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Vocabulary Scope and Sequence

According the the authors of the Common Core State Standards…

“The importance of students acquiring a rich and varied vocabulary cannot be overstated. Vocabulary has been empirically connected to reading comprehension since at least 1925 (Whipple, 1925) and had its importance to comprehension confirmed in recent years (National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, 2000). It is widely accepted among researchers that the difference in students’ vocabulary levels is a key factor in disparities in academic achievement (Baumann & Kameenui, 1991; Becker, 1977; Stanovich, 1986) but that vocabulary instruction has been neither frequent nor systematic in most schools (Biemiller, 2001; Durkin, 1978; Lesaux, Kieffer, Faller, & Kelley, 2010; Scott & Nagy, 1997).” Common Core State Standards Appendix A 

Words are important. Of course, every teacher would agree. But which words should we teach? And in what instructional order?

Here’s what the authors have to say about which words

Tier Two words (what the Standards refer to as general academic words) are far more likely to appear in written texts than in speech. They appear in all sorts of texts: informational texts (words such as relative, vary, formulate, specificity, and accumulate), technical texts (calibrate, itemize, periphery), and literary texts (misfortune, dignified, faltered, unabashedly). Tier Two words often represent subtle or precise ways to say relatively simple things—saunter instead of walk, for example. Because Tier Two words are found across many types of texts, they are highly generalizable. Common Core State Standards Appendix A 

Tier Three words (what the Standards refer to as domain-specific words) are specific to a domain or field of study (lava, carburetor, legislature, circumference, aorta) and key to understanding a new concept within a text. Because of their specificity and close ties to content knowledge, Tier Three words are far more common in informational texts than in literature. Recognized as new and “hard” words for most readers (particularly student readers), they are often explicitly defined by the author of a text, repeatedly used, and otherwise heavily scaffolded (e.g., made a part of a glossary). Common Core State Standards Appendix A 

So, every teacher should be focusing on Tier Two words because they are generalizable and they are most frequently used in complex text. For example, the following Standards would be applicable for teaching Tier Two words in ELA classes:

The Language Strand: Vocabulary Acquisition and Use (Standards 4, 5, and 6) 

The Standards focus on these kinds of words: multiple meaning words (L.4.a.), words with Greek and Latin roots and affixes (L.4.a.), figures of speech (L.5.a.), words with special relationships (L.5.b.), words with connotative meanings (L.5.c.), and academic language words (L.6.0). CCSS Language Strand

Tier Three words should be introduced in the context of content study. For example, the following Standard would be applicable for teaching Tier Three words in ELA classes:

The Reading Strand: Literature (Standard 4) Craft and Structure

Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of rhymes and other repetitions of sounds (e.g., alliteration) on a specific verse or stanza of a poem or section of a story or drama. CCSS Reading: Literature Strand
 *****
Is there any research about the instructional order of Tier Two words

Yes. Dr. Averil Coxhead, senior lecturer at the Victoria University of Wellington School of Linguistics and Applied Language Studies developed and evaluated The Academic Word List (AWL) for her MA thesis. The list has 570 word families which were selected according to certain criteria:

  • The word families must occur in over half of the 28 academic subject areas. “Just over 94% of the words in the AWL occur in 20 or more subject areas. This principle ensures that the words in the AWL are useful for all learners, no matter what their area of study or what combination of subjects they take at tertiary level.”
  • “The AWL families had to occur over 100 times in the 3,500,000 word Academic Corpus in order to be considered for inclusion in the list. This principle ensures that the words will be met a reasonable number of times in academic texts.” The academic corpus refers to a computer-generated list of most-frequently occurring academic words.
  • “The AWL families had to occur a minimum of 10 times in each faculty of the Academic Corpus to be considered for inclusion in the list. This principle ensures that the vocabulary is useful for all learners.”

Words Excluded From the Academic Word List

  • “Words occurring in the first 2,000 words of English.”
  • “Narrow range words. Words which occurred in fewer than 4 faculty sections of the Academic Corpus or which occurred in fewer than 15 of the 28 subject areas of the Academic Corpus were excluded because they had narrow range. Technical or specialist words often have narrow range and were excluded on this basis.”
  • “Proper nouns. The names of places, people, countries, for example, New Zealand, Jim Bolger and Wellington were excluded from the list.”
  • “Latin forms. Some of the most common Latin forms in the Academic Corpus were et al, etc, ie, and ibid.” http://www.victoria.ac.nz/lals/resources/academicwordlist/information

Furthermore, computer generated word frequencies have determined the frequency of Greek and Latin word parts. 

  • Over 60% of the words students will encounter in school textbooks have recognizable word parts; and many of these Latin and Greek roots (Nagy, Anderson,Schommer, Scott, & Stallman, 1989).
  • Latin and Greek prefixes, roots, and suffixes have predictable spelling patterns.(Rasinski & Padak, 2001; Bear, Invernizzi, Templeton & Johnston, 2000).
  • Content area vocabulary is largely Greek and Latin-based and research supports this instruction, especially for struggling readers (Harmon, Hedrick & Wood, 2005).
  • Many words from Greek and Latin word parts are included in “Tier Two” and “Tier Three” words that Beck, McKeown, and Kucan (2002) have found to be essential to vocabulary word study.
  • Knowing Greek and Latin word parts helps students recognize and gain clues to understanding of other words that use known affixes and roots(Nagy & Scott, 2000).
  • “One Latin or Greek root or affix (word pattern) aids understanding (as well as decoding and encoding) of 20 or more English words.” 
  • “Since Spanish is also a Latin-based language, Latin (and Greek) can be used as a bridge to help Spanish speaking students use knowledge of their native language to learn English.” 

A Model Grades 4-8 Vocabulary Scope and Sequence

Preview the Grades 4-8 Vocabulary Scope and Sequence tied to the author’s comprehensive grades 4-8 Language Strand programs. The instructional scope and sequence includes grammar, usage, mechanics, spelling, and vocabulary. The grades 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 vocabulary instructional scope and sequence appears at the end of the document and include multiple meaning words (L.4.a.), words with Greek and Latin roots and affixes (L.4.a.), figures of speech (L.5.a.), words with special relationships (L.5.b.), words with connotative meanings (L.5.c.), and academic language words (L.6.0). Teachers and district personnel are authorized to print and share this planning tool, with proper credit and/or citation. Why reinvent the wheel? Also check out my articles on Grammar Scope and Sequence, Mechanics Scope and Sequence, and Spelling Scope and Sequence.

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

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

The author of this article, Mark Pennington, has written the assessment-based grades 4-8 Grammar, Usage, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand)  programs to teach the Common Core Language Strand Standards. Each full-year program provides 56 interactive grammar, usage, and mechanics worksheets and includes 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.

The program 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 author’s program.


Here are FREE samples of vocabulary worksheets from this comprehensive program–ready to teach in your class today. Each resource includes directions, four grade-specific vocabulary worksheets, worksheet answers, vocabulary study cards, and a short unit test with answers.

Get the Grade 4 Vocabulary Worksheets FREE Resource:

Get the Grade 5 Vocabulary Worksheets FREE Resource:

Get the Grade 6 Vocabulary Worksheets FREE Resource:

Get the Grade 7 Vocabulary Worksheets FREE Resource:

Get the Grade 8 Vocabulary Worksheets FREE Resource:

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Spelling Scope and Sequence

For many teachers, spelling instruction has taken a back seat to other instruction, especially in the ELA middle and high school classrooms. Perhaps this has been the case because of so many years in which spelling was relegated to an editing-only issue at the tail end of the writing process. Or perhaps this has been the case because of so many years in which spelling was considered as part to whole instruction rather than in the predominant whole to part instruction of whole language reading and constructivism. Or perhaps this has been the case because of so many years in which spelling was considered as the stepchild of vocabulary. Spelling workbooks, once a staple in both the elementary and secondary classrooms, were removed from supplemental program lists at district and state levels. However, things are changing. Educators who once thought that spelling word check would solve students’ spelling and writing issues are squarely facing the fact that they do have a responsibility to teach spelling patterns.

In fact, most all teachers support teaching some form of simple to complex instructional order in teaching spelling. For example, students need to be able to spell plurals for singular nouns with an ending prior to learning that nouns ending in /ch/, /sh/, /x/, /s/, or are spelled with “es” prior to learning nouns ending in /f/ are spelling with “ves” prior to learning about irregular plurals such as children and deer prior to learning about Latin plural spellings such as “” and “ae.” In other words, the simple academic language and grammatical instruction should precede the more complex. We have supportive (and recent–as of January 2016) educational research to validate this instructional order:

Here’s the research to support simple to complex instructional order…

In a January 2016 article, the American Psychological Association published a helpful article titled Practice for Knowledge Acquisition (Not Drill and Kill) in which researchers summarize how instructional practice should be ordered: “Deliberate practice involves attention, rehearsal and repetition and leads to new knowledge or skills that can later be developed into more complex knowledge and skills… (Campitelli & Gobet, 2011).”

