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Posts Tagged ‘Mark Pennington’

FREE Grade 7 Vocabulary Word Lists

Grade 7 Common Core Vocabulary Toolkit

Common Core Vocabulary Toolkit Grade 7

If you really want to teach all of the Common Core vocabulary standards this year, you’ve got to have this FREE resource!

The FREE Vocabulary Word List Grade 7 may just be that wheel you don’t have to reinvent with your grade-level team this summer. This research-based word list consists of Tier 2 words, developed from Averil Coxhead’s high frequency Academic Word List. The perfect resource for teaching the CCSS grade 7 L.6.0 vocabulary standards.

In addition to these academic language words, I’ve included twice-per-week word or focus lists of the following: multiple meaning words and context clues (L.4.a.; Greek and Latin word parts (L.4.a.c.d.); Language Resources (L.4.c.d.); word relationships (L.5.a.); figures of speech (L.5.a.); and connotations (L.5.c.) to complete a comprehensive vocabulary instructional scope and sequence that is perfectly aligned to the Grade 7 Common Core Language Strand vocabulary standards. Just plug these into your grade-level curricular map and you are good to go!

Of course, I’m providing this resource to entice teachers to check out my full-year Common Core Vocabulary Toolkit Grades 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 programs, which provide the lessons and alignment documents to teach to this curricular map. In a nutshell, these grade-level programs provide twice-per-week worksheets (with answers), vocabulary flashcards with games, a complete syllabication program, and bi-weekly tests. Get your colleagues at your site to purchase their grade-level programs to establish a seamless instructional vocabulary continuum from grade to grade for your students.

Download the FREE Vocabulary Word List Grade 7 plus the comprehensive vocabulary instructional scope and sequence HERE from Teachers Pay Teachers.

Click to purchase or check out the extensive previews for the grade-level Common Core Vocabulary Toolkit programs:

Common Core Vocabulary Toolkit Grade 4

Common Core Vocabulary Toolkit Grade 5

Common Core Vocabulary Toolkit Grade 6

Common Core Vocabulary Toolkit Grade 7

Common Core Vocabulary Toolkit Grade 8

Shhh! Don’t tell anyone, but you can get the Common Core Vocabulary Toolkit on my own site for 10% off if you enter DISCOUNT CODE 3716. CLICK HERE.

Reading, Spelling/Vocabulary , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

FREE Grade 6 Vocabulary Word Lists

Grade 6 Common Core Vocabulary Toolkit

Common Core Vocabulary Toolkit Grade 6

If you really want to teach all of the Common Core vocabulary standards this year, you’ve got to have this FREE resource!

The FREE Vocabulary Word List Grade 6 may just be that wheel you don’t have to reinvent with your grade-level team this summer. This research-based word list consists of Tier 2 words, developed from Averil Coxhead’s high frequency Academic Word List. The perfect resource for teaching the CCSS grade 6 L.6.0 vocabulary standards.

In addition to these academic language words, I’ve included twice-per-week word or focus lists of the following: multiple meaning words and context clues (L.4.a.; Greek and Latin word parts (L.4.a.c.d.); Language Resources (L.4.c.d.); word relationships (L.5.a.); figures of speech (L.5.a.); and connotations (L.5.c.) to complete a comprehensive vocabulary instructional scope and sequence that is perfectly aligned to the Grade 6 Common Core Language Strand vocabulary standards. Just plug these into your grade-level curricular map and you are good to go!

Of course, I’m providing this resource to entice teachers to check out my full-year Common Core Vocabulary Toolkit Grades 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 programs, which provide the lessons and alignment documents to teach to this curricular map. In a nutshell, these grade-level programs provide twice-per-week worksheets (with answers), vocabulary flashcards with games, a complete syllabication program, and bi-weekly tests. Get your colleagues at your site to purchase their grade-level programs to establish a seamless instructional vocabulary continuum from grade to grade for your students.

Download the FREE Vocabulary Word List Grade 6 plus the comprehensive vocabulary instructional scope and sequence HERE from Teachers Pay Teachers.

