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sentence writing



I have struggled with getting my second graders to understand the concept of a sentence. They either write one sentence that begins at the beginning of the page and ends with the period at the end of the paper or they or they write 2-3 words that are not a sentence but turn it into one by using a capital letter and period. Besides individual conferencing and whole group instruction any other good ideas? I'm finding individual conferencing involves mostly me editing and the student nodding and watching. I know they are truly not understanding the concept this way either. Help!!!


Senior Member

I have my students fold their notebook paper down the middle. They label the left hand side "WHO" and the right hand side "WHAT". Later the "who" becomes the "subject" and the "what" becomes the "predicate". I start by giving a few examples of "who"-subjects, then the "what"-predicates.

ex. WHO (did) WHAT
The colorful kite / soared high in the sky.
The stars / twinkled in the night.

Then I have the students begin giving me the "Who did What".
When they are editing their own sentences, I have them draw a line between the "who" and the "what". It takes lots of practice.



I find that presenting "yes" examples (examples that are sentences) and "no" examples (examples that are not sentences) helps my students understand what a sentence should look and sound like. You can then give them examples, and have them tell you if it's a yes or no. Finally, have them try to write their own.


Senior Member
practice, practice, practice

Frustrating as it is we have to realize that our little second graders have only been writing a short time. I think the most important lesson for writing complete sentences is subject/predicate. Once they can check for the who and what they are good to go there. As for no punctuation a lot of times that is simply a matter of forgetting. I tell my kiddos that they need to go back and punctuate. For those that can't I do individual conferencing. Luckily several are weeded out before the individual conferencing begins.


Full Member

I agree that it's so much practice and modeling. When I do editing with kids, they do the actual editing. We may talk, I may suggest, but they do the editing. I also have kids circle the capitals with green crayon (green light) and circle ending punctuation with a red crayon. (red light) This has helped. It took a lot of practice not to get a laundry list. They needed permission to write a word after a period if there was room! I point out a lot in books as we read and I do a lot of writing on the board. Hang in there!

Jen V.

modelling writing - basic writing skills

I agree with the previous posting. You have to model writing. If you want a great manual with a lot of ideas and just about every resource for teaching writing across all grades and content area, order Basic Writing Skills. I know the website is basicwritingskills.net but I forget the author. Sound too good to be true? It's not! You will love this program. A lot of teachers in NYC use this even though they are mandated to use a whole language writing program. It's their secret weapon!

Rina M.

Hochman program BWS???

Is that strategy from Basic Writing Skills? Dr. Hochman uses a sentence expansion strategy that is almost like that and the students love doing it. You can do it with any of the question words and then the kids experiment with writing the information in a different order (like putting the when first) It starts with a short sentence like -

They twinkle.

who or what - stars
when - at night
where - up in the sky

expanded sentence

At night, stars twinkle up in the sky.

It really starts to force young writers away from that simple declarative sentence. I love that program.