Presentation on theme: "Literary Imitation as Instruction: Using Examples of Grammar and Literary Elements from Literature to Empower Student Writing By: Kathy A. Carlson Summer."— Presentation transcript:
Literary Imitation as Instruction: Using Examples of Grammar and Literary Elements from Literature to Empower Student Writing By: Kathy A. Carlson Summer 2004
“Ms. Minifred liked wondrous words. She loved the beginnings of books and the ends. She loved clauses and adverbial phrases and the descriptions of sunsets and death.” -from Baby by Patricia MacLachlan -Used in Wondrous Words by Katie Wood Ray
Think about the quote from Baby. Isn’t it wonderful that Ms. Minifred loved “wondrous words”? Don’t you wish your students had such affection for clauses and adverbial phrases? And, wouldn’t it be great to walk into a classroom full of students begging you to teach them how to effectively use description in their writing to paint a clear picture for the reader?
Think and Discuss: What effect did this type of instruction have on your personal writing? What was language (grammar) instruction like for you as a student?
What do you think led to the fictitious Ms. Minifred’s love of language? Think of Ms. Minifred as one of your students. How could you use the love of language she has developed through reading to help her develop as a writer?
As we help shape student writing, it is important that we offer examples of what good writing looks like. Teaching students to read like a writer should be a goal in all literature classrooms. “Reading-writing connections have gone beyond written responses into actual craft apprenticeships in the writing workshop,” (Wood Ray, 1999).
“In order to gather a repertoire of craft possibilities that will help a writer write well, that writer first has to learn how to read differently, how to read with a sense of possibility, a sense of ‘What do I see here that might work for me in my writing?’ This is what reading like a writer means – to read with a sense of possibility.” (Wood Ray, 1999)
One excellent tool a teacher can impart to students is the idea that copying an author’s style is fine, as long as you allow that author keep the ownership of his words. We must understand that “writing is individual – [but] it is not unique” (Wood Ray, 1999). Writing style is often mimicked. This technique is especially useful in the classroom as students struggle to develop a piece of writing, but lack the sophistication of the craft to define their own style.
The use of literature as a tool for teaching grammar and literary language is one way of offering students models of excellent writing. As students learn the techniques good authors use in their writing, correct use of language and literary elements will naturally appear in student writing. This type of instruction will also help foster a natural love of language, such as that demonstrated by Ms. Minifred.
1)Introduce Language Poster. (In a classroom setting, this would be done throughout the year, with different aspects of grammar and literary elements being addressed through mini-lessons, read- alouds, and author’s chair. For this demonstration, small groups will focus on one aspect of the Language Chart and share findings with the entire class.) Activity:
2)Assign each group one aspect of the Language Chart, first concentrating on grammar/word usage. Using books provided, have group members find examples of how this aspect is used in literature. 3)Group members share their findings as teacher or designated student records information on Language Chart.
4)After all groups have shared their findings, each group chooses another part of the Language Chart to investigate. (Preferably groups will concentrate on a literary element or exceptional use of language for their second investigation.) 5) Allow group members time to locate examples of the grammar or literary elements in the books provided. 6) Again, each group shares their findings and teacher or designated student records information on Language Chart.
7)Discuss how grammar and literary elements are used in literature to improve writing. Using examples from the Language Chart, students compose original sentences incorporating correct grammar or literary elements. 8) Once students are familiar with using the Language Chart, invite students to share personal writing samples. As students share, classmates listen for examples to add to the Language Chart.
9) Students record information from the Language Chart onto individual sheets for writing notebooks. This can be used as a reference for future writing.
In a classroom setting, information on the Language Chart can be updated periodically, as students/teacher find more examples of good writing in literature or in student/teacher work.
The use of a Language Chart, tailored to meet the needs of individual classrooms, will help students recognize that authors (including themselves) use good conventions and rich language to enhance their writing.
