During state testing, I decided to teach some quick and easy grammar. I wanted to design a few fun lessons that would be engaging for kids and wouldn't tax their brains too much or require extended writing.
In our last writing project (which I really will talk about in more depth soon--the kids loved it!), I noticed that kids were having difficulty with subject-verb agreement. One consistent error that cut across ability levels was a problem with there is and there are constructions.
To make a fun lesson, I decided to start by having kids draw pictures. I gave them some directions for what to include in their picture.
This took a good 20-30 minutes. Kids used the fine point black markers to outline their work, and added color with colored pencils. Their drawings showed wonderful creativity and a healthy amount of weirdness. (Having fine point black markers on hand, like the Vis-a-vis transparency markers, is a trick I picked up from a kindergarten teacher. It really does increase the quality of student work.)
Then, I redistributed the drawings to different students. These students then wrote sentences about their classmates' pictures using "There is" and "there are". We had lively conversations ("What are these flying things in your picture?") and lots of friendly interaction. As students worked, I quickly circulated and found the kids who were still having trouble. I worked with them individually and helped them to straighten out their sentences.
The best part about the lesson is that students had an authentic, natural reason to write sentences using the target words. Instead of a boring exercise, they got to see their classmates' work and comment upon it.
The whole thing ended up with a gallery walk to share our creations!
So--nothing amazingly new or exciting, but a quick little two-day lesson that fit perfectly into a longer look at subject-verb agreement! Even better, kids seemed to hold onto their understanding of the use of these constructions and did pretty well on the short assessment I gave them a few days later.