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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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Latin Abbreviations for Time

Latin Abbreviations for Time                                                        

Common Core Language Standard 2

We all know that a.m. and p.m. are used to show time. But what do these abbreviations stand for and why do we use them? Before we get to our lesson and answer the question, it’s helpful to understand a bit about how time works. Since the earth is a sphere, it has 360 degrees. In our 24 hour clock each hour would be 15 degrees. The math is simple: 360 divided by 24 = 15. The imaginary longitude lines that go from the North to the South pole are called meridians when we talk about time. Each meridian has 15 degrees, or 1 hour of the 24 hours. Since the earth spins on its axis, but the sun does not, time changes as we go from morning (before noon meridian) to evening (after noon meridian).

Today’s mechanics lesson is on using Latin abbreviations for time. Remember that periods end declarative statements, such as “That is my pen” and imperative commands, such as “Give me my pen.”Periods are also used to abbreviate words and phrases.

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

Use periods to abbreviate the Latin expressions we use to indicate before noon and after noon. Antemeridian is the time from midnight until noon and is abbreviated as “a.m.” Postmeridian is the time from noon until midnight and is abbreviated as “p.m.” Examples: 7:30 a.m., 12:00 p.m.

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

Practice: I woke up this morning at 7:30 AM. because I fell asleep last night at 10:00 p.m.

Let’s check the Practice Answers.

Mechanics Practice Answers: I woke up this morning at 7:30 a.m. because I fell asleep last night at 10:00 p.m.

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

Now let’s apply what we have learned.

Writing Application: Write a sentence or two, using both an antemeridian and a postmeridian time. 

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, Spelling/Vocabulary, Writing , , , , , , , ,

Proper Nouns

Proper Nouns                                                        

Common Core Language Standard 1

Everyone knows that a noun is a person, place, or thing. But, of course, there are different kinds of people, places, and things.

Today’s grammar and usage lesson is on proper nouns. Remember that there are two kinds of nouns: proper nouns and common nouns.

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

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

Examples: John, President of the U.S., African-American

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

Practice: At the ceremony held in the State Rotunda, principal Taylor accepted the Blue Ribbon award on behalf of his students, parents, and teachers at Pinewood Middle School.

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: At the ceremony held in the State Rotunda, Principal Taylor accepted the Blue Ribbon Award on behalf of his students, parents, and teachers at Pinewood Middle School.

Now let’s apply what we have learned.

Writing Application: Write your own sentence using both an abbreviated and hyphenated proper noun.

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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Common Nouns

Common Nouns                                                      

Common Core Language Standard 1

Common nouns have two functions different than proper nouns: They are un-named and they include ideas. Because they are un-named, common nouns are more general than specific proper nouns. Common nouns include people, places, and things just like proper nouns, but they also add ideas. Think about it. Without common nouns we would have no freedom, liberty, justice, peace, or love. Maybe common nouns are the most important part of speech after all.

Today’s grammar and usage lesson is on common nouns. Remember that there are two kinds of nouns: proper nouns and common nouns. A proper noun names a person, place, or thing and is capitalized. A common noun is a bit different.

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

A common noun is an idea, person, place, or thing. It can act or be acted upon and is capitalized only at the start of a sentence. A common noun can be a single word, a group of words, or a hyphenated word. Use common nouns to generalize ideas, persons, places, or things.    Examples: liberty (idea), human (person), capital (place), eye-opener (thing)

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

Practice: We Americans sometimes forget that peace has been achieved by brave men and women who left their Country to fight in distant Lands.

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: We Americans sometimes forget that peace has been achieved by brave men and women who left their country to fight in distant lands.

Now let’s apply what we have learned. 

Writing Application: Write your own sentence using a common noun idea.

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

Sometimes the terms we use to label grammatical structures seem just crazy. However, the wording of grammatical terms is important. Using precise, or exact, academic language helps us compare, contrast, and categorize. These grammatical terms allow to say exactly what we mean and have meaningful conversations about how to improve our writing.

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 grammar and usage 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 grammar and usage lesson.

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

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

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 your own sentence using a nonrestrictive 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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Compound-Complex Sentences

Compound-Complex Sentences                                                     

Common Core Language Standard 1

Good writers focus on their readers. Readers understand more of what is written when there is some sentence variety. If every sentence is a short, simple sentence, the reader will be bored quickly. The same is true if every sentence is long.

Today’s grammar and usage lesson is on compound-complex sentences. Remember that a simple sentence has one independent clause and no dependent clause. A compound sentence has two or more independent clauses, but no dependent clauses. A complex sentence has an independent clause and at least one dependent clause.

