“Research over a period of nearly 90 years has consistently shown that the teaching of school grammar has little or no effect on students.” This statement was made in 1991 by George Hillcocks and Michael Smith, supporting the view that grammar instruction must change.
In her article, “the Wrong Way to Teach Grammar”, Michelle Navarre Clearly states that reviews of over 250 studies between 1984 -2012 confirm that the old-fashioned way of teaching grammar is not effective. My question then is, why are we still teaching it this way?
Grammar should be taught through reading and writing. Students hear pervasively that good readers write, and good writers read. If we believe this to be true, then grammar instruction should be embedded in reading and writing.
In my opinion there is a time and place for explicit instruction, but too often the instruction stops there. I suggest using a strategy that I call G.R.I.P. This strategy helps students go beyond simply learning grammar, and allows them to see the importance of grammar in reading and writing. The details of the strategy are outlined below.
Grammar Concept – Students are given explicit instruction about a specific grammar concept.
Reading – The explanation of the grammar concept should then be followed up with the application of the grammar concept being shown in a great mentor text or selected reading.
Impact – Teachers and students should engage in a discussion about the impact of the grammar in the context of the reading. Students need to see how authors manipulate words, punctuation and images to allow someone to visualize, believe, interpret or understand what they intend.
Practice – Students should be asked to immediately use the grammar concept in their own writing. If students understand the impact of grammar on what they read and how they interpret what they read, they might be more willing to not only embrace learning grammar, but also apply it to their own writing.