Does anyone else feel like teaching grammar and language is tedious and repetitive? Every year we teach the same skills and every year we reteach those same skills. Then we get frustrated when we read student writing. They didn’t capitalize! Why won’t they use proper punctuation? How hard is it to learn their plurals and possessives?!
Please tell me that I am not the only one.
I would spend hours every week searching Pinterest and TPT for activities and lessons for grammar. Then I would spend class time introducing new activities. I was looking for the one that would do the trick.
One day I had a bit of a meltdown when a student asked me what a noun was. That’s when I knew that things had to change.
I implemented a daily grammar time, but I only had 10 minutes to spend on grammar each day. This forced me to get focused and more consistent.
YOU can help your students to master their language standards in just 10 minutes per day. I did! And I am here to tell you exactly how it can be done!
First, I have a few tips and then I will dive in deep with the activities that helped my students to be successful.
3 Must Know Tips for Teaching Grammar
Grammar Does NOT Replace Writing
I often ask the teachers in my Facebook groups what they are currently teaching in writing. It is not uncommon to get answers like:
- types of sentences
I get it. All of these grammar skills would make your students’ writing better.
To truly help our students to be better writers, we are going to need to teach writing skills AND grammar skills.
The good news is that grammar really only needs to take 10 minutes per day. With some creative scheduling and shortened transitions- I just know that you can make this happen!
Grammar Needs to be Taught in Small Pieces
Hands down the biggest mistake that I made when teaching grammar is that I tried to cover too much at once.
For example, verbs can’t be taught in one week in third grade. You have action verbs, helping verbs, linking verbs, past tense verbs and irregular past tense verbs.
You will be so much less stressed if you break down all of your standards into super small pieces. Let students master the skill one small lesson at a time.
Teaching Grammar is Easier with a Routine
I used to look for a new activities every week for grammar.
The problem with this is that it is a waste of time. I was wasting my time with the searching, planning, and prep. Then I was wasting class time giving new instructions.
Instead, consider implementing a routine. No matter the skill, you do the same activities every week. Your students know what to expect and the planning and prep is much faster.
Take a look at the routine that I used…
My Routine for Teaching Grammar
Monday: PowerPoint Lesson
On Monday, I would introduce the new grammar skill. We would discuss any vocabulary they needed to know and go over related rules. This lesson was always done whole group.
I used a PowerPoint for the Monday lesson. I struggled for quite some time with making the lesson engaging for my students. Students are not going to get excited about me reading PowerPoint slides to them!
Over time I have discovered two keys to keeping these lessons fun and effective.
- The lessons should be short and sweet. Don’t spend more than 10 minutes on this PowerPoint lesson. The longer that you talk, the less students will listen. It’s true that your students will not master the skill during this 10 minute lesson. It’s necessary to adjust your expectations. This is just the introduction!
- Include lots of opportunities for students to talk and share during the lesson. Almost every one of my slides will ask students a question. You can have students answer questions on personal white boards or have them do pair shares. Mix it up and do both. They remember more when they say it!
Tuesday: Interactive Notebook
On Tuesday we would do an interactive notebook activity as a whole group. (You could certainly do this as a small group activity, but I preferred getting it done quickly as a whole group.)
The interactive notebook activity has two distinct purposes. First, it is a great way for students to start practicing the weekly skill. After the introduction lesson the day before, students are ready to do a few examples in writing. Secondly, the notebooks become a resource for students to look back on throughout the year. If they forget the plural noun rules, they don’t have to ask me. They can look them up in their own notebook!
Now, you have to be careful when it comes to interactive notebook activities. If you are not careful they can become more like art projects than grammar resources. When this happens, they take way too much time!
Here are my best tips for keeping interactive notebook time to just 10 minutes:
- Buy or create notebook activities that have easy cuts. Straight cuts are the quickest. Cutting around elaborate shapes and clip art can take WAY too long.
- Don’t bother with having students color their notebook activities. Coloring is so fun and relaxing, but it does not generally increase the effectiveness of the activity. If I had students who wanted to add color, I told them they could do it another time that they were a fast finisher.
- Teach your students how to cut. I am serious. Teach them the quickest way to cut out the pieces. This usually means cutting around the outside border first. Demonstrate!
- Race your kiddos. “I am going to cut out this activity quickly and neatly. Can you do it faster and neater than me?” Kids love to compete. Give them a reason to be quick.
Next we would write during grammar.
“Wait, Jamie! You said that grammar shouldn’t take the place of writing.”
Yup, that’s what I said. And I totally mean it. But, we can still do a little writing during our grammar lesson. This helps our students to see how these grammar lessons fit into the bigger picture of writing.
On Wednesday I would display a PowerPoint slide with a writing prompt. Students were given about 8 minutes to write. This is a quick write! My students love a quick write.
In order to make this quick writing work, I highly recommend giving students a very simple prompt. These should be a prompt that all of your students could easy write three sentences about. Have them write about their bedroom, what they ate for breakfast, or what they do after school.
After students are given their writing time, I highly recommend having them trade notebooks with their partner. I then give them the task of underlining or circling examples of the grammar skill we are focusing on.
Then I call on a few students to share an example from their parter’s writing. They love the permission to talk and they are bragging on their partner. It’s a win!
Thursday: Task Cards
On Thursdays, we used one of my favorite strategies for teaching grammar. My students would do a task card scoot to practice our weekly grammar skill. This is a super fun way for students to independently practice our skill while getting up and moving.
There are many ways to use task cards, but this is my very favorite, no fuss, way to get it done:
- Print one set of the task cards. You do NOT need one card per student!
- Spread the task cards on the desks and tables around the room. You don’t need to hide them. You just want them spread out.
- Have students take their recording sheet and start with the task card closest to them. Once they answer this card, they can move to the next card. There is no need to make every student switch cards at the same time. Everyone doesn’t work at the same pace!
Encourage kids to finish as many of the cards as possible during your allotted time. You may want to choose two or three to go over as a whole group.
I generally didn’t grade this activity, but you certainly can if you feel like your students are ready to be graded on the skill.
Task card scoots are so easy to differentiate! You can allow some students to bring their interactive notebook with them. You can also assign only certain cards to students who are not ready for all of them. Or you can even scoot around the room with a small group if they need help reading the cards.
After your students complete a task card set, be sure to keep them handy for test prep! You can mix your old sets together to create a set for spiral review.
Read about more ways to use task cards to teach grammar.
Finally, it is Friday and that means that it is time for a quick grammar assessment!
My biggest piece of advice is to give a SHORT and easy to grade assessment. I love ten questions and I am a big fan of multiple choice, underlining and circling.
Also, if you are blessed with technology, you could definitely use Google Classroom to create digital assessments that are self grading.
If you have students who need an accommodation, don’t forget that you can allow them to use their interactive notebook during the assessment.
Wrapping It Up
Teaching grammar can be so time consuming. And it can be maddening to have students who don’t know any of the parts of speech after years of learning them! Be patient and consistent my sweet teacher friends!
You can certainly create your own PowerPoints, notebook activities, writing prompts, task cards, and assessments for teaching grammar. After all, you are pretty darn incredible and resourceful. But who the heck has time for all of that?
If you don’t have time to create all of your own grammar resources, I am happy to share the resources that I created for my students.
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My grammar units include everything that you will need to teach and assess grammar! I have a full year of third grade resources and I am adding new fourth and fifth grade activities every month. Enjoy!
Have a Not So Wimpy day,