Noticing a connection between what this teacher says about teaching formulaic paragraph structures:

Many students appreciated the shared language and expectations for their writing assignments, especially those working on basic literacy skills. These were the kids who showed the most appreciation for PEAS and were the quickest to internalize the format. “It helps me know what to do,” one student claimed. Struggling students reported more confidence in their writing, and I noticed that the organization and overall readability of their paragraphs improved.

Nevertheless, I also noted a decline in the overall quality of thought in these paragraphs. Students had more confidence in their writing, but they were also less invested in their ideas. Writing paragraphs and essays was now a set of hoops to jump through, a dry task only slightly more complex than a worksheet. Sentence frames helped some kids, but only functioned as a substitute for thinking for other students. It was also more difficult to get many students to revise skimpy paragraphs if all the pieces of PEAS were already present. “I already peed on my paper,” one student complained. “Why do you want me to do more?”

And what Lynne Murphy says about grammar instruction in the United States in The Prodigal Tongue:

Perhaps because of their Verbal Inferiority Complex, Americans often follow the rules in British style guides better than their British readers do. You can see the rule-following as sheepish American conformity, or you can see it as a way of democratizing the language. If everyone has access to the rules, then everyone can use them. If everyone uses them, then we are linguistically equal. There’s no need to be blessed with the “good ear” that comes with breeding or education. The rules do the language no great service, but they help people feel like they have the key to speaking and writing well.

Fiona Voss @fiona