Sunday, May 13, 2007

Bring on the Workbooks

The news from Florida is not good, at least where grammar is concerned. We read this in the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel:
This year's FCAT results show that many of the same students who write essays well struggle with grammar. But that doesn't mean English teachers are going to turn into the grammar police.

For Broward students to improve on next year's exam, schools must resist the urge to do grammar drills, said Anita Plummer, language arts specialist for the Broward School District.

"It's very tempting for teachers to pick up a workbook," Plummer said. "[But] you can't teach writing via workbook. It has to come from kids developing their own ideas."
Pardon us, but this is absurd. What has this teacher got against workbooks? Do math teachers say the only way to teach kids math is to go out and have them design and construct their own buildings? Of course not. They start with simple problems and work their way up.

Of course kids need to spend time developing and honing their ideas. This is even more important than grammar. But they should only be asked to focus on one thing at a time. Workbooks -- which can be fun -- allow them to focus solely on grammar. After a bit of that, they can then turn their minds to more esoteric work.

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