Tucson, AZ – May 31, 2011

English grammar can be tricky stuff. Students (and many adults) labor over the correct usage of “lie” and “lay,” as well as when to use “who” instead of “whom.” Yet, in this age of texting, does proper grammar still really matter? We all pretty much know what people mean, despite bad grammar, right? Does anyone still really care?

We would argue “yes,” and we are not alone. People who write and speak well are automatically treated with more courtesy and respect than people who demonstrate poor communication skills. Numerous studies show that the use of poor grammar in spoken and written statements reflects negatively on the speaker/author, and that people who use bad grammar are instantly perceived as less intelligent, less educated, less reliable, and less trustworthy than people who use proper grammar. Studying grammar can be deadly boring, but it’s an essential skill to master. The use of proper grammar becomes more important over time, and bad grammar is tolerated less as the perpetrators age.

According to ACT, professors rank grammar as the most important skill to attain for students entering college, while high school teachers feel grammar is the least important skill. The disconnect between these two differing views can have some very real consequences. Most college professors have a zero tolerance policy for bad grammar in their classes, and students are expected to articulate themselves properly in both their writing and speech. There are also countless stories of businesses who have lost lucrative accounts because of grammatical errors in their promotional materials or presentations; even a single error may cause clients to question the company’s attention to detail, their ability to perform, the quality of the product or service itself, and the company’s overall level of prestige in the marketplace. In short, the use of bad grammar puts the offender’s very reputation at stake.

The knowledge of proper grammar cuts across the curriculum, as it improves skills needed in all subject areas. The use of good grammar sharpens writing skills and helps students to craft clear, powerful prose. It also allows for better speaking skills; as the habit of clear communication becomes internalized, students become more attuned to what proper speech sounds like. Grammar is also an exercise in logical thinking, as students discern different parts of speech, their relationships, and how to refine them further. The enforcement of proper grammar in all subject areas, then, is important in order for students to learn and internalize the rules more quickly, and thus, more naturally.

This week’s Joann’s Picks column on the Gateway’s home page, www.TheGateway.org will feature a variety of resources that are enormously helpful in helping students to learn proper grammar. Peggy’s Corner presents ideas for emphasizing grammar in all subject areas instead of leaving all of the grammar learning to language arts teachers. In addition, we will be featuring many more grammar lessons, resources, and examples of grammatical errors on the Gateway’s Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/TheGateway.org) and Twitter (http://twitter.com/Gatewaytoskills) pages. Follow us on Twitter and Like us on Facebook so you don’t miss anything.

Discussions will continue on last week’s theme of Entrepreneurship on both pages. All of the weekly Gateway columns and resource selections are archived on the following blog site: http://thegatewayto21stcenturyskills.blogspot.com/.
Resources covered in this week’s columns include:

Writing Correct Website Content: A Guide to Grammar, Punctuation and Vocabulary
Subjects: Grammar
Grade: 3-12
English grammar can be very confusing, even to native speakers. Although this site is aimed at people writing for Web sites, this handy collection covers many aspects of English grammar that can cause confusion to students and adults alike. This index of resources was provided by eBizWebpages, a site that offers software and services to build Web sites. Hats off to Ben in Mrs. Hughes’ class at Monument Charter School for recommending this resource.

Creative Videos for Basic Grammar Concepts
Subjects: Grammar
Grade: K-2
In this lesson, students make videos to help enhance understanding of action verbs, pronouns, nouns, proper nouns, and adjectives. This resource is a product of Digital Wish, a non-profit that seeks to modernize K-12 classrooms and prepare students for tomorrow’s workforce. On the Digital Wish web site, teachers can create wish lists of technology products for their classroom. Donors then connect with their favorite schools and grant classroom wishes through online cash or product donations.

