Today, while my students are seated at their desks, I start up a conversation about all the amazing creative, inventive, and notable people we’ve been reading about lately during our reading instruction! I ask the students to name some of the famous people we’ve read about from the turn-of-the-century, including Alexander Graham Bell, Thomas Edison, Tony Sarg, Georgia O’Keeffe, The Wright Brothers, Booker T. Washington, and Charles Lindbergh. I ask the students to choose which person they think was the most important. Instantly, hands go up!
I call on a few students and ask them to share who they chose as the most important person we’ve read about. Then I ask them why think that person is important. One student, for example, chooses The Wright Brothers, and gives the reason that the Wright Brothers created the first real flying airplane. I follow up by asking why that’s important, and almost in a “Really Mrs. Hesemann?” kind of way, the student replies, “Well, of course this was important because that helped us get where we are today with airplanes so we can travel around the world!” I tell the students that this is great, so I’m going to write this down on the SmartBoard. One the left side, I write down “The Wright Brothers created the first flying airplane,” and on the right side, I write “We can fly around the world today.” I ask for another example, and as students offer their choices and reasons, I write what the famous person did on the left side of the board and how that helped make a difference on the right side of the board.
After we have about four or five notes, I say to the students, “Third graders, guess what you just did! You just identified causes created by the famous people we’ve read about and the effects that their hard work has allowed us to enjoy!” I stop and label their work with the word Cause on the left, Effect on the right, and add a T chart diagram (see the Resources section for a premade file). Now that we have some ideas here about causes and effects, we can turn these into great sentences, using, of course, CONJUNCTIONS!” I show how students can add a conjunction in our first example of the Wright Brothers by adding the coordinating conjunction “so”. Now our sentence reads: “The Wright Brothers created the first flying plane, so we can fly around the world today.” Then I ask the students to finish helping me add either coordinating or subordinating conjunctions to the other examples to finish creating cause and effect sentences.
Once we’ve completed our examples together, I give each student a Cause and Effect Writing page. Students come up with four important people and what they have done on the left side, and then why that was important (or how those causes have effected us today) on the right side. Students then get to choose either a coordinating conjunction or a subordinate conjunction to complete their compound or complex cause and effect sentence. Once students have all components completed on the front, they can flip their paper over and write the whole sentence, using appropriate punctuation (including commas) when necessary, on the back side.
At the end of the lesson, I ask the students to share some of their cause and effect compound or complex sentences! For each sentence, I ask the class, “Did the student that wrote that sentence write a compound or complex sentence? How do you know?” When students identify which type of sentence it is based on the type of conjunction used (either coordinating or subordinating), we give the writer a special power woosh! We either give the students a “Cool compound sentence!” power woosh or we give the student an “Excellent complex sentence!” power woosh! Now my students are writing compound and complex sentences, using coordinating and subordinating conjunctions, and linking it to their learning in other areas! Wonderful!
If we have time, another activity I like to do is go back to the Schoolhouse Rock Conjunction Junction video I shared earlier in the week with the kids. In the video, it explains the function of a conjunction, and uses both coordinating and subordinating conjunctions, but never names any of the conjunctions as one or the other. Now that my students can identify which type of conjunctions each of the conjunctions are, I like to replay the video and as students here the conjunctions, share if it's a coordinating or subordinating conjunction! It's really fun, and a fun way to wrap up our conjunction learning too!