DOL BUNDLE # 2: Daily Grammar and Mechanics Exercises for Middle and High School Students | 60 Paragraphs
Daily Oral Language, DOL, Secondary Grammar and Mechanics Exercises, Social-Emotional Learning, Inspirational Daily Writing Warm-Ups or Bell-Ringers for Middle and High School Students
DOL BUNDLE # 2:
I've had several emails requesting more DOL exercises with the embedded social-emotional topics, and it's finally finished and ready for your new school year!
Within this 70 page DOL bundle, you will receive 60 full paragraphs along with a teacher key. The paragraphs are based on several well-known, highly-engaging texts including Napoleon Hill’s book Think and Grow Rich, Shawn Achor’s NY Times best-selling book The Happiness Advantage, and David Schwartz’s beloved book The Magic of Thinking Big.
Find DOL BUNDLE #1 in my store.
Daily warm-ups provide structure and predictability for students, which helps tremendously with behavior management. The first few minutes of class sets the tone for the remainder of the period, so having a meaningful daily activity to begin class sets the stage for success.
Throughout my 13 years in the secondary classroom, I found that most students—even the best writers—need DIRECT DAILY INSTRUCTION with grammar and mechanics. Using these DOL paragraphs as part of your daily routine is a quick way to explicitly address this skill set that young writers so desperately need! Moreover, because each paragraph is related to personal development, you’ll simultaneously be addressing the social-emotional domain, which will keep your students interested and inspired.
WHY Daily DOL?
We learn through repetition, and daily DOL warm-ups will significantly improve your students’ writing skills! Students rarely receive explicit instruction with grammar and mechanics beyond elementary school, and as secondary teachers we often think they don’t need it, or we simply don’t have the time to address it in isolation. However, you’ll find these daily mini-lessons to be and—most importantly—!
In addition to strengthening your students’ writing skills, these daily mini-lessons allow you to address the social-emotional domain. Regardless of the subjects we teach, we all want our students to be socially and emotionally healthy, but we don’t all have the resources or time to teach SEL in isolation. These paragraphs are intended to inspire students and support their metacognitive growth.
Looking for another SEL resource? My book Birdseed: A Guide to Teaching Emotional Intelligence in the Primary & Secondary Classroom has been endorsed by the MTSS Coordinator for The Colorado Department of Education and by NY Times bestselling author and positive psychology guru Shawn Achor (author of The Happiness Advantage and Before Happiness). Birdseed is another daily writing warm-up activity that supports emotional intelligence, and the paperback is available on Amazon , or the ebook is available as a FREE download on my website
Sometimes (because they are a bit embarrassed to admit they need this instruction in high school) students initially object to this daily exercise. They might say it’s too remedial for them and insist they “already know this stuff.” Therefore, to justify doing it as a warm-up every day, and to nip the complaining in the bud, I have students complete the first paragraph independently as a pre-assessment. I tell them, “If you don’t need this instruction, show me you don't need it, and we can skip it in the future.”
Then I collect them, grade these first paragraphs on my own (I use a quick 1-4 grading scale), record the grades so I can measure growth throughout the semester/year, and return them to students. I have NEVER, in my 13 years of teaching high school, found that students don’t need this daily direct instruction. Upon receiving their graded initial assessments and seeing for themselves how much they need to learn, they will
Ongoing Assessments: I use every Friday’s DOL as a quiz, and then record those grades so I can monitor growth. On the Monday following the quiz, we review correct answers together. These grades could be considered formative or summative, depending on your grading model. You might consider allowing students to review past DOL exercises or notes during the quizzes.
Introducing DOL to Students:
I use DOL as a daily bell-ringer activity (i.e. the first activity of the day). This creates structure and predictability at the start of every class period, as students know exactly what they should be doing the second they sit down in their seats. While students independently work on DOL for 2-3 minutes, I can take attendance peacefully….It’s beautiful.
- We will be doing a quick daily activity at the start of every class period to strengthen your writing skills.
