Written communication, even for the most
skilled authors, is a complex, constant quest. The more one learns about
writing and language, the more the self-challenge intensifies. For this
reason, school programs should provide explicit writing instruction along
with abundant writing experiences. Not only do students learn to write
through writing, the process enhances understanding of written language
and improves overall knowledge.
While programs focus primarily on the development of writing skills,
oral language must also be considered. The number of students in U.S.
classrooms having English as a second language has more than doubled in
the past decade and remains the fastest-growing student population group.
Native English speakers also benefit from structured oral language development.
Many common grammatical errors are present in both oral and written communication.
Research findings document that literacy learning is most efficient when
reading and writing are taught in tandem. These skills are so closely
interrelated that combining them in instruction is efficient and speeds
the attainment of proficiency in both areas. Studies show that the weak
link is writing instruction. When programs do not have adequate instructional
emphasis on writing, both writing and reading are negatively impacted.
Writing should be taught in meaningful contexts.
All too often, students associate writing with occasional classroom story-writing
sessions. In actuality, most writing is for utilitarian purposes. Educators
should provide opportunities to write for varied purposes. Not only will
this develop writing proficiency in many arenas, it provides ongoing,
meaningful writing tasks. These are some of the types of writing:
English words are divided into categories
according to usage, and students need to understand word function from
the earliest grades. The parts of speech are: verbs, nouns, pronouns,
adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, and conjunctions. Interjections (words
of surprise, such as oh or wow) are rarely used and can be taught separately.
Parts of speech explain how a word is used in a sentence, which means
that words often function as multiple parts of speech. This can be quite
confusing, as is shown with more.
ADJECTIVE More people than ever do not have
ADVERB Mother’s garden is more beautiful
than ever before.
NOUN I liked the idea better the more I thought
PRONOUN More were discovered as the search
make matters more perplexing, there is not universal agreement on every
grammatical matter. When there are several parts of speech for a word,
it can be challenging to ascertain what the part of speech is based on
its usage in the sentence. Conflicts among dictionaries and other reference
sources can be found. Confusing usages should be avoided, and teachers
should focus on information that benefits students at their instructional
Reading Manipulatives has color-coded Parts
of Speech Sentences. Students build usage concepts as they put the
scrambled sentences together. Each piece has an alphanumeric code that
denotes set and sentence number. Students must first sort the words into
five sentences. Next students put the sequential scrambled sentences together.
Then, as they analyze the sentences, students see how nouns, verbs, adjectives,
adverbs, conjunctions, and pronouns are used in sentences. This concrete
method shows students the function of words and phrases, or their parts
In many languages, verb construction is straightforward, following clearly
defined patterns. However, this is hardly the case with English. While
singular or plural forms and tense may be handled by simply adding the
appropriate suffix, many verbs have irregular forms. Additionally, auxiliary
verbs are necessary in some constructions.
verb tense denotes the time of the action or being of a verb. Tense is
always marked by the first verb in a verb phrase. If the verb is not a
simple present or past verb (she sleeps, she slept), the first auxiliary,
which precedes the main verb, indicates the tense (she has been
sleeping, she was sleeping).
Verb forms used with helping verbs are referred to as participles. The
past and past participle of many frequently used English verbs have irregular
formations. The Reading Manipulatives Irregular
Verb Cards clarify usage of 50 troublesome verbs. Students are given
the present, past, present participle, and past participle verb forms
at the top of the card. They must select the correct verb tense to complete
each cloze sentence.
While fluent communication is highly valued in our society, using proper
English is a daunting task. English is rife with irregularities, and acceptable
usages are occasionally revised. In addition, English has several times
more words than any other language, and new words are constantly being
added. For these reasons, improving communication skills, particularly
writing, is a tremendous challenge facing teachers and students.
students are taught to avoid a limited number of common communication
errors and writing pitfalls, they can improve their writing substantially.
These grammatical and syntactical errors detract from credibility. On
the other hand, command over written and spoken language enhances an individual’s
ability to communicate with and convince others.
Inaccurate usage of certain words or grammatical constructions is often
habitual. As a matter of fact, misuse is so common that many do not recognize
the errors. If teachers offer lessons on these topics and extend application
into assignments, writing skills of students are advanced. The following
are some particularly confusing usages.
