Having taught for 15 years, this is not the first time I have heard of "new standards". Typically the "new" part is not so new but just a different organization or packaging of the same old thing. However, this time it was different.
I sat in that room watching this video when all of a sudden it was right there on the screen:
"There are no standards or competencies for grammar included anywhere in the new standards. Grammar should never be the primary focus of instruction. Instead, grammar should be taught judiciously using an inductive method."
When I heard this, I felt free...and also a little stressed. For the last 7 years I have slowly moved away from the grammar-based classroom. While most of my colleagues spend 80-90% of instructional time on grammar, I was down to about 50% and still felt it was too much. I held steady there though because I was afraid that it would hurt my students as they moved on to these other teachers and classes that emphasized grammar.
I felt free because, to me, this was permission to continue reducing the formal grammar instruction that I knew did not make my students fluent. I felt like I had been given this gift of time, a rare and valuable resource, all wrapped up with a bow. As I looked at the faces of my colleagues, I could see that they did not feel like this was a "gift" at all, and within seconds the outrage began...
"What do you mean no grammar? How will they write? How will they know how to conjugate verbs?"
I also feel this stress because with the gift of time comes the need to make that time constructive and productive. It means that there are units of instruction to be developed, authentic resources to be found, and things for ME to learn too.
So, I decided to start where any logical teacher would start, at the end. So, I spent hours sorting these standards into themes, identifying what my students would need to be able to do and what they needed to know to do it. I put together a series of Integrated Performance Assessments to assess them in all different modes of communication (interpretive reading, interpretive listening, interpersonal speaking, presentational speaking, and presentational writing). Then, I sorted the usable lessons that I already had into these same themes.
CLICK HERE TO SEE SOME EXAMPLES OF MY INTEGRATED PERFORMANCE AND PROFICIENCY ASSESSMENTS.
There is so much work left to do, but I AM GOING FOR IT! I am going to have students that can SPEAK Spanish. Someday, if I do a good enough job, I may never have to hear "I took Spanish in high school and I don't remember anything" ever again! Wouldn't that be a glorious day?
What are your success stories with losing the focus on grammar in your classroom? Tell us by leaving a comment below!