Why use literature to help teach grammar and literary elements? After completing a two-year study of traditional grammar instruction, Roland Harris found that, “the formal teaching of grammar actually had an adverse effect on students’ abilities to write well” (Patterson, Voices in the Middle, 2001). A study by George Hillcocks in 1986 “concluded that there is no evidence that the teaching of grammar improves writing” (Patterson, 2001).
“Traditional grammar instruction is bound to fail because it is given without any real context…The classroom must now become the place where students become natural language users and learn grammar as part of the life of reading, writing, and speaking,” (Meyer, Youga, Flint-Ferguson, English Journal, p. 66, 1990).
Extension: As students become familiar with reading like a writer (as described by Wood Ray; Wondrous Words, 1999), other aspects of writing style can be highlighted. For instance, one might lead students to look at the use of letter texts, journal entries, or vignette texts to enhance writing.
Additionally, a close look at how authors use words to add dimension to text will help writers develop style in their writing. Some types of author craft you might want to examine with your students include: Close-echo effect (repetition of words or phrases very close together in the writing); Repeating details (used by writers to create a thread of continuity throughout a piece of writing); and, Re-say (repeating an idea immediately after it has been presented to add emphasis).
Examples (taken from Wondrous Words, Katie Wood Ray, 1999): Close-Echo Effect: Night in the Country (Cynthia Rylant, 1986): “There is no night so dark, so black as night in the country.” Water Dance (Thomas Locker, 1997): “I wind through broad golden valleys, joined by streams, joined by creeks.” Miz Berlin Walks (Jane Yolen, 1997): “Without missing a step, without missing a word…”
Repeating Details: The Relatives Came (Cynthia Rylant, 1985): Grapes are the repeating detail. They are “nearly purple enough to pick, but not quite” and “almost purple grapes,” and finally, at the end, “dark purple grapes.” Roxaboxen (Alice McLerran, 1991): The colors of the desert glass – “amethyst, amber, and sea- green” – are mentioned twice in the text.
Re-Say: Dreamplace (George Ella Lyon, 1993): “…and see for the first time across the trees, like a dream, like a sandcastle, this city the Pueblo people built under a cliff.” Baby (Patricia MacLachlan, 1993): Only Byrd looked happily satisfied, as if something wonderful, something wished for, had happened.”
Works Cited: Meyer, Jim, Jan Youga, and Janis Flint-Ferguson. (1990). Grammar in context: Why and how. English Journal, 79:1, Noden, Harry. (2001). Image grammar: Painting images with grammatical structures. Voices from the Middle, 8:3, Patterson, Nancy. (2001). Just the facts: Research and theory about grammar instruction. Voices from the Middle, 8:3, Wood Ray, Katie. (1999). Wondrous Words: Writers and Writing in the Elementary Classroom. Illinois. National Council of Teachers of English. Special thanks to Gretchen Bernabei for sharing her Rhetoric Poster, which was adapted for this presentation.
TEKS CONNECTIONS: Grades 2-English 4 Reading/fluency. The student reads with fluency and understanding in texts at appropriate difficulty levels. Reading/variety of texts. The student reads widely for different purposes in varied sources Reading/vocabulary development. The student develops an extensive vocabulary. Reading/text structures/literary concepts. The student analyzes the characteristics of various types of texts. Writing/grammar/usage. The student composes meaningful texts applying knowledge of grammar and usage. Writing/penmanship/capitalization/punctuation. The student composes original texts, applying the conventions of written language such as capitalization, punctuation, and penmanship to communicate clearly. Writing/evaluation. The student evaluates his/her own writing and the writing of others.
TEKS CONNECTIONS, Continued: Writing/inquiry/research. The student uses writing as a tool for learning and research. Writing/connections. The student interacts with writers inside and outside the classroom in ways that reflect the practical uses of writing. English 1, 2, 3, 4 Reading/literary concepts. The student analyzes literary elements for their contributions to meaning in literary texts. Reading/analysis/evaluation. The student reads critically to evaluate texts.