Simple Sentence or not

I know I have lamented on this before, but really we need to bring back grammar instruction.  I usually have the students write their answers in complete sentences for assignments and tests.  They usually complain and of course, a few of them forget to write a complete sentence.  Or at least in the past, I gave them the benefit of the doubt and assumed that they were forgetting. Now, however, I am not so sure. The other day one of my students tried to argue with me. This student kept insisting that all that was necessary to make a group of words a sentence was if there was a capital letter and a period.  (Notice that they didn’t say punctuation, just that it needed a period).  Now today the same thing happened with a few more of my students. At this point, I am seriously considering starting next year with a back to basics unit.  Taking a couple of weeks to review a sentence, parts of speech, how to write a paragraph, and whatever else I decide that they still don’t know how to do even though it was taught at a much younger age.

So how about you?  Do your students have problems with carry over and remembering how to do the basics?

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