ELA Success: Patience is key!

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Most of my blog content comes from questions I’ve answered at one time or another from teachers and administrators who use Shurley English.  I often hear the urgency in their voices, and they seem to be looking for a quick fix to the problems their students are experiencing. Sure, we all want quick results, but usually by the time you manage to find just the right curriculum or just the right supplement to your teaching, the students have moved on.  Then, you get a new batch of students with similar but unique struggles, and you’re back at it again, trying to find what works and what works fast.

Even though we, as a society, rely on instant gratification, immediate feedback, and quick results, the outcome of an exemplary education won’t happen that way.  Honestly, we all know there are NO quick fixes that produce the quality results we’re seeking, not in life or in curriculum.

In a previous blog, I broached the topic of having patience and of trusting the process. This is true of any quality curriculum, but especially so with Shurley English. You have to tap into your reservoir of patience—patience with yourself, patience with students, and patience with the curriculum.  Academic growth will manifest quickly in your students’ grammar and writing, but only after you have invested the upfront time needed to lock in the foundational patterns and strategies.

Note to Kindergarten – 3rd Grade Teachers:  Patience may be harder to come by for the lower level teacher of Shurley English because classroom management issues often chew up instructional time.  So, be patient out there, all you Kindergarten through 3rd grade teachers! Remember, you are the heroes who lay the grammar and writing foundations on which the later teachers can build upon.

Yes, Shurley English sometimes requires you to teach concepts that you may not have had to handle until a much later grade in your own schooling.  Just because you didn’t have the opportunity to learn in such a dynamic way personally, you need to know that you are exposing your young learners to concepts they will master in time, not necessarily with you.  You may not get to see the beautifully written masterpiece that the upper grade level teachers will see, but the foundational concepts you teach are vital.  

Note to 4th – 8th Grade Teachers: Middle elementary teachers, dig deeper into your reservoir of patience. Your kiddos are still trying to figure out this organized writing thing, and you are helping them to understand the connection between grammar and writing. Middle school teachers-have patience when trying to fill in the gaps, and smile when you’re the one that gets to submit their 5-Paragraph Essay to the writing contest! 

Society often relies on instant gratification, immediate feedback, and quick results, but the outcome of an exemplary education won’t happen that way.  It’s all about patience! Shurley English sets you and your students up for success, but you must be patient.  If you want quality-you’re in the right textbook!  If you want a confident, competent writer-be more patient. Remember…

Patience is the calm acceptance that things can happen in a different order than the one you have in mind.

-David G. Allen

ELA Success: If it works, don't fix it!

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I think you will agree that by and large, if something works, you don’t need to fix it.  I suppose it is human nature, or maybe just my nature, but I never seem to be able to leave well enough alone. It seems like if you’re a teacher, you simply must change, revise, correct, improve, or add to—it’s in our DNA!   Thank goodness for Shurley English because it is the kind of curriculum that works. It works for a lot of reasons, but right now, I want to talk about how the teaching scripts work for instructors to make teaching the curriculum easy.

When it comes to working with a curriculum like Shurley English, following the prescribed teaching scripts and sequence of language arts concepts is the key to student success.  The authors of the curriculum are experts with numerous years of creation and implementation of their “grammar and writing recipe” in their own classrooms as well as classrooms around the world.  The detailed teaching scripts were designed with teacher success in mind and to ensure consistency across grade levels.  Let’s be honest, grammar and writing are not the easiest subjects to teach, but back in the day, this curriculum used to be called The Shurley Method-English Made Easy…and that’s no joke!   If you keep it simple and follow the teaching scripts, teaching grammar and writing is EASY! 

Here are a few reasons to “stick to the script:”

*Accountability: Your administrators can trust that you’re teaching Shurley English with fidelity.  There’s no reason to re-invent the wheel!

*Consistency: You won’t have to fill in the gaps or worry about playing catch-up with students who learned a different way to recite the Question & Answer Flow in a previous grade level.

*Time Management: The lessons are created for you!  You don’t have to spend extra time or effort worrying about explaining the hard concepts in Language Arts. (direct objects, object compliment nouns, natural and inverted word order, complex sentences, clauses, five-paragraph persuasive essays, etc.)

