Do you find teaching vocabulary and grammar as something you have to do rather than something you want to do? There is a definite need to teach both grammar and vocabulary to elementary students, especially those with large English Language Learner populations. But it doesn’t mean it has to be dull, boring, dry, repetitive, exasperating and frustrating. I started to use Google Slides for the students to take ownership of their learning new vocabulary or grammar.
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Last year, when I started teaching Latin and Greek roots, I used PowerPoints, games and online websites to initially teach those affixes. But I wanted the students to own them. So I created a slide like the one shown below to have the students take a root and find a picture that would represent that root. I also had the students define the root, give example words and use it in a sentence. I admit at the time it was very basic, but it was very motivating to the students! They really enjoyed challenging each other to find the most appropriate picture to represent the root.
This year, I will do something similar, but I will add one more element. For one month, I am going to have them keep a list of words with roots that they find while reading (at home, in class, wherever!) in their language arts journal. Then, as a time filler activity or for homework, I will have them add these words to their slide. I will also have them explain why they think the author chose that word with that root (craft and structure). I think this extra step will also give them more awareness and purpose for learning these roots. I will be doing the same when we start learning about prefixes and suffixes.
Currently, I am reviewing the basic parts of speech with my third graders (nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs). They knew nouns and verbs well enough so I just let them practice online with some noun and verb games (saves paper by not having to duplicate worksheets!). However, I really wanted to do more with adjectives because they have an added pay off of improving student writing. We quickly reviewed what an adjective was and I gave them some links to watch a video about adjectives and a quick online game. My purpose was to make sure they already had a bank of adjectives that we could then expand later when I taught shades of meaning.
I designed a Google Slides template in which the students would search for an animal picture (we did the first one together using a dog as shown above). Then we brainstormed 4 words that would describe that particular dog in the picture. I designed the slide with a black background on purpose. If you put a white text box on a black background and try to make it fit an irregular shape (the speech bubbles), they would not fit well and it would not look good. So I introduced the term (and adjective) TRANSPARENT. Now the text box would not block or look out of place. I also wanted to show them that using a black colored font on a black background would not show up either. So I showed them how to change font colors.
They already had learned how to create a text box and how to center and make the font larger. But then I also showed them how to center the text in the MIDDLE. These formatting techniques will be important as we progress through the year. Finally, the last technology part to teach them was to learn the DUPLICATE command.
I asked: are you getting tired of creating the same text boxes and formatting them every single time? Then learn how to use the duplicate command and keyboard shortcut! They were very happy to learn this shortcut. I also showed them how to use it to duplicate slides. Each student duplicated the blank template slide 2 more times for a total of 5 slides. Now they continued adding a picture to the slide (they got to choose any animal) and adding the adjectives.
The next step is to transfer this to writing. I will have them choose one of their slides and they will use the picture and the 4 adjectives to write a description of the animal such as: The tame dog sat next to its owner. The hungry dog then begged for food. The happy dog wagged its tail when it was fed. Then the tired dog took a nap. The sentences will have to be related and tell a mini-story.
Next week we begin the study of adverbs. Adverbs can be difficult for third graders so I will be introducing adverbs with read alouds and a poem that we can share-read together. We’ll probably make an anchor chart interactively and then the practice will be on Google Slides using a template. In the template, the student will be given a picture. The student will think of a VERB that describes what’s happening in the picture. The next step is to think of 3 ADVERBS that describe the verb. I gave them a hint of adding -ly to an adjective to scaffold the activity. Eventually we’ll move on to other types of adverbs that tell WHEN and WHERE and HOW MUCH. For now we’ll start with adjectives that tell HOW. Here’s the example of the template below. By the way, I really like adding bold colors against a black background. First, the color blocking make is easier to read text on screen. Color always generates an emotional response…and it just looks fun!
Using Google Slides in conjunction with other teaching strategies can take dry and boring vocabulary and grammar skills and make them more interesting and more meaningful.
A big shout out to RebeccaB Designs for the backgrounds and labels for the templates.
A big shout out to Illumismart for the teacher and kids clip art.
You can find both clip artists on Teachers Pay Teachers.