Looking for the Magical Unicorn
Pretty much every English teacher I know thinks that finding a good way to teach grammar is an elusive and frustrating task. Finding a comprehensive, year-long grammar program that fits all the student expectations that the state has assigned to your grade level is a daunting task, and one that I hadn’t conquered in 20 years. At our school, we are finding that the students are coming to us with less and less grammar knowledge every year, and this requires us to back track before we ever start to address the skills we need to cover in the 176 days we have. That’s actually 88 days for me because my school operates on an A/B schedule.
Like I said, a daunting task.
Or a magical unicorn in the form of grammar curriculum.
Fate steps in
On the Monday of Thanksgiving break, it was a cold day, and we decided to have a fire that evening. I went out to get some firewood, and threw out my back.
Then, at the beginning of December, I went on a trip to New York with my hubby, and the 3 hour plane ride home aggravated my stupid back again. So my holiday break was a bit touch and go as well. Actually, it was sort of a gift in disguise. One of the only comfortable positions I could find was sitting straight up in a dining room chair, so I started working on something that took my mind off of the pain: middle school grammar. I know, I’m a weirdo.
For the rest of the break, my sole focus was breaking down the grammar skills I was responsible for and creating notes, practice worksheets, and quizzes that covered each of the skills. I’m a paper and pen girl, so it looked something like this at the beginning:
I teach both 8th grade ELA and English I PAP, so I made sure to break down both. Luckily for me, there are only four more skills in English I that aren’t in 8th grade!
Do you know how hard it is to come up with sentences for exercises? For one exercise, not so bad. For all those skills, I made 2-4 exercises and a quiz, so my creativity was pushed to the limit. I started drawing inspiration from watching my favorite shows, the Great British Bake Off and Supernatural. That’s right, I wrote 75 sentences about Dean and Sam, and around 30 about GBBO.
At the end of the break, I had 21 pages of notes, and I had finished 3 of the sets of exercises I needed.
21 pages of notes.
That got me thinking about how we teach grammar, so of course, I gave myself more work to do. Why not? First, here are the skills that I covered in the Middle School Grammar Notes: (the highlighted skills are linked to the product that covers them on TPT)
- Prepositional and Infinitive Phrases
- Commonly Misspelled/Misused Words
- Dependent and Independent Clauses
- Breaking Down Sentences- Subject and Predicate and Complements
- Sentence Structure (S, CP, CX, CP/CX)
- Splices, Fragments, and Run-ons
- Comma Rules
- Pronoun/Antecedent Agreement
- Relative Pronouns
- Active vs. Passive Voice
- Adjectival and Adverbial Phrases
- Hyphens, Brackets, Dashes, Parentheses, and Ellipses
- Semicolons and Colons
- Restrictive and Nonrestrictive Clauses
I have all of those products individually, and I’ve made a Middle School Grammar Bundle that saves you over 20%. It’s a growing bundle as I will add the practices and quizzes I make as I create them.
As you can see, there are A LOT of skills to cover, and even though I’m the grammar guru, I haven’t had time to create all of the products I need to cover them. Yet. This is definitely a work in progress, and my students this year are my guinea pigs! I’ll keep plugging away, writing sentences about Gossip Girl, The Good Doctor, and Top Chef, and eventually I hope to have a year-long middle school grammar curriculum I can count on. Until the standards change. Next year.
Ugh, I guess I’ll keep chasing that magical unicorn. One day I’ll get there!
If you have any awesome grammar exercises or tips, I’d LOVE to hear from you!
For a snarkier look at how I felt about throwing out my back, you can visit my blog post, Down for the Count!