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Archive for January, 2009

The i before e Spelling Rule

The i before e Spelling Rule

Check out the song! The i before e Spelling Rule

Usually spell i before e (believe), but spell e before i after a c (receive) and when the letters are pronounced as a long /a/ sound (neighbor).

Exceptions to the rule: beige, caffeine, codeine, conscience, deify, deity, either, feign, feint, foreign, forfeit, freight, heifer, height, heinous, heir, heist, neither, protein, rein, science, seismic, seize, sheik, veil, vein, weird

i before e Song

(to the tune of “Rig ‘a Jig Jig”)

Spell i before e ‘cause that’s the rule

Rig-a-jig-jig and away we go,

That we learned back in school.

Away we go, away we go!

But e before i comes after c,

Rig-a-jig-jig and away we go,

and when you hear long /a/. Hey!

Hi-ho, hi-ho, hi-ho.

The author of this song, Mark Pennington, has written the assessment-based Grammar, Usage, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand) Grades 4-8 programs to teach the Common Core Language Standards. Each full-year program provides 56 interactive grammar, usage, and mechanics lessons. (Check out a seventh grade teacher teaching the direct instruction and practice components of these lessons on YouTube.) The complete lessons also include sentence diagrams, error analysis, mentor texts, writing applications, and sentence dictation formative assessments with accompanying worksheets (L.1, 2). Plus, each grade-level program has weekly spelling pattern tests and accompanying spelling sort worksheets (L.2), 56 language application opener worksheets (L.3), and 56 vocabulary worksheets with multiple-meaning words, Greek and Latin word parts, figures of speech, word relationships with context clue practice, connotations, and four square academic language practice (L.4, 5, and 6). Comprehensive biweekly unit tests measure recognition, understanding, and application of all language components.

Grammar, Usage, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand) also has the resources to meet the needs of diverse learners. Diagnostic grammar, usage, mechanics, and spelling assessments provide the data to enable teachers to individualize instruction with targeted worksheets. Each remedial worksheet (over 200 per program) includes independent practice and a brief formative assessment. Students CATCH Up on previous unmastered Standards while they KEEP UP with current grade-level Standards. Check out PREVIEW THE TEACHER’S GUIDE AND STUDENT WORKBOOK  to see samples of these comprehensive instructional components. Check out the entire instructional scope and sequence, aligned to the Grades 4-8 Common Core Standards.

The author also provides these curricular “slices” of the Grammar, Usage, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand) “pie”: the five Common Core Vocabulary Toolkits Grades 4−8; the five Differentiated Spelling Instruction Grades 4−8 programs (digital formats only); and the non-grade-leveled Teaching Grammar and Mechanics with engaging grammar cartoons (available in print and digital formats).

Grammar/Mechanics, Spelling/Vocabulary , , , , ,

Why Johnny Can’t Write

“Johnny is a creative story-writer, but he can’t write an essay to save his life.” Does this ring true for your child or student?

Johnny has had some good writing instruction. He can recite the steps of The Writing Process from the posters he has seen in every classroom throughout his elementary school years. He knows all about Writers Workshop. He would know what to expect if the teacher had written “Writers Conferences” or “Response Groups” on the white board as parts of her daily lesson plans. Johnny’s writing portfolio is chalk full of fanciful stories and writing pieces in the sensory/descriptive or imaginative/narrative writing domains. He has been encouraged to unleash his creative mind-although that story that he wrote last year about the student boycott of the cafeteria may have been a bit too creative for the principal’s tastes.

However, if you give Johnny a writing prompt, asking him to “Compare and contrast the cultural roles of women in Athens and Sparta,” sixth grade writing paralysis would surely set in. Or worse yet, Johnny might begin his essay with “Once upon a time in a far-away land called Greece, two young women from Athens and Sparta…” His difficulties would, no doubt, increase if this were a timed assessment.

Unfortunately, most of the writing that Johnny will need to complete throughout his academic and work careers will not take advantage of his story-writing experience. Instead, most of what Johnny will be required to compose will be some form of writing that informs or convinces his reader. Additionally, most of his writing will be subject to some kind of time constraint. Johnny has just not had the instruction and practice in this kind of writing. His college professors probably will not hand him a “blue book,” tell him to write a story of his own choice, and then turn it in after multiple revisions when his final draft has been published and properly illustrated.

