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Lesson Objective

SWBAT identify and generate complex sentences

Lesson Plan


SWBAT identify and generate complex sentences.

Essential Questions:

What are the parts of a complex sentence?
How do I correctly punctuate a complex sentence?


“Sentence types”


Use a review of dependent/independent clauses or of compound sentences; look in the Sentence Types Warm-Ups document.

Materials Needed:

Complex sentences notes
A writing project the students have written/currently are writing
Homework sheets

Lesson Plan: I Do

Take student volunteers to review the mechanics of a compound sentence. Lead students through notes regarding complex sentences and rules on punctuating them.

Lesson Plan: We Do Together

Student volunteers combine a few clauses at the board/overhead in order to create example complex sentences. Then all students write their own original ones under teacher auspices. Teacher checks for understanding.

Lesson Plan: You Do

Students incorporate a complex sentence or two into their writing project. Teacher conducts conferences or leads small groups.

1. What went well?

2. What would you change?

3. What needs explanation?

 The mnemonic of the rhino and monkey is particularly useful--I tried teaching it without any such strategy one year, and the rule crashed and burned. Even after intense review, the similarity between the words dependent and independent, along with the ambiguity between compound and complex, just overwhelmed the students. I absolutely suggest having some students come up to the front of the room and act out the interactions between the clauses.

 There's not nearly enough work within this lesson to associate the word "complex" with one idea and "compound" with another. This is a persistent student misunderstanding and definitely needs approaching.

 The rule on punctuation, while fun to teach in the way I've outlined, is not nearly hard and fast enough to be a major point of focus throughout the year. Teach it memorably or just don't teach it at all.

Also, the definition of a dependent clause is a vital one to have down before you approach this lesson--some textbooks use different rules on how they work than do others. Make sure you look through the rules and make sense of them before you approach the kids.

Lesson Resources

Lesson Complex Sentences teacher  
Lesson Complex Sentences  


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