112 Quick Grammar, Usage, and Mechanics Video Lessons

GRAMMAR PROGRAMS from Pennington Publishing

Pennington Publishing GRAMMAR PROGRAMS

Instructional time is precious. I’ve never heard an English-language arts teacher complain, “I just have too much class time and not enough to teach!” One set of Common Core Standards that tends to get placed upon the back-burner is the Anchor Standards for Language. You guessed it: grammar, usage, and mechanics. Specifically L.1, 2, and 3. If your time is limited and you can only squeeze out 5 minutes a day (on average), these 112 Quick Grammar, Usage, and Mechanics Video Lessons are for you! Taken from my comprehensive grades 4–12 Grammar, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand) grade-level BUNDLES, these nuggets aren’t the goldmine that my full-year programs offer, but they will do the job of quick instruction, review, editing and test prep. Why are these free? Once you see the quality of instruction and comprehensive instructional scope and sequence in these videos, my hope is that you will purchase one of my comprehensive programs, plus I cleverly include an advertisement for my program BUNDLE, Teaching the Language Strand, to remind you at the end of every lesson. Watch it once and you’ll remember (most of the time) to stop the lesson before the advertisement begins to avoid annoying your students. All videos are accessed via YouTube.

Read the Instructional Components and Instructional Procedures. Skim the 112-lesson instructional scope and sequence. Read the brief description of the author’s grammar, usage, and mechanics programs (please). Click on one or all of the free downloads and I’ll send them directly to your inbox. Click on the link at the end of the article to access all 112 videos.

Instructional Components

  1. Slide of applicable Common Core Anchor Standard for Language and video subject. Note: Videos alternate between mechanics and grammar/usage.
  2. Brief introduction of the mechanics or grammar and usage lesson subject to build prior knowledge, define unfamiliar terms, and scaffold instruction with review.
  3. Slide of lesson with examples. The lesson and examples are read out loud.  Note: Perfect for visually impaired students.
  4. Practice sentence includes both correct and incorrect usage of the mechanics, grammar, and usage rule, concept, or content.
  5. Practice answers for students to self-correct and edit.
  6. Writing application to practice applying the lesson focus in the student’s own writing (one or two sentences).

Instructional Procedures

  1. You may choose to have students complete the lesson on binder paper or in composition notebooks.
  2. Prepare your computer and projector for whole-class video and audio or share with your students to use on class Chromebooks, tablets, or iPads.
  3. Play the video and follow screen directions to “pause” and “discuss.”
  4.  Students copy the lesson and examples in composition notebooks or you can print the slide for students to cut and paste. Either option works well as a “bell ringer” to permit you a few minutes to take roll.
  5. Students copy Practice sentence and revise according to the lesson focus. Note: both correct and incorrect usage of the lesson focus are included.
  6. Students self-correct and edit in another color pen or pencil. Make sure students understand that no points are deducted for self-corrections and edits.
  7. Students apply the lesson focus in an original sentence or two to demonstrate their mastery. Correct the Writing Application and award credit or points after every few lessons.

*Optional: Students can create a graphic organizer or draw a picture to review the lesson focus.

Skim the 112 Quick Grammar, Usage, and Mechanics Video Lessons (each 2–5 minutes)