Of course, spelling instruction (like grammar and usage instruction) is certainly recursive. Once the simple is taught to “mastery” and the complex is introduced, the simple is always re-taught and practiced in other instructional contexts. For example, teachers will need to teach and re-teach the before spelling rule yearly from third grade through high school.

The Common Core Standards present a simple to complex instructional scope and sequence in the Language Strand Standards… albeit less so in the spelling Standards.

However, grade-level Language Strand Standards do not include a comprehensive spelling scope and sequence. A few examples from the L.2 Standards prove this out. Again, check out the simple to complex instructional order for the capitalization Standards.

The Conventions of Standard English (Standard 2) requires students to “Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.”

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.K.2.D  Spell simple words phonetically, drawing on knowledge of sound-letter relationships.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.1.2.D  Use conventional spelling for words with common spelling patterns and for frequently occurring irregular words.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.1.2.E  Spell untaught words phonetically, drawing on phonemic awareness and spelling conventions.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.2.2.C  Use an apostrophe to form contractions and frequently occurring possessives.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.2.2.D  Generalize learned spelling patterns when writing words (e.g., cage → badge; boy → boil).
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.3.2.E  Use conventional spelling for high-frequency and other studied words and for adding suffixes to base words (e.g., sitting, smiled, cries, happiness).
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.3.2.F  Use spelling patterns and generalizations (e.g., word families, position-based spellings, syllable patterns, ending rules, meaningful word parts) in writing words.
  •  CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.4.2.D and 5.2.D  Spell grade-appropriate words correctly, consulting references as needed.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.6.2.B, etc.  Spell correctly.
 After grade 3 the Common Core State Standards provide no specific spelling pattern Standards.

So, to summarize… Both educational research and the authors of the Common Core State Standards validate a simple to more complex mechanics sequence of instruction.

How Should This Affect My Spelling Instruction?

The simple to complex instructional order is clearly conducive to spelling patterns instruction. Students need to master the basic sound-spellings and sight words before moving on to more complex spelling patterns influenced by derivational affixes and roots. 

A spelling program with a comprehensive instructional scope and sequence, aligned to the Common Core Language Standards, College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards, and/or State Standards provides a well-defined instructional order.

Site levels (and districts) need to plan a comprehensive year-to-year scope and sequence for spelling instruction. The Common Core State Standards provide bare bones exemplars or benchmarks, but educators need to fill in the blanks. Students will not improve spelling by reading and writing alone. Students need more spelling instruction than a weekly pre and post test, a personal spelling errors notebook, or simply being required to spelling content vocabulary words correctly. Spelling instruction is sequential.

A Model Grades 4-8 Spelling Scope and Sequence

Preview the Grades 4-8 Spelling Scope and Sequence tied to the author’s comprehensive grades 4-8 Language Strand programs. The instructional scope and sequence includes grammar, usage, mechanics, spelling, and vocabulary. Teachers and district personnel are authorized to print and share this planning tool, with proper credit and/or citation. Why reinvent the wheel? Also check out my articles on Grammar Scope and Sequence, Mechanics Scope and Sequence, and Vocabulary Scope and Sequence.

Also check out the diagnostic spelling assessment and recording matrices on the Pennington Publishing website.

 

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

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

The author of this article, Mark Pennington, has written the assessment-based grades 4-8 Grammar, Usage, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand)  programs to teach the Common Core Language Strand Standards. Each full-year program provides 56 interactive grammar, usage, and mechanics worksheets and includes 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.

The program 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 author’s program.

[pdf-embedder url=”http://blog.penningtonpublishing.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/TLS-Instructional-Scope-and-Sequence-Grades-4-8.pdf”]

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Mechanics Scope and Sequence

We may not all agree on using the Oxford (serial) comma. Some favor oranges, apples, and peaches. Others favor oranges, apples and peaches. English teachers tend to prefer the former, but journalists seem hooked on the latter. We also may not agree on the place of mechanics* instruction within ELA instruction. Some favor direct instruction of these skills. Others favor editing groups and mini lessons to handle the instructional chore. I personally lean toward the former with additional “catch up” individualization through research-based worksheets targeted to diagnostic assessments. Of course, I do use peer editing before turning in published works.

*When most teachers refer to mechanics we mean the technical components of composition: punctuation, capitalization, and abbreviations. Some will also include spelling, usage, and organization in this terminology. The Common Core authors use the umbrella term language conventions.

However, most all teachers support teaching some form of simple to complex instructional order in teaching mechanics. For example, students need to be able to define, identify, and apply simple abbreviations (Mr.) before learning acronyms (UNICEF) and initialisms (FBI). In other words, the simple academic language and mechanics instruction should precede the more complex. We have supportive (and recent–as of January 2016) educational research to validate this instructional order:

Here’s the research to support simple to complex instructional order…

In a January 2016 article, the American Psychological Association published a helpful article titled Practice for Knowledge Acquisition (Not Drill and Kill) in which researchers summarize how instructional practice should be ordered: “Deliberate practice involves attention, rehearsal and repetition and leads to new knowledge or skills that can later be developed into more complex knowledge and skills… (Campitelli & Gobet, 2011).”

Of course, mechanics instruction (like grammar and usage instruction) is certainly recursive. Once the simple is taught to “mastery” and the complex is introduced, the simple is always re-taught and practiced in other instructional contexts. For example, proper noun capitalization will be re-introduced in every grade, every year. Sigh… The Common Core authors agree.

The Common Core Standards present a simple to complex instructional scope and sequence in the Language Strand Standards

However, grade-level Language Strand Standards do not include a comprehensive mechanics scope and sequence. A few examples from the L.2 Standards prove this out. Again, check out the simple to complex instructional order for the capitalization Standards.

The Conventions of Standard English (Standard 2) requires students to “Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.”

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.K.2.A
Capitalize the first word in a sentence and the pronoun I

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.1.2.A
Capitalize dates and names of people.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.2.2.A
Capitalize holidays, product names, and geographic names.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.3.2.A
Capitalize appropriate words in titles.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.4.2.A
Use correct capitalization.

The Language Strand Standards provide no capitalization Standards beyond grade 4. Again, the Common Core authors certainly advocate review.

So, to summarize… Both educational research and the authors of the Common Core State Standards validate a simple to more complex mechanics sequence of instruction.

How Should This Affect My Mechanics Instruction?

  1. The simple to complex instructional order is clearly not conducive to the more eclectic and hodgepodge DOL or DLR (Daily Oral Language or Daily Language Review) instruction without major revamping of either program. 
  2. A grammar, usage, and mechanics program with a comprehensive instructional scope and sequence, aligned to the Common Core Language Standards, College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards, and/or State Standards provides a well-defined instructional order.
  3. Site levels (and districts) need to plan a comprehensive year-to-year scope and sequence for mechanics instruction. The Common Core State Standards provide bare bones exemplars or benchmarks, but educators need to fill in the blanks. Just because acronyms are not mentioned in the Standards doesn’t mean that we aren’t supposed to teach them.

A Model Grades 4-8 Mechanics Scope and Sequence

Preview the Grades 4-8 Mechanics Scope and Sequence tied to the author’s comprehensive grades 4-8 Language Strand programs. The instructional scope and sequence includes grammar, usage, mechanics, spelling, and vocabulary. Teachers and district personnel are authorized to print and share this planning tool, with proper credit and/or citation. Why reinvent the wheel? Also check out my articles on Grammar Scope and Sequence, Spelling Scope and Sequence, and Vocabulary Scope and Sequence.

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

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

The author of this article, Mark Pennington, has written the assessment-based grades 4-8 Grammar, Usage, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand)  programs to teach the Common Core Language Strand Standards. Each full-year program provides 56 interactive grammar, usage, and mechanics worksheets and includes 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.

The program 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 author’s program.

[pdf-embedder url=”http://blog.penningtonpublishing.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/TLS-Instructional-Scope-and-Sequence-Grades-4-8.pdf”]

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Grammar Scope and Sequence

Although the grammar debate* continues between 1.Those who favor part to whole (indirect, implicit, inductive) instruction and 2. Those who prefer whole to part (direct, explicit, deductive) instruction, both sides would generally agree that students should be able to define, identify, and use some things before other things. In other words, the simple academic language and grammatical instruction should precede the more complex. We have solid (and recent–January 2016) educational research to support this instructional sequence of instruction:

*When most teachers refer to grammar we mean the structure of the sentence, the components of the sentence, word choice, the order of words, parts of speech, and usage. Some will also include punctuation, capitalization and even spelling in this terminology. The Common Core authors use the umbrella term language conventions.

Here’s the research to back up these instructional assumptions…

In a January 2016 article, the American Psychological Association published a helpful article titled Practice for Knowledge Acquisition (Not Drill and Kill) in which researchers summarize how instructional practice should be ordered: “Deliberate practice involves attention, rehearsal and repetition and leads to new knowledge or skills that can later be developed into more complex knowledge and skills… (Campitelli & Gobet, 2011).”

