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This series of connected lessons guides students through analysis of language that will help them improve their writing, their comprehension, their vocabulary, and their awareness of conventions and usage. Additionally, it will allow students to carefully examine language variation in order to discover the patterns and therefore move beyond simply “right” or “wrong” to become critical thinkers about language. The lessons are each connected to the CCSS for ELA grades 3-5; nearly every one of the standards in Conventions of Standard English, Knowledge of Language, and Vocabulary Acquisition and Use is addressed. The lessons take advantage of students’ unconscious knowledge about their language (English or another language). Many of the activities turn that knowledge into cool tools for identifying categories (such as nouns) and functions (such as subjects). Such an approach is also empowering since it alerts students to the fact that they make use of their knowledge of language all of the time when speaking (and sometimes writing). Through the guided inquiry-based investigations, students develop sophisticated skills of analysis, tool-use, and hypothesis-testing, resulting in quite practical applications to language issues, while developing critical thinking and scientific thinking along the way. The lessons are designed to be brief and engaging. Many of them build on each other, but as much as possible they can be used interchangeably, with related lessons listed as possible follow-ups.

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