11 Grammar Tips For Teachers And Students

no_love_for_grammar_cacti1During the school year, my grammar and spelling die slow, painful deaths. So many mistakes assail me on a daily basis that I am unable to process a correct sentence. I speak in verb tenses that don’t exist in real life. It takes the first month of school to get back into the swing of egregious errors in speech and spelling, and it takes the first month of summer to correct it once again, and execute excellent elocution for the rest of the summer until I’m called back again.

I may teach history, but I feel very strongly about grammar, too. One of the things students must learn in these times is that writing, speech, and grammar are not constant–it is fluid and situational. I often push and violate the rules of grammar intentionally–for a purpose–but when called upon to write  report, it’s “grammar time.”  It’s an important skill for students to be able to write in different situations, use and recognize different voices, and have the versatility of the pen to enter and exit different realms of the written word. Mastery of any field requires a solid command of the fundamentals. Great authors break conventions, but they are also trained to use and obey them first.

The Common Cores increase emphasis on informational writing, but research writing, proposal writing, persuasive writing, web writing, fiction writing, and writing for other situations requires a level of sophistication and fluency that serves students–and adults–at the highest level. These are “money skills,” skills that give students a serious advantage in college or employment.  Writing and grammar are art forms, at their highest level. They must be instructed and practiced. Students often say “how do I use this?” This is something I use every day.

So, it’s grammar time! The following Learnist boards are all about good grammar, and the things that make me cringe. It’s a subject so dear to my heart that I snuck in an extra board.

Capitalization, Punctuation, Spelling, Hyphenation, Common Core Standards 11-12.L.2, 11-12.L.2.a-b)

People mess up punctuation and capitalization all the time. Sometimes it can change the entire meaning of the sentence. This board is dedicated to helping the reader fine tune his or her use of the smallest violators of grammar in the English language.

Trying to Make Grammar Fun

Raise your hand if you like to stand around diagramming sentences. I did, because they reminded me of little fish skeletons, but grammar nerds are few and far between. This board makes grammar fun, so students will want to engage. The Grammar Bytes learning and Strunk & White Rap… modern day classics.

Mind Your Grammar

Learning 3 is by far my favorite on this board, because it shows just how much bad grammar affects us. I wish I had a picture of the “Wayless Convenience Store” I used to pass when I worked in one major metropolitan area. I never stopped in, because I couldn’t decide whether they were about saving me money or making things more difficult in my life. Grammar matters.

Infographics: Grammar

This board has a fun way of showing common grammar mistakes–the infographic. Some people learn visually, and this board accomplishes that goal. It makes common errors easily visible in a fun graphic format.

Should We Teach Grammar

Professor and lauded journalist Maggie Messitt asks the question, “Should we teach grammar?” This is a great board, opening up a debate that has spanned a couple of decades of teaching philosophy. Old-school taught grammar, new-school let students write creatively. I fell somewhere between the two in that transition. In all honesty, I wish I had had a bit more classical training in grammar because I had to make up for this deficit when I went on to study foreign languages, where a strong understanding of the structure of language and grammar is critical.

Writing: Student Survival Kit–Grammar and the Rules of Writing

In addition to some popular blog references on grammar, this board links to common manuals of style, as well as the bible of writing convention, Strunk & White. If you write, you must read this. Professor Maggie Messitt’s board “Should We Teach Grammar” opens up the debate, but on this board she states that regardless of where you fall on this issue, poor grammar and writing are judged harshly in academic circles.

Devil, Thy Name is Grammar

If you haven’t been to Grammarly or Grammar Girl, this board is your introduction. If “Devil, thy name is grammar,” then this board is your angel.

English Grammar and Usage Can be Changed and Be Contested: Common Core Standards 11-12.L.1a-b

This board addresses an interesting standard, one that nearly crosses into the line of linguistics and assignment of meaning. Words and meaning change over time, or when used in different contexts. This is part of what makes writing and wordsmithing so fascinating. The learnings on this board address not only commonly-made mistakes but changes in meaning over time.

Commonly Confused Grammar

Oh no, you didn’t!!! Did you just say “could of” or use the wrong “there?” Man, that’s serious! This board will set you right before you make a fool of yourself in public so badly even spell check and autocorrect can’t save you.

Common, Proper, and Possessive Nouns: Common Core Standard 1.L.1b

This standard gets students used to the types of nouns. It is important to give students a solid foundation to the parts of speech, as well as the nuances of the english language. This board covers nouns of all varieties.

Good Grammar: The Em-Dash vs the En-Dash

“In cooking, a dash is something that is used sparingly.” –Adam Rifkin.  I overuse the dash. In cooking, I probably overuse salt, spices, and other things. Even Santa overuses the dash, “dash away, dash away, dash away, all!” But what should we tell our students? That is the question. This board sorts through the various dashes, hyphens, and marks you may feel compelled to use. The dash is cool, because it’s the “wild west of punctuation.” There are no rules. It’s the one time the red pen can stay in its holster.