Get Them Writing with Grammar Punk

I often hear people with an interest in writing complaining about material. “I don’t know what to write about!” Is a common complaint. Seriously? We are, at all times, literally surrounded with material. You just have to recognize it when you see it.

I have a fairly lengthy commute every day and while it can be boring and uninspiring, it can also provide tons of material. Often of the weird variety. Take the decidedly creepy example I had this morning. I was on a six lane highway and found myself behind a school bus. Big deal, how exciting you’re thinking. And I would agree, except this particular school bus was decidedly…eerie.

For one thing it was absolutely filthy. As if the thing had just arrived fresh from a trip through a swamp. It was also rusty, really rusty. And empty. It was difficult to see even the driver through the smudgy streaked windows but I assume there was one in there. There was also an absolute dearth of writing or warnings or even lights on the back of it, it was just curiously blank. And did I mention creepy?

Immediately, my admittedly lurid imagination kicked in to invent all sorts of scenarios pertaining to the comings and goings of this creepy school bus. Where were the occupants? Where had it been? Where was it going? Was it really a school bus? Or did it have a more sinister purpose? It doesn’t really matter because I had tons of material for a really cool short story. Or an even longer piece. From a school bus. So just look around, pay attention, ask questions. And then write about it.

Teachers of English, grammar and writing, this is a great topic to broach with your students. Ask about an everyday if odd occurrence and encourage them to take it further. Then write about it!

Go to to find out how to make grammar fun.

Get Basic with Grammar Punk

Apply Grammar (Punk) Once A Day For Best (Writing) Results

Basic grammar sounds so…basic. In reality it’s anything but. It is by creating a sound layer of basics that we can build higher and higher. Our language is incredibly complicated and it needs a simple set of rules to help to make sense of it.

Basic grammar has (or should have) one purpose: to create strong writers. There really is no other reason to dither so about what an adjectives purpose is, how an adverb functions, why it’s good to know where to put a preposition or not overuse a contraction. Grammar is really a series of rules, and if not handled promptly, deathlessly boring—and bordering on completely useless in the grand scheme of things. Just ask a bored seventh grader.

The thing is, grammar—and by extension—should be anything but boring! Writing is communication, imagination, creativity. It is a way to share your thoughts and feelings with others. It is a way to show who you are and what you are interested in and what you care about. After all, all those texts and tweets and emails must be talking about something. Kids want to write. We just have to focus all that creative energy into helping them write well.

Coming soon, GP Flash.

GP Flash!™ is a to-the-bone grammar/punctuation/writing program with an emphasis on learning by doing. GP Flash!™ is chock-full of writing exercises that teach by making students do all the writing. The lessons introduce students to the many types of words, concepts, and grammar rules strong writers need to succeed. We believe that practice makes perfect and GP Flash!™ is all about application. We’ve also sprinkled in games, challenges and a sense of humor to make this feel less like work and more like fun. We cover all the rules of grammar and punctuation, hitting the basics—and instilling them in your students—with sheer repetition.

Go to to find out how to make teaching grammar fun!


Create Grammar Fun with Editing

Editing is a skill that can be a powerful tool indeed. Editing is not just about long pieces of work. Editing is necessary for even the shortest of emails, business letters, any form of writing needs editing.

When it comes to longer pieces of work editing is even more essential. It is basically a thorough check-over. Many successful authors say they whip through their first draft with little thought to fine-tuning—that’s what second drafts and editing is for. Editing your first draft, editing to check for missing words, misspellings, you name it. Editing is exacting, time-consuming, irritating and soooo important. And, believe it or not, editing can be fun.

Except of course when it’s editing “for real”.

Editing for real refers to editing a manuscript that has already been edited—by an editor who works for a publisher. A whooole different kind of editing, believe me. The thing about editing is the more you do it the better you’ll be at it. Not that it can totally prepare you for the under the microscope editing required by a book editor, at least it didn’t for me.

I’m currently at work on my sixth published manuscript and much as I’d like to say I’ve become an old hand at editing, the truth is, it doesn’t get any easier. Or more fun. But at least I am learning how to take the need for the editing a bit better.

Because this kind of editing comes with its own little perks—commentary from the editor about the things that should be changed about my manuscript (my story, my work of love, my blood, sweat and tears!) and little tidbits about how this doesn’t quite work or that should be changed, and you use this or that word too many times. Armadillo’s should aspire to such tough skins.

But back to the editing part. I learn so much during the editing process, not just about the proper use of grammar, punctuation, (which I fortunately am good at) and don’t use too many adverbs, (pretty good) and watch the conjunctions, (okay) and be careful of tags that aren’t “said” (learning.) I learn so much about my own story, often discovering things through the editors much more objective eyes that I knew were there but didn’t know how good—or bad they were. And don’t you just love Track Changes? So much easier than wading through stacks of bloodied (must they all use a red pencil?) paper.

