Saturday, September 4, 2010

Jeff Anderson is...The Write Guy!

I just met Jeff Anderson Tuesday and I can say with confidence that he is not just "the write guy," he is the right guy to teach me when it comes to grammar and mechanics. After reading the first half of his book, Everyday Editing and perusing his lesson ideas I am in love with his routine for teaching.

I am a question kind of teacher. I ask questions all the time of my students, because I don't ever want to just tell them something they already know and I also want to know what misconceptions they have about their learning. The first question Jeff asks when teaching a grammar lesson is, "what do you notice?" He calls this an "invitation to notice." Everyone loves being invited to do something, it is less threatening and choice is involved in the outcome. He uses this idea of inviting as a way to create a relationship with his learners and create a safe environment. Once students have shared what they notice in his example sentence, a "mentor sentence," he validates their idea and extends their learning. He challenges them to do the work, he does not tell them why a comma is where it is or other editing marks. The following day he asks students to imitate the sentence. When he was teaching teachers, at the conference I attended, he had us notice and imitate a serial comma. Jeff asked that we imitate the sentence using our own adjectives and ideas but with the same pattern. This activity led me to write a poem later because it conjured up images and got me, as a writer, going! I was amazed that just by imitating a sentence I was unable to get the ideas to stop running my brain. The following day he celebrates students success with the activity and students are able to share.

Jeff's book goes in to much more detail on further ideas and invitations to write. I love this concept and was never so excited about grammar and editing in my life. I wish I knew this information when I was in college, maybe my ideas would have been clearer instead of constantly needing to figure out why mistakes were mistakes. Jeff sees mistakes as an opportunity for learning, not good exercise for a red pen (or any color pen for that matter). A mark on your paper is a mark, disrupting the work of the writer instead of teaching the writer.

1 comment:

Stacey Barnoskie said...

I teach 7th grade in a school that uses MRI--Missouri Reading Initiative--meaning all of the teachers use reading and writing workshop. Jeff's books have been a life saver on teaching grammar and mechanics. If you liked Everyday Editing, you will love Mechanically Inclined... it has even more lessons and explanations. I'm also convinced that his process of teaching helped my students to score better on the state-wide testing. I'm very jealous you got to meet him! :)