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.

The Beginner's Mind: Learning to take risks

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As a kid, do you remember the first time you took the training wheels off and tried to ride your first bicycle?  In the beginner’s mind, it was the next step in being a big kid, and it meant being open to making mistakes and being willing to take a huge risk. 

Years later, I can remember feeling the same way when I began teaching my first yoga class.  Again, in my beginner’s mind, I had the same butterflies in my stomach.  I had the same jittery legs, a similar mindset, and those sweaty palms that showed up to accompany me on my new adventure.  I was older and wiser, so I knew I was outside of my comfort zone and had to dismiss my nerves to just do it.  Although I made mistakes that day, I recognized my own courage and bravery in trying something new. 

It’s like the first year I taught Shurley English.   Once I understood its methodology, it became like a second language to me.  Sure, I felt the butterflies…because it was new!  It was new to my students too.  They also had the beginner’s mind, and I always tried to be mindful of that anytime I taught something new. 

With practice, my students learned to speak up, to find their voice in writing, and to become competent, confident communicators!  That’s a huge deal.  It all starts by recognizing how it feels to learn something new—and with practice—to move beyond the beginner’s mind

I learned that practice doesn’t always make perfect, but practice does make progress and growth.  Being outside of your comfort zone is where the real growth happens, and that takes practice.

You have the unique opportunity, as a teacher, to create an environment that encourages students to take risks.  When your students see you work outside of your comfort zone, trying something new, they will be more likely to do the same.  Shurley English allows you to teach much more than language arts.  So, be compassionate and kind and never forget what it feels like to try something new.  Always strive to teach and learn from a beginner’s mind, and grow from there.


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Lesson Planning: Embracing the Beginner’s Mind

The beginning of a new grading period or unit of study is the perfect time to have a quick lesson discussing the beginner’s mind. Give each student a pink eraser to remind him/her that learning is about progress, not perfection.  The pink eraser serves as a reminder that it’s okay to take risks. 

  • Place an eraser on each desk without an explanation. 

  • Begin a class discussion about taking risks, being outside of your comfort zone, and trying something new. 

  • Create a bulletin board, journal writing prompt, or implement a daily/weekly share-time designed to celebrate being a beginner. 

  • Don’t forget to celebrate your growth as a teacher….you’re amazing! 

How to Manage Stress During the Holiday Season

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There are only seven shopping days left before Christmas! (Let that sink in for just a minute!) I know that Christmas is supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year, but right about now, I’m feeling a little less than wonderful!  The very idea that I only have a handful of days left to select, purchase, and wrap gifts for my family stresses me out!  I’ve never been this unprepared!

People deal with stress on a daily basis, but it’s no secret that stress runs extra-high during the holidays.  With all of the Christmas programs, parties, shopping, baking, etc., most people will experience stress in some form or another during the season. 

There are four common types of stress, according to Dr. Karl Albrecht in his book entitled, “Stress and the Manager.”  In it, he states that if a person can understand the common types of stress and know how to anticipate them, stress can be managed much easier.  Albrecht’s four common types of stress include:    

A. Time Stress- when you worry about time or the lack of time

B. Anticipatory Stress-when you worry about upcoming events

C. Situational Stress-when you’re in a scary situation and you have no control over what is happening

D. Encounter Stress-when you worry about interactions with a certain person or a certain group of people

Sometimes, no matter how mindful you are about the four common types of stress, life just happens!  Instead of sticking your head in the sand, blowing up, breaking down, or whatever your style under stress happens to be, why not try some instant stress relievers!  These ideas don’t cost a thing, and they just might help no matter what type of stress you have to manage!

Instant Stress Relievers:

Take a “Breathing-Break.”  That’s right.  Set aside a few minutes to concentrate on taking some deep, relaxing breaths.  Focus on the air coming in and going out of your lungs.  Scientists say that a deep breathe sends a message to your brain to calm down and relax.

Take an “Exercise-Break.” Scientists have found that exercise reduces stress, so take a brisk walk during your break, or have fun climbing some stairs!  Exercise will improve your frame of mind.

Make Yourself Laugh. Watch a comedy show on television, or go to a funny movie.  Check out babies laughing-out-loud on a YouTube video.  Read some jokes and laugh out loud yourself!  Laughter is an amazing stress reliever.   Data is mounting on the short-term and long-term benefits to laughter, and stress reduction is at the top of the list.

Give or Receive a Hug. Hugging is universally comforting, and according to scientists, hugging reduces stress.  Hug your kids.  Hug your spouse.  Hug your pet.  Hug, hug, hug!

Change Your Scene. This stress-relieving technique can be done physically or mentally.  Physically, you can walk to a window or into another area, etc., to change the scene.  Figuratively, you can conjure up soothing scenes, places, or experiences in your mind to help you relax and reduce stress. 

Appreciate the Positives. Focus your thoughts on the positive aspects of your life and the things for which you are most grateful.  Positive thoughts reduce stress and make life happier! 


“The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.” -William James 

From all of us at Shurley English, Happy Holidays!

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.