Earlier in the year, I took my students through a series of lessons that focused on simple, compound, and complex sentences. We went through lessons that focused on the elements of each sentence and developed examples of each. We made the following references in our Grammar Notebooks and I thought they turned out pretty great. (See below) I thought, PERFECT! I can check this skill off my list and we can mooooove on! NEXT!
As great as they were, a few weeks past (maybe more) and with testing on the horizon it was time to QUICKLY revisit this concept! I gave the students a topic to write simple, compound, and complex sentences for. I definitely believed that the students could and WOULD reference their notebooks in order to assist themselves/remind themselves of the rules to this almost math formula-ish way of writing sentences....... Easy!!! Right???? Wrong!!!
Initial Thinking: Review? No PROBLEM!
Reality: RETEACH and ALTERNATE STRATEGIES
If you are anything like me, at first I was a little frustrated. But after that initial feeling wore off (like everything we had previously done was a waste of time) I decided to try a different approach. I decided to make a jigsaw puzzle with all of the different pieces that the students need to make sentences. They needed to rearrange them correctly, write a short blurb about what the piece actually meant, check with a neighbor, and finally glue in place! I really liked this activity because not only did it cater to those tactile and visual learners, the students were truly interacting with their grammar notebooks that they had previously recorded all of the information in that they needed to know! (Which proved that those lessons were valuable and NOT a waste, but a building block.)
Initial Thinking: Grammar Notebooks EQUAL Student Interaction
Reality: Not all students will access these Independently!
Below is a pic of the jigs arranged...I love that the students have a great GRAB and GO reference sheet that they can have at their finger tips in their writing folders. It is a sturdy, durable reference sheet that they can pull out whenever necessary.
Problem solved? Not yet...We still needed some extra practice actually applying the skill. However, as a follow up to the jigsaw (even MORE review), we color coded the different "ingredients" of each sentence type so the students could digest this process even further! Following the initial color coding, I modeled writing each type of sentence, and then color coded the different parts so the students could see what it looked like!
Next, the students took a crack at it. They decided to write their sentences about our current read-aloud, "Wonder." They did an AWESOME job...
With the progress that occurred, I did see a HUGE problem that needed to be addressed. When the students want to use the coordinating conjunction FOR, they often mistakenly use it as a preposition. To try and solve this problem, we did the following sheet where the students needed to differentiate between using "for" as a conjunction AND between using it as a preposition.
We reviewed our Preposition song to "Yankee Doodle" (My 6th grade English teacher, Mr. Scarpino taught it to me and I still remember it! LOL) and we discussed how "for" is a preposition. Next, we went through the following sheet to pinpoint when "for" is being used as a preposition and when it is being used as a conjunction.
I think this helped the students see the difference between the two! I also gave the students the following tool so that they had a reference for conjunctions. Coordinating Conjunctions are rather easy for them because of FANBOYS BUT Subordinating Conjunctions are tricky to remember! If you would like these resources to help your students review, click on the picture below.
Now, if you would like to purchase the other lessons referenced in the beginning of the post (they were great building blocks for these concepts) click on the icon below!
Do you have any tips/suggestions for teaching these skills in your classroom? Do you feel like your students can apply these skills in their writing? I will be touching on that in a future blog post!
Best Wishes and Happy Teaching!