This is not to say that effective grammatical instruction is not recursive. It is and the writers of the Common Core certainly agree.

The Common Core authors also support a simple to complex instructional scope and sequence in the Language Strand Standards

However, neither the grade-level Standards, nor the Progressive Skills Review, provide a comprehensive grammar scope and sequence. A few examples from the L.1 Standards should suffice to prove these points. Again, notice the simple to complex pattern.

The Conventions of Standard English (Standard 1) requires students to “Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.”

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.1.1.F
Use frequently occurring adjectives.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.2.1.E
Use adjectives and adverbs, and choose between them depending on what is to be modified.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.3.1.A
Explain the function of nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs in general and their functions in particular sentences.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.4.1.D
Order adjectives within sentences according to conventional patterns (e.g., a small red bag rather than a red small bag).

Grades 5, 6, and 8 have no specific adjective Standards. Obviously, Grade 5 teachers would review the Grades 1-4 adjective Standards. Common sense is not thrown to the wind by the Common Core authors. 

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.7.2.A
Use a comma to separate coordinate adjectives (e.g., It was a fascinating, enjoyable movie but not He wore an old[,] green shirt).

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.9-10.1.B
Use various types of phrases (noun, verb, adjectival, adverbial, participial, prepositional, absolute) and clauses (independent, dependent; noun, relative, adverbial) to convey specific meanings and add variety and interest to writing or presentations.

So, to summarize… Both educational research and the authors of the Common Core State Standards validate a simple to more complex grammar sequence of instruction.

Instructional Implications

  1. Even a cursory glance at the recent research and the Language Strand and Progressive Skills Review Standards should convince teachers using DOL/DLR (Daily Oral Language / Daily Language Review) and  Writers (Writing) Workshop that an order of grammar instruction makes some sense and so re-ordering the instructional sequence of the former openers/bell ringer activities and the mini-lessons of the latter makes sense. 
  2. Selecting a grammar program with a comprehensive instructional scope and sequence, aligned to the Common Core Language Standards, College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards, and/or State Standards makes a lot of sense. 
  3. Defining a specific year-to-year instructional scope and sequence (the Common Core Standards are far too generic) with colleagues provides a game plan and also defines the content for assessment. It makes sense to establish a set of skills and expectations to be mastered at each grade level.

A Model Grammar Instructional Scope and Sequence

Why reinvent the wheel? Preview the Grades 4-8 Grammar and Usage Scope and Sequence tied to the author’s comprehensive grades 4-8 Language Strand programs. Teachers and district personnel are authorized to print and share this helpful planning tool, with proper credit and/or citation. Also check out my articles on Mechanics Scope and Sequence, Spelling Scope and Sequence, and Vocabulary Scope and Sequence.

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

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

The author of this article, Mark Pennington, has written the assessment-based grades 4-8 Grammar, Usage, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand)  programs to teach the Common Core Language Strand Standards. Each full-year program provides 56 interactive grammar, usage, and mechanics worksheets and includes 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.

The program 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 author’s program.

[pdf-embedder url=”http://blog.penningtonpublishing.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/TLS-Instructional-Scope-and-Sequence-Grades-4-8.pdf”]

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How to Teach Writing Mechanics

How to Teach Writing Mechanics asks and provides possible answers to the What is (and isn’t) Writing Mechanics, Why Teach Writing Mechanics? When Should We Teach Writing Mechanics? What Writing Mechanics Should We Teach? How Should We Teach Writing Mechanics? How Much Class Time for Writing Mechanics? questions related to teaching the nuts and bolts of punctuation, capitalization, formatting, citations, quotations, etc. Disclaimer: The author has published several writing mechanics resources.

What is (and isn’t) Writing Mechanics?

Since this is a “catch-all” subject, let’s discuss what I do mean and don’t mean by writing mechanics.  I do mean punctuation (commas, periods, colons, semicolons, dashes, ellipses, parentheses, and brackets), capitalization (including proper nouns, common nouns, abbreviations, and acronyms), formatting (paragraphing, indentations, when to skip and not skip lines, proper headings and spacing, what goes where and what does not), citations (MLA rules, the purpose thereof, and creative problem solving including references, in-text formatting, and list of works), quotations (direct, indirect, titles of works, and dialogue rules). I did mention rules, as no doubt you noticed. However, mechanics is also about style and coherency. “Let’s eat Grandma” comes to mind. Or how about…

I’M STUFFED DO WE HAVE TO EAT GRANDMA AFTER ALL WE JUST FINISHED EATING GRANDPA CAN’T WE WAIT UNTIL MOM’S DONE COOKING

Your students will love more of these examples.

Some teachers would, but I don’t mean grammar. Grammar refers to the sentence components and their functions, such as the parts of speech, subjects, predicates, objects, and modifiers. Grammar also means the arrangement of words within the sentence (the syntax), the formation of phrases and clauses, and word choice. Additionally, grammar includes study and practice in the accepted rules of proper usage, such as subject and verb agreement, pronoun and antecedent relationships, and whether to split infinitives or end sentences with prepositions. Finally, grammar is used to identify and correct non-standard usage. Check out a related article on How to Teach English Grammar.

I also don’t mean spelling. The authors of the Common Core State Standards lump the entire kitchen sink into the “language conventions” category. However, as an MA reading specialist, I will assure you that spelling (encoding) has much more to the how-to’s of reading (decoding) and vocabulary than with proper comma usage.

Why Teach Writing Mechanics?

The authors of the Common Core include writing mechanics in a separate Language Strand as Standard L. 2., and the accompanying Smarter Balanced and PAARC tests do test mechanics. Teaching mechanics will not only help your students avoid eating Grandma, but will also provide a forum for rich language discussion. The differences in British and American punctuation are fascinating. The changing nature of mechanics rules and the controversies between editors of new and old media are instructive. Want to raise a real ruckus? Try debating the serial comma rule! By the way, I don’t consider myself a serial comma killer.

When Should We Teach Writing Mechanics?

The Common Core State Standards have shifted so much of the language conventions to the primary or intermediate elementary grade levels. Such is the case with mechanics. Of course, review is essential and it is nice to have the recursive nature of language instruction validated by the Common Core authors. So, writing mechanics is certainly a K-12 focus.

What Writing Mechanics Should We Teach?

Because of the downward shift in terms of instructional responsibility, it does make sense for upper elementary, middle school, and high school teachers to begin teaching more complex writing mechanics skills. Building on prior knowledge will allow teachers of older students to “get to” issues of, say punctuation and capitalization that heretofore (always wanted to use that word) have never been addressed. It does makes sense to share the instructional load and to prioritize instruction. Layered, sequenced instruction makes sense. An establish scope and sequence makes more sense than a fix-the-random-error “curriculum,” such as DOL or DLR. Most of us old veterans of Daily Oral Language or Daily Language Review would agree that these “error fix-a-thons” (Jeff Anderson) never transferred to student speaking or writing. District committees and instructional teams at the site level can and should align and sequence instruction. For those grades 4−8 teachers who don’t wish to re-invent the wheel, here is a comprehensive instructional scope and sequence of the entire Language Strand (grammar and usage, mechanics, knowledge of use, spelling, and vocabulary) from my own Grammar, Usage, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand) program.

How Should We Teach Writing Mechanics?

Both direct and individualized instruction are needed to teach students writing mechanics. We do need to up the rigor of direct instruction as explained above, but we also need to build on individual student strengths and weaknesses. Because primary and intermediate elementary teachers are transitioning to more writing mechanics instruction, older students will have even a greater diversity of skills sets. Teachers can choose to teach as if none of their students knows anything and repeat the instruction that some have received, or use diagnostic assessments to determine mastery of writing mechanics for each student and provide remediation to those who need it.

Effective diagnostic assessments will help teachers identify what grammatical concepts and skills students have and have not mastered from previous grade levels. Here’s an effective 32 question writing mechanics assessment (with answers) and recording matrix. Teachers can create mini-lessons and/or assign remedial worksheets to correspond to items on the diagnostic assessment to “catch up” individual students to grade level direct instruction. Of course, my grades 4-8 programs provide these resources.

How Much Class Time for Writing Mechanics (and all Language Conventions) Instruction?

Most English-language specialists suggest that short, interactive language conventions lessons, including writing mechanics, (say 20−30 minutes twice per week with a focus on just a few skills, including a brief review to connect to prior learning) makes sense. Clear examples and quick practice in which students apply the skill or rule and identify what is correct and what is not helpful. Short dictation sentences in which students apply the writing mechanics focus will serve as formative assessments to inform the teacher as to mastery or if re-teaching is necessary. Less effective is the “teach writing mechanics only in the editing stage of process papers” approach via mini-lessons. Direct instruction makes a difference. Individualized instruction with targeted worksheets (corresponding to the diagnostic assessments) can add another 15-30 minutes of classroom instruction per week or be assigned as homework.