Click to purchase or check out the extensive previews for the grade-level Common Core Vocabulary Toolkit programs:

Common Core Vocabulary Toolkit Grade 4

Common Core Vocabulary Toolkit Grade 5

Common Core Vocabulary Toolkit Grade 6

Common Core Vocabulary Toolkit Grade 7

Common Core Vocabulary Toolkit Grade 8

Shhh! Don’t tell anyone, but you can get the Common Core Vocabulary Toolkit on my own site for 10% off if you enter DISCOUNT CODE 3716. CLICK HERE.

Reading, Spelling/Vocabulary , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

FREE Grade 5 Vocabulary Word Lists

Grade 5 Common Core Vocabulary Toolkit

Common Core Vocabulary Toolkit Grade 5

If you really want to teach all of the Common Core vocabulary standards this year, you’ve got to have this FREE resource!

The FREE Vocabulary Word List Grade 5 may just be that wheel you don’t have to reinvent with your grade-level team this summer. This research-based word list consists of Tier 2 words, developed from Averil Coxhead’s high frequency Academic Word List. The perfect resource for teaching the CCSS grade 5 L.6.0 vocabulary standards.

In addition to these academic language words, I’ve included twice-per-week word or focus lists of the following: multiple meaning words and context clues (L.4.a.; Greek and Latin word parts (L.4.a.c.d.); Language Resources (L.4.c.d.); word relationships (L.5.a.); figures of speech (L.5.a.); and connotations (L.5.c.) to complete a comprehensive vocabulary instructional scope and sequence that is perfectly aligned to the Grade 5 Common Core Language Strand vocabulary standards. Just plug these into your grade-level curricular map and you are good to go!

Of course, I’m providing this resource to entice teachers to check out my full-year Common Core Vocabulary Toolkit Grades 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 programs, which provide the lessons and alignment documents to teach to this curricular map. In a nutshell, these grade-level programs provide twice-per-week worksheets (with answers), vocabulary flashcards with games, a complete syllabication program, and bi-weekly tests. Get your colleagues at your site to purchase their grade-level programs to establish a seamless instructional vocabulary continuum from grade to grade for your students.

Download the FREE Vocabulary Word List Grade 5 plus the comprehensive vocabulary instructional scope and sequence HERE from Teachers Pay Teachers.

Click to purchase or check out the extensive previews for the grade-level Common Core Vocabulary Toolkit programs:

Common Core Vocabulary Toolkit Grade 4

Common Core Vocabulary Toolkit Grade 5

Common Core Vocabulary Toolkit Grade 6

Common Core Vocabulary Toolkit Grade 7

Common Core Vocabulary Toolkit Grade 8

Shhh! Don’t tell anyone, but you can get the Common Core Vocabulary Toolkit on my own site for 10% off if you enter DISCOUNT CODE 3716. CLICK HERE.

Reading, Spelling/Vocabulary , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

FREE Grade 4 Vocabulary Word Lists

Grade 4 Common Core Vocabulary Toolkit

Common Core Vocabulary Toolkit Grade 4

If you really want to teach all of the Common Core vocabulary standards this year, you’ve got to have this FREE resource!

The FREE Vocabulary Word List Grade 4 may just be that wheel you don’t have to reinvent with your grade-level team this summer. This research-based word list consists of Tier 2 words, developed from Averil Coxhead’s high frequency Academic Word List. The perfect resource for teaching the CCSS grade 4 L.6.0 vocabulary standards.

In addition to these academic language words, I’ve included twice-per-week word or focus lists of the following: multiple meaning words and context clues (L.4.a.; Greek and Latin word parts (L.4.a.c.d.); Language Resources (L.4.c.d.); word relationships (L.5.a.); figures of speech (L.5.a.); and connotations (L.5.c.) to complete a comprehensive vocabulary instructional scope and sequence that is perfectly aligned to the Grade 4 Common Core Language Strand vocabulary standards. Just plug these into your grade-level curricular map and you are good to go!

