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What’s The Middle Ground Between Grammar And Voice When Teaching Writing?

KQED News Mind/Shift – Katrina Schwartz

“There’s very little research on how to effectively teach writing and few pre-service teachers explicitly learn how to teach it in credentialing programs. And yet good writing has become a central skill for most subject areas, including math and science, where teachers are now asking students to explain their thinking. Many teachers use model texts and writing assignments rooted in students’ lived experiences to give kids practice writing. Proponents of this approach say too much focus on grammar and sentence structure stunts the individual’s voice. On the other side of the debate are people like Judith Hochman, who believes writing should be taught starting at the sentence level.”(more)

Using Music And Rhythm To Help Kids With Grammar And Language

KQED News Mind/Shift – Robert Siegel and Andrea Hsu

“Gordon has previously published research showing a correlation in children between good rhythm skills and a good grasp of grammar. She found children who can detect rhythmic variations in music have an easier time putting sentences together. “One thing that rhythm and grammar have in common is that they both unfold over time, and our brains form expectancies about what’s coming up based on what we just heard,” says Gordon. Consider the following sentence: The boy read the book that his mother gave to him. “When we hear ‘The boy read,’ then we’re expecting an object after that,” Gordon says. “Then when we hear ‘The boy read the book that,‘ then we’re expecting an additional clause – something else about the book.” By age 5, Gordon says children typically understand and use complex sentences. But studies have shown that about 7 percent of children have what’s known as specific language impairment or developmental language disorder, which hinders their language skills even though they have IQs in the normal range and don’t have autism or hearing impairment.”(more)

Ditch the grammar and teach children storytelling instead

The Guardian – Tim Lott

“A report in the Times has quoted a secondary school teacher who complained that their year 7 intake no longer knew how to tell a story. “They knew what a fronted adverbial was, and how to spot an internal clause, and even what a preposition was – but when I set them a task to write a story, they broke down and cried,” reported the teacher. The fact that no importance is placed on storytelling makes me very frustrated not only because it puts so little value or emphasis on children’s creativity, but also because storytelling is more than simply an art – it is a crucial skill for life and commerce.”(more)

Statistical approach suggests toddlers’ grammar skills are learned, not innate

Medical X-Press – Alex Shashkevich

“Children’s ability to understand basic grammar early in language development has long puzzled scientists, creating a debate over whether that skill is innate or learned with time and practice. A new Stanford study, recently published in Psychological Science, helps build evidence for the latter. Analyzing toddlers’ early language with a novel statistical approach, associate professor of psychology Michael Frank found that rule-based grammatical knowledge emerges gradually with a significant increase around the age of 24 months. The new study, titled “The Emergence of an Abstract Grammatical Category in Children’s Early Speech,” also points out the need to gather more data that track children’s speech over time, which would help make future research more precise.”(more)

Is It Time To Go Back To Basics With Writing Instruction?

KQED News Mind/Shift – Katrina Schwartz

“Most educators acknowledge that literacy is important, but often the focus is on reading because for a long time that is what achievement tests measured. In the last few years there has been more focus on writing in classrooms and on tests, but many students still have difficulty expressing their ideas on paper. Often students struggle to begin writing, so some teachers have shifted assignments to allow students to write about something they care about, or to provide an authentic audience for written work. While these strategies are important parts of making learning relevant to students, they may not be enough on their own to improve the quality of writing.”(more)

Foreign language in elementary school: more talk, less grammar

The Chicago Tribune Kimberly Fornek

“In language classes in area elementary schools, students spend less time memorizing vocabulary lists and conjugating verbs and more time speaking and writing the language. “We may be learning fewer vocabulary words, but the words students learn they will remember and use on a daily basis,” said Kyle Schumacher, superintendent of La Grange Elementary District 102..”(more)