In the secondary English classroom, it can get tricky making a grammar lesson interesting to seventh-graders. Last school year, as I was going through my master’s classes, I had to create a grammar lesson and videotape myself teaching it. Some of my students were having trouble with proper punctuation, such as correct comma placement. So, I decided to do my lesson on capitalization and punctuation. I have found a great grammar website that has tons of different presentations, handouts, and exercises called Grammar Bytes (I’m sure many of you English teachers have heard/seen this site!). I incorporated a powerpoint presentation from the website, and combined it with a clip from one of my favorite television shows, The Big Bang Theory. Here is how I implemented the lesson:
1. I reviewed over proper capitalization from our previous lesson. I wrote down on the board all the different times they need to capitalize words.
2. Next, we went through a presentation on punctuation from the Grammar Bytes website. I created fill-in-the-blank notes to accompany the presentation and to allow the lesson to flow quicker. The presentation covers end marks, commas, semicolons, and apostrophes. At the end of each presentation, they always have a quick test to determine what they learned. So, I had them quietly answer the ten question multiple-choice quiz, then we went over their answers as a class. You can decide if you want to take the quiz as a grade. On this day, I did not.
3. Then, to supplement the presentation, I had the students participate in a punctuation activity by watching a clip from The Big Bang Theory. I scoured YouTube, and found a short clip that was appropriate to show in the seventh-grade classroom. I used a scene between Sheldon and Amy having a dialogue about how relationships are not easy for Sheldon. I first showed the scene to the class so they could see how the dialogue was exchanged. Then, they were given the script with capitalization and punctuation errors in it (here are the answers). They watched the clip again, and this time, they began to correct the errors.
4. After they corrected the scene individually, we went through it line-by-line, pointing out the corrections they made.
5. For homework, I showed the class an even shorter clip from The Big Bang Theory. It was the scene between Penny, Sheldon, and Arthur where Arthur is showing them how to make a potato clock. I gave students the incorrect dialogue script as I did with the previous activity, to correct at home (here are the answers).
This lesson went pretty well, and the students caught on to punctuation better by watching the clips. They began to make some connections between the dialogue and essay writing. One student made the comment that the word “and” should not be capitalized because you do not need to start it at the beginning of a sentence. This is true when it comes to formal writing. However, since this was a scene of dialogue he was correcting, I had to explain why it was correct in this situation.
This lesson is covered by the Alabama course of study grammar number thirty-seven which is to demonstrate command of the conventions of capitalization and punctuation.