March 2, 2009

Today's Forecast: Sunny and Boring

My daughter's phone call comes early. I listen carefully to her voice. Today's voice is laughing, sunny and bright—a perfect barometer for her world. This heart disease of hers came on suddenly and knocked us all flat for several weeks. In those early days, her voice would be a whisper, a spectral representation of the shock and chaos that had rocked her world. Although it's a day-to-day (moment-to-moment?) process working with peri-partum cardiomyopathy, today's forecast is for bright skies.

Now that she's settled, I head to today's task: straighten out the Grammar Groups. I teach a developmental English course at our local community college, the class that my 80-year old mother calls Dummy English. I laugh every time she says this because I am the dummy when it comes to teaching grammar. So I found a book which I think was recommended on the Two Teachers' site, about teaching grammar to elementary school children. After reading through it, I feel less in the dummy category (although I have re-written the above sentence about ten times, trying not to embarrass myself in this community of writers!). I can talk for days about fluidity, coherence, transitions, structure, but sentence-level errors--where most grammar errors take place--are harder to discuss and teach effectively, memorably.

I set up the sign-up sheets, decide which of the multiple errors seen in my students' papers I wish to cover, and start assembling tips and ideas and guidelines for each grammar group. Today I plan to assemble packets for them to present their chosen concept, and help them formulate a writing exercise for each student to work on in their writing notebooks.

I think I can tackle the reorganization of this Grammar Beast, but I find myself carrying on a conversation with the K-12 teachers, cheering them, encouraging them to teach those grammar concepts. I love working with those students who already have the skills, who "get it."

I wish I could say my slice of life may be different this afternoon, perhaps a little more esoteric, heart-gripping or dramatic, but I think I'll spend the day being boring, as sometimes it's nice to only worry about fragments, run-ons and adjective strings.

P.S. The book is "Mechanically Inclined" by Jeff Anderson.


  1. As long as you know the rules, you can break 'em.

    I've never had anyone in the SOLSC judge me on my punctuation use. Don't sweat it!

    Glad you're part of this growing community.

  2. I would love a good "boring" day just for lesson planning, for really strengthening my understanding of a particular topic. I loved your slice, and my thoughts are with you, your daughter and your family.

  3. What a great attitude for a 'boring' day. Thanks for sharing.


  4. Today I taught the use of hyphens since so many of my kids were trying out things in their writing without knowing the why and the how-to well enough. "Oh, that is why we use a hyphen, how is it different from a dash?" they asked. I'm glad that they are interested enough to know the difference and ask for clarity.

    I will say a prayer and send a blessing for your daughter.

  5. I also teach at the community college level. Welcome!