Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Appalled at Everyone Else: On Language and Grammar

from Maira Kalman' illustrated version of The Elements of Style.

I love what David Wallace Foster has to say about writing, language and usage in Consider the Lobster and Other Essays:
In ways that certain of us are uncomfortable about, SNOOTs’ attitudes about contemporary usage resemble religious/political conservatives’ attitudes about contemporary culture. We combine a missionary zeal and a near-neural faith in our beliefs’ importance with a curmudgeonly hell-in-a-handbasket despair at the way English is routinely manhandled and corrupted by supposedly educated people. The Evil is all around us: boners and clunkers and solecistic howlers and bursts of voguish linguistic methane that make any SNOOT’s cheek twitch and forehead darken. A fellow SNOOT I know likes to say that listening to most people’s English feels like watching somebody use a Stradivarius to pound nails: We are the Few, the Proud, the Appalled at Everyone Else.
So with that said, surely we can now move beyond being appalled at everyone else and consider what resources might there be that can help us to discern the critical from the interesting--the important from the SNOOT.  Constance Weaver's 12 principles "for teaching grammar to enrich and enhance writing" succinctly outline key Dos/Don'ts of teaching grammar (from Grammar to Enrich and Enhance Writing Weaver, 2012).
  1. Teaching grammar divorced from writing doesn't strengthen writing and therefore wastes time.

  2. Few grammatical terms are actually needed to discuss writing.

  3. Sophisticated grammar is fostered in literacy-rich and language-rich environments.

  4. Grammar instruction for writing should build upon students' developmental readiness.

  5. Grammar options are best expanded through reading and in conjunction with writing.

  6. Grammar conventions taught in isolation seldom transfer to writing.

  7. Marking "corrections" on students' papers does little good.

  8. Grammar conventions are applied most readily when taught in conjunction with editing. 

  9. Instruction in conventional editing is important for all students but must honor their home language or dialect.  

  10. Progress may involve new kinds of errors as students try to apply new writing skills.

  11. Grammar instruction should be included during various phases of writing.

  12. More research is needed on effective ways of teaching grammar to strengthen writing.
Here are a few resources you may find enlightening.

Profesional Resources: 
1. Teaching Books
Anderson, J. (2007). Everyday editing. Portland, ME: Stenhouse.
Delpit, L. (ed.). (2008). The skin that we speak: Language and culture in the classroom. New York: The New Press. 
Graves, D. (1994). A fresh look at writing. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
Johnston, P. (2004). Choice words: How our language affects children's learning. York, ME: Stenhouse.
Lane, B. (1993). After the end: teaching and earning creative revision. Portsmouth, NH Heinemann.
Miller, S. (1993). Textual carnivals: The politics of composition. Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press. 
Noden, H. (2011). Image grammer, Second ed. Portsmouth, NH Heinemann.
Shaughnessy, M. (1979). Errors and expectations: A guide for the teacher of basic writing. New York: Oxford University Press.
Weaver, C.  &  J. Bush. (2008). Grammar to enrich and enhance writing. Portsmouth, NH Heinemann.
Weaver, C. (2006).  The grammar plan book. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

2. Professional Journals
3. Popular Texts
Bradbury, R. (1989). Zen in the art of writing: Essays on creativity. Joshua Odell Editions.
Cook, C.K. (1985). Line by line: How to edit your own writing. Boston, Harcourt.
Fish, S. (2011). How to write a sentence and how to read one. New York: HarperCollins.
Fogarty, M. (2011). Grammar girl presents the ultimate writing guide for students. New York: St. Martin's.
Hale, C. (2001). Sin and syntax: How to craft wickedly effective prose. New York: Three Rivers Press.
King, S. (2000). On writing. New York: Scribner.
Lamott, A. (1994). Bird by bird: Some instruction on writing and life. New York: Anchor.
O'Conner, P.T. (2011). Woe is I The grammarphobes guide to better English in plain English. (3rd ed). New York: Riverhead.
Orwell, G. (2005). Why I write. New York: Penguin
Pulver, R. (2003). Punctuation takes a vacation. New York: Holiday House (Note: Robin Pulver has produced many picture books on the topic of grammar for children.)
Strunk, W., E.b. White & M. Kalman. (2007). The elements of style: Illustrated. New York: Penguin.
Strunk, W. (2011). The elements of style. New York: The Elements of Style Press.
Truss, L. (2006). Eat, shoots & leaves: Why, commas really do make a difference! New York: Putnam Juvenile.
Zinsser, W. (2012). On writing well: 30th anniversary edition. New York: Harper.

4. Resources to Use with Students:

Killgallon D. & J. Killgallon. (2008). Story grammar for elementary school: A sentence composing approach -- a student worktext.  Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann. 
Killgallon D. & J. Killgallon. (2006). Grammar for middle school: A sentence composing approach -- a student worktext. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann. 
Killgallon D. & J. Killgallon. (2007). Grammar for high school: A sentence composing approach -- a student worktext. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann. 
Killgallon, D. & J. Killgallon. (2000). Sentence composing for elementary school: A worktext to build better sentences.Portsmouth, NH Heinemann.
Killgallon, D. & J. Killgallon. (1997). Sentence composing for middle school: A worktext on sentence variety and maturity. Portsmouth, NH Heinemann.
Killgallon, D. & J. Killgallon. (1998). Sentence composing for high school: A worktext on sentence variety and maturity. Portsmouth, NH Heinemann.

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