PART II Section 1 The Sentence: A Way of Thinking

Welcome back everyone!!
Now we get to the meat of this resource, the actual lessons. I am really curious about how these will work.
Page 61 defines how the lessons in this section are presented.
This section has 6 Lessons;
1.1 Fragments
1.2 Run On Sentences
1.3 Dangling Modifiers
1.4 Wrong or Missing Preposition
1.5 Double Negative
1.6 The Absolute
If you try any of these lessons please post a commment on how it went. Just refer to the lesson number when commenting.

Section 2 Pause and Effect: Crafting Sentences with Commas

I like the quote on the first page, “There is nothing much to punctuating a sentence, really, beyond a little comma sense.”

The 6 Lessons in this section are:

2.1  No comma in a compound sentence

2.2  Comma splice

2.3  No comma after an introductory element

2.4  No comma in a nonrestictive element

2.5  No comma setting off additions at the end of a sentence

2.6  Lack of commas in a series

You need only refer to the lesson number when making comments.



PART II Constructing Lessons: Background, Mentor Text, and Visual Scaffolds

This second half of the book is actual lessons. Each section deals with an error or concept that MOST students struggle with. All lessons are organized the same way: starting with what Jeff refers to as an operator’s manual (in plain english, AKA, the error explained and the cause of the error), mentor text, the lesson,and a visual scaffold (which can be used as a starting point for wall charts or pasted into notebooks).

Section 1    The Sentence: A Way of Thinking

This section has 6 lessons:

1.1  Fragments

1.2  Run-On Sentences

1.3  Dangling Modifiers

1.4  Wrong or Missing Preposition

1.5  Double Negative

1.6  The Absolute

If any of you have a chance to try out any of these lessons or want to make a comment about one after you’ve read it, just identify it by the number above.

Looking forward to hearing feedback !

Chapter 4: Off-the Wall Grammar and Mechanics Instruction

I totally agree with Jeff on using the wall space of our classrooms to provide students with help and examples. When I read about how students will look at the place on the wall when they are trying to remember something, even if it is no longer there, it reminded me of  doing that myself in a math class. I also agree that these charts or chartpapers have to be living posters, in that they are being added to and referred to often. It would be  a great time saver if you can use them to reteach or remind students of lessons: just  point to the chart.The pre packaged and laminated grammar, spelling rules, etc. posters become like wall paper to students; they don’t even notice them.

I love the Wall Charts That Work suggestions on p. 57-58

Like the rules p. 58

The suggestion that you put these up gradually as you work on minlessons etc. makes sense. They grow as student  learning does. To make them really meaningful and useful we have to refer to and revisit them often, when needed.

I wonder what the fire marshal would think of this ????LOL

Chapter 3: Weaving Grammar and Mechanics into Writer’s Workshop

I really found this chapter very practical. You kind of get a glimpse into Jeff’s classsroom. I think I will just list the things I really liked about this chapter, as they are numerous :

  •   we learn “by trial and error “, so we have to allow this
  •  students should write about what is “in front of their nose” because that is where they can add the details that make the reader see and feel
  • having a writer’s notebook as a place to free write and experiment; no one marks it up but you
  • how he sets up the notebook p. 30- and all the various components:: authors word and phrase pallette, etc.
  • freewriting(or quickwrites). My experience has been that it helps improve writing fluency and stamina. If timed, students seem to enjoy the challenge. Also, it often provides the seeds for longer pieces
  • how he says his students’ process is “read, reflect, write, share and process, re-enter, share and clean up”
  • sharing freewrites or quickwrites to draw attention to specific things that are done well
  • using mentor texts to inspire writing and discussing what the punctuatuion is doing in sample sentences
  • words that signal a comma should come after: AAAWWUBBIS p.38
  • the whole idea of looking at the why of punctualtion p. 44
  • how he composes the editors checklist
  • I love “express lane edits.” It reminds me of how Penny Kittle has her students revise their quick writes for practice, because it is a smaller piece to re read and work with and they can see the difference it makes quickly.

I hope you all enjoyed this chapter as well.

I can’t wait to read your comments!

Chapter two: Moving from Correct-Alls to Mentor Texts

I always did daily edits (correct-alls) so I was bit hesitant to give these up as I felt I was training students’ to use their editing eyes, however, Jeff made one point that really made me think and that was that students are constantly looking at writing that is wrong instead of analyzing what is right. Looking through the lense of a sentence, using student  and published authors as mentor text makes perfect sense! Seeing many examples and looking for patterns would appeal to how our brains store info. I also like how he has them apply it  to their writing by trying to model the sentences.

I also like the idea he posed of using picture books as mentor texts as they are appealing stories, are short and easily typed up as examples.

The way Jeff weaves the work on conventions into his writers’ workshop impressed me as well. At the beginning, a little bit everyday, so that it becomes a routine and the students know what to expect. He also refers to the lesson during the workshop and again at the close. He said it well with.. “it pays off to take time for these quick spurts of well-selected craft and mechanics lessons that are based on students and what researchers say kids need to know.”

Chapter one:Introduction

I felt like I could really relate to Jeff as I am  a believer that kids learn to write by writing and am a huge supporter of the  workshop method of teaching writing. In the past  I had kids busy writing and enjoying it but I really didn’t feel like I did a good job of teaching them grammar and mechanics. The only way I did it was through Building English Skills (or similar resources) however, I became frustrated when they never transferred the exercies they completed to their actual writing! That link was missing. Teaching conventions in context became the challenge.

I like how Jeff developed a directed systmatic approach to teaching conventions. Another point that resonated with me is that correcting them is not enough, they need to learn to be independant editors of their work. I like how he teaches grammar and mechanics in context using literature and student  writing. There is nothing like analysing an example of how it is done well.

I also like how he incorporates  about 10 min per writing class to this end and always tries to make the link to their writing. It makes perfect sense to teach first what they need to know most and analyse student writing to decide what that will be.

I like the questions he asks himself listed on  page 11.  I also found the points listed inder Pulling it all Together Workshop Style on p. 12-13 really helpful. I love that the lessons he presents are tried and true.  We, as educators, are always trying to reinvent the wheel when we really  need to learn from our colleagues’ mistakes and successes. Of course that doesn’t mean we don’t tweek things to meet our teaching style and students.

The challenge he presents in the last three sentences of this chapter intrigues me. “Wouldn’t it be cool if students thought of grammar and mechancis as play? If they had a ‘let’s see what this does’ attitude? This is the attitude I hope to cultivate in this book.”