Growing up on a farm in the south one might think I had picked up the southern drawl of you’uns and y’alls. In reality, we girls were trained in the manner of Eliza Doolittle and, combined with my own personal disgust of tobacco spitting old ladies at church, people often assume I’m a transplanted northerner until the southern temper spikes its head. Anyway the point is I heard grammar correctly and had it drilled into my head so much that I honestly accidentally found myself correcting even my own mother. I’m not sure I even understood why certain elements were correct until Dr. Overholt drilled it into my head in the glorious days of Maryville College. I say all of that to say society owes it to our future to speak in a manner which is grammatically correct. In the urban setting, agreement and comma usage is the hardest thing to teach. It isn’t all the fault of the student because it is all they hear so them it doesn’t have the nails on the chalkboard effect.
This rant is brought to you by our testing data. We use Standards-Based Grading, so we have 5-6 questions per objective and track mastery in the manner the state does on the EOC. We tested parts of speech, agreement, and comma usage. Apparently, I suck at teaching these elements this year. But with every problem MUST come a solution.
For years, I have successfully used a mini-grammar lesson combined with the Caught ‘Ya system, but this year we were asked to use the textbook for instruction. In testing, these are the worst grammar results I have seen in at least five years. The problem with the textbook method is that if I know I’m in the comma chapter and the problem is a comma, I can probably get it right. But given a sentence with unknown problems, students tend to miss it. It is like looking at specific skills independently does not allow students to see how grammatical structures play together and function as one in sentences. And throw in the problems of text-message-ese and spoken dialect… So I’m looking for a new idea. Suggestions?
The grammar text book (which I have NEVER been a fan of) does not seem to be sticking long-term with our students, but the Caught ‘Ya model is going well. We are going to continue with CY, but we are going to add back the grammar instruction of a program called Daily Grammar Practice from DGP Publishing. In this model, students use the same sentence or passage and make different corrections each day. A good colleague (and excellent teacher) used this model in 8th grade and felt it was successful so we are going to try a few weeks with the 8th grade book to see about getting the money for the 9th grade books next year. I’m not opposed to purchasing it on my own if it works. In the midst of the start up, I created a few files which you are welcome to try if you are interested.
1. DGP Publishing Web Site: http://www.dgppublishing.com/reading.htm
2. FREE DGP Student Notes Handouts: I gave these out to students and them modeled going through each step of the sentence and consulting the page. My plan is to have them use this page on the test at first, but I will use the scaled noted system where next Monday students only have one page on which to write notes. Each week I will decrease the amount of space on which to write notes for use on the test until ultimately there are not notes. http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Daily-Grammar-Practice-DGP-Notes
3. FREE DGP Student Notes Flashcards: Whatever it takes, right? I know some of the students will not use these, but for those who are interested they will be helpful.
Monday – http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Daily-Grammar-Practice-DGP-Monday-Notes-Key-Vocab-Flashcards
Tuesday – http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Daily-Grammar-Practice-DGP-Tuesday-Notes-Key-Vocab-Flashcards
Wednesday – http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Daily-Grammar-Practice-DGP-Wednesday-Notes-Key-Vocab-Flashcards