Sentence Combining Made Easy Lesson Plan

Sentence Combining Made Easy Lesson Plan

After reading 216 essays with nothing but simple sentences, I curled up in a ball and lay in the corner, wailing. I knew I had to do something to end the misery. I pulled out my Chemistry for English Teachers Manual, opened it to page 23, set the graded essays on my desk, and began mixing a potion that would destroy all paper fibers within 236 feet. Luckily, the recipe used the word combine twelve times, which gave me an idea. I called my Mom, told her to save me some leftovers, and grabbed my lesson plan book.

I had work to do. I had to come up with a lesson plan about sentence combining.

ELA Common Core Standards

Teaching sentence combining and revising satisfies the following common core standards.  This will impress your administrator, but bore your students.  I recommend simplifying the language when you write the objective(s) on the board.

L.9-10.1b  Use various types of phrases (noun, verb, adjectival, adverbial, participial, prepositional, absolute) and clauses (independent, dependent; noun, relative, adverbial) to convey specific meanings and add variety and interest to writing or presentations.
L.9-10.2a  Use a semicolon (and perhaps a conjunctive adverb) to link two or more closely related independent clauses.
W.9-10.5  Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach, focusing on addressing what is most significant for a specific purpose and audience. (Editing for conventions should demonstrate command of L.9-10.1-3.)

Sample Paragraph that Needs to Combine Sentences

Even though I had just read 200 horribly written essays with nothing but simple sentences, I still had to come up with a horrible paragraph of my own, not wanting to single out any particular student. Save yourself the trouble and use my horrible paragraph (not one single compound sentence, complex sentence, infinitive phrase, or relative pronoun), if you wish. My feelings won’t be hurt.

  • Plan ahead when visiting Big Bear Lake, California. You don’t want to sleep at a rest stop. You don’t want to use railroad ties for firewood. Big Bear Lake is near San Diego. It is near Los Angeles. It is near Las Vegas. There are many campsites. There are lodges. There are RV parks. They fill up fast. There are many hiking trails. Bring sturdy shoes. Sandals are not optimal for hiking. Many pro athletes live there. Wear good shoes if you want to follow them around. Sandals don’t work for following people. There’s a lake at Big Bear Lake, California. Big Bear Lake is at 7,000 feet above sea level. The water is cold. Swimming is discouraged. Boating is encouraged. Fishing is encouraged. Kayaking is encouraged.

Write the above paragraph on the board and read and discuss it with the class. Show them the following suggestions for sentence combining. The actual article about Big Bear Lake, California can be found at this link.

Ways to Combine Sentences

1.  Take two sentences and make a compound sentence

  • Example: Water at Big Bear Lake is cold, and swimming is discouraged.

2.  Insert modifiers, adjectives or adverbs, to combine sentences

  • Example: Swimming in the cold water is discouraged

3.  Use a prepositional phrase to combine sentences

  • Example: Near Los Angeles, San Diego, and Las Vegas, Big Bear, California is easily accessible.

4.  List items in a series to combine sentences

  • Example: Park rangers encourage boating, fishing, and kayaking

5.  Use a subordinating conjunction to combine sentences:

  • Example: Unless you want to sleep at a rest stop using railroad ties as firewood, plan ahead.

6.  Use a dependent clause beginning with a relative pronoun (which, that, whom, whose, or who):

  • Example: Big Bear Lake, which sits 7,000 feet above sea level, is home to great fishing, kayaking, and boating.

7.  Use participial phrases to combine sentences:

  • Examples: Planning ahead eliminates the need to sleep at rest stops and the need to use railroad ties as firewood.

Lesson Plan Procedures

  1. Instruct students to combine sentences using the above techniques.
  2. Paragraph challenges motivate students to write well.
  3. As groups of students share their revisions, have them identify the technique. Write the examples (not the ones I provided) on the board as you review.

* This lesson was inspired by Mini Lessons for Revision by Susan Geye, 1997, Absey & Co. Spring, TX.

Revision Lesson Plans

Many of the common core standards for language and writing are best taught by revising essays.

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