Henry Adams once wrote, “A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.” This quote demonstrates how little we really know what kind of a difference we are making in students’ lives. Are they really getting it? Are they getting it, but not caring? Much of what we do is shrouded in mystery. We never really know how effective we are.
This year, I have been able to prove that my students are learning grammar. I changed some of my grammar approaches, where instead of making students memorize grammar terms that they would never need to know in the future, I have been giving them see series of sentences, and they have to find the grammar error. I began with one or two skills and have been adding skills as we go along. I am not dropping previously taught skills; I am keeping them and adding new ones. In this sense, the questions my students are answering are always getting more rigorous than the ones before. It is also leading to long-ten instead of short-term memory, as we are not “moving along” but are building a foundation.
At the beginning of the year, my students performed very badly on the first formative assessment. About 20% of them earned passing grades. However, because of the repeated practice and individualized and small group help, almost all my students earned passing grades on the first attempt of the the latest quiz. It is inconceivable that my students would have performed so well at the beginning of the year, but their hard work had paid off, and I now have concrete proof that the grammar program is working.
Every once in awhile, it is nice to prove that things are working.