Will October Ever End?


Some days start out glorious, and go downhill from there.  Others stay pretty great.

We’re in the interminable time of year. That time from Labor Day to Veterans day when the hits just keep on coming, day after day without respite. As much as I like my students and my classroom, I’m getting tired! CELDT testing finally ended this week, which will be a relief. I was working without a prep period for the past several weeks, making sure all 233 English learners in our school got tested, and it’s taken its toll on my energy levels. I bet you were looking forward to hearing me complain, weren’t you? Well that’s it for now.

The first quarter is over already – how did that happen so fast? I wonder if we have enough routine to keep us organized, or have I completely undermined it with all my testing distraction? I think I haven’t done myself any favors in that regard but the beauty of a new quarter is we can start again. Fresh routines, nothing big to detract from them, until the next quarter ends and it’s vacation time. I always think vacation season starts on Veteran’s day and continues through February. All those president’s holidays and yeah. I’m getting head of myself here.

Last week I found some little “student books” of Daily Oral Language (DOL) prompts in a cupboard in my office. I’ve never seen these little guys before. I think they are pretty old. The paper isn’t yellow, but the concept of them is kind of old I think. DOLs are a grammar lesson program that I used when I first started teaching. I would put two sentences that had grammar errors in them up on the overhead. The students had to correct them and we’d talk about the errors. I thought it was a good way to give a daily shot of grammar without putting undue focus on it. Eventually, though, the DOL’s fell by the wayside.

I think that a highly trusted colleague thought they were not focused enough, and I could never really understand the other ones that she preferred, and so, feeling unsure of the rightness of what I was doing, I just quit doing them for a time. Then I think I read that someone thought it was a bad idea to put something that is wrong up before our students. That it would teach them wrong things. Then I went to the middle school where they were using some heinous grammar program put out by our textbook publisher and I gave up completely. I haven’t taught much grammar in recent years because it seems so futile. And boring. (TRUE CONFESSION)

I teach a little bit of it, okay? But really, I’m not going to try to teach some arcane grammar points that I don’t understand myself to seventh or eighth graders. I’m not. The thing is, I don’t understand a lot of grammar because I don’t care about it and I’m old and have had a successful career without it. I still remember my college professor who said that grammar is kind of like Trigonometry. It’s great if you like it, but not all that necessary if you don’t.

But now I have found a bunch of little student DOL books. They are so cute that I’m considering using them. I wonder if that is a bad idea, to use them because they’re cute. An archaic idea.  This guy thinks they are a really bad idea. I wonder if I care. I explain everything so thoroughly, that surely they won’t miss what is right and what is wrong. What do you think about this? Are you a grammar buff who likes to spread the word? Do you agree or disagree with the idea of student correcting grammatical errors in a sentence?  Is an exercise like daily sentence correction just a waste of class time?  I could use a little feedback on this while I’m making my decision. I think I know the answer…but they are so darn cute!

See you soon.


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