Extra-credit for Major Assignments II: (Grammar
Another of my students had major problems on her paper
with grammar. When she first entered my class, almost
every single one of her sentences had a grammar or spelling
mistake. She said that she was really angry and frustrated
with her grammar problems, but she did not blame her
past or previous instructors, and instead, took responsibility
for her own mistakes. She started an aggressive campaign
over a year to learn how to improve her grammar: she
reviewed every single paper she had produced since she
arrived at this school and reviewed papers that I had
commented on, and made a logbook of all of her errors:
the rule she broke, how she broke the rule, how she
could improve, and then she wrote the corrected version
of the sentence.
When I saw her a year later and viewed her paper for
a UH course, I was amazed. On each page, there were
only one or two errors, and very superficial ones. She
had not seen a tutor. She had not seen an instructor.
She had taken responsibility for her own errors.
After I give back the major assignment to you, I will
reward you with points if you perform the following
1. Look at the codes in the left-hand margin
(ranges from 1-9) that I have circled ON YOUR PAPER.
Look at your grammar textbook, any textbook, for example
sentences of the marking. Most grammar textbooks OF
ANY TYPE should have clear sections on grammar errors.
2. Look on my Grammar
Helper and Grammar
Sampler websites for explanations of what those
codes mean. Search down the rule.
3. Try your best to figure out, then WRITE
DOWN on a separate sheet of paper what grammar rule
4. Write down the rule.
5. Write down the incorrect sentence. Focus
on only 4 major improvements at a time. If you have
MANY ERRORS, be patient. Work on improving one step
at a time rather than bombarding yourself with 12 things
to work on. Start small.
6. Write down, to the best of your abilities,
the correct sentence. Staple it to your revised
essay. It is awesome when you can identify HOW
TO FIX the error for future essays and assignments so
that you don't do it again and again.
To be honest, this is the BEST and TRUE-TESTED method
of grammar improvement: Learning from your mistakes.
Studies show that hours after hours of mind-numbing,
spirit-crushing grammar quizzes and tests do not make
tremendous gains for the student, because those sentences
in the quizzes ARE NOT the sentences that you are using.
Example of a Log Entry for an error:
CODE 3: Fragment
Rule: Sentences have a Subject (S)
and a (V). If they are lacking either a S or a V, the
sentence cannot be a complete sentence and is known
as a fragment.
My sentence in my original paper:
I had a good time playing with my cousins at the barbeque.
Hearing my little cousin laugh.
The problem: In the second sentence,
I have a verb, "Hearing," but I don't have
the subject. If all I have is the -ing verb "Hearing,"
the reader forgets that "I" am the subject
in that sentence and it sounds awkward and choppy. I
might use a semicolon and put in "it was"
to create a full SUBJECT-VERB pairing.
The revision: I had a good time playing
with my cousins at the barbeque; it was especially fun
to watch my little cousin laughing.