How to Blend Grammar into Daily ELA Instruction

[This post originally appeared in slightly different form on MiddleWeb.]

One of the most common concerns I hear from ELA teachers is “I want to teach grammar, but I’m not sure how to fit it in.” This post explains a systematic approach.

As a general rule, before you write detailed lesson plans, it helps to create a 35,000-foot overview that captures your weekly routines. Over the course of the year, depending on the genre(s) you’re focusing on, you might revise these routines.[1]

Below is a sample overview that maps out ways to integrate whole-class vocabulary, reading, and grammar/writing work with narrative reading and writing—shifting the focus of the work accordingly. This generic overview can be modified based on the grade level(s) you teach, and it assumes you have at least 45 minutes of ELA instruction per day. If you have more time, great. If you have less, you might need to adjust your plans. Or change your schedule.

Narrative Reading and Writing

  DAY 1 DAY 2 DAY 3 DAY 4 DAY 5
Do Now (8-10) Intro 1st 4 new VOCAB words Wordplay for 1st 4 VOCAB words Intro 2nd 4 new VOCAB words Wordplay for 2nd 4 VOCAB words Quiz on all 8 VOCAB words
Class Focus


CLOSE-READ a story/ narrative. Intro GRAMMAR points relevant to narrative writing. Show Call narrative writing. (5) GRAMMAR pointà Revision. (5) PARTNER READ a story. (20) CLOSE-READ a story/ narrative. Show Call writing. REVISE yesterday’s writing.
Exit Ticket


WRITE: Practice some aspect of narrative writing OR write about today’s story. Use these GRAMMAR points to write a narrative. Complete DDAT organizer re: character analysis. WRITE: Practice some aspect of narrative writing OR write about today’s story. REVISE yesterday’s writing.
HW Wordplay for 1st 4 vocab words; IR Wordplay for 1st 4 vocab words; IR Wordplay for 2nd 4 vocab words; Revise yesterday’s narrative. Wordplay for all 8 vocab words; IR Complete Exit Ticket if class time did not permit it.


  • Regarding Do Nows, the assumption is that students will spend 3-5 minutes (max) doing the work, then another 3-5 minutes going over it (so: 8-10 minutes total). For details on how to design and implement vocabulary instruction, see this post.
  • An Exit Ticket may take more than 5 minutes (e.g., a paragraph that students begin writing during the Class Focus time might require 10-15 minutes); in that case, the Exit Ticket is more a reflection of what you intend to collect.
  • Regarding homework (HW), I recommend including independent reading (IR) on top of whatever else you require. It never hurts to remind students to read.
  • Please note these are rough outlines for a five-day cycle. Day 1 doesn’t have to be Monday. And if you’re on a six-day cycle, simply add a column.


  • Early in the year, it helps to review the most important reading standard, RL 2.1: Ask and answer such questions as who, what where, when, why, and how to demonstrate understanding of key details in a text. For more on this standard, check out this post.
  • For another effective approach to close reading, check out this post.


Which grammar points should you target? Here are three options—and you will probably use all of them:

  • A quick scan of students’ Exit Tickets after class will help you identify immediate needs.
  • If students are writing stories/narratives, consider grammar standards that relate particularly to that genre, such as L 3.2.c: Use commas and quotation marks in dialogue.
  • Take a look at this K-12 Selected Language CCS Tracker (free download), beginning with the kindergarten level, to see where your students need support.



The text for this day might be a continuation of the text from Day 1, or it might be a different text altogether.


During the Class Focus, while students are revising, you can (and should) conduct writing conferences; students might also employ the Partner Feedback Protocol. For an explanation of these revision strategies, check out this post.

Here’s the bottom line: It’s easy to get pulled into emphasizing aspects of the curriculum that we feel comfortable with. Taking a systematic approach such as this one can make it easier to ensure that we fit EVERYTHING in.

[1] This post is derived from Using Grammar to Improve Instruction: Recipes for Action by Sarah Tantillo (BookBaby, 2018). To see sample overview maps for other genres, check out pp. 262-266.

About theliteracycookbook

In addition to this blog, I am the creator of THE LITERACY COOKBOOK Website ( and ONLY GOOD BOOKS Blog (, and the author of THE LITERACY COOKBOOK: A Practical Guide to Effective Reading, Writing, Speaking, and Listening Instruction (Jossey-Bass, 2012), LITERACY AND THE COMMON CORE: Recipes for Action (Jossey-Bass, 2014), and USING GRAMMAR TO IMPROVE WRITING: Recipes for Action (BookBaby, 2018). Check out my Website for more information about my consulting work.
This entry was posted in Curriculum, ELA Common Core Standards, Grammar, Instruction, Lesson-planning, MiddleWeb, Reading Instruction, Resources, TLC Website Resources, Using Grammar to Improve Writing BOOK, Vocabulary, Writing, Writing Feedback and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s