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

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

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

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.

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Writing Openers

These 112 Writing Openers are quick YouTube videos culled from the Grammar, Usage, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand) Grades 4−8 Language Convention lessons. Completely aligned to the Common Core State Standards, these simple and quick writing openers are suitable for upper elementary and middle school. Following is an overview of the 56 grammar and usage lessons and the 56 mechanics lessons.

Each of the 112 Writing Openers follows the same instructional sequence:

  • The teacher reads a brief introduction to introduce the grammar and usage or mechanics lesson focus (the lessons alternate) and the Language Strand Standard. The introduction connects to prior learning and/or defines key terms.
  • The teacher and students read the targeted grammar and usage or mechanics lesson with examples. The teacher explains and clarifies, as needed, while the students summarize the key points in composition books or on binder paper.
  • Students copy the practice sentence(s) and apply the content and skills learned in the lesson to highlight or circle what is correct and revise what is wrong.
  • Students review the practice answers, self-correct, and self-edit their work.
  • The teacher reads the writing application task and students compose a sentence or two to apply the lesson content or skill.

What’s in the Grammar, Usage, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand) language conventions lessons that are not provided in these 112 Writing Openers?

  1. Grammar, Usage, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand) consists of five Grades 4−8 programs. Check out the comprehensive instructional scopes and sequences.
  2. Grammar, Usage, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand) includes completely scripted teacher’s guide with accompanying PDF files for interactive display.
  3. The accompanying student workbooks provide the full text of each lesson to highlight and annotate. Workbooks also have the practice sentences and simple sentence diagrams for each lesson.
  4. Each lesson has exemplary mentor texts which apply the focus of each grammar and usage lesson. Students apply the grammar and usage lesson to respond to these texts.
  5. Each lesson has a grammar/usage and a mechanics formative assessment to ensure mastery of the lesson components. Students self-correct these sentence dictations.
  6. Grammar, Usage, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand) has a comprehensive assessment plan including bi-weekly unit assessments in which students define, identify, and apply each grammar, usage, and mechanics lesson content or skill.

Plus, the grade-level Grammar, Usage, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand) programs also include the following instructional resources in both the teacher’s guide and student workbook to ensure that your students master each of the Common Core Language Standards:

  1. Diagnostic grammar, usage, and mechanics assessments with recording matrices and corresponding worksheets to remediate previous grade-level (L.1, 2) grammar, usage, and mechanics Standards. Each worksheet has definitions, examples, practice, and a formative assessment.  Students self-correct the practice sections and mini-conference with the teacher to review the formative assessments.
  2. A complete spelling patterns program with weekly word lists, spelling sorts, and syllable worksheets. Plus, a comprehensive diagnostic spelling patterns assessment with recording matrices and corresponding worksheets to remediate previous grade-level (L.2) spelling Standards. Students self-correct the practice sections and mini-conference with the teacher to review the formative assessments.
  3. Twice-per-week Language Application Openers to teach and practice the (L.3) Knowledge of Use Standards.
  4. A complete vocabulary program with weekly word lists based upon the grade-level Academic Word List, multiple meaning words, context clues practice, idioms, semantic spectrums, Greek and Latin word parts, dictionary and thesaurus skills with game cards and bi-weekly unit tests.
  5. Answers to all worksheets and tests.
  6. Training videos. Check out the introductory training video.

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

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

Want to purchase access to these 112 writing opener videos. Visit TeachersPayTeachers here.

The author of this article, Mark Pennington, has written the assessment-based Teaching the Language

Strand Grades 4-8 programs to teach theCommon Core grammar, usage, mechanics, spelling, and vocabulary Standards. Diagnostic assessments and targeted worksheets help your students catch up while they keep up with rigorous grade-level direct instruction.

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Pronoun Number and Person Shifts

Pronoun Number and Person Shifts                                                      

Common Core Language Standard 1

Writers often confuse their readers by changing the number of pronouns. In other words the writers confuse singular and plural forms. Additionally, writers frequently make the mistake of changing the person. In other words the writers change first person, second person, or third person pronouns within the same paragraphs.

Today’s grammar and usage lesson is on vague pronoun references. Remember that a pronoun takes the place of a noun and identifies its antecedent. An antecedent is the noun or pronoun that the pronoun refers to or re-names.

Now let’s read the grammar and usage lesson and study the examples.

A personal pronoun must match singular pronouns to singular nouns or pronouns and plural pronouns to plural nouns or pronouns. Example: Julie has their her own style.

Often number errors are made with gender-specific pronouns. Revise by making the antecedent nouns plural. Example: The student students ate their lunch lunches.Or revise the sentence without the pronouns. Example: The student ate their lunch.

A personal pronoun must also be in the same person as its antecedent. Pronouns are in the first, second, or third person. Revise pronoun person problems by matching the pronoun person to its antecedent. Example: Julie has your her own style.

Now circle or highlight what is right and revise what is wrong according to grammar and usage lesson.

Practice: Tommy and Ashley like his or her school a lot. Both say you have to try their best.

Let’s check the Practice Answers.

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

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

Grammar and Usage Practice Answers:

Tommy and Ashley their school a lot. Both say you have to try your best.

or

Tommy and Ashley their school a lot. Both say theyhave to try theirbest.

Now let’s apply what we have learned. 

Writing Application: Write your own sentence using a pronoun antecedent which correctly matches the number of its antecedent.

This writing opener is part of a comprehensive language conventions lesson from the Grammar, Usage, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand)  Grades 4‒8 programs. Complete descriptions, instructional scopes and sequences, introductory video, previews, and two-week test drives of the grade-level teacher guides and student workbooks are available here.

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Punctuation of Direct Quotations

Punctuation of Direct Quotations                                                       

Common Core Language Standard 2

Punctuating direct quotations is not that difficult, until you have to use a quotation or quoted title within a quotation. Punctuation can also get tricky when you don’t want to use all of the quote. Using citations properly can also be a bit of a challenge, but you have to tell the writer where you got the words and/or ideas you are borrowing.

Today’s mechanics lesson is on how to punctuate quoted references within direct quotations. Remember that a direct quotation includes the spoken or written words.

Now let’s read the mechanics lesson and study the examples.

When quotations or quoted titles are placed within quoted speech, use single quotation marks (‘__’) at the beginning and end of the inside quotations. Use double quotation marks (“__”) at the beginning and end of the entire quotation. Example: Beth said, “Do you agree with Beth’s statement that ‘the case is closed?’”

Now circle or highlight what is right and revise what is wrong according to mechanics lesson.

Practice: “Just 22% of adults drink milk (Dent 8).” Another author believes it’s 28% (Lind 42).

Let’s check the Practice Answers.

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

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

Mechanics Practice Answers: “Just 22% of adults drink milk”(Dent 8).Another author believes it’s 28% (Lind 42).

Now let’s apply what we have learned.

Writing Application: Write your own sentence with a make-believe quoted reference within a direct quotation.

This writing opener is part of a comprehensive language conventions lesson from the Grammar, Usage, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand)  Grades 4‒8 programs. Complete descriptions, instructional scopes and sequences, introductory video, previews, and two-week test drives of the grade-level teacher guides and student workbooks are available here.

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Pronoun Antecedents

Pronoun Antecedents                                                        

Common Core Language Standard 1

One of the problems that a developing writer faces when learning to write longer and more complicated sentences is the misuse of pronoun antecedents. Pronouns can be wonderful parts of speech in the hands of a skillful writer. Pronouns can produce variety and reduce repetitiveness, but they shouldn’t be used when they confuse the reader. Learning how to avoid the common pronoun antecedent problems is helpful. Learning how to write clear and specific pronoun antecedent relationships is essential.

Today’s grammar and usage lesson is on pronoun antecedents. Remember that a pronoun takes the place of a noun and identifies its antecedent. An antecedent is the noun or pronoun that the pronoun refers to or re-names.

Now let’s read the grammar and usage lesson and study the examples.

A pronoun must clearly and specifically refer to just one noun or pronoun (the antecedent). Generally, the pronoun refers to the noun or pronoun immediately before the pronoun.

To avoid pronoun antecedent problems:

1. Keep pronouns close to their references or use synonyms.

2. Don’t have a pronoun refer to the object of a prepositional phrase. Example: The box of pencils was found in their place. Revision: The box of pencils was found in its place.

3. Don’t have a pronoun refer to a possessive antecedent. Example: Are theirs the best cookies? They certainly are. Revision: Are their cookies the best? They certainly are.

Now circle or highlight what is right and revise what is wrong according to grammar and usage lesson.

Practice: The dog’s dry food was in the bag. It was expensive. The food was also smelly.

Let’s check the Practice Answers.

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

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

Grammar and Usage Practice Answers: The dog’s dry food was in the bag. The foodwas expensive. The food was also smelly.

Now let’s apply what we have learned. 

