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Wild About Sentence Structure


Summary
Strengthen writing, editing, and punctuation skills with this lesson plan based on The Call of the Wild.

Grade Level(s)
7-10

Curriculum Area
English/Language Arts

Time Required
1-3 class periods

Standards Connections
Objectives
Materials/Resources Needed
Teacher Preparation
Introducing the Lesson
Student Activities
Wrap-Up Activity
Extension Activity
Evaluation

Standards Connections
  • National Standards:
    • Standards for the English Language Arts (NCTE/IRA), Standard 6: Knowledge of language structure, language conventions
  • State Standards:
    • Maryland State Content Standards for Language Arts: Writing: Standard 3.12.3, Revision and Evaluation of Writing
    • See www.explorasource.com for more state standards connections.
  • District Standards (fill in your own)
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Objectives
Students will:
  • Accurately identify an incomplete sentence and explain what makes it incomplete.
  • Express a complete, complex thought by successfully combining short sentences into a longer sentence.
  • Effectively use special punctuation in a complex sentence.
  • Explore a writer's purposeful use of sentence structure in a literary work.
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Materials/Resources Needed
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Teacher Preparation
  1. Review the Student Activity. It includes four "sentences" adapted from Jack London's The Call of the Wild, which is included as a Microsoft Reader eBook on each handheld computer. Revise or adapt the Student Activity for your class.
  2. Go to Programs>File Explorer, and click Edit>New Folder to create a folder to store your Student Activity sheet, plus your students' work when they beam it to you.
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Introducing the Lesson
  1. At the beginning of class, as your students file in, beam the Student Activity to the first two students who come in the door. Each student can beam the worksheet to two more students until everyone has the assignment on the handheld.
  2. Before students open the Student Activity worksheet, quickly review the basic elements of a complete sentence. A complete sentence must include at least one noun and one verb, plus an initial capital letter and final punctuation.
  3. Questions to ask the class:
    • How often in our reading, writing, and speaking do we encounter sentences that have far more that one noun and one verb-that may in fact be made up of multiple sentences combined together? (The answer is more often than not.)
    • What purpose(s) do such complex sentences serve?
  4. Students can now practice putting together a complex sentence, and then discover how their work compares to that of a famous author.
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Student Activities
Activity 1: Find the Fragment

Grouping: Individual
Materials: Student Activity worksheet beamed from teacher
  1. Students open the Student Activity worksheet on their handheld computer, read the instructions, and complete Step 1.
  2. After students have saved their work on their handheld computers, they can beam their documents to you.
Activity 2: Combine and Refine
Grouping: Individual
Materials: Student Activity worksheet from Activity 1
  1. Students should now complete Step 2 in the Student Activity worksheet.
  2. After students have saved their work on their handheld computers, they can beam their documents to you.
  3. Ask several students to read their sentences aloud to the class. Compare the different ways students chose to combine the sentences.
Activity 3: Punctuation Experimentation
Grouping: Individual, then Small Groups
Materials: Student Activity saved in Activity 2
  1. Students can now return to their document from Activity 2 and complete Step 3, which challenges them to integrate special punctuation.
  2. After students have saved their work on their handheld computers, they can beam their documents to you.
  3. Ask students to indicate by show of hands which punctuation mark they chose: semicolon, long dash, parentheses, or colon? Group students according to punctuation type, and have them beam their sentences to each other to discuss and compare. How many different ways did each group find to use its punctuation?
  4. Have each group report its findings to the class.
Activity 4: Wild Sentences
Grouping: Individual
Materials: The Call of the Wild eBook, Student Activity worksheet saved in Activity 3
  1. Have students go to Programs>Microsoft Reader on their handheld computers and open The Call of the Wild.
  2. Ask them to read through page 4, and look for the sentence that sounds like their own from Activities 2-3.
  3. Ask students to highlight the sentence and select Copy Text from the pop-up menu.
  4. Students should then go to their Student Activity worksheet, open it, and paste the sentence from The Call of the Wild, copied in Step 3.
  5. Students should carefully read both sentences, then follow the instructions to write a brief description of how they differ.
  6. After students have saved their work on their handheld computers, they can beam their documents to you.
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Wrap-Up Activity
Grouping: Whole Class
Materials: Student Activity worksheet saved in Activity 4.
  1. Hold a class discussion about how Jack London's sentence compares to those students have written. Call on several students to read their sentences aloud along with their answers to Step 4 of the student activity.
  2. Leave students with the following questions to keep in mind for future reading and writing:
    • Why do writers use complex sentences?
    • Under what circumstances are simple sentences better?
    • When does it make most sense to use special punctuation?
    • Is it ever "okay" for a writer to use an incomplete sentence?
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Extension Activity
Grouping: Individual
Materials: The Call of the Wild eBook
As time allows, or as homework, have students continue reading The Call of the Wild, paying particular attention to Jack London's sentence structures in light of your wrap-up questions.
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Evaluation
Use the Pocket Excel workbook called Evaluation Rubric to record your assessment of each student's performance on Activities 1-4, using either the scale provided (1=Beginning/low performance to 5=Mastery/top performance) or your own assessment scale.
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