Students need to learn how to write structured essays designed to inform and convince their teachers and professors. But how do you transform a creative, non-linear thinker like Johnny into an organized and persuasive writer? Take the mystery out of essays by replacing the confusing terminology of thesis statements, topic sentences, concrete details, and commentary with simple numerical values that reflect the hierarchy of effective essay structure. For example, assign a “1” to introductory strategies, a “2” to the thesis statement, a “3” to the topic sentence, a “4” to the concrete detail, a “5” to the commentary, and a “6” to the conclusion strategies. Telling a student that a “5” is needed to support a “4,” which supports a “3” is much more intuitive-and students get it! Teach structural variety by having students write 3-4-5-4-5 paragraphs and revise with 3-4-5-5-4-5-5 paragraphs. Have students analyze text structure by numerically coding their science book or a newspaper editorial. Use this approach to develop sequenced writing skills, incorporating different grammatical structures and sentence structure.

Find 8 complete writing process essays (4 argumentative and 4 informational-explanatory) with accompanying readings, 42 sequenced writing strategy worksheets, 64 sentence revision lessons, additional remedial worksheets, writing fluency and skill lessons, posters, and editing resources in Teaching Essay Strategies. Also get the e-comments download of 438 writing comments to improve written response and student revisions.

Pennington Publishing's Teaching Essay Strategies

Teaching Essay Strategies

 

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Why Johnny Can’t Use Good Grammar

Some years back, the principal walked into my room while my student teacher was delivering a lesson. After a few minutes, the principal signaled me to step outside. “I would never hire Johnny to work at my school,” he said. Shocked, I asked him why. “On the board, he has a misplaced comma, and he ended a sentence with a preposition.” Sounds quite harsh, doesn’t it? That principal certainly had high expectations of his teachers.

Not every educated adult places the same level of importance regarding the proper use of grammar and mechanics as does that principal. However, many do. Proper grammar is a critically important tool for success in school, work, and life. We are judged, sometimes quite severely, by the words we use and the way we use them in both our speaking and writing. Misused grammar betrays us. The way we talk and write reflects our background, education, and ability to communicate. So what are the myths and realities of grammar instruction and most importantly, how can we improve student grammar?

The Five Myths of Grammar Instruction

1. Grammar is acquired naturally; it does not need to be taught. Oral language is not always an efficient teacher. In fact, it can be quite a mixed bag. For every proper modeling of the pronoun in the sentence: It is I, students hear at least five models of the incorrect: It is me. Grammar as it is caught must be complemented by a grammar that is taught.

2. Grammar is a meaningless collection of rules-most of which don’t work half the time. This myth may have developed from mindless “drill and kill” grammatical exercises with no application to real writing. Actually, our English grammar is remarkably flexible and consistent.

3. Grammar cannot be learned by students with some learning styles or disabilities. While it may be true that students learn language differently, at different rates, and vary in proficiency, there has been no research to show that some students cannot learn grammar.

4. English grammar cannot be learned by second language learners. Some teachers think that students who speak other languages get confused between the primary language and English grammars. The research proves otherwise. Intuitively, many of us have significantly increased our own knowledge of English grammar by taking a foreign language.

5. Reading and writing a lot will improve grammar. Reading grammatically rich literature is wonderful, but learning is not passive and does not come by osmosis. Writing poorly may, indeed, reinforce poor grammatical usage.

How should we teach grammar to Johnny?  Don’t waste time teaching Johnny what he already knows. Find out what he does not know and target these areas of grammatical deficits. Use a good diagnostic assessment. Have Johnny practice those weaknesses with specific skill worksheets.

Teach the language of grammar and recognition of the common grammatical structures. Johnny has to know what a prepositional phrase is and how to know one when he sees one. In fact, over 30% of academic writing is composed of this grammatical form. Maybe learning “Conjunction Junction, What’s Your Function” on Sesame Street® was not such a bad idea after all. Teach grammar in the context of writing. Using the common grammatical structures, have Johnny begin half of his written sentences with different sentence openers. This practice serves two purposes: It teaches recognition and manipulation of grammatical structures and it improves sentence variety.

