Grammar Extension: The Empowering Acrostic Poem

Grammar Extension: The Empowering Acrostic Poem

The ideal scenario for the first couple months of a new school year would be a classroom running smoothly.  You want to be comfortable with your daily schedule and know that you can meet the needs of all of your diverse students.

Realistically, some of you may already feel like the expectations and duties increase even more as the fall progresses.  Before you become consumed with the busyness of the new school year, always remember this:  “YOU are a TEACHER!”  You are the one that works to mold the future.  You make an incredible impression and impact in the lives of all the students who enter your classroom. 

This year is a brand new one, and if you’re ready to level-up your teaching, you should consider this question: “What kind of teacher do you want to be this year?” 

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The goal of Shurley English

The goal of Shurley English

It’s that time of year again, and most teachers are trying their best to enjoy their final days of summer break. It’s hard to believe that some schools have already started professional development opportunities for their staff members.  Before you know it, your own classroom will be filled with a new group of young learners. 

Some teachers are looking forward to teaching a new curriculum this year.  Even though that can be exciting and motivating, it can also cause feelings of nervousness.  Some teachers have a curriculum in place with nothing new to add.  For these teachers, feelings of confidence about the content are more likely to occur. Either way, it’s helpful to be reminded of curriculum goals and to be re-motivated to teach certain subjects. 

If Shurley English training is not on your professional development schedule this year, I’m here to remind you of your goal when you teach the curriculum…

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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

The Playbook of Literary Success: Composition

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The Playbook of Literacy Success highlights the necessary knowledge, skills, and practice required to win the game of literacy development.  Great players gain confidence when they own and use a broad vocabulary and a strong grammar foundation.  These two core concepts serve to prepare all players for one of the greatest plays of all: composition!  If you missed Part I and Part II of the Playbook of Literacy Success, you might want to go back to the starting line to catch up with some calisthenics we call Shurley English Jingles and then move into our version of the wishbone formation, which we call the Question and Answer Flow.  Today, our focus is on composition and the writing process.

We use the term “process” in writing instruction because it takes time—time and practice, first with basic skills and then moving to complex skills. In some past blog posts, we have shared how you can use a figurative “magnifying glass” on sentence writing with the Shurley English Sentence Blueprints. This strategy can be the start of something BIG for writers. Once mastered, you are helping youngsters literally build skills into their own writing process. Great sentence writing leads to great paragraph writing. Great paragraph writing leads to great compositions.

Reflective teachers can take this opportunity to model reflective thinking for their students because, as we have said before, teaching kids to write is the same thing as teaching them to think. As students apply their skills gained from Sentence Blueprints, we run the “practice drills” for each of the next several gameplays. Young writers practice their organizational skills, using a two- and three-point writing model. As they gain confidence, the content becomes a key player in their writing development. Learners, who now understand how to sequence their writing, have a wide-open door for writing responsively or creatively. Below are some important goals to keep in mind as you coach your budding writers.

Checklist for Shurley English Composition:

  • Use the teacher manual to guide your writing practice;

  • Engage students in brainstorming activities to generate writing topics;

  • Double-check students' ability to follow the writing process;

  • Give students opportunities to write in all genres according to the manual;

  • Use the writing evaluation guides as writing rubrics;

  • Conduct frequent writing conferences and provide feedback;

  • Set up "finished" and "in-process" writing folders for your students;

  • Maintain a writing portfolio for each student, containing examples of each kind of writing;

  • Incorporate Discovery and Across the Curriculum activities;

  • Encourage correct English use in both spoken and written forms;

  • Guide students in their research of content to write about.

The writing process will become more automatic for students as they gain experience and confidence.  One of the most important things you can do as a teacher is to provide clear, concise instruction and multiple writing opportunities so that students can repeat the steps of the writing process often enough to own them.  Always remember that the more frequently the brain utilizes a learning path, the deeper the knowledge is embedded in the long-term memory.  Write on!

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For more information about Shurley English Writing, click here.

The Playbook of Literary Success: Grammar

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Let’s get back into the language arts huddle to go over some key plays that will help your students win-the-game!  If you missed Part I of the Playbook of Literacy Success, you might want to go back to the starting line to capture the necessity of a strong vocabulary.  As for today, we’re going to focus on Part II: Grammar.  We’ll begin with some calisthenics we call Shurley English Jingles, and then we’ll move right into our version of the wishbone formation! We call this feature the Question and Answer Flow

Remember, English is like a competitive sport, and every K-8 teacher is part of the coaching staff charged with developing players’ language arts knowledge and skills.  The playbook contains plays designed to help each team member achieve literacy success, which is the ultimate goal of the game, and the action plan involves the following equation:

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When it comes to teaching grammar, Shurley English uniquely teaches and reinforces the eight parts of speech and other important language arts concepts, using Jingles.  For clarification purposes, Jingles contain the important pieces of information of each definition, stated in a catchy, rhythmic way.  Each time a Jingle is recited, the brain goes through the motions of reigniting the learning path that was formed previously.  The more the brain repeats information via the learning path, the more likely that information will be retained in the long-term memory.  

