11 April 2018

Teaching with Taco Bell...and other Real World Lessons!

This teaching tip comes from my 9th grade son! 

We were having lunch after a soccer game this weekend at Taco Bell, per his request.  As we were eating, he noticed something about the sauce packets that warmed the heart of his English teacher mom.  "Look at the way the sauce types are punctuated, Mom," he said.  "The word 'mild' is in parentheses, so it's like quiet.  'Hot' is underlined, like important.  'Fire' has an exclamation point, so it's like yelling a warning."

Taco Bell teaching a grammar lesson?  YES!!!  First of all, "Yay!" for the kid who notices such things, but second of all, there is a super fun and tasty grammar lesson to be had here! 

I have to admit, I got WAY too excited about the prospect of having a punctuation lesson/taste test with my students in the near future.  Isn't this a fun way to get kids to understand the use of punctuation marks? Here's all you need to do:

1. Go to Taco Bell, grab a few packets of each type of sauce.
2. Buy some tortilla chips.
3. Have your students try each type of sauce, discuss the different tastes.
4. Have students "close read" the packets, what do they notice?
5. If they don't notice on their own, point out the punctuation marks.
6. Connect the taste test to the punctuation marks.

I absolutely LOVE any opportunity to connect curriculum to the real world!  I give extra credit to students who find typos or mistakes on signs and in published texts.  I have a collection of signs, mugs, dishtowels, etc. with funny grammar sayings.  We watch video clips to analyze speech patterns and impressions of the speaker based on their grammar and usage. It's these connections that help students understand why grammar lessons are important, and helps them become "close readers" of the world.  Grammar and punctuation lessons can be dull if just presented in diagramming sentences or fill-in-the-blank worksheets.  I like to jazz up my lessons with real-world connections, and fun activities like this taste test!

I can't wait to do this activity with my middle schoolers next week!  Let me know if you try this activity in your classroom and how it goes!  I'd also love to hear about your great ideas for making grammar fun!  Comment below with your ways to make grammar fun and engaging!

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