The author of this article, Mark Pennington, has written the assessment-based Grammar, Usage, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand) Grades 4-8 programs to teach the Common Core Language Standards. Each full-year program provides 56 interactive grammar, usage, and mechanics and include sentence diagrams, error analysis, mentor texts, writing applications, and sentence dictation formative assessments with accompanying worksheets (L.1, 2). Plus, each grade-level program has weekly spelling pattern tests and accompanying spelling sort worksheets (L.2), 56 language application opener worksheets (L.3), and 56 vocabulary worksheets with multiple-meaning words, Greek and Latin word parts, figures of speech, word relationships with context clue practice, connotations, and four square academic language practice (L.4, 5, and 6). Comprehensive biweekly unit tests measure recognition, understanding, and application of all language components.

Grammar, Usage, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand) also has the resources to meet the needs of diverse learners. Diagnostic grammar, usage, mechanics, and spelling assessments provide the data to enable teachers to individualize instruction with targeted worksheets. Each remedial worksheet (over 200 per program) includes independent practice and a brief formative assessment. Students CATCH Up on previous unmastered Standards while they KEEP UP with current grade-level Standards. Check out the YouTube introductory video of the Grammar, Usage, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand) program.

Pennington Publishing's Grammar, Usage, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand)

Grammar, Usage, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand)
Grades 4-8 Programs

The author also provides these curricular “slices” of the Grammar, Usage, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand) “pie”: the five Common Core Vocabulary Toolkits Grades 4−8; the five Differentiated Spelling Instruction Grades 4−8 programs (digital formats only); and the non-grade-leveled Teaching Grammar and Mechanics with engaging grammar cartoons (available in print and digital formats).

Grammar/Mechanics , , , , , , , ,

Why Johnny Can’t Spell

“Johnny could be a great writer, but his terrible spelling just gets in the way. He just can’t get down on paper what he wants to say. Johnny repeats the same spelling mistakes over and over in his writing, now matter how many times I red-mark them. I’ve had him write out a spelling word fifty times and still misspell that same word on his next assignment. It drives me crazy.”

Know a student like Johnny? Everyone does. Is there something neurologically mis-wired or does he have dyslexia? Probably not. Yet, year after year, Johnny lags further and further behind his classmates in his spelling proficiency. Can we blame the English sound-spelling system? Only about half of our spellings exactly match their sounds. Or how about blaming the “whole language” instructional fad in which teachers threw out their spelling workbooks and the traditional weekly spelling test? Or how about blaming Dad or Mom?

With more brain research, we may find a genetic predisposition to poor spelling. It may be unfair, but society judges poor spellers quite harshly. Misspelling words on a job application won’t land Johnny a job. And “spell check” and dictionaries are not complete fixes. After all, you have to be able to recognize a correct spelling or know how to spell a word to use these resources. Frankly, we do a disservice to Johnny when we excuse his deficiency with a comment such as “Spelling doesn’t matter. Albert Einstein was a poor speller, too.”

So what can we do that really works to improve Johnny’s spelling? First, find out what exactly Johnny knows and does not know. Use an effective diagnostic test that pinpoints his spelling weaknesses. Target those weaknesses with specific skill worksheets, word sorts, and game card practice. Find these resources at your local bookstore or on the web. Next, teach the rules of syllabication and have Johnny practice sight syllable spellings with oral drills. Spelling is an auditory process-it is not a visual process. Encoding a word involves connecting letter relationships to the sounds that make up that word. Students need to develop automaticity with the most common sight syllables. Finally, connect spelling instruction to vocabulary instruction. Over 50% of our academic language is built on ancient Greek and Latin word parts. Spelling and vocabulary have a reciprocal relationship-spelling influences vocabulary and, conversely, vocabulary influences spelling. Have Johnny practice the spellings and definitions of the most common Greek and Latin roots and affixes.

Next, teach the rules of syllabication and have Johnny practice sight syllable spellings with oral drills. Spelling is an auditory process-it is not a visual process. Encoding a word involves connecting letter relationships to the sounds that make up that word. Finally, connect spelling instruction to vocabulary instruction. Over 50% of our academic words are built on ancient Greek and Latin word parts. Spelling and vocabulary have a reciprocal relationship-spelling influences vocabulary and, conversely, vocabulary influences spelling. Have Johnny practice the spellings and definitions of the most common Greek and Latin roots and affixes. Use the highest utility word parts, game cards, worksheets, and fun games to aid effective practice.

