Give me that Old Time

The words “Give me that Old Time Religion that is good enough for me” could be changed to “Give me that Old Time Grammar, that is good enough for me”. I kind of miss the day of drill and practice. Yes, it was boring, but it was also easy and I learned the concept.  Now, it seems like more and more students are struggling with their writing and also grammar.  We need to find a way to fix it.  I get it, we don’t want to teach grammar outside of context anymore as that is boring and not engaging to the student but are we doing a better job of teaching grammar now?  I think in some cases they know the rules, but they aren’t applying them to their everyday writing or outside of English class.  Somehow, we need to get students to see the need to apply the rules all of the time.

At the beginning of the school year, I inform, remind, tell, attempt to pound it into my students that using certain words incorrectly will cost them points.  My favorite set of incorrectly used words are there, their, and they’re.  When I give the students practice or check to see if they know the difference, yes they are almost 100% accurate at all times.  But then when I want them to apply this knowledge to the real world and their writing, I hear things like, “I know the difference, but it is just easier to always use there, ”  and “I don’t how it matters  which one I use, they are basically the same word.”  For me, this is like running fingernails down the old chalkboard.  Oh, how I hated that sound.

When writing research papers or other more formal papers and I remind my students that they can’t use personal pronouns and that they need to keep it formal, they look at me like I have just sprouted two more heads.  What are personal pronouns they ask?  As I try explaining a personal pronoun to them, I realize that the problem is deeper than I thought, they actually don’t know pronouns and many seem to have never heard of the word.  What, how did you get out of early elementary school without knowing the parts of speech, I wonder and shake my head in sadness.

What are some of your grammar pet peeves?  Do you have a better solution for teaching grammar? If so, please share as I am open to any new ideas I can garner.  Thanks


5 thoughts on “Give me that Old Time

  1. My grammar pet peeve is “to” and “too”. Drives me crazy, and we talk about it as well! I wish I had a solution because I, too, miss the drill and practice. Something different is needed, but I’m not entirely sure what right now!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I teach 4th grade and I see the same issues that you have noted. I tell my students that they need to stop and think about which “there, they’re, their” they need until it becomes automatic — but they mostly don’t follow my advice. We use Daily Grammar Practice, which I like a lot. It’s one sentence a week to learn parts of speech, subject/predicate, types of sentences and diagramming.


  3. My grammar pet peeve also is “there, their, they’re”. How to fix? Keep practicing, keep reminding them. Sometimes they have to hear things a thousand times before they get it! I’m only up to number 841!


  4. I am also fascinated with the disconnect between my students ability to know the difference and their ability to use them correctly in authentic writing. I wish I had that secret wand. I think the deciding factor is that they have to care enough to think about the spelling or the grammar. My most effective solution for that is an authentic audience. When my students write for me, they are sloppy. When they write to their parents or to the principal or to an author, they take a lot more care.


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