Using Articles: A, An, The
Students will be able to identify articles and use them correctly in a sentence.
- Ask students to define a noun (a person, place, object, or idea), and then ask them to define adjectives (words that describe nouns). Give a few examples such as "big (adjective) dog (noun)" and "red (adjective) house (noun)."
- Ask students to consider the words a, an, and the. Ask them what part of speech these words belong to, and listen to their responses.
- Tell students that these three little words are a type of adjective, called articles or determiners, because they help us describe nouns. They tell us whether we are speaking of a specific noun or a noun in general.
Explicit Instruction/Teacher modeling(5 minutes)
- Show students the following sentences on the board:
- Give me the blanket.
- Give me a blanket.
- Ask students to turn to a partner and discuss the difference between the two sentences. Invite students to share their thinking.
- Tell students that "the" is a definite article because it refers to a specific noun while "a" and "an" are indefinite articles because they refer to a more general sense of the noun. In the example, the first sentence asks for a specific blanket while the second sentence is requesting any blanket.
- Inform students that the indefinite article '"an" is used before words that start with a vowel sound (a, e, i, o, u). Point out that words spelled with a consonant but are pronounced with a vowel sound must use "an" (i.e., an hour late, or an honorable person).
- Tell students that nouns beginning in a vowel but pronounced with a consonant sound use the indefinite article "a" (i.e., a university or a unicorn which both start with a Y sound).
Guided Practice(10 minutes)
- Distribute the "Amanda and the Panda" story to each student and project it on a document reader.
- Read the first couple of sections of text and demonstrate how you identify the articles by circling them.
- For each article you circle, explain to students why the author chose a definite or indefinite article (i.e., in the first sentence, "As soon as they walked in the gate, Amanda and Avery made a beeline for the enclosure where Penelope lived," the author wrote "the gate" because he is refering to a specific gate, and he wrote "a beeline" because the characters made a random beeline instead of a specific beeline route).
- Call on students to come up to the document camera to read the next sentences and circle the articles, while also providing an explanation as to why the particular article makes sense in the sentence.
Independent working time(10 minutes)
- Hand out the Grammar Review: Articles worksheet to each student.
- Instruct them to complete the worksheet and compare their answers to an elbow partner when they are finished.
- Circulate the room and offer help as needed.
- Allow students to work with a partner for the Independent Work Time.
- For native Spanish speakers, make the connection between English articles and those in Spanish (el, la, los, las, un, una, unos, unas).
- Have advanced students complete the exercise on articles on a tablet or computer (see optional materials).
- Make sure each student has a whiteboard and marker.
- Read the following sentences one at a time and have students write the article they think should be placed in the blank spot on their whiteboard. Ask them to hold up their whiteboard with the answer so you can measure their understanding of correct article usage.
- "Minna would like to borrow ____ black dress I wore the other day."
- "It's starting to rain; did you bring ____ umbrella?"
- "She is ____ tallest girl in the class."
- "Pass me ____ potatoes please."
- "It was ____ honest mistake."
- "There is ____ spider on the wall."
Review and closing(5 minutes)
- Ask students to choose one of the text sections from the Amanda and the Panda worksheet, and read the sentences aloud to the class with the articles omitted. Students will see how awkward the sentences sound without them.
- Instruct students to find a piece of their own writing and cross out the articles. Have them each read a paragraph sans articles to a partner. Invite a few students to read aloud a paragraph with and without articles to compare.