Weekly Blog Round Up: Grammar Instruction
The 10 Best Grammar Resources from Blogs I Follow
For the first every weekly blog round-up, I wanted to start with one of the hardest and most controversial topics to teach when it comes to English Language Arts and writing instruction: grammar. Understanding grammar is essential to understanding how to put thought on paper, and yet it often falls off to the side of any planbook because we get stuck on ideas, content, voice, and organization. Even with my new rubric coding following the six traits of writing, I grade voice, organization, and ideas first, and only then do I go back in and help students edit and revise in terms of conventions, grammar, word choice, and sentence fluency.
Whether you are an elementary teacher or a secondary teacher, here are the best grammar resources I have found for you to browse through:
Secondary Sara's blog is one where I go to often to browse and take in her creativity when it comes to lessons. She teaches middle school, and many of her resources could apply to high school as well. Bonus, there is also a great freebie download in her TPT store that involves using Grammar in Literature. She has an activity available where you can have students proofread their drafts of their writing with a grammar focus as well. Need more grammar inspiration? Check out her blog to find amazing ideas like Grammar Quidditch and Game Boards. If you are looking to have fun with grammar, look no further than Sara's page.
Jessica's blog Ideas By Jivey is a pleasure to scroll through because she mixes text, pictures, and videos in the most amazing balancing act and fashion. I teach Middle School, but I often repeat to others, "good practice is good practice." Jessica's ideas about using grammar in mentor sentences tie so well with my reading I did last summer about using mentor texts for writers. Novels serve a purpose for our writing, just as each sentence can serve a purpose for writing. She breaks down the ideas that she uses here in upper and lower elementary approaches. I find both helpful because I may be serving students that are advanced or basic in reading and/or writing skills.
Created For Learning is a blog and TPT store that is run by a married couple who are also both teachers. I first noticed them on their YouTube videos about how to grade work faster and more efficiently. However, they also have some spectacular grammar resources. I want to say right up front that I hate worksheets. I hate everything to do with worksheets. However, do not let their Grammar Ninja resources fool you. Kids love anything to do with ninjas. You can tell that they came up with all of the examples, and I have had a ton of fun working with kids in class on some of these resources with parts of speech and commas in particular.
NoRedInk is an online platform that uses adaptive exercise to help build stronger writers. They specifically are excellent at helping students with grammar skills. Students put their personal interests into an initial survey, and then the questions are geared to their interests and include classmates names. For example, a mentor sentence might say: "Harry Potter ate a cheese sandwich today." Kids love this. So much. I can assign different assignments and pick and choose what I want students to work on. The best part? I can see what individual classes are struggling with in terms of writing skills. I had an advanced class one year that struggled with prepositions. I would have normally skipped over this information quickly assuming it was an advanced class; however, I was able to identify a weakness and intervene in learning.
Do you have some time? I will need it in order to explain how much I love Flocabulary. Flocabulary has really expanded to not just be insanely awesome upbeat music-based videos about different education content areas, but now they include interactive activities and also handouts for teachers to use with corresponding lessons. Students literally tap along to these videos, sing them on different days than you actually play them, and then ask for them if something is confusing. "Mrs. Hampton, do you have a Flocabulary video on possessive nouns?" (Okay, they are not really asking that...but what if they did!) "Yes, yes I do." Flocabulary makes grammar, reading, and writing instruction more fun.
One StopTeacher Shop is run by Kristin who is a former elementary school teacher. I am intrigued by her "Spiral Review" system where concepts are organized and maintained by students each week. I like this idea of student-managed learning, yet I also like the idea of helping teachers stay organized as to what they are teaching. How often do we just "throw stuff" or as much information as possible at students to hope that they get what we want them to out of the lesson. Kristin's concepts make sense and keep everybody on the same page.
Reading and Writing Haven is a blog and TPT store ran by Melissa, a secondary English educator. Her blog makes me so happy, particularly this post on how to sequence grammar instruction in the ELA and writing classroom. I can't tell you the number of times I have sat in curriculum meetings where seasoned teachers, including myself, go, "okay, where do we start?" Melissa gives us answers. She has other grammar resources on her blog as well that help to break down the teaching of grammar to the writing teacher in an accessible way.
Lauralee at The Language Arts Classroom blog and TPT store explain different alternatives to the grammar worksheet (Can we all agree she has one of the obvious and awesome blog names?) I enjoy her simple and straight-forward writing style because it gets to the point immediately. I am so intrigued by her grammar with coloring sheets...particularly because grammar stresses me out and studies say coloring helps. Lauralee is a secondary educator that thinks outside of the box.
Michael, an elementary teacher who also runs The Thinker Builder blog and TPT store, first caught my attention with lessons surrounding subjects and predicates. My fellow middle school teachers will attest, our students still need this review work at the 6-8 grade level, and we do not often have the lessons in our arsenal to give them the knowledge they need. Michael, like other elementary school teachers featured here, make grammar accessible for students. I LOVE the use of manipulatives to teach grammar. Why? Hands-on learning is forever learning. Period.
Jennifer's blog...can you call it a blog? It really is a mecca of teacher learning on the internet. Cult of Pedagogy is a place where you can go to get lost...in a good way. Her post about grammar is refreshing because she supplies the research around the actual instruction of grammar, and then the means to actually do it in the classroom. She calls these small tidbits of grammar that students need "Grammar Gap Fillers." I also appreciate that this is all available in Podcast form for all of the teachers to listen to on-the-go.
Writing Mindset Reflection: How do you incorporate grammar instruction in the classroom? If you tie it into lessons, how much and how often? Comment below!