This is a guest post written by Lower School Assistant Department Chairs, Michelle Schulze and Jessalyn Crawford

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How many times have you hit “send” on an electronic message that has been “autocorrected” and ended up saying something entirely different from the intended message?

We are living in the digital age of autocorrect and spellcheck yet, most likely, we have all had these experiences where autocorrect and spellcheck just did not produce the message that we intended.

When we take the time to write a message, we want our writing to communicate a specific thought or idea in a certain way. When there is an absence of correct writing conventions or mehcanics, messages often become misconstrued. For example:

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At Ravenscroft, we recognize the importance of writing conventions and mechanics in children’s writing and are teaching grammar concepts in authentic and developmentally appropriate ways at each grade level.

We are excited to highlight how grammar instruction is taking place in Lower School and to share how we are aligned with what current research says about the most effective ways to teach grammar.

Like spelling, there are many grammatical rules to be internalized. For decades, both spelling and grammar rules were expected to be memorized through rote practice in contrived writing. For some students, this approach works well, but for many, when the conventions and mechanics of writing are taught in isolation, the application is slow going.

There has been a paradigm shift in how we teach students grammatical rules. Yes, we still firmly believe that students need to be taught the definitions of parts of speech, rules of capitalization, and punctuation, just as students need to be taught spelling patterns. This “frontloading” is still a key component in our writing instruction.

Research on effective writing instruction states that the best way to make these important writing conventions and mechanics relevant for our students is through reading quality literature and applying the concepts in their own writing. Showing students how mentor writers use grammar empowers them as authors of their own writing to play with language and conventions to communicate their ideas precisely and intentionally.  

As you can see in the videos, it is a priority in our writing workshops to make grammar instruction meaningful. We sing about it, act it out, look for examples in the books that we love, and apply what we know in our own writing. We make it fun and relevant.

The best way to reinforce this learning at home is to read together often and talk about the language moves that some of our favorite authors use. THEN, our young writers will be able to make similar moves on their own.

As you support your own child with writing, you may enjoy this resource from the National Council of Teachers of English: Help Your Child with Writing.

When our children effectively share their thoughts and ideas in writing, they have the power to change their world. We will continue to provide authentic and purposeful learning experiences during our writing workshops in Lower School so our writers can thrive in school and beyond!

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