Scary Sentences: a Halloween-themed grammar lesson

October 30, 2008

I always thought about doing this, but I never actually did…until now.

As I am knee-deep in grading literary essays about Inherit the Wind, I’m recalling how particularly talented some of my 10th grade students are at writing completely (and painfully) incoherent sentences.  I sometimes wonder if my students actually READ these sentences to themselves and decide that they are “ok” to put in a formal essay, or if they’re just too lazy to care. Regardless, I think it’s high time to reinforce the basics of good sentence writing.

This year I have a SMART Board to help me.

This year, I’m making an effort to devote my Friday classes to engaging my students in some kind of grammar activity (I’ll get more into that later). Tomorrow is Halloween, and I want it to be a fun day for the students, but at the same time, I don’t want to break from the “Grammar Friday” tradition I’m trying to establish. At some point yesterday, I came up with the idea of creating a SMART Board lesson called “Scary Sentences.” My sub-title is “The Bad and the Ugly, What I found when I went trick or treating in your Inherit the Wind essays.”

This is a screen shot of the first page of my SMART Board lesson.

Here’s an example of a thesis statement one student wrote. The essay was supposed to be about how both Henry Drummond and Matthew Harrison Brady exemplify what it means to be a “good citizen.”

Brady demonstrates citizenship by going to Hillsboro to lead the prosecution for Cates trial and prove Brady wrong because more people agreed with himself .


Here’s some more that I will be posting into my lesson:

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My goal is to have the students work together to revise the sentences using a method I learned from Amy Benjamin’s “Engaging Grammar” workshop, which involves re-writing a sentence four times until it becomes a much better version of its old self. I did this once before on a Grammar Friday and the kids seemed to get “into” it. Some even argued with each other about what words sounded better than others! I’m hoping for the same results tomorrow.