Bad Grammar
Subjects: Grammar
Grade: 8-12
This lesson uses a video parody of rapper Timbaland’s “The Way I Are”, and examines the bad grammar and slang used in pop music. Students will learn common terms like, “ain’t”, “got no”, and “we be”. They then discuss why pop songs often have bad grammar and spelling and also whether these terms are really all that bad. Be aware that the video does show a woman in lingerie; if you prefer, you can just use the printed lyric sheet instead of the video (included in resource). This lesson is offered by English Advantage, which offers lesson plans and activities for teachers of English as a second or other language.

About The Gateway to 21st Century Skills

The Gateway has been serving teachers continuously since 1996. It is the oldest publicly accessible U.S. repository of educational resources on the Web and the oldest continuously operating service of its kind in the world. The Gateway is sponsored by the National Education Association (NEA) and supported by over 700 quality contributors. The Gateway to 21st Century Skills is the cornerstone of the Global Learning Resource Connection (GLRC) which is a JES & Co. program.

About Joann Wasik- Author of Joann’s Picks

Joann is the Metadata Cataloger for The Gateway for 21st Century Skills. Her primary responsibilities for The Gateway include locating and cataloging standards-based K-12 lessons and activities for The Gateway, as well as writing the “Joann’s Picks” weekly column. Before joining The Gateway in 2006, Joann had been involved with numerous projects at the Information Institute of Syracuse at Syracuse University, including virtual reference with the Virtual Reference Desk (VRD) project; virtual reference competencies and education with the Digital Reference Education Initiative (DREI) project; and metadata cataloging with the Gateway for Educational Materials (GEM). Her previous experience also includes technology training and positions in academic libraries. She also conducts freelance research for business and educational clients. Joann holds B.A. and M.A.T. degrees in English from Boston College, and an M.L.S. degree from Syracuse University.

About Peggy James- Author of Peggy’s Corner

Peggy received her B.S. in Molecular and Cellular Biology from The University of Arizona, and continued on to earn her M.Ed. from the U of A as well. She has taught physical science and chemistry at the high school level. She is working toward her endorsement in Gifted Education, and has been actively involved in coaching and volunteering in Odyssey of the Mind and Academic Decathlon. She has a passion for teaching critical thinking and creativity in the classroom. She has done work writing, evaluating, and aligning lesson plans to standards as a curriculum consultant with the National Education Association Health Information Network. She is very excited to help create a collaborative environment for educators to discover new resources that will enhance their teaching!

About the GLRC

The Global Learning Resource Connection (GLRC) is a public-private collaboration which brings to fruition ongoing work between JES & Co., a U.S. 501(c)(3) education research organization, corporate sponsors and education agencies worldwide. Leading the initial corporate involvement are founding worldwide partners Microsoft, Cisco, Cengage/Gale, the National Education Association (NEA), and other leading corporations in process. The GLRC ties together several significant semantic web technologies developed through funding from the National Science Foundation and is designed to support cyber learning. The GLRC supports the implementation of the mapping of major collections of learning resources in systems around the world to the machine-readable expressions of the learning outcomes based on the Achievement Standards Network (ASN) modeling and technical framework. The work will implement the international linking of those resources through trans-jurisdictional mapping of learning outcomes by means of Semantic Web/Linked Data principles for teacher/learner access and use. For more information about the GLRC, contact Terry Smithson at TerryS@JESandCo.org or visit us www.JESandCo.org.

About JES & Co.

JES & Co., a publicly funded 501(c) (3) education research organization, is a leader in research and deployment of education programs based on open standards. With 20 years of experience in interoperability and portability of educational resources, organizations around the world come to JES & Co. for leadership and guidance on education programs and initiatives. Since its establishment in the early 1990s, JES & Co. has led and managed The Achievement Standards Network (ASN), The Partnership for 21st Century Skills, The Gateway to 21st Century Skills (formerly known as GEM), the Dell Academy, the Intel Student Certification Program, and Microsoft’s Partners in Learning. For more information about JES & Co. or the Global Learning Resource Connection, visit www.JESandCo.org.

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