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Debra Myhill and the Grammar for Writing pedagogy

For more practical ideas, explore sample lesson plans and schemes

The Grammar as Choice Pedagogy

At the University of Exeter’s Centre for Research in Writing, we have been investigating the contested issue of grammar teaching over many years and across a cumulative series of research studies. The research we have carried out is underpinned by a view of the importance of teaching grammar in the context of children’s writing, not as a body of separate knowledge learnt for its own sake. Our research promotes the idea of Grammar as Choice, rather than grammar as being simply about rules and correctness. It focuses on being explicit about how language works, and about how different language choices construct meanings in different contexts, using the correct grammatical terminology as part of that explicitness. But the fundamental teaching focus is on the writing being undertaken rather than on a grammar feature or terminology itself. Based on our research findings, we believe that an effective pedagogy for writing should include explicit grammar teaching which draws attention to the linguistic choices and possibilities available to children and which has at its heart the creative shaping of text.

The LEAD Principles

So what is the Grammar as Choice pedagogy?  To help make this practical for application to the classroom, we have explained the pedagogy in terms of four principles, which we have called the LEAD principles.  These principles are explained in the following Powerpoint with audio - The LEAD principles.

The LEAD Principles in Practice

Below are some ‘mini-powerpoints’ which exemplify the LEAD principles through one classroom activity. 


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These PowerPoint resources use short extracts from published texts to show how grammatical features create meaning and achieve effects in writing. They can be used to build students’ understanding about how language works and as models for students’ own writing. Detailed slide notes are provided to support classroom discussion of the links between grammar and meaning.

Each PowerPoint title shows the grammar-writing focus and the text model used, to help teachers decide which might be applicable to their students.

Text Models for Writing Fiction PowerPoints: