Mechanics of Writing

Click here to print the Spring 2019 Syllabus.

Click here to print the 2018-2019 Vocabulary Word List.

May 2

We survived! Woohoo! I will grade tests from today and email final grades over the weekend. Have a wonderful summer!

April 25

Today students took a practice test, which we went over together to ensure they had all the correct answers. The final test will be very similar to this one! They need to know parts of speech, figurative language, the five types of topic sentences, the four main writing models, and how to diagram sentences that include prepositional phrases and verbals. What wasn’t included on the practice test is a short writing section. I know in-class writing isn’t everyone’s best skill, but I’m only asking for ONE paragraph. All will be well.

I do plan on bringing cookies to class next week, so if there are any big allergies I need to be aware of, please let me know!

April 18

The finish line is near! Today was the last day of introducing new content. I decided to switch what I had planned and instead introduce the basic structure of an academic paper. Since I’ll have a good number of current students in my Middle School English class next year, I thought it was entirely appropriate to give them a head start!

Together we went over the basic outline of a bare-bones, five-paragraph essay. Then, students worked independently to fill in the blanks on a mock paper. They need to hang onto these two sheets of paper and review them in preparation for the final test. There will be a few questions on there about what a thesis statement is, what a topic sentence is, and so on. If anything, we’ve planted a seed for when this comes back around in August.

There is NO HOMEWORK this week. I’ve ditched the last two weeks of vocabulary, so everyone should be mighty pleased. Next week students will take a practice test in class, after which we’ll go over together so they have a good idea of what to expect on May 2. Then, on our final day, they’ll take the in-class test and be done! Hang in there, everyone!

April 11

Today we reviewed how to to write effective dialogue, including where all the punctuation goes! More tedious stuff, but knowing how to punctuate quotations becomes more important in higher grades when students are writing longer papers and need to quote their research.

For this class, however, the goal for the week is to write a creative story using sensory details and dialogue. There is no other requirement other than typing the story. Students are free to write about whatever they want.

Homework for April 18:
1. Vocab: revenue, plausible, prime, inhibit, precede
2. Complete the Commonly Misused Words packet from last week.
3. Type a creative story using dialogue and sensory details. (We talked about sensory details on February 21, so please refer back to that class day if the student needs more info.) If you are unsure of where to put the quotation marks, refer to the sheet we did in class.

Hang in there, everyone!

April 4

I read aloud “Autumntime”, a science fiction short story, while students followed along. We talked about it briefly, and then they got busy writing the first draft of a summary.

Again, I understand not everyone does well with in-class writing, but even jotting down notes or bullets, or circling things in the story, helps prepare them for writing full paragraphs later. This rough-draft/final-draft habit will be helpful in higher level classes! I’m trying to discourage idleness when the work is hard, but some students just can’t get over that hump. So, it may take re-reading the story at home to start from scratch on the summary.

We also diagrammed sentences and did Plexers. Finally, I showed everyone the packet of pages with commonly misused words which they are to complete by April 18. The words have a basic definition included, but feel free to use a dictionary if needed. Students will write sentences in the spaces below the words to show they understand the meanings. If they tackle a little each day, it won’t be so overwhelming.

1. vocabulary: feign, commonplace, besmirch, desultory, paradox
2. Complete Home Test No. 7. (I handed out a copy in class, but I’ve linked it just in case.)
3. Type a two-paragraph summary of “Autumntime” (Feel free to take extra time on this if needed. The test takes priority.)
4. Print Commonly Misused Words (this isn’t due until April 18)

March 28

Today we focused on creating paragraphs that have a collection of simple, compound, complex, and compound-complex sentences. I handed out an example of two paragraphs – one in the first person, one in the third. In class, students began writing paragraphs with these guidelines. The sentences don’t have to be in the exact sequence as I put them, but each sentence needs to have at least one of each of the four types of sentences.

