Dear Teachers,

As you know, we are working through a four-part series titled "Hitting on All Cylinders" which combines the core literature your students are reading with vocabulary, grammar, and paragraph writing. Before we move on to Part III about integrating grammar lessons while you read and study vocabulary, I wanted to address a question regarding student absences.

Question: Dear Dr. D',

How do you handle Friday absences regarding the oral quiz?


Student Instructions for Making Up a Missed Quiz

    • Students with excused absences may take a make-up quiz at one of the following times of the following week: Monday at 3:45 P.M. or Tuesday at 7:45 A.M. Please arrange your schedule to sit for one of the make-up sessions. Please allow  fifteen (15) minutes.
    • Students who plan to be absent for school-sponsored activities need to make arrangements to take the Friday quiz on the day it is given or prior to that day.  Field trips are a privilege. Make sure your work is completed and your course deadlines met before you miss class to enjoy the privilege. Remember, you will need to know the definition and the spelling for each word. After the first week, you will need to review the previous lists because they will be included on the quizzes.
    • For extenuating circumstances, see or email Dr. Louis prior to the Friday quiz or before Tuesday at 7:45 A.M. of the following week. Taking responsibility for your work is a sign of maturity, and discussions with your teacher prior to a deadline will be looked upon favorably.

Part III in our four-part series is about integrating grammar lessons and grammar practice into your weekly plan.

Just like the core literature, the entire system revolves around that core grammar that your students must learn. So, we begin with development of that grammar. And no one can do it better than a department of English teachers, supported by the administration of a school.
    • One to three Vertical Team ("VT") meetings occur prior to the beginning of the next school year (spring is best).  
      • If the department does not have a Vertical Team in place, talk with your department chairperson about creating a VT with the approval of an administrator; 
      • Once a Vertical Team is in place, the Vertical Team Coordinator ("VTC") and/or Department Chair ("DC") will schedule a 90-minute meeting with the Vertical Team members (K-2; 3-6; 6-8; 7-12; 9-12; or K-12);
      • The VTC and/or DC asks someone at each grade level to be the spokesperson of that grade level (this person should be a diplomat and must be willing); and
      • The VTC and/or DC should ask an administrator to attend the meetings.

Here's how it works:

  • At the beginning of the fall semester, the students receive a list called "Vocabulary Sentences" (See sample below). 
    • The teacher distributes the "Vocabulary Sentences" list on the same day s/he gives the students their "Vocabulary Words" list (See Part II of "Hitting on All Cylinders");
    • Remember, we're "hitting on all cylinders," so everything is working together.
  • Students create three sentences each week, using three different vocabulary words (one per sentence) from the current week's list;
  • Students may create the sentences 1) with no assistance; 2) by reviewing grammar rules in their grammar textbook for constructing sentences; or 3) by attending a weekly grammar workshop on Mondays (See Grammar Mondays below.);
  • Sentences must be at least twelve words in length;
  • Students will highlight parts of the sentence per instructions;
  • The three sentences are due each Tuesday at the beginning of the class period.  TEACHERS DO NOT ACCEPT LATE SENTENCES. 
  • The three sentences are worth 30% of a daily grade; the other 70% is a weekly paragraph (To be discussed in the final blog of this series: Part IV).
  • Students may not copy or submit each other's sentences. Sentences must be original (unless students attend the Grammar workshop in which case one of their sentences may be the tutorial model -- See below); 
  • Points will be given for correct word usage and grammatically correct sentences.  Remember the highlighting instructions.
  • Grammar Mondays
    • Each grade level creates a Grammar Monday Tutorial with administrative approval -- An after school and/or before school tutorial;
    • Teachers alternate Mondays (e.g., We have three teachers that teach Grade 10. Dr. Louis has Week 1; Ms. Cooper has week 2; Ms. Menzies has Week 3; Dr. Louis has Week 4; Ms. Cooper has Week 5, etc.);
      • Students arrive from Dr. Louis' classes, Ms. Cooper's classes, and Ms. Menzies' classes.
      • Students sign-in upon arrival.
      • Each week, the grade level teachers receive a copy of the sign-in sheets to see who attended.
      • For thirty to forty-five minutes (allow one hour), the teacher explains the grammar rule, models the rule (best if the model comes from the core literature the students are currently reading), and assists students in creating their grammar sentences (All students in the tutorial may use the model sentence as one of their three sentences. Remember, the teachers have the sign-in sheets, so students who do not attend the tutorial may not get credit for using the model sentence from the tutorial -- this policy inspires more tutorial participants); and
      • At the end of the tutorial session, the students have created their grammar sentences, and the teacher has approved and initialed those sentences. As teachers score the three sentences (fast, fast, fast), they quickly see who is attending the tutorials because the tutor's initials or stamp will be on that student's work, and beside the stack of papers is the sign-in sheet for verification)
See below Vocabulary List sample for a Freshman Class
Week Grammar Workshop Due Date Special Instructions
2 Aug. 29 – Dr. Louis Aug. 30 Write simple sentences containing a simple subject and a compound verb. Highlight the verbs.
3 Sept. 6 – Ms. Cooper Sept. 7 Write compound sentences. Highlight the coordinating conjunction.
4 Sept. 12 – Ms. Menzies Sept. 13 Write compound sentences. Highlight the coordinating conjunction.
5 Sept. 19 – Dr. Louis Sept. 20 Write complex sentences. Highlight the main clause.
6 End of Six Weeks No Sentences Due STUDY!
7 Oct. 3 – Ms. Cooper Oct. 4 Write complex sentences. Highlight the main clause.
8 Oct. 10 – Ms. Menzies Oct. 11 Write compound-complex sentences. Highlight the main clause; circle the coordinating conjunction.
9 Oct. 17 – Dr. Louis Oct. 18 Write compound-complex sentences. Highlight the main clause; circle the coordinating conjunction. Bonus points if you use a semi-colon effectively rather than a coordinating conjunction.
10 Oct. 24 – Ms. Cooper Oct. 25 Write sentences which include one or more infinitive phrases. Highlight the infinitive phrase(s).
11 Oct. 31 – Ms. Menzies Nov. 1 Write sentences which include a gerund phrase. Highlight the gerund phrase.
12 End of Six Weeks No Sentences Due STUDY!
13 Nov. 14 – Dr. Louis Nov. 15 Write sentences which include one or more participial phrases. Highlight the participial phrase(s).
14 Nov. 21 – Ms. Cooper Nov. 22 Write sentences with at least two prepositional phrases. Highlight the prepositional phrases.
15 Nov. 28 – Ms. Menzies Nov. 29 Write sentences which include an adjective clause. Highlight the adjective clause.
16 Dec. 5 -- Dr. Louis Dec. 6 Write sentences which include an adverb clause. Highlight the adverb clause.
17 Dec. 12 -- Ms. Cooper Dec. 13 Write sentences which include a noun clause. Highlight the noun clause.
18 End of Semester Semester Exams STUDY!

Let me know if you would like other grade level "Vocabulary Sentences" lists. If I have what you need, I'm happy to send it.  Keep reading and writing!

Warm regards,

Dr. D'