Tag Archives: language

Generating Gerunds with Viral Videos

My 8th grade inclusion students recently started learning about verbals.  As if participles weren’t fun enough, we had to add gerunds to the mix.

Last week, one of my quietest students came to me and asked, “Can we please practice gerunds in study hall? I don’t understand them at all!”

My first instinct was to pull up a practice worksheet on the Smartboard and use those sentences to teach them the difference between a gerund functioning as a subject, a direct object, and a predicate nominative. (At this point we haven’t discussed object of the preposition.)

Other than easily identifying a word that ends in “-ing,” my students felt helpless.

Sometimes I get these crazy ideas for teaching a concept; they just pop in my head.

Take this video, for example. I have no idea what made me think of a video with a tiny Yorkie puppy doing lots of amazing tricks. My dad had sent this video to me long ago, impressed with the dog’s talents. My Yorkie, Blue, is nowhere near as talented.

I told my class to watch closely and remember as many tricks as possible.

After we watched the video, my students were able to write all kinds of sentences using gerunds as the subject and as a predicate nominative.

  • Pushing a shopping cart is the dog’s best trick.
  • Weaving in and out of cups would be hard to teach.
  • The puppy’s cutest trick is skateboarding.
  • Wrapping herself up in a blanket was the cutest trick.
  • Painting is a trick I would never expect a dog to do.
  • Pushing the car with her nose was a cute trick.
  • Putting away the laundry is a trick I should teach my dog!
  • The first trick I would teach my dog is doing my homework!

Of course, you know me, I’ve been trying to think of other ways to incorporate viral videos into my practice activities in Tornado Time.

There are a couple of routes I could go.  I could always go with an old classic like this:

Or I could find a series of viral videos like this one:

Knowing your students best, you probably already know what kind of videos you’d want to use.  Think of how you could get your students writing with particular parts of speech or sentence structures by giving them a visual prompt like this.

What viral video clips do you love?

What great ideas just popped into your head?

I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments!




Understanding the Structure of Sentences

One of 7th grade Language standards is learning the different sentence types: simple, compound, complex, and compound-complex.

We’ve been working on this a lot, but some students are still not seeing the pattern.  I created this flowchart for them, and it seems to be helping.


Sometimes students can figure this out by following formulas:

Ind. = Simple

Ind + Ind = Compound

Ind + Dep = Complex

Ind + Ind + Dep = Compound- Complex

This flowchart provides a visual and a series of choices and steps for students to follow.  We made a small copy for each student to paste in their journal. Now the trick is to get them to reference them!

My Issues with Teaching Grammar and How I’m Going to Try to Get Over It

How’s that for a title?

What I wanted to write was: I. Hate. Teaching. Grammar.

I have never been able to justify or understand why we need to know the names of parts of speech. I just don’t get it. I have tried all kinds of grammar instruction and nothing seems to be effective. I don’t enjoy it. The kids don’t enjoy it.

As part of my research over break – determined to find a new approach – I discovered a book by Jeff Anderson called Mechanically Inclined: Building Grammar, Usage, and Style into Writer’s Workshop.


I don’t do a Writer’s Workshop, but I did feel like I could incorporate this technique into my read aloud of Out of My Mind and my opening activities each day.

The key thing that sticks out for me in this strategy is the idea of Mentor Sentences, which is providing great example sentences from the text you are reading and building your instruction around those sentences.

Instead of explaining the whole process, here is a Prezi I found that does a good job of summarizing the book.

This is also a good explanation I found on another blog, Dandelions and Dragonflies. There are also some free posters at the end of the post. 

As I develop a good plan and work out the kinks, I will write a post to describe my approach with my Resource Room.

Meanwhile, if you’ve used Mentor Sentences in your classroom or agree, or disagree, with Jeff Anderson’s philosophy, I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

Stumbled Upon: Free Language Stuff

I stumbled upon this great blog with hundreds of free worksheets in both Word and in PDF versions. These activities were created by a speech therapist and are great for elementary and special education students.


These activities are simple, varied, and unique…a sentence mazes, sentences drops, bulls-eyes, and many, many more neat ideas.

Here is a menu from the blog to show you the topics that are covered.


If you are looking for bell ringers, independent work, or simple ideas you can easily put up on the SMART Board….check it out.

The wheels are turning….so many possibilities!!
How will you use these resources?

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