The adoption on CCSS has been like an energy shot in the arm for me. It has re-energized me in the same way a new textbook adoption. It seems a bit like getting a new toy. Learning the new standards has made me look carefully at things that I have been teaching perhaps a bit mechanically, following a pacing chart or covering them as they appeared in the text.
As someone who succeeded in learning English as a second language with very little explicit grammar instruction, I easily fall into ignoring this area, and doing what my teachers did: literature and writing. Going through the standards and the research, however, has reminded me that there is considerable benefit to teaching grammar. I suspect my teachers would have enjoyed the shortcut grammar lessons could have provided us to improving writing and comprehension.
This lesson on verbs is the first lesson in a unit that exemplifies my newly rediscovered interest in teaching grammar, language, and foundational elements of literacy carefully. This unit contains a mishmash of lessons that all drive towards the complex goal of increasing student literacy through a back-to-the-basics approach to foundational understandings including parts of speech, phonetic spelling, and self-monitoring for meaning.
In this lesson, I wanted my students to be able to identify the word(s) that represented the action in a sentence, the verbs.
I began by giving them a few examples. I would give them a sentence, such as, "John jumped into the cold lake." Then I would ask them what John had done (touching upon SL.1.2: Ask and answer questions about key details in a text read aloud or information presented orally or through other media). When they responded, I would tell them that "jump" (for example) was the verb. I explained that in the lesson they would identify verbs in sentences, and use them to create their own sentences.
We started with a fun game (see them in action in the clip in the resource section). They had to come up to the front and act out an action, without saying anything; their classmates would have to guess the action. I then created a verb chart that stayed up for future use (see resource).
I gave the class two assignments:
1) I told them that they would have to find 3 verbs in the story we were reading that week. I gave them three small pieces of paper and asked them to copy a verb into each one. I told them that that my helper would start collecting them in a few minutes.
2) In addition, I told them to fold a paper into four quadrants. They were to write a sentence with any of the verbs in the chart, and make a picture to go with it. (There are some samples in the resource section). I modeled once and let them finish. This assignment could not be completed within the ten minutes I had allocated for the lesson, but there would be time to finish during independent activities time. Later I decided to keep this as one of the activities they could choose during independent time.
My helper had collected the papers with verbs in a box. At the end of the lesson, I stirred them and pulled one at a time. When I pulled them I would read them and asked for sentences using that verb. I would repeat the sentence making corrections or improvements and have one student echo. I have three students notorious for not volunteering, so I let them know, before I repeated the sentence, that I would call upon them as the echo. This helped keep them focused, and the warning helped them get ready to participate. I don't do it too often, since I respect their shyness, but I do need them (and they need to: SL.1.1) participate more.
I wish I had kept the papers a couple of days to use for a very quick review, for example, as they were going out the door or as an activity they could do with a partner. Oh, well ... next time.