Click through the links below to understand my thinking throughout the Design Process of my Maker Movement Lesson.
Each of these assisted me in creating this one, final, usable product.
Final, Formal, Lesson Plan:
Grammar is often overlooked in lesson planning. It gets the back seat because it’s difficult, complex, learned intuitively, and..well, boring. However, making the rules of grammar explicit- at least in its fundamental building blocks- is important.
With my 8th graders, I spend a lot of time at the beginning of our grammar unit breaking down sentences into their parts of speech. After students re-learn those fundamental parts like nouns, adjectives, verbs, pronouns, etc, we shift our focus back to putting these pieces together in a meaningful way. I move into making those nouns into subjects, and those verbs into predicates. I used this Prezi this year to help students remember the difference. Then we move into talking about how commas are key to building onto sentences. This moves in support of the standards as I teach them to:
Use parallel structure.*
Use various types of phrases (noun, verb, adjectival, adverbial, participial, prepositional, absolute) and clauses (independent, dependent; noun, relative, adverbial) to convey specific meanings and add variety and interest to writing or presentations.
Materials needed for this Maker Movement Grammar Lesson with Little Bits:
- Little Bits kit (with working battery) for every group of 2-3 kids
- Paper (optional if internet device is available)
- Internet device for every group (optional)
- Pre-teaching about parts of speech, subjects, and predicates. You might consider using this Prezi somehow
- Student enthusiasm and engagement
Steps We must Take:
Step 1: Introduce to students the goal of the activity: to make connections with sentence parts (clauses). Teachers might consider a quick entrance survey, or an addition to “I Can” statements if this is the norm in class. Teachers are also strongly encouraged to revisit classroom procedures for activities requiring collaboration and problem-solving with moving parts.
Step 2: Give students only the essential Little Bits, and ask them to tinker in groups of 2-3. Depending on the learners, teacher might wish to designate roles to each group member, such as a recorder for video taping, someone to diagram findings, and maybe another to present findings to the class. These roles can depend upon the desired assessment for each learner.
After tinkering, ask: What do the “bits” do? How do they work? Why do they work? What are the essential components in order to make something happen. Inevitably, students will end up with the battery attached to the blue bit, and a green bit of their choice. Instructions are optional since the tinkering phase can lead to a measure of student self satisfaction when they figure it out on their own. The toys magnetize to one another, so success is confirmed right away.
Step 3: Name the components. Once students have the basic components, ask students to connect their learning from grammar. What does the blue bit represent? What does the green represent? What does the battery represent? Class discussion should be fueling into the decision that the blue is the subject, and the green is the predicate. Allow students to remain confused about what the battery represents.
Step 4: Give students more pink and green pieces. Allow time to tinker and play with the connections before asking: what could these extra pieces represent? Possible answers could include commas, dependent clauses, appositives, absolutes, etc, based on the preceding lessons taught to this point. Ask students to represent a sample sentence using the Little Bits. Make this their exit ticket, drawing the components (or tweeting, if tech is available) as they make sense of the connections. Or ask them to create a similar sentence to the model, and represent it with the Little Bits.
What other combinations can we make? What words/parts could the pieces below represent in order to make meaningful sentences?
Final Step: Ask students what the battery represents. It is the fuel, the source of energy that lights and animates the Little Bits. What similar concept does this for our sentences? Possible answers include sentence sophistication, topic consistency, Independent clause, Complete sentence etc. (depending on student need).
Extension: If kids finish early, or if the teacher desires to extend the lesson beyond this opportunity, there are several choices, listed below, that can afford this for kids.
- Ask students to give and take a Bit from a classmate across the room. What is their new sentence? What does the circuit do now? (light up, buzz, whirl, etc?)
- Challenge! How “big” or sophisticated can you make your circuit sentence. Does it work grammatically? (identify your independent and dependent clauses).
- Take a sentence from your genre report book (the book that my kids use to study a genre in an expository essay) and represent it using Little Bits.
- Ask students to blog/journal about their exploration as a warm-up the next day. What “clicked”?
- Ask students to create a video explaining what the Little Bits represent for each of the sentences they created.
Hopefully, if executed according to plan, students should be able to demonstrate increased knowledge of both circuits, and sentence structure with independent and dependent clauses. And even more hopefully, they leave English class this day with a smile, laughing about Grammar.