2nd Edition

Mechanically Inclined Building Grammar, Usage, and Style into Writer's Workshop

By Jeff Anderson, Lisa Thibodeaux Copyright 2025
    216 Pages 2 Color & 41 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Some teachers love grammar and some hate it, but nearly all struggle to find ways of making the mechanics of English meaningful to kids. As a middle school teacher, Jeff Anderson also discovered that his students were not grasping the basics, and that it was preventing them from reaching their potential as writers. Jeff readily admits, “I am not a grammarian, nor am I punctilious about anything,” so he began researching and testing the ideas of scores of grammar experts in his classroom, gradually finding successful ways of integrating grammar instruction into writer's workshop.

    Just in time for its 20th anniversary, this long awaited second edition of Mechanically Inclined continues to merge the best of writer's workshop elements with relevant theory about how and why skills should be taught. It connects theory about using grammar in context with practical instructional strategies, explains why kids often don't understand or apply grammar and mechanics correctly, focuses on attending to the “high payoff,” or most common errors in student writing, and shows how to carefully construct a workshop environment that can best support grammar and mechanics concepts. In this new edition, longtime colleague, Lisa Thibodeaux joins Jeff in emphasizing four key elements for grammar instruction:

    • short daily instruction in grammar and mechanics within writer's workshop;
    • using high-quality mentor texts to teach grammar and mechanics in context;
    • visual scaffolds, including wall charts, and visual cues that can be pasted into writer's notebooks;
    • regular, short routines, like “express-lane edits,” that help students spot and correct errors automatically.

    Comprising an overview of the research-based context for grammar instruction, a series of over forty detailed lessons, updated research, compelling new mentor texts, and an appendix of helpful forms and instructional tools, Mechanically Inclined is a boon to teachers regardless of their level of grammar-phobia. It shifts the negative, rule-plagued emphasis of much grammar instruction into one which celebrates the power and beauty these tools have in shaping all forms of writing.

    Part I: The Blueprint: Teaching Grammar and Mechanics in Context  1. Introduction  2. Moving from Correct-Alls to Mentor Texts  3. Weaving Grammar and Mechanics into Writer's Workshop  4. The Editor's Checklist  5. Off-the-Wall Grammar and Mechanics Instruction  Part II: Constructing Lessons: Background, Mentor Text, and Visual Scaffolds  Section 1. The Sentence: A Way of Thinking  Section 2. Pause and Effect: Crafting Sentences with Commas  Section 3. Pronouns: The Willing Stand-Ins  Section 4. The Verb: Are We All in Agreement?  Section 5. Adjectives and Adverbs: The Modifier Within  Section 6. The Power of Punctuation: The Period Is Mightier Than the Semicolon


    For over thirty-five years, Jeff Anderson has inspired writers and teachers with the power and joy of writing and grammar. He has written sixteen books for Stenhouse Publishers, including the ground-breaking Patterns of Power series. He lives near downtown San Antonio with his partner and their rescue pup.

    Lisa Thibodeaux has spent her career in education working with students and teachers. She’s a native of Detroit, Michigan, with more than thirty years in public education systems, including Hillsborough County, Florida, and two school districts in the North Texas area. She’s an English teacher at heart, with master’s and doctorate degrees that include concentrations in reading and English studies. She earned her National Board Certification in English Language Arts/Early Adolescence in 2006, and had been fully and utterly inspired by everything Jeff Anderson has written, especially the first edition of Mechanically Inclined.

    . . . in reading Jeff’s book, I learned something invaluable: how to actually create that “context” we have all heard so much about, how to make editorial instruction meaningful, engaging, and understandable, even for students who struggle.

                                                                                                                                     Vicki Spandel