Sentence Variety

  • Fourth Grade
  • Writing
  • 45 minutes
  • Standards: L.4.1, L.4.2, L.4.3
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March 23, 2015
by Melissa Schwartz

During this lesson, students will learn how to edit their writing. They will edit their writing by adding variety to their sentences. Students will also work on writing sentences that are clearer to the reader.

Learning Objectives

Students will understand the importance of using sentence variety. Students will edit their writing by using sentence variety.

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Lesson

Introduction (5 minutes)

  1. Introduce the concept of sentence variety to the class by writing three very similar sentences on the board. For example: I like my bike. I like my hat. I like my cat. You can choose any sentences you may like.
  2. Ask the students what they think of the sentences. Some sample discussion questions include: What do they like about them? What do they dislike? Why? How could each sentence be better?
  3. Does your class notice how repetitive these three sentences are? If so, explain that without sentence variety, writing tends to get boring quickly.
  4. Define sentence variety as sentences that start and end differently and are of varying lengths.
  5. Tell the class that today, they will be working on adding sentence variety to their writing.

Explicit Instruction/Teacher Modeling (10 minutes)

  • Play a song with repetitive lyrics for the class. While they listen, ask students to pay attention to the words in the song.
  • Once the song is finished, ask the class: what did they notice about the song? At least one student should mention the repetition.
  • Tell the class that when we write, we sometimes tend to repeat the same words and phrases over and over again.
  • Show the class an example of a writer using the same word to start many sentences in a row. Write a passage on the board, or displayed using a projector, that uses the same word to begin 3-4 sentences in a row.
  • Explain that by using the same word to repeatedly begin sentences, the writer makes the passage less interesting to the reader.

Guided Practice/Interactive Modeling (5 minutes)

  • Ask students to record the passage that you wrote on the board in their notebooks.
  • Tell the students to look at the passage in front of them. Ask each person to think of a new way to start the first sentence of the passage.
  • Discuss examples and ways to change the sentence.
  • Have each student change the beginning of every sentence in the passage, in their Writer’s Notebooks.
  • Explain that today, the class will be looking back at their own writing pieces to see if there are ways they can make them better by adding sentence variety.

Independent Working Time (10 minutes)

  • Have students pull out an older piece that each of them wrote, to edit for sentence variety.
  • Encourage the class to edit their pieces, using a lot of variety in their word choice.
  • Have students share work with each other, and discuss feedback on their attempts to add more variety to their sentences.
  • Make yourself available to students as they need it, and wander around the classroom to check on how students are doing.

As the students work, create a poster with the following information and examples to help them with this exercise:

  • Comma sandwich: a sentence with an embedded clause (which is surrounded by commas). Example: The sun, which had been absent for days, shone steadily in the sky.
  • The more, more, more sentence. Example: The more he worried, the more he felt uncomfortable, the more he wanted to leave the room.
  • The less, less, less sentence. Example: The less I tried, the less I cared, the less I got.
  • Sentence, comma and list of verbs ending in –ing. Example: The road unspooled on and on, rising, falling, rising, turning, falling.
  • A list of prepositions after a verb. Example: I look outside, down, away, beneath, near the dazzling presents under the table.
  • Comparative (-er), more, more sentence. Example: Every day, Kitty felt smaller, more ugly, more useless.

Extend

Differentiation

  • Enrichment: Students will work on more advanced ways to add to their writing. Some examples of sentence structures that these students can practice are: comma sandwich, the "more, more, more" sentence, the "less, less, less" sentence, and a list of prepositions. See the poster you made for more examples.
  • Support: Arrange students into small groups to work on individual writing. Highlight examples from an individual student’s writing as a sample for the group and edit as needed.

Review

Assessment (10 minutes)

  • Students will share samples of how they improved their writing.

Review and Closing (5 minutes)

  • Wrap up the lesson by reminding the students of how they can use descriptive words to create sentence variety in their writing.

Teacher Tips

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