Writing Application: Write your own sentence using a clear and specific pronoun antecedent.

This writing opener is part of a comprehensive language conventions lesson from the Grammar, Usage, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand)  Grades 4‒8 programs. Complete descriptions, instructional scopes and sequences, introductory video, previews, and two-week test drives of the grade-level teacher guides and student workbooks are available here.

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Punctuation of Indirect Quotations

Punctuation of Indirect Quotations                                                       

Common Core Language Standard 2

When students begin writing reports of information or summaries in elementary school, the often used teacher direction is “Put it in your own words.” Now paraphrasing and summarizing are useful skills; however, putting someone else’s idea into your own words does not make it your own idea. The writer must faithfully represent what the idea actually is and then credit the originator of the idea with a proper citation.

Now let’s read the mechanics lesson and study the examples.

An indirect quotation reports someone else’s words without quoting each word. Indirect quotations still require proper citations, but not quotation marks. A citation is the name of the source (the author’s last name or title, if no author is listed) and the page number of the print material where the author’s words are found. Example: Cheetahs are the fastest animals (Lee 5).

Now circle or highlight what is right and revise what is wrong according to mechanics lesson.

Practice: Tommy asked, “May I have some?” “Did he have to ask that question?” “Wow!”

Let’s check the Practice Answers.

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

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

Mechanics Practice Answers: Tommy asked, “May I have some?” “Did he have to ask that question”?“Wow!”

Now let’s apply what we have learned.

Writing Application: Write your own sentence using an indirect quotation.

This writing opener is part of a comprehensive language conventions lesson from the Grammar, Usage, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand)  Grades 4‒8 programs. Complete descriptions, instructional scopes and sequences, introductory video, previews, and two-week test drives of the grade-level teacher guides and student workbooks are available here.

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Reciprocal Pronouns

Reciprocal Pronouns                                                     

Common Core Language Standard 1

The good thing about reciprocal pronouns is that we only have two of them: each other and one another. The usage rule works most of the time, but is often ignored by many professional writers. Your English-language arts teacher will probably suggest that you should stick to the rules, until you are making money as a professional writer and choose to break those rules.

Today’s grammar and usage lesson is on reciprocal pronouns. Remember that a pronoun takes the place of a noun and may be in the subject, object, or possessive case.

Now let’s read the grammar and usage lesson and study the examples.

The two reciprocal pronouns, each other and one another, are used to describe the same action shared by two or more things or people. Usually, each other is used to refer to two people; one another is used to refer to more than two people. Examples: Jenna, Rosie, and Tanya love another other. Leo and Viktor irritate each other.

Now circle or highlight what is right and revise what is wrong according to grammar and usage lesson.

Practice: The teammates gave one another praise for their victory. They had to depend upon each other to pull out the win.

Let’s check the Practice Answers.

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

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

Grammar and Usage Practice Answers: The teammates gave one another praise for their victory. They had to depend upon one another to pull out the win.

Now let’s apply what we have learned. 

Writing Application: Write your own sentence using a reciprocal pronoun.

This writing opener is part of a comprehensive language conventions lesson from the Grammar, Usage, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand)  Grades 4‒8 programs. Complete descriptions, instructional scopes and sequences, introductory video, previews, and two-week test drives of the grade-level teacher guides and student workbooks are available here.

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Punctuation of Direct Quotations

Punctuation of Direct Quotations                                                        

Common Core Language Standard 2

Most of us have heard often how we need to faithfully quote the words of an author when using them in our own writing. However, few of us have heard that it’s not just the words which must be faithfully quoted; it’s also the punctuation. If we fail to use proper punctuation in this quotation, the whole meaning changes: “Let’s eat, Grandma” and “Let’s eat Grandma” (Author unknown) are certainly different meanings entirely.

Today’s grammar and usage lesson is on pronoun antecedents. Remember that a pronoun takes the place of a noun and identifies its antecedent. An antecedent is the noun or pronoun that the pronoun refers to or re-names.

Now let’s read the mechanics lesson and study the examples.

Direct quotations must include original capitalization and punctuation. Periods and commas go inside the closing quotation marks. Question marks and exclamation points go inside the quotation marks, if part of the quoted sentence, but outside, if not. Colons and semicolons go outside the closing quotation marks. Example: Beth said, “The case is closed. Isn’t it?”

Both parts of a divided quotation are enclosed in quotation marks. The first word of the

second part is not capitalized unless it begins a new sentence. Example: “This book,” my mother said, “is wonderful.” When quoting an author or speaker, the first word of a complete sentence must be capitalized, even if it is in the middle of a sentence. Example: Ray did say, “We saw it.”

Now circle or highlight what is right and revise what is wrong according to mechanics lesson.

Practice: My coach whispered, “This game is over.” He continued, “Before it has even started.”

Let’s check the Practice Answers.

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

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

Mechanics Practice Answers: My coach whispered, “This game is over.” He continued, “before it has even started.”

Now let’s apply what we have learned.

Writing Application: Write two of your own direct quotation sentences: one ending in a period and one ending in a question mark.

This writing opener is part of a comprehensive language conventions lesson from the Grammar, Usage, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand)  Grades 4‒8 programs. Complete descriptions, instructional scopes and sequences, introductory video, previews, and two-week test drives of the grade-level teacher guides and student workbooks are available here.

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Restrictive Clauses

Restrictive Clauses                                                      

Common Core Language Standard 1

To understand restrictive clauses, we have to understand what restrict means and why a restrictive clause can only be a dependent clause. To restrict means to keep within certain limits or to not allow beyond a certain area. In grammar we mean that the words and meaning are limited within the clause. In other words no other additional words or meaning beyond the basic meaning of that clause are permitted. Because the clause is restrictive, it needs something to restrict. It needs to connect to an independent clause (a noun and a connected verb expressing a complete thought). The restrictive clause is dependent upon that independent clause, so it is a dependent clause.

Today’s grammar and usage lesson is on restrictive clauses. Remember that a nonrestrictive clause begins with the relative pronouns who, whom, whose,and which, but not that.

Now let’s read the grammar and usage lesson and study the examples.

Restrictive relative clauses serve as adjectives following a noun to limit, restrict, or define the meaning of that noun. The clause could not be removed without affecting the basic meaning of the sentence. A restrictive relative clause begins with the relative pronouns who, whom, whose,and that, but not which. The who refers to a specific person or group of people. The that refers to things or people in general. Restrictive relative clauses are not set off by commas. Example: The boy who gave me water left the book that I needed for class.

Now circle or highlight what is right and revise what is wrong according to grammar and usage lesson.

Practice: The man which is working outside keeps a garden, that feeds the entire neighborhood.

Let’s check the Practice Answers.

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

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

Grammar and Usage Practice Answers: The man who is working outside keeps a garden that feeds the entire neighborhood.

Now let’s apply what we have learned. 

Writing Application: Write your own sentence using a restrictive relative clause at the end of the sentence.

This writing opener is part of a comprehensive language conventions lesson from the Grammar, Usage, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand)  Grades 4‒8 programs. Complete descriptions, instructional scopes and sequences, introductory video, previews, and two-week test drives of the grade-level teacher guides and student workbooks are available here.

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Punctuation of Restrictive Clauses

Punctuation of Restrictive Clauses                                              

Common Core Language Standard 2

The tough “fifty-cent” words we use to describe the academic language of grammar, usage, and mechanics restricts our understanding. To restrict means to keep within certain limits or to not allow beyond a certain area. In grammar we mean that the words and meaning are limited within the clause. In other words no other additional words or meaning beyond the basic meaning of that clause are permitted. Because the clause is restrictive, it needs something to restrict. It needs to connect to an independent clause (a noun and a connected verb expressing a complete thought). The restrictive clause is dependent upon that independent clause, so it is a dependent clause.

Today’s mechanics lesson is on how to punctuate restrictive clauses. Let’s read the mechanics lesson and study the examples.

Now let’s read the mechanics lesson and study the examples.

The relative pronouns who, whom, whose,and that, but not which introduce restrictive clauses. Do not use commas, dashes, or parentheses between nouns and relative pronouns.

Examples: The girl who lives here is kind. The boy whom I just met and whose food we are eating is extremely generous.

Now circle or highlight what is right and revise what is wrong according to mechanics lesson.

Practice: He made me an offer, that I can’t refuse. My friend, whose name is Art, is crazy.

Let’s check the Practice Answers.

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

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

Mechanics Practice Answers: He made me an offer that I can’t refuse. My friend, whose name is Art, is crazy.

Now let’s apply what we have learned. 

Writing Application: Write your own sentence using a restrictive relative clause in the middle of the sentence.

This writing opener is part of a comprehensive language conventions lesson from the Grammar, Usage, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand)  Grades 4‒8 programs.  Complete descriptions, instructional scopes and sequences, introductory video, previews, and two-week test drives of the grade-level teacher guides and student workbooks are available here.

