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Are you tired of hearing groans and grumbles whenever you tell students you will be working on grammar? Let’s face it: grammar is not the easiest sell for students in ELA. Still, it’s an important topic. Chances are that you’ve found yourself correcting the same grammar errors over and over again in your students’ writing. Despite its importance for developing students’ writing skills, the way we teach grammar often feels old-fashioned, and well…boring! Over the years, I’ve discovered engaging ideas and activities that will make grammar fun and interactive for your middle and high school ELA students.
Have you ever considered teaching grammar through classroom games? Grammar lends itself particularly well to gamification. When I started gamifying grammar in the classroom, it was like I was flipping traditional grammar instruction on its head, and it suddenly became way more interesting. There are lots of grammar games you can play with your students, from grammar-themed Jeopardy! to online games.
My favorite way to gamify grammar is with grammar challenges, where students use their grammar skills to solve a puzzle or an escape room-style task. Grammar challenges develop students’ grammar skills as well as their critical thinking and problem-solving skills at the same time. Each grammar challenge can cover a single grammar topic (such as capitalization, punctuation, or sentence structure, for example).
With the full-year grammar challenge program, you can do these activities weekly. You can devote one day each week to doing one of these (i.e. Grammar Thursday) and cover a different topic each time. I find this to be a fun and effective strategy for establishing a consistent grammar routine in the classroom. If you want to try it out, you can grab the commas series grammar challenge for FREE by clicking here. I also give my best tips for how to use these grammar challenges in your classroom in another post, which you can read here.
What do your students do with their free time? Chances are they spend a fair bit of time texting friends, scrolling on social media, listening to music, keeping up with celebrity culture, etc. Another way you can make grammar fun for students is by integrating it with these interests. This will help students see grammar in a modern context that feels relevant to them.
For example, I like to start some of my classes with a social media grammar bell-ringer where students correct grammar using examples that are framed as tweets, Facebook updates, or Instagram posts. Instead of getting students to correct basic sentences, doing it in this social media context makes it a little more fun for them.
Grammar is sometimes totally ignored in text message format, so I also like to use that to my advantage in the classroom by having students complete a text message grammar bell-ringer. These work similarly: students will read text messages that contain grammar errors. What’s great about these is that they are easy and quick to implement. Give students all of them in a booklet at the outset. Then, get students to do these once a week at the start of class for 5-10 minutes.
If you’ve spent any time on social media yourself, chances are you’ve seen some pretty horrendous grammar mistakes from celebrities online. Try taking advantage of this in your classroom by getting students to edit celebrity grammar. You might even get students to go through their own social media and find grammar mistakes they’ve made. This will make for a laugh and also gives a personal, real-world aspect to the activity.
You can do something similar with song lyrics. There are plenty of songs with grammar errors in them. They are compiled in the editing music lyrics grammar activity. Note, however, that some of these songs may not be appropriate for class. You can just pull out the lines with the errors and have students correct those and then explain the reason for the corrections.
Another thing you can do to help your students learn grammar rules in an engaging way is to have funny grammar posters in your classroom. I find that having grammar posters in the classroom is a great way to keep students thinking about the rules, especially if the posters are funny. You might also hang real-life grammar fails posters in your room. Better yet, make it interactive by asking students to bring in their own examples of grammar fails they find out in the world!
When trying to make grammar fun for students, it can be a good idea to tailor the examples you use to your specific classroom. If you’re using a list of basic sentence examples, it’s easier for students to check out. Keep students engaged by switching up the examples. You can do this in a number of ways.
For example, if you’re working on capitalization, you can incorporate some of your students’ names into your examples, as well as the names of locations and other things that are familiar to your students. These can replace the otherwise arbitrary proper nouns that you would use. Or if you’re working on comma rules, try sneaking some humor into the exercises. Personalize your examples for your particular group of students!
Practicing grammar is more fun when you’re up and moving around. My favorite way to do this is with a grammar escape room. This is a highly engaging activity that has students working in small groups to move around the classroom to complete puzzles and activities relating to grammar with the goal of revealing mystery words and codes that will help them escape!
There you have it! I hope these activities help you make grammar fun in your ELA classroom. You can grab all of the ready-to-use resources mentioned in this post by clicking the images below. If you want more grammar tips and resources, click here.
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