Many high school students greet the concept of grammar instruction with grunts and groans. This requisite portion of any English class often means repetitious worksheets and essays bloodied with red pen. While it is vital that teachers instruct their students on the finer points of grammar,this instruction does not have to be painful. High school English teachers can add some pizazz to their grammar instruction and increase their students' overall enjoyment of the lesson by engaging them in some fun grammar instruction activities.
Provide real life examples. Replace tired textbook examples like, “Tom and Sue went to the store.” with realistic examples that will grab your students' attention. Try a sentence like, “Antwon and Ren'Nesha bought some hotdogs at Netty's Hotdog Stand.” If you place student names and local locations in the sentences, students will be even more intrigued and less bored with grammar instruction.
Use humorous sentences as examples. Funny sentence examples can increase student interest in the activity. Include jokes relevant to the school. For example, if you have a science teacher in your school who has a pet snake, you could write a sentence about this snake escaping and hiding in the principal's drawer, such as, “Mrs. Anderson screamed when Sally the Snake slithered into her drawer during lunch.” While your sentences likely won't have students busting a gut, they may provide just enough of a chuckle to keep the students engaged in the lessons.
Create color coded sentences. Mix grammar with art by allowing students to create color coded sentences. Instead of just marking parts of speech as nouns, verbs and adjectives, create a color key and ask students to re-write the sentences writing the nouns in red, the verbs in blue and the adjectives in green. Encourage students to decorate their sentences and hang them up as a festive, grammar themed decoration.
Play games to review concepts. Instead of just presenting students with a review worksheet, engage them in the completion of a review game. Complete sentence diagramming races in which students race against each other to correctly diagram a sentence in the shortest amount of time. Try punctuation challenges in which students are given a punctuation-less sentence and asked to add the symbols as needed.
Challenge students to attempt uncommon grammatical structures. By high school, students are ready to step out of their comfort zones and compose sentences that vary from the standard subject, verb, object construction. Encourage students to use more complex sentence structures and use compound sentences as well as varying their sentence structure.
Celebrate student success. Students may be more inclined to put effort into learning grammar if their successes are rewarded. While many teachers stop rewarding students for strong academic effort in lower grades, high school students can still benefit from and appreciate this practice. If your students are progressing nicely in their grammar development, recognize this fact to encourage them to continue to put effort into their learning.
Erin Schreiner is a freelance writer and teacher who holds a bachelor's degree from Bowling Green State University. She has been actively freelancing since 2008. Schreiner previously worked for a London-based freelance firm. Her work appears on eHow, Trails.com and RedEnvelope. She currently teaches writing to middle school students in Ohio and works on her writing craft regularly.