If you’re like me, you sometimes dread the beginning of the school year, and not for the usual reasons. Yes, it sucks when we can’t use the bathroom whenever we want and I hate drinking cold coffee, but the beginning of the year brings other challenges too. Like figuring out what skills students have and what skills they still need to work on – especially in writing.
It seems like every year the students’ abilities cover a huge range, and it’s a mystery that needs to be solved to determine what skills to work on, where to start, who might need extra support, who needs more of a challenge AND THEN figure out HOW to actually fit it all in. Oh yeah, and don’t forget to make it engaging so the information sticks, right? Well, I’m not here to tell you that I have all the answers – but I have solved one piece of the equation involving every teacher’s favorite topic – complete sentences!!!
In this post, I’ll give you a quick overview of how to use sentence sorts to improve writing skills for your class! Then, make sure to grab the back to school ebook (for FREE) with this AND tons of other great ideas for getting back to school.
Why Use a Sort in Writing?
Identifying similarities and differences is an effective instructional strategy to help students develop conceptual understanding of ideas and topics. Writing is no different! When students can see the differences between complete sentences compared to fragments and run-ons, they start to develop a sense of what works in their own writing, and what doesn’t. They can more readily identify fragments and run-ons in their work, and know what needs to be done to create a complete sentence.
How To Use Sorts for Sentence Writing
In this activity, your students will look at a set of cards. Each card will either have a complete sentence, a run-on sentence, or a sentence fragment on it.
As a team, and before any direct instruction, students discuss what they notice about each card and try to put them in groups based on their similarities.
A key component of this activity is letting students do the work of classifying by what they notice. In my classroom, I don’t give them any ideas until they have decided how THEY want to group the cards.
Once the cards are sorted into the groups students want AND they can explain why they made those groups, then you can teach them the names for each group of words found on the cards. This is an important step to connect their ideas to the “correct” terms. Each year, my students have ideas that make for great bridges to the actual terms. They notice that some of the cards are missing punctuation, some don’t have enough information, and some have way too much information. They also notice that some of the cards are just right. Even if they can’t put their fingers on WHY, they can definitely use their sorting and classifying skills to help them reason about why they go together in a category.
Later in this post, you will find a link to the back to school ebook. In there, you will find this handy and FREE guide that explains how to use sentence sorts to improve writing skills!
What Else Can I Do?
If you’re thinking, “OK, this sounds cool, but then what do I do?” don’t worry! I have you covered. In the Sentence Activities Bundle you will find all the materials for the sorting activities, as well as practice pages, sentence building cards and activities, quizzes, and more!
These activities are all designed to help students improve their writing skills and practice what they have learned about complete sentences. The sort activities lay the foundation and help students gain the understanding they need to be successful with their writing. Everything else in the activities bundle is designed to help them put that understanding to use and for you to track their progress throughout the year.
This bundle has everything you need to help your students write complete sentences like champs!
Ok, I’m in! What next?
Hooray! Your next step is super easy! All you have to do is download this AMAZING (and free) back to school ebook. In the ebook, you will find so many ideas for getting your school year off to the best start, including the Quick Guide to Sentence Sorts in Upper Elementary. That guide will give you everything you need to learn how to use sentence sorts to improve writing skills! Every page in this ebook has a free resource you can download and use right away! Click the picture below to grab your copy of the ebook!
And there you have it! If you are thinking about doing this in your classroom, I’d love to hear about how you use sentence sorts to improve writing skills. Leave me any questions or comments below and let’s help each other out for another school year!
Looking for More Ideas?
Check out even more great ideas for back to school here! So many teachers are sharing about their free resources and back to school tips.