Can I teach Shurley English out of sequence?


The Shurley English curriculum is uniquely designed to teach students about language arts in a logical, sequential, and systematic way.  Each feature of the curriculum scaffolds into the next as students learn how to make the connection between grammar, writing, speaking & listening, and reading.  So, have you ever wondered if a lesson could be taught out of order? As a consultant, I’ve heard this question before, and the short answer is: Teach it in sequence. Let me explain.   

Periodically, you may need to locate a specific English Language Arts (ELA) rule or to teach a skill in isolation, and that is fine; however, you must realize that Shurley English follows a distinct scope and sequence.  The scope includes the depth and breadth of ELA skills being taught in a specific grade level and the development of that content across grade levels.  The sequence includes the order in which the ELA skills should be taught within each grade level and across grade levels.

Most ELA skills are taught and practiced in ways that are unique to Shurley English.  The techniques for teaching these English skills have been carefully developed to make sure students understand the entire thought process necessary to learn a new skill.  The curriculum is designed to provide ample practice so that students can master concepts.  

The Question & Answer Flow (Q&A Flow) is a multi-sensory strategy that teaches students how to identify and label the role of each word used in a sentence.  The Q&A Flow must be taught in a succinct, consistent order for abstract language arts concepts to become clear and logical to all learners.  Teachers must follow the oral classification scripts provided in the teacher’s manual with fidelity.

Shurley English writing instruction uses student-friendly writing scaffolds that pave the way for exceptional writing.  Chapter 4 (in most grade levels) teaches students about the traits of effective writing as well as the six steps of the writing process.  Once students learn how to engage in each step of our standard writing process, it is okay to teach any particular purpose for writing out of sequence if the need arises.  In some states, one particular writing genre might require attention earlier in the school year than it is taught in the curriculum. As long as the writing steps have been mastered by your students, just use your best judgment about teaching the genres out of order to fulfill those requirements.

So, let’s get back to the original question of teaching Shurley English out of order.  While some teachers may know the curriculum through and through, it is best to teach Shurley English curriculum in sequence.  That way, you won’t miss any of the phenomenal growth and success your students will have when they learn English the Shurley English way!

Comment /Source

Cindy Goeden

Cindy Goeden has enjoyed being involved with Shurley English for the last sixteen of her twenty-six years in the field of education.  Working with various levels of students in elementary, junior, and high schools, in both the private and public arenas, Cindy surely is thankful for the providential day that she was introduced to Shurley English, which changed forever her approach to Language Arts instruction. That has led to her current job of having the joy of sharing about Shurley with other educators.  Her love of learning has prodded her to earn over two hundred and twenty hours, which includes two bachelor degrees in education.


Cindy currently lives with her husband, Donald, in Indianapolis, Indiana, where she enjoys puttering in her flowers, changing up her décor with the seasons, and occasionally getting out and traveling with Donald to either explore a new beach or view historic sights and gardens.

Grammar Reinforcement + Sentence Building FUN!

Human Grammar Sentences.jpg

As you near the end of your school year, it’s more important than ever to change up how you review any of the skills you want your students to retain over the summer. If you’re using Shurley English, there are many ways to add a twist to almost any concept you want to reinforce.

Earlier in the year, we showed you how to make Grammar Necklaces with the parts of speech. Here's a variation of this activity that I like to call "Team Building Sentences." (Team Building/Building Sentences...see what I did there?!?)  Here's what you need to get started:


Supplies Needed: yarn, construction paper, markers, stapler or tape

Assembly Instructions:

1.   Fold a sheet of construction paper in half over the yarn.

2. Staple or tape the outside edges to keep the yarn in place.

3. Write words on the construction paper. The more choices you offer, the more fun your kids will have! Be sure to have samples from all eight parts of speech. Here are some examples to get you started:

a, an, the

bug, lizard, leaf, log, rock

creepy, slimy, brown, scary, hairy, fuzzy, wet

under, over, around, inside

scuttled, oozed, crept, slithered, zig-zagged


Now, you can utilize these word necklaces in a variety of ways. Here are a few ideas:

1. With students wearing the word necklaces, arrange them in front of your classroom or learning space in a scrambled order. Then, when you say “Go!” have them rearrange themselves so that the necklaces create a complete sentence. You may even want to spice up the competition by giving them a time limit. Students who aren’t wearing the necklace can be the audience first, and then have everyone switch roles after one turn.

