A quick grammar activity that fits into most lesson plans is to ask students to make grammar worksheets.* It reverses the role for students, and they experience the creation of language with grammar in mind. I did this with middle school students and did not have much luck. High school grammar worksheets that students created? That worked better.
By asking students to create, they must look at all angles concerning the grammatical concept. The adage, “Tell me, I’ll forget. Show me, I’ll remember. Involve me, I’ll understand” is true with grammar. Games and interactive grammar notebooks work too, but for a quick, any-time activity, asking students to create high school grammar worksheets works for students and teachers. Students practice, and teachers can see where students are still struggling in their grammar journey.
When I ask students to create, I have found that the fewer guidelines I provide, the better students perform.
If for instance, I give students a number for each part of speech or type of sentence to create, students struggle to meet the quota. They focus on the quota.
However, if I provide a general guideline – I encourage students to write varying sentences – more times than not, students will create different types of sentences. Then as I circle the class, I can show students that with a few additions, they have created another type of sentence. The changes are subtle, but students see that those small additions (a subordinating conjunction, another subject and verb) have formed a compound-complex sentence.
The guidelines I do provide focus on giving students the power of creation. I encourage them to think of structure and the worksheet’s goal. I ask students what should be covered. This provides me with assessment; I learn what they need to know.
Normally students create grammar worksheets with a partner. This set-up allows me to differentiate easily. Partnerships have control over choosing an area where they need practice.
For instance, let’s return to the type of sentences focus. A set of students may need to work on making subjects and verbs and compound subjects and verbs for simple sentences. Another set would focus on punctuating a compound-complex sentence correctly. Another set would work on using both subordinating conjunctions and relative pronouns to begin dependent clauses.
This grammar activity lends itself to differentiation, with partners or not. Too often when I’ve used groups, students slide through the cracks, and some don’t get practice.
Students creating grammar worksheets is typically a backseat trick I use when a grammar lesson plan goes awry. When I see students needing more practice before moving onto the next step or when a concept is overwhelming students, asking students to play teacher and create grammar worksheets often helps.
Have you ever used this trick to help students? What about specifically with grammar?
*I’m using “grammar worksheets” as a catch-all term. I’ve had success making flipping books, study guides, and on.
Do you want help getting started? I use high school grammar worksheets along with other grammar activities every week in my class. You can find an assortment for parts of speech, parts of a sentence, verbals, and conjunctions.