The lesson will take place within a unit that focuses on grammar and conventions in writing in order to meet 7th grade standards.
Opening/Warm-Up: Every morning the instructor in my classroom writes a ‘welcome note’ on the board. This lesson’s welcome note will be slightly different, it will be written without any capitalization or punctuation. The welcome note will include seating instructions and the also instruct the students to take out a sheet of paper and write the answer to the question, “What is the most commonly misspelled word in America and why do you think it is so often misspelled?”
After a short time they will be asked if they noticed anything confusing about the note. They will then be instructed to re-write the sentences in the note as individuals, making corrections to capitalization and punctuation if needed. The students sit in desk groups of four or five and after making their corrections the students will discuss their edits in their desk groups and come up with corrected sentences they all agree on. One student from each table group will then come up to the board and re-write the note with the edits the group has agreed upon. The instructor will then reveal the correct corrections to the class.
Introduction Lecture: Why is it important for us to understand the correct usage of grammar when writing? Each table group will have 5 minutes to come up with a one sentence response to this question. The class will then briefly discuss.
Spell Check Generation Prezi– The instructor will show slides illustrating examples from writing composed on a computer: grammatical mistakes on Facebook, typed resumes, etc., in order to prove wrong the notion that with computers helping us we don’t need to learn the rules. The presentation will also cover the basic lessons we will be focusing on. Capitalization, punctuation, sentence structure, parts of speech etc. With each slide the students will be encouraged to rate themselves on what they believe their level of competence is in each area 1 to 5. 1 being they feel they require a significant amount of instruction or clarification on the concept, to 5 being they feel very confident on their already formed knowledge base.
Another concept that will be addressed is the hard truth that much of understanding grammar is pure memorization. How do you know your name must always be capitalized? Because you have had to write it 5,000 times. By the 400th time you have probably realized you need to capitalize both your first and last names, right? What are some ideas the class has to facilitate memorization of the grammatical rules they may find difficult? Also the introduction of the idea that conventions are MORE than just rules. The are a foundation with which to base the expression of their ideas.
Students will be motivated going into the unit on conventions to appreciate their real world application, and to reflect on the areas they need to focus on while in the unit. Not all students are the same. We all have trouble with different areas, I want them to appreciate this from the beginning and begin to focus on those lessons in the unit where they need particular instruction.
Evaluation – At the end of the first lesson students will write in full sentences a brief exit self-reflection on their confidence with grammatical conventions. What common errors have they noticed themselves making: commas, title capitalization etc. How do they think the best way is for them to memorize the correct uses?
What kinds of thinking will students need to do to participate in the lesson?
Knowledge, comprehension, some analysis of their own tendencies.
To what extent do students have options or choices regarding these lesson components?
I am there to facilitate the introduction but I will want them to constantly be reflecting on their own experiences with grammatical conventions as I teach the introduction lesson and make suggestions on how best to link what they know about conventions to what they struggle to remember. The lesson’s overarching purpose is to motivate the students to understand the importance of learning grammatical conventions however dry it can seem sometimes, and to take responsibility for their own learning as we progress through the unit.
I have heard teachers say much of their lesson planning is facilitated by “working backwards”. From the concept or output they are hoping the students to master or achieve to the steps required in the lesson to arrive there. The planning of this lesson helped clarify for me, why that is a helpful process. To understand the route to take, first you must know where you are going. My upcoming work sample is going to be focused on grammatical conventions, a topic I find a little daunting for various reasons. How do I engage 7th graders and motivate them to want to learn and to be advocates for themselves? How do I keep it exciting? This lesson was my first attempt at understanding what shape that might take. I have a long way to go, but this exercise and the peer review that followed was very valuable to me.
Photo credit: someecards.com