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Thomas Ordway

Dr. Mathews

Teaching Grammar

18 February 2017

Midterm Paper

1. According to Constance Weaver, the best way to teach grammar is through writing in a

manner that she describes as “an inch wide and a mile deep.” By teaching in this manner

students will be given a complete understanding of specific grammatical guidelines while

also being able to apply their learning to their writing. By teaching grammar through

writing teachers are able to understand their students grasp of grammar in order to

pinpoint what ought to be primarily focused on as a class. Also using writing as a

medium for teaching grammar allows students to experiment with syntax and

grammatical structures they’ve seen in books that they’ve read and grammar lessons

they’ve learned to apply in class. In her book, The Grammar Plan Book, Weaver pulls her

teaching strategy apart through her “framework for teaching grammar through the writing

process.” Her process begins with providing students with a model that proficiently

demonstrates the grammatical element that the teacher aims to teach the class. Then the

teacher must create another model with or for the class in order to further drive home

what is about to be taught. By providing models for the class, the teacher is supplying

visual representation of what is expected by the end of the unit. Also this way students

understand what they are looking for in others’ writing and in their own writing so that

they can gain an eye for knowing what’s wrong with writing in context. Next Weaver’s
framework asks teachers to allow students to work in small groups to do an activity

related to the current topic. This provides students with the ability to learn from each

other. Students will be able to ask each other questions in this environment and learn

from those who have more understanding, thus evening out the average understanding of

the topic within the class. This also is the first task that students begin to put what they’ve

learned into practice. This is key when it comes to learning because the majority of the

time just seeing something is not enough to actually lead a student to an understanding

that will be seen in his or her own writing. There must be practice. Then the teacher must

ask students to create sentences individually in order to test their own mind. This forces

students to use what they’ve learned and retained individually, hopefully solidifying these

concepts in their mind. Students should share these and the teacher can check to see who

understands so far and who doesn’t in this activity. It should be obvious for teachers to

notice those who do not understand the task. Their heads may be down very early which

would show they’ve given up, or they may be trying to look at other students’ papers to

see what they should be doing. This provides a great opportunity for the teacher to give

the student one on one time that will hopefully equip the student with exactly what he

needs in order to understand the job. If the student know what questions to ask and the

teacher understands how to answer them, there should be no issue in giving the student

the information he needs to succeed. Next the framework asks students to perform this

concept in their writing so students should be challenged to do so. This is the summit of

understanding for students. If a student can properly apply a specific grammar concept to

his writing and show proficiency, this is a great example of success in the teaching

environment. After this teachers should provide students with a checklist or rubric that
shows students what they need in their writing, preferably in the editing process. This

step fills in the gaps in the students learning. The writing process acts as a test of what

they’ve learned while the rubric goes through what they’ve forgotten about. This is

crucial because if students have holes in their understanding, chances are they will persist

until another teacher shows them otherwise. Next the teacher should give feedback and

allow other students to do so. Then teach a new mini lesson on the topic and hold

conferences to address students who still need help learning the new concept. This step

further solidifies what was learned. It acts to build even more on top of what was just

recently taught to ensure understanding was achieved. Lastly Weaver asks teachers to

repeat the process with a different piece of writing in order to drive home the concept and

solidify it in the student’s minds. For the “Paperbag Princess” assignment we were first

shown the video about the “Paperbag Princess”. Then Dr. Mathews told us that participial

phrases where phrases that include “ing” verbs along with the rest of the action. She

showed us a narrative she wrote about the video and had each participial phrases

highlighted. These first two actions pertain to Weaver’s framework. The first two items

where an outside model (the video) and the teacher’s own model ( created example).

After this she asked the class to brainstorm participles that related to what Elizabeth, the

character from the video shown. Each student called out their own ideas and Dr. Mathews

wrote each idea on the whiteboard to see. Instead of doing small group activities our

teacher included the entire class. This doesn’t deviate much from the framework. Them

Dr. Mathews skipped over individual sentences and cut right to the chase. She had us

writing our own narratives based on what we thought would occur after what we saw in

the video. She challenged her class to use at least four examples participial phrases. She
also walked around the room making sure her students were understanding their job.

After this she had us pick a partner to read our work and highlight our participial phrases.

This correlates to the “provide feedback from peers” section of the framework. Even

though the framework includes it here was no second mini lesson and no repeating of this

process, most likely because she realized her class understood it very well at this point.

