Today my students said grammar was fun. They didn’t realize that’s what they were saying, but they said it. They thought they were saying that working in groups with big sheets of paper and colored markers was fun. They thought they were saying not listening to me lecture while they took notes was fun. What they were really saying was that grammar was fun.
We just finished up Charles, a dialogue rich story, and I though it would be a good time to tie in some grammar, so we looked at how to properly write quotes. Students struggle with this since there are many tiny rules associated with this skill (put punctuation inside the quotations, capitalize the first word of the quote but not the first word of the second part, etc). Very frustrating and very overwhelming. Kids hate this lesson.
So I decided to let them do the work. I found about ten different pieces of dialogue from the text and made sure I had two that illustrated all but the most obscure rules. In groups of three, students had to look at the selections and create the rules themselves. This is hard by the way, but they didn’t really notice.
Some groups latched on right away. Many started listing grammar rules that they already knew without looking at the sentences. For those groups I would ask questions like, “Why is there a comma for this sentence but a period for this one?” to get them started. By the time I called time, most groups had a pretty good list, not perfect but really, really good. Then we came together as a class to create a master list and discuss each rule while looking at examples of it.
At the end of class, I asked them, “Did you like that activity?”
They said, “It was fun.”