Of course, I’m providing this resource to entice teachers to check out my full-year Common Core Vocabulary Toolkit Grades 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 programs, which provide the lessons and alignment documents to teach to this curricular map. In a nutshell, these grade-level programs provide twice-per-week worksheets (with answers), vocabulary flashcards with games, a complete syllabication program, and bi-weekly tests. Get your colleagues at your site to purchase their grade-level programs to establish a seamless instructional vocabulary continuum from grade to grade for your students.

Download the FREE Vocabulary Word List Grade 4 plus the comprehensive vocabulary instructional scope and sequence HERE from Teachers Pay Teachers.

Click to purchase or check out the extensive previews for the grade-level Common Core Vocabulary Toolkit programs:

Common Core Vocabulary Toolkit Grade 4

Common Core Vocabulary Toolkit Grade 5

Common Core Vocabulary Toolkit Grade 6

Common Core Vocabulary Toolkit Grade 7

Common Core Vocabulary Toolkit Grade 8

Shhh! Don’t tell anyone, but you can get the Common Core Vocabulary Toolkit on my own site for 10% off if you enter DISCOUNT CODE 3716. CLICK HERE.

Reading, Spelling/Vocabulary , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

FREE Grade 8 Vocabulary Word Lists

Grade 8 Common Core Vocabulary Toolkit

Common Core Vocabulary Toolkit Grade 8

If you really want to teach all of the Common Core vocabulary standards this year, you’ve got to have this FREE resource!

The FREE Vocabulary Word List Grade 8 may just be that wheel you don’t have to reinvent with your grade-level team this summer. This research-based word list consists of Tier 2 words, developed from Averil Coxhead’s high frequency Academic Word List. The perfect resource for teaching the CCSS grade 8 L.6.0 vocabulary standards.

In addition to these academic language words, I’ve included twice-per-week word or focus lists of the following: multiple meaning words and context clues (L.4.a.; Greek and Latin word parts (L.4.a.c.d.); Language Resources (L.4.c.d.); word relationships (L.5.a.); figures of speech (L.5.a.); and connotations (L.5.c.) to complete a comprehensive vocabulary instructional scope and sequence that is perfectly aligned to the Grade 8 Common Core Language Strand vocabulary standards. Just plug these into your grade-level curricular map and you are good to go!

Of course, I’m providing this resource to entice teachers to check out my full-year Common Core Vocabulary Toolkit Grades 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 programs, which provide the lessons and alignment documents to teach to this curricular map. In a nutshell, these grade-level programs provide twice-per-week worksheets (with answers), vocabulary flashcards with games, a complete syllabication program, and bi-weekly tests. Get your colleagues at your site to purchase their grade-level programs to establish a seamless instructional vocabulary continuum from grade to grade for your students.

Download the FREE Vocabulary Word List Grade 8 plus the comprehensive vocabulary instructional scope and sequence HERE from Teachers Pay Teachers.

Click to purchase or check out the extensive previews for the grade-level Common Core Vocabulary Toolkit programs:

Common Core Vocabulary Toolkit Grade 4

Common Core Vocabulary Toolkit Grade 5

Common Core Vocabulary Toolkit Grade 6

Common Core Vocabulary Toolkit Grade 7

Common Core Vocabulary Toolkit Grade 8

Shhh! Don’t tell anyone, but you can get the Common Core Vocabulary Toolkit on my own site for 10% off if you enter DISCOUNT CODE 3716. CLICK HERE.

Reading, Spelling/Vocabulary , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Reading Flashcards and Games

644 Reading, Spelling, and Vocabulary Flashcards and 60 Games

Reading, Spelling, and Vocabulary Flashcards and Games

644 Reading, Spelling, and Vocabulary Flashcards (Digital Files) and 60 games for only $7.99. You print, cut, and play! The perfect summer resource to get your kids ready for school in the fall. You will use these over and over again! Ideal for all kids ages 4-12. Designed by a reading specialist. Buy them HERE.

