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Sentence Combining, Sentence Variety

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This is a grammar and/or usage lesson. It will include a document that you should copy to an overhead transparency. If you have access to better equipment, you can project the document from your computer. If you don’t even have an overhead projector, you can simply make a class set of the master document.

This transparency master will have a definition of the target skill and some examples. Show this and have students take notes on the skill for later review. Keep the second part of the transparency covered. In the second part of the transparency, you will find a series of sentences that include examples and non-examples of the skill. (For example, if the target skill is “The Active Voice,” you will find a series of sentences, some in the active voice, some in the passive voice). Expose one sentence at a time, calling on students to identify and then fix the problem in the sentences. In some cases students must determine if there even is a problem. This is the bulk of the lesson, and I find that this makes for a fun and meaningful activity. Take your time here. Make certain all students really understand the concept at its deepest level. Typically, this takes 20-30 minutes. Have fun with the sentences.

Note: some of the sentences are allegedly funny. This means, for example, that in the active voice activity, there is a sentence that reads, “The drunken pirates harpooned the elephant.” High school students tend to enjoy this sort of humor. If you find this too risqué, feel free to change the word “drunken” to “laughing.” In fact, feel free to change anything you want about my lessons. You bought it; it’s yours now.

In addition to the transparency master, you may find follow up quizzes, homework activities (in the form of handouts), and something called editing. I like to do the transparency activity, and then give the homework assignment that night. I then tell students to review their notes because there will be a test in the near future. I spring the quiz on them sometime over the next week. Finally, I integrate this skill into the midterm and final. If there is an editing assignment, copy it to an overhead transparency and have the class revise what is written—it will have problems with the target skill. This can be done weeks later as a review activity.

This Unit includes:
Ø 2 overhead transparency masters explaining sentence combining and the sentence variation. After the explanation you will find a series of sentences that need to be combined or reconfigured. This is designed to support a class activity in which you call on students to first identify the error and then make necessary corrections.
Ø 2 handout (homework assignments) in which students combine or reconfigure sentences for greater grammatical sophistication and variety.

If you have less sophisticated students, start with the sentence combining overhead and handout. If your students are more advanced go straight to the sentence variation overhead activities.

In any case, these two ideas (sentence combining and sentence variations) are closely related. In both cases, the goal is to get students to start using more complex sentence structure and more variety.

Enjoy, and feel free to contact me if you have any questions.
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