Some teachers love grammar and some hate it, but nearly all
struggle to find ways of making the mechanics of English
meaningful to kids. As a middle school teacher, Jeff Anderson
also discovered that his students were not grasping the basics,
and that it was preventing them from reaching their potential as
writers. Jeff readily admits, “I am not a grammarian, nor am I
punctilious about anything,” so he began researching and testing
the ideas of scores of grammar experts in his classroom,
gradually finding successful ways of integrating grammar
instruction into writer's workshop.
Mechanically Inclined is the culmination of years of
experimentation that merges the best of writer's workshop
elements with relevant theory about how and why skills should be
taught. It connects theory about using grammar in context with
practical instructional strategies, explains why kids often don't
understand or apply grammar and mechanics correctly, focuses on
attending to the “high payoff,” or most common errors in student
writing, and shows how to carefully construct a workshop
environment that can best support grammar and mechanics concepts.
Jeff emphasizes four key elements in his teaching:short daily
instruction in grammar and mechanics within writer's
workshop;using high-quality mentor texts to teach grammar and
mechanics in context;visual scaffolds, including wall charts, and
visual cues that can be pasted into writer's notebooks;regular,
short routines, like “express-lane edits,” that help students
spot and correct errors automatically.
Comprising an overview of the research-based context for grammar
instruction, a series of over thirty detailed lessons, and an
appendix of helpful forms and instructional tools, Mechanically
Inclined is a boon to teachers regardless of their level of
grammar-phobia. It shifts the negative, rule-plagued emphasis of
much grammar instruction into one which celebrates the power and
beauty these tools have in shaping all forms of writing.