Here’s the bottom line, Shurley English is a proven method that works!  Want to learn more? Please go to our website and request online samples of our Shurley English digital edition.

Study Skills: Developing good habits that last a lifetime

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I simply cannot wait until spring to get my home and office in order; my brain won’t allow it!  Both of these spaces need a major overhaul.  (Trust me!  With four grown-ups and a grandchild in the house, I often feel like I need professional help from someone like Marie Kondo.)

For me, the process of organization begins with sorting all the stuff that needs to be put away or filed.   Since I know that I’m the one that will have to retrieve the items later, I have to do the job all by myself!  Yes, I have designated storage areas for things like tax receipts, important documents, Christmas decorations, and so on and so forth.  It just seems as though I delay putting this stuff away until I can’t stand to see it any longer! 

Even though I dread the time it takes to get organized, for some strange reason, I wind up feeling greatly satisfied when everything is tucked away and in its place.  These feelings remind me of the Shurley English Study Skills lessons centered on a character named Quigley.  Quigley is a guy that seems to learn life lessons the hard way, and I can personally relate to the stories used to describe him when he is disorganized and when he’s not.

The Study Skills lessons focus on the steps Quigley must learn to get organized, listen, and use his time wisely.  (There is even a Study Skills Jingle to help Quigley on his journey!) These lessons teach important life skills and are applicable to everyone, including me!  Here’s a glimpse at what’s involved…

How to Get Organized: 

1. Write it down! Keep an assignment notebook to record assignments, page numbers and due dates.

2. Put it away! When you put things away, always put them in the same place.  If you know where something goes before you put it away, you will already know where it is when you need it again.

3. Organize your space! Each time you put something in your desk, backpack, or locker, put it exactly where it goes.  Avoid “stuffing” things in at random.  Start today by having a complete clean-out and fix-up.

4. Divide and conquer! Keep each subject in a separate folder so that you can find papers easily.  Put all folders and notebooks on one side of your desk, and put all textbooks on the other side.  Small items should be kept in the front in a zippered bag.

5. Keep it up! Staying organized is easy if you take just a few minutes every day to reorganize.  If you don’t do it every day, you will get unorganized in no time.


How to Become a Better Listener:

1. Listen carefully! Look directly at the speaker.  Listen to every word, and focus your mind on what the speaker is saying.  Don’t fidget.  Hearing happens in your ears, but listening happens in your brain.

2. Think about it! Think about what the speaker is saying.  Does it make sense?  Do you agree or disagree with the speaker’s opinion?  Can you repeat what the speaker said, but in your own words?

3.  Ask questions! Try to understand what the speaker is saying.  When the speaker says something you don’t understand, raise your hand and ask the speaker to explain.

4. Write it down! Write down anything that you think you might forget.  Write down important information like dates, times, addresses, and so on.  Also, write down questions to ask the speaker.

How to Use Your Time Wisely:

1. Plan ahead! If you know you won’t have time to do something later, do it now!  If you don’t have time now, plan to do it at a definite time, not just “later.”

2. Prioritize! “Prioritize” is just a fancy word that means “do the most important thing first.”  When that is finished, do the next most important thing.

3. Make a schedule! Write down all of the things you have to do.  Write down the time and the day you will do them.  Check things off as you finish them.

4. Think about homework before you leave school! Check your assignment folder and decide what you need to take home.  Put books and folders you will need in your book bag.  At home, put your finished homework in your bag, and you will always have it ready to take to school.

5.  Schedule a time and place to study! Think about your family’s routine and decide on a good study time away from distractions like TV and conversations.  Have all the supplies you will need at your study area.  Concentrate on what you are doing.  Keep your eyes on your work and your pencil moving until you’ve finished the task at hand.


Do you need a comprehensive Study Skills lesson plan? Don't worry, Shurley English has you covered! Simply go to the Unit Studies Section in the back of your Shurley English book and check it out! Our Study Skills Unit is jammed packed with ideas to help the struggling, organizationally challenged students in your class.