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swalters swalters is offline
 
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Complex sentences
Old 01-26-2013, 12:47 PM
 
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Hi, does anyone have any ideas/lesson to get kids writing more complex sentences?
Thanks


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good question
Old 01-27-2013, 09:51 PM
 
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I think that's a really good question. What age of kids are you dealing with? In my experience telling kids to add details or adjectives doesn't work well. You get a certain percentage of kids who will just add colors in front of all the nouns. Ideally I think going over a kids' writing with them, one on one or in small group, lets you highlight the positive aspects of their stories. Even with pretty simplistic stories you can find things that are good, connected ideas, better word choice, a certain tone in the writing. Then kids are more enthusiastic to go back and add to those parts. Teaching kids to pay close attention to their writing gets them to value the content of the writing more and then more complex sentences. That's a lot of time commitment to meet with kids (or teenagers) individually.

Alternatively I have seen teachers do a step by step example of expanding a sentence. Start with something like "The dog runs." And then add bit by bit until it is a long sentence like "My dog Buddy runs outside everyday and plays catch with me." Students can practice that themselves afterwords, but it really is better for younger kids. Older kids, writing essays, might just need to read some excerpts from real journal articles. They need to get a feel for what academic writing sounds like, since academic essays tend to use much more complex sentence structure.

I hope some of that helps. I wish I could recommend an easy series of pre-made worksheets, but that's probably not the best route.
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Old 01-27-2013, 10:28 PM
 
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I found out recently that my ESL students need to use complex sentences on their state English proficiency test in order to pass out of ESL, so I've been thinking about this a lot.

One idea: "because..." is probably the simplest way--or at least the way that's most familiar to kids--to make a sentence complex. I've been explicitly teaching them to put that in, and how to arrange the sentence with different subordinating conjunctions. We used a cause and an effect on separate sentence strips, and conjunctions on different colored sentence strips, and rearranged them all different ways. My fourth graders rocked it; I haven't had a chance to try it with any of my other classes yet.

I think next I'm going to do time relationships: "After we come in from recess, we eat lunch," and that sort of thing.

I'd really like to explain about independent and dependent clauses and all that, too, so they really understand what this is all about, but I'm having a hard time finding age-appropriate resources...and I'm afraid if I try it on my own I'll just confuse them.
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Wendy 31 Wendy 31 is offline
 
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Combing Sentences Activity
Old 02-16-2013, 09:23 PM
 
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I have a cut and glue activity that I use with my students to help them combine sentences. Students use super glue words, subordinating conjunctions, to create complex sentences. They enjoy it and I see the product in their writing. Plus, it is easy to refer back to if students need a suggestion of how to write a complex sentence.

I can email the word document if you'd like.
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We made
Old 03-15-2013, 04:26 PM
 
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a big anchor chart in our classroom of the sentence "The dog ran." We separated it into 3 columns- 1 for the dependent clause, 1 for the verb, and 1 for the interesting end of the sentence. We filled in lots of new sentences underneath, such as, "With his tail between his legs, the guilty dog scuttled out his doggy door." After we had done several together, the students made their own 3-column chart and "spiced up" the sentence, "The girl cried."

My class is co-taught, so when I worked with my special education students, I took dictation on their first few sentences and wrote each column in a different color. I prompted them for the dependent clause ("try doing, 'with a ____'"). Once they had come up with about 3 sentences for me, I left the color coded card with them so they could practice independently.


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Age sentences
Old 03-29-2013, 12:21 PM
 
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I did this with 3rd grade AND my current 5th grade. An age sentence has as many words in it as the student's age. So if you are 8, you can write sentences with at least 8 words.

It's empowering for them because you're basically saying, "Hey, now that you are ____ years old, you can HANDLE it!" So tell them that they can only write in age sentences. It'll definitely force them to find ways to fill the space and you may see some fancy wordsmithing going on in your kids' writing.

Good luck!
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