The author of this article, Mark Pennington, has written the assessment-based Grammar, Usage, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand) Grades 4-8 programs to teach the Common Core Language Standards. Each full-year program provides 56 interactive grammar, usage, and mechanics and include sentence diagrams, error analysis, mentor texts, writing applications, and sentence dictation formative assessments with accompanying worksheets (L.1, 2). Plus, each grade-level program has weekly spelling pattern tests and accompanying spelling sort worksheets (L.2), 56 language application opener worksheets (L.3), and 56 vocabulary worksheets with multiple-meaning words, Greek and Latin word parts, figures of speech, word relationships with context clue practice, connotations, and four square academic language practice (L.4, 5, and 6). Comprehensive biweekly unit tests measure recognition, understanding, and application of all language components.

Grammar, Usage, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand) also has the resources to meet the needs of diverse learners. Diagnostic grammar, usage, mechanics, and spelling assessments provide the data to enable teachers to individualize instruction with targeted worksheets. Each remedial worksheet (over 200 per program) includes independent practice and a brief formative assessment. Students CATCH Up on previous unmastered Standards while they KEEP UP with current grade-level Standards. Check out the YouTube introductory video of the Grammar, Usage, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand) program.

Pennington Publishing's Grammar, Usage, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand)

Grammar, Usage, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand)
Grades 4-8 Programs

The author also provides these curricular “slices” of the Grammar, Usage, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand) “pie”: the five Common Core Vocabulary Toolkits Grades 4−8; the five Differentiated Spelling Instruction Grades 4−8 programs (digital formats only); and the non-grade-leveled Teaching Grammar and Mechanics with engaging grammar cartoons (available in print and digital formats).

Spelling/Vocabulary , , , , , , ,

Why Johnny Still Can’t Read

Meet Johnny. Although… you probably already know him. In fact, you probably have a Johnny in your class right now. It may also be possible that you also have a few Johnnys that you don’t know about yet. Johnny has reading problems.

Johnny didn’t quite catch on to reading in kindergarten and first grade. His second and third grade teachers did spend a few minutes each day with Johnny, along with a few other students, and he did make some progress. However, by the time Johnny was handed his fourth grade social studies and science textbooks, he was not at all prepared for the multi-syllabic decoding, academic vocabulary, and expository text structure of these books. Apparently, other students had reading problems, because the teacher rarely used the textbooks. Instead, she taught the “power standards” to prepare her students for the standardized tests in both subject areas. His upper elementary and middle school teachers focused on the short stories in the literature anthology and on the assigned “core novels.” The teacher read the stories out loud or had the students take turns reading in “popcorn” style. Sometimes the teachers played the CD recordings. Of course, Johnny’s teachers wisely learned to avoid calling on him to read to protect his self-esteem. Clearly, Johnny’s reading deficits continued to compound.

In middle school, Johnny was placed in an intervention class for language arts. The focus of the class was to teach grade-level language arts standards at a slower pace. Addressing individual reading problems was not the primary focus of class, although the composition of the class was loosely based upon the reading scores of last year’s standards-based test. Johnny scored “Far Below Basic” because he was able to read only parts of the passages. Undoubtedly, a few students were placed in the class because they randomly marked answers on the test. Most of the students in this intervention class did have significant reading problems. However, they did not all have the same reading problems. Some students, such as Johnny, lacked phonemic awareness and could not decode. Other students had poor comprehension or low fluency scores. Still others were English language-learners. A few students were simply placed in the class due to behavioral problems.

Visit most public schools today and you will be able to spot more than a few Johnnys. Unfortunately, the Matthew Effect (Stanovich) is alive and well in our schools today. The rich do, indeed, get richer and the Johnnys get poorer. Students who learn to read well in their primary school years tend to continue this success because they use their reading skills to learn content and vocabulary in their intermediate elementary and middle school years. Students who do not learn to read well in their primary school years fall even further behind in school and the gap between good and poor readers widens. While the statistics indicate that only one in six remedial readers ever close this gap, Johnny can be that one. With the right diagnostic tools and instructional materials, caring teachers can better the odds for their students with reading problems.

