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Recipes for Effective Literacy Instruction

Using Grammar to Improve Writing


My new book, USING GRAMMAR TO IMPROVE WRITING: Recipes for Actionis NOW AVAILABLE!!! (On Amazon, you can get the $3.99 eBook HERE.  You can order the paperback on Amazon HERE.  At BookShop, you can purchase the paperback HERE.)

How we frame grammar instruction matters.  If you view it as "fixing incorrect sentences," you teach it that way.  If you view it as "building strong, compelling sentences," you take a different approach.  This book explains a new way to teach grammar--systematically and purposefully--in order to strengthen student writing.  It offers detailed guidance on which grammar standards to teach when and how to use grammatical forms to capture ideas.  This new approach will enable students to write more efficiently and effectively.

Check out this video in which I talk about the book!


Using Grammar to Improve Writing answers these questions:

  • What should we STOP doing?
  • How can we teach grammar more effectively and integrate it with writing more systematically?
  • How can we help students who are not on grade level?
  • Which other factors affect how well we write?
  • What should we teach, grade by grade, in K-12 ELA?

Though pitched as a grammar instructional manual, this is secretly a book about how to teach students how to write clearly.  It should be useful not only to K-12 educators but also to college writing instructors and writers interested in strengthening their practice.


"Don't let the title scare you.  Using Grammar to Improve Writing is a game-changing book focused on a new kind of grammar instruction.  'Grammar' is an old word that's generally scorned.  We look back at it and think, Thank goodness we don't use that anymore.  When Sarah Tantillo uses the word, though, she means something very modern: the ability to use forms to capture ideas.  This book shines a bright light on how to teach students to craft compelling sentences, effective paragraphs, powerful essays, and profound narratives."--Doug Lemov, author of Teach Like a Champion 2.0, Practice Perfect, and Reading Reconsidered.


Here's a video training module that explains some key topics in the book:

Using Grammar to Improve Writing MODULE

This 32-min SELF-PACED video addresses the following topics: 1) How we teach writing at GOLCS; 2) What to STOP doing; 3) Seven principles for effective grammar/writing instruction; 4) How to help students who are not on grade level; 5) Other factors that affect how well we write; and 6) How to meet the Common Core Standards for Language and Writing SYSTEMATICALLY.

For more information to support your work around grammar and writing, please check out the following:

Also, my book USING GRAMMAR TO IMPROVE WRITING: RECIPES FOR ACTION, is available online wherever books are sold.


To access the book's FREE BONUS CONTENT, click on the name of any file below that you want to download (NOTE: You do not have to log in):

Chapter 1

1.     Essay Writing Rubric


Chapter 2

 1.    Sample Overviews of Weekly ELA Routines

 2.    Sample Week of Lesson Plans--Poetry Analysis and Paragraph Writing

 3.    Partner Feedback Protocol


Chapter 3

1.     Sample Paragraph Responses for When I Was Puerto Rican

2.     Paragraph Response Scoring Checklist

3.     K-12 Selected Language CCS Tracker

4.     Trajectory Analysis Charts for Language Standards

5.     Trajectory Analysis Charts for Writing Standards

6.     K-12 ELA Common Core Standards Tracker


Chapter 4

1.     5Ws and H Organizer Model

2.     What Is Important Organizer

3.     What Is Important Organizer Model-Animal Farm Ch 2

4.     Argument vs. Evidence Step 1—Stone Fox

5.     Argument vs. Evidence Step 2 Answer Key—Stone Fox

6.     Argument vs. Evidence Step 2.5 Answer Key

7.     Combatting Learned Helplessness Tool


Chapter 6

1.     How to Infer Themes Organizer

2.     DDAT Organizer

3.     Order of Cumulative Adjectives Handout


BONUS: K-2 Grammar Sneak Preview Packet


PS--For additional grammar resources, see the TLC "Grammar" page. 



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