I was a bad teacher and forget to bring the Plexers, so at the end of class we played grammar hangman. Totally not as fun as Plexers! 🙂

Homework for April 4:
1. vocabulary: consternation, squall, ensnare, obstinate, stature
2. Edit the paragraphs written in class* and type them on a document. Then, draft two more paragraphs of different topics, one in the third person, one in the first. So, that means four paragraphs this week (but two have already been started). Please type them on the same document. No need to create four separate papers.

*In-class writing can be a stressful activity, but it’s a good mental exercise. Plus, I want students to have the experience of writing rough and final drafts, which is a process they’ll go through in proper English classes. Often our first work is not our best work, so while writing on the fly in class can be frustrating, please reassure your students that they will have the opportunity to review and polish that work before handing it in. It’s a good thing!

March 14

Today we worked on editing sentences for clarity, unity, and active language. (They should have the worksheets in their folders.) We also diagrammed a few sentences and did Plexers. The class is ready for spring break, and I don’t blame them!

Homework for March 28:
1. Vocab: adjacent, dubious, bravado, beacon, parsimonious
2. Read the passage on Abe Lincoln that I passed out in class and write two paragraphs about the former president. Feel free to include additional information if you want to, but only include what are the most important details about him. Please type the paragraphs in proper format.

March 7

I started class by talking about how to diagram a compound sentence and a complex sentence, but we’ll revisit the method a few more times for practice. Then we discussed how to write with persuasion.

Persuasive writing asserts an opinion using facts, reasons, and examples to convince the reader. While the opinion may be rooted in feelings or emotions, the formal argument is not. Nowhere in persuasive writing does the writer reference him/herself. Using declarative sentences, the writer draws upon proven facts and common knowledge to make a solid claim.

As a class, we went through a pre-writing exercise to defend the following position: Everyone should eat fruits and vegetables every day. We listed reasons to persuade our imaginary reader that this statement is true. Instead of arguing that fruits and vegetables taste good (which is an opinion), we said that fruits and veggies provide essential vitamins and minerals that our bodies need (which is a fact). We said that eating fruits and vegetables every day can increase your lifespan and that apples and corn are two examples of a fruit and vegetable that many people enjoy.

I also wrote on the board a list of commonly used words and phrases in persuasive writing.

Then I handed out a worksheet with six possible positions on three topics for them to work on in class. Everyone selected a position they wanted to argue and we talked about how to find three factual defenses.

It was a challenge for some! For example, one of the positions is that children should receive payment for doing chores and a student argued that he should receive money for chores just as adults are paid for doing work. While this makes sense in his mind, it’s not necessarily a defendable position built upon facts.

Another example: One of the positions is that country life is better than city life and, to defend it, a student said that living in a city is too crowded. I argued that crowds don’t bother everyone, so using that particular defense is still rooted in preference and not built upon facts.

Homework for March 7:
1. vocab: contingent, sinew, provision, armament, insouciance
2. Finish the persuasive writing assignment and turn in a typed copy for review.
3. Complete the home test.

February 28

Today we talked about how to summarize a short passage, which can be a daunting task for some. For those who didn’t take notes or need a refresher, summarizing begins by reading carefully and closely to ensure understanding. If reading at a table is dull, then go outside on the front porch, pace the driveway and read out loud, or go into a different room of the house that’s normally not reserved for school work. Sometimes changing the atmosphere shifts the brain just enough (along with reading out loud) to improve reading comprehension.

Once you’re sure you know what you’ve read, identify the main idea(s). Right them down, then list supporting details that prove you’ve identified the correct main ideas. Ignore irrelevant information, as they are unnecessary in a summary. Be sure your main ideas and supporting details answer the common questions: who, what, when, where, why, and how.

NOT included in a summary are 1) the opinions of the writer, 2) commentary from the writer to the reader (i.e., “Now you know all about giant squids!”), and 3) quotes lifted directly from the original text. A summary is written in original language.

