Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Grammar Ninja

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I have spent six weeks of this summer co-teaching a graduate course on grammar instruction and writing.  To say the least, it's been amusing watching people's facial expressions when I tell them the subject of the course.  Most look at me like I'm crazy, some visibly shudder, a few look as if they're replaying anything they may have just said incorrectly during the first part of our conversation.  But a special few get really excited.  They tell me how much they love grammar.  And then we swoon over it together.

In fact, I have a refrigerator magnet declaring my nerd-love of grammar.  It was a gift from my aunt and uncle and says, "Grammar Ninja: Ruthless, Deadly, Articulate."  I think grammar appeals to the part of my brain that likes order, organization, and math.  It’s logic meets language—what a wonderful combination.

If you're looking for the best professional text on the subject, check out Mechanically Inclined by Jeff Anderson.  It's sure to shake you of any traditional views of grammar instruction and put your beliefs solidly in the power of grammar in the context of writing.  This text has been the focus of my grad class and has been the touchstone of my own grammar instruction for the last several years.  I promise to share more tidbits from it this coming school year and I roll out my own adaptation of J. Anderson on fifth graders.

For now, here are two lovely grammar sources for your Tuesday reading pleasure.  One comes from NY Times writer John McWhorter.  This witty article "A Matter of Fashion" explains how culture and time influence what is considered "correct."   San Marco Says is the blog of my talented co-teacher, Mike San Marco, who teaches 8th grade English in the Kings District.  It has been my pleasure working with him and learning alongside him this summer.

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