For many students, basic understanding of English grammar comes from "hearing" written text in their heads. If you ask a student how he or she spotted a grammatical error, the answer is often, "It didn’t sound right." For subject-verb agreement, contractions, punctuation, and other basic grammar topics, this strategy is quite effective.

However, for the more complex grammar required in AP English or college-level English, "hearing" is no longer sufficient. Identifying dangling modifiers, types of phrases, and parts of a sentence require an intellectual understanding of the subject.

Using Storyboards for Grammar Practice

Here are two storyboard examples to master concepts like appositives and identifying the different types of phrases (prepositional phrase, adjective phrase, adverb phrase, infinitive phrase, participial phrase, and gerund phrase).

It is frequently difficult to keep students engaged when discussing grammar. The subject matter is challenging and not easily relatable. While repetitive drills are somewhat effective at reinforcing these concepts, they too, are not engaging to students. One way to teach grammar while encouraging creativity and a deep understanding of learning objectives is to use storyboards.

Having students illustrate grammatical concepts with storyboards gives them a deeper understanding of the topic and makes them more likely to correctly identify a structure or phrase in reading materials and tests. Adding their own pictures and text gives them the chance to be creative and to experience the practical application of the material.

While students get the chance to create the most interesting prepositional phrase they can devise, you have the ability to easily assess a student’s grasp of the topic. The clear, concise illustrations and captions of a storyboard convey a student’s mastery of a concept immediately.

Advanced English Grammar Activities

  • Create a storyboard that includes all six possible uses for a gerund (subject, predicate noun, direct object, indirect object, object of a preposition, apposition).

  • Create a storyboard that uses some, or all, of the types of clauses (independent/dependent, adjective dependent, adverb dependent, noun dependent, etc.)

  • Create a storyboard using various types of phrases (adjective phrase, adverb phrase, prepositional phrase, participial phrase, infinitive phrase, gerund phrase.)

  • As an assessment, have students identify or correct grammatical errors in a pre-made storyboard, and include the reason for the correction.

Common Core

Mastering high-level grammar concepts fits Language requirements of Common Core and State Standards. Using storyboards to reinforce grammar allows students to "demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking" (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.11-12.1) and "interpret figures of speech", (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.11-12.5a). Understanding these advanced English grammar concepts will allow students to develop and enrich their own writing.

Find more activities like this in our 6-12 ELA Category!
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