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  1. GRAMMAR ESSENTIALS Geoff Barton November 2, 2014

  2. GRAMMARESSENTIALS CONTENT • Grammar essentials: What do you need to know about … • Improving students’ writing? • Improving their reading? • Some classroom ideas that work

  3. GRAMMARESSENTIALS What today is: • Practical, not theoretical • About grammar that makes an impact • About good English teaching, not grammar for its own sake • An approach, not knowledge

  4. GRAMMARESSENTIALS What today is not: • A comprehensive grammar lesson • A lecture • About quacking the parts of speech

  5. GRAMMARESSENTIALS The Literacy Club Language oddities


  7. GRAMMARESSENTIALS Please don't smoke and live a more healthy life PSE Poster

  8. GRAMMARESSENTIALS Sign at Suffolk hospital: Criminals operate in this area


  10. GRAMMARESSENTIALS • Churchdown parish magazine: • ‘would the congregation please note that the bowl at the back of the church labelled ‘for the sick” is for monetary donations only’

  11. GRAMMARESSENTIALS  TALKING POINT  1: So what grammar were you taught at your own school? 2: What grammar do you teach now, and how?

  12. GRAMMARESSENTIALS • My approach … • ‘Grammar’ isn’t always a helpful term • Some bits of grammar are more important than others • Writing is where we’ll have most effect • Grammar knowledge is less important than grammar impact • Starters are great for grammar • Go for impact

  13. What are the essential bits of grammar needed by English teachers…? • Fiction: • Sentence variety for effect: simple, compound, complex • Multiple narration • Plot - dialogue - description • Location of the speech verb • Modification • Direct / indirect speech • Figurative language • Descriptive detail • Point of view • Non-fiction: • Connectives • Topic sentences • Headlines / subheadings / puns • Paragraph organisation - main point … illustration … contrast • Cohesion (pronouns and connectives) • Tense • Formality / impersonal tone • Layout features • Building an argument: generalisation, supporting points, statistics, facts, quotation


  15. TEACHING WRITING • You don’t teach writing merely through: • Reading aloud • Showing models • Highlighting genre features • Correcting first drafts • Lots of bullet-points after the task Explore conventions Demonstrate Share composition Scaffold Independent writing Draw out key learning DEPENDENCE INDEPENDENCE

  16. TEACHING WRITING Explore conventions Demonstrate Share composition Scaffold it Independence Key learning Including ‘bad’ models Show students the process of writing Correct/change/improve Make it collaborative Move from small to larger sections

  17. KS3 tests 2000 TEACHING WRITING Write the opening of a story about a major emergency. ‘Some people waste a lot of time and energy attempting difficult challenges, such as flying around the world in a hot-air balloon. Attempts like these are pointless, and benefit nobody.’ Write an article for your local newspaper arguing for or against this statement.

  18. TEACHING WRITING • To be truth-full I am for the argument about wasting time and money trying to get around the world in a hot air balloon, when this time and money could be spent on working with medical difficulty or people who are homeless. • I feel it is very important to face challenges, as without challenges, the world would be a very dull place. I feel that the earlier challenges appear in a person’s life, the better, as there will undoubtedly be challenges in the workplace or in home life, and so I feel that the people who have faced challenges earlier in life get a head start over people who have not. Level 4 Level 7

  19. WRITING WITH POWER An example …

  20. The Set-Up TEACHING WRITING BUILDING SUSPENSE Write the opening of a mystery story. Set it at a funeral in a wintery churchyard. √ √ √

  21. bad Using models TEACHING WRITING Before …. It was a bitterly cold day. Everyone was in black. The cars were black too. There were people standing around in a group waiting for the coffin. Crows were flying in the sky. It was really eerie.

  22. Using models TEACHING WRITING After …. The undertaker's men were like crows, stiff and black, and the cars were black, lined up beside the path that led to the church; and we, we too were black, as we stood in our pathetic, awkward group waiting for them to lift out the coffin and shoulder it, and for the clergyman to arrange himself; and he was another black crow in his long cloak. And then the real crows rose suddenly from the trees and from the fields, whirled up like scraps of blackened paper from a bonfire, and circled, caw-caw-ing above our heads. Susan Hill

  23. TEACHING WRITING • Mess around with: • A fragmented narrative • Point of view • Tense • Sentence types • Plot - description - dialogue • Speech verb

  24. Key points GRAMMAR FOR WRITING • See things as a writer, not just a reader • Explore texts actively - meddling, rewriting, editing • Demonstrate the writing process yourself • Relate everything to effect • Talk about grammar where it helps, not as an end in itself • Start with small units of writing … then build up • Encourage experimentation, risk-taking, creativity • Enjoy!


  26. Grammar for reading is … • About reading, not grammar • Based on a rich variety of texts • Rooted in reading for pleasure • Not about analysis • Always linked to writing

  27. LITERACY FOR LEARNING Why do students find it harder to understand non-fiction than fiction?

  28. LITERACY FOR LEARNING • Fiction is more personal. Non-fiction has fewer agents: • Holidays were taken at resorts • During the 17th century roads became straighter

  29. LITERACY FOR LEARNING Children’s fiction tends to be chronological. Fiction becomes easier to read; non-fiction presents difficulties all the way through

  30. LITERACY FOR LEARNING Non-fiction texts rely on linguistic signposts - moreover, therefore, on the other hand. Children who are unfamiliar with these will not read with the same predictive power as they can with fiction

  31. LITERACY FOR LEARNING Non-fiction tends to have more interrupting constructions: The agouti, a nervous 20-inch rodent from South America, can leap twenty feet from a sitting position Asteroids are lumps of rock and metal whose paths round the sun lie mainly between Jupiter and Mars