These 644 Reading, Spelling, and Vocabulary Flashcards and 60 Games have been designed to support explicit and systematic phonics-based reading, vocabulary, and spelling instruction. The cards are included in Mark Pennington’s Teaching Reading Strategies and accompanying Sam and Friends Guided Reading Phonics Books, but the flashcards can also supplement any reading or spelling program.

The cards use animal photographs for the sound-spelling flashcards, not juvenile cartoonish characters. Perfect for beginning readers. Ideal for older readers: Tier 1 and 2 intervention, special education students with auditory processing challenges, English-language learners. Fantastic for family vacations or waiting in the doctor’s office with your own kid!

You get two digital versions of these flashcards with your purchase.

  1. Print and Cut for Games

Print on heavy duty colored cardstock and cut. The cards are formatted for business card size, so they are ideal for spreading out on small surface areas (such as student desks) to play blending and spelling games. Print back-to-back or single-sided. You need the printed cards to play most of the games. Note: Or why not take them to your favorite office supply store. They can print them in full color and cut them on their business card cutting machines. Easy and cheap!

  1. Digital Device Display

Two download formats (phones and tablets) are provided. Of course, you need a zip file app to download on your devices. See Google Play or Apple Store. Note: Device formats differ, but the PDF formatting fits most devices nicely. Note that these files do not automatically adjust to display like epub, iBook, Kindle, etc. The program directions share how to further edit the PDF, should you wish to further refine. Be assured that I’ve tried them out on iPhones, Androids, iPads, etc. and they work great!

Each flashcard set includes the following:

Reading (Phonics and Sight Words)

*Alphabet cards (including upper and lower case with font variations)

*Animal sound-spelling vowel, vowel team, and consonant cards

*Consonant blend cards

*Sight-spelling “outlaw” word cards with word rhymes

*Rime (word family) cards with example words

Spelling

*Vowel spelling cards with example words

*Vowel team spelling cards with example words

*Consonant spelling cards with example words

*Consonant blend spelling cards with example words

*Most-often misspelled challenge word cards with example sentences

Vocabulary

*High frequency Greek and Latin prefix and suffix cards with definitions and example words

*Commonly confused homonyms with context clue sentences

60 Reading, Spelling, and Vocabulary Card Games

These Reading, Spelling, and Vocabulary Flashcards have been designed for games! Get 60 easy-to-play games with clear directions to help your students master reading, spelling, and vocabulary. Simple to set up and easy to play. You and your students will love these card games!

Convinced your kids need these 644 Reading, Spelling, and Vocabulary Flashcards (Digital Files) and 60 games for only $7.99? Buy them HERE.

Teaching Reading Strategies and Sam and Friends Guided Reading Phonics Books BUNDLE

Teaching Reading Strategies and Sam and Friends Guided Reading Phonics Books

Looking for a comprehensive reading intervention program, which includes these flashcards? The author’s Teaching Reading Strategies program includes diagnostic phonics and spelling assessments (audio files) to determine which gaps need filling and all the phonics and spelling resources to do just that. Plus, this full-year (or half-year intensive) program provides phonemic awareness and sight word assessments and corresponding activities, sound-spelling blending and syllabication practice, reading fluency (with YouTube modeled readings) articles with word counts and timing sheets, and expository comprehension worksheets with embedded vocabulary. Your students will love the animal sound-spelling card games! Video training modules make this a user-friendly program for both new and veteran teachers.

Or why not get the Teaching Reading Strategies and Guided Reading Phonics Books BUNDLE for the complete reading intervention program? The 54 Sam and Friends decodable books perfectly complement the instructional sequence of Teaching Reading Strategies. These eight-page phonics books have been specifically designed for your older readers with teenage cartoon characters with complex plots. Each book includes higher level comprehension questions and 30-second word fluencies. Your students can catch up while they keep up with grade-level instruction.

