Introduction:Grammar is one of those things that have driven teachers and students nuts over the years. It is a complicated subject with lots of rules that must be followed completely by the book. One of the biggest problems is that with the creation of the Internet and texting, the use of grammar has been destroyed in everyday writing. People write with acronyms and a form of shorthand to make writing easier and faster. It is also a pretty boring subject, but no more! Creators Tony Preciado and Rhode Montijo have teamed up to create Super Grammar, a book designed to make learning grammar fun and enjoyable.
VitalsTitle: Super Grammar
Writer: Tony Preciado
Artist: Rhode Montijo
Colors: Jenny Hansen
Content: Super Grammar is an all ages book.
Premise:Super Grammar is book that is designed to help kids understand and use grammar in a way never seen before. They have taken the extremely dull and rule driven concept and attached colorful characters and examples to help students learn this extremely important subject that they will use everyday in their writing.
From The Press Release:
Using word association, visual aids, and of course superpowers, Super Grammar gives kids a fun and memorable way to hone their grammar skills. Creators Tony Preciado and Rhode Montijo have personified all of the major elements of grammar with superhero or super villain identities.
The book has taken the concept of grammar and broken it up into four teams with three of them being superhero based and the fourth comprised of super villains that seek to take down grammar wherever they go. Each section has the concepts of grammar associated with a superhero that details how they are used with illustrated examples that shows the concept as well as explains it.
Review:I’ve been a teacher of second and fourth grade students for the past eight years now and the subject of grammar is a difficult one for many kids to grasp. I even started a grammar boot camp at the beginning of the year to help kids refresh their basic grammar skills and touch on the subject all year long. Even with devoted attention, you have no idea how many times I have to remind students to capitalize their sentences or use proper end punctuation. It is an ongoing battle so when I got a copy of Super Grammar, you can imagine how excited I was to see this concept attempted to be taught in such an exciting and colorful way.
There is a lot of great stuff in here for both students and teachers to use and I really liked the visual way they approached this concept. It was cool to see how they went about illustrating concepts such as subjects, verbs, periods, and fragments through a personified superhero or super villain. This just gives one more layer of association for students to hopefully remember the material and I really liked that. I also liked the how the examples had little comics that showed how the concept worked as well. The layout of the book was also something that I liked. Each section is color coded to make it easy to get to.
My biggest complaint for the book however is that it certain aspects do not seem appropriate for the age level it is identified for. Each hero and villain has a large block of text explaining how they are used and for a lot of the kids I work with, especially the kids on the lower end of the age section (it is shown as being for kids 7-10), a lot of the vocabulary would be especially difficult for them to understand which would defeat a lot of the purpose of the book. Even in my latest group of kids which had a lot of higher readers, I doubt many of them could adequately read it and understand the blocks of text.
Another issue I had was that as a teacher, I think it would take a lot of work to incorporate it into lessons for my kids. There isn’t a lot of support for the book, which is sad as I could totally see there being some great associated worksheets or lesson plans to use in conjunction with the book. My room has a superhero theme to it so I would love some resources like this and I bet teachers without a superhero theme would as well. As it is, I think I’ll try to use some of the concepts to generate some great lessons, but I know its going to take a lot of work on my part creating material to support what is in this book.
Conclusion:As it is, I applaud the effort by Preciado and Montijo to come up with a new way to approach the subject of grammar. There are a lot of great things in this book, and I could totally see some of my kids just picking it up and thumbing through based on its colorful characters alone. My concern though is that some of them would do just that, thumb through it and look at the cartoons, then put it back down. The wall of texts would seem to be a barrier for many kids filled with high vocabulary words. The lack of support from Scholastic was also sad as there is a ton they could do with this concept through learning sheets, activities, associated lesson plans, posters, and the like at their site.
For me though I see it as starting point for me to craft lessons around the concept, using the characters and points they make. The text would be the basis for lessons that I would teach to the kids and then I would need to craft activities based on those lessons. I would then have the book available for quiet reading time for kids that wanted to check it out and see how they are using it.
As you can see, there are some things that I really enjoyed about this book, but also things that gave me concerns about just handing it to a kid and hoping they would enjoy and learn from it. The book is going to need a certain amount of support for most kids to get the desired effect, but it is a great start and with some extra support could be an excellent package for teachers to present the concept of grammar in a new and interesting way.