Editors, at least good ones exist not just to devil writers, (no really) but to make their writing and the end result better. Good. Even great. I’m still happily working on good.

Teachers of English and grammar, editing is a great skill to practice with your students. The best part is that they have to write something to be able to edit it. Go to to find some great writing programs.

Make Grammar Fun with In-Laws

When is it Mother’s in law or mother in law’s?

Most of us know that groups such as mother-in-law, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, etc. are pluralized by the person, not the title. In other words it is mother’s, brother’s and sister’s. Even if it looks weird—which it just does.

However, there are occasions when it is mother-in-law’s, this happens when referring to an object that belongs to said mother.

Don’t blame that hideous afghan on me, it happens to be my mother-in-law’s and she’d better be taking it with her when she leaves.

Then there is the dreaded double-whammy:

Both of my sister’s-in-law seem determined to turn my house into a rummage sale nightmare; everywhere I look there are a sister-in-law’s cast-offs.

Teachers of English, this is a great discussion to start with your students. Discuss why it is plural mother or possessive mother. Then use the example with other commonly confused plurals. Discuss the difference between plural punctuation and possessive. Then challenge them to use the different types in their own unique Grammar Punk sentences.

Go to for more ideas to make teaching grammar fun.

Make Your Writing Crunchy with Grammar Punk

Crunchy writing

If you’ve ever watched a cable cooking show you’ve no doubt heard the expression “we eat with our eyes.” Okay, on the surface that just sounds… disturbing but it’s also a nicely stated metaphor. If we like what we see on our plates we’ll likely enjoy the taste of it more.

The senses should always be consulted when writing—certainly creative writing. I heard the phrase “crunchy writing” the other day and fell in love! I instantly thought of sarcastic, abrasive, no-nonsense, even rude and I had a character all lined up. Just as words like mushy, salty, tart, cold, stiff and sharp evoke an immediate image of the writer, the character or the story to follow.

As a writer, if you are feeling, hearing, seeing, tasting and smelling the things you’re writing about your reader will too. Write crunchy!

Teachers of English and grammar discuss this concept with your students. Then go to to for more tips for making grammar fun.

Apply Grammar with Grammar Punk

Apply Grammar (Punk) Once A Day For Best (Writing) Results

GP Flash!™ is perfect for getting things started at the beginning of class, livening up the middle, or revving up the tail end. How many sentences or exercises you want to assign is up to you. The Grammar Punk™ Dice keep things lively and the process of putting pen to paper is right where it belongs: in the hands and creative brains of your students. They will learn basic grammar ONE SENTENCE AT A TIME.

This fun and interactive Basic Grammar product will be released soon! Go to for more info.

Grammar Punk does it all! E.L.L. students strongly connect with it, struggling students embrace it, English geeks applaud it, and creative writers swim in it.

Get Into Grammar with You’re and Your

You’re vs. Your

 It’s easy to get confused. When you’re writing along and the words are flowing and ideas are cooking those words that sound the same and look pretty darned close and can be confusing! You’re and your are certainly classics in the confusing department.

As duh as this one seems it is also one of the most common of the commonly confuseds. It’s also one that I myself have noticed spell-checkers screw up. I’ve come to be healthily skeptical of spell-checkers. So, once and for all:

 You’re is a contraction meaning you are.

Your is a possessive pronoun meaning it belongs to you.

To keep this one straight, simply say to yourself: You are versus your. If “you are” doesn’t fit the sentence then you know that your is the correct choice. And just to prove my point, the spell-checker I’m using is telling me I really want to use the other form. Puphaw on spell-checkers I say.

Grammar Punk Examples:

N O 4 | You’re not honestly going to wear that skirt in this snowstorm, are you?

R E 2 | Your knees will surely freeze!

Write your own sentence using these commonly confused words. Teachers, challenge your students to play with these two words. Write sentences with blanks to fit them and challenge them to insert the correct word. Then write a bunch of Grammar Punk sentences.

Go to to find more ways to make teaching grammar fun.

Make Grammar Fun with You’re Welcome

You’re Welcome and You’re welcome

received, especially into somebody’s home, or entertained gladly

a greeting or reception, especially a friendly or celebratory one, given to somebody who arrives or is being met

accepted or anticipated with delight and eagerness, often because it answers a need

a greeting or reception, especially a friendly or celebratory one, given to somebody who arrives or is being met

used to respond to expressions of thanks and indicate that something such as a courtesy, favor, or gift was gladly done or given

This one has me flummoxed. How did this simple word come to mean two such disparate—well nearly—things? “Thank you for making us so welcome.” “You’re welcome.”

This baby has been around since the 12th century, which is rather reassuring. Apparently we’ve been polite for a while.

Teachers, discuss this pair with your students. Challenge them to name all the ways this handy word is used. Then tell them they are welcome.