Teaching Tips for Improving SPAG in your school

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Grammar is a tricky topic for many adults, let alone children! How many times have we questioned our own use of a comma, apostrophe or split infinitive?! And since the new SATs papers came in last year, the SPaG (spelling, punctuation and grammar) tests have jumped up a new level, with students (and of course their teachers!) expected to know, use and understand a vast number of grammatical rules and terminology.

Most of our children rise to the challenge and surpass our (and their own) expectations when it comes to grammar but, what is certainly evident from many years of teaching this subject ourselves, is that is takes a LOT of practice to get these rules to stick for the majority of children. So here are some tips which we hope will help:

1. Give children plenty of opportunity to use grammar in real life scenarios and across multiple subjects. Grammar doesn’t have to been confined to English lessons but can have a focus in writing up science experiments, maths problems and history too!

2. Come back to a grammar topic often, through quick starters and revision, adding a new twist on a rule each time.

3. Make grammar physical for those kinesthetic learners. Creating human sentence where children place themselves (as a piece of punctuation or part of a sentence using mini white boards or post-it notes) in a ‘human sentence’ as an effective way of making these rules stick.

4. Get parents involved. Oftentimes parents are unaware of the terminology their kids need to know so, running a grammar workshop for parents or giving them ideas of (digital or app-based) resources to help their child (and them in the process!) can be really valuable.

5. Have fun! Language is constantly evolving and it’s good to show children that adults get it wrong too, and that’s OK. Bring in some funny examples of SPaG disasters (along the lines of Lynne Truss’s classic Eats, Shoots & Leaves!) and ask them to come up with some of their own!

We are showcasing some of our best SPAG apps that teach kids about Grammar and Punctuation which are fabulous resources for you to use in class or to recommend to parents for use at home.

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