I handed out a two-sided worksheet with two non-fiction passages on them. Some students finished both sides, while some struggled to complete one. This is fine! The work they completed in class functions as a rough draft. They will finish the summaries for homework. This provides an opportunity to edit their original work and see if anything needs to be changed for clarity.

At the beginning of class, I reviewed basic editing marks that I used on previous paragraphs and told everyone to write them down as a reference. Then, I told the class that all submitted writing assignments from now on needs to be typed. Unfortunately, hand-written sentences are a challenge to edit. Sometimes it’s the style of the writing, but other times it’s the format that causes a problem. This is likely their first introduction into MLA format, and trust me when I say this is not a wasted lesson! By getting a head start now, they will be in better shape later.

So, please have your student type his/her paragraphs in Times New Roman, 12 pt., and double-spaced. I drew on the board how the heading in the top lefthand corner should look. (I think most of the class wrote these details down.) By turning in writing assignments in this format, I’ll be able to edit them more efficiently and they will get used to the structure of academic writing. Plus, most word processing programs have built-in methods of catching misspellings and punctuation mistakes.

We also diagrammed a few sentences and did Plexers, though by the end of the class, almost everyone had a glazed look over his or her face, and all the energy in the room was zapped.

Homework for March 7:
1. vocab: precedent, subterfuge, proclivity, berate, adamant
2. Finish writing the two summaries from class (one on giant squids, one on mirrors), then type the summaries according to the format listed above.
3. Print and read “The Fun They Had” and write one or two paragraphs summarizing the story. (Also typed!) This is a science fiction short story set in the future about two kids who find a book.

February 21

Today we talked about how to write a process paragraph, as well as a descriptive paragraph.

A process paragraph is expository writing that explains how something is made or built, or how it functions. To illustrate this writing model, we wrote a paragraph together in class about how to make a grilled cheese sandwich. We used transitional words such as first, then, next, second, finally, lastly, etc., to indicate specific steps. Students should use this paragraph as a guide to help them with their homework.

A descriptive paragraph uses sensory details to help the reader fully imagine a place or event. Sensory details evoke imagery, so we decided to jot down details to help explain what it’s like at the mall the morning of Black Friday. We talked about what it looks like, sounds like, smells like, feels like, etc. Descriptive writing is rooted in both reality and a person’s perception, and it teeters on creative writing, which can be challenging for some.

It’s important to avoid filler words, such as very and quite, when writing descriptively. Choosing the right word always spotlights the difference between elementary writing and elevated writing.

Click on this graphic to print it.

We also diagrammed gerunds and infinitives today, much to the distress of everyone. 🙂

Homework for February 28:
1. Vocab: dray, impervious, compulsory, tumultuous, obfuscate
2. Diagram these sentences.
3. Write four paragraphs this week – two paragraphs on one process and two descriptive paragraphs about one event, place, etc. If necessary, choose simple subjects to avoid getting overwhelmed.

Suggestions for the process paragraphs: How to make scrambled eggs, how to find the definition of a word in the dictionary, how to take care of a pet, how to organize a bookshelf, etc.

Suggestions for the descriptive paragraphs: a hot summer day at Dollywood, the grocery store the night before a snowstorm, a full house of people on Thanksgiving Day, a live concert in person, etc. (The key is to be specific about the time/place.)

Helpful hints:

  • Make lists of points and details before sitting down to write, then use those notes to build paragraphs. Going through a pre-writing exercise makes the writing process easier!
  • Vary the types/lengths of sentences. A paragraph full of simple sentences is dull, while a paragraph full of compound-complex sentences is exhausting. Go for a variety!
  • Avoid passive language. For example, instead of “The walls were painted dark purple and the carpet was covered in polka dots…”, try “The dark purple walls and polka-dot carpet…” Active language is sharper and more direct.
  • If your student can type (or semi-type), please have them type their paragraphs. Word processing programs are extremely helpful when it comes to highlighting misspellings and punctuation mistakes. If you can give them a Grammarly account, even better!

