In the groove with grammar

After a busy week of training staff teams in creative and engaging ways to teach grammar, I thought I’d do a quick round-up of some of my favourite Primary English grammar ideas and resources.

Grappling with Grammar

Back in October 2012 I posted my very first grammar blog Grappling With Grammar and wrote about one of my favourite grammar books: Eats, Shoots and Leaves by Lynn Truss. I still love this book and I clearly still love the phrase ‘Grappling With Grammar’ as I’ve been using the title for my grammar subject knowledge course ever since.  If you’ve not read Eats, Shoots and Leaves I recommend it highly as an entertaining read about grammar.

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Quick tips for grammar: inverted commas

The 2014 National Curriculum requires children to start using inverted commas to indicate direct speech from Year 3 onward. This work should then continue throughout Year 4 so that children are able to accurately use the full range of punctuation when writing dialogue. Here are a few quick tips for teaching the use of inverted commas.

Create a speech progression

Writing dialogue correctly with all the punctuation in the right place and a new line for each speaker is challenging, and that’s without the demands of asking children to have interesting, engaging dialogue with a variety of synonyms for ‘said’. The 2014 National Curriculum recognises the challenge of speech, which is why both Y3 and Y4 have objectives relating to speech (see National Curriculum Appendix 2). As a teacher, year group, school have a clear idea about how children will progress through the writing of speech. I like to think:

  • Identify speech in texts
  • Write in speech bubbles
  • Use inverted commas
  • Use inverted commas and the correct punctuation with the reporting clause before the speech
  • Use inverted commas and the correct punctuation with the reporting clause after the speech
  • Use inverted commas and the correct punctuation with the speech broken by the reporting clause
  • Write dialogue punctuated correctly with a new line for each new speaker

 

I’ve made a handy classroom prompt for punctuating the three patterns of direct speech which you can find on the Resources Page. This is free to download and is handy if you need to remind yourself where the commas and capitals go in each pattern of direct speech.

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Quick tips for grammar: capital letters and full stops

full stopUsing full stops and capital letters to demarcate sentences is a requirement of the 2014 National Curriculum from Y1 onward. The following activities have been devised by teachers for working with the youngest children in school but they may still be useful to teachers working with older children who continue to struggle with demarcating sentences accurately.

Human sentences

Use strips of paper to create human sentences with children. Say a sentence, write the sentence, cut-up the sentence and then give separate words to different children so that they can then work collaboratively to recreate the sentence. Use the capital letter and full stop as clues to work out where different words go in the sentence. Over time this game can be repeated with the omission of the capital letter and full stop for children so that children can activate their own understanding to punctuate the sentence accurately.

Tennis ball full stop

Use a tennis ball or other small ball to mark the end of the sentence when building human sentences as a class.

Get physical

Create actions and sound effects for full stops. Use these actions and sound effects when reading text as a class. Encourage children to use them to decide which punctuation marks to use when reading unpunctuated sentences.

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Video from Primary English

Clips from two guided reading sessions in John Shelton Primary School in Coventry. Rachel is using two of the titles from The Mini Tales Pack with a year 5 and year 6 group of children whilst addressing some key reading objectives.

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