Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Daily Sentence Writing

This year, I've been working on daily sentence composing with my students. Each week, students have been unscrambling, imitating, or combining sentences. I've been able to use this method to teach most of our grammar standards, including prepositional phrases, compound sentences, and subject/verb agreement.

This is based on sentence composing and sentence combining research, with some key differences. First, I incorporated lines to help students improve their handwriting during these activities. Second, while many of the target sentences in other books are from literature, I wrote the sentences for this program. I hate the random examples on typical grammar exercises. It seems that students have to use precious processing power to reset their schema as they go from one sentence topic to the next. If the sentences are all based on one topic, then hopefully students will have more processing capacity to deal with the complexities of sentence composing.

Writing these sentences was hard, but so worthwhile. I have a YouTube playlist for each theme, so students can see the videos during arrival, dismissal, and as transition activities. These videos reinforce the content in the sentences and add new vocabulary words, which students can then take into their sentences and paragraphs.

Each week ends with a paragraph prompt inviting students to write on a topic related to that week's sentences. Often, students have to incorporate an aspect of the week's lesson, such as a compound sentence. Students then check their own work using a highlighter and a red pencil.

Two weeks ago, I joked to the co-teacher in my room, "Well, thirteenth time's the charm!" We had just finished our thirteenth week, and the paragraphs were amazing! Students had to write about their experiences from the point of view of a fish--and they were able to read the prompt, figure out what to do, and weave in their own experiences. One student wrote that he was a shad in the Susquehanna River, using details from our migration simulation in his writing. Considering that I had students who responded in just a single sentence (or a single run-on sentence) at the start of the year, this is great progress.

I've also created several PPTs to go along with the ideas in these lessons. Each PowerPoint includes the examples that I want to show students, along with some interactive elements. Here is the latest one, created to help students learn how to use "sophisticated" transitions:

Combining sentences with the words although and despite from Emily Kissner

Well, the thirteenth time does seem to be the charm! If you are looking for a way to combine grammar with writing, you may want to try creating your own daily sentence lessons. You can purchase the first 8 weeks of mine here. (Part 2 is coming soon!)

And of course the other PowerPoints are available free at Slideshare:
-Imitating Sentences
-Combining Sentences
-Formal and Informal Language (download it to see it properly as I got too fancy with the text boxes)

No comments:

Post a Comment