Latin Abbreviations for Time: Mechanics Lesson 1 Proper Nouns: Grammar and Usage Lesson 1 Abbreviations and Acronyms: Mechanics Lesson 2 Common Nouns: Grammar and Usage Lesson 2 Indirect Questions and Intentional Fragments: Mechanics Lesson 3 Types of Verbs: Grammar and Usage Lesson 3 Alphanumeric Outlines: Mechanics Lesson 4 Verb Tenses: Grammar and Usage Lesson 4 Semicolons with Phrases: Mechanics Lesson 5 Subject Case Pronouns: Grammar and Usage Lesson 5 Apostrophes with Singular Possessives: Mechanics Lesson 6 Object Case Pronouns: Grammar and Usage Lesson 6 Apostrophes with Plural Possessives: Mechanics Lesson 7 Possessive Pronouns: Grammar and Usage Lesson 7 Apostrophes with Compound Subjects and Objects: Mechanics Lesson 8 Adjectives: Grammar and Usage Lesson 8 Apostrophes with Contractions: Mechanics Lesson 9 Verbs: Grammar and Usage Lesson 9 When Not to Use Commas: Mechanics Lesson 10 Adverbs: Grammar and Usage Lesson 10 Commas with Dates: Mechanics Lesson 11 Coordinating Conjunctions: Grammar and Usage Lesson 11 Commas in Letters: Mechanics Lesson 12 Correlative Conjunctions: Grammar and Usage Lesson 12 Commas in Addresses: Mechanics Lesson 13 Subordinating Conjunctions: Grammar and Usage Lesson 13 Commas with Family Titles: Mechanics Lesson 14 Prepositional Phrases: Grammar and Usage Lesson 14 Commas with Place Names: Mechanics Lesson 15 Subjects and Predicates: Grammar and Usage Lesson 15 Commas with Tag Questions: Mechanics Lesson 16 Direct Objects: Grammar and Usage Lesson 16 Commas with Beginning Nouns of Direct Speech: Mechanics Lesson 17 Indirect Objects: Grammar and Usage Lesson 17 Commas with Ending Nouns of Direct Speech: Mechanics Lesson 18 Phrases and Clauses: Grammar and Usage Lesson 18 Commas with Middle Nouns of Direct Speech: Mechanics Lesson 19 Complete Sentences, Fragments, and Run-ons: Grammar and Usage Lesson 19 Commas with Items in a List: Mechanics Lesson 20 Simple, Compound, and Complex Sentences: Grammar and Usage Lesson 20 Commas with Introductory Words: Mechanics Lesson 21 Compound-Complex Sentences: Grammar and Usage Lesson 21 Commas with Introductory Clauses: Mechanics Lesson 22 Types of Sentences: Grammar and Usage Lesson 22 Commas with Interjections: Mechanics Lesson 23 Noun Phrases: Grammar and Usage Lesson 23 Commas in Quotation Marks and Speaker Tags in Dialogue: Mechanics Lesson 24 Noun Clauses: Grammar and Usage Lesson 24 Commas in Compound Sentences: Mechanics Lesson 25 Indefinite Pronouns: Grammar and Usage Lesson 25 Commas with Phrases and Clauses: Mechanics Lesson 26 Interrogative Pronouns: Grammar and Usage Lesson 26 Commas with Complex Sentences: Mechanics Lesson 27 Demonstrative Pronouns: Grammar and Usage Lesson 27 Commas with Coordinate Adjectives: Mechanics Lesson 28 Reflexive Pronouns: Grammar and Usage Lesson 28 Commas with Hierarchical Adjectives: Mechanics Lesson 29 Intensive Pronouns: Grammar and Usage Lesson 29 Commas with Nonrestrictive Relative Clauses: Mechanics Lesson 30 Nonrestrictive Relative Clauses: Grammar and Usage Lesson 30 Restrictive Relative Clauses: Mechanics Lesson 31 Restrictive Clauses: Grammar and Usage Lesson 31 Direct Quotations: Mechanics Lesson 32 Reciprocal Pronouns: Grammar and Usage Lesson 32 Indirect Quotations: Mechanics Lesson 33 Pronoun Antecedents: Grammar and Usage Lesson 33 Quotations within Quotations: Mechanics Lesson 34 Pronoun Number and Person Shifts: Grammar and Usage Lesson 34 Movie and Television Titles: Mechanics Lesson 35 Vague Pronoun References: Grammar and Usage Lesson 35 Book, Website, Newspaper, and Magazine Titles: Mechanics Lesson 36 Adjectival Phrases: Grammar and Usage Lesson 36 Plays and Works of Art Titles: Mechanics Lesson 37 Predicate Adjectives: Grammar and Usage Lesson 37 Song and Poem Titles: Mechanics Lesson 38 Short Comparative Modifiers: Grammar and Usage Lesson 38 Book Chapter Titles: Mechanics Lesson 39 Long Comparative Modifiers: Grammar and Usage Lesson 39 Article Titles: Mechanics Lesson 40 Short Superlative Modifiers: Grammar and Usage Lesson 40 Short Story and Document Titles: Mechanics Lesson 41 Long Superlative Modifiers: Grammar and Usage Lesson 41 Capitalizing People and Character Names: Mechanics Lesson 42 Misplaced Modifiers: Grammar and Usage Lesson 42 Capitalizing Things and Products: Mechanics Lesson 43 Dangling Modifiers: Grammar and Usage Lesson 43 Capitalizing Holidays and Dates: Mechanics Lesson 44 Verb Phrases: Grammar and Usage Lesson 44 Capitalizing Special Events and Historical Periods: Mechanics Lesson 45 Singular Subject-Verb Agreement: Grammar and Usage Lesson 45 Capitalizing Organizations and Businesses: Mechanics Lesson 46 Plural Subject-Verb Agreement: Grammar and Usage Lesson 46 Capitalizing Languages, Dialects, and People Groups: Mechanics Lesson 47 Shifts in Verb Tense: Grammar and Usage Lesson 47 Question Marks in Dialogue: Mechanics Lesson 48 Progressive Verb Tenses: Grammar and Usage Lesson 48 Exclamation Points: Mechanics Lesson 49 Perfect Verb Tenses: Grammar and Usage Lesson 49 Colons: Mechanics Lesson 50 Adverbial Clauses: Grammar and Usage Lesson 50 Parentheses: Mechanics Lesson 51 Adverb Order: Grammar and Usage Lesson 51 Dashes: Mechanics Lesson 52 Non-standard English Deletions: Grammar and Usage Lesson 52 Brackets: Mechanics Lesson 53 Non-standard English Additions: Grammar and Usage Lesson 53 Capitalizing: Mechanics Lesson 54 Non-standard English Substitutions: Grammar and Usage Lesson 54 Slashes: Mechanics Lesson 55 Common Misused Words: Grammar and Usage Lesson 55 Numbers within Text: Mechanics Lesson 56 Common Misused Words: Grammar and Usage Lesson

