The KISS Homepage
Additional Options
and Source Materials 
for
KISS Grammar
Detail of 
Plato and Aristotle
from the
School of Athens
1511, Fresco
by Raphael
(1483-1520)
Stanza della Signatura
Vatican Palace, Rome
     On the left, Plato, who believed that philosophers could know the absolute truth, points upward to the world of forms. Aristotle, on the right, wasn't so sure of that. He points outward, representing a "middle way"--man should avoid extremes. This difference between the two is fundamental to an understanding of most of the disagreements between human beings.
 
"The best hypothesis, [Ptolemy] said, was the simplest that would comprehend the facts." 
--Daniel Boorstin, The Discoverers, 98-99.
In other words, "KISS!"
      KISS is unlike any other approach to teaching grammar that you have ever seen. A major KISS objective is to Keep It Simple for Students, but there are many ways in which you can use KISS. As a result, people new to the site are often confused. The purpose of this page is to give you a general overview of additional options.
 
Table of Additional Contents
Where Do You Want to Start, 
and What Are Your Objectives?
How to Begin
The KISS Psycholinguistic Model
     This model changes the study of grammar from the study of isolated constructions and a bunch of "don't" rules to a study of how our brains do process sentences by chunking words into phrases and phrases into clauses. It thereby explains why "errors" are (or are not) problems.
Select an Alternative Sequence of Instruction?
A One-Year Design for Middle School A Short Self-Paced Course
Additional Resources on the KISS Site
The Master Collection of Exercises
     This page includes links to the instructional materials and most of the exercises for each of the original KISS levels. You can use it to find supplemental or optional exercises for your students.
Background Essays
present suggestions for teaching and some theoretical background for the KISS Approach. [MS Word Version]
The KISS Grammar Game
(with the "Gettysburg Address" Edition) [MS Word Version]
The KISS Workbooks Anthology
provides links to the pages on the sources from which KISS exercises have been made. If you are looking for exercises based on a specific author, check this out.
Supplemental Printable KISS Grammar Books
includes links to printable books that were made over the years. Some of them are outdated; others are small collections of exercises based on a specific work or author. 
Writing Samples from State Standards
includes links to the various sections of the site that contain analyzed samples from different grade levels in state standards documents. These can be used as models, writing assignments, and/or exercises.
Glossary / Index of Grammatical Terms
explains some of the confusion about grammatical terms.
Book Reviews from KISS Grammar
includes reviews of books on grammar, writing, and on education in general.
Comments from Users of the KISS Approach
A Short History of the KISS Grammar Site

Where Do You Want to Start, 
and What Are Your Objectives?

     There are more paths for teaching grammar than there are roads to Rome. The path that you will want to take depends on the age of the students and on what you want them to learn. Currently there is no standard sequence for teaching grammar. Some people want to start with first graders; others begin with high school students. Some instructors are interested only in the correction of errors; others want to apply students' conscious understanding of grammar to questions of reading and writing--including style and logic. KISS addresses all of these beginning and ending points, but in one sequence, it cannot cover the thousands of problems and objectives that teachers will meet. The descriptions below link to four main curriculum designs.

How to Begin

     Whichever design you choose, begin by simply giving the students the instructional material and an exercise. Whereas the instructional material in most grammar books takes up almost as much space as the exercises, in KISS, there are more exercises and shorter instructional material. The objective is to master one concept at a time. At the beginning, in other words, students should do as many exercises as it takes them in order to be able to identify the subjects and verbs in relatively short sentences. Some teachers and parents like to do an initial exercise with the students. That is fine, but that section should not be left until the students can do an exercise almost perfectly on their own. (Most exercises should take students no more than five minutes to complete.)

A Short History of the KISS Grammar Site

     A short history of the development of the KISS website may help explain some of the confusion that many people feel when they first visit this site. KISS itself was originally developed as a single-semester grammar course for future (and practicing) teachers. I agreed to teach that course only if I could teach what I believed students need to know. The result was a course that fundamentally differs from everything that teachers are taught.
     The primary difference is that most grammar courses teach definitions of terms (subject, verb, clause, etc.) but they do not teach students how to identify these constructions in real texts--including the writing that the students of future teachers will do. As a result, many English teachers in our schools cannot themselves identify the subjects and verbs in their students' writing. My students were going to be able to do that and more. They were going to be able to explain the function of almost every word in any sentence that they read or wrote. Even for the best students, the course was too short to reach that objective.
     The internet enabled me to develop KISS in more detail, and if instruction is spread over several years, students can reach that objective. But a larger time framework brought me back to the question--in order to be able to identify the function of every word in any sentence, exactly what do students need to know? Unlike the exercises in most grammar textbooks, most KISS exercises are based on sentences from real texts. As I scoured more and more real texts, I ran into a number of things that we did not devote much time to in my grammar course--various aspects of passive voice, delayed subjects and sentences, ellipsis in various forms, especially in infinitives. I needed to collect these and include them in the instructional design in some organized fashion. As noted above, the result was the initial "Grade-Level" workbooks. As explained above, however, the "Grade-Level" books have their disadvantages. 

The Origin of the Five Basic KISS Levels

     The five basic levels of the KISS sequence originated in my college course for future teachers. Two things guided the design of these levels: first, some constructions are more difficult to master than others; second, some constructions cannot be understood before students have mastered others.
     For attentive students who understand that problems should be solved in steps, the most difficult grammatical constructions to master are prepositional phrases and the identification of finite verbs. Both of these simply require basic instructional material and practice. The first day of my college course, I walked into the classroom, gave each student a copy of an essay written by a college student, gave them instructional material on prepositional phrases, did a few examples on identifying the phrases, and assigned the identification of the prepositional phrases in the student's essay as homework. Thereafter, every assignment included the identification of prepositional phrases. (For most students, this quickly becomes easy and automatic.) The next week, we added the identification of subjects and verbs. In essence, this became KISS Level 1. We went through KISS Level 2 (the complexities of prepositional phrases and of S/V patterns) very quickly, simply because we did not have much time.
     In the fourth week, we added clauses (KISS Level 3) and spent several weeks on them. A "clause" is a subject / (finite) verb / complement pattern. In other words, students built on their ability to identify subjects, verbs, and prepositional phrases. For a number of reasons, clauses are the most important construction that students need to identify. Once most students had a fair command of clauses, we added verbals--verbs that function as nouns, adjectives, or adverbs (KISS Level 4).
     With one exception, KISS Level 5 consists of constructions that students do not need to understand in order to understand other constructions. Some of these, like Nouns Used as Adverbs, Interjections, and Direct Address, are very simple, but within the confines of a sixteen-week course, I reserved them until the end because I wanted my students to have more practice with the other constructions.
     As noted above, when the KISS sequence is spread over several years, these constructions can be taught much earlier in the sequence. If we want students to master some constructions, we need to give them time to absorb them. Teaching too much too fast will overwhelm even the best students.