Sunday, March 13, 2011

Why Teach 7th and 8th Grade Students Nouns?

The ability to determine that a basketball is a common, singular, concrete noun seems like a relatively useless parlor trick.  Though there appears to be little value in knowing this, I believe that this is fundamental to learning the more valuable skills of understanding sentence structure, punctuation, and grammar.  When I was in high school, I remember struggling to write papers.  Not because I didn't have any good ideas to express, but because my understanding of sentence structure was poor enough to limit my expression.  Since I didn't have mastery of punctuation, I found myself rewording my ideas just to fit in the few templates that I had mastered.  For this reason, I believe it is important to teach students about parts of speech and, ultimately, how to clearly and fluently express their ideas in writing.  So I start at the beginning with my 7th and 8th grade students.  I figure that if they don't know how to recognize nouns and verbs, they won't learn to identify subjects and predicates.  If they don't learn to identify subjects and predicates, they won't be able to understand clauses and punctuation rules.  I never presume that my job has been done for me, so I reteach my students nouns, even if they claim to have mastery.  I find that teaching my seventh and eighth grade students more advanced information about nouns seems to raise their interest and the value of my lesson.  Therefore, I show them concrete and abstract nouns.  I teach them when one should add just an apostrophe an no "s" to show possession.  And I fuse these concepts along with the basics into one quick lesson.  After we have covered the basics, I have them practice identifying nouns with these noun worksheets, and then we move on to verbs. 

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