*****

I’m Mark Pennington, author of many popular, easy-to-teach grammar resources. Check out these four types of grammar resources: 1. Interactive notebook 2. Literacy centers and 3.  Traditional grade-level grammar programs 4. Grammar, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand) BUNDLES

Of the three, the interactive notebook lends itself to more individualized practice and has online links. The literacy centers involve group work. The traditional grades 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and high school grammar programs require direct instruction in each of the grade-level standards with mentor texts, simple sentence diagrams, and formative assessments. All grade 4–8 programs include biweekly quizzes. The grades 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 BUNDLE offers a comprehensive program to teach every standard in the Anchor Standards for Language.

All four types of grammar programs provide diagnostic assessments and targeted worksheets to help students master deficits indicated by the diagnostic grammar and mechanics assessments.

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

Get the Diagnostic Grammar and Usage Assessment FREE Resource:

Get the Diagnostic Mechanics Assessment FREE Resource:

At last! Here’s the link to the 112 Quick Grammar, Usage, and Mechanics Video Lessons.  http://bit.ly/1zpoBwb

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Reading Fluency Placement and Practice

Reading Fluency Norms for Grades 2-8

Grades 2-8 Reading Fluency Norms

Working years ago as a reading specialist in a large and diverse Northern California school district, years ago, I was part of cadre of talented reading specialists and literacy coaches. Following recommendations of the National Reading Panel, we began exploring means to explicitly teach and practice reading fluency.

Our first task was to find out how our students were performing relative to national norms. Using  Hasbrouck and Tindal’s grades 1-6 fluency norms, followed later by middle school norms, we selected grade level expository texts from our district reading series. Most all of the schools bought into completing one-minute baseline, end of first trimester, end of second trimester, and end of school fluency assessments with these district-adopted reading passages. We analyzed student data vis a vis the fluency norms and discussed the need to provide fluency intervention programs at each of our 30 elementary sites. From these data we determined that we needed to establish fluency interventions for grades 3-6 students. However, we also recognized the fact that using a grade-level passage as a screener had plenty of limitations.

Placement criteria, based upon the grade level baseline assessment, were determined by the school site and varied greatly. We selected the Read Naturally® program as our district-wide fluency program. Once placed within the fluency intervention, students were further assessed with Read Naturally’s Brief Oral Screener (a series of short sentence groupings with instructions to test up or down according to how well students read) was administered individually to establish an instructional reading fluency level. For many students, this second assessment placed them at grade-level, time of year, reading norms, and so these students were quickly exited from the program.

Reading specialists trained teachers and paraprofessionals and at some sites helped staff the interventions. Instructional delivery varied from school to school. Some schools ran Read Naturally® fluency labs as half-hour pull-out programs during the two-hour literacy block; others did so during social studies or science instructional periods; still others did so during early-late ability groups times; and some built the program into after school programs. Funding varied from Title 1, to PTA sponsorship, to general education allocations.

In the original Read Naturally® program, each grade level had one or two sets of fluency passages with a few short recall comprehension questions and the timing sheet. The basic practice included taking a cold (unpracticed) timing on a new reading passage, reading along with modeled reading cassette tapes (using headphones) over and over again. The modeled readings were all recorded at one speed. Of course, since that time the program has evolved with online placement, more grade level passages, and multiple speed modeled readings. The reading fluency interventions were widely perceived as successes. However, they were expensive in terms of materials, personnel, and instructional time.

To address these expenses, I began developing procedures and materials to streamline fluency instruction and bring it into the classroom.

I began developing a diagnostic fluency assessment which would “kill two birds with one stone.” My goal was to screen for fluency deficits and establish an optimal instructional fluency level in the same assessment. After plenty of trial runs and critiques from fellow reading specialists and literacy coaches, I completed the “Pets” Fluency Assessment. This assessment (download for free at end of article) is a two-minute (much more accurate than one-minute) expository passage with the first two paragraphs at third grade, the next two at fifth grade, and the last two at seventh grade level. As the teacher listens, it’s quite easy to determine an instructional fluency level as well as establish a baseline fluency. Plus, the initial lower reading level provides a confidence-builder which elicits more accurate data for the succeeding paragraphs. So much better than handing a grade-level fluency passage to a vulnerable reader! And it provides both screening and teachable data.

