Flipping — Not Flipping Over — Grammar

flipping grammar

2day were gonna talk bout good grammer & how to teach it?

Go ahead and laugh. These types of writing mistakes are more typical of our graduating high school seniors than we may want to admit. Although it might be fine for text messages to friends, it is totally inappropriate in almost any business communication.

How do we make sure that our students in post secondary education go out into the business world equipped with proper grammar skills? How can we get in the proper practice without having to take up too much class time we’d prefer to spend honing organizational skills?

One thing I have been experimenting with the past couple of semesters in my composition course is flipping the grammar material. I assign students reading and review of a grammar rule or problem along with an exercise. Then I give a quiz at the beginning of the next class. The quizzes don’t count for a great deal, and students are allowed to collaborate on the answers. (My classes are small, so they can usually do it as a group. With larger groups, I try to pair off students.) There are also online practice quizzes and worksheets for additional practice. I have even been creating short videos to help the students learn the concepts. (They aren’t compelling, stellar productions, but they are designed to help students visualize proper grammar.)

The idea is to make students responsible for going over and practicing the grammar on their own. They are expected to be prepared when we go over the concepts quickly again in class. The process is designed to cut down the time spent drilling grammar rules and to concentrate in improving the clarity of and meaning in their writing.

As further reinforcement, I will have students correct mistakes in paragraphs. (Sometimes I call it “Grade the Instructor”; sometimes I even get an F.) They understand that they are responsible for recognizing and correcting grammar mistakes in their own writing.

So far, I’m having mixed results. I think the main problem is getting students to understand the importance of completing the assignments outside of class. Most people dislike grammar to begin with, and dealing with it on their “own time” is not a high priority.

Relevance is important in education. By stressing how proper grammar helps make writing clearer and connecting that idea with how marketable good writing skills are, I try to encourage my students to take the flipped grammar process seriously. In return, I will continue to try to find innovative ways to make grammar, if not fun, at least more palatable.

What kinds of things do you do to help make teaching grammar more effective?


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