Complete Sentences and Beyond!
By Mary Montero
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Even though I teach fourth grade, I still find that, at the beginning of the year, I have many, many students who struggle with writing complete sentences. It’s usually a pretty quick fix to remind them what a complete sentence looks like, but then we have to go beyond that, too. We have to teach them how to restate answers in complete sentences (I have a HUGE blog post about that HERE.) Then, we have to move on to teaching them to expand on their sentences.
I have written before about how amazing our writing curriculum is, but I just have to say it again! We use Write Now Right Now and it is just wonderful. The lessons featured here are based on lessons in the curriculum. Seriously, if you need an amazing writing curriculum, go check it out!
We start out the year with a review of the five requirements of a sentence.
Here is the notebook entry that we use.
And here is the super fun chant we use to remember the requirements:
This #completesentences chant was GOLD in my 3rd grade classroom, and my 4th graders love it, too! I didn’t come up with the words, but we always have fun making the hand motions to go along with it. I take VERBing very seriously. And also, my voice is not this loud in real life– thank goodness for classroom microphones! 🙂 #classphotographer #Iteach #iteach4th #iteachtoo #iteachwriting #teachersfollowteachers #teachersofinstagram #teachergram (Chant from Shurley Grammar)
Superb Sentences Flip Book
One thing that I added to my instruction last year was the Superb Sentences flip book. It covers all of the requirements of a sentence (nouns, verb, capitalizations, etc.) in a step by step manner. We used this flip book for several weeks while we were reviewing sentences, and it was perfect!
This is also a great time to start pulling out my Using Pictures to Teach Parts of Speech lessons! The nouns and verbs versions definitely come in handy here.
Team Complete lesson
Once my students are comfortable with all of the elements of a sentence, we move on to our Team Complete lesson. This one is always SO much fun! I encourage you to really get into the act– put on a jersey, maybe a baseball cap, and throw on a whistle. The kids get such a huge kick out of it and remember it forever.
The idea of Team Complete (a clever idea from Write Now Right Now) is to really take your complete sentences up a notch. I begin by telling the students that they are currently all on the pee-wee team, since they are writing wonderful complete sentences with all the requirements. BUT! If they add more detail and more information, they can join me on the Junior Varsity team. We talk about ways to write a JV answer and how it is different from a pee-wee answer. Then, I ask them what the ultimate goal is in high school sports– most of them know it is to join the Varsity team. We chat about how they can make their answers a member of the Varsity team, and they all LOVE this challenge!
Here is the anchor chart I created with them while teaching the lesson.
After we complete the lesson, they each get miniature jerseys and glue them into their notebooks. Then, they get to write their own sample sentences. It is always fun to see what they come up with!
After this lesson it’s amazing how excited they are to challenge themselves to write Varsity level answers. It’s rare that I see a pee-wee team complete answer after this point, and I leave the anchor chart up in my room for quite some time and we refer to it often!
If you’d like to teach this lesson, it’s super quick– maybe 15 minutes– and you can grab the jerseys for free HERE. I printed my big anchor chart jerseys on colored card stock.
I’m so glad you are here. I’m a current gifted and talented teacher in a small town in Colorado, and I’ve been in education since 2009. My passion (other than my family and cookies) is for making teachers’ lives easier and classrooms more engaging.