The TASC Writing Skills test requires that students understand basic sentence structures, punctuation marks that are used with these structures, and an understanding of certain types of grammatical errors. Grammar Bytes has a wealth of resources to help both teachers and students develop a firm grasp of these often tricky points. And, it can actually be fun!
Here are some of the TASC emphases for grammar:
- Proper use of the comma, semi-colon and dash;
- Parallel structure;
- Active and passive voice.
Grammar Bytes has the following resources to help students “conquer” these grammar points:
PowerPoint presentations and Handouts for various basics, including comma splices/fused sentences, fragments, and commas. In addition to these, a teacher or student can click on “Rules” at the bottom of the page, and be given an extremely clear explanation of how to look for and fix comma splices, verb tense errors, or any other of the common grammar mistakes people make.
Of particular interest for students are the interactive computer-based exercises, which students can do in a computer lab or at home if they have internet access. These are very motivational—when you get it write there’s a big “thumbs up” page or a barking dog. Gratifying! What’s also very helpful for students is that they can click on an “explanation” for why the sentence they just worked on was correct or incorrect.
Until I found Grammar Bytes, I probably would have been too scared to take on parallel structure in the classroom—it just seemed too complicated and potentially confusing to students. But then I encountered their excellent Powerpoint on parallel structure that uses visuals and plenty of examples to help students understand what parallel structure is all about, and to get comfortable with it. The explanations are very clear and the handout that students can work on to get this skill under their belts look very much like multiple choice questions on the TASC, so this site provides excellent practice.
One word of caution: As an HSE teacher, I would steer away from some of the more advanced content. “Comma tips,” for instance, uses a lot of grammatical terminology, which I think represents a mental overload for students.