You will design part of an instructional unit as a way of demonstrating that you understand how to integrate grammar instruction into authentic reading and writing experiences. You will also design three lesson plans as part of this process that demonstrate your understanding of how to teach grammar in context. These lessons will need to show evidence of purposeful implementation of the pedagogical principles discussed in class.
Length & Format
The final write-up will consist of three parts. The first part is a rationale and context for your instruction that explains the larger writing context and justifies the content choices you’ve made; this must be at least two pages (double-spaced) but no more than three. You should also include a bulleted list of unit objective and language/grammar objectives (all tied to common core standards) in this part of the project.
The second part is an overview that describes three lesson plans that would form part of this larger unit. The lesson descriptions should situate these plans in the larger writing process and will justify instructional choices you’ve made in the plans; around a page, double-spaced, for each lesson should be enough.
The final part is an informative essay (2-3 pages, double-spaced) that synthesizes your thinking on teaching grammar in context. Your final project must be submitted as a single document, not as separate files.
You will first need to identify a writing context for your instructional unit. You might consider genres or modes that are commonly written in schools (arguments, persuasive essays, research writing, personal narratives, essays, etc.) that are also replicated in real life. Identify a writing task that can be the overarching objective for your instruction (see the model for an example).
Next, you will want to consider relevant, important grammar concepts that will apply well to this instructional situation. Once you’ve identified a genre, I want you to find examples of that genre “in the wild” and analyze those to see what kinds of syntactic or grammatical features (at the sentence level) are common and would make good learning targets for your students. For instance, it might make sense to teach a concept like appositives when students are engaged in research writing or a concept like participial phrases if students are engaged in writing a personal narrative. The grammar concepts you choose to teach should make sense given the writing context in which you would teach. These concepts will form learning objectives within your overarching objective.
In describing your lesson plans, you should reference the framework I’ve modeled for you in class and Killgallon’s ideas on sentence composing as well as the name-notice-apply framework. Consider how you’ll model the grammar concept for students, provide opportunities for guided practice, and transition to individual practice (using the writing students have been assigned where appropriate). An important part of this section is justifying your choices, so you should find yourself using conjunctions like “because” or “so” in these overviews. (You may feel like it becomes redundant or even pedantic to do this, which would be a sign that you’re on the right track in terms of showing your explicit thinking about these choices.)
Your final essay is essentially a place for you to defend the teaching of grammar in context. You will want to describe, generally, why approaching the teaching of grammar this way is more effective that traditional approaches, and you should use the techniques in your lesson plans to help provide evidence of what this approach looks like and how it is more successful. So, your reflection will likely address these questions:
- What does it mean to teach grammar in context? How is this different from a more traditional approach to teaching grammar? (Provide a concise, “elevator speech” definition but also describe the approach and contrast it with traditional approaches.)
- Why is this a better approach to teaching grammar than a traditional approach? What results can we expect from teaching grammar in context? (Here’s where connections to your lesson plans will come in as you describe some of the benefits.)
We will use a detailed grading sheet for this project. You can access a PDF version of this sheet here.
I’ve created a model for this project that uses the context of a contemporary essay and the concept of sentence fragments as the focus of my grammar instruction. You can view a PDF version of the model here. Please read carefully through the model and pay special attention to the annotations I’ve made as they will point you to specific areas where students have struggled with this assignment in the past.