Thursday, January 29, 2015

How Many?

With an efficient twist, Lori

Yesterday, I spend the day conferencing with 7th graders over expository essays and like always, there were essentially two separate conversations to be had: content and conventions. 

Fortunately, I had recently spent the day with Gretchen Bernabei and her new book Grammar Keepers. I've always been a fan of her approach to grammar, and this book really captures her approach in an explicit and easily reproducible way. My favorite take-away from the day was the broken down approach to her Sentence Wringer, so I used the basis of it yesterday with my 7th graders with tons of success. Here's how it looked in a 5-7 minute conference.
Get this book. You're welcome. 

Me: Ok...we're going to learn a new way to look at your sentences today. We're going to start at the capital letter [draw a bracket] and go all the way to the punctuation [close the bracket]. I'm going to read the sentence aloud and just have you listen.
[Read the sentence, which is likely a run-on.]
Still Me: So...the question we have to remember is HOW MANY? How many sentences does it sound like I have between the capital letter and the period? If we can say only one, then that's great. But if it sounds like more than one, then we need to make some changes. So...how many do you hear?

Sweet 7th Grader: Hmmmm...oh man. I think I hear like 2 or 3. That's not what I meant.

Me: That's alright. Put your finger where you think the first one should end. Great! I'm so glad you see that. You've combined two sentences with a comma. Can you do that?

Sweet 7th Grader: No. I guess not.

Me: Well, you do have choices. You can put a period and a capital letter, or you can add a FANBOYS word. What would you like to do?

Sweet 7th Grader: Will you read it aloud again?

Me: [really surprised at the question...reads it aloud]

Sweet 7th Grader: I think I wanted it to be separate. Let's put a period and a capital letter.

Me: Awesome! So now you have a new strategy in your back pocket to check your sentences. You go from capital letter to period and ask yourself what question?

Sweet 7th Grader: How many?! This helped a lot, miss. Can I go get a drink of water before I go back inside? My finger hurts.

I was able to use this again and again yesterday, and at the end of most sessions, I feel like most kids owned the strategy. There were a few that would need some re-teaching on sentence types, but most just needed a system for self-evaluating. 

What's your favorite revision strategy?



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