Over the course of the semester you will develop a 2-3 page paper related to the topic of grammar. We will use what you write in this paper all semester to apply what you are learning about grammar from all of the other work we will be doing in class. If you can apply the rules knowledge that you gain through other exercises to your own writing, you will have a deeper understanding and better retention of the information.

Step One Read Chapter 1 in the Lester text. Use that info and your own experiences learning English grammar and usage to answer the following questions. You do not have to write a fully developed essay at this point. Just work on answering the questions for right now.

  1. How much grammar did you study and when? Why do you think this material was introduced at that level?
  2. How specifically was it taught (methods and materials, for example)? Why, in your view, was it taught this way and was it effective for you
  3. What usage problems did you have in your own writing and how were they addressed? Why was this either helpful or not helpful?
  4. Have you ever had anyone comment on the way that you speak (either praising or criticizing)?
  5. How do you define grammar? (Give more than just a dictionary definition.) What is the difference between grammar and usage?
  6. What do you think is important to know about grammar/usage, and why?
  7. Is it important to teach grammar? Why or why not?
  8. What role does "error" play in our teaching of and attitudes toward grammar and usage?

Step Two Take questions 5-8 from Step One and revisit your initial answers to these questions. Add to your discussion of these points by contemplating on our discussions in class. Also, find at least two sources and incorporate that info into your answers. (And incorporate does include citing the sources using correct documentation style - your choice.) In other words, put some meat, detail into why you are making certain points in your discussion.

Step Three Now that you have thought about ways to define grammar and usage and about your experiences in these areas, including our experiences in class this semester, take this info and begin to write with an audience and purpose in mind. Your audience will be the Texas State Board of Education (refer to the Caller Times article), and your purpose is to argue whether you think grammar should be taught separately in a rote fashion or taught in the context of student writing. Use any and all info we have talked about/covered in class or any info that you have found to make your argument strong. In other words, you're not just summarizing info. Think about what you can say that will make the board want to listen to your views. Remember, they have already heard alot of stuff about this topic and they are pretty set on what they believe. (Same page length, etc. as above still applies.)

Step Four Before turning in your paper for the final grade, revisit the instructions regarding the audience and purpose for the assignment. Read through your paper as if you were that audience and see what you need to change/add to make your points clearer for that audience. Also, think about what your purpose is (try writing it down) and then ask yourself if after reading your paper the board members will get your purpose. Do final proofreading for editing work as well.

Grading Rubric for Paper #1(100 points/20% of final grade)

  • The length is appropriate.
  • Sufficient specific detail either as description, illustrations, or examples is used.
  • The paper has appropriate organization.
  • The paper reflects good editing (no grammar or spelling errors).
  • Student shows an understanding of grammar points examined during the semester and has made appropriate changes.

Paper Checklist
*Have you addressed the topic completely and clearly?

  • Have you addressed the audience?
  • Is it clear to the reader what your purpose is for writing this essay?
  • Can the reader follow and understand what you are trying to say?
  • Do you have specifics that help the reader connect to and understand what you are trying to say?
  • Do you provide a roadmap for the reader to follow so that the reader does not get lost?
  • Is the essay free of usage errors?
  • Have you incorporated the grammar principles you have learned to make your sentences stronger?