Weird Al Yankovic’s latest parody song Word Crimes takes everyone to task for lousy grammar, usage, spelling, punctuation and general laziness literally writ large. I truly hope this cross-curricular mash up of goofiness and grammar will be assigned to English students across the nation this year. (In case you’re worried, it’s fully G-rated as compared to the salacious, Blurred Lines on which it’s based).
In fact, use it in a flipped classroom format. And when students arrive to class amused by Al’s insights and geeky-mad rap skills here are some ideas to keep the fun flowing:
Using the Video
1. List all the grammar rules Al includes in the video. Who can get them all? This will require multiple re-watchings (yes. teachers can be sneaky). [teachers: see lyrics to track answers]
2. Did Al make any errors? Are any of the corrections he offered at all controversial? For example, what does ‘the world of grammar’ say about that Oxford comma (last comma in a series)? See here for debate-framing images.
3. Be like Al. Tweet favorite grammar, spelling, usage, & punctuation errors with punny corrections to #WordCrimes.
Using the Web
1. Grammar interest on Pinterest? Yes, even with grammar sometimes a pic is worth 1,000 words.
2. Adjective Adventure combines simple tech with a dash of funny-yet-gruesome humor as players feed a fly to a hungry spider by selecting the adjective from a group of words. Comma Chameleon guides players as they complete proper punctuation (as opposed to just recognizing it). Those who get the Boy George pun enjoy a little kick that way, too.
3. The Oatmeal explains how to use a semicolon (the most feared punctuation on earth). It involves cartoons, knuckle shampoo, dinosaurs, and other well-illustrated details for the hardcore facts.
4. Straight-up, simple-to-navigate grammar, punctuation, & usage drills are free at Towson University’s Online Writing Support center. Student tracking included! With logically scaffolded skills and built-in feedback, it’s perfect for ‘regular homework’ or pre-class assignments. It’s not jazzy; the fun is in the quick & easy access to completed work and better grammar. And it’s FREE.