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Nonrestrictive Relative Clauses

Nonrestrictive Relative Clauses                                                  

Common Core Language Standard 1

If to restrict means to keep within certain limits or to not allow beyond a certain area, then opposite meaning would be to allow outside of certain limits or permit beyond a certain area. In grammar we mean that the words and meaning are not limited within the clause. In other words additional words or meanings beyond the basic meaning of that clause are permitted. 

Today’s grammar and usage lesson is on nonrestrictive relative clauses. Remember to use commas to set off nonrestrictive relative clauses from the noun or pronoun before the clause.

Now let’s read the mechanics lesson and study the examples.

Nonrestrictive relative clauses serve as adjectives to modify the preceding noun or pronoun, but they do not limit, restrict, or define the meaning of that noun or pronoun. The clause could be removed without changing the basic meaning of the sentence.

The relative  pronouns who, whom, whose, and which, but not that, begin nonrestrictive relative clauses. The who refers to people and which refers to specific things. Example: The man, whose watch is gold, asked me for help.

Now circle or highlight what is right and revise what is wrong according to mechanics lesson.

Practice: The woman which never told the truth claimed to have seen a spaceship, which no one else happened to see.

Let’s check the Practice Answers.

Grammar and Usage Practice Answers: The woman, who never told the truth, claimed to have seen a spaceship, which no one else happened to see.

Now let’s apply what we have learned. 

Writing Application: Write a sentence with a nonrestrictive relative clause in the middle of the sentence.

This writing opener is part of a comprehensive language conventions lesson from the Grammar, Usage, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand)  Grades 4‒8 programs. Complete descriptions, instructional scopes and sequences, introductory video, previews, and two-week test drives of the grade-level teacher guides and student workbooks are available here.

Grammar/Mechanics, Writing , ,

Commas with Nonrestrictive Relative Clauses

Commas with Nonrestrictive Relative Clauses                                                      

Common Core Language Standard 2

Since restrict means to keep within certain limits or to not allow beyond a certain area, then opposite meaning must mean to allow outside of certain limits or permit beyond a certain area. In mechanics we have to show that these words and meanings are not limited within the clause and so we use punctuation. 

Today’s mechanics lesson is on how to use commas with nonrestrictive relative clauses. Remember that a clause has a noun and a connected verb.

Now let’s read the mechanics lesson and study the examples.

The relative pronouns who, whom, whose, and which, but not that, begin nonrestrictive relative clauses. Use commas to set off nonrestrictive relative clauses from the noun or pronoun before the clause. Example: The girl, who sits in the corner, is sleepy.

Now circle or highlight what is right and revise what is wrong according to mechanics lesson.

Practice: The politician, who promised to fix the economy, who pledged to lower taxes and who swore to protect the environment, was defeated soundly at the polls.

Let’s check the Practice Answers.

Mechanics Practice Answers: The politician, who promised to fix the economy, who pledged to lower taxes,and who swore to protect the environment, was defeated soundly at the polls.

Now let’s apply what we have learned. 

Writing Application: Write your own sentence using a nonrestrictive relative clause in the middle of the sentence.

This writing opener is part of a comprehensive language conventions lesson from the Grammar, Usage, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand)  Grades 4‒8 programs. Complete descriptions, instructional scopes and sequences, introductory video, previews, and two-week test drives of the grade-level teacher guides and student workbooks are available here.

Grammar/Mechanics, Writing , ,

Intensive Pronouns

Intensive Pronouns                                                   

Common Core Language Standard 1

To understand intensive pronouns, we ought to take a look at the definition of intensiveIntensive means to give force or emphasis. Sometimes we just want to give force or emphasis to who the subject or whom the object is. That’s the use of intensive pronouns.

Today’s grammar and usage lesson is on intensive pronouns. Remember that a pronoun takes the place of a noun.

Now let’s read the grammar and usage lesson and study the examples.

Intensive pronouns are used to emphasize subject or object case nouns or pronouns. These pronouns take the same form as reflexive pronouns and end in “self” or “selves”: myself, ourselves, yourself, yourselves, himself, herself, itself, and themselves.

Unlike reflexive pronouns, removing the intensive pronoun does not change the meaning of the sentence. Intensive pronouns generally follow nouns or pronouns in the sentence and are not separated by commas. Examples: you yourself, he himself

Now circle or highlight what is right and revise what is wrong according to grammar and usage lesson.

Practice: They themselves have always said it is better to read the summary written by the author her ownself.

Let’s check the Practice Answers.

Grammar and Usage Practice Answers: They themselves have always said it is better to read the summary written by the author herself.

Now let’s apply what we have learned.

Writing Application: Write your own sentence using an intensive pronoun.

This writing opener is part of a comprehensive language conventions lesson from the Grammar, Usage, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand)  Grades 4‒8 programs. Complete descriptions, instructional scopes and sequences, introductory video, previews, and two-week test drives of the grade-level teacher guides and student workbooks are available here.

Grammar/Mechanics, Writing , ,

Commas with Hierarchical Adjectives

Commas with Hierarchical Adjectives                                                     

Common Core Language Standard 2

Hierarchy has to do with ranking of different levels or degrees. Recognizing hierarchical adjectives helps us know how to punctuate properly.

Today’s mechanics lesson is on using commas with hierarchical adjectives. Remember that an adjective modifies a noun or pronoun and answers Which one? How many? or What kind?

Now let’s read the mechanics lesson and study the examples.

Hierarchical adjectives build upon each other with different levels or degrees to modify the same noun. Hierarchical adjectives are not separated by commas. If the adjectives make no sense when placing the word and between them or reversing their order, the adjectives are hierarchical. Examples: Let’s order a hot thick-crust sausage pizza.

Now circle or highlight what is right and revise what is wrong according to mechanics lesson.

Practice: The traditional classroom reading tests do not always lead to the best, educational, placements.

Let’s check the Practice Answers.

Mechanics Practice Answers: The traditional classroom reading tests do not always lead to the best educational placements.

Now let’s apply what we have learned. 

Writing Application: Write your own sentence using hierarchical adjectives.

This writing opener is part of a comprehensive language conventions lesson from the Grammar, Usage, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand)  Grades 4‒8 programs. Complete descriptions, instructional scopes and sequences, introductory video, previews, and two-week test drives of the grade-level teacher guides and student workbooks are available here.

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Reflexive Pronouns

Reflexive Pronouns                                                       

Common Core Language Standard 1

Just like intensive pronouns, reflexive pronouns use “self” or “selves” to tag onto pronouns. However, a reflexive pronoun does not add force or emphasis as does an intensive pronoun. Instead, a reflexive pronoun makes the meaning of a sentence more clear and so it is needed to make sense of the sentence. The prefix “re” meaning again is helpful to remember, because a reflexive pronoun must talk about or refer to a subject of a sentence once again. When we talk about or refer to something that comes before it in a sentence, we have to signal this relationship with punctuation.

Today’s grammar and usage lesson is on reflexive pronouns. Remember that a pronoun takes the place of a noun. 

Now let’s read the mechanics lesson and study the examples.

Reflexive pronouns end in “self” or “selves” and refer to the subject of a sentence. The reflexive pronoun cannot serve as the subject of the sentence.

These are the reflexive pronouns:

myself, ourselves, yourself, yourselves, himself (not hisself), herself, itself, and themselves.

Reflexive pronouns are necessary to the meaning of the sentence and usually follow verbs or prepositions. Examples: Pete gave himself a break and grabbed a cookie forhimself.

Now circle or highlight what is right and revise what is wrong according to mechanics lesson.

Practice: Leta hurt herself on the hike. Yourself helped her. It was good to see that for ourselves.

Let’s check the Practice Answers.

Grammar and Usage Practice Answers: Leta hurt herself on the hike. Youhelped her. It was good to see that for ourselves.

Now let’s apply what we have learned. 

Writing Application: Write your own sentence using a reflexive pronoun.

This writing opener is part of a comprehensive language conventions lesson from the Grammar, Usage, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand)  Grades 4‒8 programs. Complete descriptions, instructional scopes and sequences, introductory video, previews, and two-week test drives of the grade-level teacher guides and student workbooks are available here.

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Commas with Coordinate Adjectives

Commas with Coordinate Adjectives                                       

Common Core Language Standard 2

When adjectives of a similar category are used in a list, they have to be separated. We use commas to separate similar items.

Today’s mechanics lesson is on commas with coordinate adjectives. Remember that coordinate adjectives work equally to modify a noun.

Now let’s read the mechanics lesson and study the examples.

To determine if adjectives are coordinate adjectives, try placing the word and between the adjectives. Second, try reversing them. If, the phrases sound fine both ways, the adjectives are coordinate adjectives and require commas between each. Example: A large, angry dog

Now circle or highlight what is right and revise what is wrong according to mechanics lesson.

Practice: Their back yard has a high stone fence patrolled by a mean, angry watchdog.

Let’s check the Practice Answers.

