According to the Common Core Standards, third grade students are expected to know all the parts of speech and their functions. Impossible? Not if you change your approach to teaching grammar.
Traditionally, each part of speech is taught separately. Textbooks and curriculum maps focus on verbs for six or nine weeks, then nouns, until by the end of the year all the required parts of speech are covered. The trouble is the writing assessment is in February and you haven’t even touched on prepositional phrases. Not to mention the fact that your students forgot all about how to identify the subject of a sentence. Let’s see…there are several nouns in that sentence. The student can tell you a noun is a person, place, or thing, but whether the noun is a subject, direct object, or object of preposition is a complete mystery. AND, we haven’t even talked about how to construct a good sentence!
What if I told you that not only is it possible for third graders to know the parts of speech and their functions, but also that first graders are capable of identifying and writing prepositional phrases? How does a teacher accomplish this miracle? Grammar Graphics! For ten minutes a day, students use a foolproof questioning method coupled with visual representations to not only identify the parts of speech, but more importantly, to use those parts to write correct sentences. Think: graphic organizers for sentences. Students gain a strong understanding of how the parts of speech work together to express thoughts. Looped instruction allows students the opportunity to work with multiple skills until these skills become second nature. Intangible language concepts are given concrete foundations. For example, textbooks say “a direct object receives the action of the verb.” What? Try explaining that to a third grader. How about: “say the subject, say the verb, and ask who? or what?” If a word in the sentence answers you back, you’ve got a direct object! A third grader can understand that explanation.
Regular education students are not the only ones who benefit from with this interactive language system!
Grammar Graphics with its graphic sentence organizers is crucial for students from language backgrounds that differ from the pattern of the English language. Many of our EL students are used to putting quantitative adjectives before the nouns they modify and qualitative adjectives after the nouns (Spanish, French). Many languages do not have article adjectives (Mandarin Chinese, Hindi). The Arabic language moves from right to left. It is easy to understand how confusing English can be for these students. Grammar Graphics gives students visual codes or roadmaps to go by until they have a working knowledge of the pattern of English.
Deaf students as well benefit from these colorful, visual sentence organizers as they transition from ASL conversational patterns to well-written complete sentences.
Need a cure for the Common Core Language Arts Blues? Take two Grammar Graphics sentences and a writing “code” a day and call me when you get your test scores. You’ll be smiling.
By Rebecca Callaway, M.A., Reading Specialist, Author Grammar Graphics, The Manipulative Language Program and Survival Spanish for Teachers “What to Say and Do Until the Translator Gets There”