February 14

We talked about four primary writing models: expository, persuasive, descriptive, and narrative. We will experiment with the first three models, and if there’s time this semester, we’ll experiment with narrative.

Expository writing is informative. It includes verifiable facts and common knowledge. Two examples of expository writing are compare/contrast and process, and that’s where we began yesterday. Prewriting methods vary, but for compare/contrast we used a Venn Diagram to list facts about Valentine’s Day and a wedding anniversary. At first glance, they may seem nearly interchangeable, but after brainstorming together, we were able to list many ways the two events are different. Then, we listed transitional words that are commonly found in compare/contrast writing, such as similarly, on the other hand, like, furthermore, however, for example, etc. Students went on to write two paragraphs comparing and contrasting Valentine’s Day and a wedding anniversary.

We also diagrammed a few sentences and worked on Plexers.

Homework for February 21:
1. vocab: vigilant, peremptory, capricious, supercilious, pungent
2. Revisit your paragraphs about Valentine’s Day and a wedding anniversary from class, edit them, and type them (or rewrite them in neater handwriting) to turn in. Then, do the exercise again comparing and contrasting a medical doctor and a veterinarian. Print out a fresh Venn Diagram (linked above) or draw your own. You don’t need to turn in the Venn Diagram with your paragraphs, but do the exercise to help sort out the similarities and differences between the two professions. Ask for help if you need it!
3. Print this page and diagram the sentences.

February 7

We continued foundational writing today and worked on finding the main idea of a passage, as well as isolating supporting sentences that point to the topic sentence. Then I scared everyone when I asked them to write a paragraph to be read out loud. FEAR AND LOATHING, I tell you. It is hilarious the extent some will go to in an attempt to avoid eye contact! 🙂 They should’ve brought the passage and subsequent paragraph home today if you care to look at it. We also diagrammed four types of pronouns, again, to everyone’s dismay. Thank goodness for Plexers or the class would be 55 minutes of misery!

Homework for February 14:
1. vocabulary: exploit, auspice, formidable, vertiginous, insolence
2. Complete the home test. (I sent home a copy with every student, but just in case it gets misplaced, click here to print out another copy.)

January 31

Today we talked about topic sentences and their role as presenting the main ideas of a paragraph. In higher-level writing, topic sentences can appear in the middle or end of a paragraph, but for our purposes, we’ll keep things basic and put topic sentences at the beginning of paragraphs. We’ll follow the “Sandwich Method,” which students should have drawn in their notes.

We also diagrammed five sentences together, which we’ll continue to do throughout the rest of the semester. We’ll keep building on our diagrams as we go along, much to the chagrin of every student!

Homework for February 7:
1. Define and study vocabulary: exultation, indomitable, confluence, abdicate, superfluous
2. Print this page as a guideline for writing topic sentences and paragraphs. Students need to write their paragraphs on separate sheets of paper. If handwriting is an issue, typing is fine!

January 24

We had a quick lesson today on choosing the right word – to avoid the general or generic and aim for the specific. We also talked about word choice in terms of connotation (positive and negative). This concludes our dissection of the English language, so it’s time to move onto writing. There’s a bit of writing in the homework this week, but we’ll dive in fully next week.

A quick word, parents: There was extra chattiness in class today (mostly involving a specific group). Please remind your kiddos to keep the video game talk, the busy tapping and fidgeting sounds, and other non-related conversation to lunchtime and study halls. I had to remind folks too many times today to stay focused. I know it’s dull content – trust me – but it’s hugely distracting when there’s extra noise.

Homework for January 31:
1. Define and study vocab: espionage, palliative, pantomime, arbitrate, apothecary
2. Print and complete this worksheet.

January 17

I was absent today but had a wonderful substitute fill in for me! Thank you, Mrs. Vaughn, for taking my place!

