Thursday, November 20, 2014

Revision Decisions

During my career as a student, there was one topic that was sure to elicit a groan in my mind - anytime grammar was the focus of the day. Diagraming sentences? Parts of speech? Punctuation? I tuned out. I tried, I really did, but I just couldn’t remember all of the rules. And unfortunately, to me, grammar was tied to writing. Since I didn’t see myself as a strong student in grammar, I wasn’t a writer as well. This held true for many years, from childhood into adulthood. It wasn’t until my thirties, when I began to finally discover my love of writing, that I also began to understand some – just some – of the grammar rules that had eluded me for so long.

Jeff Anderson plays a large part in this transformation, thought he is unaware of his role. I saw Jeff speak for the first time about three years ago and was immediately on board. Whatever he was writing, I wanted to buy it. His energy and enthusiasm for the subject of grammar was catching. Grammar, fun? Yes, in Jeff’s world, an enthusiastic yes.

Imagine my excitement when I saw that Jeff had written a new book, this time with Deborah Dean. Revision Decisions: Talking Through Sentences and Beyond just came out this fall. I had read snippets in the past few weeks, but my plane ride to NCTE was devoted to devouring the remainder of the book. Here Jeff and Deborah teach us new ideas on revision, especially when looking at sentences. I love their approach. I love how I can lift some lessons right out of the book and use them in class tomorrow – or Monday, in my case. I know that I will be using their DRAFT lessons as we begin revising our NaNoWriMo drafts in December. Draft stands for:

·      Delete
·      Rearrange sentence parts/ chunks
·      Add connectors
·      Form new verb endings
·      Talk it out

This will help my young writers as they try to make sense of the stories they have been writing for the past month.

Jeff and Deborah have so many great lessons and insights, I think this is a book you just cannot miss. It is recommended for grades 4-10, but truly, there are nuggets of information to steal for grades below and above that range. Thanks, Jeff, for making me love grammar once again!