10-second review: I will define three approaches to teaching “formal grammar,” and compare their effects in holistically-scored evaluations of quality in full-length compositions and in error counts of problems in sentence structure, usage and punctuation.
Comment: I would define the teaching of formal grammar in three ways, using traditional grammatical terminology, when it is helpful. This study could be used most profitably with ninth-grade students. RayS.
Chronological Chapters: The Vocabulary of Grammar.
First, I would use the grammar text in chronological order from Chapter 1 to the final chapter dealing with grammar. Emphasis is on understanding both the concept and the terminology. The purpose of this approach to grammar is mastery of the terminology. The teacher will do whatever it takes to master the terminology, both within the text and in activities beyond the text. Success in this approach will come when the teacher is able to explain problems in full-length compositions, using that terminology and the students understand both the terminology and the explanation of the problems.
From Part of Speech to Problems in Application.
Second, I would use the text in an unusual way. First I would teach a part of speech and then I would move to the chapters in which problems involving the part of speech are explained. From identifying the noun, for example, I would move to chapters dealing with capitalization, plurals and possessives.
Text as Reference: 10-Minute Essays as Bridge to Writing.
Third, I would use the text only as a reference. The students in this group would write ten minute essays at the beginning of class on any topic of their choice. At night, I will re-write the students’ 10-minute essays, correcting, literally, the students’ mistakes in sentence structure, usage and punctuation. We will refer to the text to provide explanation of the problems and exercises to reinforce understanding correction of the problems.
I will follow each unit in grammar with a unit on writing. I define teaching writing as 1) brainstorming the topic; 2) formulating the thesis; 3) writing a draft beginning with the thesis, through the middle paragraphs with topic sentences and a summary paragraph; 4) construct an introduction to precede the thesis; 5) revise and 6) edit, including problems in sentence structure, usage and punctuation.
I would then compare students’ pre-test writing samples with post-test writing samples to determine if one of the methods (the text with chapters in chronological order. the text focusing on the parts of speech related to problems and the text as reference) proves superior in quality in holistically scored full-length essays. The essays will then be scored, counting the number of problems in sentence structure, usage and punctuation.
I will have defined formal grammar in three ways and I will find out whether there is any relationship between the students' knowledge of formal grammar and the students' writing through the quality of writing measured by holistic scoring and error counts. Anyone willing to try it? RayS.