Conjunction Junction …

Shall I pause so you can finish the song? If you are like millions of Americans, some of your tried and true grammar instruction may have come from the classic but catchy School House Rocks grammar videos. The series had a knack for taking dry topics, like grammar, and making them come alive. Grade 5 students in Rooms 101 and 102 recently had an opportunity to breathe life into their standards-based grammar lessons through a blended approach that was as easy as one, two, three.

One: Setting the Stage

The teaching team gathered instructional resources and shared them with students through the platform. Blendspace is a web-based application that allows teachers to combine materials in a variety of formats including images, documents, websites, videos, and quizzes. It is a great tool to build opportunities for students to participate in self-directed and collaborative learning. In this grammar project, students navigated from their teacher’s website to the blendspace for their assigned part of speech. Working in teams, they researched the carefully curated materials and took notes in preparation for their video while teachers provided support.

Noun Blendspace

Blendspace screenshot for noun instruction.

Two: Creating Tutorials

Nestled among the grammar resources was a video tutorial on how to create instructional videos using the Explain Everything app. Students used iPads and Explain Everything to create instructional videos for their peers. Explain Everything allows users to create dynamic video presentations through a combined interactive whiteboard and screencasting tool. It can record anything written on the interactive whiteboard or annotate inserted images, websites, or videos, and it allows for students to narrate their thinking as they create. While it really can be used to explain anything, in this case the teams used the tool to make a tutorial defining the part of speech and how it functions within a sentence with a special emphasis on the 5th grade learning standards.

Three: Sharing Knowledge

Gathered in the traditional class setting, students then viewed the videos and took notes in a self-created flipbooks as the teacher reinforced concepts from the tutorial. This step, which  rounded out the instruction, is where the magic really happened. Students were engaged in learning from each other’s videos and eagerly took notes provided by their teacher. The notion of students directing and taking ownership of their own learning is percolating through the education community. While research points to the perks of motivational and cognitive components inherent in self-directed learning, for one Hopkins teacher, her students’ reactions were proof of the concept.

“This is the first time they haven’t moaned about grammar!”

Grammar Flipbook

Student taking notes in parts of speech flipbook.

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