Working at three elementary schools, I imposed upon a dozen or so grades 3-6 teachers to experiment and re-design a four group, 15-20 minute, instructional fluency program that would meet the needs of below, at, and above grade level students within the class room. The kids loved the fast-paced reading practice and teachers saw significant improvement in all levels of students’ fluency scores as indicated by the trimester district assessments. Check out the details of this in-class fluency program design.

The two-in-one assessment and in-class instructional design helped solve the problem of expensive pull-out intervention programs.

The Reading Fluency and Comprehension Toolkit

Reading Fluency and Comprehension Toolkit

At the encouragement of teachers, I began writing expository passages, based on every student’s favorite subjects: animals, with the same tiered design for practice. As class sets of relatively inexpensive Chromebooks and iPads became more accessible, I recorded the passages at three different speeds to challenge students in their individual zones of proximity as indicated by the “Pets” Fluency Assessment. These 129 modeled reading passages have been widely used to provide individualized modeled reading fluency practice.

Later, I developed vocabulary and comprehension questions for each of the animal fluency passages.

Mark Pennington is the author of a decidedly eclectic reading intervention program.

*****

Mark Pennington, MA Reading Specialist, is the author of the comprehensive assessment-based reading intervention curriculum, the Teaching Reading Strategies and Sam and Friends Guided Reading Phonics Books BUNDLEIdeal for students reading two or more grade levels below current grade level, tiered response to intervention programs, ESL, ELL, ELD, and special education students. Simple directions, YouTube training videos, and well-crafted activities truly make this an almost no-prep curriculum. Works well as a half-year intensive program or full-year program. Phonological awareness, phonics, syllabication, sight words, fluency (with 128 YouTube modeled readings), spelling, vocabulary and comprehension. The 54 accompanying guided reading phonics books each have comprehension questions, a focus sound-spelling pattern, controlled sight words, a 30-second word fluency, a running record, and cleverly illustrated cartoons by David Rickert to match each entertaining story. These resources provide the best reading intervention program at a price every teacher can afford.

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

The print copies of the Animal Fluency Articles include challenge words in the upper right corner for the teacher to pre-teach. Word counts are provided in the left margin for fluency timings. The YouTube videos of each article include a picture of the animal and a modeled reading, but do not include the challenge words or word counts.

Additionally, the Animal Fluency Articles are available as YouTube videos for individualized fluency instruction. Each article has been recorded at three different reading speeds (Level A at 95-115 words per minute; Level B at 115-135 words per minute; and Level C at 135-155 words per minute) to provide modeled readings at each of your students’ challenge levels. A total of 129 videos!

Get the Pets Fluency Assessment FREE Resource:

Grammar/Mechanics , , , , ,



The Science of Reading

The Science of Reading

The “Science” of Reading

Recently, the embers of the never-ending American reading wars have been stirred to flames with the buzzphrase: The Science of Reading. It’s all over teacher Facebook groups, in blogs, and in professional development PowerPoint® presentations. If you will, permit me to grapple with that phrase, as well as the attitudes and motives behind those using it. Before I begin, please notice that I have chosen not to cite any empirical reading research; I assure you that this is not an oversight.

Let’s start this analysis with the cold, hard facts. Most young, beginning readers have minimal problems learning how to read, irrespective of the instructional methodology. Explicit, systematic phonics seems to work fine, as does a “balanced literacy” approach based upon read alouds and guided reading. Much to the befuddlement and chagrin of die-hards from any instructional reading camp, this good news is validated by research and experience. And we’re not just talking about recent research and experience.

For my master’s thesis, I analyzed the impact of the 1836–1837 first editions of the McGuffey Readers. Along with future editions, these basals helped three generations of school children learn to read with instructional techniques that would raise the eyebrows of every reading specialist and reading teacher today.

In my career as an educator, I’ve taught reading and coached teachers at the elementary school, middle school, high school, and community college levels in both upper and lower socio-economic status districts. I’ve seen plenty of instructional approaches and analyzed plenty of data derived from a plethora of reading assessments. I can say, unequivocally, that a variety of approaches seem to work, and not just for young, beginning readers. Much of my career was in secondary education, working both with students reading far-below-grade-level and with the best and brightest students who knew how to read, but did not have the high levels of reading comprehension requisite for understanding challenging text. From these experiences, I’ve found the maxim that “What works for me (or some students) may not work for you (or some students)” to be validated countless times with older readers who significantly improved their reading skills with a wide variety of instructional approaches. So much for THE Science of Reading.

Reading Science

“Science” of Reading

And now for a bit of advice to fellow teachers. Parents, administrators, reading researchers, students, and anyone else may stop reading at this point, because this is “inside stuff.”

