Note: These books are by Doug Stark. Dave Stuart Jr., who teaches down the hallway from Doug and can't imagine teaching an English course without Doug's warm-ups, is acting as the publisher.
Welcome to Mechanics Instruction that Sticks 3.0, a series of writing warm-ups that can help your students master the conventions of the English language without drilling them or overstressing you. This latest version adds consistency in style and formatting across all levels, as well as an all-new Level D book. Best of all, we're thrilled to share that every level now includes a quiz for each unit -- ideal for formative or summative assessments. This much-requested feature makes it likely that Mechanics Instruction that Sticks 3.0 will be the only resource you need for attacking mechanics in your classroom or as a vertical secondary team.
Below, we'll look at the material covered at each level, but you're welcome to see a more detailed map of the four levels of books here. Also, each book comes with a detailed explanation of how Doug uses these warm-ups in class. That explanation, found in each book's Introduction, is also available here for free. It's critical to read that Introduction, as it explains how to use the warm-ups. (Importantly, they are not meant as keep-'em-busy worksheets!)
Level A: 13 Units of Warm-ups
Level A is designed to provide a foundational grasp of conventional writing in English. We've seen it used successfully with Grades 6-9. It includes the following units:
- Unit 1 – Subjects and Verbs
- Unit 2 – Clauses and Phrases
- Unit 3 – Elements of a Complete Sentence: Avoiding Fragments
- Unit 4 – Run-ons
- Unit 5 – Commas
- Unit 6 – Semicolons
- Unit 7 – Colons
- Unit 8 – Apostrophes
- Unit 9 – Subject-Verb Agreement
- Unit 10 – Pronoun-Antecedent Agreement
- Unit 11 – Pronoun Problems
- Unit 12 – Tense Consistency
- Unit 13 – Common Usage Errors
- Supplements – Common Word Errors, Quotation Marks, Pronouns as Subjects
NEW: Level A now includes one quiz per unit (13 total quizzes), plus an extra quiz on common word errors.
Level B: 13+ Units of Warm-ups
Level B is our oldest level of MITS, now remastered to better align with Levels A, C, and D. It has been used by teachers in every US state and over a dozen countries around the world. It includes the following units:
Unit 1 – Clauses and Phrases
Unit 2 – Relative Clauses
Unit 3 – Avoiding Sentence Fragments
Unit 4 – Avoiding Run-Ons
Unit 5 – Commas
Unit 6 – Semicolons
Unit 7 – Colons
Unit 8 – Dashes
Unit 9 – Apostrophes
Unit 10 – Subject-Verb Agreement
Unit 11 – Pronoun-Antecedent Agreement
Unit 12 – Parallelism
Unit 13 – Avoiding Wordiness and Redundancy
Plus: Supplemental units -- for teachers to use as they see fit -- on Using Active Voice, Awkward Constructions, Avoiding Illogical Sentences, Common Word Errors, and Common Usage Errors
NEW: Level B now includes one quiz per unit (13 total quizzes).
Level C: 13+ Units of Warm-Ups
Level C is the book Doug prepared for his English 11 students; however, we believe it has applications for 10th or 12th graders as well. At 13 units long, it is designed for teachers wishing to help their students prepare for both conventional writing as adults as well as successful performance on junior-year ACT or SAT examinations. It contains the following units:
Unit 1 – Phrases and Clauses
Unit 2 – Avoiding Fragments
Unit 3 – Avoiding Run-ons
Unit 4 – Commas
Unit 5 – Semicolons and Colons
Unit 6 – Dashes
Unit 7 – Apostrophes
Unit 8 – Subject-Verb Agreement
Unit 9 – Pronoun-Antecedent Agreement
Unit 10 – Using Active Voice
Unit 11 – Avoiding Wordiness
Unit 12 – Avoiding Awkward Constructions
Plus: Supplemental units -- for teachers to use as they see fit -- on Avoiding Illogical Sentences, Avoiding Vague References, and Common Word Errors
NEW: Level C now includes one quiz per unit -- 13 total quizzes
Level D (NEW!) - 13+ Units of Warm-Ups, Targeted for Grades 10-12
Doug created Level D to give teachers an option for older students (10th grade and up) who need to focus more on style and less on mechanics and grammar. The units in the Level D book (i.e., avoiding wordiness, avoiding awkward constructions, using active voice) drive home the need for clarity and precision in writing.
