Let's Talk About Articles
Students will be able to identify and use the articles "a," "an," and "the" correctly in the context of a sentence.
- Ask students to explain what an adjective is (i.e., adjectives are words that describe nouns).
- Write the words "a," "an," and "the" on the board.
- Tell students that these three words are special adjectives called articles.
- Explain that they are different than other adjectives because they tell whether a noun is a specific object or an undefined object.
Explicit Instruction/Teacher modeling(10 minutes)
- Explain that if you want to refer to something specific you use the, as in "I want the book." In this sentence the noun "book" is specific.
- Tell students that if you want to say that any book will do, you would say, "I want a book," because it doesn’t matter which book. It is undefined. However, if the word following the article starts with a vowel sound, you would use an instead of "a," as in, "I want an apple."
- On the board, make a chart with three columns, labled "a," an," and "the."
- Write several examples in each column (i.e., a ball, an echo, a good book, the best ball, the echo, the book).
- Explain that a vowel sound does not always mean that a word starts with an actual vowel. Some consonants have a vowel sound, like M&M (sounds like "em and em"). In other cases, a word may start with a vowel but have a consonant sound, like unicorn (sounds like "you-ni-corn"). The article "an" should always be used if the word that follows begins with a vowel sound.
- Add additional examples to the chart on the board to illustrate vowel sounds (i.e., a unicorn, an orange unicorn, an umbrella, a house, an herb, an enormous house, an M&M, a mouse).
- Use a word from the chart to write a sentence (i.e., "My brother has a ball.").
- Circle the article and underline the noun it describes (i.e., a/ball)
- Write another example sentence (i.e., "My brother has the best ball in the neighborhood.").
- Circle the article and underline the noun (i.e., the/ball)
- Point out that other adjectives may separate the article from the noun (i.e., the best ball), but the article still describes the noun that follows (i.e., ball).
- Write several more example sentences and invite students to come to the board to circle the article and underline the noun it describes in each sentence.
Guided Practice(10 minutes)
- Label six sticky notes, each with an article, so that there are two sticky notes for each article. Stick the notes to the board as an interactive word bank.
- Write a series of sentences on the board, with blanks where the articles should be.
- "You should read ____ book I just finished."
- "You should choose ____ book to read."
- "Let's share ____ ice cream sundae."
- "Let's share ____ sundae."
- "I have ____ nicest aunt ever."
- "I have ____ aunt who lives in Oregon."
- Give students a few minutes to talk with a partner and decide which article would best complete each sentence.
- Invite volunteers up to the board to place a sticky note on each of the blanks. After each student places a sticky note, have them read their completed sentence aloud.
- Offer guidance as needed.
Independent working time(10 minutes)
- Hand out the Awesome Articles worksheet.
- Read the instructions aloud to students and tell them to complete the worksheet independently.
- Circulate and offer support as needed.
- Give students additional practice differentiating between vowel sounds and when to use "a" versus "an." See optional matierals for a practice activity.
- For native Spanish speakers, make a connection to indefinite and definite articles in Spanish (el, la, los, las, un, una, unos, unas).
- Have students revisit a piece of their own writing and highlight all the articles they used.
- Play a "jump the line" game. Lay down a piece of tape on the floor and designate one side as the "definite article" side (the), and the other as the "indefinite article" side (a/an). Have your students line up nearby and say a noun or noun phrase out loud (e.g., "best book we read in class"). Tell students to stand on the side that shows which article would go with the noun or noun phrase. If students stand on the indefinite article side, ask them to shout out which article they would use, "a" or "an."
- Display the Adjectives - Article/Determiner worksheet and cover the sentences so that only the example is showing.
- Tell students that they will be correcting sentences that have missing articles, like the one in the example. Read the example aloud.
- Show students the next sentence on the paper, making sure to keep the rest of the sentences covered.
- Instruct students to read the sentence to themselves and then rewrite it on their personal whiteboard with an article added in the correct place. Tell students to circle the article they've added.
- Have students hold up their whiteboard and scan their answers to gauge understanding.
- Repeat with several sentences.
Review and closing(2 minutes)
- Hand out a blank index card (or piece of scratch paper) to each student.
- Have them write three sentences on their card, one for each article.
- Remind students to circle the article in each sentence.
- Collect the sentences as exit cards.