No more diagramming sentences: Students learn more from simply writing and reading.
I like The Atlantic, and usually, the magazine gets education matters right, but this article about grammar misses the mark by oversimplifying the issue.
Michelle Navarre Clearly argues that teaching grammar directly doesn’t work and that we should teach grammar “through” writing.
The reply of most English teachers: Duh. Of course. Best practice is to see where your students struggle and then help them.
But then the next step — how to do that — is where it gets complex. It seems like Ms. Clearly would advocate a one-on-one approach, where the teacher conferences with each student. That sounds great but takes too much time to be a teacher’s only strategy.
Whole-group instruction also has its flaws, even when done well (with sentence combining, for instance). My experience suggests that students don’t internalize whole-group grammar lessons.
My colleagues and I are exploring small-group intervention, in which 4-6 students meet with the teacher on a specific grammar concern while the rest of the students work independently on a writing activity. This seems like the best of both worlds. There’s enough personal attention, but the process doesn’t take forever.