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

A compound-complex sentence has two or more independent clauses and a dependent clause. Example: I like him and he likes me, even if we don’t see each other very much.

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

Practice: I let them talk since I had already spent time with her and I loaded the car.

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

Let’s check the Practice Answers.

Grammar and Usage Practice Answers: Since I had already spent time with her, I let them talk and I loaded the car.

Now let’s apply what we have learned.

Writing Application: Write your own sentence using a compound-complex 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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Possessive Pronouns

Possessive Pronouns                                                

Common Core Language Standard 1

To possess means to own or control something. We might say that you possess a smart phone or you possess the ability to learn. Both nouns and pronouns can be in the possessive case because they can own or control something.

Today’s grammar and usage lesson is on possessive pronouns. Remember that a pronoun takes the place of a noun. A pronoun may also modify a noun.

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

Possessive pronouns show ownership and may be used before a noun or without a noun.

Before a noun—my, your, his, her, its, our, your, their

When a possessive pronoun is used before a noun, it modifies the noun. The verb matches the noun, not the pronoun. Example: Our house seems small.

Without a noun—mine, yours, his, hers, ours, yours, theirs

When a possessive pronoun is used without a noun, the verb must match the noun which the pronoun represents. Example: Mary said that my jacket is nice, but hers is nicer.

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

Practice: We took our donations to the shelter. Their clothes were brand new, but my were used.

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

Let’s check the Practice Answers.

Grammar and Mechanics Practice Answers: We took our donations to the shelter. Their clothes were brand new, but mine were used.

Now let’s apply what we have learned.

Writing Application: Write your own sentences using a possessive pronoun before a noun and a possessive pronoun without a noun.

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, Spelling/Vocabulary, Writing , , , , , , , , ,

Subject Case Pronouns

Subject Case Pronouns                                                        

Common Core Language Standard 1

Just like nouns, English has different types of pronouns for different purposes. To know when to use a “she,” “her,” and “hers” requires a bit of practice.

Today’s grammar and usage lesson is on subject case pronouns. Remember that a pronoun takes the place of a noun. Using subject case pronouns avoids repetitious nouns, especially in dialogue.

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

Writers use pronouns to take the place of nouns. One type of pronoun is called a subject case pronoun because it acts as the subject of a sentence. The subject is the “do-er” of the sentence.

These are the subject case pronouns:

Singular—I, you, he, she, it, who        Plural—we, you, they, who

Example: They brought a basket of flowers.

Also use subject case pronouns following “to be” verbs (is, am, are, was, were, be, being, been) to identify or refer to the subject as predicate nominatives. Example: It is I.

Place the first person singular pronoun (I) last in compound subjects. Example: Paul and I left. If unsure whether a pronoun should be in the subject case, rephrase the sentence with the pronoun at the start of the sentence. Example: The winner was me. Rephrase: I was the winner.

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

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

Practice: Pedro and I just want to know if the burglar really was him or his friend.

Let’s check the Practice Answers.

Grammar and Usage Practice Answers: Pedro and I just want to know if the burglar really was he or his friend.

Now let’s apply what we have learned. 

Writing Application: Write your own sentence using singular and plural subject case pronouns.

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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How to Teach Alphanumeric Outlines

Common Core Language Standard 2
How to Teach Alphanumeric Outlines: Mechanics Lesson 4

How to Teach Alphanumeric Outlines                                                    

Learning how to take notes from reading and lectures is essential to your success as a student. Note are summaries of the key ideas and include main points, major details, and minor details. We often use symbols to represent these levels of organization.

Today’s mechanics lesson is on using periods in alphanumeric outlines to indicate levels of ideas. Display Instructional PowerPoint Slides

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

Alphanumeric Outlines use numbers, letters, and periods to organize information. The first letter of the word, group of words, or sentence that follows each symbol is capitalized.

  • Main ideas are listed as Roman numerals on the left margin and are followed by periods. Examples: I. II. III. IV. V. VI. VII. VIII. IX. X.
  • Major details are listed as capital letters and are indented on the lines below the main ideas. Major details modify the main ideas. Modify means to describe, change, or limit. The Arabic numerals are capitalized and are followed by periods. Examples: A., B., C.
  • The first minor detail modifies the major detail and is double indented on the next line. It begins with the Arabic numeral 1 followed by a period.
  • The second minor detail is double indented on the next line and listed as 2.

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

Practice: The sixth main idea is IV; the fourth major detail is d; and the third minor detail is 3.

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

Let’s check the Practice Answers.

