Owning the Grammar

Troy White, East Texas Baptist U
“Take Ownership of Your Commas”

surveying comp classes many students use punctuation so I won’t say they are wrong…
not a positive aspect—negative goal

Many good writers use punctuation to accomplish rhetorical effects.

Want students to take ownership. If students are willing to argue over punctuation, they have taken ownership. I want them to talk more and to argue with me about it.

Because they don’t mostly take ownership, two concurrent ideas.

Trade negative goals (not get in trouble) for positive goals.
What can punctuation do for your goals?
What are you trying to accomplish?
Talk about clarity and freshness as two goals.
Clarity = precise, concise (few words as possible), right pacing, move on and slow down as necessary
Fresh = develop voice, talking on paper, take risks (humor), establishing contrasts within the paper, use different lengths of sentences and different punctuation

1. Talk about positive goals.
2. Self-examination

Examine
a. What am I actually doing?
b. What do I think I am doing?
c. What do I want to make happen?

How can I help my students self-examine?
Looked at my own writing.
Started to look at my punctuation.
Tend to think of punctuation as elocution (how speak), make it sound a certain way. Think of it like music. They are telling me I pause at certain places. Punctuation tells me how to musically express the thing I am reading on the paper.
Tend to think of heavy pauses (end sentence) and the lighter pauses (parentheses, commas) and middle (semi-colon, dashes).
How do I pause? That’s what I think I am doing. What am I actually doing?
Not a scientific person, but I wanted to figure out what is going on.
Recorded, show wave forms, recorded reading sentences…
Read famous sentences with changes in grammar. Read it that way.
Couldn’t get to my standard.
Set metronome. 4-count base. For the first. 93 beats per minute.

How was I going to analyze? 93 beats a minute.
One beat.
One beat in 1/8s. (tried with 1/16s, but too short)

Conclusions:
Average pause grouping were heavy, medium, light
Colon—which I thought was middle, in speaking I placed in heavy group… This is just for me. One surprise.
Punctuation range, which I had not thought of before, that it is sometimes longer and sometimes shorter. Period from 7-10. In the same sentence, semi-colon would be shorter than period. But if they weren’t in same sentence, that varied.
Semi-colon had a long pause, but didn’t vary as much. IN my own mind, a colon is less open to interpretation. Another surprise.

Notes from CCTE 2016: Teaching Strategies

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