Apps that will make practising Grammar and SPAG more enjoyable!

With the introduction to the controversial SPAG test, I am currently using some ideas/apps through the use of iPads to help the year 6 prepare for this test. 

Whether you agree to whether the test is right or not, the fact is, it is looking very likely children are going to sit it. In my personal opinion, I think if children can demonstrate correct spelling, punctuation and grammar in their writing they clearly know how to use it properly. You can't accidentally spell and punctuate a piece of writing correctly! Either way, SATS preparations will be underway to make sure children are fully prepared to get the best result possible.

Using these ideas/apps for Grammar helps the fact that I only have each year 6 class for 40 minutes before swapping over and then finishing with an assembly.

Mantle of the Expert SPAG games

Year 6 became the teachers this week by making their own SPAG quizzes!
Using the Mantle of the Expert approach giving the children the responsibility of being the teacher had the children completely focused. The ‘Mantle of the Expert’ is a drama technique that was developed and refined by Dorothy Heathcote. It is based on the belief that children learn best if they have a relationship to the subject matter being covered that is more akin to that of an expert than a pupil.
Children used the app Tiny Tap to make their games. Tiny Tap is a free app that allows children to use photos to generate questions. They record themselves reading a question and then circle the part of the picture that is the answer. Within the app, you can import pictures from the camera roll, use the camera, use the web or the in built drawing tool. It is such a child friendly app that I have previously used lower down the school in KS1. - See here.
Giving the children the responsibility of using their knowledge of SPAG to produce these games certainly gave a purpose to the task. We discussed the different types of questions we could ask, most of which were very similar to some questions they will be answering in  the test.
Questions such as listing different types of words and asking: which is the noun? adjective? adverb?
Listing different spellings of the word and asking which is the right one.
Writing a sentence with punctuation missing and asking where it needs to go.
It gave me a real indication of where the children are up to with their spelling, punctuation and grammar while providing a more engaging and enjoyable context for them to showcase their understanding. Here is an example of one of the games:
Augmented Reality Grammar
We have also used Augmented reality to provide a more stimulating way for the children to demonstrate their understanding of grammar. One class made some punctuation explanation videos which were then overlayed some punctuation posters- See the lesson here. While others made videos to explain different sentence parts such as nouns, verbs etc - see the lesson here.

Grammar Apps

Today, I used two apps that did have the children engaged and they were covering aspects of the test in a more interactive and fun way. My worry is that having to teach this material separate from normal literacy lessons can really cripple creativity and the imagination of some and in fact turn them off. 

Today's lesson, which lasted around 40-45 minutes started with the children working in pairs and playing games to remind them of examples of nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, connectives and prepositions. 

The games which lasted 2 minutes used the Kagan structures of rally robin and round robin. For nouns and verbs, the children had to name a noun and then their partner name another as quickly as they can, the first person to hesitate or take too long or repeat a word loses and the other gets a point. 

With adjectives and adverbs, the children worked in fours. Player 1 names a noun and then  state adjectives that could be used to describe that noun. Again, anyone who doesn't answer quick enough or says an adjective that doesn't relate (for example, if the noun is iPad, furry wouldn't be an adjective that relates) they are out the child who lasts the longest wins. For adverbs, player 1 states a verbs and they then state related adverbs.

 Apps to challenge Childrens understanding of parts of a sentence.Once the children had played the game they then put into practise these examples. To do this they used the app "Shake-a-phrase." The app focuses on having fun with words and has 3 different games and interactive challenges, the first a story starter – where children will be given the starting sentence to a story, the second SHAKE IT – which creates a new random sentence every time you shake – great for discovering new words and finally QUIZ ME: testing their skills with adjectives, verbs, nouns, prepositions and conjunctions.

We focused on the quiz me challenge and children were given sentences which they had to highlight examples of different sentence parts. Some started by just pressing any word and only realised after they were being scored and wrong answers cost points! It was also good for children to get instant feedback, click on a wrong word and it highlighted it red. It was a useful starter to our Literacy lesson and the children definitely had the chance to really further their understanding of nouns, adjectives and verbs. I found that this was an exercise that really engaged the boys as they received that instant feedback but also with the competitive elements of levels and scores.

Year 5 using Shake a Phrase app from Davyhulme Primary School on Vimeo.

The children also had time to use the app “Mind over Monster,” again a really interactive app. The game boasts 5 levels of increasing difficulty that works on punctuation, grammar and spelling. The aim is to bash the monsters back in their box! The app also has a monster mart that allows you to cash in the points earned to buy things like cake cannons which make playing the game more enjoyable. The children loved this app and it made practising these aspects of grammar much more enjoyable and interactive.

777 1 mad libs Apps to challenge Childrens understanding of parts of a sentence.
Although I have yet to use these apps with the Year 6, Year five had fun using the apps  ‘Mad Libs‘ and ‘Wordventure,’ two free apps which will have your class in hysterics. Basically the children make some really silly stories by adding examples of nouns, verbs and adjectives. Again this only works properly if children have a sound understanding of these features and the children quickly realise if they have done it right, if their story reads right. It also asks for plurals and specific types of nouns. Some of the texts that we produced had the class in stitches and they all wanted to share their humorous stories without realising that they were furthering their understanding of sentence parts.

If over the next few weeks, I use any other grammar apps I will add them to this list. 


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