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What is a Caught'ya?
A "Caught'ya" is a sentence or two of an ongoing, funny soap-opera plot that you put on the blackboard or overhead four or five times a week. Each sentence contains a vocabulary word and is laced with grammatical and mechanical errors. Students write the Caught'ya as correctly as they can while the teacher walks around the room, giving individual, positive feedback to as many children as possible. Then the teacher and students check the Caught'ya sentences together, using proofreading symbols to mark errors as they review reasons for the changes.
Why should I use the Caught'ya Method?
Because it works! Thousands of teachers have found that it is the only method of teaching English grammar, mechanics, usage, and vocabulary that actually carries over into student writing.
- is flexible. A teacher can easily alter the sentence to fit the needs of the class and various grade levels.
- saves classroom time. The entire process takes forty-five minutes in Grades 1 and 2; twenty minutes in Grade 3; and ten minutes a day in grades 4 through 12.
- teaches grade-appropriate grammar, usage, mechanics, and vocabulary in context.
- is the most efficient way to teach dreaded, drill-prone fundamentals.
- allows students at any proficiency level to attain a good, daily grade.
Do Caught'yas address the Common Core Standards?
Yes. Although we have not formally aligned Caught'yas to the Common Core Standards, they speak to the standard of integrating grammar and conventions into writing and reading. They also provide explicity instruction and practice with the skills.
What do students say?
Students like Caught'yas because they aren't dull busy work or drills. Students love the one-on-one with their teacher, even though it is only for a few seconds a day. Caught'yas are short and often funny.
One thirteen-year-old boy said it perfectly. "I know what they're asking for in the grammar book. They ask for only one skill at a time. When I write, I use all the skills and rules at the same time. It's totally different. Caught'yas are like the way I write. Besides, they're more fun."
What do teachers say?
"You’ll never know what a difference your materials made with my students. They loved grammar and begged for Caught'ya! I’ll never forget you for that! The children who were walkers (didn’t ride the bus) would sneak back over to the classroom in the afternoons after school just to see if I had put the next day’s Caught'ya on the board. I had to cover the board after I put the next day’s Caught'ya up to keep them guessing! Such fun for them and me!"
-Kathy Lee, elementary-school teacher
"I am a sixth-grade special education teacher in a special education school in New York City. I moved here a year ago from Virginia...I first came across your books about 3-4 years ago but was unable to use the ideas in the public school where I taught due to a variety of factors. However, in coming to NYC and presenting your "method" to the director of the private school where I teach, she loved the idea and we took off with it. I have 8 students. Two are severely dyslexic, two are autistic/Tourette's Syndrome, and the rest have all sorts of learning challenges and issues (including three ESL students). From the very beginning, my students have loved "Hairy Beast and Friends." We have had long, intense discussions about Hairy and Hilda's doomed relationship. We have created new characters: Furry Beast, Hairy's older, wiser pilot brother; Jelly Beast; Fluffy Beast; etc.; and are currently wrapping up the story as the end of school approaches. The kids have begged me to move up with them to seventh grade so the saga can continue. I am planning on sharing the story line and concept with the seventh-grade English teacher so he can carry on the "tradition" we have started this year. I just want you to know that my kids have learned and accomplished more this year in language arts than I could have ever dreamed possible. The parents are thrilled, the director is thrilled, I am thrilled, and most of all, the kids now have a level of skill and confidence they never dreamed possible. So, it is with heartfelt appreciation and thanks that I reach out to you. Thank you for the inspiration and help you have given to my class and me this year. You have made a difference in the lives of eight wonderful, beautiful children and helped me feel more skilled than I truly deserve to feel."
-Nancy S., New York City middle-school teacher
How do I implement Caught'yas in my classroom?
Simply follow the easy steps explained in more detail in the Caught'ya books. If you use a story in one of the books:
- Copy the incorrect sentence on the board or overhead.
- Dramatically read the Caught'ya sentence(s) out loud. Summarize the plot so far. Elicit and review the meaning of the vocabulary word(s). Review rules and act it out!
- Instruct students to write the Caught'ya as correctly as they can while you give positive feedback, walking around the room and giving a brief comment to each student.
- Return to the board or overhead, and correct the sentence with the class, eliciting the answers from your students. Make sure you (or a student) explains why each error is incorrect.
- At this point, students correct their papers, using proofreading symbols to mark errors they missed on their own.
- Students indicate the number of errors they missed in the margin.
- Students use the same paper for one week's worth of Caught'yas. You collect the paper at the end of each week and actually grade only one Caught'ya!
How do I implement Caught'yas in a homeschool setting?
Which book should I use?
