Chugging Right Along with Subordinating Conjunctions!

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SWBAT explain the function of conjunctions and identify subordinating conjunctions.

Big Idea

In this lesson, students will review the function of conjunctions and then focus specifically on subordinating conjunctions and their use in the English language.

Enroll Students Into Learning

5 minutes

Today, I meet my students on the rug, and remind the students how we learned about conjunctions yesterday.  I ask the students if they can tell me what the function of a conjunction is, or in other words, what a conjunction does in the English language.  A student explains that a conjunction allows us to hook up sentences that are short and not very interesting so that are writing can be more fun to read!  That’s great!  That’s a great explanation of the function of  a conjunction!  Our class gives the student a special choo-choo power woosh! (See my Strategy folder for more on Power Wooshes!)

Experience Learning

5 minutes

Next, I tell the students that today, I’m going to tell them a story about a trip that Mr. Hesemann and I took on a train, but there’s going to be something special about each sentence in the story!  I’d like them to be super listeners to see if they can figure it out!  Then I tell the story about our trip (see the Resources section here), which includes only sentences with subordinating conjunctions.

Label New Learning

5 minutes

When I’m finished, I say, “So, boys and girls, did anyone notice anything about the sentences in my story?”  One student offers that it sounds better than the robot talking I did yesterday, which I absolutely agree to, and tell them that they are on the right “track” with that idea!  Another student says that none of my sentences were short, and instead, they were all sort of long.  Yes!  There’s another hint to what was special about all of my sentences!  Finally, one of the students says, “Well, it sounded like you always used some shorter phrase at the beginning, and then had a longer phrase toward the end.”  Woohoo!  The students have identified the subordinating conjunction!  I tell the students that’s right!  Each sentence began with a subordinating conjunction, which is a new type of conjunction we’re going to learn about today!  Subordinating conjunctions are like coordinating conjunctions in that they allow us to hook up sentences or ideas together, but, they can be found in different spots within a sentence and can be used a bit differently! 

Demonstrate Skills

10 minutes

At this time, I ask my students to move back to their desks, but before they do, I want them to stop at their book bins (the individual books bins that students have in my room to keep texts that they are reading independently) and take out one book and bring it to their seats.

Once students are back at their seats, I pull up our Conjunction PowerPoint presentation.  Yesterday, we used slides 1-6, so today, we’ll pick up with slide 7!  I take our students through the slides and introduce complex sentences, and how we can create complex sentences using subordinating conjunctions.  I also share with the students that there are quite a few subordinating conjunctions, so there is not an acronym to help us remember them as we had with coordinating conjunctions!  We also practice identifying some subordinating conjunctions in a few sentences within the powerpoint as well.  One really important component I want students to note here though is that when using a subordinating conjunction, one of the thoughts is not a complete thought (or can stand alone).   This helps identify subordinating conjunctions and therefore, complex sentences as compared to compound sentences.

Once I know my students can identify subordinating conjunctions, and can explain the function of a conjunction, it’s time for our Subordinating Conjunction Scavenger Hunt!  I ask students to pull out their copy of our Conjunctions Scavenger Hunt page (yesterday we used the coordinating conjunctions side and today, we’ll use the subordinating conjunction side) and tell the kids, “All right boys and girls, now that we know about subordinating conjunctions, I want you to see how often we really use them, without even noticing them!  Today, we’re going to do a scavenger hunt for subordinating conjunctions through the books that we’ve selected from our book bins!  For each subordinating conjunction you find, you can place one tally mark along side it on our Subordinating Conjunctions Scavenger Hunt page.   Let’s see which conjunction we can find the most!  On your mark, get set, begin!”  The kids have a ball quickly opening their books and looking to see where they can find subordinating conjunctions!  I give the kids about 2-3 minutes to find as many as a can and then say, “Freeze!”  


5 minutes

To wrap up our lesson, I ask the students which conjunction they had the most of by show of hands!  We also review the function of a conjunction and specifically, that there are many subordinating conjunctions that we use all the time!  Tomorrow, we’ll learn more about conjunctions as we take a closer look at sentence types with conjunctions!