Today's lesson comes from Jeff Anderson. It is directly connected to the previous day's lesson. Today, students focus on finding sentences in their independent reading where an author has utilized a comma and a FANBOYS, which combine two complete sentences. I start by telling the students that once you start searching for the FANBOYS, they will see them everywhere! Authors love commas and FANBOYS. This in itself is what Jeff Anderson calls, the invitation to notice.
As we start off with independent reading today, I'll ask the kids to find a sentence that utilizes a comma and FANBOYS. Most kids find them right away. Others may need a little assistance. I'll have an example sentence on hand, just in case there aren't any in their independent texts. However, this hardly ever happens!
Here is one that a student found from the story "Liar & Spy," written by Rebecca Stead:
"They can't hurt it because of the wire cage, but Ms. Warner still feels duty-bound to stop them," (6).
On the entrance ticket, the kids are asked to then force this complete sentence into a run-on sentence by taking out the comma and FANBOYS. They'll be left with this:
They can't hurt it because of the wire cage Ms. Warner still feels duty-bound to stop them.
The nice thing about these examples is that students often have sentences like this in their writing. Sentences that are connected without proper linkage. Then the students will be asked to fix this in a new way. Here is this student's solution:
They can't hurt it because of the wire cage. Ms. Warner still feels duty-bound to stop them.
This student decided to fix their new found run-on by splitting the sentence into two separate sentences.
At this point, they're ready to look for run-on sentences in their memoirs. I have them search on hard copy drafts instead of the computer. I think it is easier to spot them on paper. Then they correct them. I ask right away if anyone is finding any. A few kids raise their hands. We use these examples to help the whole class by placing them under the document camera.
Some students need more explicit help finding run-on sentences. One thing I've noticed, many students have FANBOYS that they've used in their drafts without commas even though they link two complete thoughts. Many students notice this on their own; that is a fabulous start! Some kids notice FANBOYS without commas that don't like two complete thoughts or sentences. This is an important distinction to make right away. Students don't need commas with their FANBOYS unless they are connecting two complete sentences.
Circulate around the room and check drafts. I used two or three kids memoirs as examples of ways to correct run-ons.
The nice part about this activity is that for the kids who don't use run-on sentences, they can take this time to create more complex sentences using semicolons or commas with a FANBOYS.
For the remainder of the day, students can add the changes they have made in their drafts on the laptops.
When students make changes to their drafts, they are asked to highlight the changes in word, which gives me an insight into their writing process grade. They are asked to fix all of the run-ons. Many will need help identifying run-on sentences.
This lesson is differentiated by the fact that students should either be fixing run-ons or creating two or more complex sentences by using semicolons and commas with a FANBOYS.
Throughout this process, I am circulating to make sure all kids are actively engaged. I put a list on the board with other ideas or ways that kids can correct their drafts if they run out of sentence fixes.