Monday, December 11, 2017

Teach Grammar the Easy Way

Photo of people fishing from a pier with the title Nothing Succeeds Like Success.

I hope by now,  if you are using one of my Simple Steps to Sentence Sense books to teach grammar and usage, you have discovered that students can be successful and make good grades and even enjoy learning. As the English Proverb states: "Nothing succeeds like success."

This post is an update on an older post, and many teachers tell me reading it was very helpful. I hope so. 

What a wonderful feeling it is to give students frequent chances to succeed and feel good about themselves! 

The way to achieve this is really simple. When you grade students’ group and individual papers, break each lesson into several components. (I always let them trade and grade except on tests.) 

For example, when you do Step 3: Finding the Subject, don’t just check for the subjects that students find in each sentence. That would only give students 20 answers at 5 points apiece and make it easy for them to get a low score.
Instead, count the prepositional phrase(s) in each sentence as one point, the verb phrase as one point, and the subject as one point. Voila! Now there are over 60 answers and students can miss several and still get a decent score. 

Of course, these tips work with any assignment you give your students whether or not it comes from one of my books. 

For each step, you can decide which parts of the sentence are the key parts. For example, when working on Step 4: Finding the Complements, the key is deciding if the verb is action or linking before looking for the complement. When grading each paper, be sure to count the verb and whether it is an action or a linking verb along with the complement as key elements in the score. 

Use the answer pages in the back of the book to count the number of elements you plan to score in each lesson and make your directions clear about which parts of the sentence students are to mark when scoring papers. This is another opportunity for the teacher to re-teach and emphasize that sentence analysis must be done in steps, and that the steps must be done in order. Skipping a step is a recipe for confusion and disaster. 

This method could get to be a bit too much of a hassle if the teacher had to do the math each time papers are graded and figure out the correct score for papers that have 63 answers, or 71 answers, etc. It could, but it won’t, if you download my Grading Scale Chart. You can print it on both sides of a sheet of paper, slip it into a plastic folder sleeve and take it with you anywhere. You can even give your students a copy if you so desire. 

I always just called out the answers out loud: minus 18 equals ? (or whatever). Then I asked the whole class to raise their hands as I called out the grades starting with 50 or below. When the student heard his/her grade, he/she was to put his/her hand down. At the end, the students with 99 or 100 still had their hands up and got a round of applause, but no one was embarrassed at having a low score. 

Simple Steps to Sentence Sense is an easy and enjoyable way to teach grammar. You can choose to print the exercises and tests and distribute them to your students, or your students can access them in Google Drive and Go Paperless! You will find the books HERE. You know you are successful when you hear students say, “This is fun.” Grammar? Fun? Well, all right! 

Click here for a series of free instructional videos that explain each step in detail.

Please tell your friends and colleagues about my book. (Hint: Simple Steps to Sentence Sense is also a useful tool for foreign language teachers to use, and it is really successful with special education and ESL students.) 
Thanks for reading,