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Elementary Teacher

Having fun in the classroom and "balancing" life!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Journal writing and grammar

Do you get alot of journal writing that looks like this:  "I like my Mom."? I do.

And how do you teach grammar? We use the Shurley method at our school and it has some great qualities. But the assignments and the way it's "supposed" to be taught really leave alot to be desired. You have to dig deep to "fun it up". It's great to get them to learn the parts of speech, though. But  I really wonder if the kids are actually learning what the parts of speech are, or if they're just memorizing what the worksheets look like.

So this year I'm trying something different. In Shurley english, the kids learn patterns of sentence structure. In first grade, they only learn pattern one. The sentences take on this structure:
A - adj- sn- v- adv- p-A- op
(article- adjective- subject noun- verb-adverb- preposition- article- object of the preposition)
You can add adjectives or adverbs to that, but that's basically it. 

They learn those parts of speech, and also to classify (diagram) that sentence. They also practice writing sentences using that format. So to incorporate that learning with their writing, I started making them use it for their journals. Here's how it's going:
It's impossible to see- sorry! It says "Hard candy corn crunches loudly." 

"Pine trees sway softly"
"The Holy Bible teaches smartly."  Smartly????!!!! They're 6.
 ARGH!! These pictures are so hard to see.  I'm sorry.

It's tough. They want to revert back to their "I like my Mom" writing. And it's tough to get them to restructure their thinking to make a sentence fit a format. Journal writing time just went from 10 minutes to a half hour. But I really do think it will help them to understand what the parts of speech are and how they're used. Plus we are forced to do some thinking to find adjectives and adverbs to make the sentences more exciting. After we're done writing, they switch journals and peer edit. Then they get their own book back and have to classify the sentence by writing the labels on top of the words. Is their journal a mess? Yes. Does it take a ton of time? Yes. And patience? Yes. Do I hear some whining? Yes.  But so far I'm thinkin' it'll be worth it. After a few weeks of writing journals this way I plan to give them a day to write whatever or however they want. I think that will be a good test of whether they've learned correct sentence structures or not. Will they go right back to "I like my dog"? I'm afraid to find out.
Have a great long weekend!
 Glitter Words
[ - *Glitter Words*]

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