Today students should’ve been introduced to nine types of figurative language: metaphor, simile, hyperbole, oxymoron, personification, onomatopoeia, allusion, idiom, and alliteration. There was an accompanying in-class worksheet with figurative language exercises on front and diagramming sentences on back. Whatever was not completed in class needs to be completed as part of their homework, which I understand should be most of the diagramming. Hint: All of those sentences involve a direct object and either a predicate nominative or predicate adjective.

Homework for Jan. 24:
1. Define and study vocab: ingratiate, garish, vivacity, pseudonym, indignant
2. Print and complete this worksheet. (Don’t forget to complete the in-class page too!)

January 10

Please note the linked spring syllabus above!

We kicked off the spring semester talking about sentence structure and identifying six reasons a sentence may need correcting: fragments, run-ons, poor unity, poor clarity, misplaced modifiers, and excessive conjunctions. We also jumped into semantics with synonyms (two types), antonyms (three types), homophones, and homographs. Next week we’ll start figurative language.

I’ll have study sheets for students later in the semester, but for now, they need to take notes and go through the process of writing things down the first time. Please encourage your student to take notes! Only half of the class even attempts it. Trust me when I say these are good habits to start now.

We did a worksheet in class together, diagrammed a couple of sentences, and finished the hour with Plexers as usual. What used to take them ten minutes or more to figure out now takes them less than five! I’m impressed!

Homework for January 17:
1. Define and study vocab: rapscallion, frenetic, nomadic, havoc, obsequious
2. Print and complete this worksheet.

December 13 

Everyone survived the fall semester! I know it’s been a tough class for some kiddos, but I’m really proud of everyone for trying hard and giving their best effort on the final test. I am still in the process of grading them, but my goal is to finish by tomorrow and email grades to parents. 

There is no homework over the break. I hope everyone enjoys a restful few weeks off. 

December 6

Today students took a shorter practice test that we reviewed immediately in class. I could tell by the groans that some students are stressed and worried about next Thursday. Please encourage your kids to review the study guide, look over the practice test from today, and rework the review sheet from last week. 

Please make sure your child has a pencil for the test! Pens are messy, particularly when they want to change an answer and do a lot of scratching out and scribbling!

I will grade their tests at home and email final semester grades within a few days. Let me know if you have any questions or concerns! 

Homework for December 13:
1. Define and study vocab: sphere, diminish, analogy, intervene, finite
2. Study for test! 

November 29

Today was all review! We worked on identifying parts of speech, connecting parts of speech with their definitions, and basic diagramming. About half of the class is still struggling to identify more than nouns, verbs, and adjectives, and I’ll tell you (parents) the same thing I told them in class today – one day a week of grammar is not enough for mastery.  Unfortunately, it takes a lot of tedious practice to nail down this stuff to a comfortable level. 

That means if your child isn’t doing well independently, then they may need extra work throughout the week to really drive homes these rules and methods.  Let me know if you need resources for extra work at home. (I highly recommend Rules of the Game.)

Next week they’ll take a practice test (a shorter version of the final test they’ll take on Dec. 13) and we’ll review the answers afterward. 

Homework for Dec. 6:
1. Define and study vocab: implicate, entity, hence, mechanism, transit
2. Finish the review sheet we started in class. They need to complete #6-8 on the back (three sentences to identify parts of speech and then diagram). Bring them back to class next week and we’ll review them.
3. Study! 

November 15

Thank you, parents, for being patient last week as I sorted out my website problems! 

Yesterday we wrapped up the last of diagramming for the semester, which included phrases of all kinds (mainly preposition and verbals). Then I handed out the study guide, which I created and worked on over the last few weeks. I hope there are no mistakes, which is my greatest fear when I’m making something from scratch on my own (i.e., no editor). I’ve always been a writer who needs an editor, but I tried diligently to create a helpful study guide for you to use with your kids. 