2. According to the Grammar Spice video, the English language began around 450 AD

when many Germanic tribes conquered the Celtic people living in the area now known as

England. These tribes brought their own language to the area. This was the beginning of

Old English. At this point in time English was a Germanic language. A few words used

during this period and their translations include: forgyf which means forgive, nama which

means name, and faeder which means father. One of the most well known pieces of

literature written during this time was Beowulf, the first epic written in this version of

English. These people, also known as the Anglo-Saxons, were eventually conquered in

1066 AD by the French leader William Duke of Normandy. This was known as the

Norman Conquest. This marked the era that the French language began mixing with that

of the Anglo-Saxons, ending Old English and beginning the period of Middle English. A

few words and their translations from Middle English include: scheep which means

sheep, contre which means country, and fleynge which means flying. Chaucer’s

Canterbury Tales were written during this this period of time. During the 1500s the

Renaissance period, a rebirth of learning and arts, took place. During this period there

was an emphasis on education, education, and the arts as well as sustained political

stability for English speakers. During this time Early Modern English began to take its

roots as 10,000 to 12,000 words entered the English language due to latin and greek roots
become the basis for the language. In the late 1500s Shakespeare became a popular

playwright and created 1700 of his own words for the English language. This words

include: majestic, mimic, arouse, bedroom, elbow, and secure.

3. My own dialect is very similar to proper formal English and could be considered

midwestern dialect. I come from a suburban area in the midwest and was around very

little informal speech. Something interesting though is that I pronounce the word God as

Gad sometimes when I’m not paying attention. The phoneme for “o” is pronounced as an

“a” because I’m slurring through my speech quickly and would rather not pronounce a

long “o” sound. Together it makes a sound equivalent to add. The IPA for how I

pronounce this word comes out as Gad, but the IPA for how it’s actually supposed to be

said is GÞd, the last syllable sounding much like the word odd. After moving to

Christiansburg, Virginia I’ve encountered a lot of interesting Appalachian Dialect

speakers. An example of this occurred when I decided to work for a landscaping

company near my house in Christiansburg and this exposed me to an entirely new array

of lexical and phonological features. Many of my co-workers spoke Appalachian English

which has many different phonological differences than my own dialect. An example of

this is when they would say oil (IPA: oIl) as uhl (IPA: u:l) giving the oy syllable in oil a

ooh sound. Another significant phonological difference was that many of the people I

worked with pronounced words containing “ire” as “are”. For example take the work fire.

In IPA this word is pronounced as faIr as if the word eye found its way between the

letters “f” and “r”. But my co-workers would pronounce this word fәr, making it sound

like the word far. Another interesting thing I found was that they had many different
lexical features than my own dialect. For example many of them said the word potato as

tader or tomato as mader.

4. Code-switching

a. The difference between formal and informal language is that informal language is

typically used around the house, with familiars, and friends and is typically not

acceptable in writing unless it’s a narrative. Formal language is typically accepted

as a whole through a country and is used in formal writing the majority of the

time. Informal language is not incorrect, it is only another way of speaking the

language and is probably not seen as acceptable by the majority of the population.

A few patterns typically used by informal English speakers and writers include

the following: In their possessives they can often forget the “s”. An example of

this would be “my mother ring” instead of “my mother’s ring.” The “s” is also left

out in plurals. For example an informal English writer may say “two brother”

instead of “two brothers.” Often the word “was” is used in place of the word

“were”. This pattern would fall under subject-verb agreement using was and were.

For example in informal English one may write “we was working” instead of “we

were working.” Lastly the word “be” is often used in place of the word “is”. This

pattern falls under subject-verb agreement using be and is. An example would be

“she be going there” instead of “she is going there.”

b. For my first lesson, in order to teach students how to identify past-times through

code-switching I would draw on the board for them a chart that separates informal

from formal past-times. I have placed an example of what this might look like to

the students below.


Informal Formal
Yesterday Jim practice baseball. Yesterday Jim practiced baseball.
Jim sprint through all the bases last Jim sprinted through all the bases
night. last night.
He jump for joy afterwards. He jumped for joy afterwards.
Last week Jim score five runs. Last week Jim scored five runs.
Jim’s team lift him up in the air. Jim’s team lifted him up in the air.

Pattern: Verb Pattern: Verb + ed

In order to draw in the students I would allow them to create an impromptu story.

