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English Online. Every child literate - a shared responsibility.
Ministry of Education.

Ideas for the Classroom: The Grammar Toolbox

Purpose: Exploring Language

Strands: All Strands


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Possible Contexts Reading and writing time. Focus or discussion groups. Whole class during reading of shared text. Reading and writing time. Individual conferences. Focus groups. Language study of different text types. Texts related to a topic. A language study, such as:

  • New Zealand literature;
  • poetry;
  • a literary genre. A language study, such as:
  • origins of words in the English language;
  • growth and change in the English language.

Suggested Activities Following the reading of a text and discussion of meaning, teacher and students:

  • discuss language features of the text by using appropriate terminology and reinforcing with Cloze activities;
  • close read a section of text to examine words and word classes;
  • use well-known texts to find and identify word classes such as My Bike for nouns and pronouns, verbs, prepositional phrases; Pets for adjectives, contractions, punctuation. Teacher and students:
  • identify the roles of word classes in sentences;
  • explore alternative language choices in a line and how the meaning changes;
  • study a nonsense poem such as “Jabberwocky” to examine how readers can interpret meanings of an unknown word from its position in a sentence, and rewrite a part of the text in conventional language, demonstrating understanding. During the study of a poem, students:
  • paste a copy of the poem onto a large page, and use highlighter to identify features such as simile, metaphor, elision;
  • discuss, and draw conclusions about, the author’s message and purpose, justifying decisions by references to the language features;
  • present the poem in another form, comparing the language features in a diagram or other visual format. Students play the "Marienbad Game":
  • A sentence is written, and student groups try to eliminate words while retaining a meaning.

They explore the functions of words in a sentence.

Students explore the formation of new words. They:

  • identify words in English that have their roots in another language;
  • explore word formations such as "motel" and "smog" to make generalisations;
  • search for and interpret acronyms in common use.

Terminology Words and word classes. Tenses. Sentences and types of sentence. Punctuation. All previous terminology. Lexical and grammatical words. Connotation. Denotation. New terminology as above and all previous terminology. All previous terminology.

Exploring language content page

Published on: 25 Feb 2009