Teaching Students about Varying Sentences

Grab these foldable organizers and PowerPoint to help your sentences learn to write better sentences.
The Common Core State Standards includes at least one standard on sentence writing across all elementary grade levels. Most of these deal with recognizing types and varying sentences. Here is the progression of skills.
  1. In first grade, students learn to recognize the four types of sentences (L.1.1.J):
    • Declarative sentence
    • Imperative sentence
    • Interrogative sentence
    • Exclamatory sentence
  2. By second grade, students are combining simple sentences to form compound sentences (L.2.1.F).
  3. In third grade, students produce simple and compound as well as complex sentences (L.3.1.I).
  4. Fourth-grade students learn to recognize and correct inappropriate fragments and run-ons (L.4.1.F). They are also learning to correctly punctuate compound sentences (L.4.2.C).
  5. Fifth-graders are adding introductory elements to sentences (L.5.2.B).
  6. By sixth grade, students are using a variety of sentence patterns to add interest and meaning to their text (L.6.3.A).

Before you get started, grab the free materials to teach this lesson. This download includes all the organizers and a link to the PowerPoint.

Activity #1 ~ Types of Sentence Problems

To help students better understand these problems, they complete a foldable style graphic organizer that goes over the rules and examples of three common mistakes. This organizer is provided in six versions. You can select the one-sided printable or the two-sided printable. The organizer also comes in a variety of levels from students writing their own rules to students completing cloze rules to rules that are already completed. Continue Reading

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When to Start a New Paragraph in a Story

When to Start New Paragraphs in a Story

Have you ever read a student narrative that was written as one long paragraph? Knowing when to make new paragraphs comes naturally to some students, but not others. This article goes over five rules to teach. Begin by downloading the teaching materials for this lesson.

Get teaching materials for this lesson here. Continue Reading

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10 Things to Remember When Writing a Narrative

10 Things to Remember when Writing a Narrative

Teaching students to write a good narrative is an ongoing process. Begin by teaching character traits, point of view/perspective, setting, theme, plot development, and so on. Students need a basic understanding of story elements before they begin writing. I have created a series of blog posts that cover these topics. Links to these posts are at the bottom of the page.

After students understand story elements, writing a good story can begin. This post is a general overview of ten things to remember when writing a narrative. You’ll find links scattered throughout this article that go to posts that zero in on specifics.  Continue Reading

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Summarizing Strategies

Learn about summarizing. Check out several teaching ideas. Download this free activity for students.

Teaching students to summarize text can be one of the most difficult skills you tackle during this school year. This post offers six summarizing strategies to try. It also contains some general rules for students to follow as well as stem questions to look for on tests.

Be sure to download the free printable resources to teach summarizing strategies.  Continue Reading

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Five Ways to Teach Theme in Literature

Learn about theme. Check out several teaching ideas. Download this free activity for students.

Teaching students to find the theme of a book can be both fun and frustrating. Some students understand the concept immediately. For others, it can be a real challenge.

General Summarizing Rules

This anchor chart hangs in my classroom when I first introduce a lesson on finding the theme. The steps are really simple, but I often hear students quoting the 4 ideas for finding themes, so I know it is helpful. You’ll find these 4 ideas in the printable. Continue Reading

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Save Me a Seat

Save me a Seat

Save Me a Seat centers around two characters that are in the same 5th-grade class at Albert Einstein Elementary School in Hamilton, New Jersey. Ravi is “just off the boat” from Bangalore, India. His dad has been transferred. Joe is all American. He has APD (Auditory Processing Disorder) which causes him to not be able to filter out noises to concentrate on his school work. APD is also the reason Joe doesn’t have friends. The story is told in alternating chapters between these two characters.

The problems for both boys begin to escalate. Since Joe’s mother gets a job as a lunchroom monitor. She completely embarrasses Joe on the first day of school by blowing him a kiss across the lunchroom. Ravi tells his family that his teacher thinks he needs extra help because no one can understand his English. Continue Reading

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The Plot Development Roller Coaster

Learn about plot development. Check out several teaching ideas. Download this free activity for students.

Plot development is often compared to climbing a mountain or riding a roller coaster. Students really relate to the roller coaster analogy. Here is how it works:

The Plot Development Roller Coaster


When you first get on the roller coaster a voice over a loudspeaker gives background information such as when the coaster was built, how long the ride will last, or how high or fast you will be traveling. The exposition also gives background information. It is the introduction of the story. The exposition contains the setting and introduces the main characters. Readers need this information to understand a story. Continue Reading

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