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structure/grammar mini lessons
Old 07-08-2013, 08:32 AM
 
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Looking for sentence structure and grammar mini-lessons to teach within the personal narrative unit. Any thoughts about what would be good to cover in this unit as well as what mentor texts might help? I teach a 6th grade LA class.


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Old 07-09-2013, 12:59 PM
 
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Jeff Anderson's Mechanically Inclined. It's loaded with great lesson ideas and mentor text suggestions.
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Mechanically Inclined
Old 07-13-2013, 07:50 AM
 
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is one of the greatest teaching books EVER. What MI tells you to do, though, is to teach grammar for rhetorical purposes, not "teach the rules." This works best in a workshop or small group setting, where you're giving each kid what THEY need, right now. Not all kids need the same grammar lessons. Some of your kids are ready for more sophisticated stuff, like semi colons and parentheses. Some of them don't know how to place a freaking period.

I would:

assign the narrative
MODEL how to plan it
They plan
MODEL how to write your first paragraph
They write their first paragraph
MODEL each step, then they do it.

Next, take your essay that you modeled to the rubric you're going to be using to grade, and have the class, in small groups if you like, rate your essay on the rubric. You also will model the revisions you'll do.

Now they finish their rough drafts. THIS is where you come in and give them what they need, individually or in small groups of like needs. And THIS is where Mechanically Inclined comes in. We're not placing a comma here because of some rule. No, we're placing the comma here because this is its function, this is how it helps us get our thoughts across, and OUR function, our entire purpose in writing, in fact, is to clearly convey our ideas. So our use of punctuation and grammar has to advance that, not rules (I once worked with a teacher who gave them a Xeroxed copy of all the comma rules--I'm an ENGLISH MAJOR and had no idea there were so many! She made the kids memorize the rules--almost no one did--and then she gave them about 50 sentences, in which they had to place the comma(s) AND STATE THE RULE. I promise you that those kids don't know any more about commas today than they did when they walked in. How mind-numbing).

While you are planning, you are showing them how your structure is developing. When you follow your plan, which BTW, shows them where their paragraph breaks are, you're modeling how to structure it. When you decide to use a semi colon and connect two complete sentences because the thoughts are so closely connected, rather than a comma to connect two phrases, you're modeling punctuation for rhetorical purposes. When you point out that the Denver Broncos look so much more important than the denver broncos, you're modeling using capitols for rhetorical purposes. If you can get them to think in terms of what they're trying to say, and how can they use punctuation and grammar to help them say it, rather than am I following the rules correctly, you'll get somewhere with them as writers.

If you're doing things for rhetorical purposes, you're getting the rules right, but you're not having to memorize and hate them.
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Old 07-15-2013, 09:05 PM
 
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I am new to the mechanics of writing and I did not realize all the rules involved. The concept of teaching for rhetorical purposes and to focus on what they are trying to say would go a lot farther for my students.

Thanks!
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Old 07-24-2013, 04:54 AM
 
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I do use MI however, I find my 6thgrade students come to class and have no concept of subject/predicate. I think MI will build on those skills once we are familiar with basics.


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