The subject of writing is one of the most difficult to teach and therefore one of the most neglected areas of instruction. Teachers are prone to merely assigning topics and fretting over the poor results. Students are prone to resisting instruction and whining, “I can’t think of anything to write!” In this era of high-stakes testing, it’s more important than ever teachers have an effective and easy-to-use writing program.
These straight-forward, daily and weekly reproducible lessons make kids into thoughtful, accurate writers and prepare them for standardized writing tests. When it’s time to write there’ll be no moaning and groaning—from the students or the teachers! In fact, those who’ve used my approach say the Super Sentence activity is the best 20 minutes of their day.
Preview and Purchase
The original version of Super Sentences & Perfect Paragraphs (2009, Scholastic) is available through numerous booksellers including Amazon, Scholastic, and Teacher Express. For a free sample Perfect Paragraph activity, visit my page at TeachersPayTeachers. The revised and improved version is available through TeachersPayTeachers.
Now Available in “A la-Carte” levels
Here’s are “a la-Carte” versions of our popular Perfect Paragraphs writing program. We’ve separated the paragraphing activities into three levels, giving teachers a fantastically inexpensive way to begin using the approach! Each level includes twelve writing lessons in which kids see developmentally-appropriate writing modeled in a fun way. Kids learn the difference between topic sentences, supporting sentences, and detail sentences while unscrambling kid-friendly paragraphs, then use pre-printed “templates” to craft paragraphs of their own in each of six different modes. And best of all, everything you need is right here in just 24 pages–no complicated teacher’s editions to wade through. Level One: Beginner is geared toward 3rd and 4th graders, but could also be used with advanced second graders and beginning 5th graders. Level Two: Intermediate is designed for 4th through 6th graders. Level Three: Advanced is aimed at 5th through 7th graders, but could also be used with advanced 4th graders. It’s ideally suited to follow the “Intermediate” set. All three sets include complete instructions, tips, and answer keys. Click on the cover to preview or purchase at TpT. Thanks!
Super Sentences Now Available in Two Volumes
Here are inexpensive “a la-carte” versions of the Super Sentences writing program: the original sentence writing activities are included in Volume One, while an entire new set of model sentences, practice activities, and word wall ideas are included in Volume Two. If you “roll” with your class, or if another teacher is using Super Sentences with kids in an earlier grade level, Volume Two is for you! Students craft just one “super” sentence each day within such structures as “sentence containing commas in a series” or “dialogue sentence with the speaker at the beginning.” In this way, students learn how to use the “tools” that make them great writers including quotation marks, semi-colons, dashes, similes, and many others. Rather than all those boring sentences traditional writing programs use, the models in Super Sentences are designed to get the kids laughing, to let them see how writing inspires images and emotion. And because the kids maintain creative control of their own sentences, even your most reluctant learners will enjoy writing. Best for grades 4 through 6, but suitable and easily adaptable for grades 3-7.
Tips & More:
Additional Paragraph Templates
We’ve added two new free templates here. Teachers can download Rough Draft Template #4 and Rough Draft Template #6. Both provide more space for young writers to craft their individual sentences. It’s also good practice to teach students how to make their own templates. Simply have them use a ruler to draw their own version of template #2 on a blank sheet of 9 x 12 drawing paper. Over time, have them experiment with different formulas. Once they’re experienced, have them use sheet of 11 x 17 paper for a multi-paragraph project. By having kids learn to construct their own templates as part of the pre-writing process, they’ll be better prepared when writing on their own or on a standardized test. They’ll be able to utilize the Perfect Paragraph approach even when a pre-printed template isn’t available.
Overhead Projectors & Doc Cams
When reviewing a Perfect Paragraphpaste-up, instead of making the 3×18″ strips described in the book, you can use your overhead projector. Simply make a transparency of the given paragraph and cut out the sentence blocks. Have your students manipulate the blocks right on the projector, using wet-erase markers to color-code. You can do the same thing on paragraph re-writes by making a transparency of a blank paragraph template and another of a template with the unscrambled paragraph written in. Again, cut out the blocks, have students place them in the appropriate box on the blank template, and color-code. As with all your paragraph reviews, be sure to discuss as a class why sentences fit where they do.
Modes Instead of Levels
Super Sentences and Perfect Paragraphs is organized by levels. If taught in order of the Table of Contents, students begin with basic paragraphs, switching modes each week. This gives students instruction in all modes and at basic levels before advancement. You can, however, teach Perfect Paragraphs by specific modes instead. Consider teaching a unit on any given mode by having kids begin with the basic structure and end with the multi-paragraph project. Because most standardized writing tests focus on narrative, imaginative, and descriptive, most teachers recommend beginning your year with these. Note though that many experts believe the imaginative mode is one of the more difficult modes for young students to handle, so either encourage your kids away from it or spend extra time addressing its subtleties.
Alternative Scope & Sequence Charts
To assist you in finding the right instructional sequence for you, here are three sequence charts showing some possibilities. Each is based on completing one Super Sentence concept AND one Perfect Paragraphper week, meaning you’ll cover the entire book in one year. Some classrooms, however, are teaching the book over a two year period, alternating between sentences one week and paragraphs the next. Of course, you’re free to utilize the activities any way that works for you.
About the Author:
Mack Lewis is a National Board Certified Teacher and a graduate of Southern Oregon University. When he’s not spotlighting slugs in the garden, he’s teaching the intermediate grades in southern Oregon, which he’s done since 1993. His classroom plays, such as “Sitting Down for Doctor King” and “The Daring Escape of Henry Box Brown,” have been frequently featured in Scholastic’s Storyworks Magazine and Scope. He’s also the author of Read Aloud Plays: Symbols of America, which is available through Scholastic Teacher Express, and Read Aloud Plays: Classic Short Stories, which can be purchased at numerous booksellers. You can contact Mack at firstname.lastname@example.org.