Grammar & The Writer’s Workshop


Throughout the past month, I posted a series of articles in my weekly newsletter that highlight different approaches to teaching grammar.  One of the major misconceptions I often hear from parents (and non-educators) regarding writer’s workshop is that grammar is no longer taught. This simply isn’t true; however, the manner in which grammar instruction is delivered looks different than what many remember from their experiences in elementary school.

We began with an article from Two Writing Teachers (one of my favorite blogs).  In this article, Elizabeth Moore encourages us to differentiate between grammar instruction that belongs in the mini-lesson and what should be included during conferring (focusing on problem-solving, rather than memorizing rules).  She also shares a nice framework for individualized editing checklists that can be used in conjunction with the Pathways rubrics (for those of us using the Units of Study).  Talk about a fantastic way to differentiate!  Click here to read Beth’s article.

In the next article, Rhonda Stewart shares additional ways to focus on grammar, even incorporating the writing center!  As you read, you will certainly notice some the common themes that run throughout both articles.  In short, here are some things that Rhonda encourages us to keep in mind as we teach:

  • If you find the majority of the class experiences a deficiency with a concept (the “2/3 rule”), then it is time for a mini-lesson!  This can be done on the spot or as a “grammar boot camp” that takes place in-between Units.
  • Focus on conferring, inquiry & authentic application…this will allow you differentiate & will ensure students internalize these concepts. Worksheets won’t get the job done, nor will having a personal editor!
  • Keep those anchor charts up! Once the time comes for a chart to come down (or “graduate”, as the Chart Chums would say), make a small version and keep it in the writing center. This will ensure students have access to this tool whenever they may need it.  It will also ensure that YOU have access to it should a concept need to be revisited (just utilize a document camera to display).

To see more of what Rhonda has to say about grammar instruction (and to see some of her anchor charts) click here.

In her blog Middle School Teacher to Literacy Coach, Kasey Kiehl also maintains a focus on authentic application & coaching…no worksheets; no red pens!  She stresses the fact that students will not internalize and transfer skills when the teacher acts as a personal editor.  Additionally, Kiehl brings the often underutilized routine of guided writing groups into the equation (in addition to one-one conferring & the mini-lesson).  During small group work, students are afforded the opportunity to focus on specific skill deficits and will benefit from working/reading collaboratively.  That being said, this must be a data driven process & should not take the form of a “patterned writing” exercise.  Click here to visit Kiehl’s blog & see below for some pointers to guide small group writing instruction.

Small Group Conferring

In the final article of our grammar series, Sean Ruday looks at grammar instruction through the lens of the Common Core.  He encourages us to utilize authentic application, to share examples via mentor texts & even how to integrate “non-examples”, while always keeping the “toolkit approach” (or problem-solving method) in mind. Click here for the full PDF file.

As always, feel free to share some bite-sized best practices you have developed that support grammar instruction via The Curriculum Corner PLN.  Click on the HOME tab for social media links or share via the comments section below!

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