Hello and happy Saturday. I don’t know what a good introduction to today’s post might be because I know what the general public thinks about teaching grammar. Take a wild guess at what my ninth-graders thought about it. I saw them struggling with the passive voice, though, and I felt that they only used “said” or “told” as introductory verbs and I knew they could do better than that, so I prepared for them the ultimate lesson on passive voice.
I used the kid’s workbook as a guide because usually language books have a grammar section at the end. Now this was a very complete chart on the different special introductory verbs they are and how to structure a sentence in the passive voice using them, but it was too much for my students. I don’t mean that they weren’t smart enough to get that, I mean that sometimes information is put for teachers to modify it in the way that best suits the students, and that’s what I did.
I’m going to go back and forth between the passive voice lesson and how that translates in general to what you can do. So, like I said, step number one is to gather the information and adapt it. Adapting can be removing some stuff you consider unnecessary, it can mean to make something more accessible to students by simplifying the language or providing examples, and it can even mean to add to what you have from other sources. I took that chart, which had three rules and about twenty special introductory verbs and I divided it into four. There was a rule that had ten verbs as an example, so two groups would work on that one.
Step two for me is to have students activate their previous knowledge so that they can make connections and come up with their own conclusions. I did this by having my students make four groups and giving each groups a chart, each with one rule for the passive voice. But the chart wasn’t complete: it only had the list of verbs and next to each verb an example of a sentence in the active voice. My students had two tasks: number one, to transform the sentences to the passive voice, and number two, to try and think what the general rule for that group of verbs was.
After that, step three is to socialize findings but also to clarify information that might not be correct. What I did with my class was draw a chart on the whiteboard and have each group of students share an example of one verb, how they used it in a sentence in the passive voice, and the rule they found. Now students had two other tasks. The first one was to make a small poster illustrating their rule, so they wrote the “formula” for the sentence in the passive voice, and an example of said sentence. Some of my students color-coded the parts of speech, which I thought was very smart. I displayed the posters on the wall. Task number two was to copy the chart I’d made in their notebook.
Now my favorite part is application, and that means that students get to use what they just learned. I have to clarify something because I think these many activities are confusing in terms of timing. I used to have blocks with my students, that means that sometimes we had one hour and a half instead of forty-five minutes of class, which is why I was able to do so many things.
For application, I searched for special introductory verbs, wrote them in slips of paper, put them in a bag. Each student had to draw a verb, write a sentence in the passive voice using it, and then switch verbs with a partner. For this I used new verbs, which means they were unknown to the students because I wanted to know how they used them. To finish the class, some kids shared their sentences and I wrote them on the board for everyone to see.
I think this is a simple way to teach grammar and keep students engaged while challenging them a bit. What would you do to teach a not-so-fun topic? Let me know in the comments.
Love, Miss Camila