Grammar thoughts

My daughter is also doing this Slice Challenge (I wonder if we are the only Mother/Daughter pair?!! Maybe a badge needs to be made!) and last week she wrote about GRAMMAR here.

As I read her very colorful, color-coded Slice, I realized how much I don’t really know/remember about teaching grammar. I pulled out Jen Seravallo’s Writing book and found this chart on page 358.


This chart helped me to understand these three tenses. Yet, it feels like it would be an abstract concept for my third graders so I don’t think I’ll be planning a lesson on it any time soon at school.

I do have a vivid grammar-related image in my mind from 4th grade. Starting at the door and continuing all around the room, were 4 x 8 cards, stapled side by side. On each was written in bold, clear print a word. A very specific work – a preposition! The cards were arranged in alphabetical order and our teacher would have us recite them in order.


I was in 4th grade in 1972 and 45 years later, I can still recite this list. Not sure I am a better writer because I can but I do know that as I revise, I do look at the preposition and will think, “Is this the most accurate one to use?”

As I was writing this, I found this list:

Screen Shot 2017-03-26 at 9.37.15 AM.png

It looks like my 4th grade teacher left out some, like aboard. Maybe that was before Amtrak’s ALL ABOARD ad campaign came out!

KEY – blue = preposition

13 thoughts on “Grammar thoughts

  1. franmccrackin says:

    Great post!
    Very clever, putting all your prepositions in blue 🙂
    This reminds me of an “aha” moment I had a few years back. I was in an inquiry group with Norah and we read “Twice as Less”, which is an analysis of math thinking and explanations by gifted African American students in High School. It turns out language really matters in math, and prepositions are key. Yet different groups use them differently. Anyway, you got me thinking about grammar and prepositions again, and in a real and living- not dry and dead-way.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. franmcveigh says:

    I love this (as well as Anne’s post). When in doubt about grammar, I literally retreat to the French verb conjugations that Madame had us do in our high school French class about the same time you were working on prepositions. I love Jennifer’s chart – so practical!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. shrontk says:

    Grammar is always my struggle. I have to research rules each time I teach to make sure that I am explaining it the concept the best way.
    My daughter is not doing the slice challenge but she also has a blog about life as a step parent and dealing with life issues. I love the connection through blogging.


  4. Lisa L2L4L says:

    Love this – as a “word nerd,” I take grammar seriously, and it seems I seriously need to study this a bit more in depth.

    YES, there needs to be a slicer badge for mom-daughters! I may challenge my 77-y.o. mom to slice now! Thanks for inspiration!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Joanne Toft says:

    A great post about grammar. I like the marking of blue.

    I also like that your daughter is slicing – my daughter is also a teacher but decided not to slice this year. Maybe I can get her engaged in slicing with us next year.
    Thanks for sharing!


  6. Anne Donnelly says:

    Reading the comments and both of our slices makes me wonder… why does everyone feel bad about not knowing much about grammar rules? Clearly we’ve all made it pretty far without that knowledge, so I’m wondering how necessary it really is to know all of the ins and outs… It’s pretty funny that you’re still able to recite a list of prepositions, but what’s the value of knowing that a certain word is a preposition in communication?

    Of course this is all different in a foreign language classroom…


    • sallydonnelly11 says:

      We clearly have made it far and it solidifies my teaching without many grammar lessons. It seems if I emphasize ways to generate ideas and ways to structure the writing on the page (using transition words and chunking into paragraphs) and finding the heart of the story and elaborating on this important part, there writing (correct verbs and prepositions and all) get onto the page. We write the way we sound so instead, I think all the oral practice before hand is most important. The grammar happens once we know what we want to say!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. readingtothecore says:

    Grammar isn’t my strong suit either, but I love this playful post. I do remember the tip my 9th grade English teacher told us about prepositions: anything you can orient yourself to a car. It’s not 100%, but it’s what I remember.

    Liked by 1 person

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