Keep students engaged and support their development as writers by giving them opportunities to practice these key writing and grammar skills.
From crafting essays to filling out lab reports to responding to short-answer test questions, a great deal of the work high school students complete on a daily basis involves writing. One way to ensure students become better writers is to provide them with consistent opportunities to practice grammar and conventions throughout their time in high school.
Below are several types of writing and grammar exercises you can incorporate into your lesson plans to help students in your classes improve and feel more confident in their writing.
1. Parts of an essay exercises
Adhering to an established essay structure enables a writer to present their thoughts cohesively and lead their audience to the desired takeaway. Of course, doing so is easier said than done, especially for young writers. To make students more comfortable with common essay structures, try assigning exercises that zero in on specific parts of essays.
Looking for a place to start? Help students develop stronger body paragraphs by guiding them through how to properly embed evidence. After pre-teaching, assign Practice exercises that ask students to distinguish strong evidence from evidence that’s not factual, credible, or relevant, paraphrase evidence without plagiarizing, and use strong reasoning to connect evidence to a claim. As students master these skills, provide them with an opportunity to apply the skills by assigning a Quick Write that emphasizes building arguments.
2. Clarity and style exercises
Grammar practice focused on clarity and style makes student writing more concise, easier to read, and, ultimately, more interesting. For example, if you’re covering active and passive voice, start with exercises that ask students to identify cases of active and passive voice. As students become familiar with the differences in voices, move on to exercises that ask students to rearrange sentences to create different points of emphasis.
When it comes to giving students opportunities to apply the clarity and style skills they’ve developed, variety is key. Over the course of a year, consider assigning several Guided Draft essays, each of which delivers scaffolding specific to genres ranging from persuasive to expository to narrative.
3. Parts of speech exercises
Understanding the various parts of speech—and how they differ from each other—helps students craft strong sentence structures and correctly apply writing conventions like capitalization and punctuation. While many high school students will have spent a significant amount of time learning about parts of speech in elementary and middle school, assigning more advanced parts of speech grammar exercises is a great way to reinforce and expand student skills.
For example, have students work on pronoun-antecedent agreement by assigning Practice exercises that ask them to replace repeated nouns with appropriate pronouns, determine whether pronouns agree, and fill in missing pronouns to complete sentences. For classes of juniors and seniors, consider focusing on grammar exercises that show them how to identify the function of verbals in a sentence.
4. Text set-based exercises
Presenting grammar exercises in an engaging way ensures students retain what they’re learning and understand how grammar and conventions rules play out in the real world. Nothing makes skills practice come alive quite like situating it in the context of a high-interest text passage.
As such, text set-based Passage Quizzes are a highly effective way to facilitate grammar practice. You can use a Passage Quiz as a culminating assignment after students complete related exercises, as a starting point for an additional assignment like a follow-up Quick Write on the passage’s topic, or as a way to practice skills commonly assessed on the ACT® or SAT®.
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