Why Self-Guided Grammar?

One of the most frustrating components of teaching ELA for me was grammar. I’m different from the majority of my students. I am not athletic. I have no musical talent. I will never draw crowds for my performing abilities.

But I like grammar. I get it. I like to pick sentences apart, diagram them, and play with their construction. But I always hated teaching it. The problem is, most of my students feel the same about grammar as I do about picking up an instrument or playing a game of touch football. They have not been successful with it in the past, so they would rather leave it alone in the present.

 I get that, but as an English teacher, I am required to teach it. And it’s not just that I’m required to teach it–I believe students should have some understanding of how their language works. They should have the vocabulary to explain the choices they make and to follow and to break rules when appropriate.

 They will have more opportunities in life if they learn to code switch. What is acceptable in informal writing generally isn’t so in formal writing, and they should be able to navigate between the worlds. But how do we get students to buy into trying to learn something that many of them detest? I have found that it helps when my students understand first why it is important for them to learn it, to learn it in small steps, and then to review it frequently.

If I stand up in front of the class and show them a PowerPoint with a bunch of definitions and examples, they shut me out. But if I give them self-guided lessons broken into bite-sized pieces followed by engaging review, they are much more likely to actually learn it.

 The best part is that moment when the light bulb goes off, and they begin to understand–when they begin to realize that they can learn it (just like I would probably “get” the piano if I had a strong teacher with a strong curriculum that didn’t overwhelm me–oh, yeah, and if I practice).

 Be sure to check out the free sampling of grammar resources I’ve made available here, and click through the tabs above to see the types of resources that I use. I have bundled them all together in a growing bundle that saves 30% off of the individual prices, and every time I add a resource to it, you can re-download it for free.