National Writing Project

My New Teaching Partner? Using the Grammar Checker in Writing Instruction

By: Dorothy Fuller, Reva Potter
Publication: English Journal
Date: November 17, 2008

Summary: Reva Potter, a teacher-consultant with the Dakota Writing Project, and colleague Dorothy Fuller report on an action research project which concludes that Grammar Check instruction combined with direct instruction from the teacher can result in significant improvement in student understanding of key grammar concepts.



So which error types did they want to study first? Many students suggested we study passive voice because they see it all the time when typing at a computer but did not know what it meant. I told them that choice was interesting because passive voice first appears in our standards in seventh grade, so it would be a great unit to choose. They also proposed to study comma use because it appeared so often in their documents. I explained that we could focus our comma study on compound and complex sentence structure, one common area of difficulty for both student and adult writers. For the final unit I persuaded students to study subject-verb agreement based on how difficult these errors can be for the grammar checker to detect. It is also one of those difficult areas for both adolescents and adults.

Copyright © 2008 by the National Council of Teachers of English. Reprinted with permission.
Potter, Reva, and Dorothy Fuller. 2008. "My New Teaching Partner? Using the Grammar Checker in Writing Instruction." English Journal 98 (1): 36–41.

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