2. To help build teamwork skills, have your students who are “wearing the words” to collaborate and assemble their own sentences by traveling around, linking arms with other suitable partners whose words will help them build a great sentence. Be sure to have punctuation signs available that are not on necklaces, but displayed where they can be selected and used to make the sentences complete.



After you have verified that a correct sentence has been created, it’s time to jazz it up a bit by having students experiment with the four sentence types taught in Shurley English: declarative, interrogative, imperative, and exclamatory. Students will get a great grammar workout by arranging and re-arranging the “human sentences” so that each kind of sentence is created, using the same words.


The possibilities are endless! Feel free to share your ideas with us by using the comment section below.

Comment /Source

David Lutz

David, a former classroom teacher, administrator, and self-proclaimed grammar nut, considers the oddities of English vocabulary and grammar his playthings! He received his degrees in elementary education, teaching, and curriculum design from CMU in Fayette, MO, and the University of St. Mary, Leavenworth, KS, respectively. His career has been a colorful collage of experiences in education, ranging from Kindergarten to Adult education and parenting classes.


He and his wife, Marjorie, have been blessed with 30 years of marriage, three grown sons, a cherished daughter-in-law, and the smartest, cutest grandson on the planet! He’s worked for Shurley Instructional Materials, Inc., for over 11 years and loves to help students and their teachers learn to love language and language learning as much as he does.

Developing Students' Empathy Skills

Developing Empathy Skills in Students.jpg

Bullying remains a serious problem in schools across America even though anti-bullying laws and/or policies to prevent bullying and protect children are enacted in every state. Recent studies suggest that rates of bullying may be on the decline, but according to the National Center for Education Statistics, nearly a third of all students aged 12-18 reported being bullied at school., a federal government website, lists four ways adults can help prevent bullying, including:

(1) helping kids understand bullying,

(2) teaching them how to keep the lines of communication open,

(3) encouraging kids to do what they love, and

(4) modeling how to treat others.

After staring at the list and reading the description beneath each heading, I came to the conclusion that a fifth goal should be considered:

(5) developing students’ empathy skills.

I truly believe that adults can help prevent bullying by developing students’ empathy skills.

Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.  Research states that people strong in the Empathy theme can sense the feelings of other people by imagining themselves in others' lives or others' situations. (Gallup’s Strengthfinder 2.0)  Gallup researchers report that while empathy is a natural behavior for some folks, it can be an area of lesser talent for others.

The good news is that there’s research available that shows (1) empathy can be learned, and (2) empathy can decrease bullying among school children.  In fact, studies conducted by Mary Gordon at Roots of Empathy, an evidence-based classroom program, have shown a significant reduction in levels of aggression and bullying occurred while raising social/emotional competence and increasing empathy. (Source: Gordon, Want to prevent your child from bullying others?, Dec. 15.)

Knowing that teaching empathy skills in the classroom will help students build and maintain healthy relationships and decrease bullying at the same time, I encourage teachers to initiate a plan of action today! A dash of empathy goes a long way!  


ELA Writing Connection

Here are a few writing related activities you can use in your classroom as you discuss empathy:

1. Write about a time when you felt empathy toward someone else, meaning that you felt the same way another person did because you could sense the way they were feeling.

2. Write about why you believe empathy is important.

3. Empathy is a skill that can be developed through practice.  Write about a few ways you might use empathy to show care and concern for others.

Comment /Source

Jamie Geneva

Jamie Geneva is the Senior National Consultant at Shurley Instructional Materials and is a seasoned subject matter expert in the realm of English Language Arts.  Her career with the company began during the days of the Shurley Method binder, which was pre-1st Edition, and has spanned across three decades.  Over the years, her various roles have included teacher, presenter, state representative, consultant, manager, and most recently, a Shurley English Digital Assistant.  You might not recognize her face, but her voice could certainly sound familar.  That’s because she’s recorded Jingles, Q&A Flow Sentences, and other Shurley English content for many, many years. 

Jamie and her husband, Garret, live in the foothills of eastern Oklahoma. She loves spending quality time with her family, traveling, reading, cooking, and staying connected on social media.

Ms. Geneva received her B.S. degree in Elementary Education and her M.Ed in Public School Administration from Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, OK.