Saturday, October 12, 2013

Sparking Grammar Success!

I've always been frustrated by how to teach grammar! I tried the "DOL" type approach but I never it saw it transfer over into student writing. Then I tried short mini-lessons based on the type of writing we were doing in class. Those worked but students seemed to forget by the next piece some of the ideas of the lesson... then grammar seemed to fall by the wayside in my room for a while and I focused on ideas, craft, organization, and everything but mechanics. But that also drove me crazy! I wanted my students' writing to look intelligent! What's a teacher to do???

Then, I was introduced to Jeff Anderson's school of thought! Light-bulb moment! Have students take ownership and notice things about "good" writing. Stop showing them mistakes and bad grammar! Start showing students all the things great authors do well and have them intimate those "tricks" in their own writing. It's how we teach author's craft in workshop - why not grammar too! I owe a huge thank you to my colleague Amy who got me on the Jeff Anderson grammar bandwagon! After talking to her about her grammar units and discussing it with my teaching partner we decided to try out Ideas by Jivey's Mentor Sentence starter pack this year to ease our students into the process. My teaching partner and I are in love! We recently purchased the third set of sentences to continue the process!

Here's my spark....Let students take ownership!
  • Students do all the noticing. They are the experts. I fill in with some reminders or names of things like "Oh, great you noticed the adverbs" but otherwise... it's all on them to notice the great things author's do.
  • Students name the grammar rule. We don't use the "fancy names." What fifth grader remembers that anyway. We make it a contest and vote on the best name(s). The best ones go up on the wall as a header above the sentence. My only rule is that the should help us remember the rule in some way!
  • Students compete to have their group's sentence featured on our Wall of Fame. Each week the table with the best sentence gets to be featured on the Wall of Fame. The first week, if they performed the rule correctly they went up. Now, it's a competition and I was blown away! They must also use at least 2 other types of author's craft int their sentences as well... not just the "rule" we are learning about.

Here's our Grammar Rocks Wall of Fame in a nutshell... 
This past week... I chose the best sentence from each class to be posted on the Grammar Wall of Fame! The sentences were amazing since they students knew that only one would be selected and posted! They rocked those hyphens! Sadly, our laminator was down and I didn't think to  bring my strips home... so I don't have a picture of this week's work. One winning sentence was about a super-creepy werewolf... perfect for this time of year, right?

Don't forget to link up with Joanne from Head over Heels for Teaching and share how you spark motivation in you classroom! Have a great Saturday!


  1. I love the grammar wall of fame! What a great idea! I'm using Jivey's mentor sentences too,somaybe I can steal your idea!!! Thanks for sharing and linking up!
    Head Over Heels For Teaching

  2. I'm so excited you are loving mentor sentences!!! Thanks for the shoutout! :)

  3. I am using mentor sentences too and loving it! I like how you have the groups come up with a sentence too and make it a little team competition. So far, I have only had students work on their own. I love your wall of fame!
    Fourth Grade Flipper

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