Reading, Spelling/Vocabulary, Study Skills , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

English Adjective Order

Adjectival Order

English Adjective Order

Before we jump into our lesson on adjectival order, let’s get on the same page about adjectivesFirst, no one says or writes adjectival; however, since this is an article and teaching lesson plan on adjectives, we had better walk the walk and talk the talk. We all know that adjective is a noun and that, stylistically, we don’t put two nouns, such as adjective and order next to each other. Practically speaking and in common usage, we cram nouns together all the time and give the first noun a fancy title: attributive noun. These first position noun is also referred to as “a noun premodifier, a noun adjunct, and a converted adjective (Nordquist). If you just clicked on that link, you are just as much a grammar nerd as I. Ah, but I digress…

Definition

An adjective modifies a noun and answers Which one? How many? or What kind? Modifies means to define, limit, or describe. In other words, an adjective talks about a noun.

Usage

It can be a single word (delicious lasagna) or a compound-word (world-famous hot dogs). Note: Don’t use a hyphen if you can use the word and between the two adjectives.

When to Use Commas between Adjectives

When coordinate adjectives of a similar category are used in a list, they have to be separated with commas. 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: large, angry dog

http://blog.penningtonpublishing.com/grammar_mechanics/how-to-teach-commas-with-coordinate-adjectives/

When Not to Use Commas between Adjectives

When hierarchical adjectives build upon each other with different levels or degrees to modify the same noun, the adjectives are not separated by commas. To determine if adjectives are hierarchical adjectives, try placing the word and between the adjectives. Second, try reversing them. If the phrases make no sense both ways, the adjectives are hierarchical and do not use commas to separate them. Examples: A hot thick-crust sausage pizza.

http://blog.penningtonpublishing.com/grammar_mechanics/how-to-teach-commas-with-hierarchical-adjectives/

Adjectival Order

Before Nouns: In English, we usually place adjectives before nouns. Examples: comfortable coat, that cheeseburger

After Nouns: An adjective that follows a linking verb to describe a preceding noun  is called a predicate adjectiveExample: Mark is nice; he looks good; and he feels well. Because the predicate adjective serves as an object, it often has modifiers. Example: Joe was unusually cool.

…for elementary students

According to Function: When using more than one adjective to modify the same noun in a sentence, usually follow this order of adjectival functions: Which One-How Many-What Kind. Examples: these (Which one?) two How many? handsome (What kind?) men

Practice: Re-order the adjectives and place the commas where they belong.

  1. a geometric six-sided shape
  2. realistic only her hope
  3. mean that twelve-year-old kid
  4. those scary countless and sleepless nights

…for secondary students

According to Function: When using more than one adjective to modify the same noun or pronoun in a sentence, usually follow this order of adjectival functions:

Determiners

Examples: a, an, the, this, that, these, those

Amount or Number

Examples: few, twenty-nine

Characteristic

Examples: beautiful, grumpy

Size

Examples: huge, miniscule

Age

Examples: young, senior

Shape

Examples: square, elongated

Color

Examples: blue, dark

Proper Adjective

Examples: Burger King Whopper, Beyoncé records

Purpose, Qualifier, Limitation

Examples: recreational, middle, only

Noun or Pronoun

Examples: balloon, Mr. Patches, one

Practice: Re-order the adjectives and place the commas where they belong.

  1. the strange-looking Martian tiny green two invaders
  2. paint yellow old round an splotch
  3. 1000-page this Pennington Publishing comprehensive 1000-page grammar and mechanics full-year program
  4. those little two-year old three cute children

*****

Answers for elementary practice…

  1. a six-sided geometric shape
  2. her only realistic hope
  3. that twelve-year-old mean kid
  4. those countless, scary, and sleepless nights

Answers for secondary practice…

  1. the two strange-looking, tiny green Martian invaders
  2. an old, round, yellow paint splotch
  3. this full-year, comprehensive, 1000-page Pennington Publishing grammar and mechanics program
  4. those three cute, little two-year old children

*****

Want a full-year grammar and mechanics instructional scope and sequence for grades 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8?

