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Dr. Ed Vavra's Grammar Materials:
An Overview



     As much of this site indicates, most of my time is spent teaching Freshman composition at the college level. My area of special interest, however, is the teaching of grammar. In the early 1980's, probably because of my background in foreign languages, I was asked to create and teach a grammar course for future teachers. I agreed to do so on the condition that I could teach what I thought would be helpful to teachers -- which is not what is in most grammar books. My students, particularly those who were already practicing teachers, encouraged me to publish my work. 
     In the early 80's, it was almost impossible to get an article about teaching grammar published in the professional journals. With the help of a small grant from Shenandoah University, where I was then teaching, in 1984 I founded Syntax in the Schools, a newsletter devoted exclusively to the teaching of grammar. In 1990, we sponsored a national conference which resulted in the creation of the Association for the Teaching of English Grammar (ATEG). In 1995, the Association became an Assembly of the National Council of Teachers of English, with Syntax as its publication. 
     In the late 1980's, in part because of ATEG and the newsletter, NCTE's and others' publications again began accepting articles about teaching grammar, and I was able to publish some important articles. The advent of the web, however, has greatly diminished whatever desire I had to publish in journals. Why put an isolated article in a journal that is accessible to a limited number of readers when I can put the same ideas on the web where everyone can get them for free? (Fortunately, I have never taught at a publish-or-perish university.) My web materials, however, have sprouted, and it is difficult to navigate a deep website. This page therefore presents an overview of, and links to,  my work

ENL 111: Freshman Composition

Of the sixteen weeks in a college semester, in my 111 sections I usually devote about three to grammar. My approach differs fundamentally from that of most teachers, many of whom feel a need to teach it, but recognize that they don't know how to. Instructors should feel free to take any of my materials for their own use. If there is interest, I will provide a more detailed explanation of what I do in this course. 
ENL 299: Grammar for Correctness, Meaning, and Style
This course is being offered for the first time in the Spring of 2000. As with all my work, it focusses on the KISS Approach, but it replaces the pedagogical materials in the course for teachers with more practical exercises on usage and style.
An Undergraduate/Graduate Grammar Course for Teachers
Here at Penn College, I do not have the opportunity to teach a grammar course for teachers, but with the advent of the net, I considered offering an on-line course. Penn College cannot offer the graduate credit in English or Education that most teachers want, so I looked elsewhere for a home for this course. What I have found thus far is either too restrictive or too expensive. This section of my web sites, however, contains most of the instructional material for the KISS Approach.
Cobweb Corner -- The Research Basement
Most, if not all, of the "research" which many English teachers refer to in order to deride the teaching of grammar is, to put it mildly, trash. (For more on this, see my review of much of it, "Was NCTE Biased Against the Teaching of Grammar?") Some truly important research was done in the 60's and 70's by people such as Kellogg Hunt, Roy O'Donnell, and Walter Loban. Unfortunately, their data -- the samples of writing that they used to arrive at their conclusions -- is lost. Cobweb Corner includes my data. Such research is time-consuming, but I keep plugging away at it whenever I get some free time.
A Free, Non-Credit, Self-Paced Grammar Course for Teachers
As editor of Syntax in the Schools, I regularly receive requests from teachers who feel ill prepared to teach grammar. This section of my sites is my response. It is probably the most detailed and complete explanation of the KISS Approach, even though a lot more work needs to be done on it. Even now, however, it includes numerous exercises (and answer keys), based on jokes, fables, and the openings of famous novels.
Essays on Grammar
 This is the Table of Contents for assorted essays on the teaching of grammar.
Bibliographies
My bibliographies are not as extensive as they should be, but everyone is welcome to what I have. The bibliographies also demonstrate that I have a life outside of grammar.
The ATEG Website
Although I have decided to give up my position as editor (and Treasurer) of Syntax in the Schools, I am still the webmaster of the ATEG site.


This border is a reproduction of
    Correggio (Antonio Allegri)
(1489-1534)
 Madonna and Child with the Young Saint John
1516, Museo del Prado in Madrid
Carol Gersten's Fine Art http://metalab.unc.edu/cgfa/

Click here for the directory of my backgrounds based on art.
[for educational use only]