In order for words to flow smoothly in writing, sentence fluency must be established. This term refers to the way words, phrases, and sentences progress one from another. Structure and sentence variety make reading effortless and smooth. Thus, readers focus on the story when writing is not distracting, but polished and consistent. Teaching students about sentence fluency is well-suited to teaching using mentor texts because students can get concrete examples of what this looks like.
I introduce the mentor text for sentence fluency in writing by showing ▶ Oh, the Places You'll Go! by Dr. Seuss video. This video is a read aloud of the book and students are informed to listen to the sentences used to tell this story. Afterwards, we discussed how varied the sentences are in this story. I ask students how varied sentences affect the fluency of reading the story.
After our discussion, we go deeper into the significance of varied sentence structure by examining the types of sentences. I show my Sentence Fluency Flip Chart to discuss these elements that leads to sentence fluency. We replay the video to identify the types of sentences Dr. Seuss used in The Places You'll Go!
To dive into guided practice with sentence fluency, we complete a sentence analysis activity together. We discuss four types of sentences: declarative, interrogative, exclamatory, and commands. Students brainstorm and share examples of each type of sentence. We discuss the characteristics that categorize each type and continue to practice together until students indicate a clear understanding. Then, I gradually release ownership and responsibility to students through independent practice.
I ask students to complete a flip book that classifies sentences into categories of: declarative, interrogative, exclamatory, and commands. Then they write independently about a topic that uses varied sentences in order to establish fluency in writing. First, I distribute construction paper for students to make the flip book. On the outside, students label the different types of sentences. Then, I distribute a SIX TRAITS WRITING RUBRIC and tell students to focus on the sentence fluency section of the rubric to guide their writing.
First students write their first draft. Once they complete their first draft, they use the flip book to categorize their sentences. Students will revise as needed so that they have a variety of sentences of each type. Although this might get a bit tedious, this activity makes students aware of their tendency to write one type of sentence more than others. Thus, they will become better writers once they become more self-aware. Developing writing skills involves practice and revisions.
I ask students to share their flip book after they plot out types of sentences they used in their writing. I listened as each student describes how they used varied sentences and how this affected their writing by creating Sentence Fluency. Students benefit from explaining the processes they use to create a work of writing that flows smoothly to a reader. We also tie in how they, as readers, like to read stories that are fluent and not choppy. They need to think of themselves as authors enticing readers to their writing.