Byte the Bullet! Teach Grammar!

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:

  • Sentence-combining;
  • 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.

 

 

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About Kate Brandt

Kate Brandt is a Professional Developer in the adult literacy field in New York City and she loves her job. She loves her job so much that she commutes 2 hours per day, from her suburban home in Shrub Oak, New York, to get to work. She loves working in adult literacy because she gets to work with people who are smart, kind, and dedicated.

One thought on “Byte the Bullet! Teach Grammar!

  1. I have incorporated Grammar Bytes into my instruction. First, I begin by doing a grammar lesson. For example, many of my students were having trouble with subject-verb agreement. I did a lesson on that topic with my class (this was about two 45-1 hour sessions) with some practice. Then, on the third day, I printed out the worksheet for the first interactive exercise on Grammar Bytes on the topic. I handed out the worksheet to the students. I also had laptops with the interactive activity on the screen. There were about 3 students to every laptop. Each student first had to answer the question on his/her own and then discuss it with their group around the laptop, then they had to enter their answer on the computer. The activity took about an hour.

    Using Grammar Bytes this way has been very successful. If students miss the class, they can catch up on their own on the website. Those with low computer literacy skills get support and practice through the online group work and the activity familiarizes the students to the website so they can use it themselves. Best of all, their grammar is improving.

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