Mechanics Practice Answers: The sixth main idea is VI; the fourth major detail is D; and the third minor detail is 3.

Now let’s apply what we have learned. 

Writing Application: Write your own alphanumeric outline to describe your ideal birthday dinner.

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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How to Teach Non-standard English Commonly Misused Words 2

Non-standard English Commonly Misused Words                                                       

Common Core Language Standard 1

We speak differently in different social situations. Hopefully, you talk to your mom and teacher differently than the way you talk to your friends. Most of us text differently than the way we write an essay. After all, beginning an essay with “BTW some so reb ldrs thot they really would win the civil war LOL” will probably not impress your history teacher. Students definitely need to learn the fine art of “code switching.” To code switch means to consider your audience and adjust what you say or write and how you do so. Using non-standard English in the wrong setting, such as in the classroom, is important to recognize and avoid.

Today’s grammar and usage lesson is on Non-standard English Commonly Misused Words. Remember that Non-standard English often differs from Standard English because of regional or cultural dialects. Often we are used to hearing and saying words or expressions that are not Standard English. Now let’s read the mechanics lesson and study the examples. 

Following are commonly misused words:

  • Additions: We should say anyway, not anyways. We should say toward, not towards.
  • Deletions: We should say used to, not use to. We should say nothing, not nothin’. something, not somethin’, and anything, not anythin’. Example: I used to play guitar.
  • Misused Phrases: We should say I couldn’t care less, not I could care less. We should say once in a while, not once and a while. We should say any more, not no more. We should say could have, not could of. And no would of, should of, might of.

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

Practice:  I could care less if you put somethin’ towards the balance of the loan. That amount doesn’t matter much anyways.

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

Let’s check the Practice Answers.

Grammar and Usage Practice Answers:  I couldn’t care less if you put something toward the balance of the loan. That amount doesn’t matter much anyway.

Now let’s apply what we have learned. 

Writing Application: Write your own sentence using a commonly misused phrase.

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, Spelling/Vocabulary, Writing , , , , , , , , ,

Numbers within Text

Numbers within Text                                                     

Common Core Language Standard 2

How to properly write numbers outside of your math class can be quite confusing. Maybe it’s because we don’t even use our own numbers. We borrow Roman numerals for formal outlines and the dates at the end of our favorite movies. We use Arabic numerals for just about everything else. Arabic numerals are the symbols for our number system and most all the world uses them.

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

Spell out numbers from one to nine, but use Arabic numerals for #s10 and larger. However, spell out the number if used at the beginning of a sentence. Examples: five, 24, Six is a lot of donuts.

If a sentence has one number from one to nine and others larger, use Arabic numerals for all. Examples: Both numbers 2 and 12 were selected.

If numbers are next to each other, use the Arabic numeral for one and spell out the other. Examples: We ate 3 six-inch sandwiches.

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

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

Practice: “Twelve is a dozen. However, we say that 13 is a baker’s dozen and two is a pair.”

Let’s check the Practice Answers. 

Mechanics Practice Answers: “Twelve is a dozen. However, we say that 13 is a baker’s dozen and 2 is a pair.”

Now let’s apply what we have learned. 

Writing Application: Write your own sentence using 1 number from 1-9 and 1 number above 10.

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 , , , , , , , , ,

Non-standard English Misused Words

Non-standard English  Misused Words                                                         

Common Core Language Standard 1

Sometimes we hear an incorrect word or phrase so often that it sounds correct. Learning to pay attention to those commonly misused words and phrases will help you use them correctly in your speaking and writing.

Today’s grammar and usage lesson is on Non-standard English Commonly Misused Words. Remember that Non-standard English often differs from Standard English because of regional or cultural dialects. Often we are used to hearing and saying words that are not Standard English. 

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

Following are commonly misused words:

  • Farther refers to a physical distance. Example: How much farther is the next restaurant? Further refers to a degree or more time. Example: Further your knowledge by reading.
  • Beside means “next to.” Examples: She sits beside me. Besides means “except” or “furthermore.” Example: No one is having fun besides him. I am tired, besides I am sick.
  • Less deals with an amount, but can’t be counted. Example: I want less food. Fewer deals with an amount you can count. Example: I want fewer apples, not more.
  • Disinterested describes a person who is neutral, fair, and impartial. Example: The disinterested referee made the call. Uninterested describes a person who is not interested. Example: The uninterested girl paid no attention to the flirtatious boy.
  • Allowed means permitted. Example: Parking is allowed on this street. Aloud means heard by others. Example: He spoke aloud to the class.

