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Good ways to teach sentence construction
Last Post 09 Feb 2012 01:05 PM by Barbara Abbe. 1 Replies.
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Laura ArrazoloUser is Offline Senior Member Senior Member Posts:113
08 Feb 2012 12:32 PM
    Before I start, let me mention that there are more ideas about helping students write effective sentences under the Killgallon/ Model Sentences thread.

    This is more about strategies that work for teaching grammar concepts - especially sentence construction. I wanted to kick it off share 3 strategies that worked well last week for compound sentences.

    1) The Yes/ No strategy - I got the idea from the English Vertical Teams forum. You can read all about it there, too! I reminded the kids about FANBOYS, listing them on the board, and played the "yes/no" game with about 6 sample sentences I'd written on sentence strips for kids to view and categorize. (I realized afterward that it would have also been good to have the same examples typed up on paper for kids to look at more closely. They could have checked yes/ no chart boxes on their papers while we sorted sentences on the board.) That was a great way to introduce the concept, though. I'll be using that more often with grammar from now on.

    2) Next, "pick the conjunction and build the sentence." I handed groups pairs of basic related independent clauses on sentence strips ("It is raining. I do not have an umbrella." "I like hot dogs. I also like pizza." "I am going to the movies. I have a free ticket."). I also handed them 3 sticky notes with the 3 most common conjunctions on them: and, but, and so. (I would have used all 7 conjunctions for a higher-level group; however, this was a group of Special Ed students, so I kept it simple.) The students' job was to connect the 2 sentences using the correct conjunction. (For Pre-AP students, I would have also asked them to correctly place a comma mini-sticky; for this group, I wrote the comma on the conjunction sticky.) I walked around and talked to students about their choices and reasoning. That went well.

    3) Then, we looked at 3 sample 7th grade test questions I found online from our state website (I am in Texas) that relate directly to sentence combining. (3 was plenty - that allowed us to talk through each answer choice and why it was right or wrong.) We talked about how not only do we need to be able to write good compound sentences, but also to know how they should NOT be written (run-on, comma splice, unnecessary repetition, etc.) in order to answer these kinds of questions. This was a good way to do a little light test practice and still keep a clear focus. (Incidentally, I've noticed that sentence combining is a key test skill; working on compound and complex sentences, as well as combining to avoid redundancy, are all helpful ways to address this skill.)

    Then we practiced writing a couple of compound sentences on the handout using different conjunctions. We had fun making up things for a visiting gorilla to be doing at school. You might as well have a good time doing grammar!

    I'm attaching the handout in case it's useful. For those of you teaching in Texas, 2 questions are from the new STAAR test; 1 is from the old TAKS test.

    I'm looking forward to reading and sharing more grammar strategies.


    Barbara AbbeUser is Offline New Member New Member Posts:76
    09 Feb 2012 01:05 PM
    Thanks for this lesson, Laura. I will share it with the 4 and 5 grade teachers I'm working with. I especially like linking it to real test questions. Teachers are feeling such pressure for all directions regarding the Texas state test this year!

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