Teaching Grammar for Next Year

Here is a question about what to do about teaching grammar when the kids will have to matriculate next year to a grammar teacher:

What resources would you recommend for teaching grammar? It’s nearing the end of the year and part of me wants to switch gears and give students some explicit grammar instruction in these last few weeks. I’m feeling a little tired of OWI’s and ICI’s. Plus, many of them are complaining that I don’t teach this and they want to know/seem ready for this knowledge.

Yeah you are right to go to grammar. Every year there is nothing wrong with telling the kids that in March or at the latest April they will be doing grammar to end the year to honor the demands that the next level teachers will expect. 

I suggest doing 6/7 months of the Star and 2/3 months of spring months for grammar. Once they have done that much with stories for six months, the grammar is much easier, ridiculously so, to teach and they grasp everything so much faster.

Some years I like to divide the year into 2 or 3 months of tableaux/stories and then 3 or 4 weeks of grammar. They hate it, but it keeps you from having to teach all the grammar at the end of the year and it also keeps everyone from getting burned out on the Star activities, which is hard to do but does happen. 

When you keep doing the same thing, tableaux and stories, the kids start taking them for granted, not thinking of the alternative that faces them in grammar worksheets. Well, slam them with the grammar anyway. Make them appreciate what they have in tableaux and stories.

When you mix the grammar in once every three months for three uninterrupted weeks, they just hate it –  it jolts them into awareness and appreciation for the CI. Otherwise they get spoiled. But since they have to eat grammar sandwiches all next year with their new teacher, you might as well teach them how to eat the sandwiches no matter what they are filled with. 

I’m very proud of you for handling those kids’ rudeness this past year with bravery. It is something that all teachers must find in their professional demeanor. Yes, allow the kids to be funny and friendly but they should never be allowed to cross the line into friendship. Always react immediately with parents when a kid, in even the slightest way, crosses that line. If there was ever any truth to the expression “nip it in the bud” this is where it has its greatest truth. But really, good on you for meeting and fighting back to those kids who have been allowed in your school and by parents to speak to you that way. You fought back and now you can rest and do some grammar and never see those kids again and start fresh in the fall with stronger lines around you.

For the remaining weeks, I would, myself, just be waiting to pounce on any comment from those boys that crosses the line, even when you are doing grammar. I would be like a tiger ready to pounce. As soon as an inappropriate comment happens from now on, I would stop and look at the offending kid and say, “Why do you think we’re doing grammar right now? Yes, it’s partially because your teachers next year want it, but the real reason is because of comments like you just made. I don’t ever want to be put in the kind of situation that I was in with you this year where you for some ungodly reason actually think it’s ok to talk to a teacher like that, and make those comments.” Then go back to the grammar lesson. Those kids really need to hear that from a teacher bc in your school’s culture it sound like you have A Lord of the Flies situation. I’ve been in schools like that. 

Be ready next year for some anger from the kids when you take a break from the CI and do the three weeks of grammar, bc they really try to derail it when they see that class is not fun anymore. They check out. Keep to your guns. I do recommend the three or four weeks of grammar every three or four months over the end of the year barrage. Keep to your guns! They will be broken next year anyway. 

What is sad is that the grammar teachers next year think that they have a right to request that you teach the grammar, that that is the way of goodness and rightness in your school. But they are pathetic hangers-on to a failed legacy in our profession and need to be the kicked out of it bc they don’t align with anything. It’s like allowing surgeons to cut off legs like they did in the Civil War because they don’t have the modern tools in medicine like we do now. We have the tools, and these fool grammar teachers keep on cutting off legs.

As far as what exactly to use to teach the grammar I recommend for French Eli Blume’s “Deuxieme Livre” which lays out the entire French grammar system in incredibly clear detail with fill in the blank activities and it’s just a marvel. 50 year old book. I think there is a Spanish version but not sure. 

Just don’t get into using a textbook bc they don’t really teach grammar in a clear and mechanical way; they just confuse everyone with stupid pictures and all sorts of messy chapters. Keep the grammar simple. I wouldn’t even use a book, really. Just start in with the verbs and then the preterite then the pronouns, you know the deal. 

BUT DO NOT spend even one minute on preparing those classes. Ask the next level teachers for some of their worksheets. They will be proud to know such a serious teacher. Insert any quote from Le Petit Prince here.



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