Grammar and Punctuation Exercises for Middle and High School Students  | Teaching Conventions in High School  Grammar and Mechanics Exercises Grades 9-12

Grammar and Punctuation Exercises for Middle and High School Students | Teaching Conventions in High School Grammar and Mechanics Exercises Grades 9-12

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Grammar and Punctuation Instruction Reimagined:
Are you teaching conventions and grammar in the secondary classroom? Are you tired of traditional grammar and mechanics lessons that leave your high school students feeling disconnected and disengaged? Imagine a teaching resource that not only empowers your students with the tools to master word usage and punctuation but also fosters emotional intelligence. This material does exactly that.  

Prefer the printed version of this resource?
Find it HERE on Amazon. 

Introducing daily oral language exercises (DOL), crafted by author and secondary ELA and Special Education teacher Anam Cara Cat (That's me!). These grammar and mechanics lessons are intended to serve you and your students during the first 5-8 minutes of every class period.

Unlock the Power of Social-Emotional Learning:
What sets this teaching resource apart is the essential social-emotional concepts embedded into each of the 60 daily exercises. Grammar and punctuation are no longer dry and detached subjects. This resource seamlessly weaves in valuable life skills, fostering empathy, resilience, and effective communication. The inspiring topics within the exercises address goal-setting, positive mindset, metacognition, self-love, positive self-talk, habit-forming, neuroplasticity, wealth, health, and more. Yes, teaching word usage and mechanics can actually be inspirational, too! 

Ignite the Passion for Learning and Picture Your Students Confidently Navigating the Intricacies of Writing While Building Resilience to Overcome Life's Challenges:
This resource will not only help your students master grammar and punctuation but also develop emotional intelligence, essential for success in and well beyond the classroom. This resource ignites students’ passion for learning by connecting the academic with the personal, making every lesson truly meaningful.

Watch as your students genuinely engage with and enjoy the daily DOL practice.

This 12 Week Tier One Writing Intervention Includes: 

  • 60 engaging daily exercises to teach grammar and punctuation with a unique social-emotional twist
  • ELA CCSS aligned with grades 9-12
  • Teacher key + tips and guidelines 
  • 17 bonus mini-lessons to clarify commonly misunderstood grammar and punctuation.

Why DOL? 

Daily warm-ups or bell-ringers 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.

Moreover, throughout my 13 years in the secondary classroom, I found that most secondary 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 the skill set that young writers so desperately need!

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 quick and, most importantly, effective!

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. Each daily DOL paragraph is based on modern neuroscience, positive psychology, and mindfulness and is intended to support students with their metacognitive growth.

Join the ranks of forward-thinking educators who are already using this resource to inspire their students.

Why Are Strong Writing Skills Important?

  • Improve Grades: There is a direct connection between mastering grammar and punctuation skills and achieving better grades across all content ares, particularly in English classes.

  • Boost Confidence: A strong foundation in grammar and punctuation can boost students' confidence in writing and communication.

  • College Readiness: Strong writing skills prepare students for college-level writing and academic success.

  • Clear Communication: Writing well is a skill that transfers well beyond the classroom. Being able to effectively communicate applies to all aspects of life and mastering grammar and punctuation contributes to this skill.

  • Real-Life Applications: Strong grammar and punctuation skills are crucial for success in future careers and everyday life.

  • Exam Preparation: Strong writing skills,  particularly as they pertain to grammar and mechanics, help students successfully complete standardized tests, college entrance exams, or other assessments that include a writing component.

This is DOL Bundle # 2. Find DOL Bundle #1 in my store HERE or on Amazon HERE. 

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 HERE , or the ebook is available as a FREE download on my website HERE.


Sometimes (because they are a bit embarrassed to admit they need this instruction in high school) students initially object to this daily grammar and mechanics 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 14 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 never argue again about doing the daily warm-up. :)


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.

I introduce the activity by explaining the expected daily procedure. I say:

  • 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. 


Basically, the game procedure looks like this:

  • 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. 

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