Writing Extension: Exploring Appreciative Inquiry

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Spring brings longer days and more light into our lives.  It’s the time of year when flowers bloom and tree buds turn into luscious leaves before our eyes!  With everything outdoors transforming anew, it’s so hard to capture the attention of students experiencing spring-fever!  So, why not capitalize on the fresh change of seasons, using a writing activity that will inspire students to appreciate spring and ‘Carpe Diem’ at the same time! 

Carpe Diem is a Latin phrase coined by the Roman poet Horace to express the idea that one should make the most of each and every moment of life while one can. Latin scholars translate the phrase to mean “pluck the day (as it is ripe).”  In order to do that, a person must learn how to appreciate what’s going on around them.  Learning to appreciate can translate into a more positive approach to thinking that can last a lifetime if knowledge, skill, and practice are applied. That’s where the poetic principle of Appreciate Inquiry comes into play.  It simply means that what we spend time focusing on and studying shapes our interpretations, learnings, and inspirations!  (Do you focus on what you want or what you don’t want?  Whichever it is, you’ll likely find it.)

For this lesson, students will follow the poetic principle of Appreciative Inquiry (AI) as they carry out the following steps: 

  1. Define the Topic,

  2. Discover (explain the best of what is),

  3. Dream (imagine what could be),

  4. Design (develop what should be), and

  5. Destiny (compose what will be). 

The topic should be written on the board for everyone to see.  Students will get out a sheet of paper and write it at the top of the page.  Topic: A Spring Day in (City/State)…Carpe Diem! 

Since the topic has been predetermined, students will learn to appreciate spring a little more by engaging in the steps of Appreciative Inquiry.  The initial step requires students to Discover.  In this moment, they will be asked to find, emphasize, and bring attention to any factors that are included in a spring day in (city/state)…carpe diem!   They will focus on explaining the best of what is! Often times, it helps to think about positive experiences from the past, or if possible, you can have students venture outside to witness spring taking place in real time. Some additional questions include: 

  • Is there anything surprising going on around you? 

  • Does anything touch your heart or move your spirit? 

  • What seems to be going well for you in this moment? 

As students generate ideas, they will list their ideas on the sheet of paper.

Once students have discovered the attributes of a spring day in (city/state), the next step in the AI process is to Dream.  Ask students to use their imagination to enter a state of dreaming and begin to daydream about what could be or needs to be included in the best spring day in (city/state)…carpe diem…ever!  The sky’s the limit, and no dream is too big!  Some questions to help students dream include: 

  • What could make this spring day even better? 

  • What would you add? 

Students will make a list of dreams, leaving room for details that will be developed in the next step of AI.

The next step in AI is called Design.  During this step, students will write concrete, actionable steps that could turn their dreams listed in the previous step into reality.  They will literally explain the steps that would have to take place for their dream to come true.

Last, but not least, Destiny is the final step in AI.  During this step, the student must decide on how they will personally contribute to the dream (Step 3) and the proposed design (Step 4) of a spring day in (city/state)…carpe diem.  Students will write their destiny statements beneath each dream and design statement.  (Example:  I will…)

After students have completed the 5-steps of AI outlined above, they will use the information to write a 5-paragraph essay.  Students will prewrite, write, edit, revise, write a final draft, and publish: ‘A Spring Day in (City/State)…Carpe Diem!’

Resources: Use the following link for access to various prewriting maps to aid your students in their journey!

Grammar Reinforcement: Creating Confidence Cards

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I love teaching!  I love the challenge of finding ways to teach children how academic content connects to their real life.  My love of teaching has carried over into the world of life coaching, and in this capacity, I can help teens feel good about who they are.

Let’s be real.  Life can be tough for many children these days, and many of them could benefit from a little more positivity in their lives.  For this reason, I found a way to connect my passion for helping teens develop a positive sense of self by using sentence patterns taught in Shurley English. 

Shurley English teaches seven sentence patterns.  All of the patterns include action verbs except for Pattern 4 and Pattern 5.  These two patterns include a linking verb (LV).  A linking verb expresses a state of being and shows no action.  Study the following chart to review the core parts of the seven sentence patterns:

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The core parts of a Pattern 5 sentence include a subject noun (SN), a linking verb (LV), and a predicate adjective (PA).  The linking verb links the simple subject to an adjective in the predicate part of the sentence that modifies the subject.  As students recite the Question and Answer Flow, a step is included to help them understand clearly that a predicate adjective modifies the subject.  Here’s an example:

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Now that I’ve refreshed your memory about the core parts of a Pattern 5 sentence, I’d like to share an idea that will focus on Pattern 5 sentences AND help your students develop a strong sense of self.  It’s called, “Writing Confidence Cards.”

To get started, you will need ten index cards for each student.  After passing them out, follow these steps:

  1. Review the core parts of a Pattern 5 sentence. 

  2. Write the words: “I am ____.” on the board. 

  3. Tell students that they will be choosing a positive predicate adjective to fill in the blank that will describe them.

  4. Model some positive word choice examples (SP LV PA):

    I am creative.

