Now I know exactly what they each need to focus on
Last week, I gave each student a sticky note and asked each of my students to write their top one or two grammar or conventions issues they struggle with on a regular basis.
I suggested, “Y’know… those things that you always have to look up on Google or wherever… those things that you continue to stumble with.”
As for me, I struggle with the difference between lay and lie. It always makes me stop to Google up Grammar Girl or some other such website. For whatever reason, I just have to look it up every time. I also struggle sometimes with commas between certain coordinate adjectives.
Anyway, I wanted my students to tell me what they struggle with in particular. Knowing their problem areas will help me plan mini-lessons over the next few months.
Without further ado, here are the top grammar issues my students struggle with followed by the number of students who reported the particular item listed:
- Semicolons (18)
- Run-on sentences (6)
- Commas in dialogue (4)
- Hyphenated words (4)
- Commas inside or outside of quotation marks (3)
- Commas in a series (The Oxford comma) (3)
- Than vs. Then (2)
- There/They’re/Their (2)
- John and me versus John and I (Subject vs. object pronouns); (2)
- Where vs. were (2)
- When to use single quotation marks (1)
- Capitalizing Dad vs. my dad (1)
- Affect vs. effect (1)
- To/Too/Two (1)
- Apostrophes in possessive case (1)
- When to paragraph (1)
- Semicolons vs. colons (1)
- Commas before who or which (1)
- Parenthetical citations in MLA style (1)
When I have only one student struggling with, say, run-on sentences, I’ll be able to help them individually during one-on-one conferencing time when we do Writer’s Workshop. For other issues that a few or several students mentioned, I can plan to address those in mini-lessons.
And here’s another thing: some students may not even know they are struggling with a particular issue. For example, I know that more than six students struggle with run-on sentences. I see this issue all the time in many students’ drafts. So, as useful as this list is, I also possess my own knowledge about my students’ problem areas… whether they know about those problem areas or not.
Still, I’m glad I have this list. My copy contains the problem area(s) next to each student’s name. I can reference it continually to recall who needs to work on what. To make sure I remember to teach each of these issues, I’ve decided to enter them into my plan for future class periods in my lesson plan calendar on Planbook.
Eventually, my idea is to know without a doubt that I’ve addressed each student’s particular grammar problems. That will be a good feeling.
Thanks for reading again this week! How do you keep track of exactly what each student needs special help with? Become a follower of this site to receive emails when I publish a new post. Also, feel free to share your comments and ELA teaching experiences.