  32. LITERACY FOR LEARNING Fiction uses more active verbs. Non-fiction relies more on the copula (“Oxygen is a gas”) and use of the passive: Some plastics are made by … rather than We make plastics by …

  33. LITERACY FOR LEARNING Non-fiction texts have more complex noun phrases: The remains and shapes of animals and plants are lost in the myriad caves of the region

  34. LITERACY FOR LEARNING So … Make non-fiction conventions explicit .. actively Get English teachers to use more non-fiction Read non-fiction texts aloud Teach students about interrupting and long subjects, connectives, agent-avoidance! Replace comprehension with DARTS (“Glombots”)

  35. LITERACY FOR LEARNING So … Oh yes … and enjoy!

  36. Reading Fiction

  37. BUILDING TENSION Brian Moore, Cold Heaven

  38. 1 The wooden seats of the little pedal boat were angled so that Marie looked up at the sky. There were no clouds. In the vastness above her a gull calligraphed its flight. Marie and Alex pedalled in unison, the revolving paddles making a slapping sound against the waves as the pedal boat treadmilled away from the beach, passing through ranks of bathers to move into the deeper, more solitary waters of the Baie des Anges. Marie slackened her efforts but Alex continued determinedly, steering the pedalo straight out into the Mediterranean.

  39. 2 ‘Let’s not go too far,’ she said. ‘I want to get away from the crowd. I’m going to swim.’ It was like him to have some plan of his own, to translate idleness into activity even in these few days of vacation. She now noted his every fault. It was as though, having decided to leave him, she had withdrawn his credit. She looked back at the sweep of hotels along the Promenade des Anglais. Today was the day she had hoped to tell him. She had planned to announce it at breakfast and leave, first for New York, then on to Los Angeles to join Daniel. But at breakfast she lacked all courage. Now, with half the day gone, she decided to postpone it until tomorrow.

  40. 3 Far out from shore, the paddles stopped. The pedalo rocked on its twin pontoons as Alex eased himself up from his seat. He handed her his sunglasses. ‘This should do,’ he said and, rocking the boat even more, dived into the ultramarine waters. She watched him surface. He called out: ‘Just follow along, okay?’ He was not a good swimmer, but thrashed about in an energetic, erratic freestyle. Marie began to pedal again, her hand on the tiller, steering the little boat so that she followed close. Watching him, she knew he could not keep up this pace for long. She saw his flailing arms and for a moment thought of those arms hitting her. He had never hit her. He was not the sort of man who would hit you. He would be hurt, and cold, and possibly vindictive. But he was not violent.

  41. 4 She heard a motorboat, the sound becoming louder. She looked back but did not see a boat behind her. Then she looked to the right where Alex was swimming and saw a big boat with an outboard motor coming right at them, coming very fast.

  42. 5 Of course they see us, she thought, alarmed, and then as though she were watching a film, as though this were happening to someone else, she saw there was a man in the motorboat, a young man wearing a green shirt; he was not at the tiller, he was standing in the middle of the boat with his back to her and as she watched he bent down and picked up a child who had fallen on the floorboards. ‘Hey?’ she called. ‘Hey?’ for he must turn around, the motorboat was coming right at Alex, right at her. But the man in the boat did not hear. He carried the child across to the far side of the boat; the boat was only yards away now.

  43. 6 ‘Alex,’ she called. ‘Alex, look out.’ But Alex flailed on and then the prow of the motorboat, slicing up water like a knife, hit Alex with a sickening thump, went over him and smashed into the pontoons of the little pedal boat, upending it, and she found herself in the water, going under, coming up. She looked and saw the motorboat churning off, the pedal boat hanging from its prow like a tangle of branches. She heard the motorboat engine cut to silence, then start up again as the boat veered around in a semicircle and came back to her. Alex?

  44. 7 She looked: saw his body near her just under the water. She swam toward him, breastroke, it was all she knew. He was floating face down, spread-eagle. She caught hold of his wrist and pulled him towards her. The motorboat came alongside, the man in the green shirt reaching down for her, but, ‘No, no,’ she called and tried to push Alex toward him. The man caught Alex by the hair of his head and pulled him up, she pushing, Alex falling back twice into the water, before the man, with a great effort, lifted him like a sack across the side of the boat, tugging and heaving until Alex disappeared into the boat. The man shouted, ‘Un instant, madame, un instant’ and reappeared, putting a little steel ladder over the side. She climbed up onto the motorboat as the man went out onto the prow to disentangle the wreckage of the pedalo.

  45. 8 A small child was sitting at the back of the boat, staring at Alex’s body, which lay face-down on the floorboards. She went to Alex and saw blood from a wound, a gash in the side of his head, blood matting his hair. He was breathing but unconscious. She lifted him and cradled him in her arms, his blood trickling onto her breasts. She saw the boat owner’s bare legs go past her as he went to the rear of the boat to restart the engine. The child began to bawl but the man leaned over, silenced it with an angry slap, the man turned to her, his face sick with fear. ‘Nous y serons dans un instant,’ he shouted, opening the motor to full throttle. She hugged Alex to her, a rivulet of blood dripping off her forearm onto the floorboards as the boat raced to the beach.

  46. BUILDING TENSION Brian Moore, Cold Heaven

  47. SIMPLEGRAMMARSTARTERS (inc prep for KS3 tests)

  48. 7 principles

  49.  Don’t aim for false links with main lesson content Kick-start learning  No Blue Peter badges  Do aim for coherence across starters  Emphasise collaboration & problem-solving  Are great for grammar  Avoid the temptation to extend the activity