Note:  Jingles are like calisthenics for the brain, and Jingle practice has been distributed appropriately throughout the Teacher’s Manual. And of course, as a reflective practitioner who must hold both your students and yourself accountable for the knowledge gained, the daily rehearsal of the jingles becomes an out-loud-and-in-your-face measurable way to determine how well students are retaining the new knowledge.


Shurley English Jingles

  • incorporate rhythm, rhyme, and movement.

  • provide domain-specific language.

  • allow for critical reading during sentence analysis.

Checklist for Shurley English Jingles:

  • Teacher models jingles or uses the Interactive I feature of the digital materials.

  • Students recite the jingles in unison at a brisk pace.

  • Students enjoy Jingle Time.

As grammar instruction continues, Shurley English teaches students how the eight parts of speech are organized to form sentences correctly, using a process called the Question and Answer Flow.  The Q & A Flow teaches students how to analyze the role of each word in a sentence. Learning to identify and label the parts of a sentence leads to understanding sentence structure, and as students' understanding of sentence structure grows, they learn to apply this knowledge to write better sentences, paragraphs, and essays.  Think about it this way: Just as a coach choreographs the plays he or she wants the team to master, so, too, grammar is the choreographer of our language.  Therefore, it is essential for students to have a firm foundation of knowledge about the parts of speech and the role they play in written language. The Q & A Flow makes the practice of the parts of speech logical and systematic.

Shurley English Q&A Flows

  • include brain-compatible strategies.

  • make English grammar logical and systematic.

  • serve as a formative assessment.

As you reflect upon your teaching of these important skills, consider the following Checklist for Grammar Instruction and the Question and Answer Flow. Ask yourself, have I…

  • conducted the grammar lesson as directed in the manual?

  • involved students in the oral questioning process?

  • related the new skill to a previously taught skill?

  • taught the students to read the sentences to be classified fluently and in unison?

  • encouraged a steady and natural pace as sentences are read aloud?

  • pointed to words and sentences for younger students as sentences are read?

  • taught students to use the same sequence/order of the Questions and Answers in the Q &A Flow, according to the manual?

  • conducted the Q & A Flow at an appropriate rate and volume?

  • waited until each answer is recited before labeling?

  • monitored constantly the students’ engagement and participation?

  • kept the students involved and on task?


By keeping yourself mindful of not only the quality of the content you teach, but also the technique and delivery of the content, you will add yet another game-saving skill to your students’ overall literacy achievement.  In upcoming posts, you will learn even more “plays” you can add to your literacy “playbook.” Don’t miss it!

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.

Language Arts Success: The BEST of 2018

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As the calendar year comes to a close, a teacher’s journey is still moving at full speed. (It’s true!) We are not quite to the half-way mark of our year, and we still have much to do! As 2018 comes to a close and before you begin the second semester, I would encourage you to take a moment, stop, and reflect. It is good for the mind and soul to take note of one’s progress. What successes are you seeing in the classroom? Are you on the track you had planned? Do you need to make adjustments?

To help you do so, we've assembled a list of the 10 most significant language arts stories we discussed in 2018. From study skill tips to word analysis strategies to the grammar-writing connection, these articles examine ways to ignite learning while building a solid foundation for #ELAsuccess.

We’ll be back next week to kick off another year of insight into English Language Arts. In the meantime, please enjoy the stories below, and let us know what's on your radar for the semester ahead by commenting below. Happy New Year!

Let’s Get Organized with Writing Maps!

Teaching Correct Subject-Verb Agreement

What is an appositive?

Adverb or Adjective?

What is Shurley English?

Grammar and Writing: It’s a process

Word Analysis Strategy: How to convey depth of meaning

Capitalization and Punctuation Rules: Teaching students the art of conventions

The “Perfect” Shurley Teacher

Teaching Study Skills: Tips, strategies, and checklists that work

Trusting the Process of Shurley English

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This week, I evacuated from my home in North Carolina due to Hurricane Florence.  I headed out of town alone, following the others trying to seek safe shelter from the life-threatening storm.  Nine hours later, I arrived at my turnoff, and it was completely dark except for my vehicle’s headlights.  Imagine this…

I’m in the middle of a mountain range that is unfamiliar to me, and the GPS (yes there’s service) tells me to turn right, up this steeeeep hill!  For a split second I questioned Maggie, my GPS, as if I thought I might know better or more than her.  In that second of hesitation, my car stalled on the steep incline and a wave of panic came over me.  I took a deep breath, restarted my SUV, and said to myself, “Just go with it!”  I did, and I pushed the gas pedal to get going. 

