Teaching Grammar vs. Teaching Writing

[deleted account] ( 8 moms have responded )

I'm curious to know how other language arts teachers feel about the debate of teaching grammar in order to improve writing skills vs teaching writing and not focusing on the grammar aspect. I have struggled with this all year, and now that the end of the year is here, I feel like I may have done my kids a real disservice by focusing a lot on grammar and not enough on the writing aspect...just wondering what other's thoughts are...

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Baby - posted on 07/23/2013

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I teach private lessons and learn so much about the student from simply having them write a paragraph or short story. Then I use the writing to guide me on what to teach them for grammar. I have them write to express themselves in a daily journal, or structured writing, and then I go over grammar points or lessons as needed and they are always needed! Good luck, both are important and pretzeled together, needing each other.

Creation - posted on 03/09/2013

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Well, I was a teacher in TX for language arts, and I could never understand how you could teach writing without teaching then grammar- grammar is the foundation of good writing and a good essay is a an outcome great grammar,structure,and content.

User - posted on 05/20/2009

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I have to agree with everyone else. I focus on both aspects, grammar and writing. The only problem is that students don't retain any information from year to year. I have to reteach everything from the beginning, no matter what grade level. I teach 9th and 10th grade English. It's amazing how clueless the kids can be. Students say things like, "I is" and it drives me crazy; especially since they think it's correct. I remember diagramming sentences in 4th grade, and these kids can't remember subject/verb agreement. It's so frustrating.

[deleted account]

i am not an ELA teacher, but i did have a fabulous ELA education through grade 12. i had teachers that were rigorous with both. in HS, the teachers made it clear what aspects were being worked on: flow, expression of ideas, or specific grammatical structures. we had rubrics down to every infinitive and prepositional phrase, including how many different infinitives and prepositions to use. sounds really nitty gritty and insane, but it has helped me a *lot*. as a grad student, i was often asked to polish papers. even if my work didn't get published, the editors always said my work was very well-written. in college, i always breezed through my comp lit classes and anything with essays, making me wonder why i was in engineering. ha!
you still have a few weeks left of the year. maybe some autobiographical writing and free writing would be fun. final project?

Amanda - posted on 05/19/2009

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I use Cuaght ya’ to teach grammar. It is like a DLR but the kids really get into it. (It uses their names in the stories.) Then during writers workshop I can say “Make sure it looks like a Caught ya’ when you self and pier edit.

Angela - posted on 05/19/2009

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What i do is have a whole hour of writing....the first 20 minutes i will model or have children share a writing piece and 10 minutes of that will be a grammar/spelling focus. Then the children go off and do some independent writing (writing whatever they want) and i take a small group and focus on a particular need depending on the children. It could be a spelling/grammar/editing etc focus (20 minutes). Then i dedicate 10 minutes to rove and conference some children and use this time also to focus on a particular need according to their writing piece eg. grammar/spelling etc.

So i don't do an actual 'grammar' or 'spelling' lesson...it's all integrated into the writing hour. Hope i have helped xo

Emily - posted on 05/18/2009

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It's all about balance. If you teach them grammar exclusively we've only taught them ONE aspect of being writers. How about the need to know the following: being lifelong readers and writer, being able select appropriate topics, focus on an idea, use voice, add details that paint a picture in the mind of the reader, write in ways that will engage a reader, use great words, write fluently, organize ideas....and on it goes. There is so much more to writing than grammar. Yes, they need to know grammar in order to communicate effectively in writing, but knowledge about grammar doesn't make a good writer. Oh, and I apologize for the errors in grammar that I put on this post. Was I still able to make my point depsite them though?!

Shawna - posted on 05/17/2009

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I think it is important to focus on both. When I taught middle school ELA I would have my students do some activities that focused on grammar, but then there were some where I would allow them to simply write without having me critique grammar in their writing. They need to be able to freely express themselves in writing where grammar should not be focused on, but they should learn proper grammar, also. They will need it in the future.

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