Monday, March 11, 2013

In, Over, Under…Complex!

If you are wondering how to elevate your students’ writing, try this new set of sentence frames from Coach B! My class has had the benefit of the Genius Ladder and Triple Whammy writing this year, and has made great strides in writing mini essays and multiple paragraph essays. Last week, after Coach posted these frames, I began a writing session based on the premise that since we were approaching the end of third quarter, students needed to bump up their writing again.

We started with the first frame, “ In ______, the girl laughed.”  Without even filling the blank, we used Teach-Okay to repeat the sentence frame over and over with a partner just to hear the language of the frame as is.  The next step was to introduce a simple noun.  I started with a couple of examples, “In the classroom, the girl laughed.”  “In the car, the girl laughed.”  Using Tag Team, students then worked with partners to fill the frame with as many different nouns as they could.  Their next task was to record at least two examples of the sentences they had created orally with partners.  For students who finished early,  they were asked to read their sentences silently, using  Air Punctuation and gestures while waiting.  When the majority were finished, I did a Teach-Okay and students shared their written sentences with partners again, also adding in the gestures as they spoke.

With the basic frame introduced and practiced, the next step was to move from Blah to Spicy!  Students revisited their previous sentences and orally added adjectives (Spice) to their nouns.  “In the very noisy classroom, the silly girl laughed.”  Tag Team was again utilized to elicit as many reps as possible.  Students were then tasked to write at least two examples of created sentences.

The agenda of the activity became established, so moving on to the next sample frame was simple.  “On ____, the boy cried.”  Starting Blah, and then onto Spicy, students created a wealth of sentences.  After each set, another frame was introduced.  “Beside _____, a dog barked.”

Roughly 45 minutes was spent on this activity.  We concluded the session by doing some student call-outs to hear the variety of sentences created.  (Reminder, when calling on a student to share, that student should stand quickly and call out, “Class!” and the response from the class, “Yes!”  Student speaker then says, “Mirror with words!”  Class echoes that request, “Mirror with words!”and then proceeds to mirror and echo the student speaking.)  Finally, working with their partners, students were asked to prove, using a Because Clapper, how the Spicy sentences were better than the Blah sentences. 

For the next lesson, students will be given a list of prepositions to choose from to create new sentences using other frames recommended on the above list.  Finally, we will take one of our complex sentences and use it as a starter for a mini-essay paragraph.  Let’s see, Genius Ladder, Triple Whammies, and now complex prepositional phrase sentences!  Oh, yeah!