    I am beautiful.

    I am confident.

    I am intelligent.

  5. Tell students to write a different sentence on each index card.

  6. Review the sentences to make sure they have written appropriate sentences.

  7. Ask students to illustrate and decorate each card.

  8. When students have completed their set of Confidence Cards, they will be able to use them in a variety of ways.  (See below.)

Here are a few “Confidence Card” activities to utilize in your classroom:

  • Ask students to choose one card from their deck as their journal writing topic.

  • Create a class deck.

  • Choose a card from your class deck as the topic for a class discussion as part of your morning routine.

  • Make a duplicate card deck for a think-pair-share activity.  Pass out the deck, making sure two of the same cards have been handed out.  Have students with the same card pair up and discuss how their “I am___.” statement applies to them.

  •  Invite the school counselor to your classroom for a team teaching opportunity to discuss the benefits of positive self-talk.

As you can see, Confidence Cards provide a unique way to reinforce the Pattern 5 sentence and boost your students’ self-esteem. Do you have a unique way to reinforce grammar study in your classroom? If so, we would love to hear your ideas in the comment section below.

Spring Bulletin Board: See How We've Grown!

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It’s not always easy to see how much we’ve grown in one year, especially for a child.  Physical growth might be the most noticeable because we can feel it in several ways.  For instance, we can tell when our clothes are too big or too small; they don’t fit right.  We know when our feet have grown because our shoes are too tight, and our feet hurt.  Also, we can tell when our hair has grown when it starts covering our eyes and ears. 

Intellectual growth, on the other hand, is much more difficult to notice.  Other people, like a parent or teacher, seem to notice this type of growth before the individual realizes it!  Everyone enjoys being told how much they’ve grown intellectually, so here’s a way for you to do that in your classroom.

Image Source:  Volunteer Spot

Image Source: Volunteer Spot

Throughout the year, Shurley English students have spent a lot of time building their vocabulary skills to improve their word choice strategies.  They have created their own synonym/antonym booklet, a vocabulary notebook or notecards, and also learned how to use “Power Words” in their writing.  Now, they can use all of these learning tools to help create a spring bulletin board. This bulletin board idea gives your students an opportunity to reflect on the words they’ve learned  and written in their notebooks and to realize how their vocabulary word bank has grown. 

Below are the steps to follow in order to build a “See How We’ve Grown” garden in your classroom:

Step 1: Create a Synonym List:

Materials Needed:

  • Synonym/Antonym Booklet

  • Vocabulary Notebook/Vocabulary Notecards

  • Power Words (found in Shurley English Student Textbook)

  • Shurley English Student Textbook

  • Thesaurus

  • Paper

  • Pencil

To Do:

  1. As a class, create a list of basic words your students overused at the beginning of the year.  (e.g., good, bad, friend, happy, sad, etc.) 

  2. Allow students to work in pairs and assign basic words to each group. 

  3. Have each pair create a list of three to five synonyms for their assigned word(s). 

  4. Encourage students to use their Shurley English resources and a thesaurus to complete the activity.

  5. Monitor students’ work by walking around the room to assist each group.

 

Step 2: Create Vocabulary Flower:

Materials Needed:

  • Circles (pre-cut)

  • Long strips of colored paper (pre-cut)

  • Glue

  • Stapler

  • Black markers

  • Pipe cleaners

  • Green leaves (pre-cut or *create a pattern)

  • *Green construction paper

  • *Scissors

To Do:

  1. Write the basic word in the center of the circle with a black marker.

  2. Write the synonym for that word on half of the long strip of paper.

  3. Loop the long strip of paper so the half with writing on it is on top. (See example below.)

  4. Glue the two ends of the loop together.

  5. Repeat for each synonym.

  6. Once all leaf-loops are constructed for that basic word, glue or staple the leaves under the circle to complete the flower.

  7. Students continue to create flowers to fill your bulletin board. (You might even want to add a clothesline with a few writing pieces on them.)

Source:  IMGLabs

Source: IMGLabs

 Finally, use your own creative flare to build a beautiful spring garden that showcases your students’ growth!  Don’t forget to discuss and celebrate their growth as a class.  When our efforts and growth are recognized, the acknowledgement gives us the extra motivation to keep going.  This is a wonderful way to keep your students engaged and excited about finishing the school year.

 

Can I teach Shurley English out of sequence?

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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!

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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.

 

CHALLENGE LEVEL:

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

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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.

Stopbullying.gov, 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. 

Writing Extension: Celebrate the Winter Wonderland

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When the excitement of a snow day or a long weekend is over, you may want an activity to teach your students how to find interest in nature’s resting time. It's an opportunity to find the beauty on display right outside the window! Take a classroom field trip outside and have your students paired up with clipboards to record the details they observe. This is a great time to review descriptive writing to spark their imagination. We've provided a few descriptive writing resources for you at the bottom of this page!