Mark Pennington, MA Reading Specialist, is the author of the comprehensive reading intervention curriculum, Teaching Reading Strategies. Designed to significantly increase the reading abilities of students ages eight through adult within one year, the curriculum is decidedly un-canned, is adaptable to various instructional settings, and is simple to use—a perfect choice for Response to Intervention tiered instructional levels. Get multiple choice diagnostic reading assessments , formative assessments, blending and syllabication activitiesphonemic awareness, and phonics workshops, comprehension worksheets, multi-level fluency passages recorded at three different reading speeds and accessed on YouTube, 586 game cards, posters, activities, and games.

Also get the accompanying Sam and Friends Phonics Books. These eight-page decodable take-home books include sight words, word fluency practice, and phonics instruction aligned to the instructional sequence found in Teaching Reading Strategies. Each book is illustrated by master cartoonist, David Rickert. The cartoons, characters, and plots are designed to be appreciated by both older remedial readers and younger beginning readers. The teenage characters are multi-ethnic and the stories reinforce positive values and character development. Your students (and parents) will love these fun, heart-warming, and comical stories about the adventures of Sam and his friends: Tom, Kit, and Deb. Oh, and also that crazy dog, Pug.

Everything teachers need to teach a diagnostically-based reading intervention program for struggling readers at all reading levels is found in this comprehensive curriculum. Ideal for students reading two or more grade levels below current grade level, English-language learners, and Special Education students. Simple directions and well-crafted activities truly make this an almost no-prep curriculum. Works well as a half-year intensive program or full-year program, with or without paraprofessional assistance.

Pennington Publishing's Teaching Reading Strategies

Teaching Reading Strategies

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The Ten Parts of Speech with Clear Examples

Imagine trying to use the common tools in a toolbox without knowing their respective names or functions. A master carpenter would certainly do a disservice to an apprentice by avoiding such instruction.

“Take out that silver thing; no, not that one… the other one. Figure out on your own how to use it to cut these moldings.” How inefficient. How silly. How dangerous.

True, we could probably design research studies which show no statistically significant differences in terms of the quality of a finished good produced by some trained and untrained apprentices; however, most of us would acknowledge that the process does matter in producing such a good. An ignorant apprentice who uses the wrong tools, takes too much time, or cuts herself yet achieves the same quality of finished moldings is certainly not as preferable as the trained apprentice who uses each tool correctly, works efficiently, and bleeds less. Which one would you hire to do your moldings at your house?

Similarly, we English-language arts teachers need to equip our students with the tools of effective speaking and writing. One important set of tools is the parts of speech. And yes, we need to teach the names and functions of each tool.

Knowing the parts of speech helps students not only “talk the talk,” but also “walk the walk” in terms of coherent and effective speaking and writing. Scaling the language barrier is important for students (and teachers) so that matters of grammar, usage, sentence structure, sentence variety, mood, tone, and emphasis can be discussed intelligently.

“Take a subject case pronoun out of your toolbox to substitute for the repetitive use of that proper noun.” How efficient. How transferable. How effective.

Now, it should go without saying, but an apprentice carpenter would not learn her trade by memorizing the name and function of the tools in isolation. She would also need to put her knowledge into practice under the guidance and modeling of the master carpenter. Yes, there would be mistakes: error analysis is important. However, also seeing things done correctly with guided practice will produce the intended results.

1. A common noun is a person, place, idea, or thing. It is capitalized only at the start of a sentence. It can be a single word, a group of words, or a hyphenated word.

Examples:

The girl was learning to drive

-person (girl)

next to the ocean;

-place (ocean)

It takes self-control

-idea (self-control)

to earn a driver’s license.

-thing (license)

2. A proper noun is the name of a person, place, or thing. It is always capitalized. It may be a single word, a group of words (with or without abbreviations), or a hyphenated word.

Examples:

Josh was honored

-person (Josh)

at U.S. Memorial Auditorium

-place (U.S. Memorial Auditorium)

with the Smith-Lee Award.

-thing (Smith-Lee Award)

3. A pronoun is a word used in place of a noun(s). It can be in the subject case, acting as a “do-er” of the action in the subject case, or acting as a “receiver” of the action in the object case. Pronouns can also serve as singular or plural possessives to show ownership.

Examples:

She walked to town.

-subject case (She)

I gave her a basket.