Teachers of Grades 1, 2, and 3 -- Eggbert, the Ball, Bounces by Himself: Caught'ya Grammar with a Giggle for First Grade; Putrescent Petra Finds Friends: Caught'ya! Grammar with a Giggle for Second Grade; and Juan and Marie Join the Class: Caught'ya! Grammar with a Giggle for Third Grade (formerly Elementary, My Dear!) all provide grade-appropriate grammar, usage, mechanics, and vocabulary for grades 1, 2, and 3. The first-grade story uses the CLOZE technique so students get practice with blending and digraphs as well as spelling. Each grade-appropriate book is $17.95 and comes with a handy CD that contains the Caught'ya sentences formatted in Word for duplication, along with writing suggestions and activities, a complete and easy-to-use grammar reference with examples and teaching tips, and other helpful tools and reproducibles.
- Eggbert, the Ball, Bounces by Himself: Caught'ya Grammar with a Giggle for First Grade. As Eggbert, an adventurous ball, bounces his way into some very strange places, your first graders get practice with basic punctuation, spelling, and phonics. Story sentences on the CD are formatted one to a page so you can duplicate them easily or print them out as editing journals for your students. The CLOZE technique used throughout provides practice with consonant blending and diphthongs.
- Putrescent Petra Finds Friends: Caught'ya! Grammar with a Giggle for Second Grade. Petra the skunk befriends a class of second graders in this charming story about understanding and caring for wildlife.
- Juan and Marie Join the Class: Caught'ya! Grammar with a Giggle for Third Grade. A boy from Mexico and a girl from France join the third-grade class, and everybody learns something new while exploring the language and customs of other cultures.
Teachers of Grades 4 through 8 -- One of the stories in Caught'ya! ($17.95), Caught'ya Again! ($17.95), or Giggles in the Middle: Caught'ya! Grammar with a Giggle for Middle School ($24.95).
- "The Magic Purple Umbrella." A lady with the Magic Purple Umbrella comes to your class to give each of your students a magic umbrella. There are only a few problems to be solved before the umbrellas will fly. Students find a way to cooperate to avoid the principal and to go on adventures.
- "Hairy Beast and Friends." Hairy Beast and friends experience the trials and tribulations of life. There are love triangles, popcorn fights, and even a pompous pachyderm.
- "Romeo and Juliet at the Mall." Romeo and Juliet's tale is retold at the Verona Mall with car crashes and fisticuffs instead of sword fights. Juliet dumps Romeo at the end because he is such a nerd.
Caught'ya Again! Stories
- "The Meanest Teacher in the World." Mrs. Obnoxious comes to your classroom and makes everyone cry. Students first try to out-nasty her. Then they try to shower her with kindness. Fourth and fifth graders love this tale of obnoxious adults and problem-solving students.
- "Tales of a Four-eyed Weirdo." Harold Weird is an African-American with zits, a corpulent body, a perfect brother, and a mother who thinks that any grade below an A is unacceptable. Gnarly Nerd is his Caucasian buddy with the same problems. The two are snubbed by the girls and tormented by Conan, the Terrible. At a "wild" party, the buddies save the day and suddenly become friends with everyone. This story is particularly popular with middle-school students.
- "Charlie Excess Does It Again." Charlie Excess successively gets into excessive studying, excessive sports, and excessive hedonism. When he is grounded for life, he seeks out the wise guidance counselor who gives him the key to life -- moderation!
- Additional story ideas also are included, as well as 90 Caught'yas for "Transmuted Adolescent Karate Otters," a story particularly appropriate for remedial classes.
Giggles in the Middle Story
- One continuous story, "The Bizarre Mystery of Horribly Hard Middle School," is divided into three parts, each with enough sentences for an entire school year. Giggles in the Middle also contains classroom-tested writing assignment suggestions, mini-lessons, and teaching tips; “almost midterm” and final exam tests for each grade, with teacher keys; easy-to-follow, step-by-step instructions; complete vocabulary lists for words used in each story; and a CD with the Grammar, Usage, and Mechanics Guide for easy reference and duplication, as well as the complete, uninterrupted story in narrative form and the Caught’ya! sentences.
The Chortling Bard Stories
- Kiester adapts three of the Bard's comedies. Included in the twisted plots are literary devices, an Elizabethan mix-and-match list of swear words, daily vocabulary, and a grammar reference. Features "Much Ado About Everything"; "A Midsummer's Nightmare"; and "Twelfth Night of Mischief," or, "What You Will, Doubled."
FREE Student Caught'ya Sentences!
to request your free student Caught'yas ("B" sentences) from:
The Chortling Bard
Giggles in the Middle
We'll email you the sentences formatted in Word
for easy editing and duplication.