Day 20 – Grammar Pseudo-Concepts

Hey team! This is the post for 3/24/2016.

*I’m trying a new thing where I add possible Twitter discussion questions. These are in blue. Feel free to post and answer them on Twitter!

Prior to class, you need to read chapters 1, 2, and 3 of Anderson’s Mechanically Inclined.

We started with a Grammar Pre-Assessment. We are all at different places with our knowledge of Grammar. Regardless of our understanding, we are expected to teach grammar. This assessment will be useful as it will help show what you need to work on. How did the pre-test make you guys feel? Was it easy or difficult? What does this tell you?

After that, we moved on to a discussion of the text. The discussion focuses on several main points.


  • Page 4 is the definition.
  • Pseudo-concepts provide a reason why students use grammar. Can you think of any pseudo-concepts you guys had in high school? 
  • This is like getting a paper with lots of grammar errors and, instead of marking it all over in red and failing it, you find a pattern and teach to the student.
  • Students are smarter than we think. They come with useful knowledge.


  • Page 11 is the definition.
  • Context gives meaning.
  • We need to use models, break things down, and reach multiple levels.
  • Context is connected to craft, audience, form, and meaning.
  • Worksheets don’t have context. Students don’t learn by just following directions/fixing sentences. These ‘errors’ are too simple. Students need sophisticated and authentic grammar.

Connors and Lunsford Errors

  • Page 7.
  • The text has varying terminology (restrictive elements vs. interrupters). Why is that?
  • Papers are a someone’s work. You can’t just tear it a part; that’d be devastating for a student. In our feedback about grammar, we need to focus on teachable moments or concrete patterns rather.
  • Bench shared Barb’s grammar grading strategy. Barb reads the first paragraph or so and identifies as many errors as possible. Then student’s look for how to fix these errors in that paragraph and the rest of the paper. This places more responsibility on the students. It’s also authentic; students need to know how to edit their own papers.

Mentor Sentences/Daily Doses

  • Pages 19-21.
  • Students should manipulate familiar sentences, interpret possible meanings, and learn new concepts/adapt previous concepts.
  • Anderson uses several strategies, such as Take Apart, Imitation, and Compare. Which one do you think is best? 
  • Mentor sentences in daily doses influence concept development by letting students figure out THE WHY, by moving beyond the rules, and connecting to prior knowledge.
  • Anderson was in the middle about technical langauge. What do students gain? What do they lose? It seems use is based on class/student.

Practice time! We read a college application essay and looked at patterns of error and possible pseudo-concepts. Here are a few examples of what we covered.

  • Commas after random words (“I pause when I talk, so I have to put a comma there…right?”)
  • Commas when talking about two things (“If it is more than one thing, then it is a list, and lists have commas.”)
  • Semicolons (“I need to separate these things, but I don’t really know how. It’s not a period, so I just used a semicolon!”)

We also looked at Benko’s response. This is a good model for feedback! She highlights step positives, lists the types of mistakes, and then teaches. She also includes links to outside resources and has mentor sentences.

Looking ahead, you guys need to read Anderson’s chapter 4 and Section 1 of Part II: The Sentence. This is grammar heavy. To help, here are some grammar links that can supplement your understanding.

The Punctuation Guide

Grammar Infographic

I also HIGHLY recommend the handouts from our Writing Center. These handouts are currently being updated (so not all of them are available on the WC website), but here are two examples: Commas (my personal favorite) and Articles (which isn’t something from Anderson’s text, but is really good for ESL).

Hope this helps!



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