Do your students consistently forget to start their sentences with a capital letter… end with punctuation… correctly spell common words… and apply basic grammar rules in their writing?
This seems to be a universal problem because teachers from all over the world bring it up in our Facebook group.
So why is it that no matter how much reminding and modeling we do, our students continue to make the same sentence-writing mistakes? Are there things we could be doing that would help our students truly learn and apply the rules of sentence writing?
We asked teachers in our Lucky Second Grade Teachers Facebook Group for their best tips on this topic.
And we received some fantastic responses!
Here’s what teachers shared about:
1- What works best for teaching sentence writing skills,
2- How to get kids to transfer skills to independent writing, and
3- What they do to help students who are struggling.
What are your best tips for teaching sentence writing skills?
“I use sentence fixers. They’re a fun way to address the errors. I start the year fixing sentences whole group, then the sentence fixer sheets become morning work. Very effective!” *Note: Click here to check out our Sentence Fixers Bundle.
“We sing the Shurley English Sentence Jingle every few days. I also routinely ask the kids if their sentences have all 5 things that a sentence needs, and they correct their sentences based on that prompting.”
“I teach my students COPS: Capitalization; Organization; Punctuation; Spelling”
“Mentor sentences for the mechanics.” (Note: Mentor sentences illustrate a grammar rule or language style. Students identify the component, analyze its impact, and try writing their own version.)
“My students love to practice with seasonal sentence scrambles! Students choose a bag of words, read them, arrange them to make a complete sentence, and then write the complete sentence on the recording sheet. Grab them HERE!”
Do you have any advice for teachers who are having a hard time getting their students to transfer sentence writing skills to their independent writing?
“I have seen immediate improvement/mastery with writing Pen Pal letters! This is a very powerful way to get kids writing and be focused on grammar!”
“I have my students self-check each piece of writing with the sentence checklist from the Lucky Little Toolkit. Eventually, they don’t need the checklists anymore because they stop making the same mistakes!”
“Use mentor texts. Find a passage or sentence from a book, use that to teach the skill. They won’t be able to transfer the skill if it’s only taught in isolation.”
“We do green, yellow, red ‘Step Up to Writing’ sentences. I have strips where they write one sentence on each strip. So they’ll write their topic sentence, then go to their details (yellow) and explains (reds). Only having one sentence on view at a time has helped them to check for capitals and punctuation. It is a lot less stressful for kids.”
“Also, it’s how I learned to write, so I know it works! My students really understand green, yellow, and red sentences. It makes sense to them to write an idea, then use a red or 2 (or even 3) to explain it further. They get in the habit of using transition words/phrases and really organizing their writing.”
What are some tricks you use to help your students who are struggling with writing sentences?
“I have had several kids this year who don’t remember spacing between words. I have given them a popsicle stick (the smaller size) for them to place between their words as they are writing. I drew a little smiley face on it to make it fun. They have been using their sticks religiously to space their words. It’s made a big difference.”
“We start with sentence building puzzles. I have students build the sentence, then write it. “
“Next, they go to simple one-noun sentences, using the sight words and CVC words they know. We code our writing when we edit for capital letters and punctuation (we trace over the capital letter & then we circle the punctuation in blue). Then we underline the noun in red and we label it with an N on top of the word. We build on this as we learn more (green=verb and purple=adjective).”
“I use ”Bare Bone” sentences. Start with a simple noun/verb then add: when, where, how, why, what kind, how many – one word at a time. Then proofread and rewrite. The bird flew. ⇒ The blue bird flew. ⇒ The blue bird flew fast. ⇒ The blue bird flew away fast. ⇒ The blue bird flew away fast when he saw the cat. ⇒ The big, blue bird flew away quickly when he saw the cat.”
A special thank you to all the fabulous teachers in our Facebook community who shared these incredible teaching tips! Together we are better!
We’ve got even more ideas on how to effectively teach sentence-writing skills in this blog post: Activities and Ideas to Ensure Student Success with Writing Sentences.