-object case (her)

It was his wallet.

-possessive (his)

4. An adjective describes a proper noun, a common noun, or a pronoun by describing how many, what kind, or which one.

Examples:

The five teammates

-How Many? (five)

took the tiring trip

-What Kind? (tiring)

to that arena across town.

-Which One? (that)

5. A verb shows a physical or mental action or it describes a state of being.

Examples:

She works long hours,

-physical action (works)

but knows that

-mental action (knows)

there is more to life than work.

-state of being (is)

6. An adverb describes a verb, an adjective, or another adverb by describing how, when, where, or what degree.

Examples:

Trey walked slowly

-How? (slowly)

because he had arrived early

-When? (early)

to the place where

-Where? (where)

he knew very well.

-What Degree? (very well)

7. A preposition is a word that has a relationship with a common noun, a proper noun, or a pronoun. The preposition is always part of a phrase comes and comes before its object. The preposition asks “What?” and the object provides the answer.

Examples:

The politician voted against the law

-(against) what?…the law

through the secret ballot.

-(through) what?…the secret ballot

8. A conjunction joins words, phrases, or clauses together. There are three kinds:

-Coordinating conjunctions connect words, phrases, or clauses used in the same way.

Example:

The student tries, but does not always succeed.

-(but)

-Correlative conjunctions are paired conjunctions that connect words, phrases, or clauses used in the same way.

Example:

Either you must tell the police, or I will.

-(either, or)

-Subordinating conjunctions come at the beginning of adverb clauses. These clauses restrict the meaning of the rest of the sentence.

Example:

Although he is often late, Ryan shows up to work every day.

-(Although)

9. An article determines number or identification of a noun and always precedes a noun. The “a” article signals a singular noun beginning with a consonant. The “an” article signals a plural noun beginning with a vowel.

Examples:

A lion and an elephant are considered the “kings of the jungle.”

-(a, an, the)

10. An interjection is a word or phrase that shows surprise or emotion. It is usually followed by an exclamation point.

Example:

Hey! Stop that.

-(Hey!)

The author of this article, Mark Pennington, has written the assessment-based Grammar, Usage, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand) Grades 4-8 programs to teach the Common Core Language Standards. Each full-year program provides 56 interactive grammar, usage, and mechanics and include sentence diagrams, error analysis, mentor texts, writing applications, and sentence dictation formative assessments with accompanying worksheets (L.1, 2). Plus, each grade-level program has weekly spelling pattern tests and accompanying spelling sort worksheets (L.2), 56 language application opener worksheets (L.3), and 56 vocabulary worksheets with multiple-meaning words, Greek and Latin word parts, figures of speech, word relationships with context clue practice, connotations, and four square academic language practice (L.4, 5, and 6). Comprehensive biweekly unit tests measure recognition, understanding, and application of all language components.

Grammar, Usage, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand) also has the resources to meet the needs of diverse learners. Diagnostic grammar, usage, mechanics, and spelling assessments provide the data to enable teachers to individualize instruction with targeted worksheets. Each remedial worksheet (over 200 per program) includes independent practice and a brief formative assessment. Students CATCH Up on previous unmastered Standards while they KEEP UP with current grade-level Standards. Check out the YouTube introductory video of the Grammar, Usage, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand) program.

Pennington Publishing's Grammar, Usage, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand)

Grammar, Usage, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand)
Grades 4-8 Programs

The author also provides these curricular “slices” of the Grammar, Usage, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand) “pie”: the five Common Core Vocabulary Toolkits Grades 4−8; the five Differentiated Spelling Instruction Grades 4−8 programs (digital formats only); and the non-grade-leveled Teaching Grammar and Mechanics with engaging grammar cartoons (available in print and digital formats).

Grammar/Mechanics, Writing , , , , , , , ,

The Most Useful Punctuation and Capitalization Rules

We’ve all had a chuckle or two when students or others have misused punctuation.

Of course the famous “Let’s eat grandma” would rank close to the top. Others include “I always have enjoyed cooking my friends, neighbors, and most of all my family” or the neighborhood sign, “SLOW CHILDREN AT PLAY.”

My favorite would have to be this one:

“A woman, without her man, is nothing.” Let’s revise as the following: “A woman: without her, man is nothing.”

