I’m agreeing with Vicki on this one. I don’t know that certain aspects of language that are variations, dialects, or slang need to be taught to students. They should be recognized, and students certainly shouldn’t be looked down upon for using them because your language is a product of your environment. But that’s the thing - those parts of the English language are a product of environment and the society around us. I think that social experience is the best educator in that case, and the English we should focus on teaching should be as “mainstream” as possible.
I had a bit of a harder time this week locating the videos because, maybe it is just me but, they were not on Blackboard and I had never gone on Tumblr to watch them before. I finally realized that it says that the videos are on both blackboard and Tumblr, so that is when I was finally able to…
I think you and Vicki picked a Grammar Girl podcast that I commented on last week, so I thought I’d bring up a point that Liz mentioned in reblogging me: While obviously it would take away from certain characters to present them speaking perfectly correct English, do you think that having characters speaking in a specific way (i.e. the Southern dialect, etc.) can lead to negative stereotypes about people who speak this way as having below-average intelligence? Everyone has read fiction that includes the “dumb hillbilly” sort of character whose speech totally pegs him as an idiot, but is that really fair? How would you address that in a classroom?
The Grammar Girl podcast that I chose this week was “Commas with Participial Phrases.” Quite honestly, I picked it because I felt like I needed a little reminder as to what a participial phrase is, but the tips expressed about restrictive and non-restrictive clauses were something that were definitely already in my arsenal. I think that one of the most useful functions of this course is that it is causing me to reevaluate my own understanding of grammar as a good English teacher rather than just as a good writer. Knowing how to apply these concepts on my own is great, but that’s only half the battle - the other half is knowing how to define them and explain them to students in a way they’ll be able to grasp.
The “Coordinating Conjunctions” video was a nice refresher as well. I had kind of forgotten about FANBOYS , but I know that it will be useful for my students to have that mnemonic device to assist with their own grammar studies. The textbook also offered several helpful techniques to teach students about colons, semicolons, and dashes, which are some of the punctuation marks I think middle and high school students struggle with most frequently. I really like a lot of the “mentor texts” that Anderson cites in his book, and I’m alternating between jotting down the texts he mentions for use in my own classroom and coming up with ideas for new texts that I think would serve the same purposes.
For the Week 5 I chose to listen to the Grammar Girl podcast on “Versus”. I really enjoyed this podcast and even learned that the word “versing” is not Standard English. At work I often hear the children say, “It is Jane versing Jack on the Foosball table.” I had never thought anything of it…
I had the same reaction to the 20/20 clip and your story reminded me that often people don’t just make judgments about race based on someone’s voice, but also about age and responsibility. I answered the phone at my job up here in Connecticut (where, after the arts camp ends at noon, I’m the head supervisor of the middle school after camp program) and the mom on the other end introduced herself as “Mrs. ____” after I’d used my full name and my job title in my introduction. When I answered her question about the activities of the campers’ field trip for that day (Hovering Parent Syndrome was strong in this one), she asked: “Well, I’d feel a little more comfortable if I could speak with an adult in charge about this.” Ma’am, I AM the adult in charge. This whole exchange has now made me entirely self-conscious about how young I sound on the phone, and made me think about this week’s topics and how we don’t really consider how other people judge us when they hear us until something negative results of it.
I am not sure about anyone else but I spent a great deal of time looking up the definitions to intransitive, transitive, and auxiliary verbs. According to the appalling score I received on the Orwell handout, 15 out of 25 correct, it can be concluded I didn’t do well on comprehending the…
You pointed out that Anderson does frequently allow students to work together to figure out new grammatical tactics, and I think that’s a really great idea as well. As you said, students can be quick to judge other students for sounding too “proper,” but often times I think that’s because they don’t want that student to be viewed by others as being smarter than they are. If students set out to conquer the rules of grammar together, they can discuss their feelings about how these word combinations sound to them and get where their peers are coming from when they are struggling with or succeeding with a concept.