Grammar can be a dry subject, but it is essential for students to master the Common Core Language standards to be able to demonstrate proficiency in the Speaking and Writing CCSS. The use of adjectives is an example of a grammar skill that will allow students to shine when using complete sentences and when writing paragraphs within any writing type. I have a large proportion of English learners who need explicit grammar instruction. In addition many of my students come from socially disadvantaged families and don't have strong language models at home. Designing engaging lessons helps students retain the grammar structures taught.
The implementation of CCSS has not brought major changes to the grammar portion of my language arts or English Language Development lesson, but has led to some renewal, as does any new program. I started to add a bit of movement to each lesson, in the hope of both making it more engaging and of linking a bit of fun with grammar in my students' minds. I am trying to make sure they retain and apply more of the lessons.
In this lesson, I focused on comparative and superlative adjectives. Language Standard 1 requires them to command the conventions of English grammar and usage when writing and speaking, and L.1.1f focuses on the use of adjectives. This is particularly important to develop in oral language so that they can apply it to their writing. Using comparatives and superlatives will enrich their narratives and improve their opinion pieces.
In this lesson, students had to use the comparative and superlative forms of adjectives in complete sentences.
To start the lesson, I called three children to the front of the class and said: "Evelyn is tall; Luca is taller than Evelyn; Joey is the tallest one of all." I did a few more examples by having them jump, run, shout, etc. After the first two, everyone wanted to participate, which is when I added that they had to give me a sentence like the one I had modeled.
As we went through the examples in the introduction section of the lesson, I created a chart with the adjectives we used. Then I asked them what they noticed in all the columns and they eventually got to the common endings. I then wrote the frames on the board so that they could refer to them as they worked independently:
_______ is _______(-er) than _______.
_______ is the _______(-est) one of all.
Before moving on to the independent portion of the lesson, I used the corresponding practice page from our textbook to review the concept and to check for understanding as we completed it whole class (see resource).
I explained that they had to choose an adjective and then use its three forms (regular, comparative and superlative) in a complete sentence each. The I showed them how to prepare the paper for the activity.
I explained that they had to choose an adjective and then use its three forms (regular, comparative and superlative) in a complete sentence each. Then I showed them how to prepare the paper for the activity. As you can see from the samples and the lesson image, they had to:
As they worked, I circulated helping, correcting and reteaching as needed. After 15 minutes, I told the class that they could continue working on this project as one of their independent activities during small reading groups. Since many enjoyed the work, I let them do additional pages the next day as well. This ended up being a productive independent center.
At the end of the session I asked some students to share their work with the class. Sharing like this, or as a ticket out the door, serves as a quick assessment (you can detect even small errors, as you can see in the video clip) and as a model for other students. Instead of using a large chunk of time in sharing after each lesson, I find it useful to have two or three targets each week and use them at different times. For example, one day, I may have three or four kids share a skill in front of the class; at the end of that day, as they line up, the ticket out the door for some may be a sentence with the same skill; and then the next day, I may ask them to tell their neighbor a sentence demonstrating the targeted skill. This way we don't get bored, and I can review and reassess.