Get the Grammar and Mechanics Grades 4-8 Instructional Scope and Sequence FREE Resource:

*****

Teaching Grammar and Mechanics for Grades 4-High School

Teaching Grammar and Mechanics Grades 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and High School Programs

I’m Mark Pennington, author of the full-year interactive grammar notebooks,  grammar literacy centers, and the traditional grade-level 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and high school Teaching Grammar and Mechanics programs. Teaching Grammar and Mechanics includes 56 (64 for high school) interactive language conventions lessons,  designed for twice-per-week direct instruction in the grade-level grammar, usage, and mechanics standards. The scripted lessons (perfect for the grammatically-challenged teacher) are formatted for classroom display. Standards review, definitions and examples, practice and error analysis, simple sentence diagrams, mentor texts with writing applications, and formative assessments are woven into every 25-minute lesson. The program also includes the Diagnostic Grammar, Usage, and Mechanics Assessments with corresponding worksheets to help students catch up, while they keep up with grade-level, standards-aligned instruction.

Grammar/Mechanics, Literacy Centers, Writing , , , , , , , , , , , ,

There, Their, and They’re

The there, their, and they're Words

there, their, and they’re

Anything worth teaching is worth teaching wellStudents (and even presidents) have problems using the there, their, and they’re words appropriately and spelling them correctly. Indeed, linguists tend to classify the misuse of there, their, and they’re as high stake grammatical errors. The Copyblogger site includes these three words in the article, “Five Grammatical Errors That Make You Look Dumb.”

The reaction to President Trump’s mistake in his July 24, 2016 tweet was speedy and judgmental:

“Looks to me like the Bernie people will fight. If not, there blood, sweat and tears was a waist of time. Kaine stands for opposite!”

Now, to be fair… most of us have misused a there, their, and they’re word at one time or another. I have. When typing, we do make typos. However, we have no excuses for failing to proofread something that will be published (or tweeted, Mr. President).

So, how can we teach and help students remember the proper usage and spelling of  the troublesome there, their, and they’re words?

My take is that students fail to master proper usage and spelling of tricky word relationships because our instruction lacks conceptual depth. Additionally, we fail to help students place the learning into their long term memories. I suggest teaching word relationships in the context of meaning and usage, spelling rules, and writing application. Follow this lesson plan, and I guarantee that your students will make fewer there, their, and they’re errors.

There

Meaning and Usage

The online dictionary, Merriam-Webster, provides the following definitions (with my own formatting, revision, and additions):

  1. In or at that place (Adverb) Example: Stand over there.
  2. To or into that place (Adverb) Example: She went there after church.
  3. At that point or stage (Adverb) Example: Stop right there before you say something you’ll regret.
  4. In that matter, respect, or relation (Adverb) Example: There is where I disagree with you.
  5. Expressing satisfaction, approval, encouragement or sympathy, or defiance (Interjection) Examples: There, it’s finished. There, there, child; you’ll feel better soon.
  6. A state of being or existence used to complete a thought (Expletive) Example: There are three reasons why you should listen to me.

Spelling

Teach students that one of the reasons that there is such a difficult spelling is because it is a sight word, often called an outlaw word. The word does not follow spelling rules. In fact, there makes Dr. Edward Fry’s top 100 list of high frequency sight words. Because there is a rule-breaker, it must be memorized as such. I suggest introducing the where spelling along with the there. The where is also a top 100 sight word and is often confused with were by poor spellers. The following memory trick works with both there and where.

Jerry Lebo, author of numerous phonics books, suggests a spelling memory trick to help students remember the there spelling. Jerry writes the word there on the board and underlines the here within the word (there). Doing so reminds students that the adverbial meaning and usage (definitions 1-4) of the word there refers to location, so here and there or here and where establish memorable connections and so assist spelling memory. Students have fewer problems with the here spelling, and so the memory trick works to connect the unknown there and where spellings to the known (and rule-conforming here spelling (a silent final e making the preceding vowel before a single consonant into a long sound). Conversely, these here and there or here and where relationships help students remember to spell here to indicate location and not hear.

