As English teachers, it’s our duty to train the next generation of Grammar Police, arming our young people with the tools they need to correct and serve. An easy way to do this is to draw students’ attention to the grammar crimes that surround us. Google searches, Facebook groups, Pinterest boards, and your own keen eye will allow you to collect a wide variety of offending images to use in cadet training/grammar instruction.
1. Use as rotating background images/wallpaper on any computer in your classroom. Those facepalm-inducing billboards, headlines, and signs become a desktop wallpaper slideshow that runs on both the computer connected to the projector at the front of my room and all of the student desktop computers in the back of my classroom. The images are set to change every five minutes and my students love being the first to catch each fresh error as it appears. (Sometimes, they even stay into the brunch break to watch the scroll – seriously.) This method will also likely impress your administrators, as my assistant principal commented on the computer backgrounds on my recent evaluation. He liked how I was “creatively using unexpected resources” to keep students engaged in the subject matter.
2. If you have an English department computer lab or laptop cart, your site technician might be willing to install the images as the rotating background on all of those machines, too.
3. Print some of the photos to create a Real-Life Grammar Crimes bulletin board in your classroom or hallway. Encourage students to take pictures of any printed mistakes they find in the community and bring them in to add to the board. Maybe even offer bonus points, but be sure to require students’ faces to be in the shot so they don’t try to turn in random shots they find on the internet.
4. Use the images as an amusement/filler on days you finish your regular lesson with a few minutes to spare.
5. Drop a couple of images onto a grammar quiz or semester exam to decorate the paper and amuse your students.
6. Use three at a time as a weekly bell-ringer routine, having students identify and correct each error.
7. Turn the images into task cards and add them to an in-class grammar or writing station rotation.
8. Send one image each week to your email list of English teacher friends as a drop of encouragement that the world desperately needs our help in maintaining the thin red line between order and mayhem.
9. Add a few images each week to your school’s video morning announcements, emphasizing to the entire student body the need to pay attention in English class.
10. Post one image each week on your class website. The first student (or first 10 students, whatever) to email you with the correction wins a bonus point!
I’m sure there are many other scenarios where such images could come in handy. How would you use these images? Leave your ideas in the comment section below.
Teach on, everyone!