National Writing Project

Resource Topics

Teaching Writing - Grammar and Usage

Additional Resources

Book Review: The Grammar Plan Book: A Guide to Smart Teaching

June 2010
Meg Petersen
Meg Petersen, director of the Plymouth Writing Project, finds Constance Weaver's book useful as a guide to teaching the grammar required for successful writing, with a focus on strategies that take these skills beyond drills and integrate them into real-world writing. More ›

Book Review: Teaching Vocabulary: 50 Creative Strategies, Grades 6–12

December 2009
Darcy Nickel
Teaching Vocabulary: 50 Creative Strategies, Grades 6–12 provides a potpourri of instructional strategies presented by many teachers and researchers. More ›

Book Review: The Vocabulary Teacher's Book of Lists by Edward B. Frye

July 2009
Melanie Rawls Abrams
With its lists of words arranged by category, The Vocabulary Teacher's Book of Lists is surprising, bemusing, wildly informative, and practical. More ›

Book Review: Grammar to Enrich and Enhance Writing, by Constance Weaver

June 2009
H.K. Hummel
Constance Weaver advocates less fixing of mistakes in writing, more minilessons to clarify grammatical concepts, less grammar drill in isolation, and more skill building in the context of writing. More ›

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

English Journal, November 2008
Dorothy Fuller, Reva Potter
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. More ›

Book Review: Everyday Editing: Inviting Students to Develop Skill and Craft in Writer's Workshop

October 2008
H.K. Hummel
Heather Hummel reviews Jeff Anderson's Everyday Editing: Inviting Students to Develop Skill and Craft in Writer's Workshop, which transforms the study of grammar into a way to empower students. More ›

Dancing with the Authors: Teaching Sentence Fluency

April 2008
Bev Matulis
By making use of a new "featured sentence structure" each week, Bev Matulis, who is with the Saginaw Bay Writing Project, demonstrates strategies that model and reinforce varied sentence constructions in this chapter from Writing Intention: Prompting Professional Learning through Student Work. More ›

Getting It Right: Fresh Approaches to Teaching Grammar, Usage, and Correctness

Michael W. Smith, Jeffrey D. Wilhelm
Getting It Right demonstrates how individual teachers can teach grammar, usage, and correctness more successfully as well as how an entire school or department can work together to improve the teaching of writing. More ›

Book Review: Breaking the Rules, by Edgar H. Schuster

The Quarterly, 2004
Jack Caswell
Caswell reviews Breaking the Rules: Liberating Writers Through Innovative Grammar Instruction, which makes a case for eschewing traditional grammar instruction. More ›

Keeping the Comma Splice Queen Happy

The Voice, 2004
Suzanne Cherry
Cherry finds that relating the concepts of punctuation and grammar to real-world experiences—in this example, through an intriguing demonstration involving electrical tape—helps students realize and correct their errors successfully. More ›

Keith's Question

The Voice, 2004
Bill Connolly
Prompted by a student-writer's question, high school teacher Bill Connolly reflects on why writing groups in the summer institute are so powerful. More ›

It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time

The Quarterly, 2003
Philip Ireland
Want inspiration that might bring life to a deadly dull grammar lesson? Here Ireland demonstrates "Beware of what you wish for; you might get it." More ›

The Politics of Correction: How We Can Nurture Students in Their Writing

The Quarterly, 2003
Linda Christensen
How do we help students gain fluency in Standard English without obliterating their home languages? The author provides some answers: through scientific assessment, structured minilessons, and respect for home language. More ›

Using Freshman Composition to Analyze What Students Really Know About Grammar

The Quarterly, 2003
Matthew Teorey
College instructor Teorey takes a clear-eyed look at the problem of untaught and unlearned grammatical skills, and suggests some ways to tackle the predicament. More ›

I Am... Not

The Quarterly, Winter 2003
Karen Brown
In this tongue-in-cheek parody, writer Karen Brown plays with "rules" for her writing classroom. More ›

