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5 Strategies to Help Your Students Master Sentence Structure | Simple, Compound, & Complex Sentences & FREEBIES

5 Strategies for Teaching Sentence Structure


Every year I see my middle school students start off struggling with correctly writing strong sentences as well as using sentence variety. They often don't know that a complete sentence must have a subject and a predicate. I don't know why this continues to shock me year after year, but it does. I wanted to share what works for my students (and makes my life soooo much easier) as well as give you a couple FREEBIES!!!

To get students to understand and relate to why it's so important that they are able to write strong sentences, I tell them about the first email I got from our team mom in baseball a few years ago. To be honest, I wasn't sure what she was trying to say in the email. It naturally caused me to have a preconceived idea that this individual was uneducated.  I explained that the way you write in a professional setting versus when you text a friend is often not the same at all, and students must be aware of this as this is often the first impression they make on someone.

I was also well aware that students seem to dread any assignment that has to do with grammar or writing. That's when I started to create activities that would not only keep my students engaged but would also help them master sentence structure. I've found that the key to engagement is interaction and collaboration with the activities which almost always have both a printable and digital version.

1. Parts of Speech-  In order for students to be able to write a strong sentence, they have to understand the types of words that are included in sentences. I like to scaffold learning to avoid overwhelming students, and it makes it easier for them to master the concepts. 

This is where Google Jamboard ™ comes into the picture. Jamboard is an interactive whiteboard that allows you to drag & drop text, images, shapes, or whatever you add to your board. The activities I created were interactive and could be used collaboratively or individually as well as with in person AND students who were online. Not only would students practice interacting with each part of speech and the definitions, but they would also identify them in sentences. Check out the video below for a preview of some of the activities included in this resource:



2. Subjects & Predicates- I use color-coded examples that clearly demonstrate and break down the subject and predicate. Then again students have the opportunity to complete interactive activities where they can work with both simple and complete subjects and predicates. You can access this resource here. See a preview below:


3. Independent & Dependent Clauses | Compound & Complex Sentences- Once students understand what a subject and predicate is, it's much easier for them to comprehend what an independent clause is. Once again, I provide color-coded examples that spell out exactly what an independent clause (simple sentence) should include. Next students have the opportunity to practice identifying the subject and predicate used in the independent clauses. 
Simple Sentences Sentence Structure
Once students can clearly identify independent clauses, we move into compound sentences. We go over coordinating conjunctions using FANBOYS, and students have a chance to not only use the color-codes to highlight the subject and predicate in the compound sentence, but they also drag a circle over the conjunction word. 

Next we move into dependent clauses and complex sentences. This takes more examples, visuals, and practice both by collaborating in groups and working individually. These concepts have to be broken down and spelled out for students. I also like to keep an anchor chart up that explains the difference in coordinating and subordinating conjunctions. This gives students something they can refer to throughout the year if they need a reminder. You can access the anchor chart free here.

Research shows that allowing students to physically move and interact with the text helps them to better understand and master the material. You can access this resource here and check out a preview below.


4. Use Sentence Structure Digital Escape Rooms- This is my students' personal favorite!! It serves as a great review of simple, compound, and complex sentences. It also requires zero prep for teachers, as do the majority of these digital resources. You simply share the link with students, and they're on their way.


5. Use assessments where students receive immediate feedback- This 25 Simple, Compound, Complex Sentences Digital Assessment is completed on a Google Form, so it's automatically graded for you. Students also receive their score as soon as they submit the test unless you change the settings so that they can't get the score. It's whatever works best for you. 

You can save 20% on my sentence structure bundle. To learn more, click here.

How about another FREEBIE?! Here's a digital and printable independent clause resource that explains what this skill is using color-coded subjects and predicates, provides examples, as well as a student worksheet for practice.

How do you teach sentence structure? I'd love to hear about it in the comments below.



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