Is it just me, or do second graders just not seem to know how to write a complete sentence? I mean, sure, they’ll have a complete thought, but it’s missing the capital letter and the period at the end. Or, there are only three words in their sentence. PLEASE tell me this isn’t only my seconds???
To help combat this issue this year (and it truly is an issue in our room!) we worked our way through a “sentence writing boot camp” so to speak.
What Makes a Sentence?
To start off with, we reviewed what actually makes up a sentence. Now, I KNOW my kindergarten and first-grade teachers worked on this… but we needed a little extra reminding.
-Has ending punctuation (. ! ?)
-Starts with a capital letter
-Is a complete thought (has a subject and a predicate)
-Have 7-8 words
I added in that second-grade sentences should be 7-8 words long. This helps curb the three-word sentences so many of my kiddos want to give! Using those as a guide, we worked to write an exemplary sentence. A sentence that had all the components that a good second-grade sentence has.
Our sentence: The dog ran across the street and to the park.
Now that we knew what makes up a sentence, we were ready to read sentences and phrases. To complete this activity, students read each phrase or sentence with a buddy. Then, together they decided if it was a sentence or not a sentence. Once the pairs read all the strips on the paper, the kiddos cut them out and glued them under the correct heading. If they weren’t sure, they double checked with their buddy.
The kiddos also could reference back to our quick descriptors we had brainstormed at the beginning of the lesson.
Now that we understood what a sentence was and could identify an example and non-example, we were ready to tackle the ending punctuation. And more specifically: what types are there and when do we use them.
To introduce the three types of ending punctuation, I used these punctuation posters. We discussed each punctuation mark, when to use it, and how to write it.
By the end of the week, we were ready to write our own example sentences. Once again, we reviewed the ending punctuation posters. Then, each student got a blank sentence strip paper. Students were to write three of their own exemplar sentences.
A few of my kiddos were having trouble remembering how many of each type of sentence they should write, so I quickly worked to color code their papers. Each colored box corresponded with the color of the punctuation poster. The extra one was a bonus for them!
If students were unsure of what the sentence should “sound” like they reviewed the previous day’s example sentences.
Once they finished writing their sentences, the kiddos traded with a buddy and challenged them to cut and sort their sentences. Of course, my students loved challenging each other!
You can find everything I mentioned above here in my “How Does It End” unit.
Using Conventions While Writing
Another simple, but effective, trick to help with our sentences only requires a marker. When students finished writing, I’d have them go back through their sentences and highlight their capital letters and ending punctuation, making sure that every sentence started with a capital and ending with the correct punctuation. This was perfect for those kiddos that always seem to finish a little too early (and maybe rushed their work a little too much!)
Activities to Improve Writing Conventions
To help solidify our sentence rules during centers, I added in my “Fix it Up” Writing Cards to the rotation. To complete the center, students chose a card. Then copied the card letter and sentences on to the recording sheet.
The kiddos worked to fix any mistakes they saw in the sentence of the card.
Once they finished copying and correcting three cards, they choose one “bonus” activity from a card to extend their learning.
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