Paying Attention To Sentence Structure In Their Speech/Talk

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SWBAT gain a more in depth understanding of syntax by closely examining a variety of sentence structures and writing sample sentences.

Big Idea

Gaining control of a variety of sentence structures can greatly contribute to the effort to improve writing skills.


As students continue to draft their speech/talk, I want them to be conscious of the power of sentence structure. Attention to sentence structure is another element of good writing. It is one are my students can definitely improve in their writing. For this, we review a few useful sentence structures and practice using them. 

Review Sentence Structures

10 minutes

I distribute this worksheet titled “Useful Sentence Structures.” This is not the first time they see these so I go over the definition to refresh their memory. In addition to this, I instruct students to mark the definition and to write notes on the blank half. This is meant to help them gain a more in depth understanding of these sentence structures. Before we go over the first definition, I also review the definition of a main clause and a subordinate clause, which I have made space for on the top right corner of the worksheet.

We then take one definition at a time and use the words printed in bold to examine the examples. In each example, I ask students to highlight or circle the specific words that can be described with the words in bold. For instance, in this student copy of the “Useful Sentence Structures” worksheet, the second part of the first example is the main clause being postponed in this periodic sentence and the student highlighted it.

I spend a little more time with the balanced sentence because it is more complex than the others in that it sets two elements off against each other and is expressed using parallel structure. To help students see how this sentence works, I ask them to identify the two elements that are set off against each other and highlight them. I then ask them to write these two elements on the blank space to the right making sure that one element sits right below the other one to highlight the parallel structure.

Students Mimic Sentence Structures

10 minutes

I now want students to practice using these sentence structures. For this, I give students two strips of paper on which they are to write two sentences using two of the sentence structures we have looked at today. They are then going to tape them on the wall under the appropriate label, like shown in this image of the yellow sentence strips on the wall. To make these sentences immediately useful, I instruct students to write sentences that communicate something about the topic of their speech/talk. I expect to assist heavily once students begin to work. Indeed, they begin to call me over so that I can check whether or not they used the sentence structure properly. I spend provide one-on-one help repeatedly. They need this much help because this activity calls for students to control language, which is an area of struggle for my students.


15 minutes

I give student the last part of class working on their draft. I also make myself available to provide one-on-one help.

I tell students to make sure they work on their draft tonight.