I was teaching a grade eleven university bound English class. The grammar sentence was on the Smartboard. I had just explained elliptical clauses. One student – a particularly exuberant boy, ‘Bill’ – was eager to offer a correction. He proceeded to correct the sentence by inserting the name of a classmate, ‘Bob’; thus, generating a few laughs from the class. I was not sure how to address this in the moment. Although the other student showed somewhat annoyance, there didn’t seem to be ‘major’ upset over the jibe. We continued to take up the work, and suddenly Bob throws up his hand with urgency, and I think, It’s only right that I let him have ownership of this sentence. Sure enough he inserts Bill’s name and the class is in stitches again.
Poetic justice. Bill is not offended – he loves the attention. Who would have thought that grammar could be fun!
The best part of this unplanned memorable moment – the student’s understood the elliptical sentence. When I retold this story to a colleague, non-English teacher of course, he said the above outlandish sentence. Grammar may not often be fun, but it is important to teach. It is through grammar that clarity of expression is achieved.
Without it, your message will not be received.