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Conventions 101: A Functional Approach to Teaching (And Assessing!) Grammar and Punctuation

(17 reviews)

Chauna Ramsey, Columbia Gorge Community College

Pub Date: 2016

Publisher: Open Oregon Educational Resources

Language: English

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Reviewed by Norma Hogan, Professor Emerita and Senior Affiliate Faculty, East Tennessee State University on 11/8/18

This is a compact text for teachers working with basic writers on grammar, punctuation, and words that are commonly confused. There are also bits of vocabulary development, spelling, and formal versus informal usage. The text is a genuinely... read more


Reviewed by William Kron, Adjunct Professor / Middle School Administrator / Former High School English Teacher, Bethel University on 10/9/18

It's difficult to offer a comprehensive support book for developing writers and I don't think the goal of this book is to look at all the potential grammar traps that writers may come across. This text does offer strategies and tools to help a... read more


Reviewed by Charles Lynn, Associate Professor, University of North Carolina Wilmington on 5/22/18

Conventions 101: A Functional Approach to Teaching (And Assessing!) Grammar and Punctuation thoroughly covers all aspects of grammar needed to teach at the high school level. This text would work well for a new teacher looking for lesson plan... read more


Reviewed by Jocelyn Pihlaja, Instructor, Lake Superior College on 5/22/18

This is definitely not a comprehensive handbook, but that’s not its intention. Rather, it’s meant to act as a supplement to other grammar/usage instruction. Overall, the content of this book largely addresses homonym confusions with a few other... read more


Reviewed by Karen McDonnell, Instructor, James Madison University on 3/28/18

Let me begin by saying that this book is an excellent resource for high school teachers (especially those teaching ninth or tenth graders). Clearly, the audience is high school teachers. Since I'm looking for an open-access textbook to use for a... read more


Reviewed by B. David Ridpath, Associate Professor, Ohio University on 2/2/18

This book is very comprehensive and is effectively laid out in a table of Contents. Easy to follow and find specific subjects. read more


Reviewed by Martha Kuchar, Professor, Roanoke College on 6/21/17

The book does not aim for comprehensiveness, nor should it. It is a troubleshooting guide for students who persist in certain errors. These are generally well selected and appropriate: common spelling errors in words such as "grammar," "separate,"... read more


Reviewed by Megan Heiman, English Instructor, Vermilion Community College on 6/21/17

This text covers many of the "confusables" that college students in developmental writing class need practice with, including homonyms and words commonly misused. In addition, sentence boundary issues such as run-ons, fragments, and misuse of... read more


Reviewed by Jennifer Ruden, ESOL Instructor, Portland Community College on 6/21/17

The title is true to the content in that both grammar and punctuation is broken down in a very easy to find and teach way. However, I would say that not all grammar is reviewed, such as verb tense. The goal of the text doesn't seem to be... read more


Reviewed by Dean LeBret, ABE/GED instructor, Linn Benton Community College on 6/21/17

This is a text regarding the application of grammatical conventions. There is one cited reference, but the content does not really seem to need citation. It is pretty much public domain information, not rich on theory. It also does not really need... read more


Reviewed by Corrie Larson, Adjunct Instructor, Chemeketa Community College on 6/21/17

The title of the book leads the reader to expect more variety in the conventions covered. There are no units about adjective/adverb confusion, tense shift, double negatives, or lack of parallelism; however, many of the common errors in student... read more


Reviewed by Elizabeth Aydelott, Adjunct Instructor, Lane Community College on 6/21/17

This text is aptly named Conventions 101, since it is an introductory approach to English usage. A more advanced text would include more linguistic and etymological explanation, possibly including regional and dialectal variations. As it stands,... read more


Reviewed by Annick Todd, ESL Instructor, Lane Community College on 6/21/17

Note that this review is only of the PDF version of the text, which was discovered to be less complete than the other versions. Chauna Ramsey’s PDF-version of the book includes a very clear and comprehensive table of contents showing the... read more


Reviewed by Amelia Kaspari, Part Time Faculty, Chemeketa Community College on 4/12/17

This book has a relatively focused scope: common errors that high school and college students make regarding spelling of common words, punctuation, and grammar. Ramsey's goal does not seem to be comprehensive (there are many, many common mistakes... read more


Reviewed by Kelly Meyer, English Faculty, Anoka-Ramsey Community College on 4/12/17

The text offers very good coverage of some of the most frequent convention errors and most common points of grammar confusion in student writing. Some of the points of focus, such as phrases like "nowadays," which Ramsey identifies as not to be... read more


Reviewed by Jean Mittelstaet, Writing instructor, Chemeketa Community College on 2/9/17

The text provides material for teachers and students to preassess, teach, practice, and assess the correct use of the conventions of standard Written English in student writing. There is a pre-test which teachers or students could use to gauge... read more


Reviewed by Marie Lechelt, ESL/English Instructor and Writing Center Co-director, Riverland Community College on 12/6/16

This text does exactly what it says it does in the introduction. It covers many errors in grammar and punctuation that are commonly made by our students. The index lists the topics and each chapter included a brief description of how to teach... read more


Table of Contents

  • First Things First: Conventions Pre-Test
  • Unit 1: A Lot; There, They're, Their; To, Two, Too
  • Unit 2: Your, You're; Its, It's; Woman,Women
  • Unit 3: Where, Were; Could Have, Could "Of"; Lose, Loose
  • Unit 4: Whose, Who's; Fewer, Less; Choose, Chose
  • Unit 5: Accept, Except; Who vs That; Lose, Loose
  • Unit 6: All Ready, Already; I vs Me; Affect, Effect
  • Unit 7: Everyday, Every Day; Defiant, Definite
  • Unit 8: Capitalizing Pronouns; All Right vs "Alright"
  • Unit 9: Commas in a Series; Commas After Introductory Phrases
  • Unit 10: Commas with "So," "Or," "But," "And"; Commas with Interrupting Elements
  • Unit 11: Comma Review
  • Unit 12: Fragments and Run-Ons
  • Unit 13: Semicolons
  • Unit 14: Punctuation and End Quotation Marks; Punctuating Titles
  • Unit 15: Colons
  • Unit 16: Apostrophe Pre-Assessment
  • Unit 17: Apostrophes
  • Unit 18: Subject-Verb Agreement
  • Unit 19: Final Exam; "Rejected" Notice; Cheat Sheet

About the Book

This is a collection of cumulative units of study for conventional errors common in student writing. It's flexible, functional, and zeroes in problems typically seen in writing of all types, from the eternal “there/they're/their” struggle to correct colon use. Units are organized from most simple to most challenging.

About the Contributors


Chauna Ramsey grew up in Dundee, Oregon and now lives in Hood River, where she has taught for over twenty years at Hood River Valley High School.