I began class by asking students “What do you focus upon as you change your sentence structure?” Many responded that they make sure they begin with different words – so they check their word choice. Others claimed they avoid beginning with “The”.
However, in most cases students begin a sentence with a subject.
I explained that today we were going to practice using a diversity of methods that can add variance to their writing. We do not always have to begin with a subject. This is one step in revising.
Using "Vary Sentence Beginnings" power point as my guide (screens 1 – 6) , I took the students through some suggested methods to add variety to their writing. I explained that often we tend to use short choppy sentences. These methods are ways to combine the sentence using fluency.
The concepts included: an appositive, three adjectives, two verbs (usually –ing), a prepositional phrase, and a transition. As we examined the samples, correct use of commas was also addressed.
Screen 7 demonstrated the creation of a simple paragraph about my daughter by breaking each idea into a sentence using each of the suggested sentence starters. The next screen showed the students that when combined, these sentences created a simple paragraph using a variety of sentence beginnings.
Next, I presented a paragraph about our cat, Tybalt, using the same sentence starters. I explained that these sentence starters can be used in multiple locations throughout the students’ writing and are not required to be used in a particular order. These are some methods to be considered in eliminating short, choppy sentences.
Students then demonstrated their abilities to begin sentences in a variety of ways by choosing a topic to write. My suggestion included – a family member, friend, or pet.