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

Practice: I’m really disinterested about the season. I am watching less games than ever. Plus, the stadium is further than I want to go and tailgating isn’t aloud. And I have to sit beside a stranger.

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

Let’s check the Practice Answers.

Mechanics Practice Answers: I’m really disinterested about the season. I am watching fewer games than ever. Plus, the stadium is farther than I want to go and tailgating isn’t allowed. And I have to sit beside a stranger.

Now let’s apply what we have learned.

Writing Application:  Write your own sentence using a non-standard English Commonly Misused Words. Then write a second sentence correcting that non-standard English.

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 , , , , , , , , ,

Slashes

Slashes                                                       

Common Core Language Standard 2

English has a variety of punctuation marks which may be used for the same function. For example, brackets and parentheses can be used interchangeably. We can use parentheses, dashes, or commas to set off appositives to identify, define, or explain a preceding noun or pronoun. However, slashes have their own special function, though they are often misused and abused. With informal writing, such as texts and notes, misusing punctuation is no real problem, but in formal writing, such as essays, research papers, and business letters, proper punctuation is important.

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

In informal writing, use a slash to separate dates, abbreviate, or to mean or. Examples: The dinner is scheduled on 3/11/2013 as a b/w (black or white tie) event for him/her.

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

Practice: You could give the present to either him-her and (or) the letter any day after 11/24.

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

Let’s check the Practice Answers.

Mechanics Practice Answers: You could give the present to either him/her and/or the letter any day after 11/24.

Now let’s apply what we have learned.

Writing Application: Write your own sentence using slashes.

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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Non-standard English Substitutions

Non-standard English Substitutions                                                        

Common Core Language Standard 1

The study of languages is fascinating. In particular, learning about dialects helps us appreciate our differences. Dialect is a form of a language that is spoken by a specific group of people in a certain area and uses some of its own words, grammar, and pronunciations. 

Today’s grammar and usage lesson is on Non-standard English Substitutions. Remember that Non-standard English often differs from Standard English because of regional or cultural dialects. The progressive verb tense is used to indicate an ongoing physical or mental action or state of being. The present progressive connects am, are, or is to a present participle (a verb with an “__ing” ending). The forms of the “to be” verb are is, am, are, was, were, be, being, been. Now let’s read the grammar and usage lesson and study the examples. 

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

Don’t substitute be for is to create an ongoing action in Standard English. Example: He be so funny. Instead, use the present progressive verb tense to connect am, are, or is to a present participle (a verb with an “__ing” ending). Revisions: He is so funny; He is being so funny.

Also, use the proper form of the “to be” verb to match its subject. Example: She were late. Revision: She was late.

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

Practice: They be given plenty of money. They is lying if they say they don’t have enough.

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

Let’s check the Practice Answers.

Mechanics Practice Answers: They are given plenty of money. They are lying if they say they don’t have enough.

Now let’s apply what we have learned. 

Writing Application: Write your own sentence using a non-standard English substitution. Then write a second sentence correcting that non-standard English.

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 , , , , , , , ,

Hyphens

Hyphens                                                        

Common Core Language Standard 2

Hyphens are short dashes used to combine words. When the hyphen combines words and becomes part of common usage, the editors of our dictionaries decide to drop the hyphen and the two words become a compound noun. The only way to know whether the words are hyphenated or combined into a single compound word is to look up the word(s) in a print or online dictionary.

Today’s mechanics lesson is on how to use hyphens. A hyphen is a short dash (-) used to combine words. Hyphens join base words to form compound words. Hyphens are also used for numbers and spelled-out fractions. Additionally, hyphens join compound adjectives.

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

Use hyphens for compound adverbs that don’t end in “_ly,” when used before nouns. A compound adverb has two connected adverbs. Example: The much-requested song

When the compound adverb is after the noun, don’t hyphenate. Example: Her wishes were always well known.

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

Practice: I woke up this morning at 7:30 AM. because I fell asleep last night at 10:00 p.m.

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

Let’s check the Practice Answers.

Mechanics Practice Answers: I woke up this morning at 7:30 a.m. because I fell asleep last night at 10:00 p.m.

Now let’s apply what we have learned.

Writing Application: Write your own sentence using a hyphen.

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 , , , , , , , , ,

Non-standard English Additions

Non-standard English Additions                                                        

Common Core Language Standard 1

Some people can’t leave “well enough alone.” In other words, they have to add on more than what is needed. People do this in their speaking and writing as well.

Today’s grammar and usage lesson is on Non-standard English Additions. Non-standard English often differs from Standard English because of regional or cultural dialects. 

