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!

Emotional Intelligence: How to boost learning with music

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If you are a teacher, you know that teaching—and learning—are emotional experiences. Thanks to neuropsychology and neuroscientists, we have some exciting ways to increase the joy in our classrooms, which in turn increases the learning. Why? It’s one of the most basic concepts in teaching and learning…happy kids learn new things easier than stressed out kids.

Eric Jensen, a pioneer among neuro-educators, suggests nine ways to ramp up the emotional intelligence in the classroom or in any learning environment. To help students connect positive emotions with learning, try adding in some of the following strategies:

  • Music

  • Games

  • Drama

  • Storytelling

  • Role modeling

  • Celebrations

  • Controversy

  • Rituals

  • Introspection

For the next several weeks, I will unpack each of these strategies and offer some examples of what they can look like in your environment. Let’s get started with incorporating music.

Whether we’re talking about vocal or instrumental music, classical or jazz styles, music from a radio, or from the streaming device of your choice, music in your students’ ears can elevate their learning. Jensen includes music because of what the research shows.

Music, as long as it is added intentionally and not overdone, can relax students. This “de-stresses” them and primes them for effective learning. We all know how stressed we can feel when too much information is crammed into our heads. It can halt our ability to listen actively and process new ideas.

But, music changes the brain’s neural map. When kids get to learn how to play a stringed instrument or one that requires the fingers to change positions, cool neural interactions happen inside the brain.

Since many schools can no longer afford music programs for the whole school, teachers who invite music into their classroom can still save the day AND positively influence their kids’ brains. When students get the chance to sing, dance, play instruments, etc., the parts of their brain that process music develop extra neurons! Voila! Better brains—better learning!

Shurley English makes it easy to adopt music in the classroom with musical and rhythmic jingles that teach grammar. Kids easily connect their emotions to their learning during jingle time. You can too! For more information about ideas to bring jingles and other brain-building activities to your kids, go to our website: www.shurley.com and check them out.

Remember to keep the link between students’ emotions and the learning process in mind as you plan and deliver all of your lessons.  Emotions drive attention, which in turn drives learning and memory.  

(This post is part of a series on Emotional Intelligence. To continue to part two, click here.)