Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Wonderful World of Grammar

I found this article interesting that perhaps future teachers or writers would like cause we all have a voice.

Sams, Lynn, How to Teach Grammar, Analytical Thinking, and Writing: A Method That Works, The English Journal, Vol. 92, No. 3, Revitalizing Grammar (Jan., 2003), pp. 57-65, National Council of Teachers of English, http://www.jstor.org/stable/822261


Lynn Sams begins How to Teach Grammar, Analytical Thinking, and Writing . . . by coming to a conclusion herself. She stated that grammar goes in hand and hand with writing. While the desire to study one topic is there, both have to be studied together. While teaching in classroom, she explores what struggles her students had with regards to what prevented them from placing thoughts on paper. She finds they had problems with organization, coherence, and revision. Sams decided to take a step further to get into developing what she calls, “The root causes” of why her students struggled. What she sees is as she develops strategies to combat current problems is that she was teaching Grammar. It was more towards what the structure and meaning were than the usage. She talks about what happens as she continues to explore. As she and her students go further in the year, Sams comes to the same answer what twentieth researchers have already concluded. Researchers claimed that “Direct instruction in grammar had no impact on writing.” That idea, alone, of studying grammar has nothing to deal with how writing works. Grammar, in Sams’ words, “taught prescription (usage and rules)” and also “description (nouns, verbs, prepositional phrases).” She goes on to add that grammar included “the naming of parts.” But that is not all stated in the article. Another point Sams brings to the reader’s attention is the theology of what is called the “In-Context” method. This system is a more socially accepted perspective and is sponsored as a way of approaching grammar. The method means using a little bit more than an application which some teachers will pull from the hat. Unfortunately, this is also a fail. The reason this approach to grammar fails is it treats the subject as something separated from writing. That grammar is a separate force outside the written aspect. Sams claims the two are not apart, but they are as one. And with grammar and writing connected, it “becomes abundantly clear the more closely we align our methods of teaching writing with the nature of the composing process.” In simpler terms it means, writing is an art that we need to understand. As we come to this understanding of how writing works, then we can incorporate what we want to get across to the students. Our methods will fall naturally like they are supposed to.

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