With fluttering in my stomach, I made my way up the dark and winding road that had been paved before me.  Once I made it to the top of that steep hill, I still had no clue where I was going exactly.  I could only see the next step in front of me, and I knew I had to keep going. 

When I arrived, the destination home where I will be staying until the storm passes was also completely dark and unfamiliar.  So, with my measly headlamp and suit of “No Fear!” armor, I followed the steps given to me to let myself into the home to get it up and running.  I found the key.  Then, I found a light, and from there I just went with it!

The fear of the unknown can be incredibly scary, testing your patience and faith.  But, trusting the road that has been successfully paved for you can sometimes lead you in just the right direction!

Some teachers might feel the same way I did on the steep hill when they begin to teach Shurley English.  I imagine you’ve heard someone say, “Just trust the process.”  It seems this phrase has become a part of our daily verbiage.  I know that I’ve even said it while leading Shurley English trainings.  So, let’s take a closer look at how Merriam-Webster defines the words: trust & process.


a : assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something

b : one in which confidence is placed


a (1) : a natural phenomenon marked by gradual changes that lead toward a particular result-the process of growth

So, what does “trusting the process” mean when it comes to Shurley English?

- It means trusting that each feature of Shurley English has a purpose in the big picture of teaching students how to make the Grammar Writing Connection.


- It means trusting that the cute little Jingles actually help to lay the foundation for the Question and Answer Flow by using domain specific language.


- It also means having confidence in the format and sequence of the Q&A Flow, trusting that it will teach sentence analysis and reinforces sentence fluency and proper sentence structure. 

- It means trusting in the value of teaching the reverse approach to the Q&A Flow through Sentence Blueprints, in order to help students learn how to build and revise creative sentences independently.


- It means having faith that your diligence in teaching all the skills introduced in Grammar, Writing, Reading, and Speaking & Listening, while having students apply them daily, will pay off! 


- It means relying on the Writing Evaluation Guide and Traits of Effective Writing to help guide your students through the 6-Step Writing Process so they can become confident and competent writers. 


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To completely trust the process in Shurley English:

…you need to let go of the need to know what is unfolding next or why. 

…you need to be able to have the confidence to simply experience how the curriculum spirals language arts concepts, using repetition. 

…you need to have confidence that Shurley English will give your students the skills they need to make the grammar/writing connection! 

Just go with it and be fearless!

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.


What is Shurley English?

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When someone asks me to tell them about Shurley English in a nutshell, I still experience a nanosecond of wondering where to begin.  I mean, hey, it’s no easy task to capture the unique features of the curriculum and explain how they help students make the language arts connection using the fewest possible words!  Besides that, as the senior consultant, my preference is to take at least a full day to expound! 

The best way I can go about sharing Shurley English in a nutshell is to roll out three key points:  1) our purpose, 2) our goal, and 3) the methods we use to accomplish the goal. With that being said, here’s my spiel:

Our Purpose:

As a family-owned U.S.-based company, our mission is to empower ALL students to become competent, confident communicators. That’s our sole purpose, and we take it seriously! 

Our Goal:

The overall goal of our curriculum is to teach abstract language arts concepts in a clear and logical way, using concrete, multi-sensory strategies.  Our experts have organized the curriculum logically, sequentially, and systematically to support all types of learners. 

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Our Methods:

The method used to accomplish the overall goal teaches a unique combination of features necessary to build a solid literacy foundation. (Check out our "Making the Connection" wheel.)   The Teacher’s Manual provides step-by-step instructions to teach the knowledge and skills necessary to make the connection.  It also provides ample opportunities for students to practice the knowledge and skills they learn.

When a student understands the eight parts of speech and how they work together to build sentences, they are more capable of writing a good sentence.  Once they can write a good sentence, they can be taught how to organize sentences together to write good paragraphs.  As they learn to write well-structured paragraphs, students can be shown to organize paragraphs into essays properly. The pinnacle of success is when a student can write for all purposes using sentences, paragraphs, and/or essays that exude language arts competence and confidence!

Whew!  That’s what I call Shurley English in a Nutshell! Want to see it in action? Be sure to visit our YouTube channel.

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.