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Differentiating Subject Verb Agreement Instruction

Page history last edited by PBworks 16 years, 9 months ago

Differentiating Subject Verb Agreement Instruction


This is a multi-day and multi-step lesson plan.



Students will be able to:

  • Define and identify subjects and verbs
  • Identify helping verbs
  • Identify and correct subject verb agreement errors in their own writing.





Students are given a preliminary diagnostic test which tries to identify if they need "a lot of help," "some help," or "just with the most difficult errors help". The easiest way to do this is with tiered fill in the blank worksheets, but it is not necessarily accurate. The most accurate method of diagnosis (as well as the most time consuming) is to look at their actual work and keep track of errors. Either way, I put students into three groups.


Reviewing as a group

The first lesson is a review lesson for them and just helps me identify those who really have never gotten this stuff before. Mostly, it serves to refresh their memories and review vocabulary.

1. Do Now: What makes a good sentence

2. We talk about their answers to the do now and I remind students that the content of their sentences is what makes them good. But, we also want them to have good grammar so that they are "trusted" as writers.

3. We go over the definitions of subjects and verbs and students put the definitions in their notebooks.

4. I pass out erasable sentence strips and markers to student pairs. I put sentences up on the transparency and they re-write the sentences and identify the subjects and verbs.

5. After I'm reasonably certain they can do that, I do a mini-lesson on making subjects and verbs agree.

6. Students go back into pairs and I give them fill in the blank exercises to write on theri strips and fill in the correct verbs. This gives me a chance to correct misconceptions and further discuss the rules and the exceptions to the rules.


Extra help with helping verbs

Students were having trouble with identifying verb phrases and seeing that there could be more than one word in a verb. This was a problem, since there were not identifying all the verbs and thus couldn't make sure the whole verb agreed correctly.

1. I will present a mini-lesson on helping verbs and identifying if there are more than one verb present in a sentence. Students copy notes into their Language Workshop section of their notebooks.

2. On the overhead, students are presented with a paragraph that uses sentences with regular verbs and sentences with helping verbs. Students create a T-chart in their notebooks and put the sentences under "regular" or "helping".

3. We discuss their work and deal with the difficult types.


The differentiated part

Student desks are put into tables and the tables are labelled with shapes - the shapes correspond with different levels of ability in subject verb agreement, based on the results of the diagnostic. Students are told which shape they are and they sit at the correct table. They are then given readings and exercises to complete. I circulate helping students with problems they are having. Students also work together on difficult parts.



The real assessment of whether or not students understand subject verb agreement and can do it is in a formal writing assignment. So, subject verb agreement is on the list of of what will be assessed on their formal writing assignments. If students continue to have problems with it, I will help them during writing conferences.

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