Thursday, October 11, 2012

Best. Lesson. Ever. Seriously.

After a couple of "I-am-a-horrible-teacher-and-the-students-are-learning-nothing-from-me-because-I'm-a-horrible-terrible-no-good-very-bad-teacher" days I had a 
day of teaching.

Our second grade students have been struggling to write complete sentences and I finally figured out that it was probably because complete sentences are like a foreign language to them.

We have something called a sentence frame that gives the students a non-linguistic representation (picture) of what a complete sentence (for second graders) should look like.

Here it is:

Well, that's great and all, but it was still a very abstract concept for them.  So, being the marker-addicted person that I am, I decided to color-code it for them to make it more concrete.

I began by giving them the basic objective, "I will write complete sentences."  I reminded them that they should be writing complete sentences in EVERY area of school; science, reading, writing, math, social studies, etc.

Then I wrote (we are making an anchor chart, btw) "Complete sentences have:" and listed the following, talking about each one as I went;
  • a capital letter at the beginning.
  • a noun (person, place, thing, or animal)*
  • a verb (an action)*
  • ending punctuation (.?!)
*This is the language we are using for now because it is what we have learned.  Once we start talking about subject and predicate I will modify it.

Then, I dictated some short sentences to the class and they had to tell me what to write.  There was LOTS of questioning going on at this point.  If they told me that I needed to make the first letter of the sentence red I asked them to explain why.  I did the same thing for the other parts of the sentence. 

One of the lower students in the group was able to explain to the class that in the sentence 
The dogs run fast. the word dogs should be green because a dog is an animal, an animal is a noun, and nouns are supposed to be green (for our activity).  

I was floored.  He got it!  

I had the students move back to their seats and we worked on the following worksheet together.  We labeled the different parts of a complete sentence so that they could see what good sentences looked like.

I think the little lightbulbs over their heads are starting to flicker!

I teach writing to all three second grade classes, so I created a new anchor chart with each group so that they could have one for their classroom.
Here is what they look like:

It was amazing to watch them figure out that complete sentences have a pattern.

Now, if only I could go back in time and make sure that this lesson is done on a day when I am being evaluated!  This lesson is my pride and joy.  I have NEVER felt this confident about the students mastering the content taught.  Things just flowed today.

Ahhhh.  Pure joy.

Let's hope that they can continue to absorb it tomorrow!!!


Mrs. B


  1. I'd highly appreciate if you recommend other resources that have data about this subject of course if you know any.

    1. We are doing a lot of work on writing complete sentences at the moment so I will prep another post soon!

      Thanks for reading!


  2. Jordan,

    This was the answer to helping my students write complete sentences! I can't thank you enough for the idea.
    I was wondering how you approach narrative writing with your students. Any ideas would help!
    Thank you,

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Kirsten!! I will take some pictures of the resources we use and put them up.

      Have a great week!

  3. I AM being evaluated formally in two days! I knew I wanted to do a lesson about complete sentences. It must be divine intervention that a quick, stress-induced, late night Google search brought me here!
    Thank you!! I'll let you know how it goes! And, alas, I may now sleep!

    1. Wonderful!! I'm happy my post was helpful. Please let me know how it goes! Good luck!