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Teaching Grammar for Writing: Espoused Beliefs and Pedagogical Practices


Teaching Grammar for Writing: Espoused Beliefs and Pedagogical Practices Annabel Watson University of Exeter, UK aw260_at_ex.ac.uk The Grammar Wars Research ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Teaching Grammar for Writing: Espoused Beliefs and Pedagogical Practices

Teaching Grammar for Writing
Espoused Beliefs and
Pedagogical Practices
  • Annabel Watson
  • University of Exeter, UK
  • aw260_at_ex.ac.uk

The Grammar Wars
  • Research Grammar reviews insufficient quality
    of research (Andrews et al. 2006)
  • Politics perceived link between standard English
    and social cohesion (Clark 2005)
  • Policy UK Secondary schools saw grammar
    re-introduced re-framed with Literacy Strategy
    (1998) sentence and word-level objectives
    (revised 2008)

Beliefs and Practice
  • in the absence of uncontested conclusions about
    what constitutes good practice, teachers base
    instructional decisions on their own practical
    theories (Borg Burns 2008)
  • Context (Pajares 1992)

ESRC Grammar, for Writing?
  • Randomised Control Trial looking at impact of
    contextualised grammar teaching
  • 32 Schools
  • Qualitative study teacher interviews, student
    interviews, writing samples

Teacher (espoused) Beliefs
the practical application of rules In terms of
grammar teaching my heart sinks, in terms of
teaching children about language it doesnt
What is Grammar?
Its all about effects on the reader and have
you done that on purpose is it successful, if it
is you need to know how and why, and to be able
to articulate it, we need a common vocabulary
Value crafting and effect
I still panic a little bit about getting it
right generally with grammar Im quite
confident to teach it my confidence is less so
Concerns about LSK and PCK
Case Study Methods
  • 2 Teachers who opted-in from the original
  • 3 Interviews from the original project, coded
    into belief profiles participants commented on
  • Observed teaching a Writing scheme of work that
    they had created to a class of year 8 (7th grade)
    students for 9 hours (recorded and transcribed)
  • 1 Stimulated-recall interview asking them to
    explain their pedagogical decisions (using lesson
  • 1 Think-aloud protocol where they marked 2
    pieces of writing and offered comments on how to

  • Clare
  • Advanced Skills English Teacher
  • 3 city high schools (term-by-term)
    non-selective, co-educational, medium
    ethnic-diversity, medium SEN free school meals
  • Observed teaching one 7th grade class mixed
  • Teaches this class once a week for 3 hours each
  • Jane
  • English teacher in charge of A-Level English
  • School large, rural, non-selective,
    co-educational, low ethnic-diversity, medium SEN
    free school meals
  • Observed teaching two 7th grade classes Set 2
    Set 5
  • Teaches these classes 3 times a week for 1 hour
    each time

Participant History
  • Clare
  • Undergraduate Theatre Degree
  • Teacher Training GTP (on the job training,
  • 10 years teaching at secondary school level
  • Previously Worked at University / 2x colleges /
    2x schools in Performing Arts / Art / Drama /
    English / Psychology.
  • Jane
  • Undergraduate English American Studies Degree
  • Teacher Training PGCE (University-based)
  • 6 years teaching at secondary school level
  • Previously Only worked in this school. Was a
    Learning Support Assistant for 2 years before
    training to be a teacher.

Jane Healthy Body, Healthy Mind Writing to
Analyse / Review / Comment
  • WHAT
  • Genre focus
  • Teaches grammatical objectives as main aims e.g.
    understand key terms that help to describe and
    analyse language, such as word classes
  • HOW
  • Repeated pattern, consisting of
  • Explicit explanation of grammatical term / pupils
    write definitions
  • Pupil exercise identifying term (e.g. abstract
  • Analysis / annotation of text models for
    grammatical feature
  • Discussion of effects of the grammatical feature,
    linked to genre / purpose
  • Pupils write in the style of the text model
  • Speaking and listening activities debating issues
    from the texts analysed

Clare Inspirational Writing
  • WHAT
  • Creative / Personal Expression focus
  • Grammar (sentence variety) is a secondary or
    hidden objective in places
  • HOW
  • Repeated pattern, consisting of
  • Introduction and discussion of stimulus material
  • Students write
  • sometimes Teacher reference to sentence variety
    statement of effects
  • Revision of writing sometimes with attention to
    sentence variety
  • Peer / self-assessment of writing (initially
    focusing on gut reaction)
  • Stimulus material occasionally takes the form of
    a text model
  • One activity explicit language focus using
    inventive adjectives (e.g. the silver wind the
    flinty wind) included discussion of effects

  • Clare
  • Terminology dropped in and glossed by the
  • Grammar only raised in relation to students own
  • Limited use of models students write then
  • Teacher tends to state effects / recipe approach
    e.g. adverbs at the start of a sentence grab
  • Jane
  • Explicit teaching of terminology
  • Some decontextualised exercises (the grammar is
    put into context later)
  • Close analysis of text models always comes before
  • Extended open discussion of the nuances and
    effects of different words / sentence patterns in