In case the guides got lost on the way home, which is entirely possible, I’ve linked them here: Basic Grammar and Basic Diagramming.

A few things:

  • Some students continue to struggle with vocabulary, which makes me wonder if they are truly looking up the words, reading all the possible definitions, and then studying those definitions throughout the week. It’s my preference that they use a traditional dictionary, not a student dictionary, to ensure that the words will be there. (Some say they haven’t found certain words in their dictionaries, which is curious because we haven’t even gotten to the difficult words yet!) 
  • Which brings me to the next point: Spring vocabulary is next level stuff. They are more challenging, so students will definitely need access to a full dictionary and not a modified, shorter student dictionary. Examples of spring words include pantomime, insolence, tumultuous, subterfuge, confluence, squall, etc. If you aren’t sure whether or not your child is doing well with vocabulary, ask to see their quizzes. I hand them back each week.
  • A few students are also struggling with diagramming, which is expected. I returned homework from last week to a few kiddos who need extra help. Be sure to check their folders.   

Homework for Nov. 29: 
1. Define and study vocabulary: analyze, conclude, valid, inferiority, scheme
2. Print and complete worksheets.

November 8

Information about the class on November 8 and homework due for November 15 was emailed. If you have any questions, let me know.

November 1

Yesterday we started with the basics of diagramming sentences. Approximately half of the students are familiar with diagramming simple sentences, and about a quarter of those are familiar with diagramming compound, complex sentences. Still, there is a handful for which this is new information. We’ll spend the rest of the semester diagramming and labeling parts of speech. There will be group work, individual class work, and the terrifying coming-to-the-board work.

We only have four more class meetings before the final in-class test. (That’s hard to believe, isn’t it?) I will be pulling together a “cheat sheet” of information to help your student study, particularly if he or she hasn’t been a stellar note-taker thus far. No worries – I too have a son who’s not a stellar note-taker. So, while the cheat sheet cannot be used during the final test, it may prove helpful as a study tool. I will get that to everyone prior to Thanksgiving.

If anyone needs extra help with diagramming, Grammar Girl on YouTube has helpful videos. Also, Khan Academy has excellent lessons on parts of speech and sentence structure, if your kiddo needs extra instruction (or helpful reminders). 

Homework for November 8:
1. Define and study vocab: furtive, grueling, diminish, deft, restitution
2. Print and complete worksheet.

October 25

Friends, we are nearly done with the tedious note-taking of parts of speech and punctuation. Yesterday we covered quotation marks, apostrophes, hyphens, and dashes. Next week we’ll talk briefly about prefixes and suffixes, but then we’ll jump into basic diagramming. We’ll also endeavor to do review each week because some students are still struggling to understand various parts of speech and how they morph into other parts of speech depending on how they’re used. 

I also warned everyone that we will start the dreaded coming-to-the-board business next week, and no one is safe. I’m not going to force children out of seats, but I will call on everyone at some point to identify what they can in a sentence, even if it’s just one thing. I never expect perfection, but I do expect effort. We will be brave together.

Homework for Nov. 1
1. Define and study vocab: potential, misgiving, knoll, jut, gusto
2. Print and complete this worksheet. 

October 18

We kicked off the second half of the semester with punctuation and another review worksheet similar to the one we did on October 4. We’ll continue to do in-class exercises like these over the next few weeks since the paragraphs mimic expectations for the final test in December. While students are allowed to work in pairs and groups in class, the final test will be entirely on his and her own.

Homework for Oct. 25:
1. Define and study vocab: scurry, vigilant, translucent, swarm, repugnant
2. Print and complete this worksheet. 

October 4

Today we finished parts of speech with prepositions, conjunctions, and interjections. We’ve covered A LOT of material in the first eight weeks, so I don’t expect anyone’s grammar to be perfect. However, I wanted to see how everyone would do identifying what they know, so I handed out a paragraph with a few dozen words and phrases underlined. I told everyone to do his/her best, and that it was fine to work in groups if need be. Just take a stab at it! It was intimidating, but that was the point.

