Remembering the rules of written language can
be a challenge, even for adults. The way in which something is
spoken is not always the way it should be written.
To produce writing that is grammatically correct,
for example, matching the right form of a verb to a subject, students
need to do such things as attend to the task, self-monitor while
they are working, and understand how different endings can change
the meaning of words. To do this, students need to develop strategies
for remembering some rules and be able to recall others automatically
Here are some strategies to develop and strengthen
students' memory and use of rules during writing.
- Make sure to consider the students' native
language or dialect spoken at home. This can be important in
explaining to students the difference between spoken language
and written language.
- Help the student understand what type of grammar
rules are used when writing. Have students write something the
way they would speak it and then work with the student to "translate"
- Have the student complete assignments that
involve him/her supplying the correct agreement and writing
sentences with correct agreement. Allow the student to check
others' work for mistakes. Make sure that the student understands
why a subject and verb agree. Review with the student why a
subject goes with a verb. When the student correctly matches
a subject and verb, praise the student.
- Give the student a list of verb tenses with
commonly used verbs. Give the student activities that involve
supplying the correct verb tense. Give the student a writing
assignment that involves writing in only one tense. Have the
student check work for mistakes. Let the student practice conjugation
of verb tenses with friends. Praise the student for correct
usage of tenses.
- Give students a list of adjectives and a list
of places and events. Have the students choose five to ten adjectives
and one place or event. The students can then write a short
story or paragraph using the adjectives to describe the place
- Use games for students to practice subject-verb
agreements in a fun way. For example, give students cards with
subjects, verbs, and adjectives written on them. They can then
play a game of cards, drawing and trading cards until they have
enough words to form a phrase. Older students can make their
own cards by having each group of students write sentences,
putting each word in the sentence on a card. They can then trade
decks of word cards with another group in the classroom. To
avoid embarrassment for students who struggle with this activity,
students can play as teams.
- Identify verbs students misuse most often.
Put these verbs and appropriate subjects on cards and have students
play a game of "Concentration" by matching the subject
cards with correct verb cards.
- If students have difficulty with certain verb
endings, provide the students with sentences to fill in the
blank the appropriate verb ending. Begin by giving the student
choices and working up to having the student generate the words
on their own.
- Have students find correct use of grammatical
rules in their favorite books or magazines.
- Cut out pictures for students to write a sentence
about each picture or give students a list of words that could
describe the picture. Have the students choose which is the
most appropriate word. Students can also generate as a team
a list of words that could be used to describe the picture (adapted
from Miller, 1997).