Day 21/22 -A Nonrestri-What?

Here’s what did in preparation for and on Tuesday and Thursday (11/1 and 11/3):

-We needed to read Chs. 1-3 of Anderson if we were in our little old room in RB – if you were at Northside, you needed to have your questions ready to go to ask your student!

-Our Google Doc for the week was essentially the quiz that Benko didn’t give (at least the first table that we got through).

-Benko said that Anderson makes grammar rigorous and intellectual, but approachable and safe, so if grammar isn’t necessarily your thing, don’t be afraid!

-Perhaps one of the most important concepts from the non-quiz is the idea of pseudoconcepts, which we all pretty much defined (thanks to Anderson for being super specific about this, and if the person who owned your book before you highlighted it, great! To this, Erin had the following to say: “Anybody’s who’s read Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince has to buy their books used.”) as budding concepts based on initial impressions that are often misapplied. Schema theory can also be applied to the idea of pseudo-concepts!

-Benko didn’t ask this in the non-quiz, but think about this: how is Anderson’s idea of context similar to the idea of mentor texts?

This article from The Atlantic does a good job of talking about teaching grammar in context, and it ends with a great quote that Anderson would agree with: “If 30 years later, you or your child is still being taught grammar independent of actually writing, it is well past time to demand writing instruction that is grounded in research rather than nostalgia.” 


-Dr. Benko and I tagteamed to describe nonrestrictive and restrictive elements, as we were deciding which errors from the list we knew and didn’t know. This website helped me understand the difference, or you can think back to my picture of the man stealing the windchimes, if you were there for that! (“The man who stole our windchimes walked by our house everyday” vs. “The man, who stole our windchimes, walked by our house everyday.”)

-Benko also said that her favorite thing about Anderson is that students have reasons for making the errors that they’re making; we can can apply the idea of pseudo-concepts to other ideas, too, if we have concepts in mind that we misapply (e.g., misapplying mentor texts).

-We came back as a large group briefly on each day, and on Tuesday, Emily pulled from Anderson, talking about how looking at specific sentences works as context for grammar. Essentially, we should aim for authentic context when possible – avoid worksheets  and try to pull sentences from things our students are actually reading.

-And should we ever mark all errors? NO! Students can only hold on to so much, so we should look for patterns when thinking about what to address.

-We then looked at the sample essay from Dr. Benko’s nephew, specifically at how commas were used so we could identify pseudo-concepts. With this real example, it really became apparent to us that students KNOW things – pseudo-concepts are not a matter of deficits, but the mistakes start to make sense when we know what the student may have been thinking.

-Often grammar is taught as rules, but don’t forget the WHY? Why does it not make sense? Why is it confusing to the reader when the comma is used in the middle like in the sample essay?

-While we had time on Tuesday to discuss other details from Anderson, we didn’t on Thursday, so for Thursday people, we also discussed whether or not we need to burden students with technical terms. Can’t we just say interrupter instead of nonrestrictive element? Anderson would say we can use interrupter, especially because this book is geared towards middle grades, because it serves as a way to remember the function, but people like the magnficient Dr. Vercellotti might argue otherwise. With technical terms, we have to remember the term and the meaning, which can make grammar more difficult for students sometimes, so Emily agreed with Anderson and said that the technical terms can come later. Thursday people also smartly pointed out that, for us, “When you’re a good reader, you naturally pick things up,” but you don’t always have the grammar language to label things.

-Finally, on writer’s notebooks – Alyssa (on Tuesday) loved the idea of it as a playground, you can TRY THINGS; playfulness works as a place to practice without risk. On Thursday, we wondered whether we could have writer’s notebooks that have two parts – parts that are Gallagheronian and Andersonian.

Thinking ahead:
-Read ch. 4 of Anderson, as well as section 1 called “The Sentence” (all of it)!
-Northside reflections are due on Tuesday – CITE WIDELY!


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