If you’ve been teaching a few years with different age levels, my take is that you’ve probably noticed that there’s more than one way to skin an instructional cat. My apologies to the two felines in the room as I write, as well as to my vegan daughter-in-law. Although you have success with a particular instructional reading method (or any curricular skill), you know colleagues who have quite different approaches, yet these approaches seem to work for them and their students by any measure. Of course, you see your approach as better informed by reading research, brain research, experience, or… than that of your colleagues’ instructional methods, but your colleagues probably feel the same about your teaching approach, as well.

If my observations make sense in light of your own professional teaching experience, you may concur with these conclusions:

  1. We need to respect each other’s different instructional approaches and be open to learning something from our colleagues.
  2. We need to avoid the absolute statements, claiming one or the other approaches has exclusive claims to the science of reading. Remember the old test-taking tip: “Absolute words, such as always, never, all, or none tend to be part of wrong answers.”
  3. We do value research; however, what we don’t know far outweighs what we do know regarding reading instruction (and what we do know certainly varies), so let’s maintain a bit of humility as we learn and teach.
  4. Be “street-wise” regarding those who claim to know The Science of Reading. Education is a business. Selling something new and improved is as old as the hills. Unfortunately, many reading researchers have published books which tend to skew the research in favor of their particular instructional reading approach. Disclaimer: I’m selling, too. See my author promo below.
  5. For newer teachers, follow Hans Solo’s advice to young Luke Skywalker in Star Wars: “Don’t get cocky, kid.” Hold your deeply-held theoretical and pedagogical convictions loosely in you hands. You might just change them. I have.
  6. For older coaches and teachers, don’t be stuck in the mud and so entrenched in your own beliefs and ways of doing things that you stop learning and experimenting. Don’t undervalue newer teachers.
  7. The chief variable to my mind, in terms of reading improvement, seems to be the passion, work ethic, and skill of the teacher, not The Science of Reading.

Mark Pennington is the author of a decidedly eclectic reading intervention program.

*****

Mark Pennington, MA Reading Specialist, is the author of the comprehensive assessment-based reading intervention curriculum, the Teaching Reading Strategies and Sam and Friends Guided Reading Phonics Books BUNDLEIdeal for students reading two or more grade levels below current grade level, tiered response to intervention programs, ESL, ELL, ELD, and special education students. Simple directions, YouTube training videos, and well-crafted activities truly make this an almost no-prep curriculum. Works well as a half-year intensive program or full-year program. Phonological awareness, phonics, syllabication, sight words, fluency (with 128 YouTube modeled readings), spelling, vocabulary and comprehension. The 54 accompanying guided reading phonics books each have comprehension questions, a focus sound-spelling pattern, controlled sight words, a 30-second word fluency, a running record, and cleverly illustrated cartoons by David Rickert to match each entertaining story. These resources provide the best reading intervention program at a price every teacher can afford.

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

Want to teach the most efficient Greek and Latin word parts, based upon the latest high frequency research?

Get the 25 Greek and Latin Power Words FREE Resource:

Who says you can use diagnostic phonics assessments to inform guided reading instruction? Want to have the best of both worlds to pinpoint instruction? Check out the Sam and Friends Guided Reading Phonics Books, Diagnostic Assessments, and Running Records. Get both vowel and consonant comprehensive whole-class phonics assessments with audio files AND 3 guided reading phonics books with focused phonics patterns, comprehension questions, 2 new sight words, 30-second word fluencies, and running records.

Get the Sam and Friends Guided Reading Phonics Books, Diagnostic Assessments, and Running Records FREE Resource:

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



Should We Teach High Frequency Words?

Should We Teach High Frequency Words?

High Frequency Words?

As a teacher-publisher, I am a member of quite a few Facebook groups, Pinterest groups, etc. I sell my ELA and reading intervention curriculum on my Pennington Publishing site as well on the monolith: Teachers Pay Teachers. The latter provides a Seller’s Forum, which I infrequently visit.

A seller recently posted this topic:

Sight words – Fry or Dolch? 

I have always used the Dolch list, but notice many people using the Fry list in their products.  Does your school mandate a certain one?  Do you have a preference when looking for sight word materials?

This brings up an important topic. Both the Fry and Dolch lists are high frequency word lists. Each list was developed pre-computer age by groups of grad students counting the number of recurring words in basal readers.

Speaking of the English, teachers in the United Kingdom and many in international schools refer to the high frequency words as “tricky words.” American teachers have generally coined the term “sight words” to refer to high frequency words. This term has some important instructional implications.

Should We Teach Students Sight Words to Improve Reading and Spelling?

