Finding time to teach reading, writing, vocabulary, and grammar in ELA is like playing a game of Tetris. You try to twist and turn your daily schedule like falling blocks to squeeze in everything you possibly can before your time is up. One of those falling blocks – grammar – is harder to squeeze in than the others. Fortunately, it’s not impossible. Read on to learn how to implement a daily warmup routine specifically for teaching grammar mini-lessons.
Identifying Priorities for Your Grammar Minilessons
As any ELA teacher knows, there is a never-ending list of topics to cover when it comes to grammar. However, it’s not likely that you’ll be able to do it all. So start by prioritizing which topics you want to focus on in your minilessons.
One strategy is to start with state standards. Check your grade level requirements, so you know what students are expected to know and be able to do, then check the year before your grade level and the year after. This should give you a good idea of what you can expect when it comes to grammar. The bonus of aligning your grammar minilessons with your standards is that you can ensure that you cover the most important topics.
Another approach, and the approach I prefer, is to pay attention to the areas that most students struggle with. If you are coming into a new grade level or school, look at data from previous years to identify trends and target areas that need improvement.
Once you’ve noted target topics for your grammar minilessons, make an exhaustive list that includes all the related and prerequisite topics. For example, if students struggle with subject-verb agreement, include nouns (concrete, abstract, collective, etc.) and verbs (action, linking, helping, verb tenses, verb phrases, etc.).
Breaking down each grammar concept into simple, manageable pieces is critical when teaching mini-lessons through a warmup. The goal is for the majority of your students to be able to do it independently.
Next, sort your list into a logical progression from least complex to most.
By taking a systematic approach to your daily warmups, you can ensure that your grammar minilessons are focused and effective!
Establish a Timeline/Sequence
Now that you’ve created an exhaustive list of grammar concepts you want to teach, it’s time to establish a timeline for when each concept will be taught.
I prefer to break my timeline down into weeks. I find that a weekly focus is easier for the kids to follow. It also gives you more freedom and flexibility!
- Week 1: Nouns
- Week 2: Verbs
- Week 3: Pronouns
- Week 4: Adjectives
- Week 5: Adverbs
- Week 6: Prepositions
- Week 7: Conjunctions
- Week 8: Interjections
- Week 9: Review of All 8 Parts of Speech
And so on. The following quarter focuses more on the parts of a sentence, and quarter 3 focuses more on sentence fragments, sentence structure, etc.
By creating a sequence for your grammar minilessons, you can rest easy knowing that you are covering your topics in a logical and timely manner.
Create Display-able Do-Now Slides
To establish a daily warmup routine for teaching grammar, you’ll want to create a “Do Now” slide you can display at the start of class each day. The slide should include your grammar minilesson and a few practice questions for students to complete.
Change out the minilesson and practice questions each day to keep your students moving through the topics you want to cover.
If you have time at the end of the week, make your final mini-lesson and practice questions a review. You can review concepts learned earlier in the week or concepts learned in previous weeks. But by spiraling your content at least once per week, you give students a higher likelihood of retaining the information.
Decide Where Students Will Complete the Mini-Lesson
You’ve created a list of grammar concepts you want to teach, outlined a timeline, and got your “Do Now” slides created. Now, you’ll have to decide how students will complete the minilesson.
- Will they answer the questions digitally on a slideshow?
- Will they complete it on a piece of paper they get from you?
- Or will they have a section in their binder or notebook that they can use to do the work?
Each option has its own set of pros and cons. If you choose to have your students complete the warmup digitally, you will need to ensure that all students have access to a computer or device. You’ll also want to have a backup plan for what you will do on days when the internet is down, or you can’t use your devices. However, a positive is that your students can still complete the work if they travel or learn remotely.
On the other hand, if you opt for a printed question sheet, you will need to make copies for all your students each week. Be prepared for some students to lose their worksheets midweek!
Ultimately, the decision of where you want students to complete the work should be based on the needs of your students and your personal preferences.
Determine How You Will Score Your Grammar Warmups
One of the biggest hang-ups with a daily warmup or a do-now is how to hold students accountable for the learning and ensure they understand the content.
One approach is to offer a daily participation grade. This will give students an incentive to complete the warmup.
Another approach is to offer a weekly check-in grade where you grade students’ final attempt at a concept (for example, on the last day of the week). This will provide you with information about how well they understand the concept.
Whichever way you score your warmups, it is important to consider how it will affect students’ motivation to complete the task, how you will check for understanding, and how you will give feedback to individual students or groups.
Implementing Your Daily Grammar Warmup
When teaching grammar through a daily warmup, one of the most important things you can do is establish a consistent routine. This will help students transition from the passing period into Language Arts and get them focused and ready to learn.
In between periods, display your grammar minilesson slide on the board. As students enter the room or when the bell rings, they should get out their worksheets, laptops, or grammar notebooks and begin the “do now” minilesson displayed on the board. I recommend setting a timer for when the work needs to be completed and providing options for what students should do when they finish the minilesson. During this time, you can take attendance, check in with students, or help small groups who may not be able to complete the minilesson independently. Once the timer is up, have a quick discussion about the minilesson and review the questions.
Establishing a daily warmup routine will help keep your students on track and ensure they have time to complete the grammar minilesson. It will also provide a much-needed beginning of class structure to help with your classroom management.
Try a Free Week of My Grammar Minilessons
If you’re looking for a way to get started with grammar minilessons, you can try a free sample of my grammar minilessons by subscribing to my email list here.
These short & simple grammar lessons are the perfect way to incorporate grammar instruction without spending hours putting something together.
Implementing a daily warmup routine specifically for teaching grammar is an effective way for you to help your students improve their grammar and writing skills without losing valuable instructional time.
By setting aside just 5-10 minutes daily to focus on grammar, your students can make significant progress in their language skills.
If you want to try implementing grammar warmups, look no further than my grammar minilessons. They are simple, logical, and easy to use.