This post is part of a series relating to the Minimum Standards for Grammar and Punctuation in the NAPLAN tests. For the first post in this series, click here.
The most effective way to teach students how to use grammar and punctuation correctly is to get them reading and writing. Through this reading and writing, teachers are able to provide constructive feedback and targeted instruction to help students develop. There is no way to effectively ‘teach to the test‘ that will improve the school’s NAPLAN results. As such, these posts are not intended to be worked through with a class.
What are they for?
If you can’t teach to the NAPLAN test, why write about the minimum standards? The school has identified improvement in the Grammar and Punctuation section of the NAPLAN test (particularly at Year 9 level) as a goal. The school has also, correctly, stressed that teaching grammar and punctuation is a whole school issue. However, if teachers do not have a solid grasp of the rules of grammar and punctuation and their application then they will be unable to help their students.
If reading and writing are the key to improving grammar and punctuation, why focus on NAPLAN’s minimum standards? The reason I am using the NAPLAN minimum standards is because they form a good starting point to the vast area of grammar and punctuation. I am certainly not using them because they form a comprehensive curriculum – if you have been following the posts, many of the standards are not covered in the example tests and many of the questions are not looking at rules from the standards. They do, however, cover a range of basic grammar and punctuation principles.
How can these posts be used by teachers? Firstly, they are intended to educate teachers about grammar and punctuation – they are helpful for giving names to internalised principles. Secondly, they aim to help teachers correctly identify the basis of a student’s error, explain the correct form and provide opportunities for the student to consolidate learning.
If I ever work out how to explain how to identify the word that functions as a verb in a sentence then I will finish the next post in the series. If you would to look more closely at grammar and punctuation in the curriculum, here is the English scope and sequence document from ACARA. And if you want to learn more about grammar and punctuation yourself, read more and write more.