Form Classes

After nouns and verbs, we moved to the remaining two form classes: adjectives and adverbs. We spiraled back to the noun phrase for more clarification and I talked about the potential of vocabulary lessons that use all four variations of a concept eg. variety, vary, various, variously.

Then I pulled out this ball and started tossing it from hand to hand. The looks of curiosity and sheer terror appeared on faces throughout the room. I had promised them kinesthetic games…

photo of an open lattice ball

After some words of caution about sensitivity to students with physical impairments (balls like this one can be easier to catch but it’s still a flying object) and consideration of disruption, I pitched the ball to a student in the middle of the class. I asked for various form class words and provided the structure words myself; students slowly built a rather glum story about corporal punishment of a little boy.

Yes, the ball was dropped. Yes, the ball bounced and rolled. Some students avoided eye contact with their peers in hopes of avoiding the ball. But overall, the activity got most of them involved. They offered up variations on the story game — draw names, have students act out their words, apply the concept of popcorn reading to popcorn sentence writing, etc.

Our last activity for the day involved sentence strips. I had purchased several packs at the local dollar store, and I also used a few large sheets of construction paper for a total cost of around $3.00 for 20 students. The directions are shown in the Prezi embedded below, or you can click on this sentence.

Students seemed more confident about noun phrases this time around. There was some concern on the verbs, as students wanted to use past tense irregular ones, but that was resolved quickly with a “of course you can use ‘ran’ for your sentence.”

Then the adverb writing and moving began. Some settled quickly on their preferred sentence, while others considered every alternative intently. I took a quick poll of what color paper started their favorite sentence, and by far students preferred white (where) and yellow (when). Without my even asking, several pointed out that they wanted to establish the setting before their main-strip sentence.

five variations on a sentence with adverbs stating when, where, why, and how

Once I made them trade their four adverb slips with a classmate, hilarity ensued, naturally. We discussed how my directions about verb choices — half used present tense and half wrote in past tense — could make their classmate’s yellow slip (when) grammatically unfeasible:

Yesterday the hungry hippo is studying…

Finally, I told them they could remove as many of the adverb slips as they wanted. Most quickly tossed aside the blue ones (why), because that part led to the most Mad Libs-esque constructions, and the majority also threw out the pink slips (how). After a parting admonition that more adverbs don’t always lead to a better sentence, I sent them off for a long weekend.

Next up: the seven structure classes.


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