Holly Van Houten
Students will receive instruction from Holly Van Houten, who has decades of experience preparing young writers with the skills they need to succeed. In addition to teaching Literature and Writing at The HuckleBerry Center for Creative Learning, in Valencia, California since 2009, Holly taught in the USC Freshman Writing Department for 10 years, while completing her Ph.D. coursework in English and American Literature. Holly has also taught in the English departments at Pepperdine University, California State University, Northridge, and California State University, Long Beach. She has helped young scholars become confident writers for over 30 years and has successfully prepared students of all abilities for college-level writing.
A Grammar Workshop
An Interactive-Online Class
Instructor: Holly Van Houten
Learning grammar can be fun when students work together to understand concepts and apply them with interactive projects, educational games, and other activities. This class gives students a chance to practice what they’ve learned as members of the Super Sentence Club! Each week, new grammar concepts are introduced, practiced, and applied with fun writing activities, and then ever few weeks, students participate in Super Sentence Activities that allow them to review previous concepts while gaining experience with the writing process. Students will brainstorm, draft, and revise sentences based around a specific theme, farm animals, holidays, snow play, adventure storytelling, spring fling, and beach day fun! As students work collaboratively to apply grammar concepts to their super sentences, their writing will become livelier and more complex.
Strong writing skills require critical thinking, creativity, and organization, but to convey ideas clearly, students need to master the mechanics of the sentence. Understanding how grammar works is fundamental for all writers. This class is designed to help students recognize different parts of speech and understand how they work together. Students will learn how to effectively communicate ideas and make their sentences a success! This class will review the basic parts of speech, types of sentences, punctuation,
This year-long course is one that students can join at any time.
During the fall quarter, we will begin with an overview of basic sentence structure. We will look at subjects and predicates, with an emphasis on how they function in a sentence. We will cover rules about capitalization and ending punctuation for sentences. Our first Super Sentence Club Review Day will give students a chance to practice these skills by writing fun and silly sentences about farm animals. We will then begin our work on the parts of speech, beginning with nouns. We will work on different aspects of nouns throughout the year, but we’ll begin by looking at concrete and abstract nouns, before moving on to Common and Proper Nouns. We will then work with verbs, before celebrating with our 2nd Halloween-themed Super Sentence Club Review Day. Students will then learn how adjectives can liven up our sentences and add specificity to our writing. Our final work on nouns for this quarter, will involve looking at singular and plural nouns and understanding the rules for forming plurals. Our last Super Sentence Club Review Day will be themed around Thanksgiving holiday foods.
During the Winter quarter, we will begin with a review, before moving on to Verb Tenses, Possessive Nouns, and Commas. Although understanding how to indicate time and possession are fairly straightforward concepts, the rules around commas can be confusing. Students will learn how to use commas in dates, addresses, and lists (including how and why to use the Oxford
comma). We will then hold our first Super Sentence Club Review Day of the Winter Quarter, where our focus will appropriately be on Snow Play. Students will have fun writing successful and snowy sentences that utilize the concepts they’ve been working on. We will then cover pronouns and consider why clear (and close) antecedents are essential. Because many pronouns are used to form contractions, we will follow this with a unit on how contractions are formed, and how to avoid confusing contractions with possessives, like its/it’s, your/you’re, and their/they’re. Our last major part of speech for the Winter Quarter will be Adverbs. Students will learn how to use adverbs to add more description to their sentences. This will be particularly important as we will be finishing the Winter Quarter with a special Adventure Storytelling edition of our Super Sentence Club Review Day. Not only will we prepare for this by learning how to describe characters that do daring deeds quickly, safely, and courageously, we’ll learn about dialogue and how to use quotation marks, as our characters are likely to have quite a bit to say about their adventurous activities!
During the Spring Quarter, we will continue to review the basic parts of speech and how the work together. Subject/verb agreement can be a common problem in sentences, so we’ll begin by looking at how to ensure the parts of our sentences agree in number. We will then look at interjections and have some fun with onomatopoeia! Students will then learn prepositions and how to identify a prepositional phrase or clause. This is essential, as the subject and predicate of a sentence are never found in prepositional phrases/clauses. Learning this will help them avoid mis-identifying these essential parts of a sentence. Prepositional phrases/clauses also allow students to add greater description to their sentences, a skill they will put into practice during our first Super Sentence Club Review Day – our Spring Fling for the Spring Quarter! We will then move onto comparatives and superlatives, making sure that students understand how these are formed across a variety of adjectives. As students discover more tools for description, we will be incorporating similes and metaphors to add figurative language to our sentences. Finally, we will finish the year with conjunctions, making sure students understand how these are used to add detail and to form compound sentences. Students will learn how to properly punctuate compound sentences and will practice writing them as describe Beach Day Fun during our final Super Sentence Club Review Day.
Learning grammar is far easier when students are actively engaged, so this class will incorporate grammar games to help students synthesize and apply the rules they are learning. These collaborative and fun games will include “Silly Subjects & Perky Predicates,” “Nifty Nouns,” “Zoomie Mad Libs,” “Preposition Predators,” “Picture Descriptors,” “Description Detectives,” “Foiling Fragments,” “Sentence Stumpers,” “The Great Sentence Caper,” “Roll Out the Run-Ons,” and many more, along with fun songs that work as mnemonic devices. Throughout the year, students will do collaborative editing in Zoom breakout rooms and participate in many other hands-on activities and fun quizzes to help them learn.
This 50-minute class will take place each week through live, interactive, and engaging online sessions, and we will utilize a variety of tools to enhance our classroom discussions and encourage collaboration. The Zoom video platform will allow us to meet like a regular classroom as we learn and practice grammar and punctuation concepts. The class will also utilize Google Classroom for sharing Review Slides and other assignments. This is also where parents can access weekly descriptions of our activities in each class and all homework assigned.