Loving Grammar: The Mastery Exam and Progress Quiz Supplement
Preface: to the Teacher/Parent—
On Giving the Grade
Perfect and On the Beauty of Mastery Learning
I don’t know about you, but when I look at students’ work—and remember I’m an English teacher, a writing teacher—what I love more than anything else is to say—PERFECT! I know what music it is to their ears and their learning soul. And, let’s face it: it’s music to my ears too.
Truth be told—this is rarely the case in writing per se’. When it comes to writing—tone—voice—flow, you name it!: there is almost always something to tweak, something to goose, even something to lose that can improve things, make them bounce along nicely. But . . .ahhh! . . .think about it!—your grammar and your punctuation can be PERFECT!
Imagine a kid who has struggled all his life with this stuff; imagine what it feels like for him to hear—PERFECT! That, my friends, is the reason that I can title my book Loving Grammar and not one of my students would be rolling their eyes. Perfect is a term that everyone can fall in love with.
But that doesn’t mean that perfect is a snap to do. There are some essential learning tasks that students need to know to do grammar and punctuation. (See the list of 32 mastery/memory items after this Preface.) And let’s be clear: miss one problem and then it is NOT perfect. (And don’t forget, we all did mastery learning when it came to our multiplication tables, didn’t we? And we learned them, didn’t we?)
I had a girl burst into tears one time when I told her that she needed to retake a pre-test. Yes, that was painful for her (and for me too, I assure you!) BUT . . .
. . . try to imagine how lovely and wonderful it was and how much confidence flowed into her brain when the next day she retook it—and heard the words that I love to say to students—PERFECT! (And, by the way, I caught her arm after that first class and told her that she just had to work on the one sentence that she missed. I told her not to worry—she was very close to mastering the pre-test.) And she did master it!
(Every bit of encouragement you can give your students is also music to their ears.)
By the way, PERFECT = 100! And what, after all, is the normal meaning of an exam or quiz grade? What does a 92 tell us? What does an 84 tell us? What does a 75 tell us? For that matter, what does a 65 tell us? Not a whole lot, from my point of view. All I want to know about phrases or clauses and punctuation is this: A. Does she know it—through and through—or B. does she not know it through and through? Notice, whether the result is A or B—I as the teacher know exactly what the grade means and I know what to do about it. That, my friends, is the beauty of mastery learning.