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dwillberg 11-30-2012 09:53 AM

Topic and Supporting Sentences
I did a practice revising and editing test with my fourth graders. They bombed the questions that dealt with topic and supporting sentences. Does anyone have any ideas on teaching this concept?

GiantSubs 12-06-2012 04:10 PM

I'd love a copy of your test
since I'm working on this too! Something I tried last year seemed to help - haven't had to do it yet this year. I wrote a paragraph one sentence at a time on sentence strips. I gave each group of 3 kids one of the strips and they had to work together to put the paragraph together. The supporting details had to figure out how they were connected, and then they chose which one was the topic sentence. It's interesting because I thought finding the topic sentence first would be easier!

maryteach 12-28-2012 06:46 AM

If they're writing to a prompt
always have them re-state the prompt as their topic sentence:

What is the funniest movie you have ever seen?

The funniest movie I have ever seen is _____________.

Then have them put their supporting details in boxes on their plan page, topic sentence at the top. Under the boxes, on lines, go the details that support the details (if you want to go that far). If you're just doing paragraphs, just the boxes will do. If they're writing essays, they need to fill in two or three lines under each box.

So my supporting details for the paragraph above (I'll choose Time Bandits, although I'm not sure it's my funniest):

The funniest movie I have ever seen is Time Bandits.

Monty Python cracks me up
John Cleese
British humor

Going home story made funny
Wizard of Oz is another story in that genre
So is The Odyssey

God is even funny.
He seems human and real
We laugh at the problems God runs into, too.

Of course, you're not going to do a movie the kids have never seen, but you get the idea. Model what you want them to do with a writing assignment from a book you're reading.

What's important, and I can't show it graphically on here, is the topic sentence at the top, with boxes underneath that, and lines underneath the boxes if you're going that deep.

Model, model, model, day after day after day. Show them exactly how you take the details from your plan and put them on paper, over and over.

I love the cut-up paragraph, GiantSubs. Very hands-on and I bet very effective.

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