By Kristina Ford
In the wake of the new state test (EOC/STAAR), students are being commanded not only to write three coherent essays in four hours, but also to employ effective syntax, diction, grammar, and punctuation in their writing. It’s a brilliant ideal that, in reality, more than half of ninth grade students across the state are struggling to meet. The question that surfaces, then, is why are so many students unable to write effectively? And, how can teachers help these struggling students gain the confidence and skills to write well? Most teachers know that in order for students to become good writers, they also need to be good readers. But to become both a good writer and reader, students must understand the basic foundations of the English language: grammar. Grammar—from the basic parts of speech, syntax, diction, to tenses— advances writing, speech, and reading comprehension. It is the building blocks of language, just as DNA is the building block of life; without understanding grammar, we will struggle to understand and correctly employ the English language. Unfortunately, grammar remains a component of English Language Arts curriculum that has been divested and neglected, perhaps because its importance and relevancy has been overlooked and devalued for too many years. But as teachers, we can change that by beginning to weave grammar back into the curriculum. And this grammar unit attempts to do just that.
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