Mechanics Practice Answers: Their back yard has a high stone fence patrolled by a mean, angry watchdog.

Now let’s apply what we have learned. 

Writing Application: Write your own sentence using coordinate adjectives.

This writing opener is part of a comprehensive language conventions lesson from the Grammar, Usage, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand)  Grades 4‒8 programs. Complete descriptions, instructional scopes and sequences, introductory video, previews, and two-week test drives of the grade-level teacher guides and student workbooks are available here.

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Demonstrative Pronouns

Demonstrative Pronouns                                                     

Common Core Language Standard 1

Demonstrative pronouns are different than demonstrative adjectives. The only difference is that the former stands on its on while the latter connects to a following noun. Both rely on our knowledge of distance for proper usage.

Today’s grammar and usage lesson is on demonstrative pronouns. Remember that a pronoun takes the place of a noun.

Now let’s read the grammar and usage lesson and study the examples.

When the words this, that, these, and those take the place of nouns, they are called demonstrative pronouns. The words this (singular) and these (plural) are close to the writer (speaker). The words that (singular) and those (plural) are away from the writer (speaker). If the demonstrative pronoun has a vague (unclear) reference to its noun, add the noun after the pronoun.

Examples: this right here, that over there, these up close, those far away

Now circle or highlight what is right and revise what is wrong according to grammar and usage lesson.

Practice: This right there is heavier than these over here. This is lighter than this other car.

Let’s check the Practice Answers.

Grammar and Usage Practice Answers:

This right here is heavier than those over there. This is lighter than that other car.

or

That right there is heavier than these over here.

That is lighter than this other car.

Now let’s apply what we have learned.

Writing Application: Write your own sentence using a demonstrative pronoun.

This writing opener is part of a comprehensive language conventions lesson from the Grammar, Usage, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand)  Grades 4‒8 programs. Complete descriptions, instructional scopes and sequences, introductory video, previews, and two-week test drives of the grade-level teacher guides and student workbooks are available here.

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Commas with Complex Sentences

Commas with Complex Sentences                                                        

Common Core Language Standard 2

When students begin to write in complex sentences, the quality and maturity of their writing increases significantly. The complex sentence has two parts: the dependent clause and the independent clause. 

Today’s mechanics lesson is on commas with complex sentences. Remember that a complex sentence connects a dependent clause to an independent clause. A dependent clause is a noun and connected verb that does not express a complete thought, while the independent clause is a noun and connected verb that does express a complete thought. A subordinating conjunction begins a dependent clause.

Now let’s read the mechanics lesson and study the examples.

Place a comma after a dependent clause that begins a sentence. Place commas before and after a dependent clause in the middle of the sentence. Don’t place a comma before a dependent clause that ends a sentence. Example: After I sneeze, I always blow my nose. I stop when he asks me.

Now circle or highlight what is right and revise what is wrong according to mechanics lesson.

Practice: Even though you disobeyed me, I know why you did it, although I still disapprove.

Let’s check the Practice Answers.

Mechanics Practice Answers: Even though you disobeyed me, I know why you did it although I still disapprove.

Now let’s apply what we have learned.

Writing Application: Write your own sentence using a dependent clause at the beginning of a sentence.

This writing opener is part of a comprehensive language conventions lesson from the Grammar, Usage, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand)  Grades 4‒8 programs.  Complete descriptions, instructional scopes and sequences, introductory video, previews, and two-week test drives of the grade-level teacher guides and student workbooks are available here.

Grammar/Mechanics, Writing , ,

Interrogative Pronouns

Interrogative Pronouns                                                

Common Core Language Standard 1

A pronoun that begins a question is called an interrogative pronoun. The interrogative pronoun is never the subject of the sentence.

Today’s grammar and usage lesson is on interrogative pronouns. Remember that a pronoun takes the place of a noun. An interrogative is a question.

Now let’s read the grammar and usage lesson and study the examples.

An interrogative pronoun is used to ask a question. Only five pronouns are interrogative pronouns: who, whom, whose, what, and which. Use what to refer to a general thing and which to refer to a specific thing. Examples: What do you want? Which do you prefer?

Each of the pronouns can add the “_ever” and “_soever” suffixes to refer to any person, place, thing, or idea. Examples: Whoever or Whosoever leaves last should lock the door.

Now circle or highlight what is right and revise what is wrong according to the grammar and usage lesson.

Practice: Why aren’t you working? Who knows if your job will last? What if you didn’t work. Whom did you ask for help? Which one would you choose.

Let’s check the Practice Answers.

Grammar and Usage Practice Answers: Why aren’t you working? Who knows if your job will last? What if you didn’t work? Whom did you ask for help? Which one would you choose?

Now let’s apply what we have learned.

Writing Application: Write your own sentence using an interrogative pronoun.

This writing opener is part of a comprehensive language conventions lesson from the Grammar, Usage, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand)  Grades 4‒8 programs. Complete descriptions, instructional scopes and sequences, introductory video, previews, and two-week test drives of the grade-level teacher guides and student workbooks are available here.

Grammar/Mechanics, Writing , ,

How to Teach Commas with Phrases and Clauses

Grammar, Usage, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand) ©2014 Pennington Publishing
Common Core Language Standard 2
How to Teach Commas with Phrases and Clauses: Mechanics Lesson 26

How to Teach Commas with Phrases and Clauses                                                 

Both phrase and clauses are used as parts of sentences. Because the phrase and clause are parts, they need to be separated from the rest of the sentence. Often that separation requires punctuation. The rules vary depending upon the location of the phrase or clause within the sentence.

Today’s mechanics lesson is on commas with phrases and clauses. Remember that a phrase is a group of related words without a noun and connected verb. Display Instructional PowerPoint Slides

Now let’s read the mechanics lesson and study the examples.

Use commas to set off phrases or clauses that are separate from or interrupt the main clause of the sentence. Example: She has, if I’m not mistaken, been here before.

If an introductory phrase is four words or less, don’t follow with a comma, unless the phrase is given special emphasis. Examples: Over there I waited; Beneath the fluffy white clouds, I hiked.

Now circle or highlight what is right and revise what is wrong according to mechanics lesson.

Practice: Under the covers, she crawled after the ghost story was finished. She was scared, but not terrified by the spiders.

Let’s check the Practice Answers.

Mechanics Practice Answers: Under the covers she crawled after the ghost story was finished. She was scared, but not terrified by the spiders.

Now let’s apply what we have learned. 

Writing Application: Write your own sentence using an introductory phrase.

Check out and bookmark the 112 Writing Openers and get the instructional scope and links to all 56 grammar and usage lessons and all 56 mechanics lessons.  Plus, subscribe to my YouTube Channel and get the same lessons in video format.

This writing opener is part of a comprehensive language conventions lesson from the Grammar, Usage, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand)  Grades 4‒8 programs. Complete language conventions lessons feature the grade-level grammar, usage, and mechanics lessons plus simple sentence diagrams, error analysis, mentor texts, writing applications, and formative assessments. Additionally, the full-year Grammar, Usage, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand) curriculum provides a complete spelling patterns program, language application openers, and vocabulary worksheets. Bi-weekly unit tests measure definition, identification, and writing application. Each program includes a comprehensive teacher’s guide with scripted instructions and accompanying student workbooks with the complete lesson text, practice, and assessments. Grammar, Usage, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand) also has the resources to meet the needs of diverse learners. Diagnostic assessments provide the data to enable teachers to individualize instruction with remedial grammar, usage, mechanics, and spelling pattern worksheets–all with quick formative assessments. In short, every resource you need to teach all of the grade-level Common Core Language Strand Standards and individualize instruction is provided in the Grammar, Usage, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand) programsComplete descriptions, instructional scopes and sequences, introductory video, previews, and two-week test drives of the grade-level teacher guides and student workbooks are available here.

Grammar/Mechanics, Writing , ,

Indefinite Pronouns

Indefinite Pronouns                                                       

Common Core Language Standard 1

Since pronouns take the place of nouns or refer to nouns, the number of the pronoun must match its noun. Some of our pronouns are indefinite. The prefix “in” can mean in or into, but it can also mean not. So indefinite means not definite or not specific.

Today’s grammar and usage lesson is on indefinite pronouns. Remember that a pronoun takes the place of a noun.

Now let’s read the grammar and usage lesson and study the examples.

An indefinite pronoun does not refer to a specific noun. Indefinite pronouns ending in “_body” or “_one” are singular. Examples: anybody, anyone

These indefinite pronouns are plural: both, few, many, and several.

Indefinite pronouns that express quantity or measurement may be singular or plural depending upon the surrounding word clues. Examples: all, any, half, more, most, none, other, and some

Now circle or highlight what is right and revise what is wrong according to grammar and usage lesson.

Practice: Everybody was prepared, but only a few players on the team was willing to play the champions again.

Let’s check the Practice Answers.

Grammar and Usage Practice Answers: Everybody was prepared, but only a few players on the team were willing to play the champions again.