- (Project sample DOL on the whiteboard, hand out paper copies, or share with students via Google Docs and instruct them to open documents so they can see what DOL looks like.)
- When you enter class, you will immediately get out your DOL, which stands for daily oral language, and make corrections to the best of your ability on your own. We will work on one paragraph each day.
- After you have made corrections on your own, I will review the correct answers on the whiteboard.
- At times, I may call upon students to come to the board to make corrections.
- Every Friday, the day’s DOL will be considered a quiz and worth [xxxxx] points. Therefore, it’s important to pay attention every day that we practice.
I begin the activity by reviewing the What the Heck is a Clause? handout. Then, I give students two minutes to correct a paragraph on their own (one paragraph a day). Then, I make corrections on the board and have them follow along with me to ensure they made all necessary corrections. If they’re using paper copies of DOL, I tell them to use a colored pen or marker when correcting with me so I can quickly glance at their papers and see what they’re getting on their own and what they are needing help with. If they’re using Google Docs, I tell them to use a different color highlight when they make corrections with me, again, so I can see what they’re able to correct on their own and what they need help with. The first couple of days might take a few minutes longer than usual, but once students get used to the procedure, the entire activity shouldn’t take more than six to eight minutes.
*If you have the time, you can use the paragraphs as discussion prompts to generate whole group discussion after the corrections are made. Alternatively, one day you can do DOL corrections and the following day you can have students write a single paragraph response to the DOL they corrected the previous day. This way they have time to genuinely reflect on the messages embedded within each paragraph.
Another idea is to have students come to the board to do the corrections each day. They will need guidance (help from you and/or their classmates), and the activity will take a bit longer, but they love participating, and students always love writing on the board! You can ask for volunteers or pull a name randomly out of a jar. They engage more if they know they may be called upon at some point to do the DOL in front of the class.
If your students are making their initial corrections in a Google Doc, keep in mind that Google Docs will highlight some of the grammatical and mechanical errors, but this is okay. Only a few common errors will be highlighted, so there will be plenty of corrections to identify on their own.
The Grammar Game:
After students get the hang of the DOL activity and build up a bit of confidence, you might consider occasionally making a period-long game out of it. I referred to this as The Grammar Game, which we did every other Friday, and kids absolutely loved it! It will take the whole class period, and students can get pretty hyped up, so be sure to set expectations beforehand.
- You split the class into halves.
- You can let each of the two teams decide on a team name, which you will write on the board for score-keeping.
- You project the DOL onto the whiteboard.
- A person from team one comes to the board to make corrections to one full paragraph, and their peers on their team can help as much as needed. (You may need to set a time limit to keep them from taking too long to make the corrections.)
- Meanwhile team two is quietly making corrections to the same paragraph via their papers or Google Docs (but not helping team one).
- Once team one thinks they’ve made all the necessary corrections on the whiteboard, and they tell me they’re done, I say, “Okay, final answer?”
- Once team one says, “Yes, final answer,” I turn to team two and ask them if team one missed anything: “Did they miss any corrections that still need to be made, or did they make any mistakes with their corrections?”
- If team two doesn’t catch any missed corrections or mistakes, then team one gets a point on the board under their team name.
- If team two does identify a mistake that team one overlooked, they get the point on the board and team one gets no points that round.
- Be sure to do the final review orally and bring their attention to anything
both teams missed. It’s up to you if you want to give points when both teams fail to make a necessary correction. For example, if team one didn’t add a necessary comma but team two didn’t notice, then you may still give team one a point for the round, or you may say no one gets the point because neither team made the necessary correction.
- Then the procedure switches, and someone from team two will come to the board to make corrections with the help of their peers.
- Meanwhile team one will quietly work on the same paragraph via their papers or Google Docs.
- So on and so forth….
Again, this is an incredibly engaging activity, and the kids can get overly-enthusiastic/competitive about the game, so be sure to set expectations for noise levels and behaviors. You might also consider offering an incentive of some sort to the winning team, but even if they are just playing for the sake of winning, they honestly love this game. What’s even better is that they are LEARNING while they are having fun.