Wish I knew whom to credit for this one:

Dear John,

I want a man who knows what love is all about. You are generous, kind, and thoughtful. People who are not like you admit to being useless and inferior. You have ruined me for other men. I yearn for you. I have no feelings whatsoever when we’re apart. I can be forever happy. Will you let me be yours?

Gloria

Now let’s see the difference just by moving around the punctuation:

Dear John,

I want a man who knows what love is. All about you are generous, kind, and thoughtful people, who are not like you. Admit to being useless and inferior. You have ruined me. For other men, I yearn. For you, I have no feelings whatsoever. When we’re apart, I can be forever happy. Will you let me be?

Yours,

Gloria

Knowing how to properly punctuate and capitalize will help readers better understand what one intends. Additionally, readers judge misuse quite harshly. Following are punctuation with examples and capitalization with examples:

Punctuation/Examples

Commas 

-Use commas before or after speaker tags.

She said, “Call me at home.”

-Use commas to set apart appositives.

That man, the one with the hat, left.

-Use commas after each item in lists (except the last).

John, Jane, and Jose left early.

-Use commas after introductory words or phrases.

First of all, you should listen to me.

-Use commas between number dates and years.

It all happened on May 3, 1999.

-Use commas between geographical places.

She lived in Tampa, Florida.

-Use commas after greetings/closings in personal letters.

Dear Ralph, … Sincerely, …

-Use commas after nouns of direct address.

Kristin, leave some for your sister.

-Use commas before conjunctions to join two independent clauses.

I liked her, and she liked me.

Exclamation Points    

-Use exclamation points for surprise or strong emotions.

The decision really shocked me!

Quotation Marks

-Use quotation marks before and after direct quotations.

Sue said, “I’m going to bed.”

-Use quotation marks before and after songs, poems, document titles, book chapters, magazine articles, and short story titles.

Whenever I hear “Clementine,” it reminds me of “Leaves of Grass” and “The Gettysburg Address.”

Colons               

-Use colons after business letter greetings.

Dear Sirs:

-Use colons to introduce lists.

The following: shoes, pants, and…

-Use colons between numbers in relationship.

8:52 P.M.

Semicolons    

-Use semicolons to join independent clauses without conjunctions.

Jamal went to school; Larry met him.

Underlining     

-Underline movie, television show, book, magazine, and work of art titles.

I saw the wonderful Fiddler on the Roof last night.

Apostrophes    

-Use apostrophes for contractions.

I can’t see what they’re doing.

-Use apostrophes for singular and plural possessives.

Tom’s and the girls’ coats were red.

Parentheses

-Use parentheses to explain or define.

The hombre (man) rode off alone.

Capitalization      

-Capitalize proper nouns (a name that is given to special persons, places, or things).

Ryan visited Los Angeles to visit the Holocaust Museum.

-Capitalize holidays, dates, groups, organizations, and businesses.

Last Easter on March 24, 2002 the P.T.A. and McDonald’s helped out.

-Capitalize the first, last, and any important words in titles.

Prince Charles’s favorite book was Islands of Adventure.

-Capitalize the names of languages and peoples.

He spoke Spanish to the Indians.

-Capitalize special events and historical periods.

The New Year’s Day Parade celebrates the Year of the Dog.

The author of this article, Mark Pennington, has written the assessment-based Grammar, Usage, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand) Grades 4-8 programs to teach the Common Core Language Standards. Each full-year program provides 56 interactive grammar, usage, and mechanics and include sentence diagrams, error analysis, mentor texts, writing applications, and sentence dictation formative assessments with accompanying worksheets (L.1, 2). Plus, each grade-level program has weekly spelling pattern tests and accompanying spelling sort worksheets (L.2), 56 language application opener worksheets (L.3), and 56 vocabulary worksheets with multiple-meaning words, Greek and Latin word parts, figures of speech, word relationships with context clue practice, connotations, and four square academic language practice (L.4, 5, and 6). Comprehensive biweekly unit tests measure recognition, understanding, and application of all language components.

Grammar, Usage, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand) also has the resources to meet the needs of diverse learners. Diagnostic grammar, usage, mechanics, and spelling assessments provide the data to enable teachers to individualize instruction with targeted worksheets. Each remedial worksheet (over 200 per program) includes independent practice and a brief formative assessment. Students CATCH Up on previous unmastered Standards while they KEEP UP with current grade-level Standards. Check out the YouTube introductory video of the Grammar, Usage, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand) program.