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

Avoid using non-standard use additions. Don’t add the of or on prepositions when unnecessary. Examples: Get off of my couch. Don’t blame on me for that.

When writing in Standard English, do not use double negatives. Example: Don’t use no notes on the test.

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

Practice: All of a sudden, she changed her mind. She said she did it on accident. She never did nothing like that before now.

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

Let’s check the Practice Answers.

Grammar and Usage Practice Answers: Suddenly, she changed her mind. She said she did it accidentally. She never did anything like that before now.

Now let’s apply what we have learned.

Writing Application: Write your own sentence using a non-standard English addition. Then write a second sentence correcting that non-standard English.

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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Brackets

How to Teach Brackets                                                 

Common Core Language Standard 2

English has a wide variety of punctuation. The British use brackets the way Americans use parentheses. Punctuation is based more upon tradition than upon clearly defined rules.

Today’s mechanics lesson is on how to use brackets. Brackets can serve the same purpose as parentheses.

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

Use brackets to provide missing or explanatory information within direct quotations. Example: You found it [the missing coat] on the table.

In scripts and plays, brackets are also used as stage directions both inside and outside of dialogue. Example: [Nervously] I don’t know what you mean.

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

Practice: “Please refer to the Addendum-page 71-to review the violations [of the city ordinances],” the attorney counseled.

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

Let’s check the Practice Answers.

Mechanics Practice Answers: “Please refer to the Addendum [page 71] to review the violations [of the city ordinances],” the attorney counseled.

Now let’s apply what we’ve learned. 

Writing Application: Write your own sentence using brackets.

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 , , , , , , , , ,

Non-standard English Deletions

Non-standard English Deletions                                                       

Common Core Language Standard 1

Sometimes we’ve just got to get the point quickly. If you’re crossing a busy street with a careless friend who is not looking both ways and a truck is heading right toward that friend, you’re probably not going to say, “I would watch more closely, if I were you, because a truck is coming.” Chances are you would shorten it to “Watch out! Truck!” However, when writing an essay or a research report, you have to say things completely without dropping any words.

Today’s grammar and usage lesson is on Non-standard English Deletions. Remember that a verb shows a physical or mental action or it describes a state of being. Conversational English often differs from Standard English.

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

When writing in Standard English, don’t drop verbs or parts of verbs. Examples: She (is) nice, but I been (had been) nice to her first. Where (are) you at? Who (is) she?

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

Practice: I woke up this morning at 7:30 AM. because I fell asleep last night at 10:00 p.m.

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

Let’s check the Practice Answers.

Grammar and Usage Practice Answers: I woke up this morning at 7:30 a.m. because I fell asleep last night at 10:00 p.m.

Now let’s apply what we have learned.

Writing Application: Write your own sentence using a non-standard English deletion. Then write a second sentence correcting that non-standard English.

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 , , , , , , , , ,

Dashes

Dashes                                                      

Common Core Language Standard 2

Dashes are very convenient forms of punctuation. We both use and misuse them.

Today’s mechanics lesson is on how to use dashes. Dashes serve a different purpose than hyphens and are usually longer. Avoid using beginning and ending dashes for apposition (to identify or explain a noun or pronoun before it) or parenthetical expressions (to comment on what comes before). Use commas or parentheses instead. Display Instructional PowerPoint Slides

Dashes are used to show a range of values between dates, times, and numbers. Examples: From July 6‒9 between the hours of 7:00‒10:00 a.m., a crowd of 200‒225 protesters will occupy the park.

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

Practice: Marta and Zowie worked from 3‒5:00 p.m. after working a night shift, proving that the Johnson-Jones partnership would work any day. The young ladies-who had worked together for years-ran a successful housekeeping business.

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

Let’s check the Practice Answers.

Mechanics Practice Answers: Marta and Zowie worked from 3‒5:00 p.m. after working a night shift, proving that the Johnson‒Jones partnership would work any day. The young ladies‒who had worked together for years‒ran a successful housekeeping business.

Now let’s apply what we have learned. 

Writing Application: Write your own sentence using dashes.

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 , , , , , , , ,

Adverb Order

Adverb Order                                                    

Common Core Language Standard 1

One thing about adverbs… they sure are flexible. A writer can place this part of speech most anywhere in a sentence to emphasize or de-emphasize the word. However, when using more than one adverb in a sentence, the writer must place them in a certain order.

Today’s grammar and usage lesson is on adverb order. Remember that an adverb modifies a verb, an adjective, or an adverb and answers What degree? How? Where? or When? Any part of speech can serve as an adverb.