Contexts School and Curriculum
Jane Tightly Controlled
I was asked to write a scheme that would span
about 12 lessons. I was asked to write a
non-fiction writing scheme, developing students
ability to analyse, review and comment, so I was
given those 3, that triplet
I was given the old-style objectives
Clare Loosely Controlled
Nobodys actually asked me what Im doing. I
dont know if (a) they cant be bothered or (b)
theyre jealous but they dont even ask me whats
going on in here. I could be teaching them French
I didnt want to think about objectives its
about them finding their own way there
Clare Rebellious / Individual
Jane Collaborative / Team
Im an art stroke music teacher parading around
as an English teacher
I wouldnt have chosen to do this, I would never
have done this, but thats what I was told, or
asked to do
I was a bit of a rebel really
we do teach students word classes
Im just really bored with the kind of stuff that
people do these days in secondary schools
(referring to earlier project) to be honest a
lot of the stuff that Ive done here is very
similar to the kind of stuff that we tend to
teach anyway
Youre not just some knobhead who comes in and
just gets a lesson off the system and just stands
there and delivers it. A monkey in a suit can do
Reflections on Pedagogy
Use of Models I couldnt expect a student to
write in a particular style if they hadnt had
any experience of it
Effects part of understanding is being able to
talk about the effect that it produces
Terminology I still do genuinely wonder how
useful it is for them to be given lots of
grammatical terminology which they dont really
seem to understand that was the objective. It
wouldnt have been my natural choice
Reflections on Pedagogy
Pedagogical Knowledge (Reflecting on the central
use of close analysis of text models before
students write) Im just trying to think of an
alternative approach there. What else could you
do? I dont know, I think maybe thats the way I
was taught, I dont know, was that the way I was
taught to teach? I dont know. I dont know why I
chose to do that.
Reflections on Pedagogy
  • Conceptions of Grammar
  • anything to do with creative writing is all based
    on grammar theyre taught rigorously how to
    correctly paragraph and use sentences

Need to Contextualise I havent got a problem
with grammar if it is taught within the context
of something.
Crafting after Ideas I would only approach that
kind of thing after theyve already thought about
it, theyve already used their imaginations, and
now its, it is a sort of recipe, its a tool to
help them get those ideas down in a more
sophisticated way
Reflections on Pedagogy
  • Affective factors / values
  • I wanna produce writers
  • The writing isnt about letters and newspapers,
    its about seeing something or experiencing
    something and you just wanna get it down on paper
  • Im teaching these kids the way I wish that Id
    been taught

Linguistic Subject Knowledge I wouldnt say that
my own knowledge of grammar is particularly good,
so Id just teach them what I feel comfortable
with and it seems, that that is enough
Time Resources (Interactive Whiteboard
Availability of ICT)
Linguistic Subject Knowledge Im not sure that
Id get the answers that Id want, and maybe I
wouldnt be confident enough to say youre
wrong or Im wrong School /
Department Youve got to toe the line you all
have to teach the same thing people become
Belief Change and Developing Pedagogy
  • its not essential to know the terminology
    because, as you could see from looking at the
    students work, some of them that hadnt
    understood the word classes could still do the
    task at the end
  • I wouldnt teach it in the same way
  • Its been really useful you being here because
    youve forced me to be much more reflective than
    I would normally be school life doesnt allow
    you time to reflect as much as youd like to

Implications teaching grammar
  • How grammar is taught is influenced by a range of
    factors linked to teachers beliefs, identity,
    and linguistic and pedagogical knowledge
  • How teachers position themselves in relation to
    the curriculum and their departments / schools
    how teachers learn from policy is closely
    connected to who they are (Stritikus 200349)
  • Wider educational aims and values
  • Different conceptions of grammar teaching
  • Uncertainty about the value of some aspects
    (particularly relating to terminology)
  • Teacher linguistic subject knowledge
  • Knowledge of the full range of pedagogical
    approaches to teaching grammar

Implications Beliefs Practice
  • Reciprocal development (about what and how to
  • Are affective aspects (Clare) more resistant to
    change? (Rokeach 1968)
  • Influence of high-control curricula and
    tightly-framed pedagogies (Lam Kember 2006)

  • Andrews, R., Torgerson, C., Beverton, S.,
    Freeman, A., Locke, T., Low,G., Robinson, A.,
    Zhu, D. (2006) The effect of grammar teaching on
    writing development. British Educational
    Research Journal 32, (1) 3955.
  • Borg, S. Burns, A. (2008) Integrating Grammar
    in Adult TESOL Classrooms. Applied Linguistics
    29 (3) 456482
  • Clark, U (2005) Bernsteins theory of pedagogic
    discourse Linguistics, educational policy and
    practice in the UK English/literacy classroom
    English Teaching Practice and Critique 4 (3)
  • Lam, B-H Kember, D. (2006) The relationship
    between conceptions of teaching and approaches to
    teaching. Teachers and Teaching theory and
    practice, 12 (6) December 693713
  • Pajares, F. (1992) Teachers' Beliefs and
    Educational Research cleaning up a messy
    construct. Review of Educational Research 62 (3)
  • Rokeach, M. (1968) Beliefs, attitudes, and
    values a theory of organization and change. San
    Francisco Jossey-Bass
  • Stritikus, T. (2003) The Interrelationship of
    Beliefs, Context, and Learning the case of a
    teacher reacting to language policy. Journal of
    Language, Identity and Education 2 (1) 2952

  • Thank You
  • Annabel Watson
  • University of Exeter, UK
  • aw260_at_ex.ac.uk
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