Learning the Difference Between Common and Proper Nouns

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SWBAT differentiate between common and proper nouns as well as write those nouns correctly.

Big Idea

What's the big deal about nouns? Come and find out!

Teacher Background Knowledge and Preparation

I dislike worksheets.  I won't say that I never use them, but if I can avoid doing a worksheet with my class, I will.  This lesson is all about the conventions of our written language which I know isn't the most exciting thing to teach.  Conventions are important, though.  My students need to be solid with written conventions if their writing is to be clear and strong, and, in particular, they need to know how to recognize and write common and proper nouns if I want them to apply it to authentic forms of writing. The ultimate goal is to have my students apply this skill in their writing.  For example, if I want them to use proper conventions when we write our informational stories, I need to make sure they have a solid foundation in recognizing and writing our common and proper nouns in a skills based lesson first.  What better way to practice than to use a Dinah Zyke foldable?  I wanted my students to utilize authentic forms of writing, even at a skill based level first, and using the foldable was much more motivating for my students as well.

When students begin to differentiate between and start using common and proper nouns in their writing they are addressing standard L1.1b.  Capitalizing dates and names of people also fall under the skill of using proper nouns correctly.  This addresses standard L1.2a.  Students will get practice working towards both of these standards today.

I have found that when you make foldables with your students that you as the teacher will have to do a great deal of the prep work, otherwise your lesson becomes all about making the book.  Check out how to prep these books How to Make Common and Proper Books.docx.  You will also want to copy the pictures and headers for the books for each student in your class Common and Proper Nouns.docx. Finally, you will want to download either the Smartboard All About Nouns.notebook or Activboard All About Nouns.flipchart lesson for the guided practice section of the lesson.

Guided Practice (We Do)

25 minutes

When you look at the Common Core standards that are addressed in this lesson, you'll see that we are addressing conventions, so I really wanted to focus on having my students look at print as well as write it themselves. This is why I made the Smartboard lesson.

I have been following my basal series' scope and sequence and had already taught a lesson on nouns, so my students had some prior knowledge.  In the first few slides we reviewed what nouns are and categorized them using a tree map on the Smartboard lesson. 

I brought my class to the carpet to sit in front of our Smartboard lesson.  I wanted to bring out the importance of our lesson for the day.  I said, "Today we are going to be learning the difference between common and proper nouns.  We capitalize proper nouns and we don't capitalize common nouns.  This is going to be important because when we write stories, you are going to have to know the difference between common and proper nouns so you will know which ones you'll have to capitalize in your writing."

We talked about how common nouns are plain, old, ordinary nouns and they are spelled with lowercase letters.  For the slides on the Smartboard lesson we did a cloze activity where they had to pick from a list of common nouns and make their sentence make sense.  Then they had to do another cloze activity where they wrote a common noun, making sure it was spelled with a lowercase letter, on the blank line so their sentence made sense.

We then went through the slides introducing proper nouns such as titles, city names, names of bridges and parks, and names. Again we did the cloze activities like we did with the common nouns but this time we made sure all words were spelled with capital letters.  I especially pointed out an example like New York City - there are three words and they all have to be spelled with capital letters.  During this time we had time to work and discuss as a group, and I called on students to complete the different sentences in our cloze activity, making sure everyone had an opportunity to write.

Independent Practice

25 minutes

I helped my students get started by helping them put on the title on the front and their Common and Proper headers.  I then explained that they were to cut out and put a picture on the front, write the common noun word in that column and then give it a name so it is a proper noun and write it in that column.  Then I sent the students to work.

You can see a portion of this part of the lesson here: Common and Proper Nouns.mp4.

Our Closure

5 minutes

I have two simple posters in my room, a Facebook one and a Twitter one.  I use these posters as a fancy way of utilizing the exit ticket.  I like using these posters because the students get a feel of doing something that older kids do; however, I don't have to worry about going online and worrying about online safety.

Today we used our Facebook poster.  I gave each of my students a post it note and told them "I want you to write about something important that you learned today.  Why was it important that we learned about common and proper nouns?" Students had the opportunity to post what they learned and then I read many of them so we could sum up our learning for the day.