“Making Grammar Fun!” is part eight in a ten-part series about teaching grammar to older students. You may want to start with part one.
“Making grammar fun” sounds so cliche, so silly. It is feasible though, and worthwhile.
Today, I consider my classes to be (overall) fun, but I haven’t always thought that. They aren’t fun every day (what is?), but most days, my students and I laugh and joke around.
Those fun parts include grammar. We complete grammar daily, and it is woven with vocabulary, reading, and writing.
I know that some teachers don’t want to teach grammar, and that some teachers fear that students will hate grammar lessons. It doesn’t have to be that way! Making grammar fun and meaningful is possible. Here’s how I did it.
The Story (that won’t take long)
At one point in my teaching career, I recognized the magnitude that the teacher’s outlook had on students. I realized my attitude made the class. The entire class period relied on my attitude! That is crazy powerful, and crazy scary.
About the same time I recognized that, I was stepping up my grammar game. I started experimenting with grammar from literature and grammar from student writing. My grammar lessons seemed practical and engaging, but the attitude was missing.
I needed to project positive vibes to my students about grammar. If I acted like this part of the class period sucked, guess what? That’s how they would respond.
Students groaned about grammar, and that bothered me. I found deeper meaning in literature and writing because of grammar, and I wanted my students to share in that experience. My attitude needed to be over the top.
At first, I put on a show, almost acted goofy about grammar. It was a bit of “fake it until you make it” type of performance.
I joked about my excitement with grammar. For instance, I used sports metaphors. (This is quite the reach for me). We did “grammar jacks” and “sentence sit-ups.” My students thought I was a nerd, but I was desperate. I wanted these grammar lessons to succeed. I wanted them to understand.
And then? Once I saw how grammar improved my students’ understanding in class, I was genuinely excited. I didn’t have to fake it anymore.
Can grammar be empowering? No ELA teacher will argue that language is not powerful.
Then why wouldn’t an understanding of grammar be empowering?
It is, and when I combined my efforts with my excitement and my new grammar lesson plans, I saw a chain-effect.
My passion transformed into excitement – honest fun while teaching grammar. Playing with sentences on a worksheet didn’t thrill me (or students), so I began manipulating sentences word by word – with my students. We had fun, and we learned together.
I created visuals of grammatical concepts, and I encouraged my students to help me.
Making grammar fun was no longer a chore – it was a natural part of my ELA classes.
Think of it this way: most teachers love reading with students and helping them better their writing. Making grammar fun can be a natural extension in your language arts classes.
I genuinely love teaching grammar to students. Students who may not enjoy English class (often reading) thoroughly enjoy grammar. I want to reach all students, and teaching grammar helps me do that.
Teaching grammar with an upbeat attitude didn’t come naturally to me, and it may not to you either. After I built lessons and learned teaching tricks, making grammar fun was no longer a chore.
I hope you have the same success.
Ready to read part nine in the series? I don’t understand grammar is next.