How do you check for sentence fluency? You read the writing aloud, of course. Does it flow like a river? Or is it stiff like a robot?
Here are three kid-tested ways to help young writers intentionally focus on the rhythm and flow of the sentences they write.
SENTENCE BUILDERS TO REARRANGE SENTENCES
- Give children several small sticky notes and a copy of the sentence builder template. If possible, use a different color sticky note for each block on the sentence builder.
- Ask children to identify a WHO from their own writing and record on a sticky note.
- On a different color sticky note, they should record the DOES WHAT.
- Build the sentence by adding sticky notes for WHERE, WHEN, and WHY.
- Rearrange the sentence by moving the sticky notes around.
- Finally, ask children to decide which sentence flows the best and to add it to their writing (with the correct capitalization and punctuation).
SENTENCE COMBINING TO EXPAND SENTENCES
Give children two simple sentences like the ones below.
- The dog barked.
- The dog was brown.
Ask them to combine the two sentences into one sentence.
The brown dog barked.
Now add a third and fourth sentence.
- He saw a stranger.
- The stranger knocked on the door.
Children should combine all four sentences into one.
The brown dog barked at a stranger who knocked on the door.
If children are comfortable with four sentences, add two more.
- The dog was behind the fence.
- The fence was locked.
Again, challenge children to combine all sentences into one.
From behind the locked fence, the brown dog barked at a stranger who knocked on the door.
Of course, you can continue adding details and challenging children to include all details in one strong sentence.
Mentor Texts to Analyze Sentence Fluency
Copy a paragraph or set of sentences from a favorite read aloud text.
Ask children to analyze the text for sentence fluency.
Here are a few questions to get them started.
- How does it sound when read aloud?
- What is the first word in each sentence?
- Which sentences begin with the WHO?
- How are the sentences punctuated within and at the end?
- Are some sentences longer than others?
Remember, sentence fluency is all about rhythm and flow. Children often have it when they speak. As parents and teachers, we can help them find it when they write.
Please share your ideas below.