Pennington Publishing's Grammar, Usage, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand)

Grammar, Usage, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand)
Grades 4-8 Programs

The author also provides these curricular “slices” of the Grammar, Usage, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand) “pie”: the five Common Core Vocabulary Toolkits Grades 4−8; the five Differentiated Spelling Instruction Grades 4−8 programs (digital formats only); and the non-grade-leveled Teaching Grammar and Mechanics with engaging grammar cartoons (available in print and digital formats).

Grammar/Mechanics, Writing , , , , , , , ,

The Four Myths of Grammar Instruction

In the 1980s, a multi-dimensional educational philosophy captured the minds and hearts of American educators. This philosophy developed into the whole language movement. Although widely discredited today, the philosophical rationale has many lingering effects regarding how  students are taught to read, spell, speak, and write. In a nutshell, those adhering to this philosophy found learning to be both constructive and developmental. In other words, students will learn the “parts,” i.e. discreet skills when they deem them to be relevant to their immediate needs to help in their learning of the “whole.”

For the purposes of this article, whole language “taught” that direct grammatical instruction should be avoided as it interferes with priority of meaning-making in writing. In the classroom, grammar books collected dust and grammar was relegated to the editing stage (the last stage) of the writing process. That is, if and when it received attention at all.

The grammar myths that have held over from the whole language movement are summarized, followed by their long overdue “de-bunkings.”

1. Grammar is acquired naturally; it does not need to be taught. There is certainly a strong correlation between oral language skills and written grammar skills. However, oral learning is not always an efficient teacher. In fact, it can be quite a mixed bag. For every proper modeling of the pronoun in the sentence It is I, students hear at least five models of the incorrect It is me. Grammar as it is caught must be complemented by a grammar that is taught.

2. Grammar is a meaningless collection of rules—most of which don’t work half the time. This myth may have developed from mindless “drill and kill” grammatical exercises with no application to student writing. Actually, our English grammar is remarkably flexible and consistent.

3. Grammar cannot be learned by students with some learning styles or disabilities. While it may be true that students learn language differently, at different rates, and vary in proficiency, there has been no research to show that some students cannot learn grammar.

4. English grammar cannot be learned by second language learners. Some teachers think that students who speak other languages get confused between the primary language and English grammars. The research proves otherwise. Intuitively, many of us have significantly increased our own knowledge of English grammar by taking a foreign language.

The author of this article, Mark Pennington, has written the assessment-based Grammar, Usage, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand) Grades 4-8 programs to teach the Common Core Language Standards. Each full-year program provides 56 interactive grammar, usage, and mechanics and include sentence diagrams, error analysis, mentor texts, writing applications, and sentence dictation formative assessments with accompanying worksheets (L.1, 2). Plus, each grade-level program has weekly spelling pattern tests and accompanying spelling sort worksheets (L.2), 56 language application opener worksheets (L.3), and 56 vocabulary worksheets with multiple-meaning words, Greek and Latin word parts, figures of speech, word relationships with context clue practice, connotations, and four square academic language practice (L.4, 5, and 6). Comprehensive biweekly unit tests measure recognition, understanding, and application of all language components.

Grammar, Usage, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand) also has the resources to meet the needs of diverse learners. Diagnostic grammar, usage, mechanics, and spelling assessments provide the data to enable teachers to individualize instruction with targeted worksheets. Each remedial worksheet (over 200 per program) includes independent practice and a brief formative assessment. Students CATCH Up on previous unmastered Standards while they KEEP UP with current grade-level Standards. Check out the YouTube introductory video of the Grammar, Usage, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand) program.

Pennington Publishing's Grammar, Usage, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand)

Grammar, Usage, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand)
Grades 4-8 Programs

The author also provides these curricular “slices” of the Grammar, Usage, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand) “pie”: the five Common Core Vocabulary Toolkits Grades 4−8; the five Differentiated Spelling Instruction Grades 4−8 programs (digital formats only); and the non-grade-leveled Teaching Grammar and Mechanics with engaging grammar cartoons (available in print and digital formats).

Grammar/Mechanics , , , , , , ,