Did you shop the huge TPT sale yesterday? I sure did and just want to give a HUGE thank you to anyone who perhaps bought something, left feedback or just popped in here periodically to read this blog. I am sooo blessed to be in this profession with you! I’d like to give back today and so I’m continuing on with my Teaching Writing Series. If you missed any (and you don’t want to miss any because they ALL contain freebies), head on up to the top of my blog and click on Series. You can find the rest there!
Let’s first begin with the obvious: Teaching complex sentences is well,…complex. It’s one of those blocks that builds on previous blocks. Students must have an understanding of foundational sentence skills before even attempting to write or understand complex sentences. All this to say is that teaching complex sentences probably won’t get done in one speech and language session. Usually it takes around 3. But this is SUCH an important skill. If we can get our students to start speaking and writing complex sentences, all I can say is WOW!
Let’s break it down now y’all. (one hop this time) Sorry-I couldn’t resist!
If you’ve been following this particular series, you know I love utilizing anchor charts to teach about writing. Anchor charts not only provide a great visual and help to keep me on track when I’m teaching, but they also work perfect for my students acting as “teacher” and teaching me! Having students “teach” the skill is the perhaps some of the best learning that can occur AND it helps me assess if they truly understand the concept.
(Oh and please ignore my glass of soda in the picture above!) I didn’t realize it was still in the picture until it was too late. Sometimes, you just need a little pick-me-up, especially when teaching complex sentences!
The very first concept a student needs to grasp is dependent clauses and independent clauses and the difference between them. You may spend one entire session talking about this difference and having students identify each. And that’s OKAY.
This student in particular has an older brother who lives away at college. So…we talked about how he was independent. He was no longer living with mom and dad. He had to pay his own bills. He COULD stand alone, just like an independent clause. Basically, this is a complete sentence.
On the other hand, my girl here still lives with her parents. They pay for her food, housing and other things parents pay for an 8 year old. She is dependent and she CANNOT stand alone, she needs an “independent clause,” just a like dependent clause. Another term for this could be “fragment.”
After a few practices, my little smartie here grasped the concept between dependent and independent clauses.
Next, I move onto teaching them about AAAWWUBBIS. Try saying that 10 times fast. Or even just once. The kids love the look and sound of it though. I tell them that for complex sentences, dependent clauses often start with an AAAWWUBBIS, which are the words: As, Although, After, While, When, Unless, Because, Before, If, Since.
We talk about how we start the sentence with one of these words making a dependent clause (fragment) and then join it together using a comma to an independent clause (complete sentence). Voila! Complex sentence making!
Now, in order for my students to begin writing complex sentences, I knew I needed to break it down. I created another freebie for this task. It contains 3 levels so I can use it with my entire caseload.
This first level has the dependent clause already written for them. Students just need to finish the sentence with an independent clause.
The second level they are given an AAAWWUBBIS word and need to finish the dependent clause and add an independent clause to each sentence.
For Level 3, students must write their own complex sentences.
You’ll be so proud of them at this point you won’t care that it took 3 whole sessions to teach!
I hope this has been helpful! Don’t forget to download the freebie above!