Recommendation Three: Discuss with Students Why the Grammatical Concept Is Important to the Published Examples You Have Shown Them

Once you have shown students examples of published texts that contain a particular grammatical concept, the next step is to talk with them about why that grammatical concept is important to those particular texts. While the specific nature of these conversations will vary based on the concept you are describing, the main focus will remain the same: why the grammatical concept being discussed is important to the piece of writing. For example, a conversation about the active voice will differ from a discussion about using punctuation to set off a nonrestrictive element, but each conversation should address the importance of the concept being described and help students reflect on its importance. When having these discussions with students, I recommend focusing on two key questions: (1) Why did the author use this grammatical concept? (2) What would this piece of writing be like if this concept was not used? These questions help students consider how grammatical concepts are tools that writers use purposefully to improve their works.

Recommendation Four: Have Students Work in Small Groups to Analyze the Importance off a Grammatical Concept

Now that you have talked with students about why a particular grammatical concept is important to a piece of writing, the next step is to ask students to work together in small groups and further analyze the importance of that concept. This step is related to the gradual release of responsibility method of instruction (Pearson & Gallagher, 1983) described in the introduction to this book, which asks students to take more ownership of their learning as instruction progresses. At this point in your instruction, you have taught students the fundamental components of a grammatical concept, shown them examples from published texts of that concept, and have talked with them about why that concept is important to those published works. Now the students are ready to take more of an active role in their learning by working in small groups to think further about the importance of a grammatical concept.

There are different ways for students to work collaboratively to analyze the importance of a grammatical concept, and you will find a number of variations on this activity described in the book based on the nature of the focal concept. For example, published texts do not often appear with dangling modifiers in them, so I do not ask students to find examples of dangling modifiers in books they are reading. Instead, I give them sentences as they originally appeared in published works and revised versions of those sentences that include dangling modifiers and then ask the students to analyze how the dangling modifiers change the meaning of the sentences. In contrast, when working on pronoun case, I will ask students to find examples of different pronoun cases in literature and explain why the author of that piece used that particular case. I recommend looking through the individual chapters of this book to find different variations on this activity that are specific to the concept being taught. The most important elements of this activity are that students are taking increased ownership for their learning and are working together to analyze the importance of the grammatical concept that they are studying. After students complete their small group analysis, I recommend having them share their ideas with the whole class so that all can benefit from each group's work on the concept.

Recommendation Five: Have Students Apply a Specific Grammatical Concept to Their Own Writing

After students have worked in groups on a specific grammatical concept, the next step is to ask them to individually apply that same concept to their writings. This activity places even more responsibility on the students, as it requires that they work independently to use the focal grammatical concept in their writings. If students are already working on a particular piece of writing, you can ask them to apply the grammatical concept you are focusing on to that piece. For example, if the class is studying specific nouns and strong verbs (grammatical concepts described in Chapter 7 of this book), you can ask the students to focus on applying these concepts as they continue to work on their pieces. While your students work on using a specific grammatical concept, hold individual writing conferences with them in which you talk with them about the ways that they are using the concept. These conferences are great opportunities to ask students to show you examples of this concept in their work, talk with students about its importance, and clarify any confusion students have.

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