Teaching grammar and getting it all in on a block
schedule in the spring semester is a challenge because time is limited. That’s due in part to frequent snow days,
several dates for standardized testing, and just regular interruptions. Actually, time is limited no matter what semester
it is, and grammar is always difficult to teach. Nonetheless, there are standards we must cover
before the final end of course exams roll around. So, I have to pick and choose
what I need to teach in class, what I can send home, and what needs to be
deleted altogether. Grammar is one standard that must be covered, but it’s a
huge umbrella encompassing so many skills that it becomes overwhelming to plan
for. I could teach from bell to bell everyday with nonstop grammar and still
not get it covered. Here are five
classroom-tested ways I’ve found to cover all that grammar.
the “flipped classroom.” I was aware of the idea but had never tried it. I hadn’t
tried it because I just couldn’t really place an effective way to make use of
it – until this year. My students struggle
with grammar concepts, as most students do. They actually asked me for more
lectures on grammar because they were concerned about the ACT. But, I just couldn’t devote large chunks of
class time to PPT presentations of grammar. Even though they said they wanted
more instruction and practice, I don’t really think they wanted that
either. My solution was to try the flipped
classroom concept. Each week on Tuesday
afternoon, I send out a link to a grammar tutorial via remind.com. It is a short video over one skill. I encourage students to watch it as many
times as needed and to take notes. We will
typically work on the same skill or skill set for a few weeks but with a
different video each time. So, where do
I get the videos? I certainly don’t make them myself ;)! I once had a college professor
say, “Work smarter – not harder!” All the
videos I send come from youtube.com. Some of my favorite go-to channels are GrammarBytes, Shmoop, The Sentence Center,
These weekly videos work pretty well for
my juniors and seniors partly because most grammar has been covered by the time
they get to me, so a quick refresher typically will suffice. Even with younger students, though, I could
see the value in sending home the video link the day before a lecture to set it
up. The more times they hear and see the information the better.
2) Worksheet Wednesday: Students need regular practice with
specific isolated skills. If you are like me, you have tons of worksheets and
grammar workbooks around collecting dust. I put those to use on Wednesdays several years
ago. Each Wednesday when students come in the room, they have a grammar worksheet
to pick up and do as a grammar drill for the day’s starter. It’s timed (10
minutes), but they can use their notes. The worksheet usually has some notes at
the top and focuses on one grammar skill at a time. The skill covered on Worksheet Wednesday is
the same skill from Tuesday night’s flipped grammar video. Another place to get free and quality
worksheets is TPT, of course, and Grammar Bytes.
3) Daily Proofreading Starters: On Monday, Tuesday, and
Thursday, my daily starter is two sentences with various mistakes. My
literature textbooks came with a set of daily starters to use. I have those on the board when students come
in, and they know to get started making corrections. I give them time to write the
sentence as is, and then they go back and make corrections with a red (or colored
pen). We go over the answers together, and
I use that time to provide any additional instruction, explanation, or rules. It takes about 10 minutes each day. They keep up with their corrections and notes
in their folder from day to day.
See a video of me doing these bell ringers “live” right from my classroom!
4) Weekly Quizzes: Weekly quizzes go hand-in-hand with the daily
proofreading starters. When I first
started doing the daily proofreading, I was collecting notes and notebooks and
giving credit for that. It was
cumbersome and so time consuming, and I realized I wasn’t actually assessing if
they knew those grammar skills we had worked on all week. I was just measuring if students could take
notes and keep up with them! At that point, I started making multiple-choice
weekly grammar quizzes. The task was
huge, but after several years I had a nice compilation. Since they are multiple choice, my students can take them on the ActivExpressions, and that makes easy grade recording for me! We take the short quizzes on Friday, and go
over the answers immediately. I spend
time discussing why one answer is correct over the others, and then students take time to chart their scores and make notes on strengths and weaknesses. It’s a 15 minute time commitment, and students
often report increased scores on ACT after having worked through the daily
starters and weekly quizzes. My grammar quizzes are linked in the picture below. Another excellent place I get multiple choice grammar practice is from TpT’s Fun Act Prep store.
|Try my student data pack to track students’ weekly grammar quiz scores.|
5) Old-fashioned Homework:
One way to get more grammar practice in is to assign homework, but it
needs to be homework that requires application.
Grammar homework (worksheets) typically has right or wrong concrete answers,
thus making it very easy for students to cheat.
Instead of assigning worksheets like this, have students write 10 sentences
or a paragraph demonstrating their understanding of sentence structure, subject
verb agreement, or parts of speech, etc. This way you can be certain their work
is original as it will be easy to spot “shared work.”
If all else fails, we forego extra reading time or a “Making Literature Come Alive” activity from our book clubs and do traditional grammar lectures via PPT.
Now available is my complete grammar program with daily grammar proofreading sentences, the video links I use, rules, worksheets, and daily quizzes.
Another way to sneak in a little more grammar in a fun, interactive way would be with any of my creative grammar games or real-world grammar fails task cards!