The Reading Manipulatives Troublesome
Words & Usages skills cards demonstrate correct usages for these
grammar and writing nemeses. Application exercises then help students
to improve their communication by recognizing errors and learning correct
Most mechanics rules are absolute. For instance, sentences and proper
nouns begin with capital letters. Others have alternative acceptable styles,
but a writer must be consistent in the style that is selected throughout
a composition. Since a teacher or materials utilized in a classroom must
teach concepts, students should be taught specific rules for handling
these variable usages. Otherwise, they are likely to be inconsistent in
Reading Manipulatives offers two levels of Capitalization & Punctuation
cards. These sets assure that students review and apply all capitalization
and punctuation rules. Each card begins with a lesson on a category of
words that are capitalized or a specific punctuation usage. Exercises
on the cards then provide drill to assure that students understand the
rules and apply them accurately. All capitalization cards are to be done
first because punctuation cards drill punctuation rules and also require
students to add capital letters as needed.
This issue offers strategies for remembering
words that need capital letters. A reproducible student reference chart
lists the categories of proper nouns that must be capitalized, along with
examples. The one-page handout should be a valuable aid for students.
Capitalization & Punctuation Tips
A sentence is a group of words that expresses a complete thought. They
are written in four forms, according to function: declarative (statement,
includes most sentences), interrogative (question), exclamatory (sudden,
strong statement), and imperative (command).
sentence contains two essential parts, a subject and a predicate. In some
sentences, the subject is understood. Generally, these sentences are commands
(Get the dog out of the street.). The subject is who (person, animal)
or what (thing, place, idea) the sentence is about.
The subject is doing or being something. The first part of the sentence
contains the subject. A simple subject is the subject of the sentence
stripped of all modifiers. The predicate is the second part of the sentence.
It tells what the subject does, has, or is. Predicates always begin with
a verb. Think of a predicate as the "completer" of a sentence. Likewise,
the simple predicate is the verb alone. These sentences are divided into
subject and predicates. The simple subjects and predicates are underlined.
More Indians / live in Arizona
than any other state.
The country of China / has
the largest population in the world.
The nonpoisonous boa constrictor
/ squeezes its prey to death.
Understanding subjects and predicates helps students to write complete
sentences. Reading Manipulatives build this concept with Subject/Predicate
Match-Ups. Students must first identify the subjects (the part of
the sentence about which something is told) and the predicates (the part
that tells something about the subject). Initial capitalization and final
punctuation would be signals, so these should be omitted. Students then
match the subjects to the predicates, forming sentences that communicate
a complete thought.
able to select a topic for each paragraph and support it with details.
Next students must learn to combine paragraphs into compositions. Style
and quality are developed as they become more experienced writers.
the best way to improve one’s writing is to write, manipulatives
are effective for building some skills that are necessary for writers.
Students need instruction in order to learn to effectively use transitions
to build coherence in their writing. Most inexperienced writers have a
difficult time getting their compositions to flow. A composition as a
chain of events, thoughts, or ideas, and to be effective, the links need
to lock into one another without the reader noticing. It is well chosen
transitions that make this happen. Transitions
& Conjunctions manipulatives teach students the functions of these
words and expose them to a wide variety of transition word options.
Outlining is a powerful tool for writers, and it is particularly suited
to factual essays or reports. Prior to learning to outline, students should
be able to identify the topic sentence or main idea of each paragraph
they read. The Paragraph
Sequencing manipulatives improve this literal comprehension skill.
Once students know that each paragraph develops the story topic and is
about a main idea, or subtopic, they are ready to reverse the process
and learn outlining. At this point, teach outlining in leveled stages.
The Reading Manipulatives Outlining
Stories and Steps manipulatives teach outlining in these steps:
Level 1 – read an essay and arrange a manipulative outline
Level 2 – arrange the manipulative outline and then write
subtopics for A, B, C, and D
Level 3 – write the outline (topic and subtopics are given),
determining subtopic details
Level 4 – compose the entire outline using provided framework
After students can compose an outline, they should be able to write essays
from outlines. Initially, students should be provided with a straightforward
essay starter that clearly defines the content of each paragraph. They
should be able to use teacher-created outlines to guide compositions.
With practice, students can write their own outlines for essays, stories,