Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Tips for Getting Students Started with Fall Writing by Using Sentence Frames: Free Activities Included

Last winter I wrote a post about helping students write sentences using sentence frames. Now that is is fall and the beginning of a new school year, it is a time when students are getting back to writing, and for some learning to write. For so many students, especially your ESL and struggling students writing is a very difficult skill as they have a limited vocabulary and understanding of sentence writing. In order for students to write they need to have words and ideas to write about. What better time of year is there than fall to get students writing. Here are a few tips to think about when you plan your writing instruction to help students become successful writers. For those of you who have implemented the CCSS you may already be using these tips when students write about topics in science and social studies.
  1. Students need to write about a topic that they are learning about.
  2. They need to have many vocabulary words in their word bank.
  3. They need to talk about the topic during Read Alouds.
  4. They need to read books at their reading level about the topic.
Writing should begin as a Teacher-Directed activity with lots of guided practice to help students become more independent writers. I like to start with building background by using a word wall and pictures in Whole Class Activities. Fall is a wonderful theme for this time of year to get students writing. I'm using pictures from my new "Fall Edition of Making Sentences with Sentence Frames" to demonstrate how I would begin teaching sentence writing. First to find out what words students already know about Fall I would do a class "Shout out" to elicit words students think of when they hear the word, "Fall". I'd write them on a big piece of butcher paper in front of the room. Then, I would use the word wall words to see how many they already named and introduce the others.To be sure they understand the words I would have them act out the verbs, such as "raking, holding, pushing etc" and ask questions such as , Who is wearing a jacket today?"  Each day I would read a book about "Fall" during read aloud time and talk about the pictures and what's happening in the story. Then I would would use the picture/word cards and give each student either a picture or word card and have them find their partner. ( This can be repeated each day.) Then the partners would each have a turn using the word in a sentence. Then after students have had lots of opportunities to learn these words I would make  sets of the picture/word cards for them to practice matching as a center activity.
The next step is for students to understand what a sentence is and recognize sentences in a whole group activity. For my ESL students I used a chart like the one below to explain what a sentence is.
Then I would make sentence strips with sentences and phrases and ask students if each was a sentence using the "thumbs up" or "thumbs down" method. I not only get 100% class participation but I can informally assess if students understand what a sentence is.
Next I make a set of these 3 sentence frames below for each student. I laminate and cut them into the 3 frames and give each student a set. I also have a bigger set for my pocket chart.
Then I put the the sentences you see below on a sentence strip and place it in the pocket chart.
  A girl is sitting on the grass.
Then I hold up the "is sitting" frame card below and ask them to show me which part of the sentence it it with their sentence frame cards. Again I can assess all my students. I then place it in the pocket chart
under the "is doing or did". I continue with each part. 
I would then do the same for the following sentence:
The girl is sitting on the grass next to the tree.

I also talk about capitalization and punctuation.

You can continue with a longer sentence depending on your students' writing ability. 
When I'm sure that students understand, I add the following literacy center activity where they make sentences with sentence parts. After copying and cutting out the parts students will make piles of the same color cards. Then they make either a 3 or 4 part sentence by placing the parts under the cards you see in the picture below. Then they will write 5 of their sentences on their recording sheet.
When introducing a new lesson always be sure to review what they have previous learned. Each of these activities builds on the previous one. Next I would have students match Picture/Sentence Cards to assess their comprehension and have them do a Sentence Part Sort as you can see below. After that they would unscramble sentences, write and illustrate. You can see a sample in the picture below.
Finally I would assess their ability to write complete sentences by giving them a fall word bank to use in writing sentences. Here is the sample of the 1st grade word bank. 
This new unit has been revised from my other editions of Making Sentences with Sentence frames which I will be revising as well. You can check out my packet by clicking on the picture below. When you download the Preview file you will see sample pages of the materials and activities in this packet.
To get you started you can download these free Sentence Frames by clicking on the picture below.
I also have another free activity: Fall Pictures: Label the Pictures and Write Sentences. Great for your literacy center all during Fall.
If you would like to download this free Writing Packet just click on the image below.

I have been busy adding new Pinterest Boards for you to follow. You can check them out by clicking HERE. You may want to check out these below.

Thanks for all you do to make a difference for your students. Hope you found some helpful tips.

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What resource or activities do you use to get your students started with writing sentences?