Unfortunately, the adverbial usage and its spelling memory trick does not work with the interjection (definition 5) and expletive (definition 6) meanings. Example: There, there, darling. There are ways for us to fix this mess.

The best spelling practice is to create a spelling sort to compare and contrast the “ere” spellings. In my Differentiated Spelling Instruction Grades 4-8, I provide the words for students to sort into the “ere” spelling categories and the spelling test focuses on this spelling pattern.

Writing Application

When teaching Jerry’s here and there memory trick, I teach students that even though the trick works only for there adverbs, good writers learn to avoid the other uses of there in their writing. I remind students that we shouldn’t use padded words or expressions because readers like concise writing. If the word or phrase does not contribute meaning, get rid of it!

Demonstrate the difference between padded and concise writing with this example:There, there, darling. There are ways for us to fix this mess.

Help students brainstorm deletions of the there interjections and expletive. Students (will a little of your prompting) will eventually revise as “Darling, we have ways to fix this mess.”

My Writing Openers Language Application Grades 4-8 programs provide this instruction in one of 56 lessons:

Our language application task is to delete the unnecessary “here” and “there” words. The unnecessary “here” and “there” words begin sentences or clauses and follow with “to be” verbs (is, am, are, was, were, be, being, and been). The “here” and “there” + “to be” verb constructions are frequently followed by a noun or pronoun and a relative clause beginning with that, which, or who. To eliminate the unnecessary “here” and “there” words at the beginning of a sentence of clause, revise to place the subject of the sentence at the beginning. Example: There are many students who do their best. Revision: Many students do their best.

In my Teaching Grammar and Mechanics Grades 4-8 programs, my subject and predicate lessons focus on removing prepositional phrases, interjections, and expletives from the hunt for the sentence subject. Students learn to spot the “here are” and “there are” (as well as the is, was, and were) words rather quickly.

Their

Meaning and Usage

Their is a plural possessive pronoun. Unfortunately, that definition assumes a considerable amount of grammatical knowledge. I begin the their lesson by listing the personal pronouns (Actually I just point to the poster on the wall… I use my own program resources :)).

I start instruction with the definition of a pronoun: “A pronoun is used to take their (nouns) place in the subject, possessive, or object case,” which is found in my Parts of Speech Song. Yes, that definition is comprehensive, and your students won’t understand all components at this point, but teaching the whole and scaffolding in the parts will build a conceptual framework much better than a piecemeal approach, such as limiting the definition to the simplified “a pronoun takes the place of a noun.”

Pointing to the poster, I review the third person singular pronouns, he, she, and it and match them with the third person plural pronoun their. Next, I tell students that when a pronoun is used to show ownership, we mean that it possesses something, so we call these pronouns possessives. I point to the singular possessives, his, her, and its and tell students that these possessives usually come before nouns, for example, his pencil, her pen, and its zipper. Finally, I point to the plural possessive their and show how this one word serves as the third person plural possessive. for example, their pencils, their pens, and their zippers.

Spelling 

Tell your students that, unlike the there spelling, the their spelling follows the conventional spelling rule. More specifically, it’s the famous “i before e Spelling Rule.” At this point, a brief digression is in order. The traditional “before e, except after or sounding like long /a/ as in neighbor or weigh” does apply, but it mis-teaches students that the “after c or sounding like long /a/” are exceptions to the rule. They aren’t exceptions; they are parts of the rule. Much better to teach my version of the rule with its catchy song. Play it!

i before Song

(to the tune of “Rig ‘a Jig Jig”)

Spell i before e ‘cause that’s the rule

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

That we learned back in school.

Away we go, away we go!

But before comes after c,

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

and when you hear long /a/. Hey!

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

After that happy song, I bring some sadness to the lesson. I tell students the sad news that some day their parents will die, and that as sons and daughters, they will likely possess what their parents owned (after taxes) and had rights to, such as houses and positions of authority. We say that children are the heirs to what their parents have owned. For example, in monarchies the prince and princess are heirs to the jewel-studded, golden crown and also to the position of king or queen.

