Monday, February 25, 2013

Post for the week of February 25, 2013

Post for the week of February 25, 2013

Get ready, everyone.  March 4, 2013 is National Grammar Day!  Enjoy this fun link that celebrates the event.

Also see this great piece on teaching grammar in the age of the Common Core.

It seems to me that grammar instruction is now more spread out than it was in the past.  For example, here are the standards for grades 9-10:

1. Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.
a. Use parallel structure.*
b. Use various types of phrases (noun, verb, adjectival, adverbial, participial, prepositional, absolute) and clauses (independent, dependent; noun, relative, adverbial) to convey specific meanings and add variety and interest to writing or presentations.
2. Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.
a. Use a semicolon (and perhaps a conjunctive adverb) to link two or more closely related independent clauses.
b. Use a colon to introduce a list or quotation.
c. Spell correctly. 

And here they are for grades 11-12:

1. Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.
a. Apply the understanding that usage is a matter of convention, can change over time, and is sometimes contested.
b. Resolve issues of complex or contested usage, consulting references (e.g., Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary of English Usage, Garner’s Modern American Usage) as needed.
2. Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing
a. Observe hyphenation conventions.
b. Spell correctly.

People are often shocked when they see how few grammar standards there are at the older grades, especially considering how much time high school English teachers tend to spend on grammar. 

At first, seeing how few standards there are for grammar in high school seems like terrific news!  All this content has been moved to the lower grades!  Not so fast . . .

On page 41 of the MA standards, there's a chart that explains why we need to keep reinforcing grammar:

The following skills, marked with an asterisk (*) in Language standards 1–3, are particularly likely to require

continued attention in higher grades as they are applied to increasingly sophisticated writing and speaking.


So, even though a term appears in the lower grades does not mean students have mastered it as texts get harder.  For example, subject-verb agreement and subject-antecedent agreement first appear in grade 3, but we know students will need help with it as what they read and write become more sophisticated.

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