"Don't Begin Sentences with But" Is a Writing Myth

The Quarterly, Fall 2002
George Dorrill
In this brief essay, George Dorrill takes on the age-old struggle around this controversial conjunction. More ›

On the Use of Metawriting to Learn Grammar and Mechanics

The Quarterly, Fall 2002
Douglas James Joyce
As a means of dealing with basic grammar and mechanics problems, Joyce's students examine their own writing problems in a reflective, informative way that increases familiarity with writing resources and reduces the frequency of errors. More ›

Visualizing Vocabulary

The Quarterly, Summer 2002
Eileen Simmons
Simmons presents a series of creative activities that have advanced her high school students' vocabularies and impressed on them the power of words. More ›

Book Review: Image Grammar: Using Grammatical Structures to Teach Writing by Harry Noden

The Quarterly, Winter 2001
Bob Ingalls
Ingalls finds that Noden, by expanding the relationship between parts of speech and writing and by providing vivid writing samples and creative writing exercises, helps us break out of our limited view of grammar. More ›

Grammar... Again

The Quarterly, Winter 1999
Edwin Epps
Epps analyzes, but doesn't defend the "reasons" for teaching grammar, going on to advance the case that grammar teaching should be specific, selective, and taught in the context of student writing. More ›

Teaching Grammar in Context: One Approach

The Quarterly, Winter 1999
Harriet Williams
After teaching the principles of sentence combining, Williams has students revise their work using this information. More ›

My Perspective: A Response to "Syntax at an Early Age"

The Quarterly, Spring 1998
Melanie Sperling
In responding to the author of "Syntax at an Early Age," Sperling, a professor of language and literacy, calls on research to question some of the author's assumptions about learning to write. More ›

Syntax at an Early Age: A Mother Challenges the Experts

The Quarterly, Spring 1998
Natalie Kramer
A parent and tutor to her son, Kramer makes the case for systematic teaching and learning of sentence structures in the primary grades, a set of skills she believes get scant attention in American schools. More ›

Resources for Teachers and Students

The Voice, Summer 1998
Art Peterson
More ›

Teaching Grammar in Context, by Constance Weaver

The Quarterly, Summer 1996
Bill Lyons
Lyons concurs with Weaver's advice that teachers need to know grammar and process writing. They also need to understand developmental trends and the skills and learning patterns of individual students. More ›

Book Review: Grammar Grams II, by Stephen K. Tollefson

The Quarterly, Summer 1992
Denny T. Wolfe
Wolfe declares Tollefson's approach to grammar is "more sense oriented than rule oriented. His illustrative sentences are witty and current, and written with a student readership in mind." More ›

Book Review: Declining Grammar and Other Essays on the English Vocabulary, by Dennis Baron

The Quarterly, Fall 1991
Flossie Lewis
Lewis reviews Baron's book, which takes up such varied topics as the passive voice, word play, and our changing attitudes toward language. More ›

Book Review: Grammar Grams, by Stephen K. Tollefson

The Quarterly, Fall 1989
Harold Nelson
The reviewer finds Tollefson's book of advice on the most common grammatical trouble spots in written English to be well written, witty, and concise. More ›

What Good is Punctuation?

The Quarterly, January 1988
Wallace Chafe
The writer answers the question he poses by advancing the argument that punctuation calls awareness to and develops a sensitivity for the sound of written language. More ›

TR 11. Punctuation and the Prosody of Language

National Center for the Study of Writing and Literacy Technical Report, October 1987
Wallace Chafe
Chafe explores the relationship between what he calls the covert prosody of writing (that which in speech would be elements such as pitch, accents, and rhythms) and the relation of this prosody to punctuation. More ›

Book Review: Grammar for Teachers: Perspectives and Definitions, by Constance Weaver

The Quarterly, November 1979
Gerald Camp
Camp sees the principle value of this book as persuading teachers that they must know grammar themselves and use their knowledge to help students' literacy understanding, editing skills, and ability to produce mature syntax. More ›

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