Grappling With Grammar

For years, I have taught under the belief that students learn grammar and spelling best when they read and write often. They need to see it done correctly and then practice it themselves. Michelle Navarre Cleary reinforces this idea for me in this article. I jokingly tell people that I used to be a natural speller. . . until I started grading essays. Because of the frequent errors I encounter, I have students writing multiple times per week, but I only grade these in-class writings for content, not format. This allows students to find success and comfort in the act of writing. With time, they improve their skills in this process. Cleary references three studies, done decades apart, with the same results: the drill and kill formula to grammar DOES NOT WORK! When we do this, we are crippling students’ writing ability, which prevents them from realizing some of their goals. This is counter to our obligation as educators, to educate our kids in order to further their success.

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