my composition and rhetoric blog.
fall 2002.


do we HAVE to learn grammar, Miss Priebe?


:::october 22, 2002- 12:27am::: Elsie Rogers

Someone else blogged about having Elsie 'speaking' to her.. and I agree. (I am nodding.) She brings up exercises I had never thought of (need to get one OR MORE of the books she mentions at the end) using in my high school classrooms or even right now. I was always TELLING my kids that grammar could be fun, but the exercises I had were not welcomed by all once they saw through me and saw that it WAS GRAMMAR (ugh.. big moans in the crowd and I would laugh). I still can't understand why grammar is taken the way it is. Is it because it is associated technically with math-like methods.. is it because it is viewed as un-imaginative? Sure, I had a 7th grade teacher that POUNDED grammar into us.. pages and pages of this small blue book to take home and dissect sentence after sentence, BUT I started to understand through that pounding AND enjoyed taking apart every word- what was it doing in that sentence. Maybe that's why it doesn't scare me. Mr. Peterson, the other teacher at Battle Lake where I taught, wouldn't teach it.. but I thought, YOU ARE teaching it when you teach them how to write better, SILLY! I DO, on the other hand, think that in order to become a better writer, don't just learn a freaking handbook full of rules, you have to WRITE. So, when it comes to teaching grammar, one must integrate it (like writing) to HOW this grammar STUFF will help them. Everything needs to have a connection to students. I know I come up with my own all the damn time, but students, sometimes, need it laid out for them. HER exercises DO THAT.

I highlighted a LOT of quotes and sentences from this essay. AND I came up with my brainstorm below (I love when I have epiphanies!). A few that I need to elaborate on:

=The section that talked about WARMING UP: I need to do that AND, I need to stick that to my students too. We practice math equations and throwing a football in football practice, but many students just sit down and WHAM, upchuck a paper in an hour. No, rarely can that happen with a great paper being puked up in the aftermath. Warm-up. Again, this goes for me too.

=Experimentation. I think enough has been said there. (Leave the drugs at home, blindfold yourself, and start typing= see what comes out... I still haven't done this. Need to some day. It'll probably shock me.)

:::october 23, 2002- 12:34pm::: Grammar of Choice

"Teachers and their students would appreciate how inextricably bound up with being human grammar is." Again, (I feel like I am repeating myself) grammar has this connotation or reputation of being horrible (almost more painful than a dentist visit) to learn. Once I discovered how, yes, bound up being human is with grammar... with the way we talk, with the connections our speech makes with what we are really trying to say, with our language.. we base our lives on our perspectives of what happens to us, and how do we deal or communicate those perspectives- experiences, etc? Through words.. speech.. grammar.

Three broad categories- attitude, power, and identity. I hadn't realized how broken down sentence structure could be taken. There are many sub-categories listed. Politeness: "May I go to the bathroom?" vs. "Can I go to the bathroom?" Also that instance has a lot to do with ability.. can you 'go'? Tact: My sister and Katey say that they are 'tactful bitches' compared to Katey's oldest sister who is just simply a 'bitch'. Deference seems to maybe not be in my lifestyle. Both sentences/invitations are ones I would use and probably get the same response. I highly doubt people would catch on to which one is more presumptuous, etc. Importance comes into place, I've noticed, when I list people in sentences. Some people, who get thrown into the list lastly, get upset even though I wasn't even thinking of an order of importance. That is just one small area I have noticed it in, however. Identity and personality: In Salting's class, we've discussed how the words we use shape how people view us.. identity (my o's connect me to Fargo/ND/Midwest) and personality= I think the fact that I use words and language to have fun in the classroom and in my 'normal life' shows that I am an overall goofy person that knows my language well. That whole notion of 'once you know the rules, you can break 'em' probably fits there. Plus, I guess I have to associate it all with the drunk stupids sometimes or the fact that I will inherit my father's ability to stutter everytime I get excited about telling a story, etc.

Why It Makes Sense to Teach Grammar in Context and Through Discourse.

Utterances and having meaning behind that utterance: My sis and I always complain, to a certain degree, about friends of ours who call us without really having a reason to talk.. just to shoot the breeze. We think it bothers us (some people this does not bother we've noticed) because they have little meaning behind anything they need to tell us. Alisa and I communicate to others to entertain and to inform. Rarely do we bullshit with others without having some entertainment value behind it. Sounds strange, but we are strange sisters. So, when I get on the phone with someone, it's "I need to know this etc etc and thank you and see you soon.".... I can only have pointless conversations (well, they aren't pointless but maybe just 'catching up' conversations) with close friends of mine that are far away. BUT EVEN THEN I am out to entertain them with stories of what is happening in Fargo, with me, and with whatever I am up to. I always end up laughing in these conversations, and they also fit under the informative area.

The information found in this essay was... overwhelming. I hadn't realized that just certain words (or word sequence) could change a sentence's meaning so much.

Grammar in the Second Language Classroom: An Ever-Changing Role.

Emily mentioned skimming some of her material. So this one I will since I am not as interested in Second Language as I am sentence structure, grammar, and conversational linguistics. NOT to say it isn't important, though!!


...exercise in one-syllable paragraphs...



2002 by Sybil Priebe My Homepage

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Brainstorm from reading Elsie: Have assignments in categories ever week. Something they have to READ, something they have to try to SEE, something they have to WRITE, and something involved with TECHnology. Will try to incorporate that into next spring and DEFINITELY next fall.