As your students gather back inside with their observations,  you can brainstorm a list of descriptive winter words based on what they saw.  Then encourage them to take their lists and create a rough draft describing the scenes. As your students share their creations, listen for how much they have developed their writing skills during their time in your class. Be ready to praise each one for this growth!

 

EXPANDING THE LESSON:

You may also want to take this time to review the figures of speech that you have previously covered this year, such as similes, metaphors, and personification. Encourage each student to include at least one figure of speech in their revised rough draft.  Of course you can model this process by revising your own rough draft to include a figure of speech such as:

The snow was as thick as a blanket! 

The barren tree was reaching to catch every snowflake that fell.

The glistening snow sparkled like diamonds in the noonday sun.

The bare oak tree was watching over the silent playground.

 

Remember to show your excitement over each victory made by your students as they develop their writing skills. Your enthusiasm will be catching as you celebrate the winter wonderland right outside your window.

 

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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.

Taking the Lead: How to Build Confidence in Your Students

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One goal of using direct instruction in your classroom is to build confidence in your students as you model, model, model.  As teachers, we model grammar jingles. We model sentence classification. We model everyday to ensure our students can make English Language Arts connections with confidence.

But, why leave the modeling to just the teacher? Why not get your students in on the action?

 

Student leading her class in a Shurley Jingle.

Student leading her class in a Shurley Jingle.

Student leading his class in the Q&A Flow.

Student leading his class in the Q&A Flow.

Here, you see a student leading her class in a Jingle. Next, you see a student leading his class in the Question and Answer Flow. In each of these scenarios, the student is acting as the teacher’s assistant. The student is modeling, while also having the support of his/her peers. The student is building competence and confidence! 

It’s time to step back. 

It’s time to pass the baton. 

Who is ready to take the lead in your classroom?

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.

Get your parents involved and excited about language arts!

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I understand that getting parents involved in your classroom can be challenging for many teachers.  And, when a school or teacher implements a new curriculum, especially as unique as Shurley English, many parents begin to make themselves heard. 

You’ve probably heard such comments as:

“Why is my child chanting?”

“I don’t know how to help my child with this stuff!”

“My parents told me to draw slanted lines under the words, and now I’m confused!”

If a parent learned how to diagram sentences at all during their academic career, they might have been exposed to “parsing”-that’s the way diagraming sentences was taught in the old one-room schoolhouse, as well as, in my junior high school.  The Shurley English Question and Answer Flow is a simple and more modern version of that, and has proven to challenge adults that never learned our methodology.  So, right off the bat, if the people helping your students with Language Arts homework struggled with grammar and writing concepts, they may not understand our unique methodology let alone recognize how it connects to the writing process.

Here are a few ideas that have been used over the years to help parents and helpers familiarize themselves with what you’re teaching in your classroom.

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*Parent Help Booklet-find this on www.shurley.com.  (Direct them to our YouTube tab to view live classroom demos.)

 

*INVITE them into your classroom!  Allow parents to observe you teaching a Shurley English lesson.

 

 *Making the Connection Bulletin Board- Show the transfer of grammar into writing outside of your classroom.  Together, tie Sentence Blueprints, the Writing Process, Final Drafts, and Across the Curriculum or Enrichment Activities on a creative bulletin board.

 

*LITERACY NIGHT-This has been done successfully by many schools around the nation.  Showcase some Shurley Jingles, Question and Answer Flow patterns, and Published Writing pieces from a variety of grade levels.  Give your students the opportunity to shine in front of their families!

Comment /Source

Kimberly Crady

Kimberly Crady is an adventurous woman with an immense love for life, learning, and teaching. After teaching in upper elementary classrooms for nearly 10 years, she joined the Shurley Team in 2005.  Kimberly has had the unique experience of teaching Shurley English lessons in all levels, Kindergarten-8th grade and training teachers across the United States.  Kimberly is a National Consultant and SEDA Teacher for Shurley Instructional Materials.

 

Kimberly’s passion for helping people and living a healthy lifestyle has led her to continue her education in the area of Health and Wellness.  She enjoys numerous outdoor activities from hiking and snowboarding in the Rocky Mountains to paddle boarding in the ocean; although, these days you can find her practicing hot yoga in a Bikram Yoga studio. She also enjoys traveling abroad, live music, reading, and spending time with her favorite mutt, Lu.  Kimberly’s experience as a Certified Health & Wellness Coach and Teen Life Coach helps support her firm belief in teaching the whole person, especially in the classroom.

 

Do you want to build a sentence?

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The reinforcement of concepts can sometimes be a tedious task. Here is a great way to practice sentence building during center time:

1. Create a word-bank wall using any flat surface. (An old metal filing cabinet makes a great wall.)

2. Make labels for the parts of speech that you have introduced to your students so far this year. 

3. Include examples of the parts of speech under the labels. 

4. Now, it's Activity Time! Instruct your students to move the words around to build sentences.

This is wonderful practice for your kinesthetic and concrete learners! Don't forget to make sure the sentence has a subject, verb, and makes complete sense.

 

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Comment

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.