My take is that teaching (or more likely practicing and testing) long lists of high frequency reading words (the sight words or tricky words depending upon one’s side of the Atlantic) or using them in spelling instruction is counterproductive. Apologies to Rebecca Sitton, whose list of “No Excuse Spelling Words” still graces the classroom walls of thousands of American teachers’ classrooms. Why is it counterproductive? We need to teach students to rely on the code for reading and spelling. Just as in baseball, we need to teach students to “look for the fastball, but adjust for the curve.” In other words, apply the rule, but adjust for exceptions.

Memorizing lists of 200, 300, 400, 500 high frequency “sight words” treats language acquisition as a process of rote learning and viewing each and every word in isolation. This approach falsely teaches students that every reading and spelling word is an exception. The old Dick and Jane look-say method of reading and spelling instruction has been properly relegated to the instructional dumpster; however, high frequency instruction remains a hold-out to some degree. Why is this so? My take is because “Let’s teach the words students will read and write most often” seems intuitively correct. However, intuition is not science and should not guide our instructional decisions.

But What about Non-phonetic Sight Words?

Included within the lists of high frequency words are a subset of non-phonetic words. I call the 108 (plus or minus depending on list and how one counts inflections) non-phonetic words “outlaw words”; others refer to them as “rule-breakers.” Of the 100 highest frequency English words, many are non-phonetic because they derive from Old English.

Most reading specialists would agree that the “outlaw words” should be introduced concurrently with explicit, systematic phonics instruction. For example, I introduce the 108 highest frequency “outlaw words” two at a time in my 54 Sam & Friends Guided Reading Phonics Books.

However, teaching these “outlaw words” alongside of phonetically regular high frequency words confuses beginning and older vulnerable readers. When we teach these “rule breakers,” we need to make clear distinctions between these words which should not be sounded-out and those which should.

*Sight words assessments (also referred to as word recognition, e.g. The Slosson Oral Reading Test) shouldn’t be confused with instruction.

Before I end, let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water. A few important caveats! I so see value in practicing sight recognition of sight syllables (such as Greek and Latinates, which of course do not all conform to English phonetic rules). Additionally, the approach in my programs such as Teaching Reading Strategies and Differentiated Spelling Instruction includes other non-phonetic approaches, such as rimes (word families) memorization for kids who struggle with the code and high frequency spelling patterns, conventional spelling rules, and derivational influences.

*****

Mark Pennington, MA Reading Specialist, is the author of the comprehensive assessment-based reading intervention curriculum, the Teaching Reading Strategies and Sam and Friends Guided Reading Phonics Books BUNDLEIdeal for students reading two or more grade levels below current grade level, tiered response to intervention programs, ESL, ELL, ELD, and special education students. Simple directions, YouTube training videos, and well-crafted activities truly make this an almost no-prep curriculum. Works well as a half-year intensive program or full-year program. Phonological awareness, phonics, syllabication, sight words, fluency (with 128 YouTube modeled readings), spelling, vocabulary and comprehension. The 54 accompanying guided reading phonics books each have comprehension questions, a focus sound-spelling pattern, controlled sight words, a 30-second word fluency, a running record, and cleverly illustrated cartoons by David Rickert to match each entertaining story. These resources provide the best reading intervention program at a price every teacher can afford.

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

Interested in seeing how I introduce the non-phonetic “outlaw words” and my phonics instructional sequence in my reading intervention program? Want the example words to blend for each of the sound-spellings? You’ll love this FREE download:

Get the Instructional Phonics Sequence FREE Resource:

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



Vague Pronoun References

Revising Vague Pronoun References

Vague Pronoun References

“They didn’t take the donuts,” Rhett told his teacher.

“To whom are you referring? the teacher asked.

“Those kids who make us get into trouble with their friends like they do all the time. You should punish them.”

“That’s horrible,” the teacher responded. “But it’s hard to punish vague pronoun references.”

Definition and Examples

A vague pronoun does not clearly identify its antecedent. An antecedent is the noun or pronoun that the pronoun refers to or re-names. Vague pronouns usually consist of four types:

  1. More than one antecedent could match the pronoun. Revise by repeating the noun. Example: Dishes were on the tables, but we didn’t need them. Dishes were on the tables, but we didn’t need the dishes.
  2. Demonstrative pronouns (this, that, these, or those) are used on their own. Revise by adding a noun following the pronoun. Example: That is beautiful. That painting is beautiful.
  3. The antecedent is an adjective. Revise by changing the pronoun reference from an adjective to a noun. Example: I called Jesse’s work Jesse at his work, but he never answered.
  4. The pronoun has no antecedent. Revise by adding the antecedent. Example: Although he was extremely rich, he didn’t spend it. Although he had money, he didn’t spend it.

Read the rule.

Pronouns must clearly identify their antecedents. Keep pronoun references close to their antecedents to avoid confusion.

Re-write these sentences and [bracket] the vague pronouns and antecedents.