For example I might begin by telling my class to think of a name they like. I’d write this

on the board off to the side. Next I may ask what does this character like to do? I would

do the same for this and so on and eventually the class would have created a character,

what he’s like, where he would live, etc. I would then use these to create my informal and

formal past-times chart such as shown above. I would begin by writing a sentence such as

“Yesterday Jim practiced baseball” and would place this beneath the formal side. Then I

would ask the class if it would sound the same informally as I write possibly “Yesterday

Jim practice baseball.” I would continue with this pattern, using their created character in

order to show them the difference between formal and informal English usage. I would

also encourage students to copy down what is written on the board because this will

allow them to have an example to carry with them and look at to figure out what informal

looks like and what formal looks like. A complete example of what might be on the board

might include the following:

Informal Formal
Yesterday Jim practice baseball. Yesterday Jim practiced baseball.
Jim sprint through all the bases last Jim sprinted through all the bases
night. last night.
He jump for joy afterwards. He jumped for joy afterwards.
Last week Jim score five runs. Last week Jim scored five runs.
Jim’s team lift him up in the air. Jim’s team lifted him up in the air.

Pattern: Verb Pattern: Verb + ed

Using this chart I would ask my class what the difference is between each line, making

sure to reinstate which side is formal and which side is informal. Before showing them

the pattern I would ask them if anyone knows the pattern. If none know then I would

write it out for them.

In my second lesson I would have students get into groups of four. Once they’re

grouped I would write one example at a time of an informal or formal past-time sentence.

Examples of these would be “Jerry walked to his house last night” or “Bob jump

yesterday.” Each groups’ job will be to determine amongst themselves if the individual

sentences I’m writing are informal or formal. Each group will have a piece of paper

numbered from one to 10 and will write either “I” for informal or “F” for formal for each

sentence. As groups discuss each sentence I would walk around helping confused groups

in order to provide them with a better understanding of past-times. The group with the

best score at the end receives a prize such as suckers. Then we would review each

sentence and as to why it was informal or formal. Hopefully this would give me another

instance to return to the pattern of adding “ed” to a verb to make it past-time. I would

allow students the opportunity to explain first though. This way I can get an

understanding of the extent of their own understanding and they can solidify their

confidence in their learning.


My third lesson I would create a paragraph that includes a mixture of informal

and formal sentences and examples and print enough copies for each student. It may look

like the following:

Phil the Time Traveler

Phil always dream of being a time traveler and now he was finally getting the

chance to be one. He raised money for materials. He create his time traveling machine.

He even talk to all of his friends about his plans. Now he finally gets to test it out. Phil

pull himself into the cockpit of his ship and rocketed through time. He pass the industrial

age and saw a glimpse of an old steam engine train speeding through a desert. He passed

by a settlement of Native Americans who had just finish eating around a fire. Finally he

arrive at his favorite time period, the age of the dinosaurs.

In order to pull them in I would hype up my story, telling students that today we

will be looking at a time traveler who needs some help telling the difference between

informal and formal past-times. Students would be individually tasked with correcting

informal English past-times they see to formal and also identifying correctly used formal

English past-times with highlighter in order to prove to the teacher that they know not

only how to correct informal past-time usage, but are also able to know what formal past-

time usage looks like in writing. While reading and writing, I would make sure to walk

around the classroom to make sure students are both staying on task and are

understanding the task at hand. Once this is finished I would put an untouched version on

the projector so that we could go over the paragraph as a class. I would specifically go

through each sentence asking if there is anything wrong with it. Students would have the
opportunity to raise their hands and state their case. This would fortify their learning or

clear up misconceptions they have in their current understandings of past-times.

My final lesson on past-times would begin with me telling the students things I

loved to do as a kid. Then I would ask the class if there are things they remember loving

to do when they were younger and maybe who they did these things with. To draw them

in and get them excited I would call on raised hands to tell the class about their

experiences. Then I would tell them that today we will be writing about these experiences

individually. Students will then be instructed to write out as many enjoyable things or

experiences they can remember from their past. Then students will be given about 20

minutes to write about these things. They will be told to use at least 10 examples of

formal past-times. While they write I will walk around the room, reading their writings,

and pointing out incorrect use of past-times and encouraging students that are showing

good work. When they’re finished I will encourage any students who feel good about

their writing to come up to the front and read what they’ve written if they wish to. Then

students will turn in their work and I will be able to adequately see who does and who

doesn’t understand formal past-time usage.