Before class ended, I went through each sentence so students could write the correct answer beneath the underlined words. A few students stopped participating at this point, so some went home with partially finished work. (Ask to see the worksheet so you’ll know whether or not your child participated!)

I took that opportunity to remind them that something similar to this paragraph will appear on the final semester test. A look of fear washed over the room, which told me the experiment was successful. Grammar is not mastered by a few worksheets a week. It takes a long time to solidify some of these rules – and frankly, there are times when I’m unclear about a word or sentence. Yet, the practice will *only* help them. Studying is essential. Re-writing notes can be a helpful exercise. 

Homework for October 18:
1. Vocab: concoction, bluff, hasten, outlandish, recuperate
2. Worksheets on prepositions, conjunctions, and interjections.
3. Home Test No. 2

September 27

Today we covered adjectives (proper, comparative, superlative, demonstrative), adverbs (comparative, superlative), and articles (definite, indefinite). We also reviewed verbals since those can be hard concepts to grasp. Next week we’ll cover prepositions, conjunctions, and interjections, which will wrap up parts of speech. After fall break we’ll work on punctuation and diagramming sentences in preparation for a semester of writing in the spring. 

One thing I feel compelled to address is my own confusion about who understands the content and who doesn’t. I know some parents help their kids with the worksheets (and possibly the home tests), which is fine, but that doesn’t help me know what needs to be covered further. The class is painfully silent, minus a few, so I have a hard time gauging who’s lost and who’s bored because all the content is review for them. When I ask for volunteers to come to the board to identify parts of speech, the same few students raise their hands. The rest? Crickets. Blank stares. Part of that is fear, but I wonder if part of it is mass confusion.  

I need to hear from you, parents. Let me know if your child is coasting along until the writing part begins. Or, let me know if your child requires a ton of your help to accomplish the homework. Or, let me know if you too can’t gauge what he/she understands. There will be a ton of writing in the spring. If they are lost now, they’ll be frustrated later

Homework for Oct. 4: 
1. Define and study vocab: ominous, monotonous, emerge, dismal, eavesdrop
2. Complete worksheets.

September 20

I returned the first home test to students today and told them that if they weren’t happy with their grade, they are welcome to take the test a second time. (Parents, feel free to print it out from the Sept. 6 entry and proctor it.) I know this is the first academic class for some, so I’m happy to extend plenty of grace as they adjust. I want to give students every opportunity to succeed, especially since grammar is dull and tedious! 

That being said, the next home test is only a couple of weeks away, and we’re moving forward with completing parts of speech so we can tackle punctuation when we come back from Fall Break. Then we’ll slide into diagramming. Good times!

Today we discussed the difference between Active and Passive language, a subject we’ll circle back to next semester when the writing begins. Then we covered Verbals (Participles, Gerunds, and Infinitives), which are verbs that present as other things, such as nouns, adjectives, and adverbs. 

I understand that some students are still in review mode right now. They are already familiar with parts of speech and other basic elements. However, some kiddos are getting their first experience with mechanics, so thanks to the ones who are being patient. We all appreciate it.

Finally, a note about vocabulary. I encourage students to look up the definitions in an actual dictionary. Yes, I’m old school, but the mental exercise is good for them. 

1. Define and study vocabulary: illuminate, exasperation, cunning, dispel, malleable
2. Print and complete worksheets.

September 13

We started class by reviewing how to choose the right pronoun for subjects and predicates (which can be tricky with incomplete comparisons). Then we moved on to linking verbs and helping verbs, followed by more review on transitive and intransitive verbs. 

Before having fun with Plexers, I wrote sentences on the board and asked for volunteers to come up and give their best effort identifying the parts of speech they recognized. I had three eager students and nine absolutely terrified students. No big deal today, but I warned the class that at some point this semester, I’ll invite them to the board to identify what they know. 