  1. I love art galleries, especially paintings. These seems to be from the Italian artists.
  2. The books were already on the students’ desks, but we didn’t need them.
  3. I asked to speak to Maribel’s father, but she would not talk to me.
  4. Please get your paper out of your backpack and pass it forward.
  5. His math teachers taught him, but he didn’t use it in his job.

Revise the vague pronoun to clearly identify its antecedent.

Keep pronoun references close to subjects in long sentences to make them clear.

Answers

  1. I love art [galleries], especially paintings. [These] seems to be from the Italian artists.
  2. The [books] were already on the students’ [desks], but we didn’t need [them].
  3. I asked to speak to [Maribel’s father], but [she] would not talk to me.
  4. Please get your [paper] out of your [backpack] and pass [it] forward.
  5. His [math teachers] taught him, but he didn’t use [it] in his job.

*****

For more essay rules and practice, check out the author’s Teaching Essay Strategies. This curriculum includes 42 essay strategy worksheets corresponding to teach the Common Core State Writing Standards, 8 on-demand writing fluencies, 8 writing process essays (4 argumentative and 4 informative/explanatory), 64  sentence revision and 64 rhetorical stance “openers,” writing posters, and helpful editing resources. Differentiate your essay instruction in this comprehensive writing curriculum with remedial writing worksheets, including sentence structure, grammar, thesis statements, errors in reasoning, and transitions.Plus, get an e-comment bank of 438 prescriptive writing responses with an link to insert into Microsoft Word® for easy e-grading (works great with Google Docs),Download the following 24 FREE Writing Style Posters to help your students learn the essay rules. Each has a funny or ironic statement (akin to “Let’s eat Grandma) to teach the memorable rule.

Get the Writing Style Posters FREE Resource:

Grammar/Mechanics, Study Skills, Writing , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,



Double Negatives

Using Double Negatives

Double Negatives

“I’ve never been no snitch!” Wallace said.

“So you’re saying that you have been a snitch. You used a double negative. Didn’t you learn in math that a double negative is a positive?” asked Tess.

“Math don’t teach us nothing about English, Tess.”

“I’d have to agree with you, Wallace.”

Definition and Examples

Non-standard English often differs from Standard English because of regional or cultural dialects. One form of Non-standard English is the double negative. In Non-standard English the double negative is used to emphasize the negative; however, in Standard English the double negatives can cancel each other out and form a positive. Example: I do not have no excuses. Standard English Revision: I do not have any excuses.

Read the rule.

Don’t use double negatives in essays or reports.

Re-write the sentence and [bracket] the double negatives.

  1. Don’t tell me nothing about that situation. I don’t want to know anything.
  2. Never tell nobody about your plans, so you won’t disappoint anyone.
  3. Well, I don’t want not to come visit you.
  4. I misplaced my phone. I can’t find it nowhere.
  5. She is not unhelpful, but she doesn’t have a choice not to help when asked.

Revise the double negatives.

Never write no double negatives.

Answers

  1. [Don’t] tell me [nothing] about that situation. I don’t want to know anything.
  2. [Never] tell [nobody] about your plans, so you won’t disappoint anyone.
  3. Well, I [don’t] want [not] to come visit you.
  4. I misplaced my phone. I [can’t] find it [nowhere].
  5. She is [not] [unhelpful], but she [doesn’t] have a choice [not] to help when asked.

*****

For more essay rules and practice, check out the author’s Teaching Essay Strategies. This curriculum includes 42 essay strategy worksheets corresponding to teach the Common Core State Writing Standards, 8 on-demand writing fluencies, 8 writing process essays (4 argumentative and 4 informative/explanatory), 64  sentence revision and 64 rhetorical stance “openers,” writing posters, and helpful editing resources. Differentiate your essay instruction in this comprehensive writing curriculum with remedial writing worksheets, including sentence structure, grammar, thesis statements, errors in reasoning, and transitions.Plus, get an e-comment bank of 438 prescriptive writing responses with an link to insert into Microsoft Word® for easy e-grading (works great with Google Docs),Download the following 24 FREE Writing Style Posters to help your students learn the essay rules. Each has a funny or ironic statement (akin to “Let’s eat Grandma) to teach the memorable rule.

Get the Writing Style Posters FREE Resource:

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Formulaic Phrases

Formulaic Expressions

Formulaic Phrases

“That was quite the party last night!” Bebe said.

“Yes, a good time was had by all,” Sergio said. “But it was over before it really began.”

“You love your formulaic phrases, Sergio.”

“Once I find something that works, it’s all good.”

Definition and Examples

A formulaic phrase is a commonly used expression. Example: In this day and age, most people know that you can’t be too careful. The formulaic phrase is closely related to an idiom (or idiomatic expression). Example: She walked through the door. Both are considered to be figures of speech.

