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Showcasing Erin Farley and "Grammar Slammer"


"The goal of Grammar Slammer is to allow students to master grammar at their own pace; as quickly or slowly as necessary," Erin Farley told Education World. "I wanted to build an atmosphere in which students could teach one another, work independently, work in cooperative groups, or work one-on-one with me; all at the same time."


During a Grammar Slammer, students work independently and together.

By the time Farley's seventh and eighth graders at St. Joseph Montessori School arrive in her Columbus, Ohio, classroom, they have spent three years diagramming sentences and learning grammar rules. Although in Farley's class they reviewed grammar through application in essay writing, peer editing, and classroom warm-ups, it just wasn't enough. And, because their knowledge of grammar was retained at different levels, Farley needed a unique method of grammar instruction, one that would meet the needs of those students who required virtual "relearning" without boring the others.

"I introduced the Grammar Slammer idea to the class very dramatically," recalled Farley. "At the beginning of class, I slammed the door and said, 'Welcome to the Grammar Slammer!' I told them that they were beginning a trek through the trials and tribulations of the world of grammar and that they were in control of their own destinies!"

Erin Farley guides student learning during Grammar Slammer.

Each Friday, Farley's students work independently in their grammar books and complete the exercises. They check their own work using the teacher's manual and work in groups when they need to. Farley monitors the class and makes herself available to answer questions. When they are ready, students take the chapter test; they must achieve a score of 90 percent or better to move on to the next chapter.

Although the Grammar Slammer is Farley's own in design, the concept is rooted in her own middle school experience. "When I was in seventh and eighth grades, Sue Truex, my language arts teacher, used a similar method to teach grammar," Farley explained. "She was the teacher who got me through middle school, and I want to be that teacher for my students. The concept of learning grammar independently stayed with me, and I adapted it to use in my classroom. The Grammar Slammer was something I developed on my own."

Grammar Slammer provides opportunities for peer teaching.

Farley has received positive responses about the grammar activity, especially from advanced students who enjoy moving through grammar at a quick pace. "I was surprised that no students assumed they knew everything and tried to take the chapter test without studying the chapter," Farley said. "I also was pleased to see the students making the most of their time," she reported. "I had wondered how focused the students would be with regard to self-learning when I was planning the activity. They proved to be great independent workers. I also was pleasantly surprised with the teamwork and the peer teaching that went on."

Photos courtesy of Erin Farley.

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If you're a teacher who has completed an interesting or unusual activity with your class -- or if you know of a teacher who has -- please let us know about it. E-mail a brief description of the activity, along with your contact information, to [email protected]


Article by Cara Bafile
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