Vary Sentence Beginnings

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SWBAT produce clear and coherent writing by rewriting sentence beginnings.

Big Idea

Focusing on sentence beginnings can add variation to your writing.

Prior Knowledge

5 minutes

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.

Five Sentence Starters

20 minutes

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.

Sample Paragraphs

10 minutes

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.

Student Practice

15 minutes

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.