People may not believe that grammar is an important part of persuasive writing or that is a given that grammar would be taught throughout a unit. Although it may seem like teaching grammar would be second nature, it is not. The middle-school students I teach have problems with grammar and mechanics, and there are certain grammar mistakes that I consistently come across when correcting their papers. Sentence fragments, run-on sentences, and the improper use of punctuation are a few grammar issues I see daily. Although it would seem that this should not be included in preparing for persuasive writing, I disagree. I believe that the students need to be reminded how to write correctly. These constant errors take away from their essays. Repeated run-on sentences, sentence fragments, and incorrect punctuation take away from the points the students are trying to make. I want students to enjoy writing and write creatively; and if their audience is also able to understand what they are reading, the students will enjoy it more. Students should also realize that writing correctly will help to make their audience see their point more clearly and that constant errors take away from their argument. If the long-term goal is to prepare students for defending themselves past middle school, then grammar must be a part of this unit. Even if only three things are focused on, they are three things that bring the students closer to being better writers.
Students' common grammar mistakes make their positions less effective. Proper grammar helps the audience that the students are writing to respond as the students would want them to.
Students are not officially graded on spelling and grammar on the district and state tests, but if a scorer cannot understand the students' positions or takes one of their points out of context, the students will be marked down on their essays. The lost points help to reinforce their negative thinking about writing.
Grammar is being included in this unit to help students remember that it is important and does have an effect on their writing. One way to work on grammar is by having mini lessons on grammar every day during this unit. We will do mini lessons on punctuation (commas, semicolons, and ending punctuation), run-on sentences, and sentence fragments. These are the majority of grammar mistakes that I see among the students. If we work on these grammar issues repeatedly during the unit (and most likely before and after), this should help to combat the problems seen in their writing.