I write the word heir on the board and ask how the word fits the “i before e Spelling Rule.” Then I draw a crown on top of the word and I underline that word. Finally, I add the “t” to the beginning of heir to spell their. I sum up the meaning, usage, and spelling memory trick by saying, “T-h-e-i-r is a plural possessive because it has an heir inside the word to shown possession. An an heir, you will one day possess your parent’s crown. It works! Thanks again to Jerry Lebo for that one.

Writing Application

I remind students that singular possessive pronouns must take the place of single nouns, but that this rule can create confusion when the pronoun antecedent (usually the noun to which the possessive pronoun refers) is not gender-specific. All-too-frequently, in our effort to treat men and women equally, we misuse the plural possessive pronoun, their, by referring to a singular subject. For example, this sentence is incorrect: The student ate their lunch. The plural possessive pronoun, their, cannot refer to the singular noun, student. Again from a lesson in my Teaching Grammar and Mechanics Grades 4-8 programs:

Avoid using gender-specific pronouns to refer to pronoun antecedents, which the writer does not intend to be gender-specific. The best way to fix this error is by making the antecedent noun or nouns plural. Revision Example: The student students ate their lunch lunches. Or revise the sentence without the pronouns. Revision Example: The student ate their lunch.

They’re

Meaning and Usage

They’re is a contraction, meaning they are. To start this lesson, I re-teach the four are contractions.


ARE
You are you’re Example: You’re funny.
We are we’re Example: We’re family.
They are they’re Example: They’re going to the store.
Who are who’re Example: Who’re you?

Source: Fry, E.B., Ph.D. & Kress, J.E., Ed.D. (2006). The Reading Teacher’s Book of Lists 5th Edition. San Francisco, CA: Jossey Bass.

Teach your students that the apostrophe in a contraction is used to indicate a missing letter or letters. With the are contractions, the apostrophe takes the place of the letter “a.”

The they’re word is often mispronounced as three sounds (/th/, /ā/, /er/), rather than as two (/th/, /ār/). Thus, the there, their, and they’re homonyms are perfect homophones, though they are not homographs. Take time to teach these terms: Homonyms are words which sound or are spelled the same. One subset, homophones, are words which are pronounced the same; the other subset, homographs, are words which are spelled the same.

Have students say this sentence out loud, pronouncing the there, their, and they’re  exactly the same as two sounds:

They’re waiting for their friends over there.

Spelling

Again, with they’re, we have a non-phonetic sight word, or outlaw word spelling. They’re is a common contraction, but does not make the Fry 300 High Frequency Sight Words List. In fact, only one contraction, it’s, does make the list at #300 in terms of frequency.

However, the pronoun in the word is they, which is #19. Because the word appears so often in text, students beyond second grade usually have mastered the spelling. The spelling trick for they’re, which is often misspelled, is to see the contraction as two separate words: they + ‘reOnce students make this visualization, they usually spell the they’re with consistency.

Writing Application

Eliminate To Be Verbs

Eliminate “To Be” Verbs

Teach your students that contractions, such as they’re only belong in informal writing and speaking. The use of they’re is usually confined to story dialogue, because we tend to say “they’re” more often than “they are.”

Point out that good writers not only avoid using they’re in formal writing because it is a contraction, but the word also includes a “to be” verb: are. Good writers tend to reduce the number of their “to be” verbs in narrative and expository writing and replace these with more active, vivid, show me–don’t tell me verbs. Check out this article, “How to Eliminate “To Be” Verbs” for strategies to help your students reduce “to be” verbs in their writing.

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If more than one of the above curricular resources interests you, you may wish to check out the

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Grammar, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand) Grades 4, 5, 6, 7, 8

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Program Overview

  • 56 language conventions (grammar, usage, and mechanics) lessons with teacher display and student worksheets
  • 28 spelling patterns tests and spelling sorts with teacher display and student worksheets
  • 56 writing openers language application with teacher display and student worksheets
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