Hyler, Jeremy, and Troy Hicks. From Texting to Teaching: Grammar Instruction in a Digital Age. Routledge, 2017.
Hyler and Hicks situate this book in the context of more than 100 years of research and their own classroom experiences showing that teaching grammar in context of writing is much better than teaching grammar in isolation. They also frame the teaching of grammar both with and without digital tools as important to unpack with students to learn when to switch between formal and informal writing contexts. The main audience for this book is middle school teachers and some high school teachers. The major focus, when it comes to using digital tools for teaching grammar begins with the “triple E framework,” which includes only using technology when engagement, enhancement, and extension are possible (rather than using a digital tool just for the sake of using technology).
The authors provide a brief overview of tools for beginners through advanced users and quickly settle into subsequent chapters focused on teaching parts of speech, sentence style, and vocabulary with digital tools. Hyler uses the flipped classroom method for teaching parts of speech, detailing what a week looks like from students watching the required video and completing homework through the end of the week as they add to their own grammar resource for future purposes. The study of sentence style is framed around different contexts for writing, including social media, as a way for students to be cognizant of differences in writing for formal and informal rhetorical situations. They use and study myriad mentor texts from Twitter to novels and practice in the context of digital tools that include Lino, Google slides, Twitter, fake text, email, and Facebook platforms, and others. Similar platforms are used to teach punctuation.
The chapter on vocabulary instruction also embeds the learning within the context of reading and writing. Authors describe the use of the digital tool, Quizlet, alongside different video resources. They end the book with assessment, focusing heavily on the importance of formative assessment and the use of writing portfolios as a summative assessment.
Educators may find the specific classroom and homework examples the most interesting aspects of this book. Hyler provides detailed glimpses into his flipped classroom, how it works, and what resources there are available to teach this way. He also provides examples of other digital platforms that could work in the same context of teaching grammar, emphasizing that the point is not to master all of the digital tools, but to use the ones that make the most sense to engage, enhance, and extend students’ learning in the context of different writing experiences. Overall, the message is clear that technology will continue to change, but good teaching, especially the teaching of grammar in the context of writing will not change. The focus is on enhancing learning for students in different writing contexts and finding a balance of keeping current with technology while meeting students where they are, particularly with digital tools, as an effective way to teach grammar.