Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Grammar Rocks!

Conjunction junction, what's your function?
Hookin' up words, and phrases and clauses!

These words, while not Baby's first, are an icon of American culture stretching back to the early 1970s. I suppose that if you ask Americans of my generation or younger, almost all could identify this song, sing or hum it, and list several more Schoolhouse Rock videos they enjoyed!

Schoolhouse Rock was part of America's all-too-brief commitment to ensuring that at least THREE minutes out of every hour of Saturday morning television would serve some educational purpose. ABC aired this delightful music video series, helmed by creative genius Bob Dorough, helped by George R. Newall and Lynn Ahrens; CBS did current events snippets called "In the News..."; um, we didn't get NBC where I grew up, so I have no idea what their idea of educational programming was.

There are a total of sixty-five three-minute SHR videos, with topics including math, science, American history, money, "Earth" and grammar. There are nine songs/videos that educate viewers about grammar and the parts of speech. The series has enjoyed a well-deserved afterlife in VHS DVD and on YouTube (I hope Dorough got rich first!), and there are numerous internet sites that share lesson plans utilizing the songs.

Well, none of them worked for me, since I teach high school boys, and most of the folks contributing lesson ideas are elementary teachers. I took the time to DL the Grammar Rock videos, and find a website where I could crib the lyrics ( I created a two-column document that students could use to read along ... BUT I still didn't have the activity that would turn entertainment into education for this set of students.

Now, one thing Korean high school students should know is grammar, right?! So, on that basis, I came up with my lesson plan. I will show them the videos in a grammatically logical order, they will watch the videos and record the key facts about each featured part of speech. I even created a handout:

As we watch the vids, I point out the definitions contained in the songs, reiterate a few examples, and let them fill it out. Definiton goes on the top line, examples on the second line. I realize this is pretty simple, but it's worked this week.

At the end of the lesson, students have a nice review sheet with definitions for nine of the parts of speech, plus some examples of each. Simple, but effective.


Chris said...

"I'm just a bill, and I'm sitting here on Capitol Hill...", oops, that wasn't from the grammar series.

Interesting, on any blogger website these days, I have to click "refresh" to get the verification letters to show up. The first time the comment page opens it shows just an "X".

John from Daejeon said...

"we didn't get NBC where I grew up"

You weren't the only one who missed out on NBC programs, and when it was finally available in my neck of the woods (mid 1980's), it had to share bandwidth with the local PBS station in the upper stratosphere.

However, their late contribution to educational PSAs were first called One to Grow On and then "The More You Know." My favorite had to be this one about the evils of portable/mobile/hand (the probably South Korean term) music.

Tuttle said...

Chris: That happens to me on some blogs, too.
JFD: I suspect I'm a bit older than you as the One to Grow On PSAs were after I graduated college... so they must have had a different approach back then. Googling on "NBC saturday morning psa 1970s" mainly informs one that NBC "abandoned its Saturday morning cartoon lineup in 1992..."

Still, clicking through the links reminded me how much crap is on American TV.