In both formulaic phrases and idioms, the individual words may not mean exactly what they say. Both types of expressions often suggest, but do not state, certain attitudes. The differences are that the formulaic phrase is considered over-used, but an idiom is not, and the formulaic phrase may shift its wording to suit its purposes, but an idiom does not change.

Read the rule.

Don’t use idiomatic expressions or idioms in essays or reports.

Re-write these sentences and [bracket] the formulaic phrases.

  1. No one would support that idea. You know what I mean?
  2. I know what he meant, but these days, you just can’t say that.
  3. I’ll reconsider what you say, but at the end of the day I’ll have to make my decision.
  4. We all know what that sort of thing can lead to, don’t we?
  5. It’s this, that, or the other, don’t you think?

Revise the sentence to eliminate the formulaic phrase.

It goes without saying to avoid using formulaic phrases.

Answers

  1. No one would support that idea. [You know what I mean]?
  2. I know what he meant, but [these days], you just can’t say that.
  3. I’ll reconsider what you say, [but at the end of the day] I’ll have to make my decision.
  4. We all know [what that sort of thing] can lead to, don’t we?
  5. [It’s this, that, or the other], don’t you think?

*****

For more essay rules and practice, check out the author’s Teaching Essay Strategies. This curriculum includes 42 essay strategy worksheets corresponding to teach the Common Core State Writing Standards, 8 on-demand writing fluencies, 8 writing process essays (4 argumentative and 4 informative/explanatory), 64  sentence revision and 64 rhetorical stance “openers,” writing posters, and helpful editing resources. Differentiate your essay instruction in this comprehensive writing curriculum with remedial writing worksheets, including sentence structure, grammar, thesis statements, errors in reasoning, and transitions.Plus, get an e-comment bank of 438 prescriptive writing responses with an link to insert into Microsoft Word® for easy e-grading (works great with Google Docs),Download the following 24 FREE Writing Style Posters to help your students learn the essay rules. Each has a funny or ironic statement (akin to “Let’s eat Grandma) to teach the memorable rule.

Get the Writing Style Posters FREE Resource:

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Meaningless Sentence Starters

Avoid There and Here

There and Here

“Why do we have to avoid using too many There and Here words at the beginning of sentences?” Peja asked.

There are reasons for that. Here they are,” Chiang said.

“I’m waiting. What’s the problem with using those sentence starters?”

“Avoid using meaningless words as sentence starters.”

“You didn’t answer my question.”

“I did. I told you why and showed you how.”

Definition and Examples

Using There or Here + a “helping verb” (has been, had been, will be, shall be, should be, would be, can be, could be, may be, might be, must be) or a “linking verb” (is, are, was, were) is rarely necessary and provides no additional meaning to a sentence. Example: There are the three students waiting over there. This sentence can be changed to… The three students wait over there. Example: Here is the blue pen to use to write your grandmother. This sentence can be changed to… Use the blue pen to write your grandmother.

Read the rule.

Avoid beginning sentences with There or Here + a “helping verb” or a “linking verb.” Revise to eliminate these words. To delete the unnecessary There or Here word, place the subject of the sentence at the beginning with or without its article (a, an, or the) and change the verb form as needed.

Re-write these sentences and [bracket] the meaningless words used as sentence starters.

  1. Here are plenty of samples to try.
  2. There is evidence to suggest that the owner knew that the painting was worthless.
  3. There were reasons for his actions, but we were never told what they were.
  4. Here is the envelope you were looking for in my desk.
  5. There will be consequences to your failures to act on his advice.

Eliminate the meaningless sentence starter in this sentence.

There are good reasons to avoid starting sentences with There and Here.

Answers

  1. [Here are] plenty of samples to try.
  2. [There is] evidence to suggest that the owner knew that the painting was worthless.
  3. [There were] reasons for his actions, but we were never told what they were.
  4. [Here is] the envelope you were looking for in my desk.
  5. [There will be] consequences to your failures to act on his advice.

*****

For more essay rules and practice, check out the author’s Teaching Essay Strategies. This curriculum includes 42 essay strategy worksheets corresponding to teach the Common Core State Writing Standards, 8 on-demand writing fluencies, 8 writing process essays (4 argumentative and 4 informative/explanatory), 64  sentence revision and 64 rhetorical stance “openers,” writing posters, and helpful editing resources. Differentiate your essay instruction in this comprehensive writing curriculum with remedial writing worksheets, including sentence structure, grammar, thesis statements, errors in reasoning, and transitions.Plus, get an e-comment bank of 438 prescriptive writing responses with an link to insert into Microsoft Word® for easy e-grading (works great with Google Docs),

Download the following 24 FREE Writing Style Posters to help your students learn the essay rules. Each has a funny or ironic statement (akin to “Let’s eat Grandma) to teach the memorable rule.

Get the Writing Style Posters FREE Resource:

Grammar/Mechanics, Spelling/Vocabulary, Study Skills, Writing , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,