I notice many of my struggling readers in grades 3-5 have a language deficiency. Their teachers are beside themselves as they look at their writing, and come to me asking what do I do? Here's my answer: practice speaking in complete sentences.


I bring in photos from magazines or project an interesting picture, and ask students to describe what they see in complete sentences. A small group is a supportive environment for risk-taking, especially for your English Language Learners. I usually spend a couple of 20 minute small group lessons on describing the pictures using complete sentences. Model how to describe the pictures using complete sentences. If you expect elaboration and details from your students, be sure to model that as well.  From there, move on to...

Practice Writing Sentences

Those pictures you've been practicing talking about? Use them again, and this time have them write their thoughts in sentences. Remind them about the format of a sentence - it needs a noun/verb, a capital letter, etc. They can write anything that they said yesterday, someone else said yesterday, or their new thinking about the picture.

We use the familiar pictures to make it easier to think of what to write about when they are struggling to write complete sentences. It makes a *huge* impact in helping students meet and sometimes exceed the writing expectations. The best way to become a better writer is to write, write, and write some more. If you spend time on this, I know you will see huge gains in your students who were struggling.

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