- Unit 1 – Sentence Elements (clauses and phrases)
- Unit 2 – Avoiding Sentence Fragments
- Unit 3 – Avoiding Run-on Sentences
- Unit 4 – Punctuation Review
- Unit 5 – Apostrophes
- Unit 6 – Subject-Verb Agreement
- Unit 7 – Pronoun-Antecedent Agreement
- Unit 8 – Active Voice
- Unit 9 – Avoiding Wordiness and Redundancy
- Unit 10 – Avoiding Awkward Constructions
- Unit 11 – Parallelism
- Unit 12 – Logic
- Unit 13 – Common Usage Errors
Level D includes one quiz per unit (13 total quizzes).
How do I decide which book is right for me?
This chart will give you a general idea of what is covered at each level. Notice that many of the units overlap from grade level to grade level. Generally speaking, the Level A book includes more direct grammar instruction, the Level B book focuses more heavily on punctuation and usage, the Level C book emphasizes punctuation and clarity, and the Level D book concentrates on clarity and precision.
Doug used the grade level expectations provided by the Common Core Standards (Language Progressive Skills by Grade) to make some determinations about unit alignment. Their grade level standards assume mastery of most of the punctuation and usage rules prior to middle school. However, Doug's experience suggests that most ninth grade students still need direct instruction (often times very explicit instruction) in these areas.
What are other teachers saying?
"We love your material! I've introduced it to many other teachers in our district, and they absolutely love it also. It's hard to find something that all teachers agree on, but those that I work with agree that MITS is wonderful!"
--Melissa from Utah
"It covers the skills my kids need to prepare for the SAT. It's adaptable – I can control the pacing of notes and practice. It's CORRECT – many programs are not. The grammar instruction applies to punctuation use immediately. I love it. It's the closest thing to what I'd develop myself if I had the time."
--Rachel from Idaho
"My kids are taking ACT prep tests and have said how much this methodical study of the language conventions has helped get higher scores... [I]t's been fun to see them actually like doing this work – they see the payoff... I've seen good growth in their writing as they have learned to proofread better; they have a firmer idea of what to look for."
--Rho from Ohio
"I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart... because this is exactly what I've been looking for... I have never put it all together as neatly and succinctly as [this]. Thank you for making this available to us. I shared the work with the LA teacher on the other team, and she almost immediately downloaded the book as well!"
--Maura from Virginia
"These exercises are perfect to help students who haven't been exposed to any significant mechanics instruction since grade school. The repetition of key ideas works very well."
--Kris from Montana
"I purchased Doug's book and just looking at it, I am hearing angels in the background. This is exactly what I was looking for!"
--Karri from Oregon
"I loved reading Doug's process of making these and then teaching and refining them."
-- Kim from Michigan
"Our whole department has been using it for the past nine weeks, and I think it's the perfect amount of time on each topic"
"I have loved this program. The explanations and repetition help the kids. I have shared my excitement with this program with many colleagues. Thank you."
"It is sticking! My students do not complain about all of the repetition – in fact, it is helping many of my struggling students feel very successful."
"I love the progression of the skills; the lessons are as my adult education students put it "bite size". It's easy to incorporate the sentence structure into their assignment. The unit opener page is an easy reference that is simple for them to use and is not middle school-ish."
--Anonymous adult ed teacher
Questions & Answers
What if I want copies of this for a large group of teachers?
We don't have the staffing to field or fulfill bulk pricing inquiries. However, we think we've priced the books affordably -- $25 for 1 teacher to use with unlimited students. Also, please note that there are discounts when you order multiple levels at the same time: Pick 3 = $20 off, All 4 = $30 off.
Do you accept purchase orders?
Yes. Start the process by emailing me at support_at_davestuartjr.com.
How do I use the warm-ups?
On Dave's blog, we have published the Introduction to Mechanics Instruction that Sticks. Click here, and scroll down to "How to Use the Warm-Ups." Doug also wrote a follow up piece with more advice here.
When do you have time to put these together?
Our school has a policy for research and publishing that we comply with. This is why Doug puts these together during the summertime from the comfort of his home. MITS is prepared without the use of district resources, and our district's employees get free access to any of the MITS products.
What if I don't like it?
We have a simple guarantee policy: if you're not happy, email us (support_at_davestuartjr.com), and we'll immediately give you a refund. The Number One Thing we don't want to happen is for any teacher to feel like they did not get more than their money's worth with these warm-ups. Please: If you're not happy, send us a message.
What if it changes the course of my life and my classroom ends up being the focus of a Hollywood teacher movie?
Give Doug a line in the credits.
What if I think something should be added?
These warm-ups are what they are because Doug has tweaked them for years. With that said, we realize that we may have had blind spots in creating this book, so we'd be happy to hear from you. Email Doug at doug.stark1974_at_gmail.com.
What if I want to edit the warm-ups or student notebook?
Although we think the warm-ups are pretty versatile as is, we've included an editable (.doc) version of the warm-ups and student notebook as well.