Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Semester of Degree Completion


Thesis Director

Terri A. Fredrick


In this thesis, I explore best practices in grammar instruction for high school juniors. Practicing English teachers have been engaging in the great grammar debate for years, essentially arguing if and how grammar is best taught. Thoughts on teaching grammar greatly differ in the professional community, but most scholars call for a middle ground to be sought in the great grammar debate. In other words, very few scholars think traditional methods that isolate grammar instruction from the writing process are best, but even fewer scholars call for teachers to entirely rid their curriculum of all grammar instruction. I conclude that effective grammar instruction is three-tiered: it is contextual, or directly tied to any unit taught; it is student-driven, or reflective of each student group’s specific needs; and it is minimalistic, or slim in the number of skills that should be taught in one school year. In the second chapter, I identify the target student group, my own high school juniors, and its needs, using text from student essays to show the variety in student ability when it comes to grammar usage. I also identify how the ACT and Common Core Standards serve as baseline tools for the junior-level English teacher in determining what juniors need in terms of instruction. Though the ACT is not the only standardized test juniors across the nation take, it is nationally recognized by all colleges and universities and is heavily used in the Midwest. The Common Core Standards are currently used in nearly all states. In the third chapter, I outline how grammatical instruction can follow the aforementioned three-tiered method by explaining how the instruction can coincide with basic units taught in a junior-level English class. I include appendices of assignments and rubrics that will aid junior-level teachers in assessing students on the subject of grammar.