Does Grammar Really Matter? Yes! 5 Tips to make it fun
I enjoy teaching grammar. But convincing students to love grammar feels like trying to make a cat enjoy a relaxing bath.
We know that boys are more likely to be engaged in the learning process if they are excited about the topic. Our approach to grammar (and literacy in general) is that boys will stay engaged if they are participating in a way that allows them to be creative, have choice, and includes snort-inducing laughter.
Here are some fun examples for teaching grammar:
1) Build Grammar into fun writing tasks
Choose a grammar concept and give them a task that practices usage. In revising pronouns, for example, give students a choice to write a letter from: a cranky ‘Karen’ who is writing to council about an unbelievably trivial issue, a teen writing to their celebrity crush, an alien writing back to his homeland with his impressions of Earth. Believe me, the kids will really embrace it.
2) A few rules are a good thing – so make the examples funny
Being bombarded with Latin rules are not going to entice any boy to English. However, they need to know how to name the ‘nuts and bolts’ of language ie the parts of speech (nouns, verbs, prepositions etc). Make up funny sentences where they must correct the grammatical and punctuation errors:
i love chocolate so much said ethan that i sing lullabies to it each night
in his spare time josh throws flaming donuts into the pacific ocean
sam won the race against usain bolt because he _____________ and ______________.
3) Make a Grammar Info Board ‘Why Grammar Matters’
Completing continuous worksheets of circling verbs, underlining prepositions and labelling nouns is often what occurs in classrooms. This is not necessarily a teacher’s fault – good grammar resources are hard to find! Instead, grammatical learning activities should be linked to real life. Can
they find examples of grammar in a restaurant menu, a song’s lyrics, a conversation? Of course, we may be biased, but we think that Literacy for Boys is an excellent resource ~ we have written over 500 grammar tasks that are linked to the topics that boys enjoy. Ask students to bring in memes/examples of funny signs where a Grammar check was overlooked.
4) Grammar Games
These are simple ideas that aren’t time consuming to create:
a) Celebrity Biography ~ Find a celebrity biography that will be quick and easy to read in class. Ask students identify the different forms of the past tense. For example, underline the difference between “he has performed many concerts in his career” versus “he had performed in many concerts”. Have the students name the verb form being used in each example and ask them to orally explain the difference between the different usages. This exercise will help students see how grammar can influence the meaning of words and potentially alter a story.
b) Grammar Hot Potato ~ You will need a timer. Give the students a term, such as ‘verb’, and the student with the bean bag has 5 seconds to think of a word that fits that category. The student left holding the bag when the time beeps must leave the circle.
c) Crossword Puzzles ~ can encourage student understanding and practice of different parts of a sentence, verb conjugations, and concepts such as synonyms and antonyms. https://www.armoredpenguin.com/crossword/Data/best/vocabulary/grammar.01.html
5) Explicit teaching of grammar is important but use real-world contexts
Universities and employers complain about the younger generation’s terrible grammar and punctuation. When your students can realise that grammar is used in the outside world, not just the classroom, they will understand how important it is.
Good teaching of good rules with good examples means that our boys will be able to communicate more effectively and this translates into doing better in school.
Check out our BONUS blogs for more ideas and tips.
Brought to you by Tanya Grambower