Last Spring, I attended a conference session introducing a system of teaching parts of speech from modified Montessori symbols. Since I am one for colors, symbols, and tangible objects, I really wanted to implement this system in my teaching. The Montessori symbol for verbs is a red circle. This other system (the name of which escapes me) further differentiated be-verbs from action verbs. Action verbs were represented by a red circle, be-verbs were represented by a red ring. I wanted a red rubber ball — two actually — for a manipulative and to help tell the story of the verb:
An action verb is something a person, object, or animal can do. For instance, a ball can bounce. You can throw it, toss it, catch it, dribble it, kick it, or drop it. A ball can hit you. So when you think of an action verb, think of a ball and all it can do.
The symbol for a verb is red because that color says, “Look at me! This is something important!” A verb is very important for a sentence. The predicate centers around the verb. The verb has different rules it has to follow. A sentence must have a verb, or it’s not a sentence.
I’ve been looking for months. No red rubber ball. I didn’t feel like it was a very big request, but it seemed like I’d still never find it. A couple weeks ago, I was trying to teach my fifth graders verbs and was getting almost nowhere. I was desperate, so I went to Wal-mart. Hidden in the deep recesses of the sale shelves, I found this:
Now, it’s not exactly what I had been looking for, but it turned out really well. One of my favorite pasttimes is browsing Pinterest. While looking at pins under the ‘Education’ category, I found a PDF packet using Angry Birds to teach about verbs.
With this in mind, I modified the back of the ball to look like this:
After explaining the story of the verb, I had my students read their writing and put red circles underneath their verbs. That re-teaching alone brought the class up from 50% accuracy in identifying verbs to 88%. I taught this lesson again for my third grade class. First, I explained the story using the Angry Birds ball. Next, we brainstormed other action verbs. Then, we read a paragraph based on our literature story and marked all the action verbs with a red circle. As a fourth activity, the students received a writing paper with a character (or three) from Angry Birds. Their writing prompt was “What would the angry bird(s) do if you took it/them to school?” The goal was to get them to use action verbs, so ‘is’ and ‘are’ were banned. As a review activity, we sorted the Angry Verbs from the Not Angry Verbs (also part of the packet). Later, when I introduce be-verbs, the students will get a chance to expand their writing about their Angry Bird.
The students paid attention to the lesson the whole time. One student was so excited about the lesson that he came back later that evening for parent-teacher conferences wearing his Angry Bird t-shirt. He had already told his mom about the lesson and was able to then show her his writing. It made my heart happy.
I’m definitely saving this lesson for further use.
(The link for the PDF packet is on my classroom computer, so I will try and upload it Monday.)