Now let’s apply what we have learned. 

Writing Application: Write your own sentence using a singular and plural indefinite pronoun.

This writing opener is part of a comprehensive language conventions lesson from the Grammar, Usage, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand)  Grades 4‒8 programs. Complete descriptions, instructional scopes and sequences, introductory video, previews, and two-week test drives of the grade-level teacher guides and student workbooks are available here.

Grammar/Mechanics, Writing , ,

Commas with Quotation Marks and Speaker Tags in Dialogue

Commas with Quotation Marks and Speaker Tags in Dialogue                                                

Common Core Language Standard 2

Comma placement in dialogue can be challenging. One reason things get confusing is that we Americans like to place most punctuation, including commas, inside our quotation marks. The British like to keep punctuation outside.

Today’s mechanics lesson is on commas with quotation marks and speaker tags in dialogue. Remember that a speaker tag is the person speaking and the connected verb. Also remember to begin a new paragraph whenever the speaker changes in dialogue.

Now let’s read the mechanics lesson and study the examples.

In dialogue sentences, place commas:

After a beginning speaker tag to the left of the quotation marks. Example: I said, “No.”

Before and after a middle speaker tag to the left of both quotation marks. Example: “We must go,” I explained, “before it’s too late.”

Before an ending speaker tag to the left of the quotation marks. Example: “Go,” I plead.

Practice: 

I said, “Text me when you can.”

“If I do have time to text,” he explained “it will have to be late tonight.”

“I’ll still be awake” she replied.

Let’s check the Practice Answers.

Mechanics Practice Answers:

I said, “Text me when you can.”

“If I do have time to text,” he explained,“it will have to be late tonight.”

“I’ll still be awake,” she replied.

Now let’s apply what we’ve learned.

Writing Application: Write three of your own sentences using beginning, middle, and ending speaker tags.

This writing opener is part of a comprehensive language conventions lesson from the Grammar, Usage, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand)  Grades 4‒8 programs. Complete descriptions, instructional scopes and sequences, introductory video, previews, and two-week test drives of the grade-level teacher guides and student workbooks are available here.

Grammar/Mechanics, Writing , ,

Noun Phrases

Noun Phrases                                                     

Common Core Language Standard 1

A noun phrase adds modifiers to a noun to specifically identify that noun.

Today’s grammar and usage lesson is on noun phrases. Remember that a noun is an idea, person, place, or thing.

Now let’s read the grammar and usage lesson and study the examples.

A noun phrase consists of a named or unnamed person, place, thing, or idea and any words which modify or identify the noun. It acts as a single part of speech and can be referred to with a single pronoun. Examples: The tired young man (he) asked all his friends (them) to leave.

Now circle or highlight what is right and revise what is wrong according to grammar and usage lesson.

Practice: The lazy young men sitting in their plastic lawn chairs did nothing the entire afternoon.

Let’s check the Practice Answers.

Grammar and Usage Practice Answers: The lazy,young men sitting in their plastic lawn chairs did nothing the entire afternoon.

Now let’s apply what we have learned.

Writing Application: Write your own sentence using a noun phrase.

Check out the Pennington Publishing Blog for a full-year of grammar, usage, and mechanics lessons and our YouTube Pennington Publishing Channel for video versions of the same lessons.

This grammar and usage writing opener is part of a comprehensive lesson from the Grammar, Usage, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand) Grades 4‒8 programs. Previews and two-week test drives of the grade-level teacher guides and student workbooks are available at www.penningtonpublishing.com.

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Commas in Compound Sentences

Commas in Compound Sentences                                              

Common Core Language Standard 2

Comma rules can be tricky. We do have disagreement about using them in compound sentences. Some old school English-language arts teachers insist that a comma followed by a conjunction is always required to join to independent clauses. Most professional writers ignore this rule. After all, it just seems awkward adding the comma in the short sentence: “I’ll walk, and I’ll run.” Most style manuals today apply this rule differently for short and long sentences.

Today’s mechanics lesson is on commas in compound sentences. Remember that a compound sentence has two or more independent clauses. An independent clause is part of a sentence that has a noun and verb expressing a complete thought. Coordinating conjunctions can be used to join the independent clauses.

Now let’s read the mechanics lesson and study the examples.

Place a comma before the coordinating conjunction(s) to join independent clauses if one or both of the independent clauses is long. The memory trick FANBOYS (For-And-Nor-But-Or-Yet-So) may help you remember the common two or three-letter coordinating conjunctions. Example: My parents used to eat plenty of fresh fish, and they also ate rice.

Example: My parents used to eat plenty of fresh fish, and they also ate rice.

Now circle or highlight what is right and revise what is wrong according to mechanics lesson.

Practice: I sang my loudest, yet the huge crowd still couldn’t hear me or my music. They were screaming, so they couldn’t listen.

Let’s check the Practice Answers.

Mechanics Practice Answers: I sang my loudest, yet the huge crowd still couldn’t hear me or my music. They were screaming so they couldn’t listen.

Now let’s apply what we have learned. 

Writing Application: Write your own sentence using a compound sentence with two long independent clauses.

Check out the Pennington Publishing Blog for a full-year of grammar, usage, and mechanics lessons and our YouTube Pennington Publishing Channel for video versions of the same lessons.

This mechanics writing opener is part of a comprehensive lesson from the Grammar, Usage, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand) Grades 4‒8 programs. Previews and two-week test drives of the grade-level teacher guides and student workbooks are available at www.penningtonpublishing.com.

Grammar/Mechanics, Writing , ,

Noun Clauses

Noun Clauses                                                    

Common Core Language Standard 1

Noun clauses are helpful to qualify what comes before or after them in a sentence. To qualify means to reduce from something general to something more specific. A noun clause centers around a person, place, thing, or idea. It includes a noun and a connected verb and is always a dependent clause. In other words, it depends upon the rest of the sentence to be complete.

Today’s grammar and usage lesson is on noun clauses. Remember that a noun is an idea, person, place, or thing. A dependent clause has a noun and verb, but does not express a complete thought.

Now let’s read the grammar and usage lesson and study the examples.

A noun clause is a dependent clause (subordinate clause) that usually begins with if, how, however, that, the “wh” words: what, when, where, which, who, whom, whose, why, or the “wh”-ever words: whatever, whenever, wherever, whichever, whoever, or whomever. Place a comma following an introductory noun clause. Example: Whatever you wish, I will do.

Now circle or highlight what is right and revise what is wrong according to grammar and usage lesson.

Practice: We will go wherever you want to go and stay long you however wish.

Let’s check the Practice Answers.

Grammar and Usage Practice Answers: We will go wherever you want to go and stay however long you wish.

Now let’s apply what we have learned.

Writing Application: Write your own sentence using a noun clause.

Check out the Pennington Publishing Blog for a full-year of grammar, usage, and mechanics lessons and our YouTube Pennington Publishing Channel for video versions of the same lessons.

This grammar and usage writing opener is part of a comprehensive lesson from the Grammar, Usage, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand) Grades 4‒8 programs.

Grammar/Mechanics, Writing , ,

Commas with Interjections

Commas with Interjections                                                       

Common Core Language Standard 2

Our writing reflects our speech. With formal writing such as essays or research papers, we have to use academic language and follow all the rules of proper writing style. We mind our P’s and Q’s. With informal writing such as stories we want to to write dialogue realistically. In other words, exactly like people really talk. With this writing genre we use interjections.

Today’s mechanics lesson is on commas with interjections. Remember that an interjection is a sentence fragment.

Now let’s read the mechanics lesson and study the examples.

An interjection is a word or phrase used in informal writing that provides an unnecessary, but interesting interruption. Usually found at the beginning of a sentence, these interjections can also be used in both the middle and end of a sentence. The most common introductory interjections are Yes and No. Some interjections express sounds such as Ah! or Phew!

A comma follows an interjection that begins a sentence; a comma is placed before and after the interjection when used in the middle of a sentence; a comma is placed before the interjection that ends the sentence. Examples: Yes, I like you. If not, well, would I stay? No, I wouldn’t, indeed.

If an interjection at the beginning of a sentence shows surprise or strong emotion, use an exclamation point, not a comma. Example: Wow! Did she really say that?

Now circle or highlight what is right and revise what is wrong according to mechanics lesson.

Practice: No, I don’t want it. I never did actually. If you want it, well, go ahead and take it.

Let’s check the Practice Answers.

Mechanics Practice Answers: No, I don’t want it. I never did, actually. If you want it, well, go ahead and take it.

Now let’s apply what we have learned. 

Writing Application: Write your own sentence using a compound sentence with two long independent clauses.

Check out the Pennington Publishing Blog for a full-year of grammar, usage, and mechanics lessons and our YouTube Pennington Publishing Channel for video versions of the same lessons.

This mechanics writing opener is part of a comprehensive lesson from the Grammar, Usage, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand) Grades 4‒8 programs.

Grammar/Mechanics, Writing , ,