November 17, 2010

Grammar Can Be Fun!

Teaching the parts of speech has always been a thorn in my side.  As a middle school teacher, I am extremely frustrated that I still have to teach these basic lessons when they should have been mastered at the elementary level.  I'm not blaming elementary teachers here.  I think this is a curriculum problem.  As the saying goes, "It's a mile wide and an inch deep!"

Even though I resent it, I do take the time to teach the parts of speech because they are the foundation of grammar (and essential for learning foreign languages, which students here begin in middle school).  As much as I hate teaching it, my students dread learning it even more. 

"It's so boring," they complain as soon as they see it on the daily agenda.

I try so hard - I really do - to make the parts of speech fun.  I incorporate games, songs and videos (who doesn't love a good Schoolhouse Rock?) and anything else I can find to make it memorable. 

One thing I've really struggled with is coming up with a catchy song that not only identifies the parts of speech but also defines then and gives examples.  My thinking is that if I can get students to memorize something like this, they will "have" the information for life.  I scoured YouTube, TeacherTube, and every message board I could find looking for the perfect song to no avail.

But...

I happened across something that does the trick - a poem.  Not only does it fulfill all of my requirements above, but it easily lends itself to hand/body motions (thank you to my ELL students for coming up with ours), which is great for those kinesthetic learners. 

I taught this to my newcomers and they learned it with ease.  We practice it daily, and they giggle the whole time because they are having fun learning grammar!  Woohoo!  I'd say mission accomplished. 

A huge thank you goes out to the author of the following poem (whom, unfortunately, I do not know):

PARTS OF SPEECH POEM

Every name is called a NOUN,
As field and fountain, street and town;

In place of noun the PRONOUN stands
As he and she can clap their hands;

The ADJECTIVE describes a thing,
As magic wand and bridal ring;

The VERB means action, something done-
To read, to write, to jump, to run;

How things are done, the ADVERBS tell,
As quickly, slowly, badly, well;

The PREPOSITION shows relation,
As in the street, or at the station;

CONJUNCTIONS join, in many ways,
Sentences, words, or phrase and phrase;

The INTERJECTION cries out, "Hark!
I need an exclamation mark!"

Through poetry, we learn how each
of these make up THE PARTS OF SPEECH.

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