Use Prepositions to Add Detail

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Students will be able to use prepositional phrases to add extra detail at the start of sentences by completing a sentence play.

Big Idea

Complex and detailed--use prepositions to add information to sentence starts.

Do Now: Words Around the Box

10 minutes

This warm up is a throwback to my French class days in college when a professor introduced prepositions as words which apply to a box. Though not the whole picture when it comes to prepositions, the concept has stuck with me ever since--my hope is that my students will have the same memory.

I start class by holding up a box. I ask students to make a list of words which could apply to a box, giving the examples of in the box, on the box, and behind the box (with coordinating hand movements). Then I give them 5 minutes to work while I take attendance and address class business.

After 5 minutes, I ask students to count up their words. The high score earns a prize and shares their favorite 10 words with us so other students can hear top examples. From there, I segue into the definition of a preposition and our sentence play.

Why start with a word competition? Friendly competition can be motivating, and experiencing success with a task at the start of the hour sparks confidence for the remainder of the class.

Preposition Sentence Play

35 minutes
Sentence plays are our method of grammar study. For a full overview of the activity, please view this lesson.

I give the definition of a preposition and multiple non-location (time and logic, instead) examples for students to add to their word list. I also offer examples of how prepositions look in sentences and how to properly punctuate around them.

As with the other grammar techniques we will study to help add detail to sentences, prepositions work best when we start with a basic topic and sentence. I ask for a subject for our first class example. Today it's not bears. We want to write about each other.
One student volunteers himself, Joe for our sake. Joe plays basketball, so we focus on his court skills.
"Joe drives in for 2 points." Good start, now let's add detail.
"After?" That works.
"After running by Sam (another student), Joe drives in for 2 points." Perfect. The second examples comes even easier, and we're ready to roll with partner practice.

I allow them to choose partners today, as the fun which comes with playing with language make this activity engaging for everyone. As usual, they work quickly, trying to best each other for comedy points, and laughter rings out aruund the room. I'm called from group to group to check work or hear the funny examples. Sometimes the examples are missing a subject, so I remind those groups to start with the basic sentence first, then add the prepositional phrase.

After 10 minutes, we come back together ("Eyes and ears, please.") to share our examples and laugh together, a good closing to the day's lesson.

As with our previous grammar studies, this lesson is aligned to CCSS for 9-10. My department focuses on building complex sentence skills in all grades because students generally struggle to fully learn and use these techniques; the goal is automatic use after years of practice.