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Creating Complex Writing

October 1, 2015

I teach three sections of Language Arts Tutorial to students in sixth through ninth grades.  On my way into work yesterday, I brainstormed ways of helping my students create more complex sentences that went beyond the mundane, “I got up in the morning.  Then I went to the bathroom.  Then I brushed my teeth.  Then I….”

So I brainstormed the following goals.  The lesson plan must:

  • Build the students’ understanding from the ground up.  They need to start with the basics and understand what a dependant clauses is versus an independent class before learning what a complex sentence is.
  • Be student-based.  No worksheets or Brainpop videos.
  • Explain to the students the reason why differentiating your sentence structure is worth learning.

So, I created a lesson with the following steps:

  1. Students wrote a free write that answered the following question:  What were the first five things you did this morning?  They began by brainstorming and then wrote in their writing journals.
  2. When they finished, I explained what a clause was, then a dependant clause, then an independent clause.  
  3. On posterboard, they filled in a t-chart of examples of both types of clauses.
  4. I had then rewrite their sentences asking them to use different combinations of clauses and put those clauses in different orders.
  5. We finished by comparing their first and second drafts to see if varying their sentence structure had improved the quality of their writing.

Thankfully, students agreed that it had.

IMG_9352 (1)IMG_9353 (1)

Now my questions:

  1. How could I have done this lesson better?  What can I do differently in the future?
  2. OK, now what?  What should I do next?
  3. How can I do this electronically?  What apps or programs could I use to make this a little more interesting?
  4. What am I missing?

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