Monday, October 27, 2014

Fly High with Langauge Skills and Never Use a Worksheet!

Most of the time, when I pulled out another grammar worksheet, the kids' eyes would glaze over. Grammar is SO important. It makes reading and writing make sense, and builds confidence in writers once they are sure of the rules. But, let's face it...grammar can be tedious. There's ALL those rules, words that don't follow the rules and it goes on and on. The only thing that really helps kids remember the language rules is lots of practice. However, practice with worksheets just don't seem to do the trick. So…how to do it?

There's a number of ways to reinforce grammar without using a worksheet. Check out the ones below, and please add any that work for you in the comments section!

1. Use language task cards in a center. You can make them, or purchase them pretty easily. Task cards don't feel like a worksheet, so kids take to them better. What's pretty awesome is that you can take a 20 question worksheet, and turn it into a twenty question task card activity pretty easily! They are also good for evaluation too. Test-phobic kids do MUCH better with task cards. Keep in mind that task cards don't have to be "beautiful" to do the trick!

2. Use cooperative learning. Divide students into groups of three or four. Give each group the same basic sentence, such as "I got a dog." and ask each group to expand the sentence using parts of speech you have been working on. Ask each group to explain what parts of speech they added to make the sentence more interesting. Learning by doing is the key to retention.

3. Give lots of ideas for writing to a real audience. Make up a postal system in your classroom, or even your grade level, write to authors, create a class blog, or write to local companies. The only person kids write to should not be just the teacher. When students know they are writing to real people, who will be reading their work, they try much harder to make their writing of a higher quality. Not that teachers aren't "real" people, but you know why I mean. : )

4. Start a "Sentence Collection Club" in your classroom. Ask students to write down sentences they think are especially interesting as they read. Put them in the writing notebook, post them around the room, but most importantly….discuss them with the class. What made the sentence interesting?  Why do you think the author wrote the sentence this way? Then discuss the parts of speech, and other language goals you have for the class.

5. Make language board games with the class. Ask groups of students to create a board game that will help them review language Common Core concepts they need to learn. Post the standards for students to use as they make their game. This helps students understand what they are expected to learn during the year as well. I always asked local pizza shops how much it would cost for me to purchase a class set of pizza boxes for the game. They must have felt sorry for me, because they always donated them. As a thank-you I mentioned their donation in my class newsletter. Students glued the rules to the game on the inside lid cover, made the game to fit in the bottom of the box, then included game pieces, questions and an answer key.

6. Play Online Games! The Internet is SUCH a great place to practice those grammar skills. I've included a few of the great sites I love below. I hope they help you too! Bring on the learning stations!

Are you looking for a punctuation activity? Try this one out!

If you need a Greek/Roman prefix/suffix activity, check this one out! There's two levels.

This is a terrific site for students in third through fifth grades! It's all about how to make a word plural.  Students have a choice of how to answer, this includes multiple choice, tough multiple choice, fill in the blank and tough fill in the blank. Plurals are SO important, and this activity makes learning plurals a lot more fun!

Help kids know the difference between a noun and a verb with this fun game!

Need some really good grammar PowerPoints? Try this site!

This one is lots of fun for parts of speech.

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