*I’ve modified the syllabus and will give students a new copy on Thursday. If you’d like to print it, click here.

Homework for September 20:
1. Define and study vocab: sabotage, waft, zeal, muster, meticulous
2. Print and complete these worksheets.

September 6

This afternoon we moved on to verbs – transitive, intransitive, verbs with direct and indirect objects, and myriad forms and tenses. We’ll keep talking about verbs next week since we’ve only scratched the surface. 

As usual, most students took notes. Several didn’t. If you want to know whether or not your child took notes, ask to see them. I sent everyone home with the first of three home tests. They may use their notes on home tests. The fourth and final test of the semester will be taken in class with NO NOTES. Just wanted to make that clear. 

Homework for September 13: 
1. Define and study vocab – defiance, egregious, jostle, pertinent, recluse
2. Print and complete worksheets on verbs.
3. Complete the home test and bring back to me next Thursday. (If your student lost the test on the way home, here’s a copy.) 

*A note about the test: #2 in the first section will be confusing because the word contraction is missing from the instructions. Please tell your student to skip #2 or write contraction in the blank. Apologies! (This is what I get for pulling from multiple sources to create a test!)

August 30

Today we started with the vocabulary quiz and a brief review of nouns and types of sentences. We’ll do that every time to freshen memories and get students engaged. Repetition is key for mastery.

Pronouns were our primary lesson – singular, plural, subject, object, possessive, indefinite, reflexive, intensive, interrogative, and demonstrative. We also covered appositives and appositive phrases.

Parents: Almost everyone took notes, so if you’d like to know whether or not your student paid attention and took notes, ask to see them. My only request is if your student is already a grammar whiz, please remind him/her to be patient and quiet while the rest of the class listens and participates. Today we had a lot of chatter, which isn’t helpful for those who are trying to listen and learn.

A word about the homework packets: I will effort to keep the page number to six or fewer. We won’t always use the workbook. Sometimes the worksheets will be copied from other sources, or they will be my own creation. Also, I won’t return them to you unless the student missed a significant amount and requires extra help. Otherwise, the worksheets are for practice and a way for me to gauge what students retain. Please do your best not to help them too much. A little assistance is fine, but between the instructions on the pages and their notes, they should be able to accomplish much of the work on their own. (Please be in touch if this isn’t the case!)

Homework for Sept. 6:  
1. Define and study vocabulary words: materialize, quell, scarcity, terse, aptitude.
2. Print and complete worksheets.

August 23

We started the class with a quick vocabulary quiz and recap of last week’s lessons. I collected the worksheet packets and will return those next week. 

Today’s lesson was all about nouns – proper, common, plural, singular, collective, possessive, compound, concrete, and abstract. Hopefully, your student took notes or has a fabulous memory!

We ended with Plexers, which everyone loves. 

Homework for August 30: 
1. Define and study vocabulary words: jargon, headway, foresight, aplomb, engross
2. Print and complete worksheets. (Please feel free to print in black and white, front and back, or shrink them and print two to a page. I will attempt to keep the worksheets minimal in count.) 

August 16

Today we started with introductions and jumped right into the first lesson on the four types of sentences (declarative, interrogative, exclamatory, and imperative). We also covered subjects and predicates, what denotes a fragment, and the differences between a simple, complex, and compound sentence. (Ask your student to show you his/her notes!)

In the remaining minutes of class, we worked on Plexers, or perplexing rebuses, which everyone seemed to enjoy. It’s a great exercise in logic and creativity. (This is my attempt to make grammar class a little entertaining.) A few of the students seemed excited to quiz parents and family members tonight, so get ready!

Homework for August 23
1.) Define and study vocabulary words (apprehensive, conspicuous, momentum, precipice, kindle)
2.) Print and complete worksheet packet. 

error: Please, no copying.