Virginia Department of Education's Training and Technical Assistance Center (T/TAC)

How Can Teachers Teach Grammar Through Writing?

7 female students exploring T/TAC library materials

Writing is one of the most difficult skills that children are expected to master in school (Graham & Harris, in press).  The 2017 VDOE Progression Charts for writing and grammar identify the grade level at which specific writing and grammar skills are formally introduced and when students should be knowledgeable of those skills.  Although the Virginia Standards of Learning require certain components of grammar to be taught, traditional grammar practices, such as diagraming sentences or teaching grammar in isolation, are ineffective at improving the understanding and use of grammar. Graham, Harris, & Santangelo (2015) suspect students are unable to make the connections and apply their new skills learned during isolated grammar lessons to their actual writing tasks.  However, extensive research supports teaching grammar by integrating it into the actual writing process.  The most effective way to teach grammar is through explicit writing instruction (Cleary, 2014).  The Strategic Instruction Model (SIMTM), developed at the University of Kansas Center for Research on Learning, has an evidence-based writing strand to help teachers provide explicit writing instruction that enables students to learn and practice the skills and strategies they need to become proficient writers.  If you would like to learn more about the SIM Learning Strategies for writing instruction please contact Dana McCaleb.

Graham, S., Harris, K. R., & Santangelo, T. (2015). based writing practices and the common core: Meta-analysis and meta-synthesis. The Elementary School Journal, 115(4), 498-522.

Cleary, M. (2014). The Wrong Way to Teach Grammar. The Atlantic. Retrieved from


Updates from T/TAC

headshot of lora beeken.
Lora Beeken
headshot of jennifer baldwin
Jennifer Baldwin
  • This fall our Early Childhood Coordinator, Selina Flores, retired after 23 years serving our early childhood special education population in Regions 6 & 7.  We wish her the very best of luck and much happiness in retirement. 
  • On October 1, 2019, Lora Beeken, our Communication Coordinator of 21 years joined Patty Bickley as Co-Director of T/TAC at Virginia Tech.  Lora brings with her many experiences and valuable insights as she assumes her new role. 
  • Jennifer Baldwin joined our T/TAC in July as a project coordinator in the area of mental health and multi-tiered systems.  Jen has already begun her work with our new Administrators’ Network and will focus on the use of High Leverage Practices (HLPs), trauma, and mental health practices in schools.