My 7th graders got an earful from me today (in the nicest way possible).
- They really need to stop starting every sentence with the word so.
- They also really need to stop starting every other sentence with and, then, or but.
- They also really need to stop starting every sentence with I.
- They can always make their writing better.
My goal: To help students identify ways to improve their own writing by using actual anonymous samples from their latest creative writing pieces.
As I was reading their writing from the other day, I noticed some trends in the types of mistakes they were making in sentence structure and overall style. (Obviously those mistakes have already been pointed out above in #1-3.)
We spent about 25 minutes practicing ways to improve their writing by eliminating those three problems.
I included random lines from their samples – with the intent of making the task authentic and relevant. I told them it was not to make fun of anyone, but to show them that there are ways they can all make their writing better.
(That’s a rule of mine. They cannot say, “I’m done” or “Is this good?” when they are writing. They must ask “How can I makes this better?”)
Through some revision practice on the Smartboard and their dry erase boards, I reminded them of the rules they’ve learned this year in LA 7: subordinating conjunctions, FANBOYS, simple, compound, and complex sentences, phrases, and clauses.
Before we moved onto their next task – to write another piece avoiding those three no-nos we listed above – I passed out their papers and had them analyze their mistakes.
I asked them to reflect and identify their biggest writing problem. I also wanted them to come up with a solution or strategy to make their writing better.
Here are a few examples of their reflections:
I am anxious to read their new writing assignment. Hopefully, today’s lesson was effective.
One of the boys did say to me as he walked out at the end of class, “You are going to love my story. It is SOOOOO good. I mean, it’s…it’s…it’s…amazing. SOOOOO amazing!”
He laughed all the way out the door.