If your middle school students’ grammar skills could benefit from a quick review, read on to see how I’ve modified my parts of speech instruction to maximize engagement & mastery!
A tired argument makes its rounds through the ELA groups every year. Grammar: to teach or not to teach? I’ll be honest with you. I was anti-grammar instruction for a long time because I didn’t think it was a good use of instructional time (I mean, reading and writing, hellooo?!). However, looking back, I believe this stemmed less from a place of sound research and more from a place of uncertainty? Inadequacy? I think that I didn’t find value in teaching grammar rules because I didn’t understand them myself. Yikes!
It wasn’t until I accepted a teaching position that required grammar instruction that I was forced to confront my demons.
I kicked. I screamed. I pounded my fists on my desk and wondered how many backward steps I was taking as an educator. (just kidding, sort of)
But, after a few weeks of teaching
myself my students the ins and outs of the eight parts of speech, the parts of a sentence, the different types and purposes of sentences, phrases versus clauses, and finally… the Mac Daddy of them all… how to diagram sentences, things clicked into place.
I saw the light! (And truthfully, so did my students. It was a glorious time.)
At this point, it’s no secret. I’m a firm voice in the pro-grammar camp. I believe grammar helps students understand the mechanics of writing, and the most simple, foundational place to start is with the parts of speech.
An Overview of the Parts of Speech
In middle school, you will likely have to cover all nine parts of speech at some point.
We spend about two weeks (not entire periods; often just the first third of class) going through phase one of our GRAMMAR BOOTCAMP.
Each day, during our Grammar BootCamp, I introduce a concept (in this case, a part of speech) and its various complexities. Some parts of speech are more complex than others. For example, when teaching about verbs, I cover action, linking, and helping verbs PLUS the different verb tenses. It does take several days, but it is worth it. However, there are other parts of speech that are simple and straightforward, like interjections!
Here’s a breakdown of what I cover under each part of speech:
- Nouns: Common, proper, concrete, abstract, singular, plural, collective, & irregular.
- Pronouns: personal (including types and cases), reflexive, relative, interrogative, demonstrative, and indefinite.
- Verbs: action, helping, linking, transitive, intransitive, and tenses.
- Conjunctions: subordinating, coordinating, & correlative.
- Verbals: gerunds, infinitives, & participles.
I prefer to teach a quick mini-lesson (<5 minutes), then have students complete some fun, slightly silly work (usually in the form of a worksheet or creative writing task).
Parts of Speech Review
After students have completed Grammar BootCamp, I have them put their knowledge to the test in fun (and sometimes not-so-fun) ways!
With scavenger hunts, you prepare for the hunt by hanging up the different questions in random order all around your room. Students have a recording sheet and they can start with any question. Similar to “I have, Who has?”, students will read the question and then look for their answer. When they locate their answer, they record & repeat the process with the new question underneath the answer. When students have completed the circuit, they’ve completed the hunt!
A parts-of-speech scavenger hunt is a quick, low-prep way to identify the parts of speech in a given sentence or define each part of speech. It also only takes about 15-20 minutes to complete, so it doesn’t eat up an entire class period!
Alternatively, escape rooms are incredibly engaging and allow students to utilize a learning partner or group to complete more challenging tasks. I’ve created a parts of speech escape room that takes an entire class period; however, I prefer to use it on an “odd” week, when we have a holiday or other interruption to our schedule!
Finally, I created a formal parts of speech assessment to measure learning, form intervention/support groups, and log one of my first “big” grades of the year.
I’ve mentioned and created more stuff for teaching the parts of speech than one could realistically use in a given school year. But, that makes it ideal for incorporating choice, increasing/decreasing complexity, and having leftover materials to use for reteaching. Win-win, right?
Questions? Comments? I’m only one comment away. Leave your thoughts below!