Compound or Complex: Which Track is Your Train On?

8 teachers like this lesson
Print Lesson


SWBAT recognize compound and complex sentences.

Big Idea

In this lesson, students will review the function of coordinating and subordinating conjunctions and work on recognizing compound and complex sentences by sorting sentences into categories.

Enroll Students Into Learning

5 minutes

Today, I meet my students on the rug, and remind the students how we’ve been learning about conjunctions. I ask the students to tell me what a conjunction does.  The students to tell me that they hook up ideas or sentences, which is exactly right!  So, then I ask the students if they can recall the two types of conjunctions we’ve learned about (coordinating and subordinating).  I also ask the students if they can recall what each type of conjunction does.  I’m looking for the students to tell me that a coordinating conjunction connects two complete ideas and a subordinating conjunction connects two ideas, but one is not a complete idea.  Once we get to that conclusion, I tell my students that today, we’re going to practice working on identifying the sentences that use these two types of conjunctions.

Experience Learning

5 minutes

We head back to our seats and I pull up our SmartBoard file for today, entitled Complex or Compound?  Here, the students first review with me about coordinating conjunctions, and how they join two complete ideas, thus making a compound sentence (just like we create compound words out of two complete words).  We practice finding the coordinating conjunction in each of the compound sentences as students come up to circle each for us.

Then we move to the next page, where we review subordinating conjunctions, and how they join two ideas, but one of them is not complete.  This time we look carefully because while subordinating conjunctions are often found at the beginning of a sentence, they can also be in the middle of a sentence.  However, the sentences subordinating conjunctions are found in are complex sentences, because one part cannot be on it’s own!  Again, we practice finding the subordinating conjunction in each complex sentence as students come up to circle each for us.

Then we move to a last page, where we find a T-Chart with Compound and Complex titles and a pile of sentences.  Students work together, with the support of their peers, to decide which category each sentence best goes into (compound or complex).  But, before students can be done, they have to tell me how they know the sentence goes into the compound or complex category!  

Label New Learning

5 minutes

When we’ve finished our guided practice, I say to the students, “Nicely done third graders!  I think you’re ready to work on sorting some compound and complex sentences on your own today!”   Now that I can see the students can sort compound and complex sentences with support, I'd like to see what they can do independently!

Demonstrate Skills

10 minutes

At this time, I ask our two paper passers to come by and give each student two items: one copy of a category chart and one copy of a list of sentence cards.  Students begin by cutting out the cards and then, once cut out, begin sorting them into categories.  When they think they’ve got them sorted correctly, students glue them into each category!  During this time, I circulate to check on student progress and understanding.


5 minutes

To wrap up our lesson, I ask the students, “Third graders, why would we spend all this time working on learning about conjunctions and compound and complex sentence types?”  A student raises their hand and says, “We’d study this because these little words and these sentences making reading and writing more fun, and more interesting!  If we only had simple sentences, reading and writing wouldn’t be very much fun!”  Yes!  The students can see the connection between the conventions of English and the craft of writing!  This is a great lead into tomorrow’s lesson where we will write our own compound and complex sentences!