SOL 15: Two Funny Ways to Teach Beginning Grammar, 3-26-15

How about hearing a couple of funny ways I taught beginning English grammar? The vast majority of our L-Squared audience isn’t retired, so I’m going to share some memories this morning.

A great man once wrote that if the students can identify prepositional phrases, then they’re more likely to find the subject and not make subject-verb agreement errors. I bet it was John Langan. The typical basic sentence structure in English is Subject-Verb-Object.

Prepositions are usually about space. Here’s a way to illustrate the relationship, “The teacher threw the eraser over the students’ heads.” Yes, I really threw it! Moreover, most prepositions start with the letters “a,” “b,” “o,” “u,” or “t.” I pointed out that feature on my handout or in the textbook too. It’s good to do something funny in the first week of the semester to build the teacher-student relationship.

Here’s another funny antic. Fragments are incomplete statements while a sentence has a subject, verb, and expresses a complete thought. However, “I type,” is a sentence, for it expresses a complete thought and an object isn’t required. “Drives to the basket after a fake in the opposite direction,” is a fragment because there’s no subject. One could change “drives” to “drive” and have an imperative order-giving (coaching?) statement because “you understood” would be the subject. Certainly adding a subject pronoun (he/she) or someone’s name to the start of the sentence would make a good sentence as well. Yes, I actually demonstrated  that favorite basketball move!

Furthermore, teachers who move around the classroom have better class control. Appearing stuck behind the desk may make one look stiff or scared.  Obviously walking up  to a loud student’s desk is a far more common tactic. Normally this is an issue for younger grades, but a remedial English class isn’t exempt from junior high style disruption by the students. By the way, I also substitute taught in all grades: PK through 12 as well as teaching college level Developmental English and Adult ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages).

I hope the Slice of Life audience found these two stunts amusing and will consider doing them some day. Maybe you could do them for review because we’ve passed the mid-point of the semester!

4 thoughts on “SOL 15: Two Funny Ways to Teach Beginning Grammar, 3-26-15

  1. When I teach students when to use “me” and “I”, I talk like a cave ma. “Me go to the mall” when a student wrote Jane and me went to the mall. The kids laugh and then, later, I can remind them about caveman talk and they know exactly what I mean.

    • That’s really cute. I can see where cave ma (or cave man) talk would really work for accenting wrong grammar usage. Glad you liked my idea too; looking forward to reading your posts.

  2. Making kids laugh and using the stage — all great parts of teaching. Like your style, Bohemiotx. I used to teach grammar with an entire mnemonic parade — P.O.S. parade. With all the grammar, though, I kept wondering why we should teach it? When I decided that grammar is a tool for tuning up writing and a way of thinking about passages one is trying to comprehend, then I liked it better. But I don’t see any reason to teach grammar separate from reading and writing. I like sentence composing I’ve seen done well — though I haven’t taught it.

  3. Thanks again, L-Squared. Did you notice that my first line addressed our “L-Squared audience?” I meant to say “Slice of Life audience”–Freudian slip…lol. This morning I’ll discuss FABSONY!

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