Stretching Sentences

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SWBAT expand sentences by adding details and by using correct punctuation and grammar.

Big Idea

This lesson will make expanding sentences as easy as stretching a silly band.


5 minutes

Introduction and Common Core Connection

First grade students should be able to start building on simple sentences to make their writing/speaking match the complex thinking that they are beginning to do. There is a great deal of curriculum that will have to be used to support this Language standard, and it will be a standard that the students work on all year long.  This lesson offers a great activity for the students to practice expanding sentences using their own idea.  Using their own idea makes the activity more meaningful to the student.

Lesson Overview

They first create a graphic organizer with me, and then they work in heterogeneous groups: peanut butter jelly partner.  When teaching Common Core, I am trying to allow for more peer collaboration.  It is more enjoyable for the students, and they learn a great deal from each other. Another great strategy I use is frequent transitions, and you may enjoy my video: transitions


As the lesson begins, I ask the class if they have ever thought about how they stretch silly band to put them on.  I tell them, "When we expand or stretch them we make them bigger and more interesting by adding details.  That is what we are going to do with these sentences."  Basically, I am connecting expanding sentence to these bracelets they love, so I am connecting something new to something they are familiar with.  I find this helps my students understand and enjoy the lesson.

So, then I share the plan for the lesson. To make sure everyone knows the lesson goal we chant: I can expand sentences.

Guided Practice

20 minutes

I use this graphic organizer to model expanding sentences for my class.  Graphic organizers help my students organizer their thoughts.  We begin writing with a sentence I create.  This makes sure it is a simple sentence.

The students volunteer and add the adjectives and where/when details.  We came up with I have pets ... I have a black dog, gray cat, and two horses. I underline the three adjectives so they can identify them. At my house I have a black dog, gray cat, and two black horses ... This week at my house I have a black dog, gray cat, and two black horses.  I illustrate the sentences for them as well.

Partner Work

20 minutes

They go sit at their desk in collaborative groups of two or three and complete their own graphic organizer.  Allowing them to have a choice about what they write motivates them.

After about 10 minutes I let them read their work to their partner.  The partner gives feedback (discourse).  I walk around and make sure everyone is staying on track.  I prompt them and ask questions. Do you have three adjectives. Does that tell where or when?

Student Reflection

5 minutes

We join on the lounge and two volunteers read their work.  This is a great time to work on their speaking and listening skills.  It also allows them to develop a deeper relationship with me and their peers which makes learning more meaningful. After each presenter, students are asked to evaluate their peers work. They may say, "Another way you could expand the sentence is by combining two sentences with the word "and."

To promote the behavior I desire I say, "Sit criss cross applesauce pockets on the floor, hands in your laps talking no more. Look at the speaker. Listen to what they are saying. The speakers need to speak loud and clear."


10 minutes

To assess what what we have been learning I ask them to discuss what it means to expand a sentence.  Hopefully, somebody will say, "Make it bigger." Then I share what I liked that they said.  Then I add, "It means to make them bigger by adding words."  Then I write I have a cat on the board.  They have to expand it by writing on the post it and placing it on the Tweet Board.

Then we chant: I can expand sentences. This really helps the class remember the lesson goal.