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

As a matter of good writing style, place shorter adverbial phrases in front of longer ones. Example: We ran more slowly, yet more purposefully. Also, place specific adverbs before general ones. Example: We ran to the corner, then everywhere.

When using more than one adverb in a sentence, follow this order of adverbial functions: What Degree-How-Where- When. Example: She sings more enthusiastically on the stage each night before closing.

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

Practice: He acted less nervous at night there.

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

Let’s check the Practice Answers.

Grammar and Usage Practice Answers: He acted less nervous there at night.

Now let’s apply what we have learned. 

Writing Application: Write your own sentence using two or more different types of adverbs in proper order.

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 , , , , , , , , ,

Parentheses

Parentheses                                                       

Common Core Language Standard 2

Parentheses are probably overused. However, if you feel like they are necessary, learn to use them correctly.

Today’s mechanics lesson is on how to use parentheses to set off parenthetical information. Remember that parenthetical information adds non-essential information following a noun or pronoun.

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

If the words inside the parentheses form a complete sentence, place the period, question mark, or exclamation point inside the closing parenthesis. Example: (I had eaten lunch.)

Parentheses can be used in a variety of ways:

  • As added information. This is known as an aside.Example: John responded (quickly).
  • As an appositive. An appositive is a noun, pronoun, or noun phrase that identifies or explains another noun or pronoun before or after it. Example: Sue (the girl in red)
  • With numbers to clarify what has been said in the sentence. Examples: He ran a marathon (26.2 miles) in 4:20:10 (four hours, twenty minutes, ten seconds).
  • To punctuate letters which list key points within the sentence. Examples: She had a choice of (a) apple (b) cherry or (c) lemon pie.

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

Practice: They do eat fried toast especially in England. (The U.S. Surgeon General specifically frowns on this food).

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

Let’s check the Practice Answers.

Mechanics Practice Answers: They do eat fried toast (especially in England). (The U.S. Surgeon General specifically frowns on this food).

Now let’s apply what we have learned.

Writing Application: Write your own sentences using parentheses to set off an apostrophe and parentheses with numbers to clarify what has been said in 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 , , , , , , , , ,

Colons

Colons                                                      

Common Core Language Standard 2

When you think of colons, think relationships. Colons are often used incorrectly, especially when introducing lists. Writers mistakenly place colons following all parts of speech, including verbs. Instead, stick to conventional punctuation and only use colons following nouns and pronouns.

Today’s mechanics lesson is on how to use colons. Remember that colons are used to show relationships between numbers, as business letter salutations (openings), and in titles.

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

Use a colon after an independent clause if the following independent clause comments upon or explains the first. If only one clause follows a colon, don’t capitalize the first letter of that clause.

Example: Jenny got in trouble: she cheated on the test.

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

Practice: “Just don’t say anything. it’s not your business,” she replied. “Now it’s reached a crisis point: It’s been going on for days.”

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

Let’s check the Practice Answers.

Mechanics Practice Answers: “Just don’t say anything: it’s not your business,” she replied. “Now it’s reached a crisis point: It’s been going on for days.”

Now let’s apply what we have learned. 

Writing Application: Write your own sentence using a colon between independent clauses.

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 , , , , , , , , ,

Perfect Verb Tense

Perfect Verb Tense                                                    

Common Core Language Standard 1

One of the best features of the English language is that we can say a lot in just a few words. Take our verbs for example. Even though we do have quite a few irregular verb forms, our different verb tenses more than make up for the minor inconvenience of memorizing the irregularities. Instead of having to surround verbs with lots of words to explain time and conditions, we just use change the verb tenses.

Today’s grammar and usage lesson is on the perfect verb tense. Remember that a verb can mentally or physically act or serve as a state of being. Verb tense indicates time.

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

The perfect verb tense is used for a physical or mental action or state of being that refers to something that has already been completed. The perfect verb tense is formed with the past, present, or future tenses of the “to have” verb, the base form of a verb, and a past participle (“__d,” “__t,” “__ed,” “__ en”) ending.

  • The past perfect refers to something that happened before another action in the past or something that happened before a specific time in the past. The past perfect is formed with had + the past participle. Example: had waited ‘til dawn
  • The present perfect refers to something that happened at an unnamed time before the present. The present perfect verb is formed with has or have + the past participle. Examples: has waited since dawn, have waited every morning
  • The future perfect refers to something that will happen before another action in the future or something that will happen before a specific time in the future. The future perfect is formed with will have + the past participle. Example: will have waited every morning

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

Practice: The teacher was started the unit last week. We have continued the lessons this week and will have been completed the unit by next Friday.

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

Let’s check the Practice Answers.

Grammar and Usage Practice Answers: The teacher had started the unit last week. We have continued the lessons this week and will have completed the unit by next Friday.

Now let’s apply what we have learned. 

Writing Application: Write three of your own sentences: the first with a past perfect verb tense, the second with a present perfect verb tense, and the third with a future perfect verb tense.

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 , , , , , , , , , , ,

Exclamation Points

Exclamation Points                                                       

Common Core Language Standard 2

The exclamation point is one of the most misused and overused punctuation marks. Too often students add them when they are unnecessary to try and add excitement or surprise to dull writing. You probably could avoid using exclamation points for the rest of your life, if you chose exciting and specific nouns with surprising and vivid verbs. Oh… and another misuse: Don’t use more than one exclamation point. Using three exclamation points does not make a sentence three times as exciting or surprising. Despite what the authors of comic books do, we don’t use more than one punctuation mark when just one will do nicely.

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

Use one exclamation point to show surprise or strong emotion in an exclamatory sentence or following an interjection. An interjection is a short sentence fragment used to show extreme emotion and is often used within dialogue. Examples: That is amazing!

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

Practice: Wow! Oh my gosh! I can’t believe she said that! That whole scene was disturbing!

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

Let’s check the Practice Answers.

Mechanics Practice Answers: Wow! Oh my gosh! I can’t believe she said that! That whole scene was disturbing.

Now let’s apply what we have learned. 

Writing Application: Write a sentence using an exclamation point.

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 , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Progressive Verb Tense

Progressive Verb Tense                                                     

Common Core Language Standard 1

As with the perfect verb tense, the progressive verb tense shows a different sense of time and condition. Many events or situations in life don’t just happen once at one time, but happen over a period of time. The English language allows us to communicate this ongoing action quite easily.

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

The past progressive verb tense shows an action that took place over a period of time in the past or a past action which was happening when another action took place. The past progressive uses was + the base form of the verb + “__ing” and were + the base form of the verb + “__ing.” Examples: I was waiting for him at home. John and Rob were eating lunch when Lee arrived.

The present progressive verb tense shows an action that takes place over a period of time in the present or an action taking place at the same time the statement is written. The present progressive uses I am + the base form of the verb + “__ing,” is + the base form of the verb + “__ing” and are + the base form of the verb + “__ing.” Examples: I am walking to school each day. Sara and Rosalyn are talking about the new girl at school.

The future progressive verb tense shows an ongoing action that will be completed over a period of time or a continuous action that will be repeated and not completed. The future progressive uses will be + the base form of the verb + “__ing.” Examples: We will be going on the field trip tomorrow. Patrick and I will be spending lots of time together.

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

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

Practice: He is thinking that Ben will been asking, but he was hoped that Ben won’t.

Let’s check the Practice Answers.

Grammar and Usage Practice Answers: He is thinking that Ben will be asking, but he was hoping that Ben won’t.

Now let’s apply what we have learned

Writing Application: Write three of your own sentences using the same base form of the verb: the first one as a past progressive, the second one as a present progressive, and the third one as a future progressive.

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 , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Question Marks with Quotations

Question Marks with Quotations                                                       

Common Core Language Standard 2

The question mark usually is one of the easiest punctuation marks to use properly–unless the question mark is used with quotations. Then, things get a bit trickier. Do we place the question mark inside or outside of the quotation marks?

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

Place a question mark inside (to the left of) ending quotation marks (?”) when you, the writer, are quoting a question that was asked. Example: He asked, “Are you going, too?”

Place a question mark outside (to the right of) ending quotation marks (”?) when you, the writer, ask a question about a quotation. Example: Why did he say, “That’s not funny”?

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

Practice: Did she say, “I didn’t do it”? Or did she ask “Who did it”?

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

Let’s check the Practice Answers.

Mechanics Practice Answers: Did she say, “I didn’t do it”? Or did she ask “Who did it?”

Now let’s apply what we have learned. 

Writing Application: Write two or your own sentences: the first one with a quote of a make-believe question that was asked and the second one with a question that you ask about a make-believe 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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Shifts in Verb Tense

Shifts in Verb Tense                                                  

Common Core Language Standard 1

Time travel would definitely be an interesting experience. Not so much, however, if the time machine confused past, present, and future. The same is true in your writing. English allows us to change verb tense in the same paragraph and sometimes even within the same sentence, but only if you plan this shift in time. Confused verb tense reflects poor planning and, usually, poor proofreading.

Today’s grammar and usage lesson is on shifts in verb tense. Remember that a verb can mentally or physically act or serve as a state of being.

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

Verb tense is the form of the verb that indicates time. There are three simple verb tenses: the past, present, and future. Examples: Mykah jumped, Mykah jumps, Mykah will jump.

Generally, keep the same verb tense in a sentence or group of related sentences. This is especially important with the past tense. However, when a change in time is necessary, it is certainly appropriate to change tenses, even within the same sentence.

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

Practice: Michael Jackson’s Thriller amaze audiences in 1987, and is an album that still gets plenty of radio play. Undoubtedly that continued for many years in the future.

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

Let’s check the Practice Answers.

Grammar and Usage Practice Answers: Michael Jackson’s Thriller amazed audiences in 1987, and is an album that still gets plenty of radio play. Undoubtedly that will continue for many years in the future.

Now let’s apply what we have learned.

Writing Application: Write your own sentence using an appropriate change in verb tense.

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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Capitalization of Languages, Dialects, and People Groups

Capitalization of Languages, Dialects, and People Groups                                                      

Common Core Language Standard 2

Capitalization rules for nouns can get tricky. Any proper noun name needs to be capitalized, including languages, dialects, and groups of people.

Today’s mechanics lesson is on capitalizing languages, dialects, and people groups.

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

Capitalize the names of languages, dialects, and people groups. Dialect refers to a variety of a language that is different in pronunciation, grammar, and vocabulary than other varieties of that language. Examples: Spanish, Creole, Roma

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

Practice: Both Canadians spoke Swahili fluently to the Africans.

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

Let’s check the Practice Answers.

Mechanics Practice Answers: I woke up this morning at 7:30 a.m. because I fell asleep last night at 10:00 p.m.

Now let’s apply what we have learned.

Writing Application: Write your own sentence using the name of a language and people group.

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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Plural Subject-Verb Agreement

Plural Subject-Verb Agreement                                                       

Common Core Language Standard 1

We all know that verbs have to match their subjects. One way that they have to match is in number. Singular has to match singular and plural must match plural. What gets confusing is when other words seem to be subjects, but are not. Knowing how to identify sentence subjects is essential.

Today’s grammar and usage lesson is on plural subject-verb agreement. A plural subject agrees with (matches) a plural verb and involves more than one person, place, or thing. In present tense the plural nouns do not end in s. For example, we say “Birds chirp,” not “Birds chirps.”

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

Following are the key rules of plural subject-verb agreement:

  • Some words seem to be singular, but are actually plural because they each have two parts: scissors, tweezers, pants, and shears. Example: Those scissors are sharp.
  • Sports teams not ending in s are plural and require plural verbs. Example: The Orlando Magic have been looking for a point guard.
  • A compound subject joined by and is plural and takes a plural verb. Example: Bob and Pam are friends.
  • These indefinite pronouns take plural verbs: both, few, many, others, and several. Example: Both seem wonderful.

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

Practice: We have plenty of supplies for the project. Scissors are required to cut out the sports pictures from magazines. The Miami Heat is the students’ favorite team. There is plenty of their pictures. Most of the students finish quickly, but a few needs more time. Bob and Joe always ask for more time.

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

Let’s check the Practice Answers.

Grammar and Usage Practice Answers: We have plenty of supplies for the project. Scissors are required to cut out the sports pictures from magazines. The Miami Heat is the students’ favorite team. There are plenty of their pictures. Most of the students finish quickly, but a few need more time. Bob and Joe always ask for more time.

Now let’s apply what we have learned. 

Writing Application: Write two of your own sentences: the first with a compound subject and the second with an indefinite plural pronoun subject.

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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Capitalization of Organizations and Businesses

Capitalization of Organizations and Businesses                                                      

Common Core Language Standard 2

Even organizations and businesses, if they are named, are considered to be proper nouns.

Today’s mechanics lesson is on capitalizing organizations and businesses.

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

Capitalize the names of organizations and businesses. Don’t capitalize articles, conjunctions, and prepositions in the middle of the named organization or business. Examples: Helping with Hands Association, Durability for Life, Inc.

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

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

Practice: The Girl Scouts of America is over 100-years-old. The united way of America and Pizza to Go® help fund that organization.

Let’s check the Practice Answers.

Mechanics Practice Answers: The Girl Scouts of America is over 100-years-old. The United Way of America and Pizza to Go® help fund that organization.

Now let’s apply what we have learned. 

Writing Application: Write your own sentence using the name of an organization including a preposition.

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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