I think the best ways to teach grammar, particularly to older kids, are those teachable moments that arise, or as mini-lessons designed to aid students with their reading and writing assignments. Grammar lessons are generally boring and repetitive and no amount of instruction or practice will make learning grammar rules easier if they’re not tied in to something meaningful.
Anderson has a good idea with her ‘Bedhead’ example and in Rule #2 of her Freewriting Rules! Students playing around and experimenting with the grammar and punctuation in short texts can help they learn how changing a piece of punctuation can change meaning.
I love the idea of using W-RNs but Ming and Doug make excellent points. If students need them in class and forget them at home they may miss out on writing that day. That problem can be corrected if the notebooks never leave the room but then students will not be able to write in them outside of class where they may be doing most of their reading and writing.
To me the greatest benefit of the W-RN is that is a place were students can collect all of their thoughts and notes and have it for easy reference. Rief’s example W-RN is one I’d like to use. Students use just the one notebook for their journal entries and notes on important lessons.
Good writing is a developed skill that takes much practice and a W-RN is a good place for students to practice and feel safe and not be judged or graded on the quality of their writing.
No, high school is not tool late to start. From my experience most high schoolers have had very little practice writing for anything other than assignments. Since most of those assignments have steps to follow students haven’t had a chance to experiment and develop their own style and creativity. I think we read this last week about teachers being able to predict students’ test scores, and I’m sure teachers for the most part know what they’ll be reading before they pick up a paper.
The W-RNs can be used for all classes, not